Wednesday, July 26, 2006
We learn nothing from history do we? After a couple of decades of hard lessons about nationalisation and 'central economic planning' we learned by 1979 that the last people who should make business decisions are politicians, especially Labour politicians.
The whole sorry tale of New Labours attempt to introduce a more relaxed gaming and gambling regime is rapidly looking like a return to the bad old days of Governments interfering in business - with similarlily disasterous results.
On the one hand the one remaining 'supercasino' that is going to be allowed is looking more and more like a pre-scripted stitch up rather than an open merit based contest. When the idea was first mooted for a supercasino the prime candidate was Blackpool, which would have been the perfect place; now it looks like it will be a white elephant at the wrong end of London.
Meanwhile we read that places like Luton and Canturbury are more likely to be 'selected' by the Government for the next generation of casino's than Torbay.
What in the name of all that is useful have the Government got to do with it? Why should some Whitehall quango know better than the Casino operators and local planners what is best for us?
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Stories are slowly emerging in the press that contrary to earlier speculation and his own press statements Lord Levy is refusing to co-operate with the police investigation into cash-for-peerages.
I am hearing that during interviews Lord Levy has insisted on reading out a pre-prepared statement and refusing to answer questions.
There is growing recognition (and frustration) that Levy is blocking the investigation progressing any further up the chain (i.e. to No 10) by saying nothing more than he has to unless he is actually charged.
There is a downside, which is that if he is charged his uncooperative behaviour will look very damaging in court.
I conclude one of two things - 1) He is confident that there is not enough evidence to charge anyone, including himself or 2) He is acting as a 'body shield' to protect Tony Blair for as long as he remains in office.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Could this ' pretty straight kind of guy' be the first Prime Minister in living memory to be arrested?
I have been musing on the prospects of the police interviewing Tony Blair under caution at 10 Downing Street ever since Lord Levy was interviewed.
the Independent reports this morning that “..There is a shiver going down the spine of No 10,” one insider said yesterday. “The paper trail is proving stronger than the police expected. They are pretty good at persuading people it is in their best interests to talk.”
I asked a friend who is a senior police officer what he thought and his view is that even a face-to-face interview with the PM is highly unlikely, and an arrest is unthinkable. The Prime Minister would be assumed to be cooperating fully and there would be no precedent to interview him under caution.
They may submit questions to him but they would probably just ask for a written statement in reply.
In fact senior officers say that arresting very high profile 'suspects' is often done merely to knock the stuffing out of them first so that officers can 'cut them down to size' and interview them as equals.
It seems to me highly unlikely that any charges will ever be brought but just the prospect of the Prime Minister having become embroiled in a scandal leading right to his door must be hugely damaging.
At the very least it suggests massive poor judgement to have allowed things to get this far, at worst it could be that there really is some truth in the allegations.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Joy of joys. There are reports everywhere in the media today about the almost certain demise of the ID card scheme.
I am lifted this morning by this news. I cannot explain why I have such a determined hatred of the concept of an ID card, other than the fact that it goes against everything I thought we valued in the country in terms of being free citizens. The concept of a British policeman being able to stop you on the street one day in the future and say "your papers, please" was just too chilling for words.
Outright abandonment in one go is unlikely but there will I am sure be a series of 'amendments' which will mean that the all encompassing biometric card and the 'big brother' style universal citizens database that go with it will not now be instigated before there is a change of Government.
Thank goodness for that.
Monday, July 10, 2006
I’m glad he has decided to say something about this because I hate the way we tend to demonise all youngsters just because some groups of young men (and women) can seem intimidating.
One of the worst habits of modern politicians is to play up ‘threats’ in the hope of being seen as the white knight with the solution.
Blair and Bush have invested a great deal of time and effort to play up the threat of terrorism which, although real, is not really any greater here in the UK than it has been since the 1960’s.It is true to say that we Conservatives have also been guilty; during the 2005 election I was unhappy with the tone of some of our crime posters.
Gangs of young people hanging around on street corners can appear threatening, especially to old or single people and even more so late at night.
But it doesn’t help if the press and politicians between them have worked the public into a frenzy of fear based on a handful of shocking incidents of violence being blown out of all proportion.In the main we live in a safe place. Your chances of being mugged, robbed or violently attacked in Torbay by a stranger (hooded or otherwise) are absolutely miniscule. The Herald Express faithfully detail every incident and never have more than a handful each month - in a town of 140,000 people and 660,000 visitors.
You are probably more at risk of injury from an uneven paving slab than a hooded youth while walking round Torbay.