The UK economy is officially out of recession but only just. While any improvement is welcome an increase in output of 0.1% is nothing to shout about especially as there is a risk this figure maybe revised downwards. Despite the Government pumping billions into the economy in an attempt to quickly exit the recession and increase output before the general election, the result hasn’t been great as the UK economy crawls out of recession and is the last of the major economies to do so.
The most radical policy that will be put forward by the Conservatives at the general election relates to Schools. Michael Gove is putting together a package which if implemented correctly will radically reform the way children are educated and give their parents a genuine choice as to where they want to send their children.
I have to say that I wasn’t impressed at all with the questioning of Alastair Campbell this morning at the Iraq Inquiry. The questioning was far too disjointed, lame and obvious follow up questions were not asked. What’s the point of holding such an inquiry if the panel doesn’t have the expertise to thoroughly examine and cross examine a key player in Government in the run up to the Iraq War. It was frustrating to say the least and embarrassing to watch when the most obvious follow up questions weren’t asked. I doubt Tony Blair or any other senior person involved in the decision to go to war will fear giving evidence based on today’s extremely poor performance by the panel. I would adjourn the whole process and get some decent lawyers in who would justify the extremely high costs to the taxpayer of holding this Inquiry. Pathetic really!!
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt are asking for a secret ballot of the Parliamentary Labour Party to decide on Brown’s leadership. Will the PLP move against Brown this time after numerous opportunities have been missed??? The letter is set out below. Guido Fawkes has claimed he was the first to break the news so hat tip to him!
As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.
Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.
This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.
In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.
Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt
Below is a platform piece I have written for Conservative Home on the proposed march by islam4uk through Wootton Bassett:
The decision by the extremist group Islam4uk to plan a march through the streets of Wootton Bassett is an act of deliberate provocation not designed, as alleged, to honour "innocent Muslims" killed in the conflict in Afghanistan – but simply to antagonise people who have had the decency to regularly honour returning soldiers killed in battle.
The proposed march is distasteful propaganda which all right-minded people, regardless of the religious affiliation, will abhor. And on this occasion, the Home Secretary must exercise some of the numerous powers at his disposal and prevent it from taking place.
Islam4uk is a marginalised and potentially dangerous group of Muslims led by the notorious Anjem Choudary which, among many things, attacks the “polytheistic anathema that is democracy” and declares Muslims who actively participate in the democratic process as out of the fold of Islam. Its members, however, are more than happy to live within such a system and enjoy its benefits including the right to protest.
The organisation is a platform for the global front Al-Muhajiroun and its leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Islamist radical and former head of Hizb ut Tahrir in the United Kingdom which allegedly had numerous links with would-be terrorists and Al-Qaeda operatives. Islam4uk’s aim is to "propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law" and advocates "complete upheaval of the British ruling system, its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari’ah in Britain" – in other words to introduce and implement Sharia Law according to its warped definition in the UK.
Perversely, Islam4uk wants its members to be allowed to walk through the streets of Wootton Bassett chanting political slogans and displaying their tasteless placards by relying on the principles of democracy which give people the right to voice their opinions wherever they choose – no matter how unpalatable these opinions are; yet at the same time it believes that democracy and secularism is apostasy as it is man-made and not by God and should therefore be rejected by all Muslims. Islam4uk seeks to remove democracy as a system of governance, but in order to achieve that goal is nevertheless content to use the philosophy and values of the democratic system.
Mr Choudary and his associates are either short-sighted or don’t have any qualms about adopting such a hypocritical stance, but the vast majority of Muslims in this country and elsewhere will see through this deceit and find the proposed actions of Islam4uk to say the least, utterly obnoxious. There are other places where the killed “innocents” could be remembered but to attempt to do so in Wootton Bassett is a cynical and feeble attempt by Mr Choudary to use the deaths of these “innocent” people to publicise the propaganda of his group and of course have another day in the media spotlight.
Allowing this march to take place has the potential to damage community relations in many parts of the country by, for example, giving far right groups as well as others the opportunity to lump all Muslims together with Islam4uk and show it as their representative. More importantly, it is disrespectful to the soldiers (and their families) killed in Afghanistan who have passed through RAF Lyneham. While ideally, as James Gray MP has said, we should "ignore it, treat it with disdain, contempt, or even mild humour", the reality is that the press and media will not allow this to happen and will give the marchers the oxygen of publicity they seek.
Islam4uk and others of their ilk need to understand that democracy has its boundaries and provocatively marching in a place synonymous with caskets containing bodies of soldiers killed in conflict is undoubtedly crossing these boundaries, for which there should be severe consequences. For these reasons the Home Secretary should act firmly and decisively and not allow the march to take place in Wootton Bassett.