Archive for January, 2009

The Guernica comes to London!


A couple of months ago I blogged about the Guernica painting by Picasso, a symbol of civilian suffering during armed conflicts. Well, now you don’t need me to tell you about it anymore because the Grauniad is reporting that the painting will be coming to London soon!

After this past month’s conflict in Gaza I believe the Guernica’s symbolism becomes even more relevant today and I would recommend everyone reading Forgesian Thinking to go see it, it certainly is an experience not to be missed.

Details are not out yet as to when and where it will be exhibited but I shall keep you all posted as soon as I find out.


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The Daley spin

Sometimes I just don’t know if Iain Dale simply loves spinning or he writes the most outrageous posts just to fill in his blog more than once everyday…

Either way have a look at his post yesterday:

‘Families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington’ – President Obama, 21 January 2009 

Can you imagine Gordon Brown saying anything similar? No, thought not.

Err, Mr Dale, Obama was talking about freezing Top White House salaries that range from $400,000 for the president to $172,200 for senior aides such as the chief of staff and press secretary, something Brown has already done in the UK. On the other hand he is preparing a fiscal stimulus of between $775bn and $1000bn. So he is spending public money to jump-start the economy, again, as Gordon Brown has done in the UK. Even Angela Merkel in Germany has gone for further public spending.

It seems to me the only ones left behind on fiscal stimulus are the Tories. So if you are going to spin anything at any cost Mr Dale, at least don’t be so blantantly simplistic in your argumentation.

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Not did they just run against each other for the Tory leadership in 2005 and disagree on Europe, VAT cuts and their approach to the economic crisis, Cameron’s new found pal, Kenneth ‘big beast’ Clarke, was also responsible for the firing of the current Tory leader in 1993 from his post as special advisor to the Chancellor.

Oh well, desperate times call for desperate measures I guess…

If your own shadow Chancellor cannot take on the government in the middle of a daunting economic crisis I guess bringing into your team the leading critic of your economic policy strategy who fifteen years ago thought you weren’t up to the job just so your party can get a sit on the grown-ups table is sensible enough.

Did anyone really think that Osborne could ever survive a direct confrontation with Brown and Mandelson or even Vince Cable? Afraid not, that’s what Clarke is there for, even if he disagrees with most of what his leader’s actually saying. Such is life…

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As the expansion is given the green light by the DfT I cannot but amaze myself at the colourful coalition of people opposing it: John McDonnell, Boris Johnson, Emma Thompson, Zac Goldsmith…. So I thought that Forgesian Thinking should also add its two pence to the debate. So here we go…

I am supportive on the expansion on three accounts:

– If London is to continue to be a true global ‘meeting point’, Heathrow needs to remain one of the top three world airports. It is essential. If you fly into Amsterdam you are not going to then take a train to London, you’ll do your business there, plus they already speak very good English.

– Building a completely new airport somewhere else, another BBI (Brilliant Boris’ idea), would be very costly, you don’t need just the runway but also a terminal plus other servicing builidings and infrastructure. It also involves creating noise pollution in a completely different new area (I know this point is no consolation to Heathrow residents though).

– From a logistics point of view, it is more efficient to have on hub rather than several of them dispersed, plus less road pollution will be created. This is also true for passengers travelling from and to the airport.

The real issue about climate change is not about stopping Heathrow’s expansion. Heathrow’s flights are generally long distance flights, meaning you either fly or you simply can’t get to your destination. If climate change campaigners would like to make a real difference they should be focusing all their efforts on low-fare airlines and airports. Encouraging high-speed rail so short flights to Europe can be replaced by train journeys.

Heathrow is not an environmental issue but a local residents’ one. That is a fair fight. The spat today between Geoff Hoon and Emma Thompson best illustrates the not very convincing climate change argument.

As Hoon accused her of opposing the expansion while flying around the world as an actress, Thompson replied:

“Get a grip Geoff. This is not a campaign against flying – we’re trying to stop the expansion of Heathrow in the face of climate change.

“It sounds like the transport secretary has completely missed the point. Again.”

I don’t even know what that means. Flying produces climate change, one stops flying,  climate change is reduced, as simple as that. That is the problem with the climate change-base anti-expansion campaign, it’s trying to achieve the squaring of the circle. And Cameron’s Tory leadership is once more at its populist best encouraging the nonsense.

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A coalition of green activists has bought the piece of land that was to be the site where the third Heathrow runway was to be built. Oscar winner Emma Thompson, new Tory posterboy Zac Goldsmith and NGOs such as Greenpeace have teamed up to buy the land before the government gave the project the green light.

Smart move if you ask me. Zac Goldsmith, Tory PPC for Richmond Park, has been quick and put out a press release taking pretty much all the credit for the idea…how do you think his rival and fellow campaign organiser Susan Kramer feels about that?


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My friend Liliane has received today this email from Labour HQ,

Dear Liliane

I’m sure you’ve already seen reports about our employment summit on the news today and I wanted to contact you directly about the unprecedented challenges that this summit is helping to address.

Let’s be clear – we are facing the first crisis of the global age. Countries across the world are taking action to stimulate their economies and provide help to those who need it.

Today’s employment summit gathers employers, trade unions, and the firms and universities who provide the skills that will bring Britain out of the recession quicker and stronger.

Because we are Labour, we will always approach tough economic times not by just monitoring the economic statistics, but by understanding that each statistic represents families, communities and businesses struggling for help.

We can invest millions in people’s future now or pay billions in a future where people are stuck on benefits – real action no w is vital to ensure that those who are out of work now do not become the long term unemployed of the future.

We understand that, by providing real help now, we can emerge from this downturn quicker and stronger. This is why we are: investing £500m to get people back into work; boosting the economy by providing an average of £275 for each family per year through cuts in VAT and £145 in tax cuts for basic rate taxpayers; and helping to create 100,000 additional jobs through our capital investment programme in schools, hospitals, environmental work, infrastructure, and transport.

But while we are rising to challenge of the times, the Conservatives are blinded by the same old ideological blinkers.

We are absolutely determined that we will not repeat the mistakes of previous recessions when, time after time, the Conservatives’ ‘do nothing’ approach allowed rises in unemployment to become permanent and whole generations were written off.

Britain toda y faces a clear choice.

A country in which a Labour government provides real help for families and businesses affected by the downturn – or a ‘do nothing’ Conservative party set on repeating the mistakes of previous recessions by leaving people to fend for themselves.

Best Wishes


More and more I think this crisis is helping both Labour and Brown regain its social democratic identity, which can only be a good thing. After the last years of Blair when the ideological anchoring was lost, the party tried to reinvent itself on a permanent basis, losing its raison d’etre, and the ideological battle lines were blurred, Brown is finally being unashamedly Labour and that is getting party activists excited once more about getting the message out to the electorate.

A clear message and strong beliefs on its ideology is what Labour need as the electoral season draws closer

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