It’s Still the British Government

As the euphoria of Labour’s ejection from Government recedes and the novelty of the new coalition Government wears off, it’s time to realise that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Here’s what to expect:

There wasn’t much conservative left about the Conservative Party before the General Election. David Cameron was already on the left side of his party with the Thatcherites severely marginalised. Now that he in in coalition with the LibDems, he has sold off the rest of the family silver. That was the price of the deal.

There is no question about the UK becoming less socialist. In this country it is not a matter of whether socialism but whose socialism. The new Government promises to spend more on the NHS year-on-year, but it will be spending less than was being spent. All the other money went to the banks. There will still be rationing. After promising that everyone will have access to the health care they need, the new Health Secretary admitted that there will never be enough to meet the demand, but that by shuffling around the nurses into various roles everything will be gloriously better.

Having poured the public purse into the bankers’ bonuses, new money to run the Welfare State will have to come from somewhere. They aren’t talking about the tax increases. It’s all about the spending cuts. However the reality is that the Conservatives have dropped the marriage (and civil partnership) tax break they promised during the campaign. That’s £150 per year per couple. They have dropped plans to raise the inheritance tax limit. (Inheritance tax is the tax penalty for dying after saving any of the money that has already been taxed.) There will be a very significant rise in capital gains tax (this means that everyone will dump whatever shares they can before it comes into effect and will drive down the market). VAT (that’s sales tax) will rise to at least 20%, though it could very conceivably go higher. The Tory promise of not implementing the Labour Government’s rise in National Insurance tax is being kept in part. Employers will not have a rise in their NI contribution, but employees will pay more.

The new Conservatives are every bit as liberal on social issues as Labour. They partners the LibDems are even more so. The man who would have been expected to take over as Home Secretary has been left out of the Government because he unwisely sided with a family who would not let gay couples share a double bed in their Bed and Breakfast. Since David Cameron took over from Iain Duncan Smith (an actual conservative Conservative), the Tories have tried to be pinker and greener than any other party. Abortion is not even a political issue in this country, despite the 200,000 that are performed every year.

What remains to be seen is just how the new Government will deal with Labour’s surveillance society. Both the Tories and the LibDems have promised to get rid of ID cards. How far they will go in otherwise getting out of the lives of individuals and families has yet to be seen.

There will be no conserving of the British constitution. The House of Lords, already nearly bereft of the hereditary peers who populated it for 800 years, will be turned into an elected Senate, elected by the LibDem’s preferred method of proportional representation. Like the Lords it will be an upper chamber in name only, with the centre of power still firmly in the Commons, even if it will no longer have the claim to the greater legitimacy of being democratically elected.

As a trade off for the Conservatives taking on the LibDem tax increases, the LibDems only lose one significant one significant policy, which is the only one for which I had any sympathy. The Tories are opposed to amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants, so there will be no amnesty for at least the length of this fixed-term five-year Parliament.

I’m glad to see Labour gone. I’m hoping that the new Government will not be as arrogant as the last, though the British Government is typically quite arrogant, regardless of who is in power.

Government Advisor: “Save the Planet – Have More Abortions”

Jonathon Porritt thinks the best way to save the planet is to kill the people. And it probably wouldn’t matter what Jonathon Porritt thinks, except that he’s the chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises the British Government on environmental issues.

Porritt thinks the Health Service is not spending its limited money in the right way. The environment would be better off if they put less money into curing illnesses and more into abortion services and contraception. “We still have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Europe and we still have relatively high levels of pregnancies going to birth, often among women who are not convinced they want to become mothers.”

We have a high level of pregnancies going to birth! Even with one of the highest abortion rates in the world, we aren’t doing enough. Too many pregnant women have the audacity to give birth.

He also says that families with more than two children are irresponsible. “I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate. I think we will work our way towards a position that says having more than two children is irresponsible.”

And what do you do with irresponsible people? You have to bring the power of the State to bear to force them into responsibility. That is the implication of what he is saying. We are asking now. We are working to public policy.

Nancy Pelosi wants to limit children so they aren’t a burden on the public purse. Jonathon Porritt wants to limit them so they won’t be a burden on the environment. The message of the Left is loud and clear. Children are a burden, not a blessing. If you won’t unburden the rest of us with fewer children, eventually the State will step in and do it for you.

Labour Spied for the Communists

Even when I have referred to the Labour Party as pinko commies, I wasn’t anticipating ties quite as close as have been recently revealed.

Labour was rocked by a Cold War spy scandal last night over allegations that a Party activist linked to two members of Tony Blair’s Cabinet spied for the Czech Government when the country was controlled by the Soviet Union.

Left-wing activist Cynthia Roberts, who stood as a Labour Parliamentary candidate, worked for the Communists under the codename Agent Hammer, according to documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday.

Mrs Roberts was running Labour Action for Peace (LAP) from an office in the House of Commons. As you might expect, the socialist peacenik group had ties to Soviet Russia, the regime that had nuclear missiles pointed at UK. In the twisted logic of such groups, it was okay for the Communists to have weapons and threaten the West, but it was not okay for the West to likewise protect itself.

LAP was not a fringe group and this was not the 1960s. This was the 1980s and members of the group included future Blair Cabinet ministers Robin Cookand Gavin Strang, as well as MPs Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn. Tony Benn, former MP and Cabinet Minister in the Wilson and Callaghan Governments, later became chairman of the group and was a member in the mid-80s. When asked about Mrs. Roberts, he said, “I do not recall meeting Cynthia Roberts and there is no reference to her in my diary, which I have checked.”

Nope, never heard of her.

Dennis Skinner was an member of the LAP executive committee at the same time Mrs Roberts was the secretary. The usually candid Mr Skinner said “Don’t know the woman, never heard of her, don’t know what you’re on about.”

Nope, never heard of her.

It is fortunate that Cynthia Roberts stood for Parliament in the safe Conservative seat of Eastleigh. Otherwise there would could have been a Communist spy serving in the House of Commons. On the other hand, since Roberts’ connections have raised questions about those with whom she was closely associated, perhaps she wouldn’t have been the first.

Free Prescriptions for Rationed Drugs

Gordon Brown’ popularity is at an all-time low. The Labour Party looks to walloped at the next General Election.

At Labour’s annual party conference, Brown needed to pull a rabbit out of hat to try to revitalise his prospects, particularly to ward off challenges within his own party. There’s nothing Socialists like better than giving away something paid for by someone else’s money.

Gordon will be giving free prescriptions to cancer patients. Sounds really good doesn’t it? Well, the Scots are already phasing out charges and the Welsh have already abolished them. So really, Gordon is giving free prescriptions to English cancer patients.

If you live in the States, you may realise how expensive cancer drugs can be. In England, they cost £7.10 a bottle. Everything costs £7.10 a bottle. So you’re thinking, wow, from $14.00 per prescription to free – not bad a deal.

It’s not a bad deal as long as you can get the drugs you need. Gordon never said he would pay for all cancer patients. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will still control which drugs are available. It will continue to work out its matrices and decide whose life is worth saving and whose isn’t. Some cancers and cancer patients are worth treating and some aren’t. That’s the reality of socialised medicine. That’s the reality Gordon Brown can’t do anything about.

And if you are in the States you may think, well, that’s just Britain; nothing like that can happen here. That’s the reality Barak Obama won’t be able to do anything about, if he gets Hillary’s way.

The Need to Know Everything

Do we need another scary Big Brother story? Probably not, but the Government just keeps throwing them out there for us.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, the UK Government is accessing one million travel record each month.

The data is handed over to the Home Office through the e-Borders programme.

It includes personal information like name, address, itinerary, meal preference, sex, detail of travel companions and credit card numbers.

The Home Office admitted it had collected this level of detail on 54 million people since the launch of e-Borders in January 2005.

Why do they need all this information? It is ostensibly to fight crime. But who goes through all this information? How many civil servants does it take to process this amont of data?

And who exactly then has access to all this data?  After they lost the bank details of 25 million families, what are they doing keeping the credit card details of 54 million people?

And why do they need to know the meal preferences of every traveller? Do terrorists choose certain meal options?

No, the Government is sending a message. If you have committed a crime in any way, they will catch you. They will even catch if you are someone who might act in some way like someone who might think of committing a crime. That is enough to make you an enemy of the State. Perhaps eventually all of the people who choose chicken can pass through customs and those who choose beef will be stopped and strip searched.

I know you must be thinking that we are joking when Brits tell you that this is what passes for Government in this country. Judges are ordered to not give burglars jail time so they can have a place to put all of he people they can trap through non-stop, ever more invasive surveillance.

Summer of Discontent

I suppose it is a good thing that we can’t afford for the unnamed grandchildren to visit their grandparents in America this summer. Since they are dual citizens they are required to enter the United States on their American passports, but upon returning they have to show their British passports. The older unnamed child is still waiting for the renewal of his British passport.

It’s been a long wait. The Unnamed Woman sent everything off to the passport office in plenty of time. She enclosed the required two photographs, taken in a photo booth which advertised that the photos could be used for passports. After the usual bureaucratic delay, we were informed that the photos were unacceptable, so another set would have to provided. They were “too light”, though the bureaucrats didn’t explain what they meant by this description.

The Unnamed Woman took the child to a professional photographer experienced in producing passport photos. This photographer had already produced photos to the more rigorous requirements of the US Passport Agency. Another set were dispatched. After another extended bureaucratic delay, another letter arrived, informing us that once again the photos were unacceptable.

After extended unproductive telephone conversations with the four or five different useless passport office apparatchiks, another set of photos was sent. Then nothing. Why? Because the passport workers went on strike. The result? A backlog of 150,000 applications.

The backlog will take well into August to clear, according to jubilant union officials, smugly pleased with themselves that the general public will feel the maximum impact of their industrial action and that thousands will lose out on their holidays. If they haven’t already bought their travel insurance, then potentially they will have lost all the money they have paid for that holiday, meaning there will be no way to make it up at a later date.

I can understand why passport workers are angry. None are getting better than a below-inflation pay rise – in effect a pay cut. The longest serving staff are getting no pay rise – real or imagined – for the fifth year in a row. It is interesting that the governing party is tied to the trade unions, yet has more trouble appeasing them than the Tories. Because there has been industrial action across this civil service this year, we could be headed for another Winter of Discontent.

The only question is whether Gordon Brown will be around as Prime Minister by that time. His Government is falling apart. A couple of days ago, the third safest Labour seat in Parliament was lost to the Scottish Nationalist Party in a by-election.  His own cabinet ministers are questioning his future and plotting his downfall.

For the first time in years, the Conservative Party is way ahead in the opinion polls. It appears that having finally convinced the country that they are greener and gayer than Labour, so there will be no challenge to the cherished values of the Left, the British population may very well be willing to give them another shot at governing.

Having lost most of my affinity for the Tories, I only want to see them in power to see the Red Rose lot out. I think the Government will run marginally more effectively and we may see a slow down on the road to totalitarianism, but no great change. I doubt they will even get the passport office to function more effectively.

One Ring (of Ministers) to Rule Them All

In a move regarded by the Conservative Party and much of the media as evidence of the further Stalinisation of the UK, the Government is planning to further centralised the police. Until now, chief constables of the 43 police forces across the country have been appointed by local police authorities, comprised of local councillors, magistrates, and others.  Now they will be hired and fired by the Home Secretary or other Home Office ministers.

They will become political pawns. If they do not carry out Government policy effectively enough, they will face the sack. Missing Government targets on cutting crime will be regarded as poor job performance. It will also ensure that police chiefs will not be critical of the Government, and especially of the Home Secretary.

If they can hire and hire the bosses, there will be nothing to stop them getting rid of troublesome lesser mortals. Jan Berry, head of the Police Federation, would have to think twice before publically accusing Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of fraud for refusing to abide by decision of the independent arbiter regarding police pay. Ms Berry probably wouldn’t even dare to bring up Ms Smith’s past as a admitted user of illegal drugs.

The Labour Party knows you can’t trust local people to carry out the Governments totalitarian rule. Only the highest officials can be trusted to stay on message and guide the country.

Life and Death

According to the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minsiter Gordon Brown has been warned by his whips that his opposition to reducing the abortion gestational time limit is likely to fail. The mood of the House is to bring the limit down. With nine time-limit amendments tabled, the most likely compromise appears to be a fortnightly reduction to 22 weeks. I think 20 weeks should be a reasonable adjustment to even the most die hard pro-death supporter, but it would seem that even that extra two weeks will be too much for some to stomach.

The son of a Church of Scotland minister, Brown will vote against the pro-life position on any attempts to change the law. Even though less than one percent of abortions happen between 22 and 24 weeks, and those are the most gruesome (except for the very later abortions, which it appears will continue to be legal), Gordon doesn’t want to keep them from happening.

What is interesting to me about battle lines on this “women’s rights” issue is that the chief pro-life leaders in the House of Commons are women. The pro-choice campaign is led by men. Abortion is a very cross-party issue here. The Labour Party has long had significant support amongst Catholics.

So next week as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is debated by a committee of the whole House, it will be a matter of life and death.  On Monday, the debates will cover human-animal embryos and saviour siblings. Tuesday will start with lesbians and fertility treatment, before moving on to abortion. The preservation of the unborn and the sanctity of the entire human species is up for grabs.

Backlash

When I wrote about the abolition of the 10% tax band, I thought there would be a bit of a kerfuffle and it would be another opportunity for those who are already opposed to the Labour Party, like me, to wag a finger at their dishonesty and destructive policies.

I figured some of the usual complainers on the Labour back benches would fuss and the Tories would try to make some hay. I didn’t realise that it would become a constant national news story, with a huge rebellion on the back benches and ministerial consternation. Some have suggested that this to Gordon Brown what the poll tax was to Margaret Thatcher. Some have even suggested that while Thatcher survived the poll tax, Brown might not survive killing off the 10% tax band.

Hopefully this will finally demonstrate that Labour has passed its sell-by date. After all, the Tories promised to be at least as liberal on social issues, so there’s no chance of a threat to ungodliness in the UK. The Revelation 21:8 crowd will make sure Britain is still comfortably post-Christian. Perhaps this will persuade Middle England to ditch Labour.

We are probably stuck with Gordon until at least 2009, since General Election usually happen about every four years (out of a possible five-year Parliament), but the local elections next Thursday will probably let the Government know just how unhappy the electorate is. That the way politics works. Local councillors, who have nothing whatsoever to do with central Government policy, will pay the price for Brown’s bad decisions.

Labour Attacks Jews

When Ed Balls isn’t having a punch up with Jack Straw in Cabinet meetings, he’s attacking Jewish schools.

He was admittedly on a witch hunt against all faith schools. He accused them of being covertly selective by charging admission fees. As it turns out the only schools he could find were five Jewish schools. They have a voluntary fee to cover religious education and security costs. Apparently in Londonstan it helps to have extra security if you are Jewish. More than half of the parents do not pay the fee.

Faith school are not in favour with Labour. LIke it or not, faith schools produce better results over all than their more secular counterparts. For a party that represents the increasing anti-religious bent of this island, this is not good news. They tend to have a more middle class demographic, perhaps because religion is a predominantly middle class phenomenon in this country. Chavs who don’t care about their children’s education don’t tend to care about God either, but they tend to vote Labour.

Of course the Labour elite who hate faith schools aren’t chavs. They come from the other end of things. They are too smart to believe in God.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews was demanding an apology from Ed Balls. I’m not saying he didn’t have the balls to show up, but he did send his deputy, schools minister Jim Knight to face the backlash, while he was away on holiday.

Press reports say Balls accepts Jewish schools have the right to charge voluntary contributions. He also admits that publishing details of spot checks by his department had been stressful for the schools involved. He claims it was in the public interest, but hasn’t explained how this could be the case.

Stealing From the Poor

You would think that a socialist Labour government would stick it to the rich and go easy on the poor. After all, that’s the point of socialism , isn’t it? Yeah, but Gordon Brown isn’t your dad’s socialist. This is New Labour, remember?

Gordon tried to impress everyone by lowering the main rate of income tax from 22% to 20%. Somebody has to pay for this, though. Gordon’s chosen the poor. The UK doesn’t have as many tax brackets as the US. In the US there are six brackets, ranging from 10% to 35%. Before April 1, the UK had three: 10%, 22%, and 40%. Now it has two. The 10% bracket has been taken away. Tax is payable at 20% from the first pound. At £36,000 ($72,000) it jumps to 40%. By contrast, an American at that income is still at 25%, $5,000 away from paying 28% on anything else he makes.

The 10% only covered the first £2,230 ($4,460). That is admittedly less than the $7,825 covered by the same bracket in the US, though as the Unnamed Women pointed out to me, it will still hit women working part time or students working their way through university the hardest. Obviously the lower the income, the greater the proportion of tax increase.

The Government are planning on a £6 to £8 billion increase in revenue from the change. To raise that money, it is estimated that 5 million households will be worse off. That would be the 5 million poorest households.

Just to re-emphasise the point I have made in the past about an elective dictatorship . . . After the Commons Treasury Committee condemns the changes tomorrow, they will be debated in the House of Commons in two weeks. It doesn’t really matter. They have already gone into effect. Despite the opposition from large numbers of his own party, the Prime Minister said there is no plan to change the policy. Not much point in having a Parliament, is there?

Free Vote?

When members of Parliament are given a free vote, they are allowed to vote their conscience on a particular bill. Free votes are not particularly common, especially on significant legislation.

For Americans, the severe whipping MPs sometimes get may seem strange. In Congress and state legislatures, there are party whips who use various methods to persuade members to vote a certain way. They may be able to dangle carrots of certain preferential treatment or future committee assignments. Party discipline here is a different. Because the executive and legislative functions are so intertwined, an indisciplined party can bring down a Government.

That is why a Government that chooses to introduce very morally questionable legislation has to force members of its party to choose between the Prime Minister and their conscience. If a Government allows a free vote, they are saying that it would be nice if the bill were inacted, but not key to their policies and agenda for the country.

Backbench member of the party of Government are held in line with a lot of carrot and stick. Fronbenchers – members of the Prime Minister’s ministerial team – are held in line with their jobs. If a minister cannot vote with the Government, they are expected to resign and return to the back benches. This means a loss of between one-third and more that half of their salary, depending on their ministerial rank. Except for particularly high-flyers, it also means their hope for advancement in their political career is effectively over.

It is easier to return to the frontbenches after a scandal of immorality than it is over disloyality to the party whip. In other word, it is better to lie, cheat, steal, improperly use ministerial influence for personal gain, or cheat on your spouse using public money to finance it and cover it up, than it is to vote your conscience.

If you are still with me, I said all that to say this. Gordon Brown has determined that Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill now has parts that can be allowed a free vote and parts that can’t. Human/animal hybrids are now optional, as are saviour sibilings. However, embyro screening and lesbian parents are not. And once all the amendments have been voted on, regardless of the outcome, all ministers must vote for the Bill or resign.

Prior to the PM’s partial back-down, there were a dozen members of the Government who were willing to rebel, including three Cabinet ministers. Reports are that two of the three Catholics, Paul Murphy and Des Browne, are satified. Ruth Kelly, a member of Opus Dei, was reported back in 2004 to be “straight down the line” on abortion and other life issues.

The embryo screen provisions of the Bill are plainly contrary to Catholic teaching. This would specifically authorise the killing of embryos that do not meet certain genetic criteria. I’m also not sure how the idea that lesbian parents would both be able to register as parents on a birth certificate is in line with Catholic teaching either. Under this provision, children of lesbian parents will be forbidden to from contacting their fathers (since due the nature of the species, every has a male parent, whether or not that fits into the lesbian lifestyle) until they are eighteen years old.

When the dust has cleared, it will be interesting to see who has voted their conscience, or even for which Catholics the teaching of the Church is their conscience.

Can’t Be Trusted

It has been announced by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith that I will be amongst the first to be required to have a national identity card and have all of my details – including fingerprints and other biometric data – held on a Government database.

While offering the comforting words that most ordinary Britons will not face compulsory registration until at least 2017, non-EU foreign nationals will be require to have the card from November of this year. This is because I am apparently more of a terrorist threat. You never know what we foreigners might do.  Especially if we are not from an EU member state.

But even if before November I am able to pass the Life in the UK test and fork out the £655 application fee and the Government decides I can be trusted to be a UK citizen, I get caught up in the next round. I’m in a “sensitive” job. That doesn’t mean they have recogised that I care deeply for those to whom I impart the knowledge religion and history, or that I cry easily when they can’t be arsed to learn. No, just being a teacher is sensitive. “Sensitive” is New Labour Newspeak for “can’t be trusted”.

But isn’t that the whole point of what will be a national database? Isn’t that why totalitarian regimes insist of identity papers? No one can be trusted. The problem is that in this society it is the Government which isn’t trusted enough by the people. The population has to be gently convinced that they themselves can’t be trusted.  With the deftness of a pickpocket, they will be divested of every shred of privacy.

Maoist in Parliament

Some Labour MPs are very definitely still Marxist Old Labour, or at least pine after the good ol’ days. A few moments ago on the BBC News commentary programme This Week, I listened to the following exchange between former Tory MP and cabinet minister Michael Portillo, current Labour MP Diane Abbott, and moderator Andrew Neil. There was a discussion about dictators.

Portillo: Mao Zedong killed 30 million, 60 million. People still wear Mao t-shirts; people still carry Mao Little Red Books and if you go to China there’s still a huge picture of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square. It’s absolutely bizarre. When a royal prince dressed in an SS uniform he was absolutely condemned. Had he worn a Mao outfit, nobody would have blinked.

Neil: Why is that? Why is it right to wear a Maoist t-shirt but obviously wrong, as it is, to wear a Hitler t-shirt?

Abbott: I suppose that some people would judge that on balance, Mao did more good than wrong. We can’t say that about the Nazis.

Portillo: What!?!?!

Neil: Remind me what the good was.

Abbott: Well, it’s funny I just had this debate with my son.

Neil: Mao killed tens of millions of people.

Portillo: Just tell me what was the good thing that he did that made up for the 60 million people he murdered?

Abbott: He led his country from feudalism, he helped to defeat the Japanese, and he left his country on the verge of the great economic success they are having now.

Portillo (to Neil): You call Stalin the greatest [in terms of despotism] ever dictator. In terms of mass murder he isn’t on the same page as Mao, that Dianne apparently supports.

Yes, isn’t it nice to know that we have Maoists sitting on the Government’s backbenches in the British Parliament?

No End to Mixed Sex Wards

It is no surprise that if you put women and men together in the same hospital ward, there might be some cases of assault. And of course there’s the whole embarrassment factor when it comes to certain bedside medical procedures or discussions. But if you are in the US, you are wondering why anyone would be talking about same sex wards. In fact, you may even be wondering what a ward is. (It’s like having a shared room, only with 5-7 other people.)

The Labour government promised it was going to eliminate mixed-sex wards in the National Health Service. It has now abadoned that promise.  Health minister Lord Darzi has now admitted it is “an aspiration that cannot be met”. That’s the reality of socialised medicine.

All the Democrats running for president are promoting socialised medicine in one form or another. I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to.