The Professors passion for "The Science of Deceit" started here...

Employed by the Ministry (in a covert capacity) to help introduce the law ending dishonest politics, you can see his hand all over the posts of past.

Current political circumstances have forced him to reveal himself and as we speak, MPs are signing up to re-introduce The Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill for debate with over 80,000 voters supporting them.

Posts before Jan '08 are purely for the record (with hindsight they make fascinating reading). Posts after May 13th mark the Professor's return.

Meet the Professor

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Honest Politics at last.

Hallelujah. We've been chasing the main parties for a commitment to criminalise political deception and yesterday got formal word that at least one has come through.

Having been trapped after-hours in the bowels of Westminster more times than we care to remember,  worn the carpets thin seeing Ministers and MPs over the last four years, been berated, ejected and scorned it seems some good has come from the expenses sideshow. There's been a genuine shift from the traditional Parliamentary, "we can police ourselves/get the hell out of my office"... a firm "we're committed to criminalising political deception as per the Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill.

This Minister's almost embarrassed to say it didn't really register until some ten hours later. Brain's still processing the info. Too tired to believe it. Must get some kip. Promise to give full update once the whiskey's flushed through.

Hoping to wake up before Jacqui Smith on Question Time and celebrating properly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ministry of Justice Re-offends

You heard it here first, this is an election issue in the making - it may even lead to us saving a few billion a year if we can flush out the truth.

Justice Minister for Prisons, Maria Eagle, had the pleasure of our company last month whilst we tried to get to the bottom of some criminal stats. Seems that Alan Duncan's also bumped into her on the same nausea inducing issue.

The Sun, admittedly, purveyors of strange and wonderful parallel universe, were the only newspaper to pick up on it. Duncan's accused the government of a "shameful attempt" to mislead the public over the scale of re-offending. David Howarth, the Lib-Dem justice spokesman and friend of the Ministry said, "there can be no excuse for the release of confusing or misleading figures".

The figure in dispute is the rate of re-offending. An absolutely key figure because it tells us how effective we are at dealing with the offenders we pick up. In the 1970's this reached a then unheard of 30% - inducing all kinds of reform. Today the rate, depending on the kind of offender/offence varies between 75% and 90%.

Probation officers' leader Harry Fletcher said: "The Government has changed the way it collates statistics on violent offenders. This could give the impression there's been a reduction in numbers and therefore less threat to the public. In reality, however, the number has almost certainly increased. The effect has been total confusion and uncertainty about what the actual trends are."

Apologies for the fisking but it's not often you get to quote The Sun, "The Ministry of Justice said it was impossible to compare figures because of the different way they were collated. Justice Minister Maria Eagle said the number of criminals who "re-offend seriously" has remained at about 0.5 per cent for four years.".

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Outrage ? errr, actually just a lie.

Dominic Lawson pipped us to the post in today's Independent on something that's been occupying the Ministry for some time now - except he missed the point. Headlined "Jimmy Carr and the pomposity of Outrage" it should have been "Once again the press lie to sell more copies and dupe a few politicians along the way".

Last Friday night, live at the Manchester Apollo, Carr said, "Say what you like about servicemen amputees from Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're going to have a fucking good Paralympic team in 2012.". The Express and sundry Sunday's went for, "Fans stunned as Jimmy Carr insults our Afghan heroes" - apparently they "gasped with shock", were "stunned" and well... you get the picture. Cut to various MPs and Ministers expressing their disgust etc. etc. at Mr Carr  and Dominic Lawson's article saying such "outrage" was pompous.

Except there weren't any stunned or shocked fans, as one bemused reader pointed out in an e-mail, "I was at the Manchester Apollo that Friday and the audience was not 'stunned into silence'. The place erupted in laughter.".

More and more you've got to wonder what these papers are playing at. Sister company Spirit Level Film just interviewed Chris Roycroft-Davis for "The Fear Factory" (an exposé of how UK PLC is manufacturing the fear of crime into the reality of criminals). Roycroft-Davis was The Sun's longest serving deputy editor and leader writer. His insights will hardly be news to most of us, but the straightforwardness was chilling, especially when coming from the man who's penned a career's worth of words in Britain's most highly read daily newspaper. "A newspaper has a duty to it's shareholders." Bottom line. When the consumer stops buying shit, they'll stop peddling it. Except, the various politicians who joined the fray (Bob Ainsworth et al) bought it, and they aren't paying customers.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ministry loses it's bet

No Griffin walkout so we're down a few quid, but who's counting. If that's a platform for the BNP - give us more.

Admittedly, Griffin got off lightly. Not that it was a shabby performance from the other panelists, but none of them squarely nailed him to a post, drove the points home, boxed him into a corner. Griffin managed to keep his cool and to some degree looked like a victim as opposed to a victim because of his rhetoric and values. Jack Straw never quite hammered and pressed the opportunities when he could have, a more effective rebuttal to Griffin's Holocaust denial explanation would have been "what sort of person, let alone party leader denies the Holocaust in the first place, then says he's re-evaluated his position after seeing transcripts of intercepted radio transmissions". Easy to say that with 20/20 hindsight. Time was short and I suspect more's needed for a thorough dissection of the Griffin animal.

Still, it was interesting to see that despite many political differences, in face of the BNP there's much more the other parties agree, than disagree on - especially when it comes to core values. This could easily have unwound when Straw copped out on Labour's culpability for the BNP getting votes, but Warsi quickly scored points by reigning him in and with the BNP in the room, it felt like Straw wasn't inclined to attempt spinning a way out of it.

Full score to the BBC for standing up to the nay-sayers and providing the opportunity. Evidently there's been no bloodbath or surge of support for the BNP (perhaps a little premature to make a call on the latter) in the aftermath of giving them a platform so perhaps the likes of Peter Hain, Livingstone and Alan Johnson will accept the public's not so stupid as to need their censorship protection from unconscionable views.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This'll be appointment viewing

Much is at stake here - the rise of fascism, racism etc. versus the ability of Jack Straw, the other panelists and audience to expose the BNP on national TV. Thrown into the mix is censorship, don't give 'em a platform etc. and probably the career of the BBC's Director General. There may be the smallest of chances that Nick Griffin will perform well - the consequences of which are too dire/embarrassing for all to contemplate.

Weirdly, we find ourselves in agreement with Gordon (it's the BBC's decision) Brown . Weirder still is to find ourselves rooting for Jack Straw. Both are in direct opposition to the likes of Peter Hain, Alan Johnson and Ken (chair of the United Against Fascism League) Livingstone - who's words of wisdom condemn the BBC's decision with nanny-state logic...  we must control, censor and legislate - the public are too stupid to think for themselves etc. He told Radio 4

"if anyone is hurt tonight the BBC will bear moral responsibility for that," adding that he felt the broadcaster had "lost its moral compass".
"Unlike any other party, when Nick Griffin speaks or when they get elected in an area, what we see is an increase in racial attacks. It's a long pattern not just with the BNP but with the national front before them. He goes and says his bit ... but for the angry racist it's the trigger that turns into an attack.
"We first saw this when Enoch Powell made his 'rivers of blood' speech there was a huge surge in attacks on black conductors on our buses and that's why you apply a different standard to the BNP to those parties that do not legitimise this sort of violence against minorities."

Err...., No Ken. You get racially motivated violence because some people are idiots and violent with it. If they didn't have a TV show exposing the BNP as idiots to spark violence it'd be something else.

No word from the Cameron benches on support or otherwise for the BBC. Pussies to a man.

There's money changing hands at Ministry Towers over whether there'll be a walkout from one of the panelists. Mine's on Griffin, it'll be his last resort to any semblance of dignity.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meet the BNP

Much gnashing of teeth at Ministry Towers over the BNP on Questiontime.

In the blue corner we have the Peter Hain ™ world - it's a disgrace, legitimising racism, a platform to prejudice and the traditional "I refuse to pay my license fee".

In the red corner we have, "this is exactly why I pay my license fee".

BNP leader, Nick Griffin,  pelted with eggs wishes his Daddy was there to protect him.
Sadly, no-one knows who his father is.

This writer currently finds himself more and more with the reds. The BNP were legitimised by the electorate - end of story. The BBC didn't do that, the voters did, and the BBC is now giving them a platform to combat the very reason they were legitimised, Peter Hain and his logic.

During befuddled days at university, I was part of a group that monitored racist activity on campus. This involved attending various BNP get-together's, knees ups, concerts (the charming band Screwdriver were standard fare) and meetings. Once you've seen this bunch up close and in action, if the bile coming out of their mouths wasn't so revolting you'd never keep a straight face - and laughing at them would've resulted in a good kicking.

Once you've heard these guys speak, attempt to run a meeting, organise leaflet distribution etc. you'd realise what a complete joke they are. You'd realise that their total lack of ability is a direct reflection of anybody who can square such ridiculous policies and vile rhetoric with any notion of logic, any notion of what it is to be human.

Voters legitimised the BNP for two reasons ;

1) Partly as a reaction to the appalling performance and credibility of the mainstream parties directly after the expenses scandal

2) Primarily because voters have never seen them in direct confrontation with mainstream parties or an audience with a combined IQ over 30.

The Ministry has had it's disagreements with Jack Straw in the past, but having smelt the BNPs breath and got a taste of what they're made of, they're "substance", I'm confident he'll take them to pieces, alongside the audience. Much as I love the sight of Nick Griffin being pelted with eggs, the BBC are doing exactly what's needed - giving them a rope via the opportunity of directly engaging with majority opinion and a semblance of intelligence. Once they've met the BNP, even the very lowest of the lowest fuckwits will question casting another vote in their favour. Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC understands this. Peter Hain, Alan Johnson & Co do not.

This ticket alone's worth the license fee.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hypocrite Harman again

Harriet Harman's over a barrel again (the image renders us... well... let's not pause for thought).

The Ministry had the personal pleasure of Ms Harman's company some time ago. Our half hour came to an abrupt end - leaving us wandering the bowels of Westminster un-attended (footage available on personal request). We digress... the interview left us confused as to the nature of the beast - was it possible for a minister to be so... well.. average ? Common sense left the room on her entrance and we were convinced only mind-altering drugs could have been responsible for the twists and turns in her non-logic. Apparently we were wrong.

We should have mentioned this last week (apologies for tardiness) when Harman told MPs: 'We have to judge things by the rules and standards that obtained at the time..." apparently the "court of public opinion" she so famously stood by when going after Sir Fred Goodwin's bonus/retirement package with the threat of retrospective legislation doesn't count for much anymore.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inland Revenue switch to TNT post ?

Perhaps there's another reason (apart from the obvious) the Royal Mail are choosing this week to strike...

...the deadline for filing your income tax return by post is 31st October.

When your return shows up late care of the postal service do you get to name the Royal Mail as a co-defendant when appealing a late filing fee ? Better still, what happens when you don't get the notice HMRC posted to tell you they're after a late filing fee ? No doubt we're about to find out - to paraphrase Sir Thomas Legg of expense enquiry fame, "talk is cheap, money pays the rent" and right now for GB PLC, cashflow is king.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Taleban Italian Job

The French Military are unhappy, the Italians deny all.

Taking over the usually "quiet" Salobi area of Afghanistan from the Italians, the French quickly found themselves under attack and lost 10 men - only to discover there was a reason for the previous "detente".

The Italians (you can tell by the sunglasses) it seems had been paying protection money to prevent local insurgents from attacking. Once the French had moved in and resumed attacks, quite reasonably the Taleban ("we're businessmen after all") assumed the deal was over with and got back to work - presumably with a view to finding an "accommodation" from the French.

The Italian government have vigorously denied any such underhand activity. Given Berlusconi's current credibility problems (and their infantry's well-known predilection for having 3 reverse gears in their armoured vehicles) they'd be better off spinning it differently and leading from the front,  something along the lines of...


And perhaps they're not wrong. Instead of spending a lot of money sending troops over there, why not cut out the middleman - the Army. Instead of declaring war, simply give the insurgents a few quid to keep themselves to themselves.

Except then they'd have no-one to keep themselves to themselves from.

OK, scratch that. Start the war, get 'em all pepped up, give 'em a few quid to quiet down and then get the hell out. I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair wet etc. but these are, let's face it, fairly minimal losses versus unending years of war. Perfect exit strategy. Now if we'd've had that deal going in Iraq - the gov. could say they've done the right thing and averted the terrifying threat of WMD's, peace has been restored. Job done. No enquiries, no backlash, no questions of illegal war, minimal casualties and we get to save a few quid.

I pointed this out to a Greek friend with a massive holding in a US arms company - he was underwhelmed.
"The military will never go for it, three months of action and then what ?"
"But at the moment we're paying off the enemy anyway and costing us a lot of money and lives by being over there."
"But if we weren't over there in the first place you wouldn't have to be paying off the enemy ."
"I'm talking about exit strategy. I'm not saying a government shouldn't go in to prove a point, get votes, build morale, keep our boys in tip top condition as well as fuel arms development and provide jobs back home... I'm just saying we should manage the exit strategy in a more business-like fashion. Once it looks like things are gonna be tougher than we thought just pay them off and declare victory."
"Then what ?"
"Keep paying - it's still cheaper"
"Another Black Label ?"
"That'll do nicely."
"Promise to stop this line of conversation ?"
"Absolutely. But you've just proved my point."
"How's that ?"
"We've had a disagreement, you buy me a drink, peace is restored and you get to claim a moral victory. Now, you've just gotta keep buying"

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Question of Honour ? Trust is like virginity.

Hmm, some interesting honourable questions raised by Conservative front bencher Eleanor Laing's repayment of £25k against a capital gain of £180k despite not being asked to repay it.

Eleanor earned 180k free of capital gains tax when she sold two Westminster flats in 2008. She'd told the tax authorities they were her principal residence but had designated them as a second home for purposes of expenses.

So what price honour ? The amount you claimed in expenses over the years, 13.9% of the sum earned or whichever is the lesser of the two ?
Is this an admission of guilt ?
Why hasn't Sir Thomas Legg included the re-payment of capital gains in his recommendations ?
How do you square saying one thing to the Inland Revenue and another to the fees office ?
Is the Inland Revenue demanding payment ?
The Fraud Act makes a material gain by deception a criminal offence... where are the prosecutions ?

Can't help thinking the Professor is right... "trust is like virginity... you can only lose it once".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm soooooooo sorrrreeeeee-ee-eee-eeee

Extraordinary. It's taken four months, trawls through private diaries, police records, security records, repeated complaints to Parliamentary commissioners and endless requests for information to establish the pathetically obvious...

1) Jacqui Smith's main home is where she lives with her family in Redditch
2) The room she stayed in at her sister's London flat is not her main home.

Ms Smith says the arrangements were the best way for her to deliver value to her constituents and taxpayers... errrr... that would be true if she hadn't pretended the family home was her second home and then claimed expenses on it. She didn't.

That would also be true if she had only been claiming the minimal expenses for her actual second home.

She wasn't.

Surely someone, somewhere in government is clued up enough to know that compounded by Smith's continued delusional denial, when an investigation like this takes four months, they paint themselves as idiots. Come to think of it, even bothering to order an investigation is a sign you're part of the same delusion.

Having established the truth, the question of paying back the money doesn't seem to have arisen in Parliament, the inquiry or with Ms Smith. She was ordered to stand at the front of the class and say she's sorry. Except it's not really a sorry...

"I accept the committee's conclusions and I therefore apologise to the House." isn't anything like being sorry. Having to be told to say you're sorry isn't anything like admitting guilt, anything like contrition, anything like acknowledging the reason the voter is fecked off with the whole "sorry" expenses scandal and completely sidesteps the real questions...

1) What kind of idiots gave birth to a system that allowed you to pretend a room in your sister's flat is your main residence ?
2) What kind of idiots thought the general public would buy into that system ?

Sadly the answer is "The idiots running our country".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Back to School

Aaaaahhhh. Nothing quite like that first day back at school and this term promises to be one of the more exciting. Just when they thought it was safe to go back in the water it turns out some students had returned early for a rooftop protest and more impressively, Sir Thomas Legg has handed in on time his holiday assignment inquiry, "What to do about the expenses thing".

Sir Stuart Bell's comments on Legg's homework indicate we have much to look forward to. Bell sits on the "Commons Members Estimate Committee" and told the BBC yesterday, "He's not respecting the decisions that were made by the fees office in accordance with the rules at the time." - almost entirely missing the point - the rules at the time (as devised and abided by the right honourables) were bent and in any case, when an MP signed off their expenses, they were confirming they "incurred these costs wholly, exclusively and necessarily to enable me to stay overnight away from my only or main home for the purpose of performing my duties".

Another member of the committee said Sir Thomas had been “overzealous, misdirected and has exacerbated a situation where we were hoping to bring closure”. Of course you were hoping to bring closure, sadly, we never got any so an exacerbated situation is what you've got to look forward to.

106 MPs have announced they won't be standing again in the next election.

Much gnashing of teeth/merriment awaits.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Balls into Court

You'll note from recent posts that the Ministry's been dipping it's toe in the Criminal Justice System. This has led to some interesting findings - namely failures in the welfare state to intervene when families are failing and the kids are suffering/turning to crime. More than one of our interviewees was quick to point out that those working in the welfare state are doing the very best they can against a tide of under-funding, stat-driven performance targets, ministers changing policies in response to tabloid headlines...  the list goes on.

Sharon Shoesmith (above), ex-head of Haringay Council was promptly sacked following the baby P case and today is taking the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls and her former employer to court for all kinds of procedural errors in her sacking as well as Ofsted's independent review of Haringay Council - she wasn't allowed to comment on it's findings before publication. She's also expected to claim for Ball's intervention (which led to the lack of procedure in her sacking) being unduly influenced by the media. Whichever way the case goes, the taxpayer will be footing the bill, so a very big thanks to all concerned - but we may get our money's worth...

Indeed, some good  may come of this. Whilst defending her position Shoesmith will inevitably end up arguing she was doing the best she could in impossible circumstances only to have been sacked when the media spotlight required the government to do something. (at which point they ran roughshod over procedure, hit the eject button and both Ofsted and the Government refused to allow her to defend herself or her council).

This writer is the first to confess to being underwhelmed by the performance of most public bureaucracies, least of all Haringay Council whose reputation proceeds them - but having seen what the probation service, prisons etc. are up against it'll be interesting to see what the High Court has to say. It may well be the first time a judge gets to decide whether the blame for our public services' dismal shortcomings lie with the government or it's bureaucrats. Would a win by Shoesmith lead to some kind of a civil service class action throwing the book against the government ? Now that would be interesting.

It also begs the question - if Shoesmith & Co are crap (the commonly held view), and the Gov was justified as well as capable of sacking her irrespective of procedure, what took them so fucking long ?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More apologies

Severe lack of posting but we've been busy in Parliament hustling the Bill (staunch progress being made - this could well end up an election issue) and entangled with the Criminal Justice System (it's not every day you bring a tear to a Minister's eye - more to follow on this).

Meantime, this caught our eye - not that we're naturally drawn to a party political stance, just that we figured with all those conservatives huddled together in Manchester they may never get a better opportunity to find a soul mate. Can't be long before we see LabourHarmony playing catch-up...