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Published for the Kindle via Amazon, a chance to remind yourself what the Coalition did between 2010 and 2015.

 

 

Horizon Scanning Programme

May 2014

We have learnt that the coalition's Horizon Scanning Programme is 12 months old. And the result of all their scanning efforts? Nothing, that is, nothing worth reporting.

The idea behind this so-called programme is to peer into the future in an effort to figure out what may happen by way of threats, risks and opportunities.

A Commons committee has been looking at the lack of output stemming from this programme and have concluded that it has "substantial weaknesses", is not using the expertise of external experts and that there was a "worrying lack of clarity" about what the programme was about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politics

rotten apple

Patrick Mercer, bought and paid for

Chris Huhne: Liar!

The Clinton School for liars

Unknown unknowns

The Walter Mitty Tendency among British politicians

The Spectre of Past Misdeeds: Rendition and Torture

MPs' Expenses

Silly Politicians

Who is wasting public money this week?

 

 

The Spectre of Past Misdeeds: Rendition and Torture

Not so long ago we frequently saw David Miliband, one time New Labour Foreign Secretary, asserting that Britain did not condone or participate in torture. And yet we now see a Libyan military commander is taking legal action against former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, claiming he was handed over to Colonel Gaddafi's forces in 2004 by MI6. Abdul Hakim Belhadj, who was believed at the time to have links to Al Qaeda, says he was tortured as a result. Back in 2004, Miliband was given a non-job in the Cabinet Office by Tony Blair, allowing some to argue that he would have known nothing about Jack Straw's CIA connections. However, having arrived at the Foreign Office you might think he would bring himself up to speed with the department's past misdeeds - but not asking allows you to lie honestly.

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The Mercer saga

03/05/14

Summary

A by-election will be held in Newark on 5 June after disgraced MP Patrick Mercer finally faced up to the fact he's a disgrace.

“Friends of Fiji”

MP Patrick Mercer was approached to work for £2000 a month to promote Friends of Fiji.... to build British parliamentary and government support for Fiji's readmission to the Commonwealth following its suspension in 2009.

Mercer was reeled in by Alistair Andrews Communications, with its offices in Sydney and London, a front for a sting operation set up by journalists to see if MPs could still be “hired” for cash. Mercer supplied the evidence that they could.

Fiji became a dictatorship after the 2006 coup, run by Frank Bainimarama, he suspended the country’s constitution, sacked the judiciary and went on a human rights rampage. All that Mercer had to do for his coin was to ask a few questions and put forward a few motions, written for him by Alistair Andrews Communications.

On 26 March, he tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, stating:

“This House recognises that the government of Fiji is making all reasonable efforts to restore democracy, believes that in the light of on-going hardship being endured by its businesses, there is no justification for Fiji’s continued suspension from the Commonwealth, and, therefore, urges the Government to arrange a ministerial visit in order to help prepare for and assist its readmission.”

He also began setting up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Fiji (he managed to sign up 20 MPs to his club) and asked Alistair Andrews to pay for a jolly boys outing all expenses-paid group trip to the islands, to see at first hand the progress they were making.

Having discovered he had been had, he resigned the Conservative whip and said he wouldn't stand at the next election. He even referred himself to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards like a naughty schoolboy.

Cameron's sloth on lobbying

Before the 2010 election Cameron promised he would shine “the light of transparency” on who was buying influence and power. Chloe Smith, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of future lobby industry legislation, has apparently not held any meetings with leading lobbyists since being given the job last year. The statutory register of lobbyists that was promised doesn't exist and legislation for a “right to recall” transgressing MPs has not even been mentioned and there's no news on a statutory code of conduct for MPs.

MPs do have Lord Nolan's Seven Principles of Public Life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership but it seems clear the poor man wasted his time.

Also, All Party Parliamentary Groups, like Friends of Fiji are not required to publish minutes and accounts; or to provide details of the funding of APPG activities - although such action has been mooted.

Note: The entire lobbying industry in the UK, estimated to be worth more than £2 billion a year and which employs over 10,000 people, is unneeded, unwanted and unnecessary.

All Party Parliamentary Groups

APPGs are semi-official groups of MPs and lords, which can be started by any parliamentarian who can muster enough cross-party signatures from both houses. While many serve as focus points for hobbies or campaign causes of MPs, they serve a dual function as a notorious back door for lobbyists, who can use them to fund drinks parties, overseas trips and more for big businesses and governments.

APPGs social clubs: parliament's choir is established as a group, as is its rowing team. As a result, many serve as avenues for sponsorship to come into the house.

The aforementioned choir, for example, received £65,000 in sponsorship from BT, while the rowing team receives £16,000 from Siemens towards the cost of parliament's boat race. Other groups get money from organisations even more closely tied to their interests: the APPG on beer, for example, exists to "promote the wholesomeness and enjoyment of beer and the unique role of the pub in UK society", and received £65,000 for the drinks industry for their efforts.

In all, there are now almost 600 such groups, representing countries, illnesses, industry and more – with some MPs enjoying membership of dozens at a time. Last year, the Guardian calculated more than £1.8m in outside sponsorship came into parliament via such all-party groups.

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Chris Huhne: Liar!

Gotcha... Starmer goes after Huhne

February 2012

It's only taken 8 years but at last the DPP has finally found the guts to go after alleged points flipper Huhne. Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said the Liberal Democrat MP and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce would both be charged with perverting the course of justice.

Perverting the course of justice is a pretty serious offence and could carry a hefty prison sentence, especially for someone who keeps claiming to be innocent. However, a better description of Huhne would be childlike rather than innocent. Since only a village idiot or a child would imagine that Keir Starmer would make a very public announcement about charging you if he wasn't two hundred percent certain of getting a conviction.

Huhne resigned as Energy Secretary, so that he could concentrate on his defense - time waster!

Chris HuhneHuhne was finally arrested 2012 for getting his ex-wife to take the rap for a speeding offence, so that he wouldn't get any more points on his licence.

He resigned as a cabinet member at the time of the arrest, saying "I'm innocent and I'll prove it". Silly man, he was guilty as sin, a liar, who deserved nothing more than some time behind bars.

They say that attempting to pervert the course of justice carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Which would provide Huhne with ample time to contemplate the....

.....Seven Principles of Public Life

It was Lord Nolan who established the Seven Principles of Public Life; selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

Lord Nolan was chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life between 1994 and 1997 set up under the Major Government in 1994. Nolan's obituary says of him:

"Lord Nolan .. made a profound mark on national life by substantially cleansing the Augean stable of corrupt politics as founding chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life."

The Standards Committee was set up in response to the cash-for-questions scandal. Not much was learnt however, during the Blair years we had the cash for honours scandal and later, revelations over cash for influence. The expenses fiddling of recent times showed clearly that MPs had not taken on-board the seven principles and the stable was still full of crap.

 

Vicky Pryce Jury Dismissed

The jury in the Vicky Pryce trial didn't know enough to come to a verdict and asked the judge some questions. Instead of answering the questions, the judge got uppity and told them all to get lost. Now, we need a re-trial, and this will no doubt cost another £5m. All because Mr Justice Sweeney let his arrogance and exasperation get in the way of good judgment.

 

Huhne and Pryce await derisory sentencing

09/03/13

After 8 years of time wasting, Huhne admitted his guilt over speeding and forcing his wife to take the points for him. Then, the jury at his ex-wife's trial were dismissed by an idiot judge, after £5m was wasted. At her re-trial, this past week, she too was found guilty of perverting the course of justice. This pair have made a complete mess of their lives, wasted everyone's time and cost the tax payer a fortune, and what can we expect now?

A couple of derisory sentences. Perverting the course of justice can, could, might, lead to life in prison but you can expect Vicky Pryce to get a six month suspended and Huhne to receive a maximum of 18 months, with two thirds off for good behaviour in an open prison - six months inside. That's not justice!

Derisory Sentencing for Huhne and Pryce

11/03/13

A policeman appeared outside the court case of Huhne and Pryce to tell us that perverting the course of justice was a very serious crime and that the sentences - 8 months each - reflected this seriousness. The policeman is just a very silly person.

Huhne and Pryce will serve 4 months or less. So how can anyone see this as a disincentive to get someone else to take your speeding points, especially when your whole career hinges on it.

The next time some liar appears in court accused of such a serious offence will they not expect the same sentence as Huhne and Pryce and not the life in prison, which the judge could have handed this daft pair.

And even less surprise: Huhne leaves Wandsworth for country club

23/03/13

Disgraced MP Chris Huhne may be sleeping a little easier tonight after he was moved into one of Britain's minimum security prisons.

After spending just seven days in tough Wandsworth prison, the former cabinet minister has now taken up residence at HMP Leyhill, Gloucester, where prisoners are not even locked in their cells.

Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, doesn't think the sentences for Huhne and ex-wife Vicky Pryce 'unduly lenient'. That's alright then.

No surprise: As Vicky Pryce is moved into a hotel

16/03/13

Price was moved from Holloway prison in north London to an Elizabethan manor in the Kent countryside. The manor is otherwise known as East Sutton Park prison. The prison service's own website describes it as "a pleasant mansion house overlooking the Weald of Kent"

Question: Who was it in the prison service who decided, just a few days after being sentenced, that Chris Huhne and Vicky Price should be moved from real prisons to country clubs?

Huhne and Pryce released

13/05/13

The time wasting pair only served two months of their eight month sentences. Now, they can focus on paying the court costs. Huhne owes £100,000 and the CPS wants £48,000 from Pryce. Typically, Huhne only wants to pay £25,000, a quarter of what he owes, just like his sentence.

Oct. 2013 Update

Vicky has written a book, no, not about her time with Huhne but the plight of women in prison.

Huhne is still licking his wounds but seems a trifle unremorseful.

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Beyond meaning and misspoking

When it comes to duplicity, our politicians have learnt much from their US cousins.

Bill Clinton told a global television audience 'I did not have sexual relations with that women', responding to allegations from White House intern, Monica Lewinsky in 1998. Even when he was forced to come clean, he still wouldn't acknowledge that he had sex with Lewinsky, instead he called it an "inappropriate relationship", he said "...it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible."

He also said, "I never told any body to lie, not a single time, never." Clearly, he reserved that right to himself. At the time of this event, Clinton made much of what he understood by the term 'sexual relations', throughout the whole inquisition he sought to redefine the term, such that the word sexual had no sexual connotations. It was as if he and Monica just held hands, in Bill's mind anyway but he nearly managed to persuade the American nation as well. And as ever, the US model of political depravity leeched across the globe, stare straight at the camera, head up, deny all knowledge with total sincerity and when you get caught out, prostrate yourself to the court of human frailty.

Bill's wife, Hillary, to cover up her own lying, invented the word 'misspoke'. Saying I lied is harsh, saying I misspoke has connotations of acceptable error. Obviously, this was all too late to save Bill's career but she salvaged her own with it.

Talking about her visit to Bosnia in 1996, Hillary said:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Unfortunately for liar Hillary, CBS News showed footage of her walking calmly across the tarmac with her daughter, Chelsea, and being greeted by dignitaries and a child with flowers. In her memoir, “Living History,” she wrote about sniper fire in the hills but it didn't trouble her hand shaking activities.

No Intention to be Factual....

Arizona senator Jon Kyle falsely accused healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, of providing abortions to ‘well over 90 per cent of its customers.' In fact, only three per cent of its work involves abortion.

A spokesman for Kyle said: his remark ‘was not intended to be a factual statement’. One reporter described Kyle's lying as evidence of the current political zeitgeist. In essence, say what you like, some fool will believe it.

However, long before the Clintons and unremarkable senators like Kyle started lying for a living, Richard Nixon changed forever the way citizens looked at those holding high office. In a sense Nixon's persistent lying over Watergate did much to reshape the public's expectations towards their politicians.

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Unknown unknowns

Blair and Bush finished things off with their dodgy dossier on weapons of mass destruction, supposedly held by Iraq. In this instance, we move away from the lie and lack of intention to be truthful to new territory, Donald Rumsfeld territory:

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know." (2002)

Rumsfeld is an important character, he was there with Nixon, he was there with Reagan, he was there with Bush. The 'war on terror' was created in the Pentagon by Rumsfeld. There was nothing that Rumsfeld did not know. He created the Office for Special Plans at the Pentagon, purpose, to disseminate disinformation - their biggest piece of handy work, the 45 minute claim!

Unknown unknowns leave the door open for complete fantasy, for bigger and bigger lies - i.e. Tony Blair telling Parliament that Saddam Hussein had WMDs that could be launched in 45 minutes. Citizens were told time and again that this claim was based on credible 'intelligence'. And all those suspected of lying persist with the lie that they believed the 'intelligence'. The whole Cabinet and all the spin doctors absolving themselves by reference to some nebulous, no, nonexistent intelligence. There was no intelligence, no WMDs, and the 45 minute claim was simply ridiculous. The forty-five minutes claim actually redefined time, it meant probably never but Blair's spin doctors, chiefly, Tom Kelly and Alastair Campbell needed something emphatic and probably never didn't cover it.

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The Walter Mitty Tendency among British politicians

Mitty is a well known fictional fantasist, his name has passed into the language to describe outrageous liars.

Jeffrey Archer, author and former politician whose political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001–03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice, i.e. lying. Archer created, in his own mind, a persona out of sink with cognition and reality but the Tory Party were minded to make him their party chairman and a life peer, etc... He was one of the great and the good, someone for the plebs to look up to or so the public were led to believe.

But even Archer's fantasy world was outdone by John Stonehouse, MP, businessman, author, and soviet bloc spy. Stonehouse's mad world involved leaving a pile of clothes on a Miami beech, in an attempt to fake his suicide, while travelling the globe, faking identities and trying to reinvent himself as Joseph Markham. It didn't do him any good, he ended up on trial for 21 charges of fraud, theft, forgery, and conspiracy to defraud. Stonehouse was sent to prison for seven years. As a Privy Counsellor he was entitled to the style "The Right Honourable", which is quite funny when you think about it.

"Sometimes you become the prisoner of your own lie" Aitken 1999

MP Jonathan Aitken was imprisoned for his lying but like all his ilk, he had to try to make it seem as if he was being forced by the lie to be dishonest, as if the lie had taken on some kind of agency over which he had no control. Germlike, he even persuaded his young daughter to lie for him in an attempt to persuade others that he was an upstanding citizen. When investigative journalists from the Independent, Guardian and World in Action, in April 1995, lifted the lid on the Aitken can of worms they revealed that he was nothing more than a pimping tea boy for a bunch of Saudi princes, while posing as Cabinet member and Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Mad Frankie Fraser sums up the public's perception of Aitken. In 2001 Fraser said, "He was worried about shaking my hand but I should have been worried about shaking the hand of a scapegrace".

Words don't have to mean anything

When Jonathan Ross asked David Cameron if he had masturbatory fantasies over Margaret Thatcher, BBC executives called Ross 'a great talent', rendering the words 'great' and 'talent' meaningless. Not that important perhaps, if you believe that words don't have to mean anything or that what you say doesn't have to accurately convey what you mean.

Gordon Brown described his Home Secretary's performance as 'Great'. In truth, the only thing Jacqui Smith had excelled at was milking her expenses. Gordon, when quizzed by the press about Smith's claim for porno movies said, "It's a private matter". Excuse us, Gordon, how can asking the taxpayer to fund her husband's viewing habits be private. Smith attempted to excuse herself with some nonsense about her and husband moving further apart. Her attempts to put marriage guidance on the agenda didn't fly. Tessa Jowell had already used that tactic when she was caught out over a mortgage scam.

Cabs for hire

Labour MP, Stephen Byers was filmed describing himself as "sort of like a cab for hire." Byers made claims of having influenced government policy in the past for money. He claimed to have spoken with Peter Mandelson and Lord Adonis in the past to influence outcomes for National Express and Tesco. Adonis admitted talking to Byers but nothing more and Mandelson said he remembered no such discussion or meeting. And then Byers said "I have not spoken to Andrew Adonis or Peter Mandelson about the matters I mentioned." When the story broke, National Express and Tesco also denied there was any truth in Byers' statements.

Well, why would you not expect deniability from all concerned but Mandelson's response is insightful. How could Mandelson remember not having a discussion or meeting. After all, if you were not there you'd be unlikely to remember it?

Mandelson, nothing to declare except his P45!

When Mandelson took a loan from fellow MP Geoffrey Robinson to buy a pad in Notting Hill he omitted to tell his mortgage company, therefore he lied by default. Mandelson also failed to declare the loan to the Register of Members Interests, he lied again by default. In his resignation letter he mangled the language to suit his lying personality, saying: "in all candour, I should not have entered into the arrangement" (Dec 1998) in other words, if he had been an honest person then he wouldn't have done it. Max Clifford commented: "The public views him as slimy and he only has himself to blame".

Tony Blair only waited a year before bringing Mandelson back into office, this time for Northern Ireland but it wasn't long before he was up to his old tricks - not doing anything wrong obviously. The Observer claimed (Jan 2001) that Mandelson had phoned Home Office minister Mike O'brien on behalf of Srichand Hinduja, in order to promote the latter's bid for British citizenship. Mandelson had failed to mention his conversation with O'Brien to O'Brien's boss, Jack Straw. Blair gave Mandy his P45 again.

Ultimately Mandelson's dishonesty proved to be no bar to his political progress, by 2004 he was off to Euroland as Trade Commissioner and the five star time of his life. In 2008, Gordon Brown brought Mandelson back into the Cabinet as Trade Secretary and gave him a peerage. Post the death of New Labour, Mandelson has moved on in the world of business and has mighty ambitions, perhaps one day to head up the World Bank or perhaps become a slimy UN Secretary General.

Clearly Mandelson lied with impunity, perhaps his obliviousness was due to early onset Alzheimer's, whatever, his not remembering trick certainly set a trend around the Duplicity board.

Note, many of the self-serving, self-deceivers, in the foregoing account are not hiding in disgrace, they are prancing about on the public stage, heads held high and the Force preserve us, Tony Blair may yet make a return to British politics.

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The Spectre of Past Misdeeds: Rendition and Torture

Not so long ago we frequently saw David Miliband, one time New Labour Foreign Secretary, asserting that Britain did not condone or participate in torture. And yet we now see a Libyan military commander is taking legal action against former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, claiming he was handed over to Colonel Gaddafi's forces in 2004 by MI6. Abdul Hakim Belhadj, who was believed at the time to have links to Al Qaeda, says he was tortured as a result. Back in 2004, Miliband was given a non-job in the Cabinet Office by Tony Blair, allowing some to argue that he would have known nothing about Jack Straw's CIA connections. However, having arrived at the Foreign Office you might think he would bring himself up to speed with the department's past misdeeds - but not asking allows you to lie honestly.

The First Payoff (Dec.2012)

The UK government has paid a Libyan dissident's family £2.3m over MI6-aided rendition. Sami al-Saadi, wife and four children were secretly flown from Hong Kong to Tripoli where he was tortured by Gaddafi police. The government paid the sum by way of compensation and without admitting any liability.

CIA correspondence with Libyan intelligence, found in the spy chief Moussa Koussa's office in Tripoli by Human Rights Watch, states:

"We are aware that your service had been co-operating with the British to effect [Saadi's] removal to Tripoli … the Hong Kong government may be able to co-ordinate with you to render [Saadi] and his family into your custody."

Saadi says he accepted the pay off because he didn't want to go through another 'secret trial' here in the UK. This means the government here can pay up and deny everything.

However, Abdul Hakim Belhadj is pushing on with his claim, he doesn't have the same family commitments as Saadi and will not be silenced by a payoff. And our man Jack Straw says he will tell everything he knows further down the road, yes, and it may snow on Christmas day this year.


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MPs Expenses, a cheap affair

The revelations of the way MPs were abusing their expenses system began in May. A whistle blower passed a CD (for a small fee) containing all the unsavoury details to the Daily Telegraph. At year's end the saga continues, with some MPs refusing to pay back the money they have taken.

This affair revealed the vacuousness of much of the political class; small-minded, self-serving, untrustworthy and largely shameless.

And let's remind ourselves who was in the vanguard of the expenses cover up. Harriet Harman, announced that MPs would be able to vote on a new "statutory instrument" which will stipulate that they do not have to provide accounts of how they spend their personal allowances to the people who pay for them: the voters. And the now Lord of the Midges, Michael Martin was also up to his elbows in the scheme to keep the public in the dark.

Lords a leaping

December 2013

You'd be leaping too if you could get away with going to work for a few minutes, just long enough to give the time keeper a nod and claim your £300 for the day's 'work'.

According to Lord Hanningfield 50% of peers are working the same scam. The Daily Mirror says on 11 of 19 occasions he attended the Lords in July he spent less than 40 minutes there. He was paid over £5000 in attendance fees.

Hanningfield stupidly explained that he wasn't really making anything on his brief visits to the Lords, afterall he was spending half on expenses like food and electricity.

In case you need reminding, in 2011, Hanningfield served nine weeks of a nine-month sentence for parliamentary expenses fraud. He says it was a travesty, no, not the fact that he only served a quarter of his sentence, it was a travesty that all those other MPs and Lords got away with their fiddling.

There are currently 779 "eligible" members of the House of Lords.

MPs' Expenses: Another Cover Up

November 2014