Good news for Blairites

The Independent reports that

Oliver Letwin has promised that David Cameron would complete Tony Blair’s unfinished legacy by pushing through reforms that Gordon Brown had thwarted while Chancellor…

Mr Letwin mischievously praised two of Mr Blair’s prominent allies – James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Lord Adonis, the Schools minister – and said the Tories had “exactly” the same agenda as the former prime minister.

Of course the Tories have been pushing this line for a while, Cameron being keen to make it known that he is the true “heir to Blair”. Admittedly they may appear to be dangerously liberal for some über-Blairite tastes – hell, they can’t even be relied on to be beastly to asylum seekers nowadays, but fear not, I’m sure they can be relied on to return to type.  After all, look at all those lovely new prisons they want to build (private ones no doubt, even better), and they will abolish the Human Rights Act (boy, don’t you regret that one) and stop those nasty judicial activists insisting that people accused of a crime or seeking sacntuary in this country are actually entitled to something resembling due process.

Add to that the shared antipathy towards public sector workers, anti-war types and anyone even moderately left wing (including most of the Labour Party) it seems to me a marriage made in heaven. I mean can anyone give me a good reason why any arch-Blairite should not vote Tory at the next election.

Update: David Aaronovitch responds to my question here (although to be fair he may have penned his column before reading Mutantblog this morning).

Whitewashing the police

In my previous post I highlighted the damning contradiction in the account of the police’s actions given by the coroner in his opening statement to the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes. Now I don’t claim that Nick Cohen (or anyone else for that matter) reads Mutantblog but he certainly has no time for the kind of sentiments I expressed and is keen to turn the spotlight from the police onto those who condemn their actions. (Thanks to Aaronovitch Watch). The arguments he makes are essentially a rehash of those which have consistently been made over the last three years by those who defend the police, and we will no doubt hear them again during the course of the inquest, so it is worth addressing them. Continue reading

It’s time they were held to account

Reading accounts of the start of the inquest into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes I was struck by two remarks the coroner, Sir Michael Wright, made in his opening statement -

“Both officers said that they were convinced that Mr de Menezes was a suicide bomber, that he was about to detonate a bomb and unless he was prevented from doing so everybody present was going to die.”

“It does appear that by the time Mr de Menezes had entered Stockwell station, no member of the surveillance team had positively identified him.”

The incongruity of these statements is as good an indication as any of the level of incompetence and downright negligence of the police operation. I guess many of us have almost given up hope that those responsible might be forced to actually pay for the consequences of their actions, and the purpose of the inquest is not to apportion blame to individuals, but at least they will have to face Jean Charles’s family and be questioned by their legal team. I suspect it will look very very bad for them and they will richly deserve the opprobrium they will doubtless receive.

Farewell to the “House that Ruth built”

It was a historic occasion last night as Yankee Stadium, one of the world’s iconic sporting venues, hosted its last game. I visited it once, back in 1996 and saw the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles (coincidentally last night’s opponents) to clinch a play-off place on the way to their 23rd World Series win. It was a memorable experience and as a baseball fan and something of a traditionalist when it comes to all things sporting it is sad to see it go.

He’s doomed!

The Labour Party’s efforts to compete with Newcastle United FC for the title of most comically inept once-loved British institution continue to go from strength to strength. Unheard of ex- and minor members of the government calling for Brown to quit, attempts to trigger a de facto vote of confidence, ministers equivocating when asked whether they support him…
Now we can argue about whether Labour would do better at the next election with Brown or a.n. other as leader but the one absolutely certain thing is that as long as it continues muddling along, not making a decision one way or another, the party’s standing will just get lower and lower. Senior cabinet ministers should some time ago have either come out and collectively declared that Brown is the man to lead them into the next election and they would not support any attempt to replace him, or paid him a visit and handed him the proverbial bottle of whisky and revolver. Continue reading

We’re all doomed!

Exciting times as scientists at CERN prepare to switch on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on Wednesday. Over the course of the next months and years some of the really big questions in science could be answered; will they prove the existence of the Higgs boson, the “god particle”? Will they discover the nature of dark matter? This is genuinely exciting stuff and the LHC is a tribute not only to the advances in human knowledge which enabled us to build the thing and the international co-operation which allowed it to happen but the notion that the pursuit of human knowledge is in itself a noble thing worthy of the billions of pounds which has been spent on building the LHC.
Not everyone sees it such a positive light though, and a small number of scientists have warned that the LHC could create a mini-black hole which could envelop the earth, and they have even resorted to using the ECHR to try and block the project. However, these are fairly marginal figures and the large majority of scientists are certain that although they cannot totally rule out any risk it is infintessimally small.
This has not however prevented a number of doom-laden articles appearing, where else, in the Daily Mail. Here Mike Hanlon dons his sandwich board and paints a dire picture of the potential dangers -

“earthquakes would start unexpectedly, alerting geologists that something terrible, unimaginable, was amiss.
After a few days, these seismic disturbances would reach catastrophic proportions.”
Cities would be levelled, the oceans would rise and wash in a series of mega-tsunamis that would attack the world’s coasts, killing millions.”

Imagine the effect that will have on house prices! And it wouldn’t even be Gordon Brown’s fault.