It will come as no surprise to regular readers of my blog that I am spitting blood at the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury in his call for sharia law to be adopted in Britain. He has managed to get the three main parties - including Baroness Warsi, of all people - to condemn his remarks, as has Trevor Phillips.
£2bn Down The Tubes
We've blogged the Metronet fiasco before (see here), highlighting the risk of a serious taxpayer loss. Yesterday we got the bill for £2bn as Metronet's bank creditors called in the government's guarantee. Let's remind ourselves of the key features. Metronet was a special purpose vehicle (spv) established and owned by five construction companies to manage a £17bn contract to renovate part of London's tube sytem. The contract was Public Private Partnership deal bulldozed through by Gordon Brown in 2003. Transport for London had argued strongly against the PPP contract, wanting instead to fund the work via US-style municipal debt issuance. But that would have blown Brown's tricksy Golden Rule fiscal targets, so he insisted on the PPP.
Should al Qaradawi be allowed into Britain?
Qaradawi_ban.gif I’ve tried listening to those on the left who repeatedly try to tell me that I should see the utterances of Yusuf al Qaradawi ‘in context’. I really, really have. But the man widely regarded as one of the world’s leading moderate Muslim clerics openly argues that it is permissible for husbands to beat their wives and that gays should be killed, and let’s just say that I remain enough of a wimpish liberal to have one or two difficulties with this.
We have a problem
This blog has pointed out on numerous occasions, for instance here and here that Western Europe is in danger of becoming completely dependent on Russian gas for energy. The way things are going in that country and given President (soon to be Prime Minister and Chairman of Gazprom) Putin’s tendency to use gas supplies to bully his nearest neighbours, this may not be the smartest of political moves.
An underground scandal
Taxpayers will have to pay billions after the failure of Gordon Brown's finance initiatives for London's tube. It's an outrage
So what of QT? Well, new Culture Secretary Andy Burnham had the job of keeping the government's end up and he was deeply unimpressive. He particularly struggled when asked to defend Caroline Flint's bonkers idea to chuck the unemployed out of their council homes - a suggestion which seemed to have little support in the Liverpool audience - and also when put on the spot about Labour's potty plan to expel the four MPs who are demanding a referendum on the EU Treaty. Burnham does at least seem to have a bit of passion about him, as well as an element of Northern grit, but the overall impression is of an intellectual lightweight. I was left wondering what on earth Telegraph pol ed Andy Porter sees in him.
It was while I was reading this in the FT that it dawned on me that I am in serious trouble. I don't know quite how to tell you this so I'll type it quickly. The fact is, I am missing Tony Blair. Worse, I am beginning to think of him as a heavyweight politician, a proper Prime Minister.
Privy Council Chilcot Review report on Intercept Evidence - more ***
The Government has now published the Privy Council Review of intercept as evidence: report to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary (.pdf 64 pages - censored) produced under Rt. Hon, Sir John Chilcot GCB. This review makes the recommendation. that Intercept Evidence should, vaguely, at some undermined time in the future, be permitted in Courts in England and Wales (but not in Scotland or in Northern Ireland), for terrorism and serious crime cases , but not for Civil cases,. It is unclear if the recommendation for "terrorism" cases also include other national security cases such as espionage.
Listening For Evidence
I can see no real problem at all with using phone-tap evidence in court. After all, they can only record them, not make them say anything. It shouldn't be used instead of other evidence, and shouldn't be used as the sole source of evidence of any particular fact, but rather to strengthen circumstantial evidence gathered in another way. Also, if any phone tapping evidence is to be used in court, the defence must be provided with all secret recordings made.
Principles of policing
With today’s publication of the Flanagan report on policing, there will be a lot of talk about civilians taking over the back-room tasks of the police. Today's police uniform is quite a change from the top hat and tail coat. However, it should be remembered that police ARE civilians. It is the one thing that differentiates our police from most of their continental counterparts, whose gendarmeries are quasi-military outfits. It was to stop them looking like soldiers that the first recruits to the Metropolitan Police when it was established by Robert Peel 175 years ago were issued with uniforms of top hat and tail coat.
MPs and Democracy: We The People
The Wardman Wire has seen some very good articles over the past week on the subject of MPs and the money they claim, both as salary and expenses. It’s not my intention to weigh in on that debate, but use the opportunity to examine the role of MPs in our democracy.
Wendy Alexander cleared but the back-stabbing goes on
According to the Scotsman there were 'shouts of joy and celebration among embattled Labour MSPs at the Scottish Parliament' yesterday after the Scottish Labour leader was cleared of any wrongdoing in the undeclared donations row. It won't last.
Milk with your iPod?
The fact that MPs can claim expenses of £250 without a receipt has already been greeted with widespread incredulity. The fact we learnt today is likely to be greeted with even more. MPs can, apparently, also claim £400 a month for food without receipts.