Don’t Call Me Dave recently stumbled across the Duff & Nonsense blog, written by David Duff. Mr Duff had posted a comment on VickiM’s blog detailing the estimated increase in public expenditure over the next four years, before adding: Cuts? What Cuts? (A line which DCMD unashamedly borrowed for his last blogpost.)
Like Broken Barnet, Duff & Nonsense is a brilliantly written blog. It is sharp, incisive and witty. Politically, it is on the right side of centre (in all senses of the meaning of the word).
Undoubtedly, many of the swivel-eyed Trots who read Not The Barnet Times, will find Mr Duff’s blog not to their taste. But the truth is often unpalatable to those who do not want to hear it (or think that the world owes them a living).
Amidst the plethora of commentary about the budget, one little snippet of information caught Don’t Call Me Dave’s attention. The new budget box carried by Chancellor George Osborne was commissioned by the National Archives for a mere £4,000. Four grand for a briefcase!!
At a time when public spending has to be drastically cut in order to reduce the budget deficit, nothing epitomises the culture of state profligacy better than this.
In the grand scheme of things, £4,000 might seem a trivial amount. After all, public expenditure is actually set to rise to £744 billion in 2015. (Cuts? What cuts?) But for many - if not most - families in this country, £4,000 would make a significant difference to them.
This year, we will be paying £50 billion in interest alone on the national debt. That works out at £1,585.49 per second - a truly staggering sum which the nation ignores at its peril.
Politicians keep telling us that we’re all in this together, but they clearly have no concept of the value of money. Barnet council spent £14,000 buying 5 flat screen television sets for chief officers. That’s the equivalent of the full annual council tax bill for 14 band D households in the Borough.
The real problem is that the people who make these spending decisions are not spending their own money, and they simply do not care whether something is even necessary, let alone represents good value. It is very easy to ignore all these relatively small sums of public spending as being too irrelevant to worry about, but the old adage “watch the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” applies as much to the state as it does to the majority of the population who live in the real world. Unless this country starts living within its means, we are going to go the same way as Greece, Ireland and now Portugal.
In 1947, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton, resigned after he let slip to a journalist details of a change to the tax system, before he had made his budget speech to the Commons.
These days, an army of taxpayer funded spin doctors regularly leak details of changes ahead of the budget itself. So it was no surprise when the current Chancellor, Boy George Osborne, announced a 1 pence per litre cut in fuel duty yesterday. We all knew it was coming, especially the petrol retailers. Or was it just a coincidence that the Shell stations at Apex Corner and Stirling Corner both put up their prices by 1p on Tuesday, only to reduce them again a day later once the official announcement had been made?
At a business meeting this week, Don’t Call Me Dave was asked if he was a supporter of Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks web site. Given that DCMD has long complained about the obsessive culture of secrecy which permeates through every fibre of Barnet Council’s being, it might seem only natural that he should support the WikiLeaks ethos.
There is no doubt that Governments around the world keep far too much information unnecessarily secret from its citizens. More often than not, the reason for the secrecy is to cover up embarrassing mistakes, incompetence or corruption. WikiLeaks is right to expose such practises.
But do we have an absolute right to know absolutely everything? If DCMD asked Barnet Council for details of its civil contingency plan in the even of a terrorist attack, he would quite rightly expect to be refused the information in the interest of national security. Arguably the council should confirm, if asked, whether a contingency plan actually exists, but to divulge the precise details of it could put lives at risk.
This is where WikiLeaks has crossed the line. It has failed to draw a distinction between information which should properly be in the public domain, and intelligence which could compromise national security and endanger the lives of our security and armed forces.
As for Mr Assange himself, he recently gave a very strange interview to the editor of Private Eye, reportedly blaming “Jews and the Guardian” for his current problems. Assange denies he is anti-Semitic. Some of his best friends are Jewish, apparently.
The Jewish Chroniclereports that last month Assange accused the BBC of trying to influence his extradition hearing on rape charges because the producer of Panorama had a “Zionist wife”.
The newspaper also claims that at a debate at the Cambridge Union last week, Assange allegedly accused Israel of permitting torture. Curiously for a man so keen on freedom of information, Assange refused to allow journalists to attend or record the debate.
So, to the question as to whether DCMD supports Julian Assange, his carefully considered answer is simply “no”. Assange is clearly two sandwiches short of a picnic, and he does the cause of freedom of information no good whatsoever with his incoherent rants and baseless accusations. The security of our nation is slightly more important than the deluded ramblings of an attention seeking publicist with a massive chip on his shoulder.
Don’t Call Me Dave wishes a Happy Purim to all his Jewish readers.
It is a tradition to celebrate Purim by wearing fancy dress. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is pictured right, joining in the festivities by impersonating one of Barnet’s most distinguished councillors.
Don’t Call Me Dave received his council tax demand this morning, together with the usual explanatory booklet.
In previous years, this booklet has always contained a message from the Leader, with a glorious photograph beaming out at us. This year, however, it has been replaced by a bland “Message from the Council”.
It seems that every time there is controversial news to be given to the masses, Lynne Hillan is nowhere to be seen. Coincidence?
When the story of the Westminster expenses scandal first broke, David Cameron was praised for his swift response. He insisted that money had to be repaid, that the worst offenders would be de-selected and any MP named by the Daily Telegraph would have to hold a public meeting to explain their actions to voters.
So how did that all turn out? Well, Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers was named by the Telegraph, but she never held a public meeting to explain to taxpayers why they should have to pay for her second home, even though she lives just 12 miles from Westminster. Her punishment for defying her party leader was to be made a Government Minister on a salary of £98,740 a year. That taught her a lesson.
It has now been reported that Douglas Hogg, who by name and deed epitomised the very worst of the abuse by claiming £2,000 to have his moat cleaned, was turned down for a peerage by the Lords Appointments Commission on the grounds that he was not a suitable candidate given his outrageous claims. But who decided to nominate this eminently unsuitable person for elevation to the Lords? Why, none other than Prime Minister David Cameron.
What the hell was he thinking? Did he think the public would not find out? Or does he really think that greedy parasites like Hogg actually deserve a place in the Upper House? This is not the first occasion when Cameron’s judgment has been called into question. He failed to sack George Osborne over the incident on the Russian yacht with snake oil salesman Lord Mandelson. He failed to sack the seriously deluded Vince Cable over his Murdoch rant which left taxpayers with a multi million pound bill as his department had to be reorganised.
In the forthcoming referendum, Mr Cameron is campaigning against any change to the voting system. On this point he is correct - there is absolutely no point in changing first-past-the-post when the fault lies elsewhere. It is not the voting system which annoys the public. It is the calibre of people who stand for election that is the real issue.
Until decent, honest, reliable and trustworthy people are elected to the echelons of power, the public will continue to have nothing but contempt for the political classes.
You do have to wonder what was going through his pants mind when Prince Andrew posed for a photograph with a girl young enough to be his daughter. If this wasn’t bad enough, HRH also maintained a close friendship with a convicted paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, after the latter’s release from jail.
Due to the general decline in moral standards of those who rule over us, the grand old Duke of York has not been removed from his position as a Trade Ambassador. Instead Foreign Secretary William Hague has been wheeled out to defend the man inexplicably nicknamed Randy Andy.
You remember Mr Hague? He’s the married MP who shared a hotel room with his special advisor. Not that there was any rumpy pumpy taking place, you understand.
The Barnet Times carries an extraordinary quote from dictator council leader Lynne Hillan who is trying to blame the Mayor, Tony Finn, for the disgraceful antics of the black-shirted henchmen employed to stop the public from exercising their legal right to attend the council meeting last night.
As has been widely reported elsewhere, Hillan and her sidekick Brian Coleman are fighting a rearguard action to prevent residents from recording meetings, even though senior Conservative Government Ministers insist that this should be permitted.
Hillan told the paper: “I don’t think we were about to pick people up bodily and throw them out of the meeting unless we really had to.”
So force was clearly an option under consideration. Hillan should take a leaf out of Dennis Healey’s book. When you are in a hole, stop digging. The poor woman is utterly deluded, but clearly dangerous with it.