Saturday, 23 September 2017

Florence and the Machine

I always had doubts over Brexit. Never a doubt that we should leave; in that I have never wavered since 1975. I also still believe what my teenage self thought - that this was a betrayal of British history and a craven admission of weakness. And right from the start I felt vindicated in my views when, year after year, corruption and incompetence went unaddressed, even rewarded. Wine lakes, butter mountains and perverse funding allocations are, unfortunately, inevitable consequences of complexity.

Running a sole trader business can be tricky enough, especially in a competitive market; being responsible for employing others far more so. As you scale up an enterprise it becomes impossible to keep a realistic overview of the whole organisation and when you get to national level, roles become so speciated that it is impossible for them to interact in a meaningful way. (This is one reason why Communism can never work; you have to let natural economics have its way if you want to avoid both oversupply of un-needed goods and rationing of essentials.)

Thus sensible western governments evolved a useful model of governance without too much overt regulation and a laissez-faire approach to the economy as a whole, intervening only where sensible coordination and national interest were required. If this meant that the French thought differently from the Dutch, so be it; variety being the spice of life and all that.

But with the advent of the EU that all changed. When the common market we were persuaded to join morphed, almost without a murmur, into a supranational behemoth of complex control over every aspect of our lives we began the process which has taken us to where we are now. Anti-Brexiteers demand to know our destination – where will Brexit take us? Well here we are at the destination to which EU membership has brought us all. Like the view?

Across Europe we appear to be powerless to confront a migrant flood which will have a devastating and impoverishing effect on us all, because having submitted to the rule of an unimpeachable junta we seem unwilling or unable to protect ourselves. We are afraid to say anything for fear of causing offence to persons unknown. We accept edict after edict and do as we are told and defer to others when we should be determining for ourselves how we function as a society.

The rise of the EU and its inevitable collapse has us all in its thrall - and collapse it will, as have all other administrations before it. The world is always changing but so many fault lines seem to be converging at the moment as to make this implosion potentially catastrophic. That we were prepared to man the lifeboats before we struck the iceberg should have been a signal to others to look to their own survival.

But no; the Prime Minister who for party purposes granted a referendum he assumed he would win abandoned ship immediately after the result. The shuffling about for a replacement was only the start of delaying the execution of the people’s wish. His replacement was always, at best, a placeholder until a new, decisive leader could be found, but we agreed to give her a chance. I always had doubts over Brexit and yesterday those doubts were realised. Theresa May’s olive branch offering in Florence was a simple betrayal of the hopes of millions. Brexit may not be dead, but the cancer of British party politics will do its damnedest to kill it off.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Killer Cable

Vince Cable has written a thriller, apparently... two can play at that game:

Agent Cable tensed. He was in a dark place and no help was at hand. He considered his options; call for assistance, or keep clenching and trust in his sturdy tena. Being licensed to kill was one thing; focussing on the target was entirely another. He adjusted his varifocals, turned up the volume on his hearing aid and concentrated once again on the mission. Only, he realised, he’d forgotten, again, what his mission was.

What seemed like only moments later, he was gently shaken awake. “Sir, it’s time.” Vince was helped to his feet by the two carers and his blanket was gently folded to await his return. A cup of lukewarm cocoa was thrust into his hand and he took a sip. As the sugar took effect his blood surged; he felt invigorated and set out to meet his fate. The Liberal Democrats needed him; he alone could unit them.

Waiting briefly in the wings, agent Cable contained his nervousness; only the merest twitch and tremble of his hands betrayed any frailty. Here he was, the conference keynote speech and the fate of the whole party lay in his veiny hands. Dismissing his nurses he squared his shoulders, put away his notes and strode out, to tumultuous applause, to take up his position at the lectern.

Lend me your ears... mine are fucked

The spotlights captured him in their harsh glare. He held up his hand and the thunderous hand-clapping died to an expectant silence; only the occasional cough and rustle of papers could be heard. He gazed out at the crowd, shielding his eyes against the light. Then he purposefully cleared his throat and leaned in to the microphone. He paused for one meaningful moment then declared “Have you seen my slippers?”

Monday, 4 September 2017

An open letter to industry

Dear Employers,

You have a choice between two systems.

System A allows you to hire whoever you wish without fear of censure; those you believe are best able to work productively and who will, during working hours, devote their energies to the furtherance of the company’s business priorities. You may negotiate directly with them over matters of pay and conditions, disciplinary issues, holiday entitlement and employ them only for so long as you find the arrangement mutually beneficial.

Under System B, which is a kinder, gentler way of doing business, you will still be able to employ the best of the applicants, but those applicants must include mandatory quotas of various diverse groups such as: those who identify as non-binary gender, women of child-bearing age, the differently-abled (both mentally and physically), persons of colour (ideally a good mix of all shades), vibrant religions (Christians need not apply), refugees and any other ‘persecuted minorities’, as decided by outside agencies.

System B companies will employ workers under arrangements largely determined by a wide range of external interested parties who will treat the company entity as a hostile enterprise and make secondary the creation of profit. For kinder, gentler policies to work the rights of the work force must be held supreme at all times and the means of production must, necessarily, function at the convenience of said workers.

Under System A, a company will have to openly compete with other companies; the one which produces the better product at the right price will occupy the market-leading position and force its competitors to match its efficiencies. The demand for product will determine how much is supplied and price will be settled by these natural market forces acting in concert. Companies may also compete for talent and pay whatever is needed to recruit the best managers and directors.

System B entities will produce what central planning determines and sell it at a price set by a workers’ committee. To keep prices affordable for all, wages will also be controlled by the same central planning authorities, which will also monitor work force wellbeing and determine whether and if the company needs to spend more on such welfare. Fairness will be at the very heart of this system and no boss – recruited internally from the general worker population - will earn more than twice the wage of the average employee.

The population under System A will have to budget and make its own decisions about how it spends its income. You will have to cut your cloth to suit and although there will be an abundance of a huge variety of produce of all kinds you won’t be able to afford all you desire. Instead you will be free to set your own spending priorities and be full liable for all costs and debts incurred. This will mean that the profligate may suffer by their own recklessness.

On the other hands, in System B, you will be absolutely free to select from the far more limited variety of products available. The choices will have been decided for you by various experts, who have only your best interests at heart, but be aware that there may be gluts and shortages at times. Rationing may be introduced to ensure that everybody gets their fair share, but the price of such measures will be borne by the companies responsible. Be assured, however, that everybody will get what they deserve in the end.

So, there you are; a simple choice. Do you want the free agency of the open market, with all the risks and rewards it brings? A world in which nothing is certain but where fortunes may be made and lost and an infinite variety of possibilities exists? Or would you prefer the kinder, gentler certainties of a predictable, planned economy; a world in which everybody has a place and knows it. Choose wisely.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Britain, BC

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales; the People’s Patsy. Tony Bair must have thought all his birthdays had come at once; she was the talisman that allowed people to fall under the New Labour spell of introspection, the cult of the individual and the new age of careless platitude replacing wisdom. Okay, so maybe the epoch wasn’t conjured into being at that precise moment but I remember watching with some embarrassment as the British became, well, foreign.

Open grieving in the street, mass hysterical weeping, hugging complete strangers and ululating for the cameras; these were things we had formerly watched more emotional nationals doing. We British just didn’t do open displays of emotion; especially not over people we had never met. No, we were hard-bitten, cynical and renowned for the stiffness of our upper lips. Crying was for women and babies and grief was an intensely private, personal and internalised affair.

Maybe it wasn’t so, but it seems to me that Britain BC (Before Car-crash) was a more civilised, more orderly and generally better mannered nation. People generally got on pretty well and we didn’t have the sort of societal strife we now see after two decades AD (After Diana) and the Blair Witch Project. In these last twenty years we seem to have descended into a hell in which every possible minority form of existence is accorded parity with, if not supremacy over, the far greater and largely innocent majority, under threat of force of law. And while the government is strapped for cash, no expense is spared in policing dissent.

We have become weaker as a people, our identity has been fractured and continues to split along every more finely defined fault lines. Black against white, straight against gay, left against further left and islam against the lot. We have become so infantilised, our offence-seeking so legitimised that even the kind of idiocy flaunted openly by people like Dinah Mulholland is not only not ridiculed, but taken seriously and investigated as a hate crime. Think about that; having fun is now a hate crime. Thanks, Lady Di.

It is little wonder that the Brexit negotiations are at an apparent stalemate when so many have been taken in by the illusion propagated by the EU that every move we make, every thought we think is only permissible by the grace of the rights they have given us. AD Britain can conjure tears and protest at the drop of a hat. AD Britain willingly rejects independence, preferring to be nannied and coerced into submission. Submission, eh? No wonder islam gets such reverent assistance; it is the coming religion of the EU.

Britain, AD...

They say we won’t mark the 30th or the 40th anniversary of Diana’s death, but I say maybe we should. Future generations need to reminded how easily whole populations can be persuaded to act incoherently over insignificant events. No assault was launched, no Stormtroopers landed, but we were invaded by thoughts of inadequacy and interdependence as surely as if we had been brainwashed at gunpoint. We should always remember what Britain was like BC... and how it was eventually lost forever.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

New policies for old?

Jeremy Corbyn’s new kinder, gentler politics are unravelling. It’ a shame, however, that as most people have the political memory of a goldfish and the concentration span of – ooh, look, squirrel! – he will be forgiven, as befits the son of god on earth. He has been spending his summer holiday doing what he does best: mingling with crowds of the confused, promising them that they will inherit the Earth, just as soon as he can persuade enough of the gullible to put him into office.

A man of principle, is his billing. And indeed he does have, it seems, many principles, all of them apparently worked out on the back of a fag packet and initiated by the merest hint that there may be votes in it. Like every other demagogue in history he seeks but one thing, to have his grubby paws on the levers of power, from which position he will proceed to pull those levers every which way... with the inevitable train crash as a result.

Don’t be fooled, chldren. That Werther’s Original stained beard and that jaunty communist cap; those baggy trainers and the engaging way he tells his little porky pies about how ‘Joan, the care assistant’ or ‘Harry, the police pensioner’ have written to ask him to ask Mrs May an embarrassing question every Wednesday are all smoke and mirrors. Behind the beguiling grandpa figure is a calculating, vote-hungry, still-angry, old-school commie, desperate to prove that real socialism – which, incidentally, has never been tried anywhere, ever, especially after it has failed – will surely work, given a chance.

Don’t give him that chance. Kids, remember the unaffordable tuition fee scrapping promise, which has now vanished into thin air along with its £100billion cost? How about his hard-Brexit, soft-Brexit, ever flexible policy which changes like a straw in the wind with every poll outcome; which one is it, Jeremy? What exactly IS Labour policy on enacting the outcome of the democratic vote of last year? How about the four new Bank Holidays he’s just pledged, at a price to you, the taxpayers of a mere £2billion-plus per day; how will they be paid for?

And just yesterday he appears to have said that we mustn’t blame islamists for supporting ISIS, an islamist organisation, hell bent on imposing sharia by violence. It’s merely a political view, as is his support of Hezbollah. I do hope – but don’t anticipate – he will express the same understanding of those who express views contrary to his left-wing fanaticism; oh, wait, of course, they are all neo-Nazis now, aren’t they? I forgot, mea culpa, my bad.

There isn’t a single tangible, workable thing about any of Labours populist policies that you can point to and say ‘that’ll do it’. I thought populism was a nasty, right-wing thing, you’re thinking, but no; think again. Rent caps, price freezes, hiking minimum wages, ending zero-hour contracts that even Labour and their supporters themselves use. Fixing education, transport, defence and the glorious socialist republican people’s monolith the NHS [peace be upon it] - all will be well if you just vote Steptoe.

Choose life...

If you think we currently have an actual Conservative Party in power, you’re an idiot. If you think that life in the UK is just peachy for everybody, you are an idiot. If you think that you can make people richer by legislating to increase wages you are an idiot. If you think that diversity is more important than competence you are an idiot. If you profit by working in the burgeoning offence-seeking industry without a sense of guilt, you are an idiot. And if you think that Jeremy Corbyn is the answer to your dumb, dumb existence, you are just one more Leninist useful idiot in a country being swamped by them.