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Coalition pledge for state-funded primaries dropped

Michael Crick | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A very senior Cabinet minister has told me that the Coalition has now scrapped its radical plans to pay for primary elections to choose party candidates in 200 safe seats.

The full Coalition Agreement last May said: "We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this Parliament, targetted at seats which have not changed hands for many years."

The money would have been allocated to parties which now have seats in Parliament, according to their shares of the vote in May 2010.

So the state would have paid for primaries very similar to those held by the Conservatives in Totnes and Gosport before the election, each of which cost the Tories around £40,000.

The primary plans have now been dropped on cost grounds. But there are also political motives. Some Coalition figures fear that MPs chosen through the primary process, such as Sarah Wollaston in Totnes, may have too much personal independence from the party whips.


  • Comment number 1.

    We won't have any need for primaries if we replace First Past the Post with a preferential voting system. AV will be a good start and will end minority safe seats, tactical voting and split votes. It would be ridiculous to spend money on half-measures to try and get around the most important voting reform we need, which is to scrap the unfair and undemocratic voting system we have which is keeping British Politics in the dark ages.

  • Comment number 2.

    Might one suggest that, as a news year's resolution, at least a couple of 'stories' actually have attributed, substantiated quotes from actual people?

    Which would be nice.

  • Comment number 3.

    So, "Some Coalition figures fear that MPs chosen through the primary process... may have too much personal independence from the party whips."

    I thought that was the whole point of this idea. I thought it was supposed to provide a wider range of MPs instead of the usual bunch of party yes-men approved from on-high.

  • Comment number 4.

    "AV will be a good start and will end minority safe seats, tactical voting and split votes."

    Like hell it will, all three are still possible under AV.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm afraid you're wrong on all three counts, Barsacq.

    You can't have a minority safe seat when you need a majority to win. You can still have majority safe seats, but at least those are won fairly with a majority of votes. Minority safe seats are eliminated which is a massive improvement on First Past the Post.

    There's no need to vote tactically because you can vote for as many preferences as you like. FPTP tactical voting means putting someone ahead of your preferred candidate to keep out a disliked one. In preferential voting you just put the disliked down last, or not at all, to ensure they're denied your contribution towards a majority. Either they'll get a majority from the other voters and win, or they won't. There's nothing tactical about it. Now there are possibilities to order your preferences for tactical reasons, but they only apply in rare situations where FPTP wouldn't do any better and they require precise numbers (not too many or too few) to place complicated tactical votes to work. No-one is able to predict each other's vote (and even if they could, everyone would use the knowledge to 2nd guess each other) so it's completely impractical. Much simpler just to rank your candidates in order of preference and let democracy do the rest.

    Preferential voting also eliminates split votes for the same reason. You rank the candidates in order of preferences which means a candidate can't benefit from the vote being split between two or more rivals. Either you have a majority (more than all the others put together) or you don't.

    So no, none of the three are possible under AV.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Coalition pledge for state-funded primaries dropped" is the title of Mr Crick's blog.

    Have read Michael Crick's blog several times ... but it still makes no sense to my feeble brain.

    This whole process that Michael's piece is about - fails me as a reader, voter and Newsnight watcher too?

    Personally, have never felt more stupid by this Mr Crick's blog.

  • Comment number 7.

    is peston being used as a 'useful idiot'?

  • Comment number 8.

    whoops...Vince lets cat out of bag...whoopsie whoops

  • Comment number 9.


    1) An Abstention box that says how many turned out to say 'a plague on all your parties'.

    2) A bifurcated box for each candidate: one half is for a rosette (party) vote, and the other half a vote for the twit under the rosette.

    We also deserve an 'Office of Fair Canvassing' to whom we can report 'liar flyers' and the like. It should be staffed by observers from a foreign country who have no misguided respect for Britain.

  • Comment number 10.

    one marvels at how to openly anti murdoch is a 'gaffe' but to transfer the decision to a more pro murdoch minister is 'balance'?

  • Comment number 11.


    Give it a few more years Jaunty. In future 'off-messengers' will be found dead - if found at all. Our veneer of even-a-nod to propriety, is wearing off. Insidious corruption, through an intimate association of obscene wealth and power, has about eradicated integrity, altruism etc, such that anyone espousing espousing and extolling virtues, is laughable - indeed, barmy.

    As Long John Silver said: "When I get through, THE DEAD WILL BE THE LUCKY ONES".

    In passing: I am finding difficulty in establishing any code of practice for Credit Reference Agencies. Money is refusing to talk again.

  • Comment number 12.

    The box for ticking that always gets sidelined for me, is the none of the above one! Mr Donnellys AV script appears to be from a person in the know, however whatever tinkering our political masters come up with will be slanted towards whatever ruling master of the day! And how could I possibly not comment on the new movie CABLE GUY II, unfortunately Mr Carr was not fronting this one this was down to another rising star (get it) and I don't mean strictly, that was down to another stand-up type of GUY, personally I'd really like to see a picture of that giggling girl in the recorded interview , I already have a picture in my own minds eye! Was this a classic honeytrap or what, what does his MRS CABLE GUY think? Anyways more of this please!

  • Comment number 13.

    I think Westminster party politics is increasingly like bear baiting.

    It`s now perfectly obvious that the British people no longer own and control "Britain" (if we ever did?) we simply can`t be allowed to decide how British governments behave by forming political movements and parties and winning elections.

    For example.. English nationalism is forbidden while Irish/Scottish/Welsh nationalism is tolerated ..or even encouraged... because Wall Street`s "City of London" can`t be allowed to fall into local hands....and Irish nationalism is a long term US project that must be allowed to succeed.We can vote ourselves blue or red in the face but we won`t "change" that!

    It would be more authentic if we gave politicians and journalists Equity cards and classed them as heavy entertainment!

    All this crickean tripe about "reforming" our constitution and electoral system and voting for "change" can`t entirely obscure the fact that politicians cannot hope to truly "represent their constituents" if they want to have a successful "career".

    I PITY politicians and the journalists who rely on leading double lives and fronting this charade for their livelihoods....but how much longer must we ordinary Brits have to put up with what seems like organised criminal deception and fraud from people who flatter themselves that they are principled and honourable and trustworthy?

  • Comment number 14.

    Personally I vote for the candidate I want to be elected. I don't do second choice. As for primary elections, I am not in favour of financing political parties from state funds. If they want primaries let them pay for it themselves. If you want a 'non of these candidates', just arrange to stand yourself as a 'know nothing', 'not going to take up the seat' candidate but don't ask me to pay for it. As for English Nationalism please support the English Test Team (but of course you can only watch it on a US controlled Channel)

  • Comment number 15.

    cping500...grateful though I often am for a chance to hear other people`s views ...I never respond well to being told what I can think "if I know what`s good for me"....even if it`s casually achieved using the device of saying "please" and gently suggesting how I might channel my democratic urges into some form of harmless recreation.

  • Comment number 16.


    Very few independents can beat a 'rosette stand' at the ballot box. ALL rosette stands are PRE-CHOSEN by a party machine that is looking for subservience (acceptance of the whip) allegiance (to party and leader - any leader) and ambition (the ring that 'brings them all, and in the darkness binds them'). This defines our MPs.

    In passing: I did, indeed, stand myself cping, and paid £500 for the right so to do. But whilst I might 'know nothing' and knew I would not be the one sent to Westminster, I assert my behaviours was a lot more honourable than much of the Cricket of today.

  • Comment number 17.

    cping500 under a preferential voting system you are free to vote for just one choice. If you believe all the other candidates are equally unworthy of winning you can leave them all blank and your ballot paper will be perfectly valid with just the one choice. AV (And all other ranking-based systems) will allow you to vote FPTP style if you so wish. You just write a 1 instead of an X.

  • Comment number 18.

    Why is it that during a holiday period all the BBC's political programmes are suspended until the "festivities" are over EG Newsnight off air from 20 December to 04 January. Politics doesn't stop during Christmas in fact casting my mind back it seems to me that some of the great stories or talking points occur during the period programmes like Newsnight are off air. I understand that journalists are entitled to time off like everyone else but evidently from what are written in blogs and articles on the news websites they are still working. Come on not all of us viewers want to see Christmas related comedy shows or repeats on TV some of us are interested in a good old political debate.

  • Comment number 19.

    The era of rolling news has made us bulletin and controversy junkies Bruce.....but how much of it has any substance?

    After all "good old political debate" would cut through the current political scene like a knife through butter...and leave us wondering where we stand in a post-democratic Britain! (OMG....scaaaaaary!!)

    After a few weeks without your regular fix of news and celebrity politics you might just feel a growing sense of freedom and take up something more constructive and/or enjoyable.

    I am going to experiment by hanging up my mouse on Christmas Day and taking up cartooning and sculpting for a year sans "broadcasting" in all its evil manifestations.(!)

  • Comment number 20.

    NN just play some old repeats over surprised how many sadoes will tune me

  • Comment number 21.

    >1) An Abstention box that says how many turned out to say 'a plague on all >your parties'.

    As a candidate you get shown all the spoilt ballot papers, so if voters want to spoil their ballot they can write that message if they like. In some voting systems RON (reopen nominations) is an option. Course in organisations that use STV for voting we sometimes joke RON is the most popular candidate.

    >2) A bifurcated box for each candidate: one half is for a rosette (party) >vote, and the other half a vote for the twit under the rosette.

    Bear in mind this though. Most of the seats in the country are safe seats. Take where I live. Usually the turnout is about 20%. Out of this 20% if 10% of the voters vote Labour then they win a seat for 4 years with only 10% of the community supporting them.

    The other "twits under the rosette" as you put it, like myself may have worked hard only for the winner to take credit for some other party's hard work and lie blatantly about the other parties/candidates in order to get elected.

    Why do we wonder why some politicians aren't honest, when the system rewards liars? There's still no method to "recall" an MP or local councillor.

    >We also deserve an 'Office of Fair Canvassing' to whom we can report 'liar >flyers' and the like. It should be staffed by observers from a foreign >country who have no misguided respect for Britain.

    We do have the above. It's called the courts. Certain offences are so serious the decision is taken out of police hands and made by the Crown Prosecution Service or Department of Public Prosecutions.

    The truth is they receive many complaints of electoral malpractice but short of media outrage are unlikely to view it in the public interest to prosecute leaving it to angered opposition candidates (eg Elwyn Watkins) with deep pockets as just the legal bills can come to tens of thousands.

    I also have at least one foreign election observer each year (my wife!). However I'll point out these errors that were made this year which affected the result in both the General and local election, all of which I'm sure will happen again:-

    1) Postal ballots not sent out. Replacement postal ballot papers not sent out. Postal voters turned away at polling stations.

    It took me 2 1/2 hours to vote on polling day because of this! I wasn't the only one affected!

    2) Candidates and agents not invited to opening of postal ballot packs (which is a legal requirement).

    3) No employees available to count the votes. Again if it wasn't true it'd be laughable!

    4) Inaccurate list of those who voted which doesn't tally with official result. Returning officer says records weren't made of those who voted. How do we know people didn't vote twice?

    5) Official result completely different to voters intentions.

    6) Election offences by both local authority and candidates serious enough to trigger byelection.

    7) Returning Officer who gets an extra ~£40,000 (on top of 6 figure salary as Chief Exec) but donates fee to charity, then resigns!

    8) A media uninterested in reporting electoral malpractice until it ends up in the courts

    9) Candidates not rich enough to file election petitions or fight the resulting byelection.

    10) Recounts of candidates votes during count as things to use the counters words "didn't add up".

    My wife was staggered by what goes on, but on the evening of the count the media were more interested in drinking at the bar than talking to people!

    I hope that gives an insight into the "free, fair and open" elections this country is supposed to have but doesn't!

  • Comment number 22.

    '18. At 3:39pm on 22 Dec 2010, Bruce wrote:
    Why is it that during a holiday period all the BBC's political programmes are suspended until the "festivities" are over ..'

    One suspects many other 'businesses' with a 365/365 remit have their service coverage well worked out.

    But then again, they are not 'uniquely funded', which may explain how money gets deployed effectively. Or not.

  • Comment number 23.


    AS A CANDIDATE (in 2005 - Newbury) I was NOT shown spoilt papers. I read NOTHING to that effect in the notes to candidates. Maybe it was a failure of administration, as your post highlights, but I WOULD STRESS that I, personally, would not turn out to be an ignominious 'spoilt paper'. Abstention is a meaningful act - paper-spoiling runs the gamut of motivation.

    But isn't a safe seat only safe because the sheep vote 'rosette'? I say yes. This is why I have long called: "SPOILPARTYGAMES". Until the parties (who 'rig' Westminster) are proscribed, we shall have POLITICIANS 'doing politics' (a game) with our lives, when we badly need (is there a word in English for:) the wise and competent IN HUMAN MATTERS, to govern us.

    I apologise for 'twits under rosettes' jibe. Do you care to say how many votes you received FOR BEING YOU, and how many for your ROSETTE? (Hence my fanciful - but meaningful - bifurcated box!) I gathered 86 votes - all for being me, standing against party tyranny. With a rosette, I would have received many more, but would have been less free to represent the voters.

    Regarding lying: In the 2010 election, the Conservatives released a flyer that I (and others) can only read as untrue. I have pursued the matter relentlessly (confirming your post that Britain is electorally corrupt) and am making slow progress. Thanks to the desperation for power, of Nick-n-Dave I have over 4 years to nail them.

    Recourse to 'the courts'. I have no intention of trying to interest the few police we have left (nor Kier Starmer) in the 'liar flyer'. If, having followed the link, you see it as a serious matter, would you go that route? My regards to your good lady - perhaps she will jog your elbow. (:o)

    Point of order: The REAL returning officer plays not part in the election, that I know of. We only get an ACTING RT - and mine did a 'Pontius Pilate' when I complained.

    We appear to be on the same side for the same reasons. Shall I see you being pro-active and high profile? THAT WOULD MAKE TWO OF US!

    If you care to discuss further, without loading the blog, my email is easy to find. Regards.

  • Comment number 24.


    There has always been a swagger in his empty rhetoric, but last night I thought I spotted the tell-tale sway, and I slight Clintonesque side-tremour of the head. Is it desperate bravado, in a scared loser, or has Obama seen the nefarious future - AND IT WORKS?

    Having some idea of the 'principles' behind America's plan for the New World Order, and a 'compliant' home state, I think shaking in our shoes might be in order, should the latter hold true.

  • Comment number 25.


    Oh BBC - what are you like. How can I take in this charade of charades, without suffering flashbackes to happier (ITV) times, when the Pope spoke Bronx (was it) and the Vatican had a condom machine in the basement?

  • Comment number 26.

    Always thought that this proposal was tantamount to turkeys voting for Christmas.

    After all, the main power of the party machines is in ensuring that those selected as candidates (and elected as Members) are "one of us" and prepared to be lobby-fodder.

    Let the people in, say, a Conservative safe seat decide which Conservative they want on the ballot-paper?

    What if that encourages the people to choose someone who promises to put their constituents' interests before narrow party advantage?

    A Member of Parliament actually representing his/her constituents???

    Even Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare would dismiss the idea as too fanciful for fiction!

  • Comment number 27.


    The Dissembling LibDems PLEDGED to make PR their first demand, should they ever have a lever on power. It was to be the price of their co-operation. Not only do they - now - deny this, but have allowed the AV referendum IN PLACE of a PR REFERENDUM. And you can be sure there will not be another along, for years.

    PRIMARIES are another con. Instead of one 'sold-soul' cipher per party, you get several to choose among - priceless. Your candidates are still all pre-chosen for party suitability. 'Man cannot serve two masters'.

    MPs must EARN the title 'honourable' not wear it like a Beefeater tabard.

    The Archer point most apposite. He and Blair define the two chambers.

  • Comment number 28.


    Perjury is in the air. One high profile conviction in a court of law, and a whole bunch of 'get out of jail freebies' for Libdem loose-mouths, in the Court of Public Opinion.

    Should it not be part of 'Taking The Honourable' that if found IN ANY WAY to be anything less than honourable, an MP should resign, and leave the political stage?

    To be found claiming that the English language means whatever you want it to mean - retrospectively - should be nothing short of a tar-and-feather offence.

    Weep for loss of integrity in these islands.

  • Comment number 29.

    Barrie...the word "honourable" was always meant to be ironic! They are mostly public school psychopaths of the sort who used to be let loose on the empire or became CofE vicars in safely remote parishes or incompetent officers in our hopeless army!
    The rest of the Establishment ignored them (and our risible "democracy") and ran the country in spite of them without any regard for our or their opinions man. Get a festive GRIP!! This is BRITAIN!

  • Comment number 30.


    You are right - of course. But I am stuck with my unmet needs just as they are (and you perhaps?) so I whinge. The Spleen is a little known muscle . . .

  • Comment number 31.

    2011 sauce mix guide..

    Adjectives - 'Very', 'Quite', 'Not Very', 'Irrelevant'
    Other ones - 'Senior', 'Junior', 'In the room, possibly, sometimes'
    Impressive title - 'Cabinet Minister', 'WUVI', 'Bloke I met in the pub after 'work''

    Interestingly, without any substantiation or attribution or confirmation, no matter how they are mixed, the quoted comment has exactly the same journalistic value.

  • Comment number 32.


    Never mind the content - feel the edge! Let us not forget that grawth and creativity are the key to CHANGE and it is only FAIR - indeed essential to life - that ALL SHALL HAVE CHANGE.

    So turn the old tree upside-down
    No Santa - call for Woss!
    With f-words spice your F-tival
    Now no one gives a toss.
    All Tiny Tims are treated free
    By wise men from far lands
    Henceforth shall mankind all be gay
    The future's in God's hands!
    The first time Jesus came to earth
    He started this charade
    Now all are quick and no one dies
    A second trip looks hard.
    It seems to me we should desist
    From fabricated folly.
    In truth the earth is all we have
    To end - I'll rhyme with Holly.

  • Comment number 33.


    The Pope made a fascinating reference to the 'Children of Israel' as God's chosen people. By my understanding, the Pope is God's steward down here, hence a greater authority than any Jew, so I suppose it was OK to indicate: 'Israel got it wrong'? As Jesus came to earth for Jew and Gentile EQUALLY, it rather negates the Special Relationship! And the Pope is not wrong!

    Bit of a bummer when they are risking all for that dream.

    I think we should stop having summits for mythical climate science, and convene one for the dispelling of religious myth. Time to look behind the curtain.

  • Comment number 34.

    What a surprise that Franco and Hitler and Mussolini should all preside over Roman Catholic countries where the sin of Deicide was preached against for decades!

    My Protestant ancestors fought for centuries against the bully boys and mafia of Rome and their many cronies...why should we pay for its return here under Cardinal Thompson at the BBC?

  • Comment number 35.

    LAMENT (#34)

    Alas alack for Worcesterjim
    The Christmas Blogdog's done for him.
    Perhaps it was surfeit of sauce
    That triggerd Towser's majeur force?

  • Comment number 36.

    I got too near to said Blogdog`s bone,
    A missive too close to his PC home,
    The thought police may deliberate,
    But I`m off on my need to commiserate!

  • Comment number 37.

    Just a hint Barrie...the post has been referred to the Vatican...and I wouldn`t bet on it being classed as a miraculous revelation!
    Have a good 2011...I`m on a sabbatical ....sans mouse ..sans the whole internet shootin` match!

  • Comment number 38.


    The Pope is reported as praying for God to punish oppressors. Now I was under the impression that post-Jesus, we forgive oppressors? Surely the Pope is a Jehovah man - but punishment is a Yahweh thing?

    And then Rowan says 'share the wealth' while sitting on the biggest threat to the needle's eye, this side of Goldman Sachs.

    Do any of these guys actually READ what Jesus said, let alone have a clue what he stood for? Think I'll join the Church of Dawkins.

  • Comment number 39.

    the pope....'now I know that most of you switch over to that 5Live station when thought for the day comes on but I would urge you to resist as I am very good at getting people to resist to temptation in matters of the flesh, women wanting to think for themselves, whatever next, they will be wanting the vote next, you men out there you can control your womenfolk if you try, we, in the Vatican allow them to tend to the fires, light the ovens in the morning and generally 'do' things to maintain the papel residency, what we cannot allow is free an independent thought on such matters as contraception, I do so hate that word, abortion and rape within marriage. These matters are not seemly or decent to be discussed at such an early hour and it is for that reason that I urge you all to listen to Fox News as their views usually mirror that of the of the Holy See and not of those bolshies at BBC Radio 4...blessings to all....

  • Comment number 40.

    Of course they don`t read what Jesus said`s a load of old counter-intuitive fantasising....and the reason western societies are collapsing under the weight of their own sanctimonious hypocrisy.

    We don`t love our enemies "even as ourselves" or those who "despitefully use us"..or "turn the other cheek".....we bomb the blazes out of them while praying to a God who told us not to kill them.

    The Vatican looks like something Liberace dreamed up ....not the HQ of an amaterialistic sect given to concerning itself with the poor.

  • Comment number 41.


    No wonder we are appalled.

    We went to extreme lengths to ensure that the Lockerbie verdict was safe (2X3 Judges) and the release of the guilty man was on strictly medical grounds.

    We were scrupulous in calling off the Money for Peerages investigation, and the BAE enquiry.

    The Iraq War decision was referred to the highest legal mind in the land, and taken with utmost care to exclude political bias.

    The Kelly enquiry was whiter than white.

    As Sir Malcolm Rifkind has just said: 'Russia is a sham, bogus democracy, that manipulates its courts!'

    God save the Queen.

  • Comment number 42.

    Rifkind is an interesting character who appears to be global capitalism`s unofficial British High Commissioner in London.

    It might be interesting to hear his views on democracy in Palestine or Kosovo or Georgia or all the other countries where the CIA happen to be strongly represented!

  • Comment number 43.

    How about MPs get to serve no more than two terms? That would get rid of the careerists like Blair and his rabble bribing us with our own money come the election. Google 'positive non-interventionism' and you will see that there is still a semblance of political rationality out there. Too late for the UK though. We are totally and eternally knackered. Anyone who thinks differently needs the help of a good, or corrupt, psychiatrist.

  • Comment number 44.


    We have gone from hunter/gatherer to inventor/careerer in a few thousand years, with ever accelerating pace. From what I gather of PNI, it does nothing to turn us away from the precipice.

    While a fuss is made about AGW our impact on river/sea pollution (at least, while the rivers still reach the sea) is a real, rather than imaginary, threat.

    Global everything has gone to the head of 'deluded-leader-man'. He was always a threat - sometimes over thousands of miles. Now he is a global threat, but just as primitive and simplistic in his drives. The next leader who goes for a Final Solution, will kill billions. He's probably already born.

    I doubt Positive Non-Intervention has much to offer when Mr Global Maniac decides to deliver the New Heaven and the New Earth.

    I wish I thought otherwise.

  • Comment number 45.

    Mmmm....Oooo I don`t know about that our`ve never been the same since you had your chakras read and had that boil on your bum lanced on the same day.
    You need to get out more and mix with a few more cheerful people!

  • Comment number 46.


    Blimey Jim - I had no idea one could read chakras! The bum boil was informative though - as a Rorschach blot. I saw: a giant black Bat, flying out of Westminster, ridden by Dave (who was riding Nick).

    Our poetry group is mostly made up of cheerful folk, who write idylls and bucolic flights of fancy. Do they qualify?

    Do you reckon that cheerfulness, on my part, could just tip the balance of world function into a positive trend? If you do, I think the problem might not lie with me! (:o)

    Anyway - hang in there, and Murdoch will shut us all down.

  • Comment number 47.

    You haven`t quite mastered the bluff charm and cheerulness aspects of my new correspondence course in Kantian Utopianism yet B....perhaps you could join the Young Conservatives as I suggested ..and pursue your preference for advanced taxidermy when the boil goes down again?

  • Comment number 48.


    And good day to you stout Yeoman (unless you employ the older spelling of Jimima, in which case: Slim Jim).

    I note you have neatly outwitted the Blogdog, in one reference (while breaking the house rules). Sauce from the source - indeed.

    I don't think the Young Conservatives would have me - on several counts. I'm more your BNP material (Barrie's New Politics).

  • Comment number 49.

    I`m a tired old git in the sticks B...and from where I sit there are no new politics just endless cyclical journies between your BNP and your BOP...Barrie`s Old Politics...and back again!
    Are you behind where you are coming from on this platform..or going forward not backwards in this age of change?
    Whole empires depend upon you delivering your answer for their continued existence going forward.

  • Comment number 50.


    All my world's an R&D laboratory Jim. I like to envisage the world as the Creator God's formicarium. And he lost interest aeons ago. . .

    Having no say in our conception, and programmed not to self-destruct, it behoves us to find a critical path of least resistance through life.

    I used to do lot of repeat batches (having taken on production) and now do 'nothing'. This life-course resulted in plenty of time to ponder improvement of the lot of mankind. It is on a par with trying to crack perpetual motion.

    My most recent thought is that our self-destructive cleverness is probably a natural control mechanism, to nip off this branch of The Tree, because it is unsustainable. Only when my incongruous resistance to annihilation clicks in, do I lapse into 'saving strategies'.

    Default mode, currently, is persuading our dim masters to allow easy exit, before this game loses its savour! R&D comes in VERY handy there, but the Blogdog would never let me 'share' going forward. (:o)

  • Comment number 51.

    Hope I don`t detect any blasphemous independence of mind in our New Holy Roman Empire B !! You will rot to death in abject humiliation ....with the rest of us prolonging your indignity with every means available to us ...while the starving do the same for want of the resources expended on your lingering demise.
    God is love B....Allah is peace...know your place in the divine order of things..or else!

  • Comment number 52.

    Loving fornicarium. Heading for 80 million human overpopulation of this country in the next 15 or so years, fornicarium is almost right. However benifitorium is far more accurate.

    By the time next year is over the BBC News, Labour, TUC alliance will have succeeded in raising the interest we pay on the money we have to borrow to keep the aberration of life that is the welfare state going from 3% to 6%. Why because the rest of the world that are more intelligent and understanding than us concerning the true nature of human behaviour will finally have turned their attention back on us, having decided the PIG states are no longer the more pressing basket cases we can hide behind.

    The TUC will coordinate strikes, the students will obediently march and riot, the Lib Dems will become incontinenet and will finally crumble, and of course the BBC News will be running the show.

    Labour, the BBC News, and TUC want to create a perpetual one party Labour state in which the vast majority are dependent on the state for public sector jobs or benefits and thus effectively have no choice in an election. Shame really that this alliance seems to have forgotten that they tried it once before. Shame the bad sports in the rest of the REAL world wouldn't loan them any more money to keep their fantasy world going. The utopia for the self-serving they were trying to create in order that the voters would keep Labour in power, workers would keep on paying their TUC dues, and of course the viewers would keep paying the TV licence never, and could never have happened.

    According to someone who I consider to know about as much about global economic reality as an amoeba this year will be a year of consequences. For myself I think this country is finished, we have stopped understanding the nature of reality and are thrusting our heads down, way past the amateur (by comparison) ostriches, ever deeper into the sand. I truly think we as a nation ingloriously deserve what happens next.

  • Comment number 53.

    TMR...hate to rain on your already flooded parade ...but if you apply the same analysis to the USA you will find that they are living in the shadow of an astronomically greater national debt large that it is said they could never ever hope to repay it..and have quietly bailed out General Motors while ordering New Labour to let Rover "face market realities".I don`t hear about austerity on Wall Street or at the fact they can spend like socialists on steroids!

    If you dare examine the eyewatering costs of running what Wikileaks exposes as an enormous bureaucratic global empire...the CIA..NATO..UN...World Bank...IMF...Pentagon...and so on that make the costs of Londonistan`s "socialist" regime look tiny!

    True...there are many millions of unemployed Americans with third world health care or none...... but that`s because you can`t successfully have American Scroogist economics without allowing millions of immigrants to keep coming in to keep wage costs down and organised crime rich....and healthcare for "all" would be unaffordable as a result....even in the richest nation on earth.

    No TMR..."yes we can" is a distinct truism in the case of the USA....but only in the rarified atmosphere of a superpower that can re-write history and define the hyperbolic present by telling the rest of the world that while Americans can decide our creditworthiness as a nation (having just wrecked the global economy)....and send our kids into inexplicable wars (that the USA seems to have started in the first place)....and owe China more money than it can ever repay...etc etc etc...we "bankrupt" Brits had better face market forces reality and put our house in order and pay our debts PDQ!

    And notice how our" politicians have a very different take on what "we" can afford to "squander" on the "undeserving poor" of Britain......and a remarkably less tight-fisted attitude to bankrolling banks and the EU and wars and "foreign aid" ....of such generosity that we can hardly recognise ourselves when we step out onto the dirty third world neo-Dickensian streets of London!

  • Comment number 54.


    Billy no-hair has joined the righteous clamour to condemn Putin for allowing political interference in the Rule of Law! This from a Westminster politician!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I recently posted a list of British Rule-of-Law interferences, and must now hope (going forward) that Chilcot might be so embarrassed as to eschew the political, and actually espouse integrity. The Committee is comprised of 'establishment figures' and one can only guess the level of back-channel 'activity' that has gone on, since the last sitting. ('Interfaith' can be a powerful tool, as Uber-Pope Tony never ceases to say unto us.)

    The world is now way ahead of any satire. I have always said that 'humour is the antidote to being human' - never was its balm more desperately needed.

    Laugh Britain.

  • Comment number 55.


    The Today Programme 'did' school today. Usual stuff: gender studies, teacher empathy - you know . . . No one noticed that school ITSELF is almost certainly inimical to advancement of a child in life. (If you keep uprooting a seedling (and then a plant) and cramming it in with others, elsewhere, many will not thrive and the least-viable will suffer badly.)

    Britain has ADVERSARIAL governance, courts and foreign policy (war). How dumb is that? Confrontation and conflict, simply CONSUME - they waste lives, resources and time. Hurrah for a Britain locked in the past. You have to wonder why we banned blood sports! Send a gunboat!

    And here I am, back to the lack of wisdom and maturity (philosophy and psychology) in our 'culture' - hence in our governance, laws and confrontations.

    But what does the juvenile, edgy BBC know, or care, of such matters? They actually FEED on dysfunction. Where to turn? What an unspeakable disaster.

    Meanwhile our monarchy (lynch-pin of place-n-sinecure de-mock-crass-y) rewards a referee for being good at his job and 'visible'.

    Happy 2011? As Mrs Duffy said (when informed of the typical failing of our 'top man') "YOU ARE JOKING!"

  • Comment number 56.

    53- Your response to what I thought was a pretty feisty anti-loony-lefty rant was to change the subject and talk about another country! Maybe I'm making more progress than I thought but no, of course not.

    The noose round the UK's neck is not shared to anything like the same extent by any other country. Our welfare state in other words makes us exquisitely sensitive to the incredulity of the creditor nations and the financial institutions we have to borrow from especially when our private sector shrinks to become the runt of the litter compared to it's sibling the public sector. Add to that the fact, confirmed by the imbecile himself, that across the board non-working families are now better off than low income working families, and you can see the absurdity that has become our economy.

    Decades of believing that we were somehow entitled to a better deal from the state than anywhere else on this planet, fueled by careerist politicians bribing us so much with our own money they had to start borrowing billions to preserve the illusions that kept them in a job, so that now we are borrowing billions to serve the interest payments on the money we have already borrowed! Madness. A betrayal of the poorest among us more than the rest when we become Europe's Zimbabwe, because the concept of saving up money earned will be an insoluble problem for them owing to their failure to understand the meaning of the words 'earning' and 'saving'. As a result they will be left the victims of the idiocy of those they believed were their fairy godmothers!

    I couldn't even get through Jules Holland's Hootenanny without someone talking about how she and her mother wanted to bring down the government. This intellectual spasticity is rife in the ranks of the self-appointed custodians of all that is right and true, strangely including comedians who appear on the BBC. Wasted on them is any consideration of the fact that the only alternative to the coalition has announced that it is committed to reinventing itself to serve the career aspirations of it's members. Principles? Oh yeah that's what you get the suckers who you want to vote for you to tell you what they should ideally be!LOL

    Yeah, bring down the government, even though none of us can have a clue as to what contrived spectacle of a sick joke will be served up to us posing as a political party that can take over. What utter rubbish.

    Happy New Year by the way!

  • Comment number 57.

    56....You are the feisty one TMR...and you might be surprised to know that I share a lot of your frustration with the liberal establishment in Britain..but beyond a lot of intellectual-sounding flailing about decrying the state of our banana republic crossed with a Mad Hatter`s Tea Party you are unsurprisingly quiet about the role of what I imagine to be your preferred political bedfellows on the neo-liberal right in the mess we have gotten ourselves in to.

    I`ve been a student of British politics for nearly fifty years and would trace our problems right back to the Second World War since which we have been beholden to a USA that calculatedly let our preposterous nation wither on the vine while it built up Germany and Japan and more recently China and India...and meddled in the Middle East to keep Israel`s head above water.

    We have been has been a puppet state since the 1940`s and particularly so since Keith Joseph took Margaret Thatcher over to meet Friedman just after she took office....and what remained of our industry and our North Sea Oil were exported to pay for American foreign policy and for the EU project and the takeover of the Soviet Union in particular.

    Most of our barmier ideas are direct transplants imposed on us from the USA....for example exporting our industry to "free Market" China and doctrinaire privatisation and unsustainable immigration and multiculturalism and a virtual one party capitalist state and a foreign policy that involves us in ruinous wars and so called "foreign aid" (bribes) to America`s crooked chums across the world.

    And let`s not forget our almost total dependence on the financial jiggery-pokery of Wall Street shysters for what little income we do have today!

    Political half-wits are now rushing around blaming a "New Labour" adminisration for our economic woes when any fool could see that Brown`s early deregulatory and other policies MIRRORED what a Tory administration would have done if they weren`t ridiculed from office for corruption and other incompetence in 79.

    New Labour was just a rebranded TORY party without the sort of folk who might take us out of the American-run EU or stop immigration from the countries where the USA was trying to buy influence.
    So here`s a challenge TMR....instead of snidely ridiculing my contribution (in which I make some very reasonable comments) why don`t YOU tell us what should have happened during the past thirty years that would have seen Britain better placed than we are now?

    And please dispense with the usual rhetoric about "Labour this" and "Tory that" ...and just face the truth that we haven`t been a functioning democracy since we went bust in WW2!

    And here`s your best news so far...I`m on a sabbatical year away from the internet for a whole year from today so if you don`t post by midnight you will wasting your time...because I won`t be reading it and most people who do will not be taken in by your Tory tripe any longer.

    We`ve all had a basinful of your recycled Yankee tripe.... and Britain is a mess BECAUSE we listened to it too long and failed to be the civilised social democrats that our political intuition told us we should be!

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm glad that you trace our difficulties back to the end of WW2 because that is where I can fully understand and sympathise with you. I am proud to say that in my family this year, as always, we paid tribute to family members who fought in BOTH world wars.

    I can see where the self-congratulatory policies of the TUC, sorry LABOUR party have their origins. After all when you've been dodging bullets you are going to listen to a party that seduces you into thinking that a welfare state utopia is nothing less than you deserve.

    Beveridge himself did however, warn that the welfare state he had described did have the potential to de-incentivise idle people, in effect turning them into human parasites.

    Let's start with .....


    When you think of it rationally you will begin to conceive it as the most ignorant, embryonically naive piece of philosophical garbage that has ever been conjured up by the human mind. Sorry Marx but your theory is indeed lovely in a whimsical kind of way, but because you are talking about Homo sapiens you are nothing but a dreamer rightly disturbed by the horrors of the industrial revolution.

    Unlike the brainwashed lefties, and others like religious fundamentalists, I am FREE to think about anything I want. I can think that what I just heard on the radio or TV was rubbish or I can question it.

    Britain must never become a country where the dissenting voice is suppressed, even if it is too late anyway to save our economy. But with freedom to dissent comes an obligation to be responsible!!!!

    I find the concept of contributing to the overpopulation of the world so repugnant that I am proud to say I have not exponentially compounded our problems. That is not to say that I don't have a legacy message to pass on.

    Here it is, (first draft);

    BA + TUC = 1400 UM jobs lost. TUC (post WW2) jobs lost zero.
    TUC MEMBERS jobs lost (post WW2)

  • Comment number 59.

    TMR...You disappoint but don`t surprise me.
    If I had wanted a precis of Daily Express editorials for the last sixty years I would have requested it.And the way...even I could make you a better case than the last post!
    You can read...and you can see what I am asking of you...and if you had any substantial political background understanding you could do better than this.
    However,there does seem to be a large section blank so perhaps the moderator lost the will to live at some stage and woke up later on?
    I`m no "brainwashed" anything at all....and I have deep reservations about all aspects of our risible party politics.
    But maybe your routine of right wing cliches will have more success with the brain`s trust down at the golf club?
    You have a happy new year too...I wish you and yours every happiness in 2011.

  • Comment number 60.

    59 Worcesterjim. Thanks for your good wishes and sorry to have have disappointed you. However something did appear to go wrong with my post though I think it was me rather than the moderator who was at fault. Just possible that I drifted off under the effects of general overindulgence and woke up and pressed the button before checking it through again!

    I get too angry, I know I do. I think it's the way the establishment prejudged the coalition almost before it even got started and decided to bring it down as soon as possible regardless of the fact that at this time there is no other credible option available.

    When you can't watch the news, or a comedy programme, or a music show without someone taking cheap-shots, it gets on your nerves for sure.

    Anyway can I make up for my disappointing post by supplying you with a lead to where you can find out all the national rates of VAT throughout the EU.

    You will not have heard any comparison made by BBC News today concerning the VAT rates elsewhere in the EU. Perhaps they think it's irrelevent.

    For myself, given the state of our economy, it was long overdue for us to bring ourselves into line with the rest of Europe.

  • Comment number 61.

    Thanks. For what it's worth I thought tonight's Newsnight was why it has been watched by me for decades. My MP confirmed that his party was planning to allow their opponents to be responsible for the decisions, had Labour won the last election, that they would have had to make themselves for the next five years!

    For the next five years however, during which their plan is to object in small, bight-sized sound bites, that their objections to what we all know they would have been driven to do themselves, will be revealed to be a promise of things that they already know to be whimsical fantasies.

    I am a scientist. I am a proud positive non-interventionist. I know that the politics I believe in have been shown to be the only answer. I believe that in the Far East they sell busts of the head of JJ Couperthwaite, the Scot that showed the rest of the world that were not too 'unionised' to listen, how you make a country rich enough to look after it's non-workers while still allowing it's hard working people the opportunity to be advantaged by doing so.

    I hope your googling of JJ Couperthwaite is more successful than I have been tonight. I think the shutters have come down. I wonder why, not.


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