March 31st 2013 – the miracle happens here

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I was rather amused by George Osborne’s quoting of the growth forecast from the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), as reported by Andrew Sparrow on the Guardian’s Live Blog:

This year – growth of 0.9%

2012 – 0.7%

2013 – 2.1%

2014 – 2.7%

2015 – 3%

2016 – 3%

So, we go from low 0.7% growth in 2012 to a thumping 2.1% in 2013.

So in 2013 the Eurozone will all be sorted out, Greece and Italy will be awash with cheap cash and flowers will bloom out of George Osborne’s ears.

They haven’t really got a clue have they? It’s ‘forecasting’ in the sense of “wishful thinking’.

Merry Crisis image credit: Some rights reserved by Design Insane

Reflecting on the making of David Cameron

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Despite living in the same county for 34 years, yesterday I had my first opportunity to explore Eton College and Eton itself. It is an extraordinary place. The facilities at the college are unbelievably comprehensive and sumptuous. Wandering through Eton, with its Eton College bespoke tailors and high quality shops and restuarants, one is amazed at the sense of entitlement which such a place must engender in its pupils. They are extraordinarily fortunate. One wonders if any of them pause long to consider such blessedness. One doubts it.

OK, I went to a public school,[captionpix imgsrc=”https://paulwalternewbury.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cimg0278.jpg”%5Dwhich happened to be the subject of the novel and TV series “To serve them all our days” by our old boy R.F.Delderfield. But, being stuck on the edge of Exmoor, 600 feet above sea level, at West Buckland School is something of a different experience than Eton.

It is interesting to reflect on the upbringing of David Cameron. He was brought up in Peasemore, a village near Newbury which I know relatively well. It is “out in the sticks”, as they say. He went to a high-falluting prep school in Winkfield, Berkshire, then onto Eton, the “dreaming spires” of Oxford and the rather privileged pastures of Carlton Television.

One therefore has to ask when he actually came into contact with the real world. Some might argue “never”. However, he did have a summer job just near where I live in the Newbury Hambridge Road industrial estate. Plus, his mother was a magistrate (so came into contact with the real world, to an extent), his father, lest we forget, was disabled and his son, Ivan, had severe epilepsy and cerebral palsy and died aged six. [captionpix imgsrc=”https://paulwalternewbury.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cimg0280.jpg”%5D(My son died aged sixteen months so I would readily recognise that losing a child is dose of “real life” – on steroids. And having grief after six years of bringing up a severely disabled child doesn’t bear thinking about).

I am being careful here. I don’t want to turn this into a standard anti-Toffs rant.

But one does begin to wonder.

We have a Prime Minister who has lived a very priviileged life, rather closeted from the real world. Plus a Deputy Prime Minister who was brought up in the grand environs of Princes Risborough, albeit under the influence of a “real world” mother.[captionpix imgsrc=”https://paulwalternewbury.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cimg0271.jpg”%5D

I don’t know what this all means. But sooner or later I think we may look back and point the finger at such privileged backgrounds for our two main leaders.

Ed Balls gets fruity with the LibDems

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The only coalition which actually could sort out our economic problems at the moment is a coalition between the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats, because we are the only ones who understand together what needs to be done.

-Today’s Independent

It’s a great shame he didn’t have such clarity of thought eighteen months ago…

Ed Balls photo credit: Some rights reseved by Demos

LibDems: We should be more like Oxfam

…So runs the Mail on Sunday front page. I seem to remember the link between those two organisations being raised previously, perhaps at the last LibDem conference. So, I don’t think this is the first time such a connection has been raised in the public domain.

From the front page snapshot available, I can’t quite read all the text, but the story is along the lines that Nick Clegg is terribly worried that no-one knows what the LibDems stand for….(continued on page 97)

David Cameron’s very choosy Christmas card list

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The Guardian has published a downloadable spreadsheet of David Cameron’s 2010 international Christmas Card list, obtained via a Freedom of Information request. You can download it here.

The Christmas card which Cameron sent in 2010 was fronted by a photo of him, his wife and their new baby on the steps of Number Ten.

Much comment has been made of Cameron’s choice of Christmas card recipients. The Guardian observed:

Argentina and the Dominican Republic make the cut, but Peru and Venezuela do not. The prime minister of Malawi is on the list, but South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma is not.

France’s president and prime minister both appear, as do the heads of state and of government of Poland, India and South Korea. But only Dmitry Medvedev, as president of the Russian federation, makes the grade; prime minister Vladimir Putin is conspicuous by his absence.

I’ve taken the list and compared it to the ISO 3166 list of countries. By doing so, I have spotted some interesting omissions from the list.

So, Cameron sent Christmas cards to Australia and Canada. He sent cards to three leaders of Qatar and three leaders of the United Arab Emirates. But he didn’t send one to New Zealand. Dear old New Zealand!

He didn’t send one to Iceland, perhaps due to the debate with that country about banking.

But I notice he didn’t send one to Croatia or Switzerland.

His office say that the list reflected the contacts that Cameron had during the previous year.

Here’s the full list of countries which Cameron didn’t send a card to:

Cameron family Christmas Card 2010 photo credit: Some rights reserved by The Prime Minister’s Office

Åland Islands
Algeria
American Samoa
Andorra
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua And Barbuda
Armenia
Aruba
Azerbaijan
Bahamas
Bangladesh
Barbados
Belarus
Belize
Benin
Bermuda
Bhutan
Bolivia
Bosnia And Herzegovina
Botswana
Bouvet Island
British Indian Ocean Territory
Brunei Darussalam
Burkina Faso
Burundi
Cambodia
Cameroon
Cape Verde
Cayman Islands
Central African Republic
Chad
Christmas Island
Cocos (keeling) Islands
Comoros
Congo
Congo, The Democratic Republic Of The
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
CÔte D’ivoire
Croatia
Cuba
Djibouti
Dominica
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Equatorial Guinea
Eritrea
Falkland Islands (malvinas)
Faroe Islands
Fiji
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Southern Territories
Gabon
Gambia
Georgia
Ghana
Gibraltar
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guernsey
Guinea
Guinea-bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Heard Island And Mcdonald Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
Iran, Islamic Republic Of
Isle Of Man
Jersey
Kiribati
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic Of
Kuwait
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Lesotho
Liberia
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Liechtenstein
Macao
Madagascar
Maldives
Mali
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Micronesia, Federated States Of
Moldova
Monaco
Mongolia
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar
Namibia
Nauru
Nepal
Netherlands Antilles
New Caledonia
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Niger
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Mariana Islands
Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn
Puerto Rico
RÉunion
Rwanda
Saint BarthÉlemy
Saint Helena
Saint Kitts And Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Martin
Saint Pierre And Miquelon
Saint Vincent And The Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Sao Tome And Principe
Senegal
Serbia
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia And The South Sandwich Islands
Sri Lanka
Sudan
Suriname
Svalbard And Jan Mayen
Swaziland
Switzerland
Syrian Arab Republic
Taiwan, Province Of China
Tajikistan
Tanzania, United Republic Of
Thailand
Timor-leste
Togo
Tokelau
Tonga
Tunisia
Turkmenistan
Turks And Caicos Islands
Tuvalu
United States Minor Outlying Islands
Uruguay
Uzbekistan
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Viet Nam
Virgin Islands, British
Virgin Islands, U.s.
Wallis And Futuna
Western Sahara
Zambia
Zimbabwe

Good heavens! There is a liberal bone in Ann Widdecombe’s body after all!

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I was alerted this morning, via an @IainDale tweet, to Ann Widdecombe’s “If I ruled the world” article in Prospect magazine. As Iain tweeted, we may think it is hilarious, but she is deadly serious.

Here’s a taster:

All magazines with a young readership would have to use adverbs, adjectives and subordinate clauses in their stories so that the young would be exposed to the beauty rather than just the functionality of language. Latin would be compulsory from 11 till 16 and classical Greek once more widely available. All television companies would be obliged to put on at intervals of no less than one a month an excellent play which had no serious swearing, explicit sex, drunkenness or estuary English. Children’s television presenters would be banned from ending every simple sentence with an interrogative note.

I hesitate to call something “liberal” because it is a very subjective judgment and I’ll get my reader commenting to say that I wouldn’t know a liberal measure if it hit me between the eyeballs.

But, I’ll stick my neck out and say that, within all the tripe about Latin and adverbs (and by the way I am surprised and distraught she didn’t mention split infinitives) there a blinding shaft of liberal light.

She says:

Young offenders who stayed law-abiding for two years after release would have their records wiped clean and begin adult life with a fresh chance.

Wow! Now that’s something I can say a hearty “Amen” to!

Well done Widdy! (Terms and conditions apply)

Ann Widdecombe photo credit: Some rights reserved by Catholic Church (England and Wales)