28 November 2003
David Blunkett has announced controversial plans to force failed asylum seekers home by putting their children into care. Always one step ahead – I’ve had to update the Blunkett policy maker again. Blunkett denies that he is the King Herod of the Labour Party (Steve Bell cannot resist having a dig). This threat to tear apart poor immigrant families and ruin innocent children is apparently ‘necessary’, but even Michael Howard thinks it is “going further than any civilised government should go”. You know things are going very badly wrong when the Tory leader is writing in the Guardian condemning a Labour Home Secretary for being too harsh.
Britain would be a better place without this ignorant thug in charge of law and order. From treating immigrants like shit and imposing expensive and impotent ID cards, to scoffing at “airy fairy civil liberties”, allowing the US to deport British citizens without trial and condemning the BBC for daring to expose police racism, he is well on his way to trampling over every right and due process of law we have fought for, in the name of getting his name in lights and appealing to the Daily Mail crowd. Shamefully, he argues that we’re in danger of letting the likes of the BNP gain votes, but then executes the exact kind of policy the far right are advocating. The longer he is in charge the worse things will get – but he wins enough petty-minded middle England swing votes so Blair will happily let him carry on.
27 November 2003
France and Germany have broken the EU Growth and Stability pact by running up budget deficits greater than 3% GDP. Normally they would be fined for this. but the other member states have decided to be lenient. The move is ironic, as the pact was drawn up by er…Germany as a way of imposing it’s inflation-obsessed Bundesbank policies on the rest of Europe.
Although the French and Germans are being cheeky, it may be a good thing. The growth and stability pact (or the ‘stupidity pact’ according to Romano Prodi) is far too inflation-focused and restricts governments’ abilities to recover from recession. Much like the disastrous policies the IMF have inflicted on developing countries (as excellently written about by Joseph Stiglitz) in the name of ‘globalization’, the pact is hurting European economies in recession. Meanwhile, the more balanced, prudent in good times, invest in bad times policy of Gordon Brown’s, which has got envious looks from across the Channel, is coping better. An excellent article in today’s Guardian sums up the futility of the pact and an assessment of its future. The break means it is a good time to ditch the pact, but the Guardian’s economics editor predicts we’re heading for a fudged compromise. A pity, especially as the pact’s removal would clear a big obstacle for Britain’s Euro entry…
24 November 2003
I was able to file this copy before the train pulled into King’s Cross, on time and online at 14.54
GNER have started offering Wi-Fi on their trains. Although only initially available to those in First Class and thus aimed at the business traveller, it’s still quite cool, though whether us plebs will eventually get it is another matter – in Scandinavia, passengers are charged £6 on top of the train fare, which is a bit steep (but then, so is everything in Scandinavia…)
I shouldn’t get too carried away, there is still a lot wrong with the railways, as has been recently mentioned in the news, and even in the theatre – installing Wi-Fi on trains may be cool but it’s really just rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The vast majority of rail revenue comes from normal standard-class travellers and improving service for them should be the priority.
22 November 2003
Not often we get to say this – England are World Champions!
21 November 2003
Went to the march today (or rather yesterday) with Hugh. For seeing so much solidarity and a few good speeches, not to mention the toppling of Bush in Trafalgar Square, it was worth it, but it was also worth it for the little things – the Middle Eastern guy who bowed before a protester dressed as Bush begging “LIBERATE ME! LIBERATE ME!”, the WW2 war veteran wearing a Union Jack hat but taking no shit from smarmy white van men on the sidelines, the schoolgirls yelling their heads off with chants, the communist bloke who kept on popping up on random bus shelters with bongo drums, the tolerant and friendly policemen and policewomen who kept order throughout, the magnificient bright pink tank trundling its way, the bloke who suddenly realised he couldn’t rhyme anything with “Poodle”…
I could go on, but that was just a fraction of the well-spirited, good-humoured and above all peaceful people there. Everyone has their own stories to tell of the march. I just hope all the positive spirit of the day will go on to produce something good out of the horrible mess 2003 (and Bush) has given the world. G’night…
PS DOWN WITH BUSH! :-)