21 May 2015

A bit late for me

Twenty years ago, I might have qualified.  The BBC reports:
Young women are getting into the "Dad Bod" - but some think it's a recipe for laziness - while others are calling for a celebration of the female equivalent.
When 19-year-old university student Mackenzie Pearson wrote an article extolling the virtues of the slightly out-of-shape man, the reaction was huge - tens of thousands have been chatting about it on Twitter and Facebook.
"In case you haven't noticed lately, girls are all about that dad bod,"she wrote. "The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.'"
I fear that I have reached the stage of the grandad bod, which young women are most unlikely to "get into" ...


14 May 2015

Getting a bit heated?

The Times reports:
Nigel Farage has become a “snarling, thin-skinned, aggressive” man who is making Ukip look like a “personality cult”, the party’s campaign director has claimed in a devastating attack.
Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s economics spokesman and one of its most senior MEPs, breaks cover today to warn that the Ukip leader’s recent behaviour risked depicting the party as an “absolute monarchy”.
In an interview with The Times, Mr O’Flynn lit a match under tensions within Ukip over Mr Farage and his closest advisers. He claimed that the party leader had in recent months moved away from being a “cheerful, ebullient, cheeky, daring” politician, and blamed Mr Farage’s team of “aggressive” and “inexperienced” aides.
Ukip has lurched through a series of calamities since polling day. Having made good on a promise to stand down as leader if he failed to win his own Westminster contest, Mr Farage was reinstated after three days because his party rejected his resignation.
Less than 24 hours later, Douglas Carswell, the party’s sole MP, clashed with allies of Mr Farage over £3.5 million of public money available to the party. He accused Ukip officials of seeking to claim more “Short money” than it needed. The party said last night that the two men had met to discuss the issue but had yet to reach agreement.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people ...


Exciting headline of the day

From CityAM:

     What the election means for accountants

If you can resist the utter boredom, you can read the article here.  Aye, and don't mock.  Some poor soul had to write the damn thing.


13 May 2015

Not necessarily the evil witches of the north

Surprisingly favourable comment from CityAM, not an organ which usually takes a sensible view on matters Scottish:

The City has well-developed relationships with Westminster’s established powerbrokers, but less experience working with Scottish nationalists. Some might feel concerned that a party with such populist support, which has won hearts and minds in traditionally working class, left wing areas, will now be so prominent in Westminster politics. 
And make no mistake, influential they will be. The SNP was already represented on the Treasury Select Committee and will now be seeking places on the Business, Energy, and Defence Committees among others.
So what exactly can the City expect?
First, the SNP group will not be a destructive force at Westminster, as some commentators have suggested. They may not believe in the institution they’ve been elected to, but under leader Nicola Sturgeon, her deputy Stewart Hosie MP, and Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP, they respect Parliament and will seek to play a constructive role in holding the government to account.
They recognise the need to be responsible and will speak to business to understand the matters of state they now have to scrutinise. The party’s Holyrood track record shows that it is keen to work with business in order to support economic growth, and so doors should be open both ways.
Second, the new caucus of SNP MPs contains some experienced businesspeople like former Deutsche Bank executive Ian Blackford and ex-Standard Lifer Michelle Thomson, while economist George Kerevan, lawyers Joanna Cherry QC and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, and of course former first minister Alex Salmond bring intellectual rigour. They, and others in the party, can be allies for business.
Salmond will inevitably be a major figure, possibly chairing a Select Committee such as Energy, which would meet his own political interests and would also give Scottish energy businesses a voice at Westminster, albeit not in government. But make no mistake. Sturgeon is the SNP leader, so overlook her at your own risk.

10 May 2015

Quote of the day

Sour grapes (?) from Rawnsley in The Observer:
This government will not be popular for long. In fact, the Tories were not popular on polling day: 63% voted for someone else. The Tories are not liked, even by quite a lot of those who voted for them. Many did so only because they fancied the alternative even less. His fragile majority will be acutely vulnerable to rebellions, ambushes and blackmail by a handful or two of backbenchers. That will get worse when the majority is eroded as byelection losses take their toll. By announcing that he has fought his last general election, he has put a sell-by-date on his premiership.
A vanishing majority, dissipating authority, a lot of cuts to come and expensive promises to keep, a fractured kingdom and an EU referendum that will split the Conservative party asunder. David Cameron should savour his “sweet” victory while he can. History tells us that it will turn sour.

09 May 2015

Music of the week

Quote of the day

From The Guardian (here):
... the last post rang out over Whitehall at 3pm to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day. There they all were, lined up for a final encore. Nick and Ed had little trouble keeping their heads bowed in solemnity. Dave looked to his right and clocked the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon.
But his biggest threat was standing just behind him. Boris Johnson is the one Tory who is not quite so thrilled by Dave’s success as the others. Boris hasn’t come back to Westminster just to run some two-bit government department. Dave looked pensive. Strange as it may seem, it was slowly dawning on him that winning an overall majority might just turn out to have been the easy bit.

Why the SNP won

Three less than wise monkeys - all three are pale, male and stale ...


08 May 2015

It's not all bad ...

... but it's not particularly good.

Worth noting that the Tories are likely to end up with an absolute majority - but a wafer-thin one, with Labour and the SNP together forming a substantial anti-Tory bloc.

Cameron will need to keep his right wing in order, a far from easy task.  And the LibDems reduced to irrelevance, so a period of relative silence from Clegg will be welcome.

But still, a miserable night ...


06 May 2015


From The Spectator:

Latest seats forecasts

Election Forecast2812665226124
Electoral Calculus2822755218122



I disagree with Nick

So Clegg thinks that a minority government would be unable to survive until Christmas.  The BBC reports:
The UK could be poised for a second general election by Christmas if either Labour or the Conservatives try to form a minority government after 7 May, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has warned.
He argued that only another "stable and strong" coalition involving his party could save the country from a re-run.
I would suggest that he is under-estimating the difficulty in actually triggering a general election in such circumstances.  According to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, there are only two ways to call a general election outside of the usual five year term.  First, the House of Commons votes by a two-thirds majority for there to be such an election; or, second, the House of Commons passes a motion of no confidence in the Government, and an alternative government cannot be established within two weeks thereafter.

Given the expected parliamentary arithmetic after Thursday, where neither the Conservatives nor Labour have an overall majority, it seems to me that the Conservatives and Labour would actually have to agree that neither of them should continue as a minority government before they could call a general election.  That is of course possible but seems improbable in the short term.

I don't see why a minority government of one colour or another should not limp along indefinitely.


05 May 2015

Fashion update

See that Ancelotti.  His annual salary may be more than 7.5 million euros but he still wears the same old cardy to every match.


Subverting democracy

The New Statesman explains how it may happen:
The Tories declare victory if they have the most seats, regardless of the parliamentary arithmetic. Key supportive newspapers endorse this line and pressure is put on the broadcasters to follow suit. The Tories begin publicly reassembling their coalition with the Lib Dems within hours of the polls closing, despite knowing they have no majority in parliament, in order to cement the image that they remain the legitimate government.
In the run-up to the Queen’s Speech on 27 May – with David Cameron remaining as Prime Minister – the media campaign against the SNP will make the current onslaught look timid. Amid political uncertainty, a falling stock market and the value of  the pound are used to build an atmosphere of national emergency. A handful of right-wing Labour MPs – the likes of Rochdale’s Simon Danczuk, perhaps – are wheeled out on TV to echo the line of illegitimacy, helping to construct a narrative of growing Labour turmoil. Moves to depose Miliband are encouraged. The aim will be straightforward: to make it politically impossible for Labour to form a government even though left-of-centre parties have a parliamentary majority, and to pave the way for new elections against a backdrop of right-wing hysteria.
Not so implausible?


02 May 2015

Music of the week


Here it is:
According to the Guardian’s latest projection of polls, the Tories are projected to win 276 seats, Labour 267, the SNP 55, the Lib Dems 27, the DUP nine, Ukip three and the Greens are set to retain their one seat.
Both Cameron and Miliband would need the votes of other parties if they are to command the confidence of the House of Commons.
And as things stand, the arithmetic is to the advantage of Miliband.
This is because the sum of the “anti-Tory” bloc – those parties that have said they would vote a Tory government down – currently adds up to 329 seats: a majority. Tallying up all the possible sources of support for a Cameron-led government yields 315 votes.
Probably too close to call ...


01 May 2015

Cutting off his nose to spite his face?

CityAM reports:
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband unequivocally ruled out a deal with the SNP last night, telling an audience in Leeds that he would rather give up the keys to Downing Street than team up with Nicola Sturgeon after 7 May.
“If it meant we weren’t going to be in government, not doing a coalition, not doing a deal, then so be it,” Miliband said in a live BBC Question Time election special. “I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the Scottish National Party.”
Really?  Rather the Tories back in Downing Street?  Or is he just saying it?


29 April 2015

The ba' is on the slates

Hard to believe, I know, but the latest poll makes dire reading for Labour and the LibDems.  The Spectator sums it up:

Just when Scottish Labour didn’t think it could get any worse, a new poll suggests they are now facing total wipe out next Thursday. According to Ipsos MORI/STV News, the SNP is now up to 54 per cent of the vote share — up two points since their last poll in January. Punching these numbers intoElectoral Calculus suggests the Nats will win all 59 seats and wipe out the other parties. Another prediction website, ScotlandVotes, suggests that this vote share would leave one Liberal Democrat MP after polling day.

Bye bye Messrs Murphy and co?


Quote of the day

From the usually snarky Marina Hyde in The Guardian (here):
To South Queensferry, with the magnificent Forth bridges as a backdrop, where a small walkabout by Nicola Sturgeon passed off in what seems to be typical style. Builders shouted words of support from scaffolding. Babies were pulled from their pushchairs by their mothers, selfies with the Scottish National party leader abounded and she was presented with presents including a specially gift-wrapped scone and jam, a nice flowery jotter pad, some Scottish tablet and a model of the SNP logo which a boy had built out of Lego. It’s all somewhat … unusual.
Unlike the Westminster leaders, Sturgeon has walked endlessly among the voters, tweeted them back and appeared in their photos. It is as if the SNP medium has become the message.
In turn, that message becomes the movement. As the old showbiz saying goes: when you’re hot, you’re hot. If the Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy, were to walk along a balance beam in his stockinged feet, it would look like the desperate act of a man wobbling to obliteration. When Sturgeon does it, she’s walking the line, she’s holding her nerve, she’s acing the highwire. When you’re hot, you’re hot.
And yet another London journo has fallen under her spell ...


28 April 2015


The Times reports:
David Cameron has told voters that they have “ten days to save the United Kingdom” in his strongest attack so far on the possibility of an Ed Miliband government supported by the Scottish National party.
Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, wants the “best for Scotland and the rest of the UK can go hang”, the prime minister said as he echoed stark warnings issued in the final days before the Scottish referendum seven months ago.
Of course, the one thing that would be certain to endanger the Union would be another Tory victory -leading to continued austerity and a British exit from the EU.


Sounds a bit forced

CityAM reports:
DAVID Cameron was in the City yesterday morning, and he bounded on to a stage to announce that he was “pumped up”. He was speaking to an audience of small business owners, trying to convince them that he is on their side – as well as trying to convince the broader electorate that he is passionate about what his party has to offer.
“If I’m getting lively about this, it’s because I feel bloody lively,” he bellowed. Frankly, it was all a bit much for first thing on a Monday morning.
The question was raised as to what our pumped up PM had eaten for breakfast. Porridge, it turned out, not three shredded wheat. (They’ve got him into trouble before when speaking about how many terms he might serve as PM. Not three, anyway).
Not really Cameron, is it?  They always make fools of themselves when trying to be something they're not.


27 April 2015

Quote of the day

From The Times (here):
The more you hear about them, the harder it is to like them. Quite what the agenda is when HSBC’s bankers are threatening to quit the UK is not immediately obvious: a dislike of an EU referendum, the Labour party, paying their dues?
In this post-financial crisis world it is easy to forget that the bank levies are not being foisted on the likes of HSBC by a mad bunch of Bennite lefties but by a Conservative chancellor trying to repair the deficit. What part of “all in this together” does HSBC not get?
But if they wish to trust their future to the regulators in Hong Kong, supervised - however distantly - by the communist authorities in Beijing, then hell mend them ...

25 April 2015

Re-writing history

Remarkably (but perhaps not surprisingly), the BBC manages to produce an entire article on the Gallipoli remembrance event without ever mentioning that it was Winston Churchill's idea.  An idea that he pushed for and which went terribly wrong.

The Guardian acknowledges as much:
The Gallipoli campaign, badly planned and appallingly executed, was conceived by Winston Churchill, the ambitious First Lord of the Admiralty, in early 1915, with the war on the western front in deadlock. 


Compare and contrast

Cameron in a cowshed, mobbed by a myriad of supporters:

The same event, seen from a more distant perspective:

Not quite so impressive ...


23 April 2015

Quote of the day 2

More from The Guardian:
If everything hinges on Cameron’s popularity and Miliband’s improbability, something is shifting. Cameron grows more distant as Miliband becomes more familiar. Though neither of them radiate competence in the way that Nicola Sturgeon does.
The temper tantrums are beginning. No one, Labour or Tory, seems to be able to accept that people in Scotland will vote for the party they want to represent them, and they continue to portray democracy in action as an actual threat to democracy. Tories and Lib Dems are preparing to challenge a Labour-SNP alliance as unconstitutional. That will be chaos. By claiming such a state of affairs to be illegitimate they are pushing Scotland to vote yes in any future referendum.
This Tory panic, though, is real. The two parties are broken. The re-emergence of Major reminds us that it is 23 years since the Conservatives got a majority and they may never do again. We will see a terrible scurrying about behind closed doors after this election, further locking out the voters. And the man who was prime minister just because he could be will have to show some passion beyond disdain for democracy. By then, though, it may be too late to activate the reluctant Cameron, who now appears little more than a political spambot.
No, I don't know what is a spambot, but I doubt if it is a compliment ...

Quote of the day

The Guardian is complaining about Cameron's self-imposed isolation from real people:
A couple of days ago it was thought that a Google Streetview camera had managed to capture a historic image of the PM having an unstaged encounter with a voter, but it turned out to be just the Loch Ness monster.
Of all the unedifying sights I’ve seen so far this campaign, the sorriest has to be Cameron’s entourage forming a protective huddle round him on a busy platform at Bedford station on Wednesday morning, while the prime minister’s eyes darted nervously about, wondering where his late-running train was.