Safeguarding budding politicians.

Conservatives 23 November 2015 Tell me what you think

The catastrophe of the death by suicide of a young conservative activist earlier this year has opened the Conservative Party to some disbelief and ridicule, particularly in the party’s handling of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding both the conduct of a person in contact with vulnerable young people and the conduct of the party in handling complaints.  The objective of this entirely subjective and personal post is not to dig into the circumstances of the tragedy, nor to point fingers of blame against any individuals, but to consider the issues made public, rightly or wrongly, accurately or inaccurately, in the press and in social media.  As a result, I shall not use any names in the post, other than those who retain positions of authority.

First of all, the holy grail of any investigative reporter or social media commentator, is the idea that a malfeasance or misdemeanour inside a political machine goes ‘right to the top’.  Articles featured on Guido Fawkes blog suggesting that ‘PM had [Alleged Culprit] to tea at Chequers’ are intended to create the impression that the [Alleged Culprit] performed his misdeeds at the behest of the PM, or with the PM’s knowledge.  We are intended to conclude that ‘they’re up to their necks in it’ as a cover-up.  Hence stories about prominent members of the House of Lords, members of Parliament etc, etc, are all intended to create an air of collective complicity.

This is of course bollocks.  Politics at a high level is a close quarters activity, and it is entirely likely and normal that the PM would have the leader of the highly effective Roadtrip operation to tea; the PM is the leader of a political party which vied for power, and meeting the infantry, and the infantry commanders in a general election, and afterwards, is a completely normal activity. In this case, however, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the party, when fully clued in on the alleged activities of [Alleged Culprit] took action against him.

The query around what the chairman of the party knew and when is essentially a canard as well, because it’s only possible to draw conclusions on the basis of what was known at the time through disclosure to the chairman of the party.  It has been well reported, summarised and asserted that [Alleged Culprit] was a manipulator with an high degree of acuity and capability.  It has been alleged that [Alleged Culprit] committed acts of blackmail, distortion, lies and threats.

In those circumstances it is not unlikely that the truth and [Alleged Culprit’s] involvment in the tragic incidents were obscured, most likely by [Alleged Culprit] himself.  It is unlikely, from what has been reported, that he needed any help to seek to muddy those waters.  By reputation he had every reason and capability to do so himself.

It has been clear to me for many years that CF has not taken the protection of vulnerable young people seriously enough. There are some obvious reasons for this – it’s a youth wing of a political party which prizes self-reliance and independence very highly, and interventions of the ‘touchy-feely’ sort are not likely to be welcomed.  Nevertheless, when we seek to engage young people in the very knockabout world of UK politics, we need to take safeguarding extremely seriously. Young conservatives are competitive, self promoting and serious about their politics. Whilst there is banter, there is also, I can recall only too well, bullying, one-upmanship and grief.

CF is enormously popular and Roadtrip was deeply impressive. CFers all over the country got to see other constituencies, better understand their country and whet their appetite for canvassing, politics and the party. It has serious flaws, however, which must be addressed, to avoid exposing more young people to the risks we’re finding out about now.

There are answers to all the problems extant in CF. A well-developed membership welfare plan, a considered safeguarding strategy and an effective whistleblowing protocol could all be developed under efficient staff supervision to bring it about in time for the next general election.  We owe it to our members to protect them.

Tagged in , , ,

‘Mise (Saorstat) Éire’

Ireland,Northern Ireland 5 November 2015 Tell me what you think


United Ireland strategy, yesterday.

Some quixotic souls in the republican movement must last night have been sitting, breath bated, in Arran sweater and Celtic jersey wearing clusters.  They were waiting, no doubt with poitín in hand, for RTÉ’s ‘Ireland’s Call’ PrimeTime Special, seeking to discover just how much more they need to do to convince the people of Ireland that an end to ‘partition’ is worthwhile or worth working towards.  Some probably tried to calculate how many more fathers, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters and grand-daughters they would have to murder, how many department stores to burn down, how many Enterprise train services to delay, to bring it about.  Had they tried too hard?  Had they not tried hard enough?

The show was trumpeted as an opportunity to take the pulse of Ireland’s patriotism and desire for a unification and end to partition. It will have gone down today with the Tiochaídh Brothers like a cup of cold sick.

66% of people in the republic of Ireland would like to see a United Ireland in the short or medium term. Not exactly the sort of nationalistic fever one might have expected, but enough to win a referendum in a pinch.

When the idea of paying more tax (the experience of all ‘unified’ nations after partition) was brought into the thought process, patriotic fervour dies down a lot – 31% still think casting out perfidious Albion is worth the bother.  Only our rivers run free; toll roads everywhere else.

In Northern Ireland, the society isn’t as deeply divided as all that.  Fewer people there (unsurprisingly) would like to join an Éire Núa, with only 30% of the surveyed participants favouring a United Ireland in the medium or short term. 27% are undecided and 43% would sooner stick needles in their (too close together) eyes.  Absolutely no prospect for a united Ireland by border poll.

This chimes well with the attitudes I have encountered among people I meet in Ireland – they mostly say ‘yeah’ to the idea of a united Ireland, but when pressed on the matter, most people in the South are content for there to be peace and prosperity on a binary island. The Belfast Agreement has created a scenario whereby peoples’ identities are recognised and respected, whilst their political views are tamely tolerated.

Thoughts in the Free State have already turned to a rather more proximal and important referendum – with the realisation that a UK departure from the EU would result in economic turmoil for the twenty six counties.  I shall turn to the constitutional implications of provincial disparity with the mainland response to a Brexit in due course.


Tagged in , , ,

Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t a threat to national security. He is now.

Corbyn,Corbynology,Hoons,Labour Leadership,politics 1 October 2015 Tell me what you think

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected to lead the Labour Party, Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) launched an impressive and apparently effective campaign to seize the initial narrative and establish him as a threat to the national security of the UK.  The main argument then was that he met with terrorists and seemed to be at least not discouraging of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Sweep all that aside – that stuff only makes someone a threat to citizens’ security and endangers our international diplomatic existence – it doesn’t really pose a threat to the existence of the nation.  When he said that, as Prime Minister, he would not give the order for a nuclear missile launch however, he became a real and extant threat to the whole nation. Jeremy Corbyn is in danger of comparison to Robert Lundy, the Governor of Londonderry who sought to hand over the city to Catholic forces during its storied siege.

The entire UK nuclear weapons system is referred to as Trident – a system comprising four Vanguard class submarines, their Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and their warheads.  They are an intensely powerful tool of international diplomacy and defence, patrolling undetected beneath the waves, occasionally popping up to check Northwood is still broadcasting and that Women’s Hour on Radio 4 is still there. They are our citadel’s walls.

The Prime Minister can, in consultation with the armed forces, decide whether or not to launch nuclear missiles. In the event that the UK is wiped out, it is understood that a submarine commander will open a safe and extract a secret letter written by the Prime Minister, giving instructions to the Trident fleet.  It is understood that the instructions will fall into the range:

  • Launch at predetermined targets
  • Do not launch and surrender to enemy forces
  • Seek to join up with the US Navy and receive orders from there
  • Seek to join up with the navies of Canada, Australia or New Zealand and receive orders from there

The principle of the secrecy and uncertainty approach is designed to reinforce the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction – the idea that any nation seeking to do ours harm can expect the harm to be repaid – if you wipe out London, you lose Moscow, etc – and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But if you have a potential Prime Minister whose approach is to rule out ‘Launch’, then you have a very peculiar and abrupt end to the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction.  You in effect have a clear run to invade or simply destroy.  Without the nuclear risk there is practically no risk to any nation strong enough to take on our armed forces.

Further to this comes the political risk. If an enemy power could find a way to develop political influence in the UK, they would have to be quite literally mad not to seek now to support Jeremy Corbyn, the chap who decided he wouldn’t use the tools of defence at his command.

The big questions now will take a Corbynologist to answer.  Does Jeremy Corbyn simply dislike the idea of using nuclear weapons, or is he, in the manner of Robert Lundy, intent on subjecting the nation to the will of its enemies.  Is Jeremy Corbyn now not just a danger to the nation, but an enemy of it?  And which will be the first bonfire to burn him in effigy?

Tagged in , , ,

Oakeshott and Ashcroft book recalled after emissions test fail

Books,politics 22 September 2015 Tell me what you think

The latest book by Lord Ashcroft, former non-dom donor to the Conservative Party, has been recalled after serialization of the tome was found to exceed emissions standards for personally held gripes and axe-grinding instruments.

The book “Call Me Dave”, in which the former member of the House of Lords details all the reasons he doesn’t like Prime Minister David Cameron in between snippets of biography trawled by former journalist Isabel Oakeshott from the minds of single sources, was allegedly partially funded by David ‘David’ Davis, the former almost-nearly-could-be leader of the Conservative Party, famously defeated by Cameron in a leadership election in 2005.

Defending the book, Ashcroft did some light tweeting, cut up a DVD of “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” and went for a nap in a hammock.

Originally conceived as a self-help therapy project with crayon-friendly inside covers for people not given jobs by David Cameron, the book has more recently been presented as a ‘balanced’ biography of the Prime Minister, at least by Isabel Oakeshott.

Speaking after the failure of the emissions test, the chief regulator for revenge books said:

“Not only is there a load of fairly noxious stuff inside the book, there’s a strong whiff of hubris, sour grapes and rotten eggs.  In addition, there seems to be a weak but diminishing scent of journalistic reputation.  It’s not really fit for consumption either by humans or pigs.”

Tagged in , , ,

Corbyn gets a car and a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

politics 16 September 2015 Tell me what you think

Jeremy Corbyn has gotten a Government Car Service car and a pay increase. Why people on my side of the house are going on about it is entirely beyond me.  The leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition has important responsibilities and functions additional to the job of just leading his party.

He must attend important events with his shirt unbuttoned and his tie undone, for instance.  He must attend vigorous question-crowdsourcing meetings.  He must travel to media interviews to passive-aggressively convey his friendship for terrorists and his hankering after policies which will destroy our economy, our national defence, our way of life and the institutions of our society.

And of course, he must travel without let or hindrance to Westminster, to ask those crowdsourced questions and thank the Prime Minister for answering them. Not at all, Jeremy. The pleasure was all his.

That can’t be done on a backbench MP’s salary and it’s stupid to think of his ‘accepting’ the pay rise and car as hypocrisy.  He got himself elected leader of the second largest party.  He has to attend a lot more obligatory meetings and he has to manage a busy political life, constituency office and an expansive social engagements list which are the bain of an opposition leader’s life.  He’ll have his ear bent by every person he bumps into – and I understand he’s a fairly gregarious chap already.

I may not be a fan of the Labour Party or Jeremy Corbyn’s politics, but I am a fan of the human spirit.  He saw a Labour Party which had lost its soul and offered to help them find it – and those of that stripe overwhelmingly endorsed it.  When I see him being questioned about why he didn’t sing God Save the Queen, he has the look of someone beaten down by the insignificance of politics-as-practiced. He’s right to reject the bullshit, but he should, rather than saying ‘I will fully take part in all events’, have the courage of his convictions to say:

“You know what?  I didn’t sing ‘God Save the Queen’ or implore God to pour his choicest gifts upon her, because I don’t believe that’s important. Neither in my singing nor in my speech do I say things I don’t mean.  I have principles to which I don’t expect anybody else to adhere, and because this is a tolerant and respectful society ruled by law and reason I have a right to live by my principles.”

Ironically, this would place Jeremy Corbyn in the role of Howard Roarke and Hank Rearden. Good luck undoing that comparison in your head.


Tagged in , , ,

The IRA and whether they have or have not gone away.

Northern Ireland 28 August 2015 Tell me what you think

When did the IRA say it was going away?  When did the ‘Ra announce it was dissolving and disappearing and not being a thing anymore?  I couldn’t remember, but surely the DUP must remember it happening, otherwise why would it appear to be surprised that the IRA continues to exist in its Veterans Club guise?

To be surprised that the IRA still exists, you would have to be oblivious to the statement made by the IRA in2005 and helpfully posted by Sinn Féin (as a matter of passing interest, I guess) on their website.  They speak of standing down but not disbanding.  In recent months and years they’ve had tshirts printed as an ‘undefeated army’.  It’s simply not possible to have even a mild curiosity for NI politics and not know that the IRA itself had continued to exist.

As I have argued before, the Provisional IRA needs to continue to exist as a form of demobbed legion, in order to ensure that the former volunteers are able to be kept informed and mollified by Sinn Féin. Only this way can they not be discouraged by the uneasy peace and slow progress toward democracy we have in Northern Ireland.

I don’t like the existence of the IRA any more than I like the existence of the UVF and UDA and others of their ilk.  I don’t like their petty criminality and vicious fascistic control over ‘their’ communities (again, I hate that construct). I despise the fact that, despite a statement in 2005 confirming that ‘all’ of their arms had been put beyond use, they appear to be able to shoot people.  I don’t like having to refer to a group of murderers who killed more of ‘their own’ community than all their ‘enemy’ forces put together as an ‘army’, because it clearly was not.

I say give credit where it’s due – the IRA is on a permanent cessation of the violence it had hoped would bring about a united Ireland, and it understands that the political route is the only one in town. Its members, however, appear to be involved in criminality and murder – and that’s as incompatible with ‘purely peaceful means’ as the idea that Sinn Féin and the IRA are not two sides of the one coin.

The idea of ‘peace at any cost’ doesn’t apply here – for the families of the murdered, both in the conflict (which I accept ended for the IRA in 2005) or in its aftermath, there is no peace.

The query I have is simpler than the ‘does the IRA exist?’ question posed by the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and NI’s politicians.  I want to know if the UK government, the DUP and others think it’s okay for the second party in the power sharing executive to be so closely associated with the crime of murder – and whether there are questions to be answered on the same basis by the DUP and UUP for their associations with loyalist paramilitaries.

In 1998, we wanted an end to this shit and we voted for it. A whole generation of voters will have been born and brought up since we did. Time to put the past to bed.


Tagged in , , ,

Ulster Unionists and Opposition

Northern Ireland 26 August 2015 Tell me what you think

The decision of the Ulster Unionist Party to seek to withdraw from the piss-weak simulacrum of government in Northern Ireland is not an indication of a party having finally rediscovered its moral and political purpose – or if it is, it’s an indication of a party finding its purpose by accident. Nevertheless, better late than never.

The sham of a political settlement in Northern Ireland has been apparent for any student of politics for the last eight years.  A system which entrenches the sectarian headcount, which encases the problems of the society in a sickly aspic and which demands that everybody ‘just wait’ for democracy is not worthy of the western world, let alone worthy of the speck of land between the UK and Ireland.  Being forced into the coalition of the unwilling-to-govern was a poor hand to be dealt to the UUP, and it’s interesting that the timing has allowed for this catharsis now.

The issue of whether the IRA exists or not is, as far as the issue of democracy is concerned, a canard; a non-issue.  The provisional republican movement stopped trying to bomb the UK out of Northern Ireland and moved to the much more effective and legitimate political process to seek change. That’s a recognised fact and we’re all glad of it.

That they have a structure still in place to engage with former paramilitaries is entirely logical – better for them to have a direct line to the politicos than to be left hanging in the wind to be gobbled up by dissidents.  But when identifiable members of that structure begin murdering inside the community (let’s stop calling it ‘their’ community, for we all live in this shared society), there is a legitimate cause for concern – but it’s a policing concern, or ought to be, rather than a reason to bring down Stormont.

Even if the IRA had disbanded and distanced itself from its past, the fetid failure of the DUP and Sinn Féin to actually progress government in Northern Ireland would have continued.  They just aren’t up to the job – the thing that should have brought down Stormont should have been the observation that 108 politicians, their SPADs and their woefully unimaginative politics managed to do no better and frequently worse than Direct Rule.

The departure of the UUP should not bring down Stormont, but it should trigger D’Hondt again – and allow the SDLP and Alliance to consider whether, in the interests of democracy, a proper parliament with a proper opposition might achieve more for Northern Ireland than the current circle-jerk of whataboutery and abject failure.

Tagged in , , ,

Fiona Institute Chair criticises Jesus for ‘love thy neighbour’

Ireland 22 May 2015 Tell me what you think

The chairperson of the Fiona Institute, Professor Adrian O’Hanrohanrohan, last night lashed out at Jesus Christ for his ‘pro gay’ message of peace, love and understanding, ahead of today’s marriage equality referendum.

O’Hanrohanrohan expressed ‘astonishment and bewilderment’ at the position adopted by the Prince of Peace, who, quoted in Luke 10:25, appeared to agree with a scholar when he said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself”, and went on to tell the story of a Samaritan who came to the aid of an injured traveller.

“That doesn’t sound like the Bible I read”, said O’Hanrohanrohan.  “The Jesus I know is deeply and fiercely judgemental and delights in the pain and suffering of anyone who falls beneath the standards he has arbitrarily determined.  Also, as far as I can tell, God asked us to judge and avenge any and all breaches of His law here on Earth, particularly in Leviticus. In this ‘love thy neighbour stuff, Christ appears to not even be considering whether our neighbour is a Christian – they could even be a homsexual and a lapsed Methodist!”

O’Hanrohanrohan went on to outline how he was particularly interested in literal application of some parts of the bible and torturous interpretation of other parts.  “God wanted us to have grape juice, not wine, which is just a whimsical turn of phrase – and also he wants us literally to stone people who wear clothing made of more than one type of cloth.  That seems entirely reasonable.  But this Jesus fella?  Where does he get off telling us in James 5:9 not to judge lest we be judged?   Good luck judging me, I’m a Christian!”


Tagged in , ,

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Featured,gadgets,technology 17 May 2015 Tell me what you think

I know the Surface Pro 3 was released last year.  I also know that it’s due to be replaced with the Surface Pro 4.  I don’t particularly care, since I know that between now and the launch of the successor model, people will want to know how this device stacks up in usability and effectiveness.  The answer in general is ‘very well’ and the answer to the ‘Should I Buy One’ question is pretty much ‘Yes, but have a look at the Surface 3’.


Tagged in , , ,

Don’t worry about the Government

Election 2015,politics 10 May 2015 Tell me what you think

Some observations on the most interesting election since Sophia of Hanover.

We didn’t call the election this way, no matter how many ‘prescient after the fact’ comments you read in media and online. People, like me, who put a small amount of money on a tory majority were doing it because some of us like to put our money where our heart is. Some of us aren’t natural gamblers.

That having been said, on Thursday 29th April, I am pleased that in the Conservatives Online Facebook group, I said:

“Like many in this group, I feel there’s a tide turning – people are beginning to see the risks and dangers associated with a Lab-SNP coalition and to see the road down which David Cameron wants to take the UK. Labour supporters in Scotland must be livid with a leader in London prepared to sacrifice Scottish Labour for a mess of potage.

I think we can do this. I think we can push to a majority in England, form a government and develop a respectful working relationship with the SNP in the interests of everyone in the UK.

Faugh a Ballagh!”

Jim Messina, for his part, had the confidence in the strategy to call a majority a few weeks ago.  He had more than a small bet riding on the result – his reputation in storming elections is further improved.

‘Now that’s a fucking exit poll’

Anyway, we all clustered round TVs at 10pm to see what the BBC exit poll would come up with.  When it predicted Conservatives as largest party, we all heaved a collective sigh of relief, because, the previous week’s polls had told us, that meant we would have the first roll of the dice in the messy game of cobbling together a coalition with the religious fundamentalist nutters in the DUP and the Lib Dems, whom we hoped would hang on to at least 20 of their seats to shoehorn David Cameron into negotiations.

When they clarified that the poll showed a conservative party with 316 seats, after the first picosecond of elation, everyone dismissed it with a sigh and prepared to see the first returns.

When Sunderland’s seats began to report in, half the twitterati opined that an increased vote for Miliband pointed to a surge for Labour – but other, calmer heads, asked only one thing:  does it fit in with the exit poll premise?

Of course, in the restrospect that only hundreds of thousands of pieces of data can give us, we know it fit exactly.  Miliband consolidated the left vote, stacked up majorities in red constituencies and abandoned the middle ground, which shat itself about marauding Scots and Russell Brand and voted Conservative.  End of post.

LOL j/k.


Who voted Labour?

Electoral politics seems to me to come down to two things; people reflect themselves, their fears and aspirations in the ballot box, and they decide on the sort of leadership they want for the future.

It’s crass to argue, as some on the left seem to want to, that people voted Tory because of some meanness or some perfidiousness on the part of the English electorate.  People voted for economic growth, more jobs, investment and the possibility that in five years, they might be better off and live in a safer, more contented society than they do today. They took the view, on the basis of track record and political pledges, that the Conservative approach was more likely to deliver those things.  They bought the argument that the type of ‘fairness’ propounded by the left, was less likely to improve the society than the type of ‘fairness’ proposed by Conservatives.

The reality of elections is that very few seats change hands; most people think of themselves as ‘belonging’ in a very weak sense to a party, and those who float only exceed the numbers of belongers in times of big change, political boredom, or in seats where no party or candidate has made a recent impression.  Thus, there are tory seats and there are labour seats, and there are some really hard core Lib Dem seats, where whole wards consider themselves one or t’other.

Northern Ireland

To my shame (sorta) I don’t pay any attention to Northern Ireland politics, because they’re depressing – or they were until Friday morning.  Ulster Unionists are back – and they displaced the singing fundamentalist Rev. William McCrea (in effect regaining the seat) in Antrim South with the thoroughly likeable Danny Kinahan – which is a great achievement. Completing the revival of the party was Tom Elliott’s eviction of Sinn Féin’s absentee former MP Michelle Gildernew in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.  Other than that, disappointment in South Belfast as a good old-fashioned unionist circular firing-squad saw the execrable Alastair McDonnell keep his seat. There’s a quip about Danny de Burgh Kinahan wooing back the ‘Lady in Red’ Sylvia Hermon back to the Ulster Unionists somewhere.


Wales is often thought of as Labour through and through, but the principality is not blind in its voting patterns; people there weren’t convinced, just like in England, that Ed Miliband could deliver on the programme they had planned; they were even less convinced that it was desirable; Labour’s much vaunted love for the NHS in England is as wasted a flyer in Wales as it is in Staffordshire.


Scotland has, of course, had a time of very great political change; the referendum did some marvellous things for the SNP, and it’s not hard to see how the setup there made a nationalist surge all but inevitable.

In a referendum, a simple binary decision pits YES against NO. The only way to fight Thursday’s election in the light of such political activation, would have been to pit single ‘unionist’ candidates against SNP – but in a divided field, there was absolutely no doubt that the SNP would do all they needed to do – get more votes in the constituency than any of the individual candidates opposed to nationalism.

They walked into the election with 35% support all but guaranteed in every seat, with the contact details of tens of thousands of activated and excited voters who understood clearly that one big push would turn Scotland yellow.  It was, in some ways, one of the simplest political operations in modern political history, but they did it exceptionally well.  They present a formidable force in Scotland, which will continue to be unbeatable without unionist consolidation in the country.


Tagged in , , ,