Hans Blix on Blair, the Chilcot report and the state of play before the Iraq war

In the months preceding the invasion, the UN inspection force that I headed had carried out some 700 inspections without finding any WMD, and in the months that followed investigators from the US came to the same conclusion. If the aim was to eradicate WMD the bloodshed, death and destruction has been meaningless. How convinced were the leaders in the US and UK of the existence of the weapons in the days and weeks before the war?

In a telephone conversation with Tony Blair on 20 February 2003, I suggested it would prove absurd if 200,000 troops were to invade Iraq and find very little. I spoke at that time after many hundreds of inspections ? including dozens to sites recommended by US and UK intelligence ? had yielded no evidence of a WMD programme.

Blair responded that the intelligence was clear: Saddam had revived his WMD programme. However, the French president, Jacques Chirac, had a different view. He told me and the International Atomic Energy Agency chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, that he thought there were no WMD and that the various national intelligence agencies had ?intoxicated? each other when sharing information. They had. In addition, the cautionary question marks they sometimes provided had been replaced by exclamation marks at the political level.

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Key calls on SIS to shelve files on MPs

Key calls on SIS to shelve files on MPsPrime Minister John Key has asked the Security Intelligence Service to put on ice any active files it has on MPs after a report found they should be treated as a special case. Mr Key requested a report by the Inspector General… [NZ Herald Politics]

Good for John Key for bringing the SIS under control. It must be remembered that it was under Helen Clark that the spying on Green MP Keith Locke was undertaken.

I suspect that Clark used tyhe SIS fro far more than that.


Williams Watch: Going for Gold

Not satisfied with upsetting local residents, the mental Mayor of North Shore, Andrew Williams, has started a campaign to upset the whole country.

Andrew Williams is a trainspotterAn Auckland region mayor has expressed his “heartfelt thanks to people in the provinces for their generous contribution towards sorting out Auckland’s transport problems”.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams was commenting after the government announced it would scrap regional fuel taxes – including Auckland’s which was to increase to 9.5c a litre in two years – and replace them with an increase in the national petrol tax.

The national fuel tax will increase by three cents a litre in October this year and again in October 2010.

The changes to the petrol tax are part of the government’s $1 billion additional investment in the state highway network announced this week.

“This is brilliant news for Auckland that we will not have to fund our rail electrification, ferry upgrades, integrated ticketing and the Penlink causeway solely from fuel taxes taken within the Auckland region,” Williams says.

“I would like to extend my thanks to the people from the likes of Gore, Timaru, Hokitika, Waipukurau, Stratford, Opotiki, and Kerikeri for contributing in the future to Auckland’ transport woes.”

Williams says Aucklanders are willing pay their own way out of congestion problems, “but others knew better in Wellington”.

I wonder what time his press release was sent out? This guy surely is the biggest cock to ever enter local body politics.

Bill Ralston: Pleasing the vast majority

Bill Ralston: Pleasing the vast majorityThe problem in the popularity contest that is politics is that, sooner or later, you have to make decisions and someone is not going to like them. The trick is to annoy fewer people than you please. So far the Government has achieved… [NZ Herald Politics]

Bill Ralston has displayed yet again why he should be fronting a politics show. He gets it. His column in the Herald on Sunday again hits the spot. It would do Matt McCarten the world of good to read what Bill writes and learn rather than uttering his weekly diatribe of ideological claptrap.

National has found an unerring ability to plug into public sentiment.

Even when there has been an apparent reverse, such as minister Judith “Crusher” Collins’ frustrated attempt to rid herself of Corrections boss Barry Matthews, most people seemed to sympathise with her, such is the public’s scepticism of the corrections system.

By the way, her earlier expressed desire to crush the cars of boy racers also met overwhelming public favour, many expressing the wish to crush the offending vehicles with the mullet-headed drivers still inside.

This is why reading the leftist blogs is so funny right now. They are still carrying on the “Trust” meme from the election oblivious that public sentiment has moved even firther than election night.

As a journalist, over the course of my career, I have had more people come to me with complaints about ACC than any other state agency, even the Family Court, which attracts grumpily aggrieved folk like a magnet.

Actually, I’m one of those who currently view ACC with a jaundiced eye. As I run a tiny company writing columns like this one, I have just paid, under duress, an ACC bill the size of the price of a small second-hand car. The greatest risk of injury I face in this job is electrocution when I plug in my laptop or being bitten by a rabid politician. I suspect many self-employed people look at their ACC demands with similar loathing.

This short piece about ACC shows the difference between Ralston and most journalists. Ralston owns his own business and therefore knows all too well the extortionate and voracious demands placed upon business from the government. The majority of journalists however are wage slaves and therefore have no understanding.

Ralston also gets Auckland. I guess perhaps because he lives here rather than the dirty, stinking, polluted beltway in Wellngton. When I say dirty, stinking and polluted I mean in the are of free thinking. Elections are won and lost in Auckland. Labour has lost Auckland and for a goodly time. Labour heaped additional taxes on Aucklanders, ostensibly to pay for public transport that goes where no-one wants to go and no-one wants to use. Trains are a peculiarity foisted upon us by Wellington politicians. There are perhaps about 10 people in Auckland who think that trains are a good idea. One of them is the fool from North Shore and he doesn’t even have train tracks in his city.

Aucklanders tend to vote with their wallets, especially in the mortgage belt. If their disposable income falls and their homes are threatened they will rebel.

In the short term, Transport Minister Stephen Joyce’s hint the coming 9.5 cent local petrol tax could be dropped will be popular with most Aucklanders who needed, like a hole in the head, another cost eating away at their wages.

In the longer term he still has the tough task of figuring out how to solve the city’s other festering problem, unblocking its congested transport system.

A clue to that answer may lie in the release of the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland Governance early next month.

Most Aucklanders don’t believe they get value for money from their rates. Most suspect the local body structure of several warring city states is clumsy, inefficient and prevents effective regional infrastructural development.

The ARC’s claim to be the answer that they are skilled regional managers is met with one word. Beckham.

If the Royal Commission and the Government get the new city proposal right, National can breathe easy.

Get it wrong and the Nats can expect a speedy return to opposition.

Yes indeed Ralston gets it.

#blackout Hide calls for repeal of internet copyright law

Hide calls for repeal of internet copyright lawACT leader Rodney Hide wants the controversial internet copyright law repealed and says he will recommend that to the Government. “It’s one of the stupidest new laws imposed by Labour and I am taking steps to get rid of it,” he… [NZ Herald Politics]

Good work Rodney, get rid of Tizard’s Law just like the good folk of Auckland Central got rid of Tizard.

We'll stick with ACT: Key

We’ll stick with ACT: KeyPrime Minister John Key says National will not fall out with ACT despite a blistering attack on the Government’s handling of the economic downturn by ACT MP Roger Douglas. [Stuff Politics]

This is really spam journalism with Stuff beating up a speech by Sir Roger Douglas where he labels the Cycleway project a path to poverty. In many ways Sir Roger is right but that would be if this was the only intiative to combat the recession.

However John Key has scotched any beatup of a bust-up over the comments. It is of course silly for journalists to make a big deal over this. We have moved on from the days of the dictator Clark where everyone had to tow the metaphotical party line even coalition and support partners.

We on the Centre-Right are far more grown up about people’s opinions and can happily work with all sorts brushing off bad in favour of the good. Journalists though are far too conditioned to the previous adminsitrations dogma and rules.


A little birdy told me……

Piggy FatBumI well remember many of the stories of the changeover in 1990 and the mess left behind by exiting Labour ministers. One little story has always stuck with me and that was of ousted Ministers carting their private possessions to their new offices. One in particular was the Koro “Lying Brown” Wetere who had to make room on his trolley for the sleeping bags and portable cot. You see it seems that he liked to pocket the LAFHA (Living Away form Home Allowance) and sleep in his office thereby keeping the whole amount.

Anyway, I digress.

One story which landed in my tipoff email inbox concerns ex-Maori Affairs Minister who it seems is fond of the odd plate of oysters. he is also partial to rancid Pork Roast it seems.

You see a little birdy told me he left a sizeable portion of pork roast rotting away in his executive fridge as a little present for which ever National Minister would inhabit his office. It turns out that the minister who copped that particular smelly landmine was new Police Minister Judith Collins. I’m told in the same email that office was less than tidy.

If anyone else has useful changeover stories then you know how to get hold of me.

Someone really needs to put this prick in jail

Doug Somer-Edgar has the Reverse Midas Touch, but usually only when he touches someone elses money. Just about everything he or his associated companies has touched has turned to shit.

Clients of financial adviser Money Managers, who were advised to put their money into the First Step investment trusts, have been told by the trustee they lost $59.7 million in 2008.

Much of the “non-recoverable investment losses” comes from losses on loans the trusts made to Club Finance, a South Auckland vehicle finance company which was 50 percent owned by Doug Somers-Edgar, the founder of Money Managers.

It is about time that he had “I am a Crook” tattoo’d in large black letters across his forehead.

Still I guess the old adage of fools and their money being easily parted is still true today especially when it is Doug Somers-Edgar parting the fols with their cash.

Ryall's strong-arm kills health conference

Ryall’s strong-arm kills health conferenceHealth Minister Tony Ryall has leaned on his ministry to pull the plug on a conference of more than 300 health professionals in Wellington next month on primary health care delivery. The conference, planned by the ministry and… [NZ Herald Politics]

The culture of waste is over. Both Tony Ryall and Paula Bennett have shown it by ending silly talk-fests.

Clearly though the opposition still thinks it is th government and Phil Goff has criticised it, but then socialists are ften fond of talking rather than doing.

I hope he continues to lobby for the government to spend money of luxurious conferences. It won’t be long before the BBQ get fired up at David place.


Government sacks Selwyn College Board

Selwyn College, deservedly, has the reputation as a school of lefty wombles, more interested in cuddles and hugs than academic outcomes. People try to avoid sending their kids there like we all try to avoid cancer.

Well, Education Minister Anne Tolley made the announcement this afternoon following an Education Review Office finding that called for more intervention that she is sacking the Board of Trustees and appointing a Commissioner to run the wayward school.

I think the last time a Board of Trustees was sacked was by Lange at a Nga Tapuwae school in South Auckland (Now renamed Southern Cross Campus). At the time he appointed my old Headmaster John Graham as Commissioner.