Sunday, October 28, 2007

A reminder of what TMP is about

The summary of TMP aims and objects at the top of each page continues to form our basic tenets. This used to be called "democracy" in the good old days before both the USA and England became subjugated by the type of dodgy electoral systems and procedures favoured by banana republics and dictatorships.

TMP seeks to accommodate and air a majority view. Traditional party lines have become increasingly blurred by the march of progress, and the emergence of the "classless society"; these majority views appear as occasional islands of sanity in the vastness of government, and show reducing regard for party allegiances. Yet too many party politicians still try and dismiss such views as "populism" - as if being popular was beneath their dignity, and a crude tactic to undermine their continued existence as self-regulating guardians of the best interests and morals of a feckless and too easily roused rabble, aka "the electorate".

The media will of course do its best to make mischief, and try and stir up confrontational politics at all times by wheeling out the "theft of clothes" jibes when parties appear to agree on a popular strategy. TMP believes that it should be possible to provide people from all traditional parties with a haven from mindless ideology in which to convene, and agree on common sense matters that have no need to be tainted as "party political".

TMP further believes that it is better for those matters that are not contested that they be looked after by an independent intermediary, since it is the first instinct of any politician to try and "bank" such issues, which then means they feel compelled to tax anything and everything over which there is a general consensus because they reckon they can get away with it, unopposed. Witness the immediate introduction of numerous impositions and stealth taxes around anything that could be hung on the terror or green hooks.

The compromise form of government that we have largely inherited from the 17th century is now wholly mischievous, given the advances in voting technology. A message can get from York to London in under 5 days, in case you hadn't noticed; although it still takes up to 5 years for a message to reach the party in power that it's not wanted.

The sheer unimaginable vastness of government is a relatively modern phenomenon. Like its surveillance systems, government is now everywhere, and the laws that pour forth from Brussels and elsewhere have reached absurd proportions for a nation that once prided itself on common sense and a sense of fair play.

Most traditionally "delegated politicians" take a condescending view of the electorate and believe that the man in the street is not qualified to understand all the issues surrounding modern government, which is hardly surprising with such a vast amount of legislation (remember that 40 tons of EU verbiage) most of which is unnecessary, and poorly attempts to replace common sense with rote regulation. But oh boy, does it create (pensionable) jobs for bureaucrats!

So along with the introduction of majority rule, TMP proposes a complete overhaul and simplification of the constitution in consultation with, and ultimately agreed by, the majority of the people. Any politician suggesting that such matters are too complex to be entrusted to the majority of voters can be humanely recycled as something more useful, such as compost; TMP has no other use for them.

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Jocks don't want to be strapped

Full Scottish independence (funded by the Scots) may well be a necessary precursor for England's struggle to avoid the worst excesses of EU policy, since as a growing client state, the Scots will probably correctly reckon that like Ireland, they will do well to stay on the Brussels gravy train a while longer.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind's current attention to the matter of the over-representation of Scots with their gerrymandering collective of MPs at Westminster is long overdue, and perhaps another signal that the Tory party has at last noticed the futility of its fixation with the "Union" in the light of Modern Times - and especially as the latest Euro-nonsense is about to overtake us all anyway.

The reflection of electoral reality is a core tenet of TMP policy, and it is hard to imagine why any Scot could possibly complain - unless they fear that the loss of their cherished role for the Labour Party as useful reliable election fodder will cause the massive subsidies they currently enjoy from the English will be taken away. After many years of socialist rule at all levels, Scotland is now a basket-case "client economy" that relies on the state for majority of its employment, so they really only have themselves to thank.

Meanwhile, Glasgow MP and HoC Speaker, Michael Martin's inept performance in the "British" parliament has reached the point where even Labour MPs are embarrassed at his partisan behaviour and deference towards fellow Scots and fellow struggling parliamentary performer, our beloved leader Gordon Brown. If ever there was a perfect role for that rudely treated but honourable old buffer Sir Menzies Campbell, this should be it.

This episode has reminded us that it is generally unwise to trust the highest offices of state to those who actively revel in downmarket sobriquets such as "Gorbals Mick".

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Great Education Myth

Ask anyone who has ever served in the armed forces and they'll tell you that the organisation is entirely held together by the experience and cunning of senior NCOs. The "Bilko effect", if you like.

A good Sergeant Major is generally worth a platoon of officers, but in this egalitarian age, those naturally intelligent and canny kids who don't quite know what they want from life, but something more than flipping burgers, are being misguided. Brighter kids who might once have found their way into the forces and up through the ranks are forever being encouraged by our "education for its own sake" system, to stick with the system, and run up student debts of £30k whilst reading media studies and tourism instead.

One thing an educated person generally doesn't want to to do is join the army and get shot at (especially in pursuit of lost causes), and whilst there are indeed many fine officers, the recollection of those readers who attended public schools (still the primary feeder for officer training) is likely to be that the armed forces were not generally the first choice of the most gifted students.

All walks of society need their share of foot soldiers and NCOs; we can't all be Field Marshalls. But the obsessive redirection of anyone who can write their name on a piece of paper into further education has caused a general dearth of talent in the "NCO realm" of team leaders/lower management in public service operations like local councils, the civil service, railways and especially the NHS. The culture of attempting to educate the edges off an average square peg in the hopes that it might one day be rammed into a round management hole, is probably wrong.

30 years of the comprehensive system has not produced a terribly competent country: we are currently more in debt and producing less than ever before. And we are obliged to import all manner of artisans from Eastern Europe like there's no tomorrow. Maybe one of Cameron's crusades might be to dare to question this failed system and find ways to show 16 year olds a broader range of opportunities than simply stuffing them into university at all costs.

Most 16/18 year olds don't know what they want to do in life, so to have to make a life choice at that age with the consequences of student debt making subsequent career changes trickier, seems unfortunate at best. Maybe a (voluntary) year in the army is actually exactly what they and the nation want, and it should be made available and possible without any detriment to resuming an academic career.

But one key problem of this occasionally aired notion seems to be that our educators realise that kids who have seen a slice of real life will be rather less tolerant of the many irrelevant and misguided folks that form the bulk of our educators. However, TMP would take that chance.

Sorting out the BBC

Ironically, the Blair/Brown Broadcasting Corporation was not rewarded terribly well for its 12 years of undying and frequently unquestioning support for New Labour. However, it seems that the ethos of mindless political correctness is now written through the BBC like a stick of rock, and is likely to survive its current round of downsizing, and then some.

For those of us who have occasionally attempted to "do business" with the BBC but failed to find the patience to cope with its subsidised institutionalised arrogance, the sight and sounds of its inmates' discomfort will elicit a few wry smiles. And we will all immediately want to volunteer names for compulsory redundancies. (Are you reading this, Nick?)

Nevertheless, the BBC still does some great stuff - but it could do all this and more with probably 20% of its present establishment and funding, by exploiting better interoperability with external production and talent.

And let's sort out some of this regional nonsense - let the Welsh pay for BBC Wales, and then we'll see how much they still really want it; scrap all terrestrial TV broadcasting - satellite is vastly more cost effective, and the Internet would already be a viable alternative if only anyone understood multicast IP properly.

The commercial media has been baying for the BBC's blood ever more loudly since the BBC lead the way in the New Media revolution and effectively put the Kibosh on all hope of commercial web competition by doing such a fabulous job at the outset. However, the BBC was not to blame for most of the problems suffered by commercial media as the Internet took off. ITV's drubbing by Sky was entirely of its own stupid making; most national press disregarded the web until it was almost too late, and much of the old media still struggles to properly understand the situation.

It is still very much a generation thing, and most 50+ senior execs in media organisations that haven't already managed to cash out, are still trying to wipe the tip-ex off their flat screens.

An opposition in waiting

It would be premature to get too hopeful, but it seems increasingly possible that the British public has woken up from a 10 year sleepwalk towards the precipice, and noticed the undeniable smell of decay coming from Downing Street.

No amount of perfumed rhetoric can now mask the stench of those dead promises about a referendum on Europe, and it seems that the press has already agreed amongst itself that Brown and his second raters are looking increasingly like an opposition in waiting.

Brown's instantly exposed and supremely tawdry efforts at spin have been embarrassingly and contemptibly poorly executed. Where Blair was a natural, Brown is painfully unnatural. Whatever respect Brown's (alleged) towering financial intellect might have once commanded was blown away in a single badly judged move in Iraq - probably egged on by his closest advisers, notably the gurning Ed Balls and the vacuous David Milliband. Thankfully for the opposition, this lot are the palest of pale shadows of Blair's original spinmeisters, headed by the odd couple of the cocky Campbell and the manipulative Mandelson.

Brown is plainly a bloke with no bottle, and his period as PM looks like becoming the longest train wreck in history. A realistic prospect of victory should unite the Tories (and their supporters that have been hiding) just as the prospect of annihilation did at the start of their conference. 18 months to prepare should mean that it will possible to put together a really well thought-through strategy. Given the scale of shambles they see increasingly likely to inherit, they'll need one.

TMP will be making plenty of suggestions - starting with the old-fashioned notion that they should represent the majority of the population of the nation - and abandon New Labour's disastrous practise of forever pandering to the apparatchiks of a cabal of coteries of minorities. By all means abandon forever the 5-8% swing vote to New Labour, and address the other 92% instead, please.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Now it's Darling's turn to screw up

Rarely is business opinion so unified around the country as the reaction of big and small business to Darling's messing with CGT and taper relief. At last those tiresome pink fringes of the City who have hitherto been happy to be associated with New Labour are starting to wake up and find out what sort of old-style socialist regime the undynamic Caledonian duo have in mind.

As the BBC continues to unravel, that last bastion of New Labour hope - the Appointments section of the Guardian newspaper - still echoes to the many whistles of the many publicly funded gravy trains that are spending your money advertising for apparatchiks fluent in newspeak to step into the glittering array of index-pensionable non-jobs for neo-commissars that have been created over the past 10 years in national and local government, and NGOs of all varieties. Here are all the savings Cameron needs to fund zero IHT and free solar panels for all.

In the nick of time, David Cameron has rediscovered the masses; and if he has the nerve to stop fretting about the floating vote (which by definition has a short memory) the reality was/is that the majority of the English are conservative by nature and don't want Sharia Law or the European super state rather more than they do want windmills on bicycles, or well-hugged hoodies. By addressing the 30-40% of apathetic voters Cameron is looking fresh and thoughtful, and capable of leading a competent team that looks fit for government; whereas Brown is increasingly yesterday's beleaguered man, surrounded by a remarkably talent-free zone.

Gordon really cannot pretend that the mess that he is now sinking in is all Blair's doing. Can he?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The unlikliest treble of all...

What a weekend this has been. The Tories pass Labour in the polls, England beat Australia in the rugby world cup, and Lewis Hamilton fails to finish. What odds could TMP have wrung from their usual bookie for that treble?

Let's hope that Dave the boy wonder notices that his revival seems mostly due to sounding like a Conservative leader once again, with conservative policies. Cameron also bravely declared the proposition that he wanted to reach the voters who are too apathetic to vote rather than simply pander to the 5% of swing voters. At long last a major politician seems willing to address the one political tactic more than any other that has progressively ruined this country over the past 10 years. This has been the core reason why TMP felt it necessary to remind us that the majority of the UK is governed by an unseemly cabal of minorities.

What the churlish snipers of the "Death Tax Relief" situation fail to realise is that although those with estates in the £1m region may be relatively few and far between, they are all likely to have large families who would rather like to get their hands on 100% of the proceeds when grandma pops her clogs.

The Tories show of unity also pulled off another major feat - they fielded a much more appealing team of credible and coherent politicians compared to Brown's cabinet of ineffectual fellow travellers and spinmeisters.

Brown's reaction when quizzed on the prospect of an early election was churlish and pathetic. As ever when interviewed, he barely answered a straight question with a direct answer, and his team of plainly distraught but still smarmy no-hopers will now have to work overtime on the BBC to encourage the numerous apparatchiks in Wood Lane and Broadcasting House to repair the damage.

TMP's brave prediction of an October election gave Brown too much credit for an ability to make a decision; instead, by dropping hints of an impending election Brown gave the otherwsie dead Conservative party the incentive and the one chance it needed to regroup and rally around an inspirational leader, and look like a united and credible alternative government at last.

So are we in for 3 more years of listening to a bullying Caledonian windbag pontificate while we watch his pack of inexperienced Brownies continue to fail at the nation's considerable expense? Can anyone unearth a big enough scandal to force a general election? After ten years in government, Brown and his acolytes have many election-losing skeletons in many closets (listed earlier in this blog), but maybe now the public have the desire and will to see them exhumed at last, confident in the belief that the alternative could be better.

The interesting times continue.