24 January 2013


Musical SRAs

As I wrote on January 10 ( Abandon ship) with regard to possible SRA-fuelled defections from the IPPG : "I wouldn't be surprised if some less scrupulous members of the opposition, having done the maths, are already plotting along these lines."
At the time I didn't realise that the plotter would emerge from the IPPG's own ranks in the form of Cllr Peter Stock, who is keen to set up a Pembrokeshire Alliance Party (PAP).
Just before the election I was approached with a view to me joining some similar outfit.
The other putative members were never made known to me though the suggestion that, if I joined, I "would have to forget old enmities" might give a clue.
In the event, the person who tried to recruit me didn't make it past the ballot box so the idea was quietly shelved.
In order to overcome my objections to political groups that don't have a manifesto this proposed collective was to have a set of published objectives.
I won't go into all the details of this prospectus except to say that it was rather more benign than motherhood and apple pie.
The basic proposition was that a member can't get anything done by working alone.
One of the other principles was that members would never be told how to vote.
I emailed back to say that I wasn't interested and at the same time pointing out that I had some difficulty in understanding how a group that didn't vote as a block could achieve anything that couldn't be achieved by its members acting alone.
After all, what gets done is decided by which side of the argument gets the most votes.
Cllr Stock's defection has members all aflutter over who might join him and whether, once the dam breaks, there will be others who choose to jump ship to other parties.
The dark horse in this race is Labour which currently has eight members but has the advantage of seven known present and ex-supporters in the ranks of the IPPG.
It is hobbled by Cllr Sue Perkins' presence in the Cabinet, making it an executive group and preventing its leader from collecting the SRA for Leader of the biggest opposition group.
Also being an executive group penalises Labour with regard to scrutiny committee chairs.
At present Labour holds one chair courtesy of their executive group partners the IPPG, but if they could slough off their executive group status they would be entitled to two.
And, if Labour could persuade a couple of its former supporters to retrace their steps - removing the IPPG's majority it might be entitled to more.
Just how much of a honey pot a couple of extra SRAs might prove to be is anybody's guess.
Not that I would want to foment trouble, but it is interesting to speculate.
For those who haven't seen it there is a piece about Cllr Peter Stock's sacking from the Police and Crime Panel at (Stock clear out)

Running scared

Cameron's speech on Europe has brought all the usual suspects: Mandelson, Blair, Heseltine, out of the closet to warn that "uncertainty" would deter inward investors from coming to these shores.
Old Grumpy recalls that these same sad specimens said exactly the same thing when we declined to join the Euro.
We don't hear much about that these days.
However, today's news from Spain: that unemployment has risen to 28% (three-and-a-half times that in the UK), should give them pause for thought.
The European Union in its present form is a busted flush.
The Euro's structural defects are such that there is no hope of salvation without huge transfers from the rich north, Germany in particular, to the poor south.
While politicians talk enthusiastically about fiscal union, it would be a foolish man who believed that German taxpayers, once they see the size of the bill, will sign up for such a project.
The problem with Europe is that it has bound itself up with regulation and red tape, and an unaffordable welfare system, to the point that it can't compete with developing countries like China, India and Brazil.
Those opponents of Cameron, who talk about negotiating reform from within, have to explain why these tactics haven't succeeded with the Common Agricultural Policy over the past 40 years.
My concern is that, if it does come down to a referendum, the scaremongers will carry the day.
As Hillaire Belloc put it:
"Afraid of letting go of nurse,
For fear of finding something worse."

Cold comfort

As someone who keeps a careful eye on the global warming debate, I couldn't help but notice the Met Office's Christmas Eve announcement that global temperatures were set to rise by 0.43 degrees C by 2017 rather than the 0.54 degrees previously predicted.
The reason for this downward revision is that global temperatures have shown no statistically significant increase for the past 15 years and the Met Office now forecasts that this flat period will extend until 2017.
The BCC science editor David Shuckman presented this as a 20% decrease in the rate of warming.
I don't think that is the case because the baseline for this prediction is the average temperature for the period 1971 - 2000 and most if not all the 0.43 increase took place up to 1998.
The figure of 0.54 is obtained by extrapolating the 1971 -2000 temperature graph on into the future.
This pause in temperature increase is a serious problem for the computer models used by the Met Office because, while temperatures have flatlined, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere has continued to rise.
This seems to prove that there is no simple linear relationship between temperature and atmospheric CO2.
So, either the relationship doesn't exist, or there is something else at work that is masking the CO2 effect.
Of course, if it is the latter, that effect, whatever it might be, could cease to operate and temperatures will then continue on their upward trajectory
As Professor Myles Allen of the University of Oxford says: "A lot of people were claiming, in the run-up to the Copenhagen 2009 conference, that warming was accelerating and it is all worse than we thought. What has happened since then has demonstrated that it is foolish to extrapolate short-term climate trends".
I think that much of the problem with climate science is that some practitioners have become so convinced of the validity of CO2/global warming theory that they have underplayed the uncertainties inherent in any system as chaotic as the earth's climate.
There is an excellent website (Climate Etc) maintained by Dr Judith Curry which, while accepting the conventional wisdom that increases in CO2 and temperatures go hand in hand, warns against the sort of confirmation bias that destroys the credibility of those who rely on computer models.

Light relief

I have never thought of myself as a style icon, but having heard David Beckham on the radio extolling the virtues of long-johns I am having second thoughts.
This particular item has been part of my attire for at least five years, though I must admit it was warmth rather than a fashion statement that was at the forefront of my mind.
But Beckham says these garments are something that a woman should be pleased to see her man wearing, and who am I to argue.
I'm not sure that Grumpette sees it quite like that, but, in future, I'll get undressed with the light on and see what happens.
The results of this experiment will not be reported in this column.


It has been suggested to me that, if it wishes to be taken seriously as a political party, the IPPG needs a campaign song.
Could I propose:
Country road (John Denver - Words and tarmac by Huw George)
Is this the way to Llandissilio? (Neil Sedaka - Music and road signs by Huw George)
For video back-up visit Black stuff

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