Archive for January, 2011

The Coalition Government has killed Enterprise in the UK

January 31, 2011

Enterprise UK was the body set up to promote entrepreneurialism in the UK. It was started by people like the CBI and British Chamber of Commerce and had that Peter Jones from Dragon’s Den as the Chairman.

Precisely the sort of organisation that would be favoured by Tories (and their Lib Dem minions) who get all excited by enterprise and who have gambled all their money on a private sector-led recovery for the UK economy. Except not.

Enterprise UK got most of its money from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. This week, the Enterprise UK Chief Exec had to declare:

I’m writing to update you about the position of Enterprise UK, following the government’s decision to end our grant-in-aid funding from April 2011.

Since the announcement in December 2010, I have been working closely with staff, trustees and key stakeholders looking in detail at the implications of these cuts and the options for the charity to continue in some way post-April, albeit in a different guise. The proposals we considered included the establishment of a legacy organisation to take forward initiatives like Global Entrepreneurship Week and our various other enterprise education programmes.

Following a meeting of the Board of Trustees on 24th January where full consideration was given to all the options, we have decided to instigate an orderly wind down of the charity with immediate effect. We will still be delivering on some key operational activities like Tenner during March, but we also aim to have closed down our offices and activities by the end of April 2011.

A microcosm-like example of how private enterprise so often depends on a bit of public spending to keep it going? Instead of being mutually exclusive, private and public sectors can be mutually dependent.

This doesn’t bode well for any of us.


Waiting for the people of Egypt to set up a secular democracy before the celebrations can begin

January 31, 2011

Many leftie friends and acquaintances are understandably excited about the revolutionary situation in Egypt. ‘Solidarity with the people of Egypt‘ is the Facebook status update de jour.

Of course, it is pleasing to see a peaceful, popular uprising against a dictator. But this must have been exactly how idealistic outsiders viewed events in Iran in 1978 and 1979.

If the ousting of Mubarak leads to the establishment of a Muslim Brotherhood government then there will be little to celebrate.

I suppose the supposed moderation of the Muslim Brotherhood may be proven true and Egypt could turn into something more akin to Turkey – a reasonably democratic state with an elected moderate Islamist party in power abiding by the constitution whilst the army remains a major political player.

But even a moderately Islamist Egypt would be an unwelcome development, considering Egypt’s border with Israel and Gaza.

For many years Egypt has been bribed by the US into accepting Israel’s right to exist. If that key foreign policy assumption changes then things could get even messier in the Middle East, which won’t be good for anybody.

Revolutionary situations tend to favour a military strongman (England 1648, France 1790s, Spain 1936) or ideological fanatics (Russia 1917, Iran 1979). It will be fascinating to see what happens next in Egypt.

The new Shadow Cabinet is already going off-message

January 20, 2011

So it hasn’t worked out very well with Alan Johnson.

The argument that making him Shadow Chancellor would lock him into supporting Ed Miliband’s leadership was undermined when he made a habit of publicly disagreeing with Red Ed.

And his Dummy’s Guide to Economics wasn’t quite giving him sufficient economic know-how to be a convincing critic of Government policy.

But now he’s gone and Ed Balls has taken his place. The Shadow Chancellor is dead, God save the Shadow Chancellor!

However, it’s distressing to see that the Shadow Cabinet already seems to be displaying lax discipline in the aftermath of the reshuffle.

Watching Channel 4 News, I heard Ed Balls repeatedly mentioning the “Coalition Government”. Tessa Jowell, who was only doing a bit better, discussed the “Tory-led Coalition”.

Tom Baldwin will be disappointed!


Remembering the New Cross fire

January 18, 2011

Good post on a terrible event which happened in my local area 30 years ago.

Christian crossing the floor

January 17, 2011

Ex-Anglican bishops ordained as Catholics.

So can this be equated to politicians changing party? Would the Catholics, eager to get one up on the Protestants, have secretly courted the defectors?

The Anglican bishops would have made demands to ease the process of ratting on their own side. Presumably these were: “Can you please let me keep my wife and still get into heaven?”

And are there Catholics who get a bit miffed that the Protestants are welcomed with open arms when it seems ridiculous to suggest they are motivated by genuine conversion to ‘the one true faith’ rather than a simple desire to put two fingers up at Rowan Williams and Anglican liberals?

Jody McIntyre at ‘Progressive London’

January 13, 2011

Ken Livingstone’s fan club has organised a gettogether. The electic mix of leftie speakers ranges from mainstream, sensible Labour politicians (Emily Thornberry and Len Duvall) through to politicians who stand against Labour candidates  (Salma Yaqoob and Darren Johnson).

I’m sure it all makes perfect sense in Ken’s head!

Progressive London has also invited Jody McIntyre to speak. He is the political activist who has cerebral palsy and came to prominence when he was badly treated by the police at one of the tuition fees protests.

Now I don’t like coppers dragging people out of wheelchairs at protests, but I also don’t think that Jody McIntyre wants to be patronised because of his disability when he is very capable at expressing his passionate political views.

I therefore have no qualms in saying that, having looked at McIntyre’s blog and read some of his articles, his politics are thoroughly moronic. Whilst everyone knows that Ken has a soft spot for obsessive Israel-bashers, it’s hard to tell how McIntyre’s standard Trot views can contribute to the campaign to get Boris Johnson out of City Hall.

Is it ok for Labour Party General Secretaries to have simple-minded politics?

January 13, 2011

I guess the answer to the question could be ‘yes’, as long as the simple-minded politics were based on loyalty to the party, its values (broadly defined) and appreciation of its history.There’s no need for a General Secretary to be an original political thinker or any type of genius.

But there’s still something a bit disheartening about the former Labour General Secretary’s article for Labour Uncut entitled ‘Is it ok for socialists to pay for private education and healthcare?‘. It is a fine example of simple-minded Labour politics, except minus the Labourism.

Strike vote turnouts

January 12, 2011

So Boris Johnson wants to annoy the trade unions by calling for a change in the law so that they can only go on strike when at least 50% of members take part in the ballot. Friend/enemy David Cameron has signalled sympathy for this view.

I suppose I might also agree with the position as logical and reasonable as long as the Government additionally legislates to make sure that MPs and councillors cannot take their seats unless at least 50% of their electorates participated in the poll.

Gabrielle Giffords the target of Sarah Palin

January 9, 2011

As much as I detest Sarah Palin and her politics it is undoubtedly crass of her opponents in the US to immediately use the Giffords shooting as an excuse to criticise her.

Just as it is ridiculous to blame high school shootings on Marilyn Manson, it’s unfair for Palin to blamed for the actions of someone who was clearly deranged. Who gets violently upset about a currency not being backed by gold or silver other than a total headcase?

However, I do agree that this is a good opportunity to call for an end to hardline political rhetoric (i.e. all the Tea Party goons labelling politicians traitors and threats to the constitution) and a collective re-commitment to the peaceful democratic process.


Jack Straw versus the paedo gangs and lots of other people

January 9, 2011

Jack Straw sparks controversy again for ‘telling it like it is’.

Case against Straw:

  • Any decent politician should avoid  inflaming racial tensions through stereotyping and other simplistic analyses
  • I slightly suspect Straw’s motives when this seems to have been a longstanding problem he didn’t focus on whilst a senior figure in government

However, case against his critics:

  • Is there any way of identifying a phenomenon being prevalent amongst a certain demographic group without being labeled a racist by self-righteous morons who would apparently prefer these instances of criminal activity to be ignored rather than addressed?
  • The sensitivities of vaguely defined ‘communities’ should not trump the needs of the very real victims of the sexual grooming being organised by gangs.