David Cameron smoozes his way to power (with a little extra ‘Rupert’)…

I went to see David Cameron in one of his Cameron Direct events in the highly marginal Lib Dem constituency of Mid Dorset and Poole North. Having put a note up on Facebook, I was warned by one, that I should be prepared to be impressed. That was unnecessary advice since I’ve been impressed by Cameron almost since he began his rise to the verge of Prime Ministership (albeit with considerable help from Labour’s warring factions). It was fascinating to see him in front of an English audience, whose political preoccupations are quite different from those in Northern Ireland.Of the three questions I’d prepared, I went for what was probably the most anodyne, just to see the quality of his answer. I asked how he was going to fund the war in Afghanistan or any other contingent foreign war, when Defence was not going to be immune to cuts. His answer basically was that they would manage things with greater focus than Labour, and then began to extemporise on Brown’s cock up over helicopters. Effectively, he dodged the fiscal bullet.

And so it was all evening. Apart from one little spat with the UKIP crowd, Mr Cameron was likeable, entertaining and connected well with the people in the audience (not all of whom were natural Tories by any means). In fact apart from one little joust with the substantial UKIP lobby, he agreed with almost everyone in the room. I’d a little mental calculator in the back of my head counting up the promises he was making to spend on people’s causes in the room. You cannot escape the feeling that he’s happy to make pretty vague promises to help everyone out. Canny tactic for an opposition, but not sure what kind of mandate it adds up to once he’s in government.

The guy beside me, a rather distinguished Tory ex naval officer, was suitably impressed with Cameron’s polished performance and his undoubted emotional intelligence. But he was also minded to quote Francis Pym when he said “you can never tell how a horse will run until he’s in the race”. And it’s true that after this, as after the Tory Conference of 2006, we have little idea of what this man will do when he gets in. NOr how he will deal with having to take unpopular decisions. His one great achievement so far has been the emasculation of the Labour party, now punch drunk and fatalistic as they stumble into the summer.

For me the most telling moment though was in the detail of his response to the abolition of Quangos (he follows Thatcher, Major, Blair and Brown on promising this) he was asked if he would keep telling the electorate of his progress on getting rid of them. His answers were interesting. In fact the only one he put up front and central was Ofcom. He even quoted Kelvin McKenzie’s article in The Sun relating the astronomical salary of the chief executive Ed Richards (£400,000, if you can believe it?).

That’s an interesting conjunction of Mr Cameron’s political agenda with Mr Murdoch’s private interests that I doubt many others in the audience spotted. As previously noted here on Slugger (Peter Kirwan has the gory detail) just weeks after Mr Murdoch called on Mr Cameron to provide “less government and freer markets”, Mr Cameron responded by offering to remove the policy making powers of the communications regulator Ofcom when they recommended Sky TV (once a huge financial drain, now Murdoch’s only significant profit making venture in the UK) be forced to give up some of its premium sports channels as “most appropriate way of ensuring fair and effective competition”.

One slight footnote from my elderly Tory friend, who thought that his style was grand but his delivery could do with some breaks and pauses. It seems to me there could be two possible reasons for that. One, these Cameron Direct performances are largely impromtu and extemporising responses to questions from the public. It’s in their broader nature that they are conversational and mostly devoid of rhetorical flourish. And Cameron is an extremely adept exponent.

But having listened to Vince Cable just three weeks back at a similarly open event, in which Cable took questions, paused, deconstructed them and then gave useful answers back to his audience you wonder whether this ‘new guy’ has the intellectual bottom, or even just the simple conviction to take the UK through what look like they could be pretty rough times. Cable had none of the polish, but the audience was none the less impressed. That the former naval officer seemed keen not only to get the Lib Dem Treasury Spokesman into the cabinet, but put him in charge of the Exchequer suggests that it’s not just the Tories’ opponents who have their doubts.

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  • Mick,

    Don’t know if you’ve seen this?

    http://jimgodfrey.typepad.com/jim_godfrey/2009/07/in-defence-of-ofcom.html

    “….the Tory position on Ofcom appears to have all the hallmarks of leaving James Murdoch’s head and coming out of David Cameron’s mouth. Not only do News International seem to have a pathological hatred of the kind of super-regulation Ofcom conducts, they also have real trouble getting Ofcom to see things their way. MPs and Ministers seeking election and courting favour are much easier to persuade, or threaten.”

  • Greenflag

    It’ll take more than ‘polish ‘ to get the UK out from under it’s fast building economic mess. Nobody has a clue what Cameron will actually do if and when he assumes power . But anyone with any knowledge of the Tory record should know what to expect . And yes it will be ugly and again as per usual for those at the bottom and middle end of the British economic pyramid .

    Short of dragging the UK into the Euro zone without further delay there’s nothing I can envisage Cameron actually implementing that would make any significant difference to the current economic doldrums short term i.e over the next 2 to three years.

    As I said on earlier threads – the pound is going only one way sooner or later -it’s the only option left to help ‘kickstart’ Britain’s economy . This will delight international currency speculators and hedge fund tyros who are already surrounding the ‘dying ‘ pound in hope of a quick killing in the financial sense of course ! Would’nt be seemly ye see – to actually feast on the still living corpse of the Bank of England now – would it now ? That’s not how cricket is played eh ? Well not in front of the plebs anyway 🙁

  • Framer

    Norwich North result

    Turnout was around 45% with 34,377 votes cast. There was a 16.9% swing from Labour to the Conservatives. To win the next General Election, the Tories need a swing of 6.9%.

    The results in full:

    Chloe Smith (Conservative) 13,591 (39.54%, +6.29%)
    Chris Ostrowski (Labour) 6,243 (18.16%, -26.70%)
    April Pond (Lib Dem) 4,803 (13.97%, -2.22%)
    Glenn Tingle (UKIP) 4,068 (11.83%, +9.45%)
    Rupert Read (Green) 3,350 (9.74%, +7.08%)
    Craig Murray (Honest) 953 (2.77%)
    Robert West (BNP) 941 (2.74%)
    Bill Holden (Independent) 166 (0.48%, -0.17%)
    Howling Laud (Loony) 144 (0.42%)
    Anne Fryatt (NOTA) 59 (0.17%)
    Thomas Burridge (Libertarian) 36 (0.10%)
    Peter Baggs (Independent) 23 (0.07%)

  • Grim down south?

  • Mick Fealty

    Yeah, Framer, that’s the top and bottom of it. And there are Labour people on Twitter wondering if Gibson was the winner? Denial central.

    I hadn’t Paul, but I agree with every word of the quoted.

  • Cameron is impressive, and I find him nicely to the point. When I was working the last assembly election with the Conservatives, I was astounded how, when he arrived in Bangor, he spent far less time with the party wonks than with the ‘real’ people he met (I mean less than 4%) and really did seek their views in a very open atmosphere. As for Greenflag, I genuinely do see the difference Iain Duncan Smith’s commission has made on party thinking around economic and social disadvantage, and I suspect that, had the tories been coming to power with the sort of golden economic legacy we left for Labour, we’d really be looking to a golden time for the UK.

    Eric Pickles’ no-nonsense, hardcore approach to party management seems to be paying off, if Norwich North is anything to go by. Even half that swing…

  • willis

    Ben

    “and I suspect that, had the tories been coming to power with the sort of golden economic legacy we left for Labour, we’d really be looking to a golden time for the UK.”

    Fair point

    Which rather begs the question.

    “Why did such a stellar team go down to 3 successive landslides?”

    I retrospect though was it really such a golden legacy? The crucial switch had been made – from the power of manufacture to the power of finance.

    I doubt that either party would have saved us from the greed of the “Masters of the Universe”.

  • tom

    Related to Geenflags post.

    From Bloomberg “Sterling Crisis Looms as U.K. Unraveling Points to Budget Cuts”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aptnrMueIerQ

    and from todays Indo

    “BRITAIN’S budget deficit will peak at 12pc of GDP in the fiscal year ending March 2010 — higher than the projected Irish figure for this year, an influential UK thinktank said.”

    http://www.independent.ie/business/european/uks-budget-deficit-forecast-to-peak-at-12pc-1835611.html

  • Billy

    Mick

    Thanks for the account. I agree that Cameron is certainly slick, professional and will appeal to many – a Tory version of Tony Blair re 1997.

    Frankly, the Labour party are so bad that you could almost believe they are deliberately trying to loose by a landslide.

    It’s not really a question of if Cameron wins but by how many seats.

    However, your point about him avoiding the fiscal bullet is well made. It’s bloody obvious to everyone that harsh cuts will have to be made – just look at today’s GDP figures – twice as bad as expected!

    Cameron says blandly that cuts will have to be made but then seems to tell everyone with a specific cause that they will be OK.

    People aren’t stupid and that simply doesn’t add up. I don’t expect Cameron or any politician to make specific commitments at this stage. However, I think he’d have more credibility if he didn’t assure anyone who asks that something will be worked out for them.

    I can’t see him getting away with that when he’s faced with Paxman, Humphries or Snow durung the election campaign.

    As an Economics graduate and 20 year veteran of the Banking industry, I have long been an admirer of Vince Cable. I know many people of all political persuasions who feel the same.

    It’s a great pity that he’ll never get to be Chancellor or Chief Treasury Secretary as, quite frankly, I think he’d do a much better job than anyone in either of the other parties.

  • blinding

    It will be interesting to see if this “Messiah” worship of Cameron(Blair mark 2 anyone) will survive long when the Messiah has to make decisions that actually count.

    His continuing with the out of his depth George Osborne is interesting in that will it continue ?

    George probably should do the decent thing and go and annoy his family and let the grown ups get on with the serious business.

  • Mick,
    So Cameron agreed with almost everyone in the room. Remind you of anyone? Although in a Lib-Dem constituency I will leave you to work that one out.

    There is nothing new about Cameron, he is Blair mark two, right down to supporting pointless and jingoistic foreign military adventure abroad and deregulating the City. Like the war criminal he will never challenge any of the elitist power centers that has led the UK to become the second most unequal nation in Europe.

    Indeed, he has become their made advocate since they lost Blair as their front man, as to Murdoch, the creep already has his man in Cameron’s front office. That Cameron stood by him over the phone tapping scandal proves this. As Coulson was either the most stupid f—– to ever edit a major UK tabloid, or he was up to his neck in filth, either way he was unfit for the job.

    Cameron and Blair’s politics are identical, opportunistic, reactionary, based on class hatred, elitist and cringinley cowardly of big business and the US presidency.

    Even the UK middle classes will come to regret placing this man in Downing Street, not least because unlike Blair, who silver lined the UK middle classes draws. Cameron represents the self interest of the 10% at the top of the economic tree, not as people like you presume the broad sweep of middle classes opinion, although he has been very clever in disguising this fact.

  • daisy

    I find it deeply depressing that the LibDems are unable to capitalise on Labour’s woes and instead we’re heading for at least 2 terms of toryism. Cameron seems to have fooled a lot of people; shame we’ll have to go through a lot more misery for them to see that.

  • Driftwood

    Cameron knows he only has to keep it bland as Labour are now beyond salvation. I think Cameron also knows not to write off the Lib Dems as a serious force in the GE.

    George Osborne really needs to learn how not to smirk though.

    Compared to Italy though…’Berlusconi Direct’ would be interesting viewing. Though probably at a premium rate in London hotels.

  • DC

    Yes great let’s cut public spending during a downturn with depression undertones. Why? Because the markets need convincing of UK government intentions to payback enough so as to maintain the perception of financial stability.

    No one questioned the markets abilitiy to finance banks with 125% mortgages until the crash.

    So given tax payers money to supplant crushed and crashed credit lines the 12 to 14% gov debt to GDP seems understandable and stable enough given the financial circs.

    Will Hutton should stand for MP and overhaul Labour in the process.

  • Mick Fealty

    That’s (almost) not funny Drift!

    Mick, you leave us to guess then then tell us in the next sentence… Doh!

    That is the perennial problem with the Lib Dems. That and their leader just sounds exactly like Cameron but with a sore throat…

  • Greenflag

    willis ,

    ‘The crucial switch had been made – from the power of manufacture to the power of finance.’

    Indeed but it was a long time coming before the fit finally hit the shan in October 2007. Long enough anyway for the likes of Bernard Madoff and many others to pillage and loot their way through the savings of the American middle classes 🙁 Clinton signed the Glass Steigel Act in 1998 which was the final piece of legerdemain which allowed the ‘lords of the universe’ to run riot over both the USA and later UK and Irish financial sectors and run their economies into the ground all for the sake of mega profits.

    ‘I doubt that either party would have saved us from the greed of the “Masters of the Universe”’

    Correct . For the simple reason that there was’nt then and there still isn’t now a politician in these islands who had/has an iota of what was /is happening in the shadow banking world:( The politicians both here (UK & Ireland ) are running scared of taking on the powerful banking and hedge fund industries 🙁

    The politicians no longer represent the people bar for the few moments they are ‘elected’ at the hustings . The rest of the time thay are in hoc to their financial supporters and the large financial and investment corporations. For the USA it would save a lot of time and money and expense not to mention reducing hypocrisy if they dispensed with elections altogether and just allowed the top Private Health Insurance Companies , and the Corporate Military & Pharmaceutical & Banking sectors to appoint Senators & Congressmen directly to do their bidding without going through the charade of ‘elections’

    ‘Cameron says blandly that cuts will have to be made but then seems to tell everyone with a specific cause that they will be OK.’

    That’ll change when the votes are in and he’s in office . Then it’ll be back to the old standard
    justification routine ‘

    ‘We didn’t know in opposition that the financial situation was so dire and had we known we’d have told you exactly what we would do which is what we are now having to do for the sake of the country -blah -blah blah etc .

    Even Maggie had’nt such a financial nightmare to address and back then Britain still had the vestiges of an alternative economy to that of 2009 ‘financial services ‘ ex capital of the world UK 🙁

    Join the Euro lads quick before yiz are Icelandised !

  • “The politicians no longer represent the people bar for the few moments they are ‘elected’ at the hustings . The rest of the time thay are in hoc to their financial supporters and the large financial and investment corporations. For the USA it would save a lot of time and money and expense not to mention reducing hypocrisy if they dispensed with elections altogether and just allowed the top Private Health Insurance Companies , and the Corporate Military & Pharmaceutical & Banking sectors to appoint Senators & Congressmen directly to do their bidding without going through the charade of ‘elections’”

    Ahaa Green flag,

    But you forget Capital prefers to govern ‘democratically,’ they only reveal themselves in their true colors when all else fails. (Germany 33, Chile 73, etc)

    After all we now know about Tony Blair, it is almost unbelievable that the UK middle class electorate cannot wait to put in office a Blairite clone.

    If only it were possible to change the electorate, for sure as hell no matter what government we get, they all stink the same. In truth I am sick of the stench of them.

    Anyone know of an out of the way island that needs a caretaker?
    A lighthouse perhaps?

  • tom

    ‘Even Maggie had’nt such a financial nightmare to address and back then Britain still had the vestiges of an alternative economy to that of 2009 ‘financial services ’ ex capital of the world UK :(‘

    The brent sweet light crude was starting to pay the bills shortly after Maggie came along with her sweeping brush in 1979 and that has been helping to keep the wheels on that cart ever since. However thats not going to happen this time around and with the oil barrel startlingly to look decidedly low things are looking none to bright in old Blighty.

  • fin

    I find it stunning that out in the sticks people have a believe that the Tories are going to walk the next election, have a look here

    http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/voting-intention

    The tories are just polling into the early 40’s if thats all they can manage without announcing any policies and with Labour on the ropes, it doesn’t look good for them at election time, Neil Kinnock anyone!

    In the big smoke regardless of the here and now (or how its been paid for) people see new schools, new hospitals, more cops, more police stations, if Brown deals with the economy and stops his MPs from shooting themselves in the foot it really is anyones game.

  • tom

    ‘if Brown deals with the economy’

    Fin just to put things in perspective, at the last count that’s a 200 billion pounds and counting ‘if’ for 2009/10 alone.

  • fin @ 07:10 PM is on the ball and on the money.

    In “the big smoke” the citizenry already have the advantage of seeing an ineffective, do-nothing, tell-fibs-and then-back-off Mayorality. Moreover, does anyone know for sure what is Tory policy on, say, the third Heathrow runway? After the Tory “sweep” (more of a seep) at the local elections, the rest of the country will soon be in the same policy-lite, don’t-frighten-the-horses morass.

    As for Norwich North, we have just witnessed an “historic” (© Dave-the-Jellyfish) victory with a towering 18% of the electorate supporting the Tories. A mandate for what?

  • Greenflag

    mickhall ,

    ‘In truth I am sick of the stench of them’

    There are places much worse than NI /UK or Republic . New Jersey for instance where a sweeping corruption indictment Thursday named three Mayors , two State Legislators , a deputy Deputy Mayor , a city council president , and believe it or not 5 yes FIVE Rabbis allegedly involved in an international money laundering ring that trafficked in everything from fake Gucci and Prada handbags to human kidneys . (USA Today )

    ‘Same old , same old ” said a Terri Caputo 32 of Hoboken (Frank Sinatra’s town ) who’d just learned her city’s mayor was accused of selling his office a few weeks after taking it :(.

    ‘I don’t know why I still get mad ‘ she said -more than 130 New Jersey public officials have pleaded guilty or have been convicted of corruption since 2001 .

    Despite all the State’s previous corruption cases the elected officials are still willing to put their hands on illicit dosh .
    The US attorney’s office in Newark said the investigation focused on a money laundering network that allegedly operated between Brooklyn ; Deal , NJ and Israel and allegedly routed tens of millions of dollars through Jewish Charities controlled by rabbis .

    One Levy Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn was even charged with conspiring to arrange the sale of an Israeli citizen’s kidney for 160,000 dollars for a transplant for the informant’s fictitious uncle . Rosenbaum was quoted in the complaint as saying he had been arranging such sales for 10 years and paid 10,000 dollars to the seller .

    Those into mega profits out there will commend Rosenbaum on making a cool 150,000 gross profit on a sale of 160,000 .

    In what only be described as sheer unadulterated arrogance Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano told the undercover agent that even if he were ‘indicted ‘ he would still get 85 to 95% of the vote in his election race .

    So you see Mick – NI is not alone .

    And the answer ?

    I suggest summary trial followed by immediate death by firing squad on conviction for any public official found guilty of corruption of public monies . The same treatment to be meted out to bankers , corporate executives and those who sell ‘religion’ to the masses .

    Won’t happen of course because the bastards who draft the laws will make sure that if they get caught with their finger in the till it’ll be few years in a comfortable ‘white collar ‘ jail followed by early release for being a non violent goodie goodie who just made a ‘mistake ‘

    Shome Mishtake eh when you look around at the world economy and now they are at it again with Bank of America and Goldman Sachs handing out billions in bonuses once again to the greedy f**kers who very nearly drove the entire world back to the 1930’s and might still achieve that dismal goal 🙁 MEanwhile back on Capitol Hill the private health insurance thieves and the pharmaceutical corporate gangsters are lining up with every conservative interest group in the USA to make sure that Americans continue to be gouged out of 20% of their GDP to prop up the mega profits of the greatest bunch of thieves since Ali Baba .

    Democracy is not what it used to be (: Nowhere but least of all in the so called home of the brave which is now looking more and more like the home of the gutless and scared at least to judge by the performance of many of the Democratic Senators in the Health Debate 🙁

    ’round up ‘ of corrupt politicians be worse than NI
    So you are not from New Jersey then eh . A recent news item from Newark

  • Mick Fealty

    Have to say the pro Tory spin (calling Norwich North a safe seat, f/e!) on Sky was something else. It’s beginning to edge towards its twin, Fox News.

    But Labour’s big problem is its people don’t give a damn about it. The Tories will carry the election off handsomely even if they only hit 40%, if Labour continues to switch of its people.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Anyone know of an out of the way island that needs a caretaker?’

    There’s no escape now or even then back in Maggie’s time . IIRC a Kilkenny man a teacher in London had enough of the smog – the winter of discontent , the threat of nuclear armageddon , Northern Ireland crap, sundry other complaints including badly mannered teenagers in sink estate schools etc etc . So he took out a globe and had a look at where he could be relatively safe form all the crapology and get to live in a peaceful environment like the one he grew up in . And so he took up a job offer as a teacher on the Falkland Islands just a week before the Argentinians invaded . And they call it the luck of the Irish ;)?

  • Greenflag

    ‘Anyone know of an out of the way island that needs a caretaker?’

    There’s no escape now or even then back in Maggie’s time . IIRC a Kilkenny man a teacher in London had enough of the smog – the winter of discontent , the threat of nuclear armageddon , Northern Ireland crap, sundry other complaints including badly mannered teenagers in sink estate schools etc . So he took out a globe gave it a spin and had a look at where he could be relatively safe from a world gone mad ( and that was then ?) and get to live in a peaceful environment like the one he grew up in . And so he took up a job offer as a teacher on the Falkland Islands a week before the Argentinians invaded . And they call it the luck of the Irish ;)? Some times you just can’t win eh 🙂

  • greenflag

    tom ,

    ‘However thats not going to happen this time around and with the oil barrel startlingly to look decidedly low things are looking none to bright in old Blighty.’

    Which also means a poorer outlook for Ireland -North and South . In one sense we are less dependent on the UK than we were in the 1970’s and 1980’s but even so a badly mauled UK economy will have negative repercussions in both the Republic and more directly on NI via public spending cutbacks.

  • Thank you for that reminder, Greenflag on @ 09:11 PM.

    Sometime in the Spring of 1990 I was conversing with an acquaintance (ex-TCD, then one of HMG’s bods in the Corps Diplomatique). I was bewailing the fact that my school had just been merged; and from here it was all the way down to an offer of premature retirement.

    His advice was there were all sorts of opportunities for English teaching “up the Gulf”. He could advise me … Kuwait was a good place.

    If I had a few fewer family commitments, I might have been tempted.

    Yep: that 2nd August, Saddam invaded. Teachers and others were deployed as hostages. Great and prescient advice.

    Just last night I met and conversed with a guy, about to spent the next three years on a posting to that last speck of the Empire, the Falklands …

    Let’s be positive here. The UK economy is not going to tank. The scare tactics over “debt” ignore the way other countries (Sweden …) dug themselves out with rapidity; or how Mitterand’s Grands Projets and Kohl’s drive for reunification were equally expensive (yet both were as admirable as they were costly and ambitious). UK consumer spending is holding up, to general astonishment. The expectation and the signs are that the UK will be one of the first economies to revive. Indeed, the Tory expectation is that this will happen soon after the General Election that they can claim credit! We all know someone who has lost a job; but there are still a lot of us in employment. My generation can wallow in our index-linked pensions. Swine flu is, for most of us, little more than an excuse for a few days on a sickie.

    So, the message is “these things will pass”. No, I don’t expect the massive Tory leads in Opinion Polls and elsewhere to persist all the way past a General Election. More to the point, neither do the Tories. Notice how twitchy the lot on ConHome get with each and every Poll.

  • “And so he took up a job offer as a teacher on the Falkland Islands just a week before the Argentinians invaded. ”

    Greenflag

    wonderful 😉

  • Billy

    Mick

    Labour just doesn’t seem to care any more about what the people are concerned about. Frankly, and I’ve never voted Tory in my life, they deserve to be kicked out asap and, hopefully, they’ll get as big a spanking as the Tories did in 1997.

    Obviously the economy is the major issue. However, related to that and a big topic is immigration. It’s hard to believe that Labour is so out of tune with the people on this one especially so-called future leaders like Allan Johnson.

    One only has to look at the hit figures and contributions to Migration Watch to see how important this is. There have been several surveys recently to my knowledge on this topic and in each case > 80% of people have said that they are concerned about immigration and many want a cap on it as the UK population will soon be approaching 70 million!

    From personal experience, I can illustrate how much of an issue this is. I have spent a lot of time in New Zealand recently – the NZ govt is refusing to extend the work to residence visas of many UK families who are being forced to leave the country. An English guy started a group to complain about this and the NZ govt withdrew his licence to act as a migration agent! UK/Irish ex pats are really starting to see through the double standards that NZ/Aus applies to UK immigrants here while waltzing into the UK as if they were citizens – and there is a lot of anger and people wanting to see some UK govt action!

    Having been over in Aus for 4 years, I can tell you that the Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans openly laugh at the UK immigration system. I know quite a few ex-pat Brits/Irish (including my own brother) who have missed out on jobs to much less qualified Kiwis/Aussies/South Africans – many of who paradoxically are coming back from living and working in the UK!

    It’s much easier for an Aussie/Kiwi/South African to get into the UK than vice versa. This is a total joke as there are far more of them wanting to go to the UK than vice versa.

    They know that, after a 2 year working holiday, they can apply for a “Highly Skilled” (LOL) migrant visa and get it. Frankly, many of the people I know who got these don’t even have a University degree! I only know 2 people who didn’t and they have no qualifications at all.

    I have a BSc, a Masters Degree, numerous professional qualifications and I was seconded here by a major Global company. Even after all that, I had to spend 4 months jumping through hoops before I was allowed to work here.

    Please don’t get me wrong – I’m no Xenophobe. I like the Aussies + Kiwis but it does anger me when they laugh at the UK and treat it as a “gift shop”. The common attitude here is that they can go to the UK when they like and stay as long as they like. At the moment, plenty of them are coming back but the attitude is, that when the UK economy recovers in a few years, they’ll just go back.

    All I’m saying is that the UK govt should make it as difficult for them to enter or stay in the UK as it is for us to get in here.

    I know plenty of ex pat Brits/Irish here (many of whom have no real interest in politics) and there is a lot of anger about this. The vast majority want to see the UK put a flexible cap (dependent on economic needs) on immigration. A strict but fair points system (much more realistic than the current one) needs to be put in place and the ethnic make up of the population needs to be taken into account. Ironically, NZ, Australia and Canada already have such a system.

    This is nothing to do with racism or Xenophobia – it’s for the good of the country. If someone has skills that are needed in the country – I don’t care about their colour, creed, sexual orientation or anything else – they’ll be welcome. However, we need to stop letting in people who have nothing to offer and look after our own citizens interests.

    I was reading the other day that Allan Johnson doesn’t worry about the UK population reaching 70 million! Apparently no-one in Labour thinks that an immigration cap is necessary. I’m living 12,000 miles away and I’m more in tune with the mood of the people than the govt are!

    Frankly, this totally illustrates how arrogant and stupid Labour has become. Apart from the fact that they are ignoring the will of the vast majority of the people in favour of their own narrow agenda – in blunt political terms, this would be a major vote winner.

    Not only are they staring defeat in the face, they seem to be running headlong towards it!

  • Harry Flashman

    “The brent sweet light crude was starting to pay the bills shortly after Maggie came along…”

    On the contrary North Sea oil almost destroyed Maggie’s first term and is largely responsible for the massive recession which wrecked much of Britain’s manufacturing industry (contrary to the wilder imaginings of the British Left Maggie actually did not deliberately choose to ruin British industry). The oil kept Sterling artificially high in the opening years of the Eighties and thereby priced much of British industry (admittedly woefully inefficient, strikebound and hopelessly outdated and over-manned) out of their international markets. Sir Michael Edwades, the chairman of then British Leyland, one of Maggie’s favourite industrialists famously told her that if the oil was going to cause so many problems she should just leave the stuff under the sea.

    As to Greenflag’s twice daily mentioning of Bernie Madoff, I see he now mentions the financial scandal emerging which involves rabbis and mayors in New Jersey. I know very little about the case but I’m prepared to put up a substantial wager that the people involved, like Bernie Madoff, are not members of the US Republican party.

  • Harry Flashman @ 04:07 AM:

    I’m prepared to put up a substantial wager that the people involved, like Bernie Madoff, are not members of the US Republican party.

    Harry can update himself at:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aBblMZUVJ6To

    Since this is northern New Jersey (with a branch in Brooklyn), one might expect his bet to be safe. Not so, for those arrested include:

    State Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, 44, a Republican from Ocean Township.

    Also at variance with Harry’s prejudices is the “cooperating witness”, Solomon Dwek:

    Dwek joked he was neither a Democrat nor a Republican, according to the criminal complaint.

    Instead, Dwek said he was a member of the “green” party.

    “Green is cash,” he said.

    See:

    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/07/cooperating_witness_solomon_dw.html

    The full history of Mr Dwek’s political donations within the State, which went both ways but seem to favour Republicans, is on line at:

    http://www.thestatenj.com/POST/7_24_09/dwek.xls

  • tom

    Malcolm, “The U.K. economy shrank more than twice as much as economists forecast in the second quarter as a record annual slump in construction, banking and business services kept Britain mired in the recession.” … “the government has committed as much as 1.4 trillion pounds to revive lending and rescue banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, it hasn’t stopped joblessness from increasing.”

    Next week for every one pound that Gordan Brown spends something like 30 pence of it will be borrowed (not a comforting thought if you’re dependent on the state for your income – correct me if my figures are wrong).

    It is a certainty that spending will have to be reined in.

    Assuming the lenders will keep writing the cheques for another while (12 to 18 months??), Gordan Brown simply doesn’t have time on his side.

    As soon as he starts making cuts the more unpopular he’ll become, but the longer he delays the bigger the hole.

  • Dewi

    That, and am open to correction, is the best ever UKIP result in a by-election. Whilst the win was easy enough the Tories advance was fairly small – the lib Dems must be concerned also as they put a lot of effort and cash into Norwich North.

  • Greenflag

    harry flashman,

    ‘but I’m prepared to put up a substantial wager that the people involved, like Bernie Madoff, are not members of the US Republican party.’

    Wrong call Flash – Whatever wager you have lost in your mindless adherence to US Republican Party pristine non corruptibility -I suggest you send it to a childrens charity in Gaza to help the orphans recently ‘created’ by the Israeli slaughter of a 1,000 plus Palestinians

    You should recall of course that most of the Congressmen and Senators who ended up either resigning for reasons of corruption or being convicted were members of the GOP (21 of 23 iirc)- you know the Party that hates the poor and would prefer a war with Iran to a decent Health care system which would not create one million American bankruptcies a year nor leave a population greater than the UK’s without insurance !

    As for the twice mentioning of Madoff as in Madoffia there are so many of these financial service criminals being ‘dug ‘ up every day -that Madoff is a handy ‘catch all ‘ term . I could list several hundred of these neo con corporate criminals going back to Lay and Enron but Madoff still strides atop the pinnacle of reckless and irresponsible ‘greed ‘

    As for the rabbis selling other people’s kidney’s for a 150,000 dollar profit ? I’m sure that deep in the subconcious minds of these 5 men of religion they will all look for forgiveness from Jehovah from behind bars -assuming of course that Jehovah is not a Palestinain ;). You never know

    Malcolm Redfellow

    ‘Instead, Dwek said he was a member of the “green” party.

    “Green is cash,” he said.’

    LOL 🙂 good one . If I was a sensitive soul I could become uncomfortable with my ‘green ‘ flag and all that 🙂 but then I’ve always had an understanding that ‘cash’ follows the flag of empire everywhere and throughout history .

    Dwek could in fact lend his name to that ever widening band of corporate and other lobbyists on Capital Hill who contribute to both parties in the hope that no matter who wins an election they will have an ‘in’ with whoever gets into power .

    ‘Dwekism ‘ indeed .

    There is a more serious point in the NJ story which has ramifications for democratic politics everywhere but more anon .

  • Harry Flashman

    Well Malcolm the fact that the political affiliations of the accused have not been splashed all over the mainstream US media leads me to suspect that they aren’t, on the whole, Republicans. When a crook has the letter (D) after his name the media usually brushes quietly over the issue, if it’s an (R) they tend to go into overdrive.

    So my wager stands; if, when the full picture emerges, the accused are mainly Republicans or even 50/50 Republicans the drinks are on me.

  • tom @ 11:24 AM

    When you rip, it’s only fair game:

    1. to cite your source, which I believe could be

    p://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601102&sid=aK1ZrKAZP.60

    and

    2. (in Slugger’s basic rule) play the ball, not the man. Anyway, his name is Gordon Brown, on both occasions. Such infelicities do not reinforce your credibility as a commentator.

    For the record, which is also cited in that Bloomberg article by Jennifer Ryan:

    The International Monetary Fund forecasts the U.K. will contract 4.2 percent this year, compared with 4.8 percent in the euro area and 2.6 percent in the U.S.

    When the US sneezes, the rest of us catch a very bad cold. As said Gordon Brown has suggested, this is a recession made in the US mortgage markets.

    Furthermore:

    The data show the economy has now shrunk by 5.7 percent since the recession began last year. That compares with a total 6 percent slump in the recession period that ended in 1981, the statistics office said.

    If we must play the personality game, could you remind us who was in Government during that previous recession? As I recall, that was a “double-dip” made worse by Chancellor Howe slashing public expenditure.

    Don’t omit to reads down to the end of Ryan’s objective piece:

    Former policy maker David Blanchflower said … that the economy may not be through the worst, and the central bank risks stifling the recovery were it to raise rates or reverse the bond-purchase program prematurely.

    “My worry is that the tightening comes too soon and people kill off any recovery that’s coming,” he said. “It’s very early days to say that you know the endgame is even in sight.”

    I note you fail to comment on the picture at street level. UK unemployment is up: even so, you might consider applying your intelligence to:

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-SF-09-053/EN/KS-SF-09-053-EN.PDF

    There you would discover that there are many EU nations which would envy the UK position (Spain = 34% youth unemployment rate!), and that we may have passed the low-point of increases (which, of course, doesn’t mean that unemployment is a lagging indicator).

  • Harry Flashman

    No GF, I’ve just done a bit of research and I’m afraid you are beclowned.

    Of the accused, 42 out of 44 are Democrats, and one of the “Republicans” only changed allegiance in 2006.

    BZZZZZZZTTTTTT!!!!!!

    Bingo, Harry Flashman is absolutely spot on again. When can we arrange the meeting for you and Malc to buy me dinner? I have expensive tastes by the way.

  • Harry Flashman @ 12:14 PM:

    With all the due and usual respect,

    the political affiliations of the accused have [indeed] been splashed all over the mainstream US media.

    The NY Post is milking it:

    GOP loving it as arrests hurt Gov’s re-elex bid
    Hoboken mayor: I didn’t take bribes
    Hudson County long a nest of Jersey devils

    The NY Times, the WaPo have not hung back. It’s a big issue in my other stamping ground of New Jersey. Do you require the web references for confirmation? For a special treat, try the Asbury Park Press: not national, but fun’n’games in the Boss’s backyard.

    One aspect of the Dwek story has gone national: the bit about $160,000 for a kidney. Whether that is featured simply because it is so gruesome, or because Dwek was providing for a fictitious uncle of the FBI agent-provocateur is open to question. Meanwhile, from Alaska to Florida the rest of the Land of the Freebie has many other local corruptions in the news: many, if not most involving Republicans.

    Ah, the GOP! Its recent candidate for Vice-President didn’t even know that Africa was a continent! But Harry, if I recall correctly, thought she was a Good Thing and a sure-fire winner.

  • Sorry: in the previous post I did a “cut-and-shut”. In removing a paragraph, a serious inaccuracy was created. That previous bit should read:

    The NY Daily News is milking it …

    Murdoch’s NY Post is taking another line:

    The Talmudic Traitor Rabbis — Blasphemy in $$ “scam”
    Stoolie’s $50M “scam” record a perfect cover
    FBI arrests Mayors, Rabbis in New Jersey sweep.

    It’s how they tell ’em.

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flashman 1

    ‘I’m prepared to put up a substantial wager that the people involved, like Bernie Madoff, are not members of the US Republican party’

    Harry Flashman 2

    So my wager stands if the accused are mainly Republicans or even 50/50 Republicans the drinks are on me.

    Harry Flashman 3 ?

    Harry Flashman 4 ?

    Harry Flashman 5 ?

    ‘Harry Flashman is absolutely spot on again’

    You mean of course that Harry Flashman has again been spotted changing the ‘rules’ if the facts don’t fit his preconceived bias .

    The leopard does’nt change his spots and neither does HF;)

  • Greenflag

    ‘if I recall correctly, thought she was a Good Thing and a sure-fire winner.’

    Harry has not been keeping up with the bould Sarah’s alleged extra marital liasons which have propelled her into a forced political retirement.Ah the GOP the party of family values , clean christian living etc etc .

    Senator McCain must have been thinking through his rear end like our Harry here when he picked SP to be a potential heartbeat away from the red button .

    It appears that President Obama has in less than one year restored ‘confidence ‘ in the USA among most Europeans and peoples around the world .Oddly enough it’s only in the Islamic world and in particular among the USA’s fundamentalist allies in Saudi Arabia and in Pakistan that Obama has not improved America’s standing .

  • tom

    Malcolm,
    From yesterdays print edition of the FT “Economic decline worse than expected” … “Contraction exceeds gloomiest forecasts” … the figures were “shockingly bad” … are these the headlines and stories of an economy on the way up?
    Double dip recession my backside.
    Gordon has shovelled barrow loads of money into the banks, is writing IOUs by the billion for day to day spending and what has he got to show for it?

    Sweet duck all!

    And no lender wants to be left with a pile of 5 – 10 year IOUs denominated in a worthless currency (Just ask the Chinese about that big mountain of greenback IOUs they have)
    “Sterling Crisis Looms as U.K. Unraveling Points to Budget Cuts” http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aptnrMueIerQ

  • tom @ 09:45 AM:

    Yeah, yeah. Run round in ever-decreasing circles screeching, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” If that makes you feel better.

    Alternatively, take a deep breath and read the bits, even the bits of the FT, that you carefully avoided.

    The contraction was worse than expected, but then how many of all those many forecasts have been coming true of late? The OECD, the IMF and others have all predicted the UK economy was tanking, and been proven wrong almost as soon as the doomsaying hit paper.

    The figures you are relying on are from the ONS; and the ONS admits it is not working with complete data: go to the source and you will see the ONS head this item as:

    Gross Domestic Product: Preliminary Estimate – Q2 2009

    Please note, before hyperventilation becomes certifiable hysteria, “Preliminary” and “Estimate” — such words do have meanings.

    These figures are, as always, subject to later revisions. One view that came to me is that the figures are unbelievable and will be upwardly revised.

    They are historical figures, for the second quarter. General expectation is that the third quarter will show positive growth. Can you wait that long, Chicken Little, or must we panic now?

    The big hit in the figures came from in services, notably computing services. This implies a lack of company investment more than anything else.

    You might care to take a look at the Economist. On the way to the classy nude of Leda and the Swan (page 17), you’ll find a nice editorial on “Rebalancing global growth”:

    Even in America and the euro area, GDP is likely to stop shrinking during the summer. Trade, having fallen precipitately, is levelling off … And, as firms rebuild their stocks, global growth over the next few months could be surprisingly robust.

    Yes, it’s only another prediction; but it implies that, on your account, it’s only the sky over the UK that’s about to drop. Just when the weather here in NorfLunnun was improving, too.