Search This Blog

27 April 2008

Who is Gordon Brown?

A regular American contributor of comments on this Blog responded to my last post about UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown by confessing to knowing little about him, nor even having seen a photograph.

Gordon Brown acquired a good reputation early on as Tony Blair's Chancellor of the Exchequer and was well known for his frequent use of the word "prudence" to describe what drove his financial policies.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the coin (geddit?) he was driven by an overwhelming ambition to replace Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister. In fact the story goes that when Blair was elected Leader he promised Brown that he would in due course make way for him at some stage. This made for a difficult (and sometimes imposssible) relationship between these two key men in government.

When Brown eventually realised his ambition last year he changed from the "Iron Chancellor" into the vaccilating Prime Minister, and also became haunted by some of the policies that he had been responsible for as Chancellor.

Some of his less savoury acts as Chancellor included imposing a tax regime that led to the near destruction of the insurance and pensions industry, and removing the financial incentives from the state of marriage.

He is the man who introduced a lower rate of income tax set at only 10p in the £ between the level of untaxed income and the level at which the normal rate of 22 pence applied, thus helping the lower paid. This is the same man who, bizarrely, last year slashed the normal rate of 22 pence to 20 pence (with a great fanfare) but at the same time abolished the 10 pence rate that he'd introduced a few years earlier. The result, this year, is that those of us who are reasonably well off are now better off, but those who are struggling are now worse off. (So much for the Labour Party being the party for working people and the disadvantaged.) The outcry within his own Party has been such that he has now been forced to promise some kind of refund for those who have suffered by the latest tax change.

After ten years of Labour Government the rich are richer, and the poor are poorer. We couldn't have asked for more from a typical Tory Government!

18 April 2008

Brown, Britain and Basra

I read in today's paper that whilst Prime Minister Gordon Brown is in Washington gushing enthusiastically about his love of the USA, Americans, and American television, the love might not be reciprocated.

There may be two reasons for this: a lot of Americans don't know who the hell he is, and quite a few members of the gang currently occupying the White House are a bit pissed off with the performance of the British Army in Basra.

They don't like the fact that, having trained up the Iraqi army and police to do the job themselves (which, I recall, was their remit) they have withdrawn to an "overwatch" position. American generals want them back on the streets of Basra to give the militias there a good pounding. They are annoyed that Brown has declared his intention to draw down British troops in Iraq.

They had better get over it because we should have never have been there in the first place (nor should the Americans, come to that), and if the White House and the Pentagon think we should stay, well, tough titty! And if the Iraqis wish to conduct a civil war, then that's their business. Good luck to them, because they'll need it: Iraq is an artificial construct and I doubt if it can survive as such without it being propped up by someone else.

As for the question, "Who is Gordon Brown?" a prominent member of the Labour Party establishment opined yesterday that "Gordon Brown was put on this earth to remind us how good Tony Blair is."

09 April 2008

The Man for Me

I thought I would watch five minutes of this but thirty minutes later I was still watching and listening. He's the man for me. It's a shame I don't have a vote! Clinton can't hold a candle to this man, and as for the present incumbent of the White House he appears by comparison to be even more of an intellectual dwarf than we had at first thought.

06 April 2008

Hysterical E-mails and the Dollar Coin

I've just received one of those many e-mails that fly around cyberspace asking to be passed on to all one's friends to spread some rant or other on subjects that are usually associated with Patriotism, or the Military, or God, or all three together.

This latest one is about a new US Dollar coin and the e-mail urges Americans to refuse to accept it
and ask for the paper version instead. Here in the UK we became similarly exercised some years ago when the £1 note was replaced by the £1 coin, but not for the same reasons that Americans are wound up about their Dollar. The British were upset because it was easier to carry a wallet full of notes than a pocket full of heavy coins.

Why are Americans upset by the Dollar coin? Well, this is what the e-mail says ..

You guessed it - 'IN GOD WE TRUST' IS GONE!!!
If ever there was a reason to boycott something, THIS IS IT!!!!
Together we can force them out of
Please send to all on you mail list !!!

This is ridiculous. Why?

Well, first of all, if you study this picture on the left you will see "IN GOD WE TRUST" engraved around the edge of the coin.

Second of all, if you trust in God, why do you need to be reminded of it on your money - any more than you need to be reminded of your patriotism by flying a flag outside your home? (something else I don't understand!)

04 April 2008

Brown's "British" Buses

A couple of years ago the UK Government introduced senior citizens' bus passes entitling them to free travel on "local buses in their area". This was a welcome move, and moreover it was said we could look forward to the scheme being extended to provide travel on local buses in any part of the country.

That moment has arrived and we have been sent our new bus passes, together with an explanatory leaflet from which we learn the following: "From 1st April 2008, the new national bus concession will enable passholders to get free off-peak travel on local buses anywhere in England."

The statement is an oxymoron. .. NATIONAL bus concession .. anywhere in ENGLAND.

Now our (Scottish) Prime Minister has been banging on at great length since he took over from Tony Blair about the importance of being British and the desirability of preserving the United Kingdom. Why, therefore, can we not use our bus passes in Scotland or Wales?! And, if you live in Scotland or Wales you have your own passes, but I'm afraid you cannot use them in England. Why not?

Please, Mr Brown, do I live in England or do I live in Britain? I am confused. I am denied an English Parliament (unlike my Scottish and Welsh neighbours) but I am provided with an England-only bus pass.

Brown is several seats short of a double-decker.