Saturday, July 31, 2004
George W. Bush for President: Because He'll Keep You Detached From RealityMatthew Yglesias makes the very good point that the Democrat's aim of stability in Iraq is basically the best to hope for at present, and out of stability work towards democracy.
Would I rather have a stable Iraq or would I rather have a failed state Iraq that the president of the United States calls a democracy? This is your choice. If you like what's behind door number two (i.e., Afghanistan) then you really ought to vote for George W. Bush
Warning to Michael Howard & the countryI was reading Matthew Parris's rather fun book Great Parliamentary Scandals (though he really is too soft on Conservative MPs financial scandals - just because the amounts are small doesn't lessen the seriousness of the crime in this case) and this quote from John Redwood MP caught my eye (referring to David Mellor)
A man who could betray his wife could betray his country
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Conservative Commentary commentersNot much going on, so let's see what what the commenters at Conservative Commentary have to say.
Have you seen a Fifteen year old been beaten to unconciousness because he called the local bigwig, maybe when you have lived in the real world You will rejoce that he died painfully and just hope that the Bastard Offspring the git brought into the world, who harpered him and joined in the murders, die and I hope it's painfull my there bodies rot I only hope he didn't have the breath to say his last words the Shit
...Partly because of this evolutionary inheritance, which they can't help, Negroids commit crimes of violence at rates far higher than Caucasoids or Orientals, as international crime stats attest. So, should Negroids be treated more leniently by the courts, like women who plead PMS
A majority of Americans no longer support the Itaq Attaq. So what? They are being invited to "choose" between a Christian Zionist millionaire pro-war Bonesman and a part-Jewish Zionist millionaire Bonesman.
Hols!`I thought I would bore you with some holiday snaps of the exceedingly pretty mediaeval town of Noyers sur Serein, in Burgundy.
While I'm here I must say how good the new blogger interface is.
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Does he have a point?
On Harry's snazzy new site we get this gem of a quote from ex-President Jimmy Carter:
We've had such a confused foreign policy with demands on other nations. We've alienated almost everyone who offered their support after 9/11, and now we have just a handful of little tiny countries supposedly helping us in Iraq.
Taking ex-President Carter literally he may have a point. Looking at the land areas of the countries which have, or have had, troops in Iraq we find that they total 25,884,150 square kilometres, or only about 17% of the world's total land area.
Worse the US is by far the largest country in this, with 9.2m square kilometres of land area and is perhaps inadmissable as a country 'supposedly helping us' in Iraq. Removing it we find that the US's allies accounted for just 16.7m square kilometres, or about the same size as Russia.
Worse still a large chunk of this is down to the country-that-shouldn't-be-mentioned-as-an-ally-in-this-great-battle-for-freedom-and-democracy, Kazakhstan, with 2,669,800 squareIn terms of population the old chap has even more of a case. The total population of the same set of countries as above is 920m, around 15% of the world's total population. Again the US accounts for rather a large share; without it the Phillipines and Thailand were the most populous allies (the UK was third), and in total the allies have only 10% of the world's population.
It's only in terms of GDP, which might be the most important measure here, that Carter might have some trouble justifying himself. Using this measure the US and its allies in Iraq produced 39% of global output. Though this is heavily dependent on the hyperpower, as without it the coalition produced only 18% of global output (or 18%/79% of non-US global output), the main economic powers (in order UK, Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Australia) were the ones who stumped up some troops (not forgetting Poland of course).
Where am I?"Who are the Notting Hill Tories?", screams the Telegraph (free registration required).
Well here I am. But am I mentioned? No. Not one little reference to the most successful Notting Hill Tory blogger (unless you count Marcus from Harry's Place, I think. Update - I was wrong. Marcus is not a resident a Notting Hill, and not a Tory. See comments).
Perhaps a clue lies here:
"They love going to places such as Zucca on Westbourne Grove and the Electric Bar and gossiping away about how they're going to change the world, but they never seem to manage much more than that," says one on the fringes of the "club".
The Electric Bar? Maybe. But Zucca? No, no, no. I'm more of a Castle man myself. In any case I wouldn't sit in a pub talking about how I was going to change the world -- I sit in my living room telling the world how I'm going to change various pubs. Finally:
"Individually they are nice, bright people, but together they are arrogant" .
That doesn't sound like me at all.
FranceI've just spent ten days in France and thus thought I would bore you with some of the observations of this trip.
1. Despite much anguish about falling standards French food is still vastly superior in price, quality and quantity terms to British food. This is true of markets, supermarkets, hypermarkers and restaurants. Lunch in particular can be found for about 12 euros for three courses. While on the subject, aren't French hypermarkets enormous? The Auchan in Bolougne in particular is silly-sized. They remind me very much of Walmarts, much more than Tesco for example.
2. French motorways (and indeed A roads) are the best in the world. I suspect this is not so much because you have to pay on them, but because they have so much less traffic, which not only makes them more pleasant to drive on, but makes repairs much easier. I come to this conclusion because the Calais to Lille Autoroute, the A1, does have a lot of traffic, and is terrible.
Could the system be replicated in Britain? No basically for lack of space. Nevertheless despite a belief that they are more skiddy, and thus dangerous, it would be nice if we could use the same tarmac rather than the dreadful concrete which the MoT is currently using (as it's cheaper).
3. The current euro to sterling exchange rate is 1.50 euros to a pound. This is relatively easy to calculate the price of things. However I have realised that when I am in a happy mood the exchange rate in my head turns to 2 euros to a pound. When I was more annoyed it became 1 euro to a pound. As long as the goods and services I spent were constant in pounds between the two moods this works about right.
4. France on Sundays is rather dull. Nothing is open. The 35 hour week should become a 42 hour week immediately.
5. Chardonnay has a bad press. From Chablis it's pretty amazing.
6. I have had first-hand experience of the famed French healthcare system (a filling fell out). You still have to queue in the dentist's reading five-year old magazines.
7. Moet & Chandon have 210 million bottles of champagne in caves beneath their Epernay office. In total nearly 2bn bottles are stored. This is quite a lot. It reminds me of an amusing Churchilll anecdote (which I thought was in Roy Jenkin's biography but I couldn't find it ) whereby towards the end of the war he asked his private secretary, Jock Colville, to estimate how many carriages of his train he would fill with all the champagne he had consumed in his life, and was greatly disappointed to find it was only a couple).
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Off on holsIt's time for another holiday. This one's to eat cheese and surrender with our monkey friends, and is going to be quite long. Unless there are important world events that I feel can't be resolved without my intervention, I doubt I'll be posting until July 27th.
In the meantime the links to your right will keep up the fight. On the whole.
Butler IIContrary to my pessimistic expectations Lord Butler’s report was not a Brian Hutton ‘see no evil’ where it came to the government’s conduct.
Hampered though he was by his remit Butler has proved – insofar as a report can ever prove anything – that the government’s September dossier, whilst not the ‘complete horlicks’ that their February dossier was to be, was essentially ‘sexed up’. Furthermore when the PM said that the intelligence contained in it had established ‘beyond doubt’ the existence of Saddam’s weapons etc etc he was not telling the truth.
There’s an amusing pretence now on the part of those who support the war and support Blair (WarBlairer's? or Starters?) to suggest that the September dossier was irrelevant to the case for war, only made a stir for a few days and then was forgotten. This is similar to the attempt they made over the dreadful February dossier (if you have forgotten basically the Foreign Secretary, Alistair Campbell and unknown others cut and pasted (with a few embellishments, naturally) a decade old doctorial thesis), where they pretended it had only gone to a few journalists hence didn’t matter.
As an argument it doesn’t wash. These are some of the newspaper headlines the day after the publication of the September dossier.
Dossier reveals Iraq can attack in 45 minutes - The Daily Telegraph
Missiles fire in 45 minutes - The Times
Brits 45 mins from doom - Sun
Mad Saddam set to attack; 45 minutes from a chemical attack - Daily Star
If you believe those had no effect on public opinion then ok, but let’s not hear anything about the power of the press in other fields.
Thus we know now that this dossier was stripped of all the caveats and warnings that were originally associated with the intelligence. We don’t know – as it wasn’t part of Butler’s remit – why or how or who. Nevertheless a revealing insight comes from the comment from Jonathan Powell, a week prior to release, who said, “Alastair, what will be the headline in the Standard on the day of publication?",
It’s hard not to agree with Kenneth Clark, who said, “Can you think of any explanation for the removal of all the caveats and doubts … other than that John Scarlett had been persuaded by your press secretary and others to remove all the cautionary words and stiffen up the case”.
Nevertheless it’s probably time to move on. The PM is clearly damaged goods and as Michael Howard said yesterday the country is not likely to trust him on any foreign wars in the country. But that hardly seems like a bad thing. Furthermore there is a real danger that this government could lose the next election and despite many of the Tories attractive policies – higher spending on pensions, education and health and lower spending on defence and law & order – they don’t present a credible or attractive opposition.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
Tory cuts in Policing and other Law and OrderSimilarly here's how the Tories intend to cut the police and law and order budget in order to fund tax cuts. This time around the shortfall is going to be only about £2bn, but slightly larger in percentage terms.
Fiscaly Labour Tories Tory 'cuts'
2004-5 19,144 19,144 ------
2005-6 20,647 20,647 ------
2006-7 21,668 20,647 -1,021
2007-8 22,690 20,647 -2,043
Defence cuts againNow we have the spending review confirmed we can see what will happen if there is an election next year and the Tories take over in terms of defence spending. If you recall Oliver Letwin, the Shadow Chancellor, and Michael Howard, who you all know, have decided in order to fund education and NHS expansion they will freeze all other discretionary spending.
Making some quick calculations this is my forecast 'cut' in the Tories plans over Labour. It's larger than it was because of the real-terms increases announced by Gordon Brown yesterday. It almost certainly slightly overestimates the cut because I have not allowed for non-discretionary defence spending, of which there must be some. Netherless we are talking around £2.5bn by 2007-8.
Fiscaly Labour Tories Tory 'cut'
2004-5 29,710 29,710 ------
2005-6 30,888 30,888 ------
2006-7 32,067 30,888 -1,179
2007-8 33,447 30,888 -2,559
Monday, July 12, 2004
Unhappy Andrew Sullivan
So if we had had accurate intelligence, the war would not have taken place. I reiterate: I'm still glad we fought it. But this remains one of the biggest government screw-ups in recent history. It has made future pre-emption based on intelligence close to impossible. And President Bush is ultimately responsible for this. Tenet has taken the fall, but it will take years and years before the U.S. regains the reputation for credibility that this president has destroyed. Even if you believe that Bush is still the best man to fight this war, you also have to concede that his record includes at least one massive error, and one that will cripple our ability to fight the war in the future.
What ho, Robin!“I’m in a pickle, and I don’t mind telling you that”, I said, pacing up and down the corridors of the old flat. Such a pickle that I was up and about early in morning, a time I would normally have been in bed with my e's and b. But this was no time for e’s and b.
“Those weapons of mass destruction thingymajigs that I lectured the chaps at the Drones about all last year failed to show up. Dashed unfortunate but they just weren’t there when I needed them”.
“That is unfortunate, Sir”.
“Dashed unfortunate I think you mean. And now they want me to have one of those…inquisitions…no er what do you call them?”
“Yes, inquiry jobbies. Old Holly in Washington has already had one, and most unpleasant it was by all accounts. Still doesn’t seem to have recovered. Now it’s my turn, and let me tell you, I’m profoundly dubious I’ll survive this scrape.”
“I heard about Mr Bush's problems, Sir. This is most disturbing”
Disturbing? Disturbing! I know all my friends to a man, and my two Aunts, particularly Aunt Agatha, love to pretend that I couldn’t get anywhere without my Butler’s help. But sometimes his phlegmatic – if phlegmatic is the word I want -- approach to things is the exact opposite of what is needed. What was needed, was solutions. That’s what was needed. Which I let him know he had to provide, and quickly.
“There is one way Sir in which I think I can extricate you from this none too happy situation”
“Well out with it!”
“If you let me conduct the investigation into the missing weapons of mass destruction I think I can apportion the blame on persons unrelated to you…”
“What ho! Like jolly old Hutters?”
“Exactly, if by Hutters you mean Lord Hutton, Sir”
I mused it over. “The Butler’s Report”. Or perhaps just “The Butler Report”. As I’m sure you agree it had a nice ring to it. He’d done it again! New life seemed to burgeon within me, and I felt my appetite returning.
“Good work. Let's be quick about it!”
“Very well, Sir. Anything else, Sir?”
“A plate of e’s and b would go down a treat?”
“Very good, Sir”.
Racism in the jobs marketInteresting BBC survey which suggests employers discriminate against equally-qualified candidates with names that suggest they are Muslims or black.
Tory defence cuts 'outrageous' - says Tory defence spokesmanNicholas Soames, the Tories' defence spokesman has reportedly called his own party's policy of defence cuts 'outrageous'. In other news Gordon Brown is today's expected to announce a real terms increase in defence spending.
It's important that Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin, who clearly represent the future of the Tory party, do not cave in to Nicholas Soames, who barely even represents the past. Cutting government spending, particularly in an area where it is know much of it is wasted, is sound Tory policy.
Left calls for further Palestinian misery; sellout continuesWants Israeli security 'fence' built quicker. See here.
Apologies for the headline but it appears if one person says something (who is thought to be on the 'left') now you can damn the whole 'left' for it.
Sunday, July 11, 2004
Left-wing cantHere's a useful site to keep Harry's Place busy when it's all quiet in the real world.
(via Chris Brooke)
Minimum WagesSome good discussion by Steven Landsburgg and Brad de Long on minimum wages.
As Landsburg says:
The minimum wage kills very few jobs, and the jobs it kills were lousy jobs anyway. It is almost impossible to maintain the old argument that minimum wages are bad for minimum-wage workers.
In fact, the minimum wage is very good for unskilled workers. It transfers income to them.
However as Brad points out he's wrong to think this transfer of income is from the employers of minimum wage staff. It's much more likely to be from the consumers of the products they make, ie most of us. If the higher wages increase productivity then the cost will be minimal.
I remember vividly Michael Portillo and other Tories running around saying Labour's minimum wage would cost 1m or even (I think Peter Lilley) had it costing 2m jobs (based on a minimum wage only slightly higher than the one that was actually introduced). That they could believe this nonsense was presumably something to do with the fact that they had been members of a government that saw unemployment rise by between 1m and 2m. If the Tories still believe this then I am surprised they have not made it's abolishment a policy plank - presumably it would immediately create 1m to 2m jobs.
Pundit Awards - No.1This is a new series in which we note some journalists, politicians or others whose credibility has -- let's say suffered - in recent months.
No.1 Charles Krauthammer (April 2003)
Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem.
Via Crooked Timber
Enron IIA nice example of George W Bush's strange relationship with the truth, as regards his relationship with Kenneth Lay
(Why Bush says these things I don't know. Unless there has been any new evidence Bush has nothing to worry about -- his behaviour was perfectly honourable -- when Ken Lay tried to get Adminstration officials to help Enron, they all basically refused to return his calls).
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Prepare to be annoyed...new mobile phones have the capacity to play mp3s, and loudly, which means your favourite single can be your ring tone. Unfortunately of course it means some people will have Phil Collins' ring tunes.
It also means, if you have any, you should sell your shares in ring-tone companies! In fact this must be a serious issue for mobile phone providers -- many phones can do things which phone companies would rather you pay for. For a (bad) example, the camera resolution is so good it's easier to photograph the right page on an A-Z than use the (20p) online map service.
Objectivity gone madWhen Chris Lightfoot accused Oliver Kamm of a 'gag' in pretending to be 'objective' he rather...well the expression is 'wigged out'.
But reading his piece in today's Times (in the proper newspaper as well, not their 'readers' corner' Thunderer section) you get the point.
Obviously the aim of the piece - which is basically a gag about why a left-leaning person should support George W Bush (!) - is to be controversial.
The best thing you could say about it is that if Oliver really believes what he is writing then it represents the 'I'm alright Jack, smash the ladder' school of thought, in which as long as US foreign policy suits his narrow aims the fall-out is irrelevant.If you're gay, if you're poor, if you care about the environment, if you believe in honesty and decency in government, if you believe the war on terror should be fought against terrorists, if you're in Guantanamo, if you're in Abu Ghraib then tough.
On the specifics he criticises John Kerry for saying the stain of Abu Ghraib requires the removal of this Administration, taking comfort in that hoary story of the Right that it was all down to American 'jailers', ie it's Lynnie England's fault. No-one outside of the National Review seriously believes that now (for ample proof it was an Administration policy - to what heights still unclear - read Josh Marshall's site).
If this Administration had decided to rename itself 'Liberal Democrats' then on Oliver's site we'd have had months of daring exposes of their lies and duplicity and errors. But as they are in fact 'Republicans' we get fantastical posts like this. 'A state that lies to its own people is unlikely to be open and trusted on the international stage' Oliver writes at one point, clearly oblivious to the fact that this is the legacy of this disastrous Administration as well as Saddam's odious regime (again I recommend Josh Marshall or Kevin Drum's archives -- links on the right).
Friday, July 09, 2004
Parking permitsI had to renew my Kensington and Chelsea resident's parking permit today and whilst waiting in the queue I was so bored I found myself reading the care instructions of the seat fabric.
It didn't take long. Take covers off, wash at a warm but not hot temperature. Now I was at a loss. An ideal time therefore, I decided, to consider some aspects of libertarianism without wasting valuable time. In particular what a liberarian would do about parking permits.
At first I thought it would be simple. They would be against them. But even libertarians surely wouldn't be so stupid as to have a parking free-for-all?
Perhaps instead they would be in favour of auctioning off current parking spaces to the highest bidder, then allowing the winner to do whatever they wanted with the parking space (as it was 'their land'), as long as it didn't illegally infringe other people. Indeed presumambly a private contractor could buy up parking spaces across London, and then you could buy an annual permit to let you use them. But what would happen if people built flats on them instead?
It began to hurt my head. Looking up however I noticed that the back of the chair in front had a different fabric care instructions that the seat of my chair. Relieved, I went back to more important and relevant matters.
Housing market in freefallFrom the BBC
"The Principality, the Welsh-based building society said years of rapid price rises had begun to slow.
According to the Principality's survey, price increases in the 12 months leading up to June 2004 were at 32% - slower than the 32.2% increase in March's figures."
At that rate (0.2% slower growth per quarter) house prices will level off in 40 years, when they'll be 20 times higher than now, bringing the average house price in the principality to £2.5m.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Ken Lay chargedThe news that Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron, has been charged on 11 counts, inlcuding bank fraud, share trading fraud and making false statements would perhaps not have registered much with me (except a dim 2001 memory) were it not that I read 'Enron: the rise and fall' on holiday recently.
It's an excellent book, and (the version I read) though written quite soon after the collapse of the company is very comprehensive, and the author seems eminently plausible in his description of what went wrong, and why it went wrong.
The first thing to note is Enron was not like many companies of that era, with nothing to back up the hype. It for many years was voted America's 'most innovative company'' and in its two fields of expertise -- running huge physical infrastructure projects in the power industry, and energy trading, it was a very successful and admired company. It also had a good reputation amongst its staff.
So what went wrong? Essentially Enron's ability to continue growing depended on two crucial assets -- a rising share price and a good credit rating. The rising share price allowed it to cover a multitude of sins through the constant issuing of new stock, whilst the good credit rating gave counterparties confidence in trading with it, a crucial ingredient when it launched EnronOnline, its internet-trading system.
Hence nothing became more crucial to keeping the share price rising, and keeping the credit rating strong. Hence you got the plethora of off-balance sheet entities, designed to hide rising debt obligations. Most of these were funded with promises of Enron stock.
Often the tricks used weren't illegal. One classic one was on EnronOnline. It appears it was legal, though clearly misleading, to book trades as if they were revenue for Enron. Normal practice is to just book Enron's profit. Thus if Enron sold $1m of gas, which they had bought for $999,000, they counted it as $1m of revenue (and $0.998m of expenditure). A more normal treatement would be to just count the $1,000 profit. This allowed Enron to say its revenues were over $100bn, a claim which is still on its website today. Why did it do this? Well counterparties obviously felt better trading with 'American's 7th largest company' than they would with a much smaller one.
THis reliance on a rising share price and good credit rating worked while it worked. But when problems started to mount, in part attributable to failed overseas projects, coupled with the stock market crash of 2001, the whole thing began to unravel. As the share price fell the off-balance sheets entities became insolvent, forcing the credit-rating to collapse, and making counterparties refuse to trade. End of story.
Except of course it's not. There were lots of angry people -- a friend of mine had his entire pension in Enron stock -- and much evidence that the company was not just poorly managed, but fraudently. It looks like he will be found guilty.
Separated at birth?Harry's Place
Er -- enriched uranium...Iraq... taken from a former nuclear research facility... vital to keep it out of the hands of terrorists? It certainly looks like yet another of those darned non-discoveries of Iraq's non-existent WMD materials which were in danger of being traded between Saddam's regime and non-existent terrorists, just as Dr David Kay warned in his non-existent report.
Dear old Melanie Phillips
As David Kay’s Iraqi Survey Group report revealed, research into the manufacture of WMD was ongoing at the time of the invasion and laboratories undiscovered by Blix and the Keystone Cops of the desert were unearthed……Programs, research, labs, a couple of tons of enriched uranium. So far.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Euro problems and untruthsThere's a story in the FT that says that as Britain now has the second largest GDP per capita (for discussions of methodological problems see earlier posts) the famous 'rebate' is going to be reduced, by spreading around other net contributors. (apologies for this style link -- blogger is playing up - http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1087373563710&p=1012571727085)
Britain would pay 0.51% of national income, compared to 0.48% for Germany.
1) This is presumably bad news for Blair. Obvoiusly the euro-racists are a lost cause, but those on the margin will probably see it as more proof that Europe is out to steal our money, and we'd be better off out of a uniquely successful union and instead allow Rupert 'Gephard to be Kerry VP candidate' Murdoch controlling the country. There is a counter-argument, which would be the pro-Blair FT has been leaked this story merely so Blair can fight our corner and win the day. Let's hope.
2) Even the FT is ridden with europhobia. The first paragraph says that "Britain would become the biggest net contributor to the EU budget". This is obvious nonsense -- 0.48% of Germany's GDP is larger than 0.51% of the UK's. The FT knows this is nonsense, as it says the correct formulation (largest per capita net contributor) in the next paragraph. So we can only assume malevolent motives.
Of course the whole story is basically nonsense, and won't happen. Nevertheless prepare for frothing-at-the-mouth from the usual suspects (the same ones who once mistook a research paper (for examples, including a wonderfully witty and beautifully written bit from me, see http://hurryupharry.blogspot.com/2003_06_15_hurryupharry_archive.html#95752639) by an Atlantic organisation (the Council of Europe) for 'EU' legislation aimed at 'destroying freedom of speech' on blogs)
Phillips praises the BBCMelanie Phillips finds out that the US has taken
"1.7 metric tons of radioactive material from Iraq"
Obviously this is proof of WMD (to her - it isn't, of course) and means the war was right and George W Bush should be relected without an opposition etc etc. But then one of our country's 50 most foremost intellectuals (ha ha) says:
"No wonder this hasn't surfaced anywhere other than the BBC online service".
Er... the BBC? The same BBC as that of 'moral nihilism', 'gender fascism' and of course lashings of anti-US, anti-war-on-Iraq bias?
Does she not even try for consistency?
"Palpably Absurd" -- Firemen were rightFrom Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber (and from Newsnight/the Independent) we have this nice reminder of why the PM should resign. His judgement is very poor.
We are asked to accept that, [contrary to all history], contrary to all intelligence, Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd. (Tony Blair, 18 March 2003)
I have to accept that we have not found them and we may not find them. He [Saddam] may have removed or hidden or even destroyed those weapons. (Tony Blair 6 July 2004)
Chris Brooke, at the Stoa, reminds us (and to keep me happy) that dear old Melanie Phillips has also described something related as 'palpably absurd'.
Robin Cook's diaries have become the latest in his armoury of WMD to fire at Tony Blair. But his claim that Blair let slip to him before the war that Saddam had no WMD to threaten the west is palpably absurd
What a strange coincidence! Let's face it, 'palpably absurd' is not a comment one hears oneself saying very often. So I went over to They Work For You to find out how many times our elected representatives had said 'Palpably Absurd' in Parliament since 2001.
The answer is just three. Obviously Blair's first comment quoted above. Also a speech by Austin Mitchell, on reforming of the CAP (to say we have to leave the EU if we want reform is 'palpably absurd').
The third however is our own dear leader again. In late 2002 he had this to say about the review into the Fireman's pay:
The offer came out of the independent review by George Bain, the man who headed the commission that introduced the minimum wage and who sat with two others, one from local government and the other last year's president of the TUC and himself a trade union leader. The idea that such a review was biased in some way is, therefore, palpably absurd. It was an entirely persuasive and reasonable report that I commend to people to read
So now we know. The fireman were right and the report was biased.