Friday, 22 May 2015

Out of the mouths

The Conservatives are promising to make illegal immigration, er… illegal. It strikes me that the very term ‘illegal’ surely carries with it the explicit notion that you are doing something the law doesn't permit. It seems odd then, that they had to make another law making it ‘specifically’ illegal as opposed to, I guess, ‘sort-of’ illegal. Is this anything to do with EU influence over our jurisdiction? Or is it yet another home-grown fuck up?

Maybe the switch of focus onto illegal immigration is an attempt to steer us away from the massive problem of the 318,000 – almost a third of a million – net immigration figure of the last twelve months. Remember that is net; it doesn't reveal the real total of people coming in, which turns out to be double that at 641,000, which means that 323,000 people left the country during the same period. Some of that number will be made up of immigrants returning home but how many are native Brits fleeing the sinking ship?

Britain is changing beyond recognition, just as Tony Blair and his cronies intended, but the biggest change is not from accommodating Europeans, with many of the civil and cultural values we hold, because 290,000 of the incomers are not from Europe at all and Brexit would not help. Of course ‘not from Europe’ does not mean Canadians, Australians, Americans and others; it means overwhelmingly an invasion which has been gathering pace for some time. It means a change so significant that even children can plainly see what our leaders refuse to.

During the years of branding native British identity as shameful and not to be celebrated few non-politicians can fail to have noticed how the younger generation are being replaced. The Michaels are being replaced by mohammeds, the Alices by Aishas. A recent study reveals that the view from the playground is that muslims are taking over the country. But if you read the article in the Independent you will notice that it makes a big deal of the lack of awareness of the children. It completely ignores the reality they see around them, much as modern politics refuses to see the raging fire it is trying to extinguish with a cup of water.

You heard it in the playground...

Meanwhile, in the Middle East playground ISIS is sacking Palmyra in its unquenchable lust to return the world to a stone-age caliphate. Does anybody seriously doubt the aim of muslims in Britain to eventually dominate and impose the sharia in Britain's islamic state? Especially when vocal elements have publicly declared exactly that intent. Whatever your reaction to that statement, whatever your conditioning has compelled you to screech, it is not racist to point out that people who don’t look like us, don’t speak like us and don’t share our values should be treated with suspicion. Strikes me that the kids are all right.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Continental Drift

In the dying days of Victoria’s reign Cecil Rhodes is said to have pithily declared: “To be born English is to have won first prize in the Lottery of Life.” (This line is also credited to one Mr Kipling – presumably in between making exceedingly good cakes.) For a century or more we believed it, too. So much so that on several occasions during the last century newspapers would regularly report the weather thus: “Fog in channel; Continent cut off.” Nowadays the lines might read “To get into Britain is to win the Bingo of Benefits” and “Never mind the fog; they built a tunnel.”

But at least there was always the fact that while you could be born an Englishman and hold a birth certificate to prove it, the closest you could get to that as an immigrant was eventual, grudgingly bestowed, British citizenship. And that particular paperwork was certainly not given out like confetti until very recently – ask Mohammed Al-Fayed. Despite what many see as a massive decline in our fortunes and our desirability, still they come, pretenders to the title; you can dress British, act British and speak like a native, but to be actually born here is still a winning ticket.

But not if the EU gets its way because very soon the Royal Crest which adorns my birth certificate will be denied the next generation; they will emerge, crying, into the light as citizens of the European Union and their birth certificate will say so. This is not advantageous to us in any way; in the past British citizens were pretty much welcome anywhere because we traded with the whole globe for many centuries before the current inept bureaucracy was dreamed up. To be born British WAS to hold a passport to the world, whereas in future we will have nothing to distinguish us from any other Eurodrone.

As ever the capitulists wave the blue flag as if they were born under it. Paul Mason, Channel 4's News economics editor, doesn’t, want to be English and Chuka Umunna is encouraging bosses to bully their work forces into seeing the EU way. Vote ‘out’ in the referendum, he is effectively urging them to say and you’re sacked. So much for reasoned debate. You will do as you are instructed and forget those terrible olden days when free nations raped and pillaged lesserfolk in pursuit of their greed. In future histories no good will ever have come from the shameful adventures  of advanced European countries, save for the valiant efforts of the comrades in union.

But why do we have to apologise for getting our shit together, for creating the modern world? Why have African states been unable to capitalise on the technology and business methodology already created? Why do they carry on killing each other when they could cooperate and build a great successful continent? No individual European country wants to take the African migrants, importing who knows what troubles they bring with them, but the faceless European Union would impose quotas. The European Union has no borders.

Go west, young man!

But we have. As an island we have the perfect border and we should be allowed to police it. You call me a Little Englander as an insult? I accept that as a compliment and refer you to the wise words of Flanders and Swann: “The English, the English, the English are best; I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest.” Now everybody grab an oar; lets pull up the anchors and get ready to row west, where our lottery tickets have a better chance of winning; as far away from the European Union as possible.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Withdraw Labour?

Ed Miliband is back from his sojourn in Ibiza and  must be grateful at least that the expression is not “Your nose must have been burning” because the airwaves have been a-buzz with mention of his name… and it’s a hell of a nose. Everybody has been talking about Ed in his absence and most of it is not very nice to hear. It turns out he was wrong about everything and the shadow cabinet of ‘the nice party’ have fallen over themselves to say so. Well we, the hoi polloi, knew all along but wasn't the party one-million-per-cent behind Ed all the way? Yes, it turns out they were right behind him and pushing him towards the cliff.

On Monday Yvette Cooper attacked Ed on his approach to business. Chuka Umunna did it last week before stepping down from the contest on still-unexplained grounds. Even union-man Andy Burnham expressed disappointment and a recognition that any government needs to keep business onside. And the reason all the knives are out? It seems, at least right now, that the leadership contest will be won by the contestant whose blade plunges the deepest into Miliband’s back. If I were Ed I think I’d just stay away from England forever.

But I thought they all wanted Dan Jarvis to stand? Dan who? Dan the war hero who nobody outside Labour had ever heard of before last week and is now the darling in waiting; the man to lead Labour from the shadows. Except he doesn't actually want the job. Not yet at least; he’s backing Andy Burnham instead. When I first heard about Dan Jarvis I was perplexed. Former Parachute Regiment officer AND Labour man? Surely it’s been a good fifty years since that juxtaposition of allegiances was normal? In Thatcher’s day the armed forces and the police were Conservative to a man. But wait, let’s hear what he has to say.

Oh, I get it now. He’s backing Andy Burn'em because he thinks Captain Scarlett has the greatest appeal to the public and therefore he has the right credentials to lead the party. Meanwhile Red Len McCluskey, true to bully-boy form, is threatening Labour that its financial backing could be put at risk if they fail to represent “the voice of organised labour”. Hmm, I wondwer if there's any particular reason that Unite is backing Burnham? So, Emperor’s new clothes then? Nothing new from labour at all; it’s not about policy it’s about whatever will get them elected; it’s about appearance. Well, they appear to have a bit of as problem then, don’t they?

Since when did Labour EVER work?
Still? Hasn't anybody read the instructions?

You see, original Labour became Old Labour the moment Blair, Mandelson and Campbell unveiled the ‘bit-like-the-Tories’ New Labour. Then, under Ed, they were sort-of Unite Labour a bit like Old Labour again… almost. But now that Yvette Cooper has been talking about adopting Tory policies towards business and immigration and the deficit, the term Blue Labour is looking likely. But maybe it’s time to finally admit that after whatever branding and re-alignment and new-directional tweaking they decide is necessary to make the party palatable, the only electable name remaining is Not Labour.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Books do furnish a room

I’ve been here before. Packing up my entire collected belongings and paying to store them expensively until some uncertain future time when we can be reunited. Last time it took about four years before I recovered my stuff and to be frank, the reunion was something of a disappointment. I hardly looked at the old photographs and my precious books remained boxed as I hadn’t space to shelve them. Then,two years back, I finally spent a week constructing shelves and unpacking the lot. Ah the books; I have just filled, transported and stacked 30 archive boxes of them and I’m wondering where the rest of them went.

Over the years I have given up, given away, misplaced or otherwise lost hundreds, if not thousands of volumes of literature, science, politics, philosophy, engineering, comment, and whimsy. I have purposefully pursued the classics and the trash with equal alacrity and consider myself widely, if thinly read. A part of me wants to read everything. Another part of me knows I may never get around to reading even the ones in my ‘unread’ boxes. History, great thought, sweeping drama and just the stuff I feel I ought to read because everybody else has – although to be fair this is often a turn off.

But why? In the Internet age, with the world’s knowledge at your fingertips or in the palm of your hand in an instant, why the urge to not only read clumsy great paper tomes but to acquire and covet them? And given the receding ability of minds, young and older, to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time, it is almost a wonder that the book survives at all; or do people now only read 140 characters at a time and then write, “no YOU fuck off!” in the margin? I raise a guilty hand as I realise that while I talk a good game, my only dedicated reading time is now reduced to the few minutes in bed before sleep takes me.

I spend more time writing now than I ever do reading, like the literary equivalent of the pub bore. But packing away these word treasure hoards for what seems like forever this time, I wonder if by the time I get to open them again my own hands will look like parchment and the liver spots will tremble and dance with whatever old age ailments have beset me. Worse, will I never get to see them again; the old friends who have dutifully followed me around from address to address only to be ignored, time after time? And as I type this I understand that it is not death I fear but going before I have read my allotted selections.

Poussinally speaking...
A Dance to the Music of Time

So, as I pack I make a promise to my library. I WILL read Gibbon’s Decline and Fall and I WILL read Churchill’s histories. Antony Beevor’s Second World War will be consumed as will Lady Antonia Fraser’s Perilous Question. Paradise Lost will be found and I will revisit some of those collected wisdoms whose percipience was wasted on me first time around. Is it A Question of Upbringing or A Buyer’s Market? Or in Hearing Secret Harmonies will I finally get to have the last waltz in the Dance to the Music of Time? One thing is certain – only time will tell.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Think Tank

Deep in the heart of Labour Land there is a crisis. Correction, there are crises. Leadership, policy and identity are three of them and I’m sure many more lurk beneath that oh so thin skin. Andy Burnham says, “By gum, that-there immigration IS a problem after all,” and “Let’s have a referendum.” And while Labourites on Twitter instinctively cleave to the #toryscum hashtag, party spokespeople are doing their best to appear wise after the event yet still fail to fully grasp how far from their core voters their bubble has wafted.

Giles Fraser, Owen Jones and Polly Toynbee have done their public handwringing and confirmed what we already knew – that Labour hold the British public in such contempt that they don’t believe they are intelligent enough to wield their vote wisely. Pretty much in their own words – certainly in Giles Fraser’s words – they just don’t know what’s good for them. Tony Blair’s focus group approach to policy doesn’t seem so cynical now, does it? To get their vote you have to give them what they want… even if they are too stupid to know what that is.

Not left enough? Too far left? Where does the party want to be? Well, in power, that’s where, for the raison d'ĂȘtre of any party, even the former party of the people, is to rule over the people, preferably with an ironclad majority. The irony is that to obtain the power to make the little people dance they must first be offered inducement to vote the right way. And this time round Labour’s politics of envy will be labelled ‘aspiration’. In prospective leaders’ inner circles think tanks are being formed to decide what level of envy – I mean aspiration – will appeal to the Benefits Street generation; who do they want to be jealous of now? And how can we dress that up as compassion?

The food bank rhetoric is just bouncing off as nobody can identify a single person who would be dead of starvation for want of a discretionary food parcel. The NHS just refuses to lie down and die and much to Labour’s chagrin has just returned its best overall satisfaction survey in twenty years. Wages are starting to rise and homes are being built. The thing is, ordinary people are just getting on with their lives and the serried ranks of academics on the left have no idea how to deal with it. Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman have moved on; they have worked out, without the ‘help’ of government, that wealth needs to be amassed before you can start sharing it out. They have also worked out that the state is not a good arbiter of that dividend.

Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer, Wait, what colour is that??
Turning blue?

A tank is a big, lumbering war machine. A blunt instrument, with blind spots and an inability to wage subtle, stealthy warfare. A tanker is a giant ship with such momentum that it takes many miles to change direction. Labour’s think-tankers have similar problems and they are starting, perhaps, to realise them, but it will take them many years before they finally understand that the political offering which most appeals to the electorate is the one they just selected. I look forward to the day that particular penny drops and Labour finally gets that the people’s flag is not red at all, but deepest blue.