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Lib Dems – go back to your constituencies and prepare to complain….

By Angela Harbutt
February 8th, 2010 at 9:48 am | 9 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

ITV has announced that on 14th Feb 2010 it plans to broadcast a one hour “interview” with Gordon Brown. Not a hard hitting political examination of the Prime Minister – his policies and actions over the last four years. Not a series of interviews where Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg (and possibly others) are likewise interrogated.

No. This is Piers Morgan interviewing the PM.  No other politician at any other point, just the PM. This is Piers Morgan – former editor of the pro-Labour party Mirror newspaper, up until 2004 (when he was sacked). This is Piers Morgan, Gordon Browns mate. Piers Morgan who interviews the likes of Cilla Black, Katie Price, Boris Becker,Dannii Minogue,Ronnie Corbett, Vinnie Jones,  and.. er…oh.. the Prime Minister (weeks before a general election must be called). Piers Morgan who says of Gordon Brown (presumably with a straight face (and fingers crossed behind his back)) He’s one of the most famous people in the country, yet remains a man of mystery to many.  I have known Gordon Brown for over 15 years – he is a man who has enjoyed great triumph, suffered terrible tragedy, and will soon face the biggest challenge of his career.” Sound like a one hour party political election broadcast to you too?

Much has been said about how cynical Gordon Brown is to use this programme as a vehicle to gain public sympathy etc. I dont care whether he cried or stripped naked and did the hokey Cokey – what I care about is how the hell those people in charge of ITV let Gordon Brown’s mate interview Gordon Brown within weeks of a general election without any regard to their internal or external commitments to impartiality.  

ITN must be spitting teeth. All that time and effort ensuring that their news coverage over the course of any one period is “balanced” and “fair”and then boom! some idiot head of Light Entertainment who can’t see past the ratings or dare not challenge the over-inflated ego of Mr-Big-Bucks-Morgan goes and blows it. What useless, dim-witted idiots are in charge down there these days?  

Personally I cannot see how this can be allowed under OFCOM rules – there is a whole section (Section Five) concerned with ..”Due Impartiality and Due Accuracy and Undue Prominence of Views and Opinions“.

The mad thing is, you can’t actually complain to OFCOM BEFORE the programme is broadcast. Once it has been broadcst and everyone complains, presumably ITV will have to ensure that Nick Clegg  and Dave Cameron get their moment in the sun with their best mates in the interviewers chair too …and before the general election is called. If I were Dave or Nick I would get my mates to nip over and get an interview in the can now and just send them to ITV for broadcast – seeing as how thats TV is made down there now. What a joke ITV are.


Sadly their website is broken at the moment. UPDATE: The website is now working – it makes it very difficult to complain prior to programme transmission but you can try or you can call OFCOM on 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3000 or write to them at  Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road,London, SE1 9HA and simply ask them to post date your complaint about the “Party Politcal Broadcast brought to you by Piers Morgan” to Feb 15th (day after the interview is broadcast). Just tell them it seems to break just about every rule in section 5.


This you can do by emailing (duty officers logs get sent round the big boys – or at least they used to) copied to the or call 0844 88 14150.

I understand that some libertarians out there will shrug and say that OFCOM should be scrapped and every broadcaster allowed to do what the hell they like. And I have some sympathy with that view. But until the point that OFCOM is scrapped and whilst ITV pretends to operate a news code of conduct then I think we have a right to expect it to adhere to its and OFCOMs rules.

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Gordon Brown: inputs = success

By Timothy Cox
January 18th, 2010 at 3:17 pm | 7 Comments | Posted in International Development

Rousing stuff from Gordon Brown in the Independent, where he announced draft legislation enforcing the UK to hit and maintain the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of national income to be spent on aid each year:

“In conscience and in our own self-interest, for their sake and ours, we dare not fail. We must act now to give the entire world back its future and its hope.”

What he actually meant was:

“In the interests of DfID’s many conscientious bureaucrats, for their sake and mine, this government dare not fail. I must act now, to spend more tax payers’ money, giving hope to the legion of NGOs, charities, trade unions and self-interested government officials who rely on DfID for their future.”

If the past four decades of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) have taught us anything, it is that it has been monstrously ineffective. No one is advocating scaling down emergency relief efforts (such as the Haitian response, which has prompted the latest bout of ministerial soul searching), nor are they advocating restricting private aid flows, such as remittance payments or charitable projects. What they are right to question is the efficacy of ODA, distributed by DfID to the tune of £6.3 billion in 2008, in tackling poverty in the developing world.

So far it has been a disaster: despite over $1 trillion in aid since 1960, Africans are poorer now, than they were forty years ago. The money simply does not reach those who need it. Worryingly it is estimated that 40 per cent of Africa’s military spending is inadvertently financed by aid (Collier: 2007). It seems unlikely that increasing aid flows to an arbitrary amount set by the UN in 1970 will change this–not to mention the oddity of linking aid expenditure to national productivity. It rather smacks of medieval church donations: “we don’t care how much you give–as long as it’s more than you can afford.”

The last forty years has demonstrated that pumping aid money into faltering economies simply doesn’t work. Brown and Cameron want to re-test this theory by throwing another £10 billion annually at the problem (0.7% of national). Not only will this not work, but it is a terrible idea to judge projects upon the size of their budgets rather than the outcome of their endeavour. Et tu, Clegg?

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Your song is ending Gordon

By Angela Harbutt
January 11th, 2010 at 6:32 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in Weird and Wonderful

doctor-whoSo,  now we all know that the outgoing Doctor has come out dissing David Cameron. In the most recent edition of Doctor Who magazine David Tennant admits to finding David Cameron a terrifying prospect” – this from the man that has laughed his way through fights with the likes of Cybermen, Daleks and the vashta nerada week in week out for the past few years!

Should we be surprised? Perhaps not. It has been perfectly clear to me that the Doctor has been going mad in recent episodes… the growing God complex that led him to believe that he could do pretty much what he wanted with impunity;  lost all his friends; ending up as johnny-no-mates  hanging around with the only other being left from “his world” who hates him and is even more insane than he is (and calls himself The Master). 

Doctor Who is Gordon Brown? Surely that just cant be. No I just wont have it! …. But it might explain why the Doctor thinks David Cameron is so “terrifying”. And we all know the Doctor trashed his own planet a while back…..the ill fitting suits… the Scottish origins….Lets hope Gordon can’t do that regeneration thing . Who knows who he might come back as.

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Breaking news – you could not make it up…

By Angela Harbutt
January 6th, 2010 at 2:02 pm | 6 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Just when we thought that this was going to be the most bizare general election in years – it just got nuttier. Geoff Hoon, former chief whip, and Patricia Hewitt have written to every Labour MP demanding a secret ballot on the Labour leadership.

There is confusion over whether this fits any Labour Party rule book – most analysts are saying in times like this its all about “momentum” and you can effectively tear up the rule book.

This will come down to a test of wills. Will Gordon Brown see off one more challenge? Or, given that Mandelson seems to have fallen out terminally with NO10 – will this be the challenge that succeeds. My guess is it depends whether Gordon can kiss and make up with Mandelson – or not……

Oh fun times ahead.

UPDATE: Patricia Hewitt just appeared on the BBC categorically denying having spoken to any cabinet minister prior to issuing this letter. Does that mean she HAS canvassed support from a number of back benchers? Charles Clarke (ok an obvious anti-Brown figure) has already backed the ballot.

UPDATE: Frank Field has added his support for the ballot.

UPDATE: Suggested date for the ballot is  NEXT MONDAY with the results announced the same day.

peter-mandelsonUPDATE: Nick Robinson is saying (15.16) that it looks like Peter Mandelson is coming to Gordon Brown’s aid sending texts to MPs saying  the ballot demand is a “complete over-reaction” by people outside government and that MPs should back Mr Brown.  So, game over?


Here’s  the letter ….

Dear Colleague,

As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.

Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.

This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.

In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.

Yours fraternally,

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt

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Gordon Brown: The Macavity Prime Minister

By Mark Littlewood
August 26th, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Comments Off on Gordon Brown: The Macavity Prime Minister | Posted in UK Politics

Readers may recall former permanent secretary Lord Turnbull comparing Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, to T.S. Eliot’s Macavity back in 2007. After a couple of years at the helm, Brown has certainly proved that he’s the Prime Minister who isn’t there. Here’s Liberal Vision’s “tribute”.