Wednesday, January 12, 2011


...Michael Foot's Donkey Jacket, with 351 views in 10 months! A quickly taken snap in a museum on my phone that appears to be popular on Google images.

Michael Foot's 'donkey jacket'
This is the 'donkey jacket' that Michael Foot wore at a Remembrance Day service in the early 80s. It was bought in Harrods.

It's slightly galling that he was so villified then and has been almost universally praised since he died.

His manifesto of 1983 - dubbed the longest suicide note by Gerald Kaufman (the man who claimed £8,865 for a TV on expenses) - included policies to set up a national investment bank, the scrapping nuclear weapons and the sale of council houses, restoring the link to pensions and earnings, reversing nationalisation of British Telecom, introduction of a minimum wage and stopping hunting. Mmm..sounds reasonable now.

Michael Foot's coat is among the artefacts on show at the People's History Museum in Manchester. RIP Mr Foot.


At least someone warned us about the Tories' VAT rise.


The Lib Dems have been stitched up like a kipper. Yes, a few sops around the fringes of the budget, but remember Saint Nick in the TV debates, with his Sermon on the Mount, palms-outspread, 'I'm different from the old parties' sincerity? How he emphasised how cutting now was wrong, how he wanted to spend more on schools, cut Trident and rule out a rise in VAT? (and the Tories had the cheek to hint that Labour would put up VAT)

Oh dear Nick.

Education is going to be cut by 25pc, VAT is going up (and yes it will affect the poor - if there had been a rise in fuel and booze duty by the same amount people would be whingeing a lot more), Trident is staying and cuts are happening now just as Labour's reforms are starting to put money back in the economy and cut the debt.

The debt has been exaggerated by the Tories and Lib Dems anyway. We're not Greece, we've got longer to pay and more assets. Labour had to spend more on new hospitals and schools after the austerity of the 80s and was shafted like everyone else in the global recession.

And we've always had debt - the NHS was set up in the late Forties when we were skint after the war.

Up to a million public service jobs could be lost and how will that affect the precious debt when there are so many more people on the dole?

By the time the referendum on voting reform comes around next year, the government will be so unpopular people won't vote for anything associated with it, especially not if it's anything to do the U-turn, power-hungry, no-marks in the Lib Dems.

I have to confess I filled up when Gordon Brown said goodbye outside No10. A decent, principled, serious man to the end - what a tragedy this failed to come across to enough people.

He replaced shabby hospitals and schools in the boom years and saved us from depression in the bad.

But you could see why New Labour, and especially Brown, needed operators like Mandelson and Campbell to deal with the rabid right-wing press and to hone his policy and speeches. Brown could have done with them in his first year as PM.
A Lab-Lib pact just didn' t SNP.

By contrast the Lib Dems have made a huge blunder accepting cabinet posts in the new government. They may have won concessions on policy but will now be tainted by any nasty Tory policy lurking in the wings.

England seems divided now - north of Stoke, the big cities with their own identities that are more broadminded and open to change, below Stoke and around the south coast, the small towns and twee country villages have conservative ways and Conservative ways.

Cheers to Clooky for poster

Here's what I look for in a Prime Minister:
Does he smile a lot?
Does he remember my name when I ask him a question?
When he answers a question, is the first thing he says: 'I agree with you'.
Does he mention words such as 'change', 'hope', 'optimism', 'little fluffy-wuffy bunnies with waggly tails'?


I want someone who can stand in the sleet in Lowestoft, as Gordon Brown did on Monday, and say he's fighting hard 'every second, every minute, every hour, in the wind in the rain, and in the sun, every day and in every way' to win the election.

There's something heroic about a man who's faced so many knocks, yet who remains resolute and determined. You know he's one of those MPs who's doing the job to serve the public, not for perks.

So what is if he's awkward and miserable? We're not electing a meet-and-greeter in a supermarket and these are serious times.

But never mind the personality. Here is someone who made the right decisions on saving the banks and made the right decisions on staving off depression. Unlike the Tory recessions of the 80s and 90s, inflation, interest rates and, crucially, unemployment are lower.

His policies on dealing with the global crisis have been followed or matched around the world - only the Tories disagree. If the Tories had been in power thousands would have lost their savings in Northern Rock and Bradford and Bingley.

And Dave Cameron, who bats his puppy dog eyes and says he loves our country, can't resist talking it down - warning of Greek-style debt disasters and IMF interventions. His comments no doubt affect the markets and our country.

And what of Dave's Broken Britain? When crime has gone down by a third since 1997? Look at the new schools and hospitals built under Labour.

Dave undoubtedly has the intelligence and charm to pull a big speech out of the bag at crucial times - at the Tory conference that elected him as leader, at the first Tory conference after Mr Brown was elected leader of the Labour party and at the third TV election debate.

But for all his 'I love the NHS' bluster he is using the excuse of the debt to carry out the Tories' long-cherished dream of dismantling public services.

Do-it-yourself schools? They've failed in Sweden and they'll divert resources from professional schools.

And let's not forget the NHS was set up at the end of World War 2 when the country's debts were bigger.

Dave's tax cut supporters? Sir Stuart Rose and other executives on million-pound salaries whether they succeed or fail.

As for Nick Clegg and the Liberals, it makes you wonder what impact his predecessor Charlie Kennedy would have had in the TV debates as he is someone with real personality. The Liberals' policies on tax and Trident are tempting, but Clegg's 'old parties' shtick and his hands apart gestures, like he's miming a big loaf, were looking very tired by the third TV debate.

So I say vote Labour to see us out of recession and preserve public services. Go Fourth with Harold!

Here's a barnstorming Brown speech showing what he, and the Labour Party, are all about.

Jan 10: An amusing site has been set up spoofing David Cameron's earnest and pompous billboard ads.

SuperDave has had an easy ride so far - most of the media swallowing his line about public service cuts being the only way to reduce the 'huge debt', with scant mention of the City who got us into this mess in the first place. (Incidentally when did Britain have a small debt? We've only just paid off our WW2 loan to the Yanks!)

You get the feeling the Tories are desperate to hack away at vital public services, decentralise and leave a lot of government to private companies, forgetting it was government that saved the economy by stabilising the banks.

You also get the feeling some of the public, especially the 'not interested in politics' morons, think it's an X Factor contest and Gordon shouldn't win for being grouchy and awkward in public.