Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Is Gordon Brown fit to be PM ?

5th and final update:24th March No need to scroll down for this one. It can be said here very quickly. The headline of today's Times reads "Final Budget backfires for Brown as poll rating slumps" .

Don't say I didn't warn you, Gordon, that you really had to get this one right. Expectations were running so high, thanks to all the pre-Budget leaking and trailing from the Treasury, which Philip Johnston (Telly) and others all lapped up so uncritically. And what did you go and do ? You went and blew it, and with it probably blown your chances of succeeding Blair, or at any rate, of serving a full term as PM !

4th update: 23rd March 18:50 ( reply to Louise, in green)

3rd update:22nd March 13:30 (email from Louise at C&C): please scroll down to the blue font:

2nd update: 22nd March 11:40
Please scroll to end

Updated 22nd March (the morning after the Budget Day before!)

(Scroll to end for today's immediate reaction)

This is intended as an organic blog. I sow the seed, invite emails (comments being blocked), and see where it goes. As I said yesterday, every effort will be made to incorporate your ideas into a running commentary.

The seed ? The Telly's leader today is wondering what surprises if any Gordon Brown has in store with his Budget tomorrow.

Someone ought to tell Philip Johnston (Telly blog) that it's far from being a foregone conclusion.
Well someone did, actually ( me !) .

Sample quote: from Philip J. "Nowadays, it wouldn't matter if the same thing happened to Mr Brown's Budget since we know most of it already. Except, that with Mr Brown, as many have found out to their cost, the devil will be in the detail. "

The Telly's leader invites our comments. Here's one I've just this minute sent off.

"The UK constitution, or lack thereof, permits the PM to subsume the role of Foreign Secretary too, often reducing the latter to mere messenger boy (or girl). Brown as PM could cause the role of Chancellor to go the same way. The result: an omnipotent, untouchable one-man triumvirate.

Place that amount of power into the hands of someone with demonstrated control freak tendencies, and we could all be pining in 5 years time for a return to Blair's Golden Age of power delegation. (I never thought I'd say that).

Only you can rescue us now, David Cameron. You must drive home the message that while Brown controls(obsessively) he's shown himself to be a total loss as a manager, except for one decision - probably made for the wrong reasons- namely to delegate control of interest rates to the Bank of England. Without that self-denying ordinance, his chickens would have come home to roost a long time ago, and the UK economy have gone down the plughole."

emails to: sciencebod01@aol.com

(Am out for two or three hours this afternoon - meeting daughter at airport, who's visiting for a few days).

Updated 22nd March

Well, much scepticism in the Press today about whether Brown's 2p reduction in the standard rate of tax is worth the candle, given that he has replaced the starting 10p band with the new 20p band. (Incidentally, some newspapers reported him as having "abolished" the 10p band, giving a totally misleading impression".

I mentioned above a strange and unsatisfactory post from one Philip Johnston 3 days ago in the Telly blogs. You won't find him in the list of contributors on the right, but I've since learned that he is the paper's home affairs editor. Here's how he ended his post:

"In 1996, virtually the entire contents of Kenneth Clarke's last budget were leaked to the Daily Mirror on the eve of presentation, but the paper resisted the temptation to publish any of the contents, instead returning the documents to the Treasury. Nowadays, it wouldn't matter if the same thing happened to Mr Brown's Budget since we know most of it alreadyExcept, that with Mr Brown, as many have found out to their cost, the devil will be in the detail."

Here's what I said. I think I can fairly claim (immodestly) that events have confirmed my hunch that PJ is either very gullible (read his entire post) or very complacent or both.

"I agree with Mark. If as Philip Johnston says, he and the meeja are already privy to the Budget, then why aren't we lesser mortals also allowed to know the specifics of what Brown has in store ? We can then see what emerges on Budget day, and decide whether Philip's touching faith in Brown's new transparency was justified or not. But don't hold your breath, as they say. Brown is a wily operator who likes to spring surprises - hardly what the country needs as a successor to Blair. "

Some papers are saying that this final budget to was designed to be Brown's springboard for the Premiership. They too seem remarkably naïve, poor dears.

This Budget is a reminder, if any were needed, of the man's geekishness and deviousness. He's been too long on Planet No.11. Definitely not PM material !

Updated again:11:40

This is nothing whatsoever to do with Gordon Brown. It's about Shane Richmond's recent blog on the subject of the Telly's moderation policies. Louise and the mysterious Anne Gilbert have both posted comments, giving yours truly a bit of stick.

I sent a rebuttal yesterday, but was not surprised that it failed to clear the Telly's moderators. Does the general readership really need to know about the infighting that occurs on personal blogs ? Did Louise or AG think of that before putting our recent disputes into the wider MSM domain ? Is this yet another example of the kangaroo court in action ? R of O has a lot to answer for: he has set a friightful precedent, and Louise considers his baiting to be an OK part of blogging. It's not Louise - baiting is the nasty, unacceptable face of human nature.

Anyway, here's the one that the Telly would not publish:

"Haven't you rather missed the point, Louise ? The Telegraph moderates. In contrast, you rarely do, if ever. In fact, you persistently allow people to make defamatory comments about others that would never see the light of day on the Telly's or any other MSM blog, for the reasons that Shane has set out.

So I feel fully justified in having criticized your lax policies. There is no inconsistency in my position, and I have made no secret of my preference for professionally-moderated MSM blogs.

That was a good punning title, "Anne Gilbert". But I've already used an earlier post of Shane's to explain my experimental blog policy. It's not true that I have "banned all comments". I am asking that they be sent by email, so they can be incorporated into the body of an evolving blog post. All too often there tends to be a huge disconnect between a post and the subsequent comments

The reason for blocking comments was also alluded to. A particular individual was placing abusive comments on my blog using a pseudonym. But he later posted to another blog under both his original name and pseudonym. Unfortunately for him, that blog happened to have an embedded hit counter that allowed anyone, myself included, to access a log of visitors to the site, listed chronologically by computer number, geographical location, ISP, OS, web browser etc. Once I had a fix, I had no hesitation in exposing this individual as a "troll" because he had remained silent when another poster had earlier accused me of being the very pseudonym under which he himself was operating. Indeed, the same guilty party, ie troll, was claiming just yesterday that I was "Anne Gilbert" as well, so your appearance here has left even more egg on his face !

If you want to use Shane's blogs to denounce hypocrites, "Anne Gilbert", you should start with the individual who posts under the pseudonym "Lacombe Lucien". I have given his better known identity on my own blog, but won't repeat it here, not wishing to jeopardise the appearance of this (hopefully)restrained comment.

To add a final twist, I once suspected "Lacombe Lucien", or rather his real identity, to be posting under the name of, er, "Anne Gilbert". When challenged directly, I was assured that was not the case, and accepted the denial at face value, despite this individual dismissing contemptuously my own protestations of innocence re trolling.

I now have an open mind on whether "Anne Gilbert" is a unique identity, or simply one of the many aliases of Lacombe Lucien et al.

Having read all this, perhaps Telegraph readers will understand why I have abandoned personal blogging. It's a jungle out there: it only needs one or two mischief makers with a personal axe to grind - and, without moderation, the blog quickly degenerates into a rancorous scene, unbefitting supposedly mature adults.

When David Attenborough has ticked off all the world's wildlife on his checklist, he could usefully turn his attention to that human zoo called personal blogging."

3rd update: 22nd March 13:30 email from Louise at Chocs and Cuckoos

I'm sorry Colin, but it would appear that you do seem to allow one set of rules for Telly blogging and another for 'us'.

Last spring when I joined Colin Randall's blog, at one point I was on the receiving end (and Sarah too) of some pretty sharp comments from Richard. Don't ask me exactly when it was, as I can't remember.

The comments he made at that time were a damned sight nastier than anything you have received on my blog, and yet they were published, after moderation, by the Telly.

I imagine that Shane has not published your last post, as it is of little interest to Telly bloggers who do not read our blogs and therefore probably don't understand what you or I are talking about.

You would have been better off sending me an email (you have my address) rather than trying to go 'on line' with your comments.As I have already stated, my blogs are not particularly thought out - I type as I think of something, so my blogs are more in 'chat' mode rather than yours, for example, which are well researched and totally different to mine.

For me, a blog is a 24-48 hour wonder and then we move on to something new; you may have noticed that at times I do elaborate on one of my blogs through a posting, after seeing how people react.

After Colin Randall left the Telly and we started our own blogs, I did at one time, somewhere, say that we should make an effort to add different links to our blogs as it was becoming rather 'incestuous' - we were sending readers from pillar to post. Knowing the Telly bloggers on the CR blog, I am surprised that you didn't widen your links to those who are more in tune with your way of thinking as opposed to silly people like me who just post whatever comes into their head. I'm sure you would have far more satisfaction from your blogging and wouldn't get so upset by stupid one-liners that are posted on my blog, for example.

You criticise my lack of blue pencilling - I know what I will blue pencil but you cannot expect me to interprete your feelings - I'm not a psychiatrist and although it may offend you, it doesn't necessarily offend me. Since starting my blog I do not remember anything that was so offensive that it should have been trashed - personal stabs to my way of thinking are either to be ignored or replied to by the person involved. There are tons of articles out there on the psychology of blog writers and commentators - if you go through a few of them, you will see that often what a person writes on a blog has very little to do with their character in 'ordinary everyday life'.

So, there we are - we beg to differ - and that is part of the blogging fun. It will be interesting to see if you publish this on your blog - I must just add that this has been typed in less than five minutes and I haven't pored over the content for an hour!I do hope that your trip to visit the Telly will be productive and I do sincerely hope that you will let us all know how it went and with pictures too!

Regards, Louise

Thank you for taking the trouble to share your thoughts, Louise. I'm not able to give an immediate answer right now, but will get back to you later.

Update Friday 23rd March 18:50 Reply to Louise.

I consider Louise's behaviour quite extraordinary. First she posts to Shane Richmond's blog, accusing me of "speaking with a forked tongue" (how's that for bloggerly charm - with friends like that, who needs enemies ?). She then posts here, imperiously telling me that I had no business even trying to post a reply to the Telly, and should have been content merely to explain myself to her in a private email.

Maybe Louise needs to consider a few facts. Firstly, there is absolutely no inconsistency in principle between the way Shane runs his blog, and the way I run mine. Neither will allow comments to appear without prior moderation, as a protection against the various individuals who have abused the facility, notably R of O, Bill Taylor aka Lacombe Lucien , and various anonymice.

But it's a totally different story where Louise's blog is concerned. She has allowed these same individuals to place comments on her blog accusing me of trolling, under various pseudonyms or anonymously, which I have vehemently denied, but she then allows the same people to dismiss my denials, thus rubbing salt in the wound. And just yesterday she was allowing BT/LL to persist with his line in character assassination in the course of a cosy 1:1, despite BT/LL being guilty of the very things that he accuses me of.

They say people can be judged by the company they keep. That being so, there has been a sad change in Louise's priorities, and even her fundamental sense of what is right and wrong.
Her first email, published on this blog, showed her not just condoning the baiting behaviour of R of O, but even admitting to being amused. I think where you and I are concerned, Louise, it's time for a parting of the ways. I will keep off your blog, but with one proviso - you block any further attempts by your visitors to blacken my character. I did not troll in the period referred to, and will continue to post protests if your visitors persist in stating otherwise.

Yes, maybe I am guilty of telling you how to run your blog, Louise, but that's only because you are failing in your duty and responsibility to protect this blogger against victimisation on trumped-up charges. Indeed you encourage it by entering into dialogue with the likes of BT, with a track record in trolling, in which I and my alleged sins become the subject of conversation, and you then protest when I break in on the cosy fireside chat.

To summarise, you have allowed others to turn your blog into a kangaroo court in which false charges can made without a shred of evidence. Indeed, you actively encourage it. I would urge you, Louise, to read what Shane Richmond has to say on the subject of defamation of character, and put your house in order .

emails to: sciencebod01@aol.com

The Comments facility has been blocked, for reasons previously stated.