Media follow The Slog…but ignore the pension disgrace

The Slog suggests a kick in the seat for the Coalition

Observe the main stories of recent times, and you will see that, on the whole, Slog stories initially dismissed by self-styled experts do come to pass.

Moussa Koussa. Note the change in tone across the media Today. In the Sunday Telegraph, ‘Government sources have told the Sunday Telegraph he is not being treated as a “defector” and should not be seen as a “suspect” for past Libyan crimes.’ Well, well. In the Mail on Sunday, ‘MI6 officers first made contact with Koussa, who has been linked with the Lockerbie bombing and the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan Embassy in London, in the first few days after the UN-sanctioned attacks on Gaddafi’s military machine on March 19.’ Ah then – so he didn’t contact us?

Of course, the man’s grant of freedom and protection here is still being positioned as ‘asylum’. But we stick to the original story: Koussa is an agent returning home. Without this largesse and protection, no security service in the world could recruit people. The Russians learned this first, but all espionage recruiters demand the same thing from their masters: show them we care for agents who’ve done well, and others will work for us too. This is especially true of the Middle East. Indeed, a source tells me this morning that Koussa has been ringing Libyan ‘friends’ of MI6 (and other assorted Gadaffian double-agents) to get to Britain. The new pension legislation is, I would’ve thought, an especially attractive carrot.
PS Somebody needs to give William Hague the heads-up on this: he was still peddling the ‘he contacted us’ and ‘there will be no immunity’ lines on Marr this morning. It will come back to haunt him.
Hackgate. This from a Slog exclusive on February 22nd: ‘When it comes to the BSkyB bid’s success or failure, it seems that Newscorp has been told in no uncertain terms that James Murdoch would be well advised to take a step back into the shadows…..But that’s OK, because Elisabeth [Murdoch] has seriously heavy hands-on experience of running things at BSkyB, and would be an eminently credible management as well as creative figure at the post-takeover company.’ James Murdoch has since gone to New York, and the Newscorp takeover of BSkyB has been approved. Newscorp has acquired Elizabeth’s Shine company – despite complaints from shareholders about the high price paid.
The US bank bailout fraud. In July 2010, The Slog ran an expose on the Paulson/Geithner bailout, accusing as follows: ‘ Remember nby [The Slog’s predecessor] asking where all that $700 billion Hank Paulson bailout went after he conned it out of the Congress? Read this and weep: immediately after receiving authorisation of the funding for TARP from Congress, Paulson reversed direction and decided to make direct equity investments in the banks.’
Nonsense, said those In The Know. But last week, top outgoing Tarp chief Neil Barofsky confirmed he story: “The act’s emphasis on preserving home ownership was particularly vital to passage. Congress was told that TARP would be used to purchase up to $700 billion of mortgages, and, to obtain the necessary votes, Treasury promised that it would modify those mortgages to assist struggling homeowners. Indeed, the act expressly directed the department to do just that. But it has done little to abide by this legislative bargain. Almost immediately, as permitted by the broad language of the act, Treasury’s plan for TARP shifted from the purchase of mortgages to the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s largest financial institutions, a shift that came with the express promise that it would restore lending.”
And The Slog ran that story before anyone else over here, too.
Lansley’s NHS reforms. The Indie on Sunday has a good exclusive this morning about the PM’s retreat on Coalition NHS plans. It begins, ‘David Cameron will announce this week another humiliating climbdown, putting the brakes on the Government’s health reforms in a desperate attempt to rescue his reputation as a defender of the NHS. In the latest embarrassing example of the Prime Minister being forced to intervene in the policy of one of his ministers, Mr Cameron will publicly admit to mistakes in the plan by the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, to hand £80bn of health spending to family doctors, characterised by critics as privatisation by the back door….’
The Slog led the way in ridiculing the payout to GPs, and called the reforms ‘a dog’s dinner’ with hours of their release….despite most right-wing media applauding Lansley’s half-baked plan. Here are some episodes from the Slog’s forthright criticism:
But in the aged care arena, it seems that the UK’s mainstream media aren’t interested in the Slog piece of yesterday about the Coalition’s flat rate pension scheme that isn’t as flat as they’d have you believe: that is, in fact, a scandalous award to the less deserving, the desertion of the most vulnerable, and a welch on the promises made to Baby-Boomers.
I doubt very much if the letterbox-shouters will latch onto this until some celebs get involved – or the politicians are made to feel uncomfortable, and start leaking to the Mail or Express about it. So The Slog is floating a scheme, the working title of which is Give them a Kick in the Seat.
Older voters do have one advantage: they tend to be concentrated in certain seats. This is especially true of the West country, and certain coastal towns in Lancashire, Yorkshire and on the South coast.
The new pension ‘idea’ doesn’t become law until 2015 – and as the last year has shown clearly enough, the Cameroons are inclined to run from the sound of gunfire. In locals elections where possible (but in constituency affairs generally) the Kick concept would only offer support (if any) to candidates prepared to give a written guarantee that they will work to change to a genuine flat-rate pension – balanced out as more for the very old, and less for those 5-10 years from retirement. The same technique could be used in by-elections, and also as a threat for the General Election due in 2015.
I’ve floated this sort of idea before. It would be hugely effective (it is whenever used in the US) but needs more than just me spouting on about it. I shall await feedback. Either via comment thread here or to wardslog@aol.com if you can. Thanks.