This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Monday, 21 April 2008

What a clown.

Another reason not to vote for Boris....

Look out for the 'ooh' when he thumps the table!

Sunday, 20 April 2008


Thursday, 17 April 2008

Pennsylvania Debate

I watched the final televised debate between the Democrat candidates last night with increasing frustration.
The presenters seemed more interested in whether Obama wore a lapel pin of the American flag than his policies on Iraq or the economy.

Shame on George Stephanopoulos because he should have known better.

George has always been something of a hero of mine since he ran Clinton's election campaign in 1992 and then went on to become Director of Communications in the Clinton Administration.
Some people say that the character Rob Lowe played in the West Wing was based on George.

But as one of the questioners last night he was awful. A real shame that it took 45 MINUTES before he asked a single serious policy question.

As it turned out, Obama's answer about the flag was okay but the debate probably ended in a draw between both candidates. It really is down to the final slog now for Tuesday and the Pennsylvanian Primary. Obama has already managed to slash Clinton's lead right down (46% to 40%) so over the weekend that figure could improve.

On an entirely unrelated matter - the results of my survey are in. I asked "Which is your favourite cheese?" The answers were:

Cheddar - 19%

Brie - 47%

Stilton - 19%

Wensleydale - 14%.

I think this shows conclusively that as a nation our favourite cheese is French. I don't know what this means but I think it is pretty significant.
Andrew Jackson would never have had French cheese in his White House.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Talk of a leadership change is rubbish.

Tony Blair used to joke that every week was supposedly his worst week or his hardest week yet, if the media was to be believed.

Well, this week has been another horrendous week for Gordon Brown. And the media is full of it.

Brown met the Olympic torch but refused to touch it. He announced that he would not be attending the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing but he would go to the closing ceremony instead, leaving everyone confused. And according to most insiders, his meeting with the PLP last Monday was an absolute disaster.

Three columnists this week (Martin Kettle, Matthew Parris and Polly Toynbee) have likened Mr. Brown to the magician behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz. When you draw it back the is nothing there. Is that really the case? Is the great Shakespearean tragedy of it all, that Mr. Brown has plotted and schemed his way to the top over the last ten years and now that he has got there he doesn't know what to do?

If that is the case, then we are in serious trouble. It worries me that three very different members of the commentariat are beginning to think so. Kettle and Parris even suggested that Brown might be out after the May local elections.

But, I think its too soon to start talking about a change of leadership. Some Labour backbenchers need to shut up and stop panicking. A lot of them need their heads examining and some common sense instilled. I know they don't know what its like to lose (well I don't - I don't remember what it was like prior to 1997) but they are beginning to shake the boat unnecessarily. There is still time for Brown to make an impact and get things together. For all his faults, I remain confident of his abilities and conviction.

He doesn't have long, but talk of a change of leadership is hysterical nonsense.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Democracy is on the march!

The tiny island of Sark, in the Channel Islands, has voted to become the world's newest democracy.

For four hundred years, the island has been ruled by hereditary landowners, but now its residents have finally embraced the idea of representative democracy. A Parliament will be established over the next year.

A triumph I think you'll agree for George Bush's message of freedom and democracy. At least we know it gets everywhere.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Obama - Anti-Democratic?

I haven't written yet about the US elections but an interesting article appeared on the US website today. It argued that Obama's victories in the primaries have been pretty hollow because under the Democrat system, votes from each state in a primary are awarded on a proportional basis rather than a winner takes all basis. In a popular vote winner-takes all system Clinton would be ahead in the number of delegates, while Obama would be behind. The fact that the Democrats have decided on a proportional basis for each state actually helps Obama.
This only matters because in the General Election each state operates on a winner takes all basis only. Therefore, the implication is that Hillary is actually doing pretty well and it is just the system that is letting her down.

Normally, I would not even consider this an argument worthy of my attention being such an Obama acolyte. But the article was written by Sean Wilentz - a brilliant US historian, my favourite in fact, who has written extensively on President Jackson and early 19th Century American democracy.

When it comes to democracy, Wilentz knows if something is wrong in the state of Denmark - so I am intrigued that he has looked into this. It is certainly worth reading for yourself. Check it out here.

It has not changed my opinion though of Obama. He should still get the nomination.

Politics Home

I have just checked out the new politics and news website

I have to say I am already hooked. This is a brilliant website. It begs the question, "Why did no one think of this before?"

I would encourage you to check it out. It really is very good.

NUT says 'No' to Armed Forces

This is an old news story by now, but one that has been mulling around in my head for a while.

Last week, at their annual conference in Manchester, the National Union of Teachers voted to stop the Armed Forces from recruiting pupils in schools. The NUT believes it is a form of 'indoctrination,' with the Armed Forces deliberately targeting kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

I come from a family of teachers and have enormous respect for the profession, but on this issue the NUT seems to have shot itself in the foot. The Armed Forces are not indoctrinating anyone. They are, however, providing kids with information so that they can make better, more informed decisions.

I remember when I was 16 and all three services came in to my school to give a career's talk. Ultimately, it was not for me, but I remember being impressed listening to the men and women talking that day and I learnt a lot about Britain's military.

The Armed Forces can provide an excellent career path - with training opportunities and career progression that you would not get elsewhere. You are not seriously telling me that young people don't understand the risks that would entail from a career in the forces. They see evidence of it everyday on their TV screens. Let's give them some credit. And lets applaud those people that still join and serve their country. For me, that is real bravery.

All the Armed Forces are doing is providing kids with information to help make a choice. I would have thought any sensible teacher would have supported this. It is a real shame that the NUT hasn't.

It looks like elements of the loony Socialist Workers' Party may have had a hand in orchestrating this. If that's the case and the SWP or similar have taken over parts of the Union, then the NUT will soon find out that no one is listening to it.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Harriet Harman at PMQs

While Gordon was off on his jollies at the NATO summit today, Harriet Harman stepped in to take his place at PMQs. She was very good - punchy, funny and her jibes against Hague were effective. They certainly stole his thunder.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Homophobic Bullying in schools

It didn't come as a total surprise to learn today that homophobic bullying is still endemic in most schools. A report by Stonewall indicated that around two thirds of gay and lesbian people under 19 were bullied at school because of their sexuality. Schools still seem to be one of the main places where homophobia is acceptable. Its not.

One of this government's proudest achievements over the last ten years has been the work it has done to improve equality. I think by and large attitudes towards gay people have changed and are changing but the report shows that there is still a great deal of work to be done to change people's prejudices.

It seems to me that Stonewall is doing a great job helping do that - its campaign recently "Some people are gay. Get over it" - was really good I thought. But it looks like the government is still dragging its feet over important legislation to make equality of service for gay people in public bodies mandatory. Why doesn't the government just do this? Sometimes in politics there are clear rights and wrongs. This is one of those occasions. It is easy, natural Labour territory.

I suppose though it takes more than just legislation to change attitudes and that is why education is so important and charities and organisations like Stonewall, working in partnership with the government, play an important role.

Today's report was a reminder that there's still a lot left to do in this area.