'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

We keep going on about Stable Government. We're quite wrong you know...

Yesterday I posted about the cabinet posts that change the most often - which since the 2005 General Election has been

1. Transport (8)
2. Chief Secretary (7)
=3. Defence (6)
=3. Scotland (6)
=3. Energy (6)

What's just as interesting is how much less stable government has been during this period than compared to roughly the same period before it.

Comparing the turnover in posts over the period since the 1997 General Election -  a slightly longer period by a few months but the same number of actual elections (2) - reveals that while one might expect the earlier period to have had a marginally higher number of Cabinet Minister turnovers (because it is literally longer) - in fact, the opposite is true.

Cabinet Ministers in Post 1997 - 2005: 64
Cabinet Ministers in Post 2005 - 2012: 104

I have kept the same posts in both posts, making comparisons where necessary ( eg. DTI became BIS, Constitutional Affairs became Justice etc).

Quite an amazing difference

Now, there has been a change of government in the second list so you might expect the second to be higher on that basis, as a whole cabinet had to change in May 2010; but that still only accounts for 22 posts; so the later turnover remains significantly higher.

Other points of interest

Chief Secretary still had one of the highest turnovers of post in the first period I looked at - equal first (with leader of the Commons) at 5 changes
Only one single department has more people in post in the first period than the second. Which? Surprisingly it was Tony Blair's 'biggest priority' - Education.
Home Secretary was still a stable post in the first period - just 3 people in post during the period. It's not the graveyard everyone says it is...

Here's the comparison (click to enlarge)

Blue = 2005-2012
Red = 1997 - 2005

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Which Cabinet job moves most often (Come on, I think you know....) (But you don't know second)

I thought I'd do a quick tot up of which cabinet jobs have changed most since the 2005 General Election.

First up here's the count:

Ok - so top is Transport. No surprise there really. A series of cock ups year after year...

But who would have thought second is, no not Home Secretary, but Chief Sec to the Treasury. 

In fact Home Sec doesn't make the top 5 even. So much for it being that tricky job that no one does for long - a rumour that is yet another triumph for the not-very-safe-hands-but-PR-genius that is Theresa May.

In equal third we have Scotland, Defence and Energy (recalling Energy fell under DTI until 2008, so including that Sec of Stale from 2005 until 2008).

All in all - you do have to wonder - is this any way to run a country?

8 Transport heads in 7 years?
7 Chief Secs?
6 Secretary of States for Scotland, Defence and Energy?


Nick: If you happen to see Philip Hammond, do show him this

25 years later, still spot on...

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Who would you vote for from these two?

Brillant tweet,  this, from Paul Twigger..

and in case you needed any other reasons... have a look here.

How did it ever get so close?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Judging from the reaction on Twitter...

...that Ed Balls / Andrew Neil interview was a corker. Unless you're Ed Balls of course...

...though in fairness these may not be the most objective commentators...


Like I said...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The Daily Telegraph. Is it turning into The Guardian?

Here are the 5 opinion pieces the Telegraph is currently suggesting it's readers might enjoy.

Number 2 is what you might expect.

The other 4...are the opposite.

What on earth is going on.....?

The May-for-leader push shows the paucity of Tory Talent

(My piece from the New Statesman yesterday)

Last week, Theresa May did a very good thing when she blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US, and it’s been applauded pretty much universally across the British political spectrum. It was also quite a brave thing, as she has now seemingly been sent to Coventry by the US Attorney General.
But really – does that actually qualify her to be the next leader of the Conservative Party? Some Tory backbenchers and media types seem to think so, going so far as to say she has "more than a touch of Margaret Thatcher about her’". Most Staggers readers would think that’s an excellent reason, in itself, to rule her out, but that’s not a sentiment shared by the Tory grassroots. And in the current omnishambles of Tory mismanagement where U-turns and monumental cock-ups habe been the normal daily fare, they are casting around for "a safe pair of hands".
But for a supposedly safe pair of hands, May drops an awful lot of balls. Last time I wrote about this, I questioned just how appropriate it was to call the cack-handed May "faultless" when she
mistakenly cites owning a cat as a reason for avoiding deportation. Or ends up with her diary engagements being left in a Glaswegian Concert Hall. Not someone who unilaterally calls for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped and ends up being publicly contradicted by the Attorney General.
(She) certainly shouldn't end up having to admit to the House of Commons that "we will never know how many people entered the UK who should have been prevented from doing so" -- not when you're meant to be in charge of that very thing.
Since then, it’s not been plain sailing either. There was the Abu Qatada incidentwhen it appeared the Home Secretary wasn’t exactly sure which day of the week it was. The Home Office has ended up paying a reported £100,000 to the former Head of the UK Border Force. There was the border queues fiasco over the summer ....
Yet such is the paucity of talent in the Tories (Gove – doesn’t want it; Boris – not an MP;  Osborne - #pastytax) that May is apparently being seriously considered by many in the party as someone who can sort things out and stop them lurching from one disaster to another.
Someone needs to tell them. She’s not Mrs Thatcher. She’s Nicola Murray.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The company you keep...

Here's a line up of writers ~ I never dreamed I'd be in a line up with...

Nick Clegg truly doesn't have a reverse gear

I wrote a piece for the New Statesman yesterday correcting Lord Tebbit's assertion that

"The abiding sin of the government is... that it seems unable to manage its affairs competently"

pointing out that he was confusing 'the government' with 'the Tories'  - for the omnishambles is entirely of their own making.

What seems to have grabbed most peoples attention is the current U Turn Count.

To date there have been 34 U turns.

33 of them have been Conservative U Turns.

The 34th - Lords reform - is technically a Lib Dem U turn. But I think we all know which party is to blame.

Today will see the 35th. The badger cull. Another Tory effort.

The 36th is likely to be Boundary Changes - again down to the Tories.

There's also the dropping of the recall powers - although there has already been a partial u turn on that (I have it at No 31) so that's now really just a U turn max

So; 36 U turns, 35 of them Tory and the last caused by them.

'Aha', some folk have shouted, Partridge like - ' what about tuition fees? what about the deficit reduction plan?

And yes - for better or worse, we have executed different policies as part of government than we had in our manifesto (and I'm not falling over myself to defend some of them).

But in terms of competency in government we have executed those plans with ruthless, steely-eyed efficiency. For better or worse.

You can call the Lib Dems in Westminster many things (lots of people do).

But our performance in governnment has been very effective.

The omnishambles is all of the Tories making.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final journey

Through the Streets of LA. Time lapsed in 2 minutes. Magic

The right have class snobbery. It seems the left think they are too clever by half

I think we're all clear about the issues the Tory brand have with class. If we're not, have a read of this rather excellent piece. Says it all.

But I do wonder if the left aren't about to fall into a similar trap. As Ed M starts to glory in his 'inner geek' and placards like this are proudly displayed as the left marches through London....

(h/t George Eaton)

Don't get me wrong, of course it's funny.

But like the best humour, I suspect its also rooted in a truth - that the left think they are intellectually superior to...well, everyone else really.

Its their Achiles heel - and just as class with the Tories, sooner or later someone will pick them up on it.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Why the #greattrainsnobbery showed how Andrew Mitchell had to go.

Its fairly clear now that there was no direct link between the timing of Andrew Mitchell's resignation  and the #greattrainsnobbery incident (hats off to our very own @mshapland for the hashtag) involving George Osborne. Twitter was alight last night suggesting that Mitchell had gone to protect the chancellor - whereas in truth it seems Mitchell was at Chequers at 4pm resigning even as the ITV reporter in the next carriage to Osborne got the scoop of her career (most likely)

But never the less, the two are clearly related.

The Osborne story was only really a story because the media narrative - "they think they're better than the rest of us" - had been set by the Mitchell story. And that's a feeling now firmly entrenched in everyone's psyche.

Hence, on the appointment of a new Chief whip, the immediate comment was that he appeared to be an old Etonian Baronet. we're all in this together are we?

And its a theme that will come up over and over again. Which is why Mitchell had to go.

Also worth pointing out that the Mitchell resignation letter again made clear that he didn't use the words pleb and moron, as allegedly set out on the police log.

"I have made clear to you - and I give you my categorical assurance again - that I did not, never have, and never would call a police officer a "pleb" or a "moron" or used any of the other pejorative descriptions attributed to me. The offending comment and the reason for my apology to the police was my parting remark "I thought you guys were supposed to f***ing help us". It was obviously wrong of me to use such bad language and I am very sorry about it and grateful to the police officer for accepting my apology"

So there really is going to have to be an investigation into that And if tMitchell is correct and the Police Logs are not true, that would be a very serious matter indeed.

This story was actually given more legs by the Mitchell resignation.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Why are US politicians funnier than ours?

Last night was the Al Smith Dinner, held in New York every four years (by the Roman Catholic church) and always attended by the main two Presidential candidates. Each makes a speech. And they have to be funny. Even Mitt.

The amazing thing is - they were funny. Here's Romney...

And Obama we know can be funny...here is at the last Dinner 4 years ago

The really strange thing -is all the US politicians can do this.

Here's George W Bush!! (really gets going 45 seconds in)

Al Gore (I love this)

Bill Clinton

Now William Hague is funny - but really, apart from him. I mean....

Thatcher in Yes prime Minister?...

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Hmm... David Cameron may have screwed up on Energy. But isn't he also right?

When David Cameron said this at PMQs yesterday...

‘We have encouraged people to switch, which is one of the best ways to get energy bills down. I can announce, which I am sure the honourable gentleman will welcome, that we will be legislating so that energy companies have to give the lowest tariff to their customers – something that Labour did not do in 13 years, even though the Leader of the Labour party could have done it because he had the job.’

...he seems to have taken everyone by surprise, not least the Department in Charge of Energy Policy, and the energy companies themselves.

To quote The Spectator...

"Energy companies were also rather astonished and said they were urgently seeking further details of this new policy and how it would affect their business. The implications for those companies’ business models did seem rather large."

Thing is tho - while the announcement may have been a cock up, isn't it also exactly what should happen?

If an energy company is knowingly overcharging a customer for their product, doesn't it say rather a lot about that company, and their respect for the customer. And wouldn't a good company point out to the customer their mistake?

Otherwise, one might assume that the myriad tariffs and deals on offer were designed to confuse their customer, not make things easier for them.

And I'm sure that's not true. So I'm sure the energy companies will be endorsing Cameron's announcement any minute now...


Great quote from Which?

The prime minister must stick to the promise he made in parliament to legislate so energy companies have to give the lowest tariff to their customers. 
Just giving people information on the lowest tariff is not enough when trust is at an all-time low in the industry and switching levels are falling. Which? has been pressing the Government for years to make sure people get a better deal so we must now see these words turned into action.

Why the Tories are happy to let Nick Clegg bash them.

My latest piece in The New Statesman. Which lots of pople read but hardly anyone commented on - they must largely agree with it!

A slightly unusual thing happened at Deputy Prime Minister's questions today. Nick Clegg had a go at the Tories. This in itself is not as unusual as many readers of The Staggers might think (nor as common as many Lib Dems would like) but what was remarkable was the target. Not a ragtag of Tory backbenchers (though the ever-reliable Peter Bone teed it up for him beautifully), but the Conservative chairman, Grant Shapps. In response to rumours that the Tories think the Lib Dems will do a "cash-for-boundaries" deal, Nick quipped:
I've already read in the press, reports that the chairman of the Conservative Party wishes to strike a deal with us on boundaries in return for a party funding deal. I suppose, Mr Speaker, finally that’s a get rich quick scheme that he’s proud to put his name to!
So, why does Nick suddenly feel able not only to say a confident "no" to proposed Tory policy, like welfare cuts, but also to start openly mocking his cabinet colleagues?
Well, partly it must be irresistible at the moment. Given the list of Conservatives in the cabinet whose position has appeared untenable at various points in the last few months – Jeremy Hunt, Andrew Mitchell, Shapps, and now Justine Greening – it must be like shooting fish in a barrel. And, partly, we are now more than halfway through the current Parliament, and the Richard Reeves positioning strategy moves from Phase A to Phase B (just 30 months too late, but, still, we’re there now).
But it's also because the Tories probably know that the received wisdom that a collapse in the Lib Dem vote benefits them is wrong. As this excellent analysis shows, such an outcome is far more likely to benefit Labour. So, bizarrely, the Tories probably need to allow the Lib Dems to do a little better in the polls if they are to stand any chance of winning a majority at the next election. Therefore, they have to take some poking from their coalition partners with a certain stoicism. It’s a short term loss for a long-term gain.
It also puts Labour in a tight spot strategically – spend the next two years bashing the Lib Dems and there’s far more chance of an electoral reward at the ballot box. But should, having made a lot of enemies in the Lib Dem camp, they fail to get over the line – what then?
For now, the Tories know that, in the absence of the boundary changes, their best hope for electoral success lies in a revival in Lib Dem fortunes. They’re going to have to take a lot more Grant Shapps jokes from their coalition partners in the coming months.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

They really are going to have to investigate the Police Officers at the gate of No.10.

Ed Miliband got some well aimed digs in at Andrew Mitchell in PMQs today"It's a night in the cell for the yobs, it's a night at the Carlton Club for the Chief Whip" is an especially good effort (credit where its's due).

But when Milband accused the Tory Chief Whip of swearing at the police - Mitchell made very clear that he hadn't. Here's a screen grab from the New Statesman...

But this means that Mitchell must be very clear, very confident, that a Police Officer has lied and made up his report of events that night in his log.

In which case - there really does have to be an investigation.

I presume Mitchell will shortly be calling for one...

Sunday, 14 October 2012

What do Obama, Merkel and Nick Clegg all have in common? Choice of Clothes. No really...

In his amazing piece in Vanity Fair, reporter Michael Lewis (who was allowed to follow Obama everywhere close up for 6 months) revealed why Obama only wears Grey or Blue Suits. It's a great insight into the minds of politicians...

This time he covered a lot more ground and was willing to talk about the mundane details of presidential existence. “You have to exercise,” he said, for instance. “Or at some point you’ll just break down.” You also need to remove from your life the day-to-day problems that absorb most people for meaningful parts of their day. “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” The self-discipline he believes is required to do the job well comes at a high price. “You can’t wander around,” he said. “It’s much harder to be surprised. You don’t have those moments of serendipity. You don’t bump into a friend in a restaurant you haven’t seen in years. The loss of anonymity and the loss of surprise is an unnatural state. You adapt to it, but you don’t get used to it—at least I don’t.”

When I first read this I was fascinated that anyone had bothered to pare down their decision making in this way. But since then I've observed this is apparently a common habit amongst senior politicians. Take a look at this picture from The Guardian - of all Angela Merkels outfits in the last 12 months...

Yes, lots of colours - but every single jacket she wears in public is effectively the same style. Which I think is rather amazing.

Then think of Nick (or Cameron or Miliband).

Since they became leader of their respective party, every time they wear a tie it is a plain block colour. Often their party colour or purple (seen as neutral) but always a block, never a pattern. Here's a random sample.

To be fair there is one notable exception - Miliband wears this tie A LOT.

But generally speaking their choice of clothes is about NOT choosing what to wear - and little else.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Milton Keynes.

I'd forgotten just how brilliant this is.

Plan A, Plan B, bankers not having a clue, but being delivered favours in government - all in 3 minutes. Nothing's changed. Genius

Friday, 12 October 2012

You might think you don't want to see this picture - but you do

This is a healthcare related blog post. An American Healthcare post.

This is the front cover of this week's New England Journal of Medicine. It is the US equivalent of The Lancet (sort of).

It carries only serious, thought through, academic papers.

Check out the two first authors.

This was not trailed or promoted. They just did it.

Extraordinary. Click to enlarge...

Wouldn't it be great if the same happened here. No room for doubt about bottom up/top down reorganisation then...

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Julia Gillard: All the right words, all the wrong reasons

Don't get me wrong. I agree with every word Julia Gillard said in this barnstorming take down of Tony Abbott in the Australian Parliament. He has expressed some alarmingly misogynistic views and she is quite right to take him apart over it. There's no argument there.

No my problem is her motivation for what she did.

For she is defending a second politician - Peter Slipper - who has expressed similarly distasteful remarks, as well as allegedly homophobic ones; these views can be found here and despite Ms Gillards speech (and the fact that she won the debate) he resigned as Speaker over them the same day.

So what was her motivation?

Sadly, it appears not to be a deep rooted desire to crusade against misogyny - or else she would never have defended Peter Slipper. 

Rather, it was about her majority in the Australian House of Representatives. 

Gillard has a majority of 2. Peter Slipper, the speaker, was an independent. Now he has resigned, one of her own party has become the non voting Speaker, cutting the majority to just one.

Aha - you may say, surely Mr Slipper, even as an independent , will support the PM given her spirited defence of him in the House.

Sadly, it would seem Mr Slipper may be a little more slippery than that. Here's what he said after he resigned...

He also praised both Gillard and Abbott, saying he held nothing against the leader of the opposition whom he described as "a fine character".
Of Gillard he said: "I think it is a singular privilege to have a lady of the amazing stamina that we have as prime minister."

It would appear he has decided to play both sides. I suspect Miss Gillard knew this - which is why she didn't want him to resign and halve her majority.

So - while I applaud and agree with all Julia's fine words, her staunch defence of this man and his sexist texts, who in political terms appears slippery as a greased pig, does rather make me doubt her motives

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Let's play name that speech

Leaders speeches at conference tend to be fairly vacuous affairs quite often - how many can we really recall? Kinnock vs Militant, the lady's not for turning, Go back to your Constituencies and prepare for government, Never underestimate the Quiet Man? That's about it.

So here's a word cloud of each of the three main party leaders speeches this year.

Can you name the leader that gave each speech?

And who had the strongest narrative?

It's interesting...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The New Yorker Cover. Rather brilliant.

Even if it doesn't make me feel terrible comfortable.

I presume Obama has sent the weekend 'rehearsing'

(Hat tip to @HelenLewis who tweeted it)

Anyway, cheer yourself up again by looking at the inspiration for the cartoon...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

When politics gets in the way...

You may have noticed that I have removed all reference on this blog to a local campaign I am involved in.

The campaign is a difficult issue as it involves balancing the needs of a vulnerable group who deserve the very best in care against the disposal of key public owned assets, enjoyed by another less vulnerable but still important group who also deserve protection. I don't want to say too much more about it, for reasons that will become apparent.

Everyone involved on both sides has the best interests of all the groups at heart, of that there is no doubt. We just disagree about the best way of delivering the best services for both groups.

It is most certainly not a party political issue, and we are lobbying all elected officials from both the Tory and Lib Dem parties (there are no other parties with elected representatives locally).

But rumours are flying that I am trying to politicise the debate.

In truth, I am not, But I did link the campaign to this blog and put up a post about it here. I did this to raise the profile of the campaign - but in retrospect I can understand why people may have thought I was trying to politicise the debate.

I am not and wanted to make that clear.

So I have removed the post and the link and will not mention the issue on here again.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Why Justine Greening should resign. And the question David Cameron has to answer..

My latest in The New Statesman from Wednesday - which attracted comments galore if you fancy popping over there... Nice to see lots of the media following the theme up too...

So, when did David Cameron know about the West Coast Main Line contract debacle
I only ask because normally the Secretary of State responsible for a major tender like this would be considering their position. In response to loud and vociferous complaints, the individual in question described the bidding as a "fair and well established process", and only opened an inquiry into the process after a threat of legal action from one of the bidders - an inquiry which concluded that "regrettable and completely unacceptable mistakes" had been made by the Transport Department.
Add in the £40m compensation it is estimated that we, the taxpayer, will have to pay to the losing bidders, plus the questions it raises over the award of every other rail tender – and normally that Secretary of State would face the prospect of "more time with their family" right now. But that hasn’t happened because the Secretary of State in charge of the department while this fiasco was going on was moved in the reshuffle.
I always wondered about the ‘too opposed to Heathrow’ excuse that was given for moving Justine Greening. Firstly, she was the MP for Putney and her views on the third runway were well known before Cameron put her in Transport. To move her just 11 months later over Heathrow would actually suggest a complete political misjudgement in the first place. Secondly, Greening had stuck rigidly to the official Tory line on Heathrow – no change in view before 2015.  She said nothing about after 2015 - that’s a dangerous line to try and hold in West London. Sacking her for that was harsh, to put it mildly. And while the new Secretary of State for Transport describes himself as neutral on a third runway, the new transport minister, Simon Burns, has said: "Just as I am opposed to a second runway at Stansted, I am equally opposed to a third runway at Heathrow. This is environmental vandalism and will dramatically increase our carbon dioxide emission levels. The government should be encouraging better use of regional airports rather than concentrating on travel around London".
All of which suggests either Cameron cocked up his evil plans once again or that Heathrow wasn’t the main reason for moving Greening out.
Which takes me back to the original question. When did Cameron know about this debacle? And did it have anything to do with moving Greening? And I’d add a third question – isn’t there a case for her resigning over this fiasco anyway?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

I LOVE it when Great George Street listens to me

Last week I said

And look what's now touring the streets of Manchester..

Of course, I suppose they MAY have thought of it themselves. :-)


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Fairer Tax

There's a good Fairer Tax campaign website - with a petition to sign. Do pop over and have a butchers and sign the petition.


I'm starting a campaign to make the most democratic of all the party conferences...democratic

My first experience of conference was quite some years ago, not long after I joined the party and I was invited to speak at fringe at Spring Conference. I went all the way down, spoke on the Saturday evening, then went to conference the next day, and sat through a debate.

This was when I learnt that I was, at conference, the 'wrong' sort of member, had no vote, and that some members were, in conference terms, more equal than others.

Ever since then, the vagaries of who gets a vote at conference has troubled me. All sorts of party officials get a vote, associated groups seem to have allocations, and then local members seem to get a vote if they turn up at their local AGM and ask. I know reps are meant to be elected by their local party - but I wonder how often this actually happens? This seems a fairly undemocratic way of going about things.

This seems quite wrong. I also know many people feel if they can't go to conference for the whole time, they shouldn't 'take up' a voting rep place. And of course many can't afford to go to conference for the whole time, or even part of the time.

I went to Birmingham for Special Conference in 2010. But I wasn't a voting rep that year, so I had no say in the most important decision the party had made for 80 years.

So here's what I think. I'd like to democratise conference.

I see two stages:

1. Firstly I think any member of the party who is at conference should have voting rights fo the time they are there. I simply cannot see any argument against this. The only argument I have heard is members who 'qualify' for current voting rep status are more likely to be 'informed'on the issues. What nonsense this is. We may as well say only member of the electorate who can demonstrate they have done their homework have the right to vote in a General Election.

2. And then I would go further. I would allow members of the party who wish to register to watch a debate online, and then view the debate, should be allowed a remote vote, in realtime. I think they would have to pay a mall amount to register  - but the technology is very cheap, very easy, and will not slow up conference in any way. I have seen another good blog post making this case in far more detail

Currently votes in conference often take place between a couple of hundred people. Rather more people vote in the average Lib Dem Voice survey. This is madness for the party that prides itself on being the one where the members still decide policy.

I'm considering proposing a motion at Spring Conference to make both of these things possible - although I would imagine the first would be easier to achieve than the second. I will also be starting a campaign amongst members to gather support for this.

So - are you with me? 

And why hasn't this happened before? - or am i going over old ground? Do tell.

Look, I'm doing my best....:-)

Well, it's been a miserable 24 hours for my blogging ego.

First Lord Bonkers delivers some astute comment about the general state of Lib Dem blogging.

Then Andrew Emmerson does likewise

That's before we even get in to the fact that the best blog post anyone is likely to write in the next 12 months was published this weekend. I didn't write it.

I haven't even recovered from that Hopi Sen analysis of the Orwell Prize entries this year yet. I still reckon he meant me.