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Only get better for Charles and John?

May 2006


Only get better ?
What a week that was.

Charles Clarke has had it in my view. His error was enormous, feeds the worst populist prejudice and undermines the perception of the good Labour has done on crime and controlling immigration abuses. It is deeply damaging as the May 4th polls will show.

The Home Office is notoriously dysfunctional. Why try to introduce troublesome changes such as the identity card and police reorganization while the basic job of keeping tabs on convicts and illegals is out of control? Further crimes by ex-convicts who should have been deported will be rightly blamed on Charles. He can reduce the damage by going sooner rather than later.

John Prescott has been very stupid. He said so and we all agree. Pity we were not spared the sight of his girlfriend's weepy televison bleat about saving her reputation and career. If she wants to do that she could give the alleged £250,000 of Daily Mail cash to charity.

A few years ago Tory Richard Spring MP was entrapped by ' a friend and his fiancée.' She was wired for sound and the whole episode was recorded by News of the World van parked nearby. It was a deliberate cynical con to trap in the MP to earn cash from a paper.

Ex Tory MP Rod Richards has helpfully reminded us that he resigned because he had an affair. At least it helpe to balance out New Labour sleaze with the old Tory variety. John Prescott should have seen it coming. The Opposition parties want him to stay because they believe he is an accident-prone liability. Probably right. That a reason why he should be reshuffled out.


Pat Hewitt was unwise to say that this year was the best ever for the NHS. Even though it is true, that view is far for the public's perception. It's impossible to change a deeply ingrained opinion in one go. Why are nurses, whose numbers and pay have increased so rapidly, so rude to Hewitt?

Some say it's her voice that enrages people. It sounds like the way people talked 40 years ago- the upper class lecturing the peasants. Others say she spends too much time with her voice coach.

The scourging she had was thoroughly unjustified. Her main tormentor Les Miles said that he had just two nurses looking after 14 babies. His hospital said on average there are only five babies there and on Thursday last there were none. The jamboree was part truth, part fiction and all stunt. No reason there for Hewitt to go. Just work on her patronising manner.

Next week can only get better - I hope.

Killarney First

Last Sunday, Killarney witnessed a bit of history.

The British-Irish Parliamentary body has been meeting for 16 years now. Composed of British and Irish MPs, TDs, AMs, and MSPs it has bridged many of the deep misunderstandings of politicians on both sides of the Irish Sea. It has succeeded in sweeping away many of the old prejudices.

The only absentees have been the Ulster Unionists and the DUP. Their contribution is vital. Pictured is DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson addressing the 'Body' with Paul Murphy on the platform and Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan (with glasses) listening intently. It's substantial progress.

The next meting of the body in October will be the first ever held in Ulster. The DUP and the UU may put in appearances. This is a major leap forward.


Collective


A former pupil recalled some stories about his teacher in Barry Grammar School the writer Gwyn Thomas. 'We did not learn much Spanish but the lessons were a riot” he said. Gwyn loathed the head teacher and the only conversations they had with one another were an exchange of grunts. One day there were three headteachers together at a sports' day. This prompted Gwyn to ask the kids if the knew the collective noun for a group of headteachers, like a 'flock of birds.' The kids had no ideas.

Gwyn patiently explained. They are known as " A lack of principals."


United Sense

The Westminster United Nations association asked me to chair their meeting on Wednesday.

It was a pleasure and an eye-opener. The United Nations dominate world anti drug policy. It's hard to believe that the world is signed up to their ten year strategy to “Eliminate, or substantially reduce the cultivation and use of the cannabis plant, the heroin poppy and the coca bush in the next ten years.” The policy was agreed in 1998 and aims at a drug-free world in 2008.

Last year Colombia increased they coca crop by 20% after the US spent $4.7 billion on the drug eradication policy Plan Columbia. British taxpayers have shelled out £115 million on poppy eradication in Afghanistan. This year there will a record high crop. The price of drugs on our streets has never been lower. There has no progress whatsoever in reducing let alone eliminating drug crops and use.

Rightly the Westminster UN Branch describes the present situation as “an endemic paralysis based on self-delusion, consumer state disagreement and dogma-driven funding may yet lead to the collapse of the UN's drugs programmes and, in turn, lead to damage to its wider credibility.

It's vital that the world respect UN conventions. Unless we bury the present drugs convention in 2008 the scourge of drug abuse will continue to advance across the planet.