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Jerry Hayes

Clegg and Cable must abandon the game of Belgian roulette where every player dies. The Lib Dems are no longer the party of the dispossessed nor the stoma bag of Tory policy.

November 28th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

The Coalition should be breathing a sigh of relief  if David Willett’s  announcement Vince Cable will be voting for reforming tuition fees after all is accurate.

Clegg and Vince Cable have been engaged in a very dangerous game of Belgian Roulette. Unlike the  Russian game, where just one chamber is loaded, Belgium roulette has the added excitement of each chamber being filled with enough lead to kill every player.Everyone dies.

It is no secret that spotty little policy wonks and prepubescent spinners have been putting it about that Clegg and Cable would be voting against tuition fees. Although there is not a shred of evidence that this potentially suicidal operation has been sanctioned from above, it certainly hasn’t been discouraged.  And in Fleet Street lore unless something is denied it must be true.

The pressures on Clegg and Cable are enormous. Their party is well down in the polls, while David Cameron bestrides the political world like a Boden Collossus.  Their party made the perfectly forgivable mistake of promising the economically impossible to their student power base at a time when there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of them ever having to implement it. Now the students are kicking up rough, the grass roots are angry and confused and backbenchers being threatened with being strung by their gonads from local lamposts. Alien territory for a party used to being a convenient spitoon for the politically dispossesed. But now some Liberal Democrats see themselves as merely the Stoma bag of Conservative policy. And with party President Tim Ferron, a young man in a hurry, desperately trying to prove that he does possess political pubic hair, serious errors of judgement  might be made.

For Clegg , Cable and any other member of the government who is a Lib Dem to vote against the reforms will destroy all the credibility that they have gained since the General Election as a party of government and responsibility. How on earth can you promote a policy on the basis of fairness and then not support it? It would be the coward’s way out with no political gains.  The students will still despise them and the grass roots will still be in turmoil. It would be the worst of all worlds with Ed Miliband leading the Labour  lynch mob.

There appears to be three strands of thought permeating the Coalition at the moment. The Tory right see the Lib Dems as a disposable means to achieving a Tory majority. The left wing Lib Dems see the Tories as a stepping stone to a deal with a future Coalition with Labour. And finally the narrative that makes the most sense, is the most exciting, and has been endorsed by John Major last week, is fighting the next election on a Coalition ticket. This is no longer a vague aspiration floated by excitable commentators. It is an achievable goal.

Both right and left will throw their toys out of the pram. Councillors will resign. Some Parliamentarians might take their chances with other parties. There will be frenzied talk about Tea Parties.  But the non tribal, pragmatic, political mainstream,  despise totempoling  and will embrace it with enthusiasm.

There is still a very long way to go, but the Election address of Harold Macmillan in October 1931 for his beloved constituency of Stockton on Tees may not be far from David Cameron’s mind when the General Election is called in May 2015:

“Follow the lead of the distinguished Liberals. Vote for Macmillan the National Candidate, thus securing the nation against disaster”.

Has a sort of ring about it doesn’t it?

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Dame Suzi Leather, Snouter in Trough in Chief repays her Labour masters

November 27th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

I see that the queen of the quangocrats, Dame Suzi Leather, has been up to some Labour mischief. You may not have noticed until today that dear Suzi, beloved of Labour Wimmin, is Chairman of the Charity Commision. Mind you,  to keep up with her public appointments probably needs the input of a dedicated quango, Snouts in Trough Off. This woman has snouted her way through thirty two public appointments, the School Food Trust, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Commission, the Food Standards agency to name but a few.

Anyhow, dear Suzi is repaying  her Labour appointees by coming out with a pronouncement of such unspeakable bollocks and riddled with such Gonzo logic that it worth examining. Suzi has concluded that if the government continues with it’s policy of raising tuition fees it will deter the poor from applying to university which in turn would make them lose their charitable status and millions of pounds. It goes without saying that if universities were to lose their charitable  status most would slide into bankruptcy.

Suzi, you will not be surprised to learn, has serious form for spouting dangerous bollocks. Not so long ago,she threw into doubt the charitable status of private schools. So we know where you’re coming from darlin. But Suzi is well equipped to run the Charity Commission. On her appointment she confessed that she knew little about charities and had never worked with one before. A splendid appointment.

But there are even worse offenders than Suzi. Ever heard of Louise Casey? I thought not. She was appointed by Jack Straw in March as the Commissioner for Victims, whom she wants to put “at the apex of the criminal justice system”. Oh, really. What about the poor devils who have been wrongly accused of crimes they are acquitted of and have served months behind bars waiting for trial. Aren’t they victims too?

But Ms Casey has serious form for spouting unspeakable bollocks too. She has recently attacked Community Sentences as “a slap in the face to victims”. Really, better have a chat with Teresa May and Ken Clarke, they’ll put you right dear. And only the other day Ms Casey attacked the appeals system for being unfair to victims and came out with the priceless comment that it was quite wrong for defendants to leave it so long before they pleaded guilty as it too was unfair to victims. But of course, her comments were not priceless at all as we pay her £100,000 a year. Ms Casey came to Labour’s attention when she pioneered the Respect Taskforce. Remember that? Of course not. But I bet you remember the fantastically successful ASBOS that were born from it. Ms Casey has a year long contract. I wonder whether it will be renewed.

And lastly a word about dear old Howard Flight. Howard is a seriously nice guy, but just has precious little political judgement. Michael Howard brutally cast him aside both from the front bench and his parliamentary seat for failing to sing from the same economic hymn sheet. And so out of compassion, because I can’t think of any other reason why the Lords needs yet another millionaire banker, Cameron give him a peerage. So I’m afraid Flighty old boy, biting the hand that has just pulled you out of the political ditch, is regarded as rather bad form.

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The poison that consumed New Labour will have to be exorcised. Will Ed have the courage to send Mandelson back to hell?

November 21st, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

I think I am going to have to get a new dealer. The Sunday stories are a strange trance inducing hallucinogenic mix. The Pope goes into reverse gear over the use of condoms. Ed Balls realises that detaining people without trial is not terribly libertarian. Polands’s right wing leader has decided to abandon his ally (and Cameron’s) in the ECR grouping for being too right wing. But at least they have a sense of humour, the party name is PIS. And finally some obscure, London, lefty bishop, whose own bishopric  has been known to wander, blasts the Royal Family as philanderers, condemning the happy union of William and Kate.

So thank heavens for Ian Dale’s splendid rag, Total Politics, which proves beyond doubt that all is well with the world and normality will soon prevail. Peter Mandelson has given a bitchy, queeny, mother of all hissy fits, in an exclusive interview. I have only read the extracts, but it promises to be a typical Mandelson, “I am so hurt by Ed, but I will follow him to the death”  peppered by lots of vitriol about him trying to destablise Blair and not really being up to the job.

Poor old Peter is the Katie Price of politics. And I don’t just meant that his life is dominated by large and uncontrollable tits. It’s just that he craves attention to an almost psychiatric level. Why on Earth he should be so hurt that Ed Miliband wants to retire him off to some secure institution in the middle of the Atlantic is a mystery. After all, America serves Tony Blair rather well.

It’s all very strange. Mandy really believes that he is the Mr. Carson of Labour. That he will serve generation after generation of leaders, who will defer to his wisdom and advice. The trouble is he ‘aint no Carson. He was hated under Blair, became a National Treasure under Brown, until it was realised he was secretly wiring up the Prime Ministerial chair to the national grid. Then he became loathed again. It’s all a bit like Kind Heart’s and Coronets when all the heirs to the title kept getting bumped off, leaving just one candidate. But surely not? Not even now does he think that………

Well, who knows? I doubt whether Mandelson does. All this rampant Blackadderism was amusing in the nineties but it is getting a bit tiresome now. Ed just has to wander the battlements of Labour’s Elsinore to see strange spectres in the night of terrible things past. Walk down to the cellars and you can’t pass a wine barrel not containing a couple of drowned Princes. And in the bedrooms well stuffed pillows await those foolish enough to close their eyes.

In many ways this could be Ed’s defining moment. This sort of attack, this sort of disloyality cannot be allowed to pass unnoticed or un punished. The Dragon must be slain. But who will do the dreadful deed?  Hattie? Pleeeease! Hardly the right person to condemn disloyalty at the moment. The last few days of revelations would have made Lady Macbeth blush.

So the sword will have to wealded by Ed himself. Mandelson is going to have to be sent into exile, never to return. This would not be seen as an attack on whatever scraps are left of New Labour, but merely an exorcism of the poison that destroyed it. The new Leader now has  a chance to lead. Will he? Don’t hold your breath.

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Ed Miliband needs to stamp his authority on Labour. He gives the impression of not being in control but in care.

November 20th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Poor Ed Miliband. As he dangles the knew babe on his knee, hurls a fair trade environmentally friendly nappy into a bin and takes another swig of gripe water to steady his nerves, he must be gently swearing under his breath, “Cameron, you are a jammy, jammy bastard.”

The Royal wedding will not be a time to bury bad news, but an opportunity to bring about a little colour into our monochrome lives. Some will say it should be a modest affair, but they miss the point. The wedding will have  every head of state, Prime Minster and power broker in the world slavering for a ticket. Because one thing we Brits do exceptionally well is impressing the pants off Johnny Foreigner with pomp and ceremony. So Cameron should encourage Buckingham Palace to allow the celebrations to be tasteful and in keeping with our straitened times.

But it will also be a great opportunity to test drive the Big Society. Street parties will need to be organized, village halls decked out and bunting prepared. Neigbours who have never spoken before, will share beer and bangers. New friendships will be made and Communities will become communities again. People might just get a taste for organisation. And when it’s all over, brace yourself for the Olympics. Cameron is indeed a jammy devil. Two fantastic opportunities to make the nation feel good about itself in hard times.

But spare a though for Ed. He must be wondering who on earth is running the Labour Party. He is not so much in control as in care, with grim governess Harman attending to his re education with the swish of a cane and avuncular uncle Alan patting him on the head and slipping a few quid in a grateful hand. I know Ed is going thought the motions of paternity leave to keep the wimmin happy, but so far he has totally failed to put his stamp on the leadership at all. He better act pretty damn quickly.

It is incredible that Johnson is in charming, but open defiance, over such small matters as economic and taxation policies. To suggest that the 50 pence promise was just one of those excitable and expendable things said in haste at the hustings makes all accusations of the Lib Dems as hypocritical chancers seem rather hollow.

And things are going to get worse. It will not have escaped Ed’s notice that new plans to overhaul the way leaders are elected will make it easier for him to be disposed of. And when you are surrounded by the likes of Balls, Alexander and Harman it would be sensible if he was issued with the standard Metropolitan Police anti stab jacket.

The trouble with Ed is that he suffers from Redwood Syndrome. He just looks deranged, the sort of person you wouldn’t want outside your children’s school or stand next to when there is a full moon. This is desperately unfair as I am told that he is a genuinely decent guy with a good sense of humour against himself, without the detached geekyness of his brother. This is going to be the first challenge of the image makers; try and make him look normal. I suspect I’ll see Susan Boyle as a Playboy centrefold first.

One thing that Cameron has shown himself to be is a good butcher, desperately necessary in a party leader. Colleagues have to know that if  they step out of line love is immediately withdrawn. And the rather saintly David Young was no exception. I can see where he was coming from, but as soon as the words “never had it so good”, quivered from his mouth an old stager like him would have know that this would have been a gift to Labour and that he would have to fall on his sword.

Most people don’t realise that those famous words of Harold Macmillan were not crafted by speech writers, but were in response to a heckler at Bedford football Club. It rather caught on. But his “first rule of politics” speech is something that  Blair and Bush should have heeded. “The first rule of politics”, said the wise old bird, “is to never invade Afghanistan”.

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The LibDem leaking gamble that will pay off and expect the usual suspects in the Middle East to fund civil unrest.

November 13th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

Great throaty sobs echoed around the theatre. Bearded men, women garbed in strange purple cloaks, young men and women with bizarre piercings and hairstyles peculiarly gelled, turned their tear stained faces to the stage. A yellow light is fading and the flapping of gossamer wings almost totally subdued. A young boy in tights, hovers above the the grief stricken crowd. “Don’t you believe in Liberals any more?”, he wailed. “Every time a student cries a Liberal dies. You can’t let this happen to Tink. If you really believe in Liberals clap.” And so one by one the sobbing ceased, hands are put together and the thunder of applause causes the yellow light to flicker and then dart brightly across the stage. The boy is ecstatic. The audience  relieved. It is time for more adventures in Neverland.

It must have been an agonising  decision for Lib Dem high command to leak those pre election documents to the Guardian. All hell will be let lose. Screams of betrayal, hypocrisy and threats of mass defections will dominate the  political news this weekend. It was a gamble. But one which will pay off. For when the dust settles, people will begin to realise that these papers show that the Lib Dems have reached a political maturity that I thought I would never see. Not only did they foresee the possibility of a coalition well before the Tories; they prepared for it. Preparing for government means looking at  harsh economic truths. Delivering the possible, not unworkable pipe dreams confected at a seaside resort by people who never thought they would be anywhere near the levers of power in a million years.

And before Labour sneers, putting the boot in for a few cheap votes, they know that they too would have raised VAT and and adopted pretty well the same approach to tuition fees as the Coalition. They just never got the chance.

The people are not fools. The overwhelming majority support the welfare reforms and that present plans are the only realistic way of paying for higher education that is fair and gives opportunities for the most disadvantaged. And neither are students. The overwhelming majority want to work hard, get a good degree and a job.

It really is a masturbatory fantasy of  anarchists and the Socialist Worker’s Party that the universities will be the hotbeds of  unrest and civil disobedience leading to the break down of the rule of law and the crushing of the Coalition. The Battle of Millbank started as a nice day out for the Jacks, Joshes, Harrys and Sophies. But they will soon be rushing back to mummy and Daddy’s bijoux baronial Halls in Cheam after being taken advantage of by the professional agit props. Soon they will be needing expensive lawyers to keep them out of jail. I am, of course, available.

The question is who will be fanning the flames of social insurrection and more importantly, who will be stumping up the cash for the organisers who will soon be losing their benefits. In the old days in would have been provided by the Soviet Union. Perhaps M15 need look no further than some dodgy outfits in the middle east.

But we Brits are not, like the ghastly French and the excitable Greeks, naturally inclined to take to the streets. The Poll Tax riots were organised by the Anarchists and the SWP, who must be creaming in their jeans at the thought of hitting the front pages and demonised by the Mail and the Sun.Yet it wasn’t the riots that changed government policy. They were just a sideshow. It was the inherent sense of unfairness that struck a chord with the British people. That is not a mistake the Coalition will make.

The real pressure is going to be on the police. They must be firm, organised and cannot be seen to be brutal. And, unlike last week, they must invest in intelligence. They will be put under extreme pressure and provoked almost beyond human endurance. In no circumstances must they allow themselves to be goaded into going over the top.

In the 1992 General Election Michael Heseltine came down to Harlow to give me some support. We both love walkabouts so were horrified to hear that the SWP were going to be trouble makers and things could turn nasty. “I cannot guarantee your safety gentlemen if you do a walkabout. And with the number of camera crews that are in attendance things could get very ugly”, the Chief Inspector told us. At the mention of  ”camera crews” two media tarts, eyes glinting at the thought of televisual glory instantly made an decision. Hezza, with a smile just said, “I think Mr. Hayes and I would like to meet the people”. And so we did. We had a riot.

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November 6th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

The Woolas affair is all a bit rum. The Lib Dems behaved to form and did what they always do when they’ve just lost a seat they thought they should have won: cry foul. Usually it’s trawling through election expenses to find where the anomalies lurk. And there is always a lot of scope. Election expenses are the Turner Prize winners of election art as they are as shocking as they are creative. You’ll find more pork pies here than in Tescos.

In 1979 the Tories had a potential disaster on their hands. Thatcher’s Shadow Education Secretary, Norman St John Stevas ,was hanging on to his Chelmsford seat by a thread. The Liberal candidate, the splendid Stuart Mole, was destined to win. So the Tories did what they always do when faced with disaster. They panicked.

Chelmsford was invaded by a blue army. No resident was left undisturbed and the amount of money being spent would have done justice to Robert Mugabe’s printing presses. Well, Stevas won and the Liberals started to rummage through the accounts to discover spending that would make the Greeks blush. There was a court case and a deal where the agent took the blame, was hung out to dry and sent to prison.  A decision which was, squalid, unfair and taken within the bounds of morality of  a hedge fund manager. I always thought that, “the secret weapon of the Tories is loyalty”, was meant to be ironic.

So there is nothing new in using dirty tricks to win seats. And anyone who has ever stood will agree on one thing. The Liberal Democrats are the masters of it. Each election night the Tory and Labour candidates would compare notes on the utterly ruthless and cynical leaflets with the vilest of claims and  fictional opinion polls. Whilst the Lib Dem opponent would be weeping  in the corner for the victory he had convinced himself was his.

So nobody comes to this debate with clean hands. Although, I did shed tears of laughter when I heard Harriet Harman say with a straight face that, “it is no part of Labour’s politics to win elections by telling lies”. No dear.  Now you just toddle off with nice Lord Mandelson, who, after a few days relaxing water boarding will put you right.

What struck me about the Woolas election was that his cardinal sin was not smearing his opponent, which was not very bright, but by acknowledging his very existence by mentioning him. You just don’t give them publicity. And certainly don’t churn out leaflets telling everyone how to spell the bloody man’s name. That was one of the first ground rules that was drummed into me 1980s.

If there is going to a by election and I expect the Speaker to announce that there won’t be one until all avenues of  appeal are exhausted, how are the Tories and the Lib Dems going to play it? They can try and pretend that they are fighting it on local issues and that this is not a judgement on the Coalition. But it will be. The Lib Dem vote is falling through the floor at the moment and the Conservatives are only noticeable in this neck of the woods by the bells they wear round their necks. Perhaps, it’s time to take a deep breath and field a Coalition candidate. It will have to be the Lib Dem who was beaten at the last election. And the Tories would hardly be losing out. Or, if we are being really cynical, the Tories could withdraw out of, ” gentlemanly fair play” and let the other two parties slug it out. All parties are going to think this one through very carefully indeed.

I am very fond of Phil Woolas. He is a thoroughly decent man with a self-deprecatory sense of humour, which is rare for someone who has been a minister for so long. And he was rather a good minister. One of the stories he used to dine out on was when he was on the same platform as Edwina Currie. She, as a junior Health Minister had just finished her speech and it was time for Phil to wow the crowd. Slowly, he rose to his feet, surveying the throng. But before words could quiver from his lips he felt an excruciating pain in his nether regions. Out of the view of the audience a grinning Edwina  had reached under the table and squeezed his bollocks in a vice like grip. Poor Phil never recovered his composure.

Dear old Phil. A really nice guy.  I really do wish him well.

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Votes for prisoners is insane, another tier of corruption on a rotten system.

November 2nd, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

With a clank, the ancient prison door opened. Two burly warders deferentially saluted as Mr. Bridger slowly entouraged his wayonto the landing to the sound of fists on tables and cheering. With a regal waive he surveyed the massed ranks of prisoners. He paused, raising his hands for their full attention. There was an expectant silence as the great man began to speak. The atmosphere could have been cut with the knives that all had hidden within their prison issue trackies. 

“Gentlemen, or should I say messieurs and mien Herren (laughter). We are blessed to have the most corrupt postal voting in Europe (cheers)and today our friends across the water have given us a wondrous gift: the right to vote. This is a great opportunity for us all to make money (more table banging) and perhaps change the course of history. I have arranged for representatives of all the political parties to visit me to arrange terms. Certain former Members of Parliament, who have had to suffer certain indignities of late, will be on hand to advise, for a fee.”

“ This will not be without its little inconveniences. Once a year our printing presses will have to be diverted from making passports, benefit applications and travel documents. But the production of postal ballot forms will reap dividends for us all. In the meantime life will go on as normal.”

Mr. Bridger turns to one of his captors. “I take it that the next delivery of mobile phones and narcotics is on time. I would hate to disoblige the boys”. There is a curt nod and a whisper. Mr. Bridges smiles. To cheers he announces in hushed tones, ”I understand that the consignment of Romanian girls will be here for your entertainment tonight in Wing A”. One or two inmates wriggle uncomfortably. ”But for those of more refined tastes the usual Thai boys will be available on Wing B”.

 Of course, this is a grotesque fantasy, but the decision to allow prisoners to vote to ensure that their Human Right are not infringed, borders on the insane. And there is absolutely nothing the government can do about it except delay.

Apart from giving more opportunities forcorruption in a system that stinks of rotteness already, this is an administrative nightmare that could sway councils and perhaps even governments. Eighty thousand new votes may not seem a lot, but their skillful deployment in council and marginal seats with wafer thin majorities, is the stuff of political nightmares.

How will it be operated? It can’t be on the present electoral roll system as there is a residency qualification. But if  the rules are changed for more flexibility, the consequences could be catestrophic for a free democracy. The Isle of Sheppey has three prisons. A few thousand extra votes could make one hell of a difference.  And in Woolwich where Bellmarsh is situated. And Brixton. And Wandsworth. The list is endless right across the length and breadth of Britain.

I suppose the Westminster view will be that most convicts are not the slightest bit interested in voting. And they are probably right. However, bitter experience over the years, has taught us that there are widespread abuses in some ethnic communities and retirement homes. So the prisons are easy territory for the vote sharks. I suspect that even now unscrupulous party organisers are surveying constituency boundaries with beady eyes glinting with corruption.

The answer is incredibly simple. The Coalition is going to have to sit down with the Electoral Commission and all party leaders to totally reform the way our postal ballot system works. I represented three Labour councillors in Birmingham some years ago in the Yardley Petition, the first Election Commission to sit in on hundred years. Richard Maury QC, the Election Commissioner, described our system as so corrupt that we were worthy of being  a, “banana republic”. Well, unless the system is radically reformed a lot of thoroughly dishonest monkeys will be having a feast.

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