Well, we know it wasn’t Angela Eagle

Gordon Brown’s controversial former spin doctor Damian McBride had a drunken one-night stand with a Labour Minister, it was claimed.

Friends of Mr McBride, whose blockbuster memoirs have revealed the political back-stabbings and chaos in Mr Brown’s Downing Street regime, say he had sex with the woman after a booze-fuelled party.

The raucous event was attended by Whitehall mandarins and Labour aides close to Mr Brown, including figures with close links to Ed Miliband. After it ended, Mr McBride spent the night at the woman’s home.

And they tell us that it wasn’t Tessa Jowell.

Catherine…..Naaah. Hattie? Nope, no way.

So whose car keys did he pull from the hat?

The implication of this is

Economists are calling on the government to produce a “Plan F” to tackle the disproportionate burden being placed on women by spending cuts. Female-friendly tax and welfare policies are desperately needed to redress the balance, say experts from the independent Women’s Budget Group (WBG), who have produced a report looking at the impact of austerity policies on different types of family groups in England.

It finds that women, particularly single parents and single pensioners, have lost much more than men from cuts to benefits and public services imposed by the government since it came to power in May 2010.

That before May 2010 the welfare system disproportionately favoured women.

Rectifying this misandrist sexism is wrong because?

Do these numbers actually work?

It is “not fair” that people who have contributed £100,000 in National Insurance over the course of 30 years receive the same state support as those who have been paying tax for just two years, according to Liam Byrne.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Byrne says young people would be forced to wait and work for longer before becoming eligible for benefits if Labour wins the next election.

And when older workers lose their jobs, they will receive higher rates of unemployment benefit and a “premium service” to help them back into work, he says.

I thought that pretty much everyone (except for the very highly paid that is) got more out of the welfare state than they put in.

For example, that £100,000 figure. On current annuity rates that just about pays for the old age pension. So if that’s all you have paid in NI then you’ve also had the safety net of unemployment pay and the NHS for free. Even if you’ve not used either of those: you’ve still had the insurance of you perhaps needing either or both.

This tells us more about the police than about drunks

A single drunk will take up the time of 17 officers and staff, police have revealed in a warning over the drain Britain’s binge-drinking culture has on communities.

Seriously?

A drunk is accused of an assault so a police call handler receives a report, logs the details and then a dispatcher sends four officers, two on foot and two in a patrol car, to the scene.

The offender then starts struggling with the officers and tries to resist arrest so, as a crowd gathers, additional officers are required and a further eight are sent.

12 coppers to arrest one drunk? Are they actually training the police these days or what?

But we’ve already got a system that does this Ritchie

I could not agree more. So long as a reasonable criteria can be defined – and those proposed by the government so far utterly fail in that respect – assessing the suitability of a government contractor on the basis of their tax paid and, as importantly, on their disclosure of their tax paid is wholly appropriate behaviour for any government.

If a company does not pay the tax due then it is prosecuted in the courts. And if the courts say that it has not paid the tax due then it is guilty of tax evasion.

There is no other definition of having or having not paid the tax due.

So, we’ve a very simple method of ensuring your wishes here. Those companies that have been found guilty of tax evasion in court should be struck off the list of government bidders. Those that have not not.

Similarly, the law currently tells companies how they must reveal taxes paid in their accounts. Which all of them do in fact do.

Simples, eh?

And as to this:

And candidly I doubt the EU would uphold a challenge.

If a company is obeying the law in its country of incorporation then it cannot (repeat, cannot!) be barred from applying for UK government contracts.

So if a German company is revealing tax paid according to German law then it cannot be stopped from applying for a UK government contract.

This may be your view but it’s not the law

As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter why any woman wants to end her pregnancy. If it’s to select for sex, that’s her choice.

We don’t, in theory at least, have abortion on demand in the UK. It’s of course just fine to argue that we ought to have, although I and some others will disagree with you.

But given that we don’t have the law stating that we do, don’t you think that we should all be obeying the law?

I was slightly worried reading this about Farage

But he faces a fresh row before Ukip’s annual gathering in London after Channel 4 News obtained a letter written 30 years ago by a teacher at Farage’s old school, Dulwich College. The letter to the head of the school, written by Chloe Deakin, expressed concern that Farage had been made a prefect despite reports of “publicly professed racist and neo-fascist views”.

Dated 4 June 1981, the letter says one of Farage’s teachers described how the schoolboy and others “marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler Youth songs” while he was in the cadet force. Farage said any suggestion of singing the songs was “complete baloney”, but admitted: “Of course I said some ridiculous things – not necessarily racist things.”

What people do at 16 or 17 is moot: we all do very silly things at that age. There’s plenty who have been communists at that stage for example.

But the thing that worried me about the story was that the music teacher at Dulwich at that time, and thus the man who would have at least tried to teach Nigel to sing, was (and is still) my brother in law.

Fortunately Nipper isn’t the teacher in this story.

On banning smoking in prisons

A letter was reportedly sent to prison staff and reported in The Times. It said: “You will no doubt be aware that the decision has been made that the time is right for the prison service to adopt a tobacco and smoke free policy to provide a smokefree workplace and environment for our staff and prisoners.”

Prisons in the South West will be the first to implement the ban in early March or April next year, with Exeter and Eastwood Park Women’s Prison thought to be the first to trial the new regime.

Sigh.

The majority of prisoners currently smoke. And it ain’t gonna be easy getting them to stop doing so.

But here’s the thing. I vaguely recall that they decided some time ago that they couldn’t stop prisoners smoking. Something to do with a cell being a “home” and thus there was not the power to stop smoking in it?

On not understanding the damn point

But empires are built on defeat and disaster as much as they are on success and triumph, and so it is with the seemingly inexorable rise of Sports Direct, which has forced hundreds of independent retailers out of business by ruthlessly undercutting their prices, and in the process changed the landscape of the British high street.

For the story of Mike Ashley is a story with far more losers than winners.

No it fucking isn’t you ignorant loon.

Consumers have made out like sodding bandits. And they’re the only ones we should be concerned with.

Twat.

Wait, they’re banning a political party in Greece now?

The Greek government has hinted that it will seek to ban Golden Dawn after the far-right party was linked to the murder of a leading leftwing musician in Athens.

As violence erupted on the streets and demonstrators protested after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a prominent anti-fascist, the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, cancelled a trip abroad saying the government would table emergency legislation that would seek to outlaw the group.

Amid renewed political tensions between the extreme left and right, the new law would re-evaluate what constituted a criminal gang, he said.

“Neither the state will tolerate, nor society accept, acts and practices that undermine the legal system,” the minister told reporters, adding that the attack showed “in the clearest way the [party’s] intentions”.

Are Golden Dawn fascists?

Pretty much from what I can see.

Does that mean that a party that is represented in Parliament should be banned? I’m afraid that I can’t see a useful version of democracy where such a thing can be done.

The background is that there was a murder by what appears to be a group of Golden Dawn thugs. This is certainly a justification for the prosecution and trial of those potentially responsible for that murder. And if it becomes apparent that officials of the political party planned or even turned a blind eye to such plans then yes, they should indeed be similarly tried.

But banning a political party because a member/some members murdered someone just doesn’t fly I’m afraid.

Yes, yes, I know about all the “no platform” stuff but everyone does indeed get the freedom of association no matter how vile their views. The various Stalinists, Maoists (there’s even a few Juche groups about) Trots and the rest get to form political parties if they so wish despite the vileness of the views expressed. Therefore so do fascists, racists and if there was a group that wanted to associate in order to promote the revival of chattel slavery then they too have the right to exist as a group and contest elections.

Another way to put this is that we don’t ban people for being fascists for the same reason that we don’t ban political parties for not being fascists. Because we’re not fucking fascists.

Easy solution here

In a briefing paper put together by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to press the case for a reform of business rates, it said the tax on property is “no longer fit for purpose” and has become split from the health of the economy and individual businesses.

Retailers including Sir Philip Green, Justin King, and Ian Cheshire have called for business rates to be overhauled to help protect the high street. Business rates are costing the retail industry more than £7bn a year and increased by £175m in April.

Business rates are paid on commercial property and based on the rateable value of the site as well as inflation. They are the only national tax where the revenue generated each year is fixed in real terms.

Merge business rates and council tax, extend it to agricultural land, base it upon rental values as business rates currently are and you’ve a decent approximation to a land value tax.

Hurrah!

This slighly grates from Ms. Rowling

She has now used her position at Gingerbread to rail against the “particularly offensive” language of “skivers vs strivers”, saying “such rhetoric drains confidence and self-esteem from those who desperately want, as I did, to get back into the job market”.

Rowling, who separated from her daughter’s father 20 years ago, said her belief that she would immediately find paid work was a “much bigger delusion” than believing she could write a children’s novel.

She later “ended up working a few hours a week at a local church”, where she was deliberately paid the maximum of £15 so she did not lose benefits.

Yes, that’s true. However, there’s a bit before that which gets rather less attention. She and her husband (I think they were married, not sure) were living in Cascais. And after the split she and the child were taken in by friends: please note, not state benefits. I know people who were around there at the time.

The benefits part came when she moved back to England.

I’m afraid that it wearies me somewhat all the talk about how wonderful the state benefit system was to her, how glorious it is that we have such a system. For there is more to it than baby/split/then benefits. Private charity had a part in it as well.

This is going to be fascinating

The Office of Fair Trading will criticise pension providers for increasing management charges on retirement funds left dormant by employees who have moved jobs.

The higher charges for these “deferred members” can wipe almost a third off the value of the savings pot they build up by the time they reach retirement.

Clive Maxwell, the OFT chief executive, is also expected to argue that the annual fee charged by fund managers on workplace pensions nationwide should be no more than 1 per cent – in line with suggestions made earlier this week by Steve Webb, the pensions minister .

This could put pressure on ministers to explain why Nest, a scheme established by the Government to provide pensions for staff of smaller companies, takes a 1.8 per cent cut on contributions.

OK, charges on pensions might be “too high”, whatever that means. But there’s going to be a fascinating part to the inevitable arguments about this.

For I would wager considerable sums that the people who will complain about such charges, who will proffer up their newly minted solutions (ie, Mssrs. Hines and Murphy) will also be those who generally insist that Stamp Duty, indeed a financial transactions tax, are wondrous things that definitely should be higher.

Without their noting that the people who actually bear the incidence of such taxes being those pensioners who suffer lower pensions as a result.

Either high charges leading to low pensions are a scandal which we should solve or they’re not. What the charges are is something of a secondary consideration, don’t you think?