Thursday, 28 February 2013

Gone Fishing

Give a man a fish and he’ll eat tonight. Teach a man to fish and he’ll be gone all weekend. So, let’s talks about the price of fish... specifically Eastleigh fish. Right now a host of fishermen have assembled in Eastleigh, all eager to over-fish the same depleted stock of votes in the hope of making a career-best catch. The little fish of Eastleigh, meanwhile, are desperately hiding anywhere they can from the attentions of earnest canvassers and media crews eagerly recording vox pops of the most pointless kind.

Looking at the motley band of anglers dangling their wormy charms into the waters it’s good, yet somehow depressing, to see that hope springs eternal – according to Wikipedia, no fewer than fifteen deluded nutters are standing, representing... well, gawd only knows what they represent. Here, in no particular order I present to you a voter’s guide to the parties at the, er... party.

Liberal Democrat – the big trawler, churning up the sea bed, desperate to catch every fish, no matter how insignificant and with no regard for what anybody thinks about their decimation of political stock in ever murkier waters. This may be the last full net they ever land.

English Democrats – the rarest of breeds, taking to choppy seas in a leaky old rowing boat and looking to gaff one or two the last surviving examples of a near-extinct species.

Wessex Regionalist – Far from the madding crowd, Gabriel Oak is no longer smiling... Bathsheba is long gone, so he may as well dangle his fictitious lure far and wide; plenty more fish in the sea.

Elvis Loves Pets – no shit, seriously - obviously on the hunt for the rare little British goldfish but more likely to land one of our more numerous little brown fish.

Peace – fishing with an unbaited hook; the barb filed off and the point blunted– they may as well be using a stickleback net and a jam jar. Peace? Gertcha!

Monster Raving Loony – now a mainstream stalwart of the fringe and trying a little too hard to corner the mermaid market.

Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party – actually catching the odd mermaid... the odder the better.

Conservative – the purse seiner of the local fleet, delicately skimming the surface; trying not to cause unpleasant ripples. The trouble is, the fish here are cruising deeper waters, though they are a LibDem stronghold so obviously not all that deep.

UKIP – They are OUR fish – hands off! Will readily throw back any non-native species and throw a cordon around our shores. Only true British cod will fit the bill. British fish are, after all the finest species in all of Europe.

National Health Action –coughing and wheezing and lying in dirty bandages in their bivouacs on the bank in a fever-ridden stupor and listening to the real action on Radio Free Tooting.

Christian – fishers of men – Simon, who is called Peter – never use your real name - cruising the gay bars and looking to net whatever he can. If he’s not successful this time he can always come back another day... as Paul.

TUSC - Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – All fish are equal, but some are more equal than others, brother. Unlikely to ever leave harbour as long as champagne and smoked salmon sandwiches remain.

Independent – a bloke with a bamboo can and a bent pin. He’s only out fishing because his wife seemed so keen he should take up a hobby. I mean, really keen. Meanwhile her latest ‘hobby’ is the talk of the cul-de-sac.

And finally, the rusty old tub that is Labour – dipping into everybody else’s catch while nobody is looking, then lying about it. It’s worked so far, you never know, but the joke’s wearing thin. They need new scriptwriters and might as well field a comedian –anything for a cheap laugh.

 There you have it. Good luck Eastleigh; you'll need it. Not long to go now; just grit your teeth, cling on to the rocks and do your very best to not get caught in the wrong net.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


I'm sorry. I have no idea what LibDem Lord Rennard actually did – neither do you, for that matter (and definitely not Nick Clegg) but whatever it is, given that it is said to have been ‘sexual’ and ‘inappropriate’ and as a bloke I am simply not allowed an opinion on anything like that, I’d just like to apologise on behalf of my gender and leave it there. That ought to do it. Nothing more to see here; I’m sure it will all be sorted out in the fullness of time and all that.

While I'm at it, I may as well apologise for Chris Huhne too... and Jimmy Savile, Cyril Smith, Gary Glitter and that dodgy geezer with the yellow teeth from On the Buses. I also feel the need to atone for Peter Mandelson, although not of our species he is nonetheless a slimy, scheming fucker and is thoroughly deserving of a good excusing-of. And of course, there was David Mellor. So-rry. 

In penitent mood I wonder if I shouldn't also offer reparations for other wrongs... The Ice Age, for instance, or the Global Warming that didn't really happen – or did it? Not sure really, so best be on the safe side and just say pardon me anyway, eh? While I'm about it I may as well wring my cap and bow my head in blame for the miners’ strike, the banking crisis, The Spanish Inquisition and Jedward. Oh and slavery**, mustn't forget, I may as well apologise for that... every fucker else has. Bang to rights, gov... Soz! *sad face*

Now I think about it I really ought to get down on my knees in the dirt and humbly crave your indulgence as I make penance for everything any man has ever done. So, Adam, remember him? I am sorry he was so stupid as to let himself be led on by that harpy, Eve, although I acknowledge that her entreaties, which some (not me) may say were contributory to The Fall, were in no way to blame for Adam’s weakness and folly. So there; all of biblical history - our fault. Men!

I've just had a thought... To be on the safe side I’d better trace our evolution all the way back and apologise for Conservatism too. I now suddenly realise that it is genuinely all the fault of right-of-centre politics. On behalf of our common anthropoid ancestor may I abjectly, humbly and sincerely beg your forgiveness?

How do I know the earliest human was a Tory? Well he had to be; there can be no other explanation. Because, if he’d been Labour how would the species have ever survived beyond one generation? I mean, back then, at the misty dawn of time, whose pocket were they going to pick?

(** I realise I have apologised for slavery before, on more than one occasion. But it’s best to be on the safe side – this time, let’s say it’s for Islamic or Roma slavery, so we’re covering all the bases?)

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Decisions, decisions...

In fear, trapped animals kick and lash out at the hand that brings aid. They bite and scratch and cry out for comfort and protection even against the benevolence that seeks to untangle them from the snare and set them free. In blind panic they will trap themselves deeper still and cause even more distress until, sometimes, they die directly from their ignorance. Even if freed they flee their rescuer with not a hint of gratitude or comprehension, ever more fearful and ever more wary. Even domesticated animals, habituated to benign human presence will revert to wild instinct when threatened. 

I was reading this article by Melanie Phillips, regarding the first jury in the Vicky Pryce trial: She wrote, “...there have long been concerns that juries are not sophisticated enough to cope with highly complicated trials such as fraud cases. But the short trial of Vicky Pryce was hardly a complicated case.” and “In less enlightened times, the right to sit on a jury was restricted to the property-owning classes on the basis that the poor were considered too inadequate to sit in judgment...” 

The Labour Party and its progenitors fought for the rights of individuals; the right to vote, the right to fair treatment, equality in the eyes of the law and the right to sit in judgement on transgressors. It fought for better education and social mobility, decent wages, housing and dignity. It was a decent fight and necessary, to raise aspirations and spread democracy. I truly applaud what they did in all these regards... all those years ago. 

All those years ago... because that same party now does its supporters the grave injustice of assuming that it, alone, knows best what they need. It doesn't, but neither do they. Essential support for those down on their luck has mutated into a lifestyle choice for a multitude; basic healthcare for all has become abdication of individual responsibility for your own body. And universal suffrage is useless and irrelevant unless you understand, engage in and value what it offers you. 

Because, whatever the rhetoric, we really are all in this together; there is only one pot to piss in or to empty out. Yet those who only ever take lack the basic understanding of how it all works and haven’t the means or the will to contribute. They have been enabled into their disability and given votes which, if they are deployed, can only make things worse. Just like the jurors, those whose opinion we should value may not repay the faith placed in them - they just don't know what they don't know. I don’t hate such people, much as I don’t blame children for their innate naivety and ignorance of the world. But I do believe that anybody who relies so utterly on a system should necessarily be disenfranchised from making decisions about it, for the good of everybody. 

Incredible as it sounds, people will believe almost whatever you tell them - if you tell them what they want to hear often enough. The wounded animal that is Labour’s remaining support knows only how to cry out in pain and bite the hand that feeds it. Labour no longer speaks for the workers. In truth, since its early victories it has diminished in relevance for many years in succession, yet its core voters still blindly gather to worship.

When all the earners have quit and your parliament is stuffed to the gills with those with no allegiance to Britain and sleazy, conviction-spent fraudsters, don’t come running to me when the roads go un-mended, the power gets cut, the water runs dry and your policemen behave like the Afghan security forces reported this week on Panorama. 

The real trouble is that whatever way you vote, you will get some form of Socialism, all three of the major parties afraid to cut the apron strings of state. 

The country values your vote.

On Thursday there’s another cornered animal to free; I wonder which way instinct will make it jump. So, voters of Eastleigh, if you don’t know how to vote for the good of the country, then do the decent thing, admit it, stay calm and don’t vote at all. There. That should be the whole rotten LibLabCon-trick consigned to the scrap heap. But I’m not holding my breath

Monday, 25 February 2013

Home Alone

I’m a bit of a feminist, me. Oh yes, I've always been up for a bit of equality – as far as I can see we should all be able to turn our hands to whatever takes our fancy. Not for me the traditional division of labour between the sexes. As an independent master of my own destiny I stand as free as any woman!

I can do the cooking, cleaning, mending, shopping and spread the gossip with the best. I apportion the budget and pay all the bills. I can bake a cake, rustle up a roast and my banana bread is to die for. On top of all that I keep a clean and tiny abode and if needed I darn a bloody good sock. 

Plumbing, electrics and shelves are no mystery to me. I can assemble a flat pack in seconds flat - fact. I can take a piece of seasoned wood and lovingly cut it, shape it, smooth it, stain it, put the bits together with glue and dowels and turn it into furniture. I've built walls, made windows and put a roof above both. 

More manly credentials still - I've taken engines out of stuff, dismantled them, replaced bits and put them back together AND they worked. I've both flown aircraft and jumped out of them. I've sailed yachts, dived under oceans and driven a warship. I can rough it too; I've camped and caravanned and slept under the stars and skinny-dipped on New Year’s Eve from the longest beach in Brazil… and I once push-biked around America. (blatant plug there) 

I've lived in a desert and in a jungle and sailed the South Atlantic. I've seen Ernest Shackleton’s grave on South Georgia and Napoleon’s prison house in St Helena and I was once presented to Princess Anne. Not as a gift, you understand - I didn't wear a bow or anything - but I was carrying a sword at the time. Oh yes, I've been around a bit. I've served my country, I've climbed its hills and seen its dark satanic mills. I've trod the boards, won awards and more and more and more. 

So you can imagine the grave disappointment I suffered when I belatedly discovered that all men are not so self-reliant. That, more and more in this day and age, men seem to conform to the scornful representation of their gender in the media. The hapless immature man-boy, utterly incapable in comparison with his vivacious, intelligent, multi-tasking, multi-skilled mother-substitute and all her friends. 

And then, all of a sudden, a rash of new excitement in the media about the various ways and legalities of reproduction without the nasty, messy conjoining of man and wife. Why, it’s as if we are dispensable, fellas… virtually extinct. Well I, for one, have had enough...

The time has come, men, to fight back from the brink. Wrest from their delicate, girlie grasp the keys to the tool shed and regain command of our rightful domain. Follow me fellas, to the sunlit uplands of our ascendancy and we will take back our proud place in society once more! 

Just as soon as I've cleared it with the missus.

Saturday, 23 February 2013


The doctor looked up from his notes. He tried to avoid house calls but in this case there was little alternative. Michael - all thirty-five stones of him - lay sprawled out on an oversized sofa.

"It's not your fault. It appears you have a syndrome."

"I do?" asked the patient, "What's it called?"

The doctor looked at his notes again, searching for a clue. He cleared his throat and attempted to sound authoritative and reasonable. He hated to lie, but it was his job.

"It's called" [checking] "Michaelmotor syndrome." The patient pondered the phrase, trying it for size, as the doctor continued, "You can't get motivated but it's really not your fault. Something must be done." Notes were scribbled hastily on the file before he forgot his diagnosis. "You may also be suffering from depression, brought on by can't-be-arsed-itis."

"But what can you do, doctor?" asked the patient  I've been sitting on this sofa with my sponge on a stick for years."

The doctor looked sad as he tapped a message into his smart phone and pressed 'Send'. Silence descended as doctor and patient waited for what seemed a long time but was probably less than half a minute. A stranger entered the room in handcuffs and reluctantly stood at the doctor's side. The doctor gave him a look of sympathy as he dipped a hand in his pocket and removed the man's wallet.

"Here," he said to Michael, "have some of this man's money." He extracted and handed over a large roll of notes. "This should keep you going until we find a cure."

Michael looked pleased but slightly confused as he pocketed the money.

It's not my fault. I have a syndrome.

"Why this particular man?" asked Michael

"He doesn't need his money." said the doctor.

"Why not?"

"Because he has nothing wrong with him. Yet."

Friday, 22 February 2013

Opportunity Nix

I'm no fan of Michael - Tarzan - Heseltine. I hate his juvenile hair, for a start and I particularly hate his clearly self-interest driven stance on Europe. And of course there is the small matter of his utterly treacherous plotting against the most effective peacetime Prime Minister of the last hundred years. But on BBC’s Question Time last night he said what few politicians have dared to say out loud, plainly and simply, in a decade or more.

Essentially what he said was this: It cannot be right - NOBODY could think it right - that somebody in full-time work, making responsible spending decisions and living within their means is unable to give their family the same standard of living as a family living entirely on welfare. It cannot be right for anybody to defend the supposed ‘rights’ of any able-bodied person to live entirely off the labours of others. 

There are more ways of making a living than having a job, but for centuries the model was that the husband worked and the wife ran the household and children contributed when they were able. We built an EMPIRE on that model. But somewhere in the twentieth century we managed to lose our self-confidence and kow-tow to the diktats of the equality agenda. We destroyed the sanctity of marriage, promoted wanton procreation and blame-free profligacy and allowed anybody to borrow their way into debt without shame. Are you happy now, Socialism? 

But it’s so much worse than it looks. Defendants of the dole-dependent claim that a lack of ‘suitable’ jobs, a lack of qualifications and being born into aspiration-free communities is to blame. They say that, just as it is the government’s role to feed and house and clothe them, it is the government’s role to make their lives more fulfilling. It’s an impossible task because at the heart of it all is the notion that it is up to somebody else to give you everything. 

You’re out of work and you are poorly educated? Educate yourself; the knowledge of the entire planet is on the free Internet access you have. Not a good learner? Then are you artistic? Prove it by creating something. Do you have a skill you could be practising? Can you do stand up? Could you write a book? Set up an e-commerce web site? Do voluntary work? Do… ANYTHING? 

Because if self-improvement is beyond you there are plenty of jobs out there that merely require your lumpen corporeal entity to show up and do as it is told. Cleaning, crop-picking, packing, stacking, driving, digging, gardening; all the low-level jobs being done by recent immigrants should first be filled by out-of-work Brits. Beneath you? How fucking DARE you? What else have you done with your life? 

And the real insult to working tax payers, those who have made the effort to get off their backsides and earn their place in the world? Not only are they being taxed into a life of bone-weary drudgery, they also pay a massive opportunity cost in loss of liberty to indulge in their dreams. They would love the time to hone a skill, indulge in a hobby, write a book, improve the community, set up a business… So while you piss away your worthless time on this planet, the people who pay for you deny themselves the opportunity to maybe, just maybe, do something wonderful. 

Woah there... I didn't say 
I was actually going to DO anything! 

Has Britain got the guts to tell the truth and turn the tide? Has the government got the nerve to tackle the lazy, ignorant lard-arsed elephant in the Benefit Office? Will Her Majesty’s Opposition have the balls to admit they were wrong about everything, roll up their sleeves and help out to save this country? The jury is out – given the outcome of the Vicky Pryce trial, they may be some time.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Big babies

Take right from left and what do you get? It doesn’t seem to matter what the sum, you always end up with owing. Owen Jones. I heard him interviewed on PM on Radio 4, repeating much of the rubbish from this article in the ‘Independent’. Why the BBC would so regularly seek the opinions of the baby-faced class warrior I have no idea and of course, true to form, he deployed the ‘D’ bomb. In fact this, his most favouritest ever word in the whole wide world, appears in the very first sentence. Obsessed is Owen with the old demonisation. Bless.

He was writing ostensibly about George Galloway but he may as well have been writing about benefits, chavs, private landlords, ‘bedroom tax’, nasty Tories, ‘framing the debate’ and so on because he managed to bring all those chestnuts into both the Independent and the PM piece... Of course, University College Oxford history graduate OJ alone understands the plight of the downtrodden and like the hero of his own 21st Century Beowulf he bestrides the political divide like... well, like a petulant child, really.

Next up on the cat’s whisker was a short piece about the juvenility of modern Britain – grown-ups wearing children’s clothes, reading Harry Potter or playing teenage digital games on the train while drinking pop and chewing sweets and getting unnecessarily exercised when they don’t get their own way. The priorities in so-called ‘austerity Britain’ do seem to be somewhat skewed to a sense of entitlement rather than need. This is not a generation who has seen strife or coped with hardship.

And then, big fun on The Moral Maze, listening to an ardent leftie doing her best to both defend the rights of parents for choice in their children’s education while clinging to her right-on principles about outlawing private schools - deny choice to everybody but me. I paraphrase here, but not much: “My area's very diverse. It's diverse... which is good, that it's really diverse, I mean... it really is good, diversity, I mean... but my needs and the needs of my oh-so-special child were too important, so I just had to put them into private school.” 

Grown-ups may call this hypocrisy; “Make your mind up woman!” I ranted at the radio, about how absurd and churlish a mindset this was – having cake/eating cake - when Melanie Phillips attacked another participant’s attempts to decry private education as a “Juvenile obsession with class war.” Yes! It’s not just me, then.

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me... (count them) That’s what it’s all about. While I get accused of being heartless, what I see around me is a world where all these fluffy socialists really only exist to feed self-righteous notions of their own worthiness. “I am a socialist. Therefore, I am nice. Thus you must indulge me.” In the Just William books Violet Elizabeth would “Thcream and thcream and thcream until I’m thick!” a threat so terrible it would bring the world that revolved around her swiftly to heel. Sound like any grown-up children you know?

Sooner or later though, we must all surely grow up and recognise the untenability of Violet Elizabeth’s position. No matter how hard recent governments have tried to extend your childhood into your twenties and even thirties, sooner or later you will be screaming to yourself in the dark. A favourite quote, often mis-attributed to Churchill, but of much older provenance declaims, “Any man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. Any man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head.”

So, kiddies, it’s time to grow up, take it on the chin and for the next forty years vote to save your country, not your unsophisticated brattish conscience. Leave your angry infant social radicalism behind until your dotage when, having paid your own way and reared your own kids you are free to dabble in whatever toothless and inconsequential branch of liberalism best suits your conscience and state of senility. It's time to spit the dummy once and for all.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Taxing your brains out

You learn a lot of things on social media. On Monday Iain Dale tweeted, “Am I really alone in being an unashamed believer in lower, simpler, flatter taxes? Are there others out there?” and obligingly provided a link to his always thoughtful blog: Why the right needs to spread the gospel of low taxes.

Well, Iain, you’re most certainly not alone. What constantly escapes the grasping begging bowl mentality of the left is that under a flat rate the vast majority of the tax burden would still be borne by the higher earners. Add in the fact that personal allowances significantly reduce the tax paid at the lower end of the earnings scale and that higher earners rely less on the services provided by the state and the rich contribute far more than what I would consider a fair share. No wonder then that legal tax avoidance schemes are eagerly adopted. 

My response to Iain’s question was, “Everybody should pay the same, fixed rate of tax. 20% and no more and the country should live within its means.” (I’d go farther and say that we should aim eventually for an even lower rate of no more than 10% to starve governments out of their over-arching socialist ambitions and make them the servants, not the masters of the electorate.) 

This elicited a third party interjection: “So someone with taxable income of £10k pays £2k has 8k left. £1m pays £200k has 800k left.” Correct. (He must have had private education.) But then he added, “Even Thatcher saw that's wrong.” Did she? Did the sainted Mrs T really believe it was right that somebody who paid one hundred times the tax of another, should be taxed even more simply because they would end up with more than a lower earner? 

In other words, if you manage to earn a higher income by, say, working harder for longer, perhaps to feed your family or provide a better life for them or to save for retirement or fund decent education, or to pay for your elderly parents' care, or to maintain the crumbling pile you now wished you’d never shackled yourself to, you should be penalised by being robbed more robustly than somebody who was happy enough to slouch along in a part-time burger-flipping, clock-watching existence, with ambitions extending no further than happy hour, fags and the promise of casual sex? 

Would it be fair that, in return for your diligence at school, your considered career choice, your graft to attain professional qualifications and deferred gratification while you worked all hours climbing the greasy pole should be rewarded by finding, on the adjacent pole, others had reached the same giddy heights by doing none of these things? Because that’s what he seemed to be implying. (The pejorative "Thatcher" was always a clue.) That some inherit wealth is a happy accident of their birth - somehow those who succeed by their own efforts are not unduly exercised by this.

I responded that his was the politics of envy, to be told in return “...and your response is the politics of greed.” I countered, “It isn't politics. It's fairness. Those who can should not be robbed by those who can't.”. His last sally, “You can call it envy or theft if you want I still say redistribution (backed up by force) from wealthy to poor morally justified.” nailed his colours squarely to the mast. Enforced extraction of the fruits of your labours – the more you earn the higher you are taxed – as a moral issue. 

And there, in simple terms is Socialist economics. By extending that logic you get to the ludicrous 98% effective marginal rate for some under Harold Wilson’s government. We may as well do away with earnings altogether and just make everybody work for the state until they drop, while doling out equally to all – earner or not, striver or shirker, success or failure - the same thin gruel and hovel-poor housing. I believe that's exactly what Marx intended: "From each ... to each..." blah,blah, blah...

If that sounds like hyperbole then consider this: Just how do you decide when you've done enough redistributing? When does an Alan Sugar reach an acceptable wealth equilibrium and at what point of penance has he earned his place? Does it depend on his allegiance? Should we tax more highly those people who don’t give it up willingly? 20% for Labour voters 50% for Conservatives? Or 10% for social workers, 80% for bankers? Wilson’s taxes were largely responsible for the brain drain, whereby the more able simply quit our shores for regimes happy to pay for their expertise; or rather not to penalise their success. 

While we ship in more low-skilled, low-paid, low-tax payers and then pay for the idleness of the displaced former workers by higher taxes on some nebulous ‘the rich’ (which now begins at £35,000 p.a.) it’s happening all over again. In fact, judging by the lack of rioting, we may already have taxed out of domicile those sufficiently sentient to have worked it out. 

I summed it up with one last, exasperated tweet: “Socialism, as taught to me today. Don't bother working harder; we'll tax you so you're only left with the same as everybody else.” I think we’re already there. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dedicated follower of fashion

Every now and then it’s good to spend a bit of time organising one’s wardrobe, after all, spring is on the way and a king needs to look his best. So that was one of my jobs at the weekend, following my recent castle move. When I say wardrobe I mean a few shelves and a hanging rail to accommodate my small collection of... well, when it comes down to it it’s mostly tee-shirts. And being a chap of a certain age, they’re mostly black. 

I eschewed fashion decades ago, when I learned that I will never see being trendy as being worthwhile. Following the herd; expressing my individuality by wearing the same uniform as everybody else - that was never for me... although, for eight years in the navy, that was exactly what I wore, on and off duty. It was the law. 

But driven by preference I refuse to wear obvious labels and scoff at the prices of high street fashion. Man at Matalan – that’s me, but in its own way that is still following a trail blazed by other fat balding middle-aged blokes. At least in my defence, neither my mother nor the missus buys my clothes... that’s why they are mostly black tee-shirts. 

Let’s face it, few of us are attractive clothes horses and with the exception of formal business wear, making a sartorial effort often falls well short of the intended impact - fellas are not made for fashion. Oh, it’s fine for the Beckhams of this world, but admit it, if you see a fashionably dressed bloke over thirty you assume he’s gay. You have to cut your cloth to suit and I’m more a fashion acorn than icon. 

Of course, the politicians are no stranger to fashion and are quick to follow a trend, or to drop it as soon as it attracts the wrong sort of attention. The current trend seems to be to dream up more ways of taxing the bejasus out of all of us, but as in the rag trade there is little that is actually new. Labour, having dropped the10% rate under Gordon Brown are now trying to sell it as the Emperor’s new clothes, but we can all see through its flimsy attempt at selling a Tory principle (low taxes) as their own. 

At the same time, Tim Montgomerie seems intent on reclaiming a LibDem spring fashion standard of taxing acquired wealth; if I was a squirrel I’d be well hacked off that my year-long effort to hoard nuts was to be raided to feed lazier squirrels. Good luck with selling that to Conservative voters, Tim. 

It all comes down to sales. To sell stuff you have to pass it off as desirable, new... different. If you can get people to eat horse sold as beef I’m sure you can get them to swallow poo dressed as policy. In politics we don’t call it marketing, however, we call it propaganda. When fashion gets desperate it panics and does this:

They seek him here... he's in hell.

When politics gets extreme you need a modern day Joseph Goebbels...or Peter Mandelson to sell your shit.

But why can’t politics be innovative, rather than just, you know, a bit ‘stealy’? Here’s something new for government: live within your means. And here’s a new and exciting way to be fair about taxation and discourage under-reporting of income. Why not set an earning level above which you pay LESS tax? It is manifestly unfair that the busy squirrels lose the most nuts; why not actually reward success for a change?

That’s a trend we could all be comfortable with, unless you’re still stuck in the miserable Marxist mode of hating anybody who has more than you do.

Monday, 18 February 2013

A bit of balance...

Okay, one or maybe two of you noticed I'm sometimes a little hard on the Lefties. I think I've always acknowledged that they don't necessarily mean harm, to themselves or others, but harm arises from their misunderstanding of what sort of an animal your actual 'yooman bean' is. Give a man a benefit and he’ll take it as a right; give a man a welfare state and he’ll soon be a slave to it. 

So, I thought I should maybe restore the balance and have a go at the right for once. Before I begin I should explain that the right wing, if indeed there actually is one, is a tiny minority in Britain, which is why it is so hard finding one to point at. To most ‘the right wing’ is represented – courtesy of the old National Front - by a tattooed skinhead restraining a slavering attack dog. To my knowledge the only place you find anybody that far right is in Labour’s heartland sink estates. 

There’s no point in having a pop at them – they are caricatures of a certain type of über-scum (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) for which contempt is too kindly a disposition. They represent nobody with a brain cell and would be happily expunged from existence without disturbing the conscience of anybody with one.

So, who are this Right, that The Left are so readily enraged about? I think they mean people who vote Conservative, in fact I don’t believe any other group of people exist who fit the bill. We have no extreme parties of any significance in the UK, so let’s have a pop at the Nazis Conservatives instead. Here goes.

Boo, nasty! The Tories want to tax you less, spend less of your money on NHS consultants, get better value for money from infrastructure spending and get everybody back to work. They want the country to prosper and live within its means so that everybody can earn an economically viable living wage, the bastards! Nope, that just doesn’t cut it. I’ll try again. 

The vicious right-wing thugs of the Nasty Party want to tear your babies from you and grind them up to make porridge to feed the slaves of the factory owners who will work you until you are dead then take all their money and give it to rich bankers who will destroy the economy and starve your mother out of her care home. Then, when you are all dead they will… they will… Nope. That’s just silly. Now I sound like the worst kind of rabid Marxist Union dinosaur. 

Maybe capitalism is the monster under the bed? But capitalism isn’t really an ideology, it’s just the normal way humans interact. In fact it’s the only way that any system can successfully grow an economy. Unless that economy is going to rely entirely on turnips and tractors and newspeak. Oh. 

Back then, to Conservatism; it’s the way the majority of decent people think, it's just not the way they vote. The definitions or the divisions between right and left (or right and just wrong) are continually shifting and a Conservative of today would be seen as a wet by Maggie and an outright pinko socialist by Harold MacMillan. Today’s Tories have as much distance between them and fat cat industrialists as Labour have between them and tax payers. 

On Friday, Ed Miliband said he was putting Labour where it had always been – on the side of the working man. But I think you'll find it is Conservative social views that have always been modelled on those of the actual working man while the Labour Party, having once been a potent and relevant force for good has been responsible for stifling real aspiration ever since the seventies. 

The smoke and mirrors of New Labour were used to disguise a deep distrust of ordinary British people (bigots, said Gordon Brown) selling us all into a dumbed-down, depressed, compliant European satellite and calling us racist, homophobic, xenophobic Little Englanders if we dared to speak out. If you try to find the right wing, you inevitably end up on the left.

So it was not without a little ironic chuckle to learn that John O’Farrell, Labour’s candidate in the Eastleigh by-election once wished Mrs Thatcher dead and hoped for a British defeat in the Falklands. Despite protestations of youthful indiscretion there, laid bare, is the real nasty party.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Call me Dave

Not a lot is known about St Valentine, the Patron Saint of Clinton Cards, expensive last-minute gift-buying and lost causes, but that's about to change.

First off, whatever the Vatican might want you to believe, the Catholic Church doesn't have the monopoly on comedy celebration saints. I Googled him and 'The Wikipedia' told me this: "The feast of St. Valentine of February 14 was first established in 496 by Pope Gelatinous I, who included Valentine among all those "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." As he implies, nothing was yet known about his life."

Of course there was nothing known about him, fer feck's sake, because he wasn't even born for nearly another 1500 years. This is a classic example of the Cat'lics altering history to suit their version of events. Or is that the Labour Party? It matters not. Valentine, or to give him his full name, Dave Leopold Valentine was born on Friday the 13th of February in 1970, a date that lives in history as the release date of Black Sabbath's eponymous debut album. You'd think the two events were unrelated... and you'd be right, except for a serendipitous yet unsavoury incident involving one of the Osbourne's many inbred dogs, Venice Beach and a moonlit night, some thirty five years later, about which history draws a veil of stony silence. It never came to court.

He's a bit of a card, is Dave and that mis-overheard statement lies at the root of the curious phenomenon of this so-called "Valentine's Day". As recently as 1988 nobody had ever heard of Valentine's Day, let alone thought to celebrate it, but for Dave himself it was a day to forget. Or, rather, for his first love to forget. For his eighteenth birthday Dave had planned a romantic evening with his crush, Pamela Melissa Thorndycke with whom he foresaw a propitious future.

He bought flowers, he bought chocolates and he spent the day making an enormous card sporting a picture of an overly twee Teddy Bear, surrounded by hearts and bluebirds. He even wrote a poem inside.

Roses are red, violets are blue, 
I wrote this rhyme especially for you.  
I love the alphabet, from A-to-Zee, 
But my favouritest letters are yours, PMT.

And then he waited. And waited. But Pam never called. She'd never called because, despite his burning lust for her, he'd not had the courage to actually ask her out. She was in fact engaged in making the beast with three backs with Jonty, the sparky's mate and Billy the plasterer. Dave never saw her again... love unrequited.

So Dave did what every Valentine celebrant ever since has done. He went on the lash with his mates... and woke up the next day, gaffer-taped to a lamppost on a traffic island in Daventry, a sorry-looking bunch of scabby petrol station flowers at his feet and a cheap, tatty home-made card adorning his head like an admiral's hat. As people passed by on their way to work they pointed and laughed, but as they walked on by they pondered the level of misguided, misinterpreted and misapplied desire that could have brought Dave to this sorry pass.

Soon enough guilt got the better of them and besides, there but for the grace... The people of Daventry freed Dave and vowed that never again would such solitary humiliation be meted out in the name of love. In future the misery would be equally distributed! The Day After Dave's Birthday became a local event which spiralled out of control and what had at first been a slightly ironic attempt to commemorate the plight of a lovelorn teenager became a worldwide phenomenon, spawning its own mythology. Saint Valentine my arse!

Pucker up, sweet cheeks!

So, let's raise a glass and drink a toast to the founder of the whole out-of-control, peer pressure perverted, expensive malarkey. Happy Valentine's Dave!

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Traitors' Gate

The burgers are made from horsemeat, the welfare bill is astronomical, the NHS costs more to to run than most world economies and some people are subsidised  by others to live in houses far larger than those others could ever afford. So-called 'Green' energy policies are worse than outright theft and their criminal inefficiency is paid for by everybody with an energy bill yet benefit only rich landowners and massive foreign conglomerates and the latest figures on longevity suggest they will not last out the decade while we have shale gas enough for hundreds of years right here, right now.

We can't deport foreign-born criminals and content ourselves with giving them houses and benefits for life instead. We are not allowed to speak the truth about immigration, crime, cultural ghettoes, invasive Islam or black-on-white hate crime because to do so makes us the criminal. And while we are powerless against the invasion of organised Roma people-trafficking gangs our judiciary will jail an English somebody at the drop of a hat for using a profanity in a built-up area.

Our children are illiterate, our roads are a mess and as the life and aspirations are slowly squeezed from the wheezing, skeletal, walking corpses of those who remain to work and pay taxes to be plundered to fund yet more state lunacy, Ed Miliband deploys his one and only tactical political weapon; the call for yet another public inquiry... into every thing, every day.

Well Ed, I already held the inquiry. And it turns out the blaming finger of fudge is pointing firmly in your direction. You and Balls and Brown and Blair and Wilson and Scargill and Rompuy and Barroso and Marx and Stalin and the shitty Sovietisation of a country that once had the world at its feet. Your brand of toxic socialism has robbed the United Kingdom of dignity and self-belief. You sold our gold, you hobbled our national character and you gave away all that was worthy, leaving us with a cringing population of infantile, politically correct, state-dependent weaklings.

In every corner of public life you have willing dupes, useful idiots and cheerleaders for destructive diversity who will sell their integrity for a footnote in the history of a regime which so despises humanity and individuality that it seeks to make mere objects of us all. Once total control of the population is in the hands of the state, all the things you deride as 'right wing' will come to pass. Eugenics, genocide, torture, incarceration without trial, thought-crime, war, famine, disease and slavery will be seen as normal tools of government, because these are the only ways left when you are in open war with the sheeple.

And even after all that, there could still be a small vestige of forgiveness if you could genuinely claim that you'd done it in honest ignorance of the consequences, in search of a better future for all. If you had the balls to stand up and admit you were wrong, say you are truly sorry and beg for a chance to atone. But you can't really do that, can you? Because every little nail in our national coffin has been lovingly hammered home in a deliberate policy to deliver us, trussed for slaughter, to the nation-devouring abbatoir of the world socialist republic that owns your craven, treacherous soul.

Doesn't matter how often you say it...

So, when you're banging on with your distracting, rabble-rousing chatter about the fictitious 'bedroom tax', when you're basking in the Commons belly-laughs at your plagiarised punchlines during PMQs and when you go home to your comfortable home, paid for by your ungrateful treasons against the country that sheltered your Marxist ancestors, think long and hard about how you will escape vengeance. I hope your dreams are nightly disturbed by the possibility that one day you and the rest will be brought to the Tower through Traitor's Gate, to have your severed heads exhibited to the free and independent people of a New United Kingdom.

Oh, that feels better. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Potpourri /ˈpōpərē/ From the French: literally, "rotten pot"

Synonyms: melange, pastiche, hodgepodge, mishmash, patchwork.

Homonym: Popery /ˈpōpərē/ (Noun, derogatory.) The doctrines, practices, and ceremonies of Roman Catholicism.

The Catholic Church hasn't got an exactly glowing record of compassion and humanitarian deeds; the crusades, the Conquistadors, the Spanish Inquisition. Wielding massive power over billions the Vatican is known for secretive wealth accumulation, secretive political machinations and plain old secrecy and has never had an easy relationship with many outside its embrace.

The Popery Act 1698 was an Act of Parliament passed in 1700 as "An Act for the further preventing the Growth of Popery."

In 1837 the Rev. Joseph Irons preached in Camberwell, "In fact, Popery is not a religion at all; and it is a sad delusion to suppose, that a mere difference of creed is all that exists between Protestants and Papists. Popery is a political conspiracy to subjugate empires, kingdoms, thrones, and states, to one tyrant... To accomplish this political purpose, his agents assume a priestly authority, and arrogate to themselves the power to save or to damn souls. Thousands of their infatuated vassals believe this, and, consequently, dare not refuse to do and say anything and everything which these vested wretches command."

Sounds to me like the Communism, Fascism, Islam or the EU of his day - take your pick.

Guy Fawkes was a papist conspirator who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill King James I. Much to be applauded in that, you say, but nevertheless he was an enemy of the state in the name of a calling based on blind faith.

Never far from Controversy the Catholic church has always been something of a global PR disaster and the incumbency of Pope Benedict XVI, a.k.a. Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger has been dogged by scandal. First it emerged he'd been conscripted into the Hitler Youth, more recently he's had the usual Catholic millstones of contraception and women priests to deal with. But the first Pope to resign for almost 600 years will perhaps be remembered best for the massive amount of child abuse which has hovered in the wings throughout his career.

D'ya wanna be in MY gang?

Whatever good he may be ultimately remembered for, the non-Catholic world will shrug and dismiss it all as the usual melange, pastiche, hodgepodge, mishmash or patchwork of secrecy, ceremony, truth and lies on which all religions rely. So much Papal Bull!

Monday, 11 February 2013


Did I miss the memo saying this month is opposites month? 

David Cameron takes credit for negotiating a cut in the EU budget, which results in the UK’s contribution actually increasing. The government reduces the absurdly generous subsidies for wind power, which causes a rush in applications and thus yet more bird-choppers are approved and the cost of everybody’s fuel bills goes inexorably upward. And the one hundred and fifty-three people who might possibly benefit from so-called gay marriage now constitute a majority. I'm confused; everything seems to be the wrong way round.

Another divisive example of Britain’s political hall of distorting mirrors is the eternal problem of the NHS. As more and more money is poured into the bottomless pit of healthcare, it has become clearer after the Stafford hospital scandal that the more we spend the worse it gets. Yet the Tories who say they desperately want to make it both better serve patients and be more affordable are derided as monsters whilst Labour under whose guardianship it become a self-serving, totalitarian state of its own are somehow clinging to the moral high ground. 

These anomalies seem absurd until you appreciate that we are truly moving with the times and using progressive new algorithms. The Met Office seemed to adopt the policy years ago; on the basis that people don’t really listen anyway the weather forecast has to be carefully parsed for its true meaning. Thus predicted snow translates as wet, sunny becomes overcast and ‘a bit breezy’ translates into hurricanes across the south. 

Under Ingsoc the Ministry of Truth does its level best to keep us on the right track and employs the dumbed-down politics of tribal loyalty to achieve those aims. Thus, whatever you know to be true, any attempt to reform the biggest healthcare system on the planet is a cue to boo the nasty Tories, any effort to curb the excessive salaries of self-appointed local authority officials is, yes, a cue to boo the nasty Tories and a suggestion we live within our means and actually earn that living is an attack on the very fabric of our sacred Welfare State.

To surrender your mind to that state is, of course, the whole aim of Ingsoc here on Airstrip One and just as with Newspeak, Newmaths is the key. Newmaths recognises the continuum theory of numbers, that all numbers exist on a wheel; you travel far enough in one direction and eventually you return to the where you started: 1, 2, 3, 4... 1. So, vote Labour, you get Socialism, yet vote Conservatism and what do you get? An almost identical Socialism. A vote for the LibDems is, of course, a ticket to Room 101 for re-education where you will be taught, as Winston Smith was, that two plus two equals five; you don’t just say it, you really see it.

So there is no such thing as left and right in UK politics, yet Labour activists manage to refer to policies and people as being on the extreme right, apparently unaware that the further right you go, the more left you become. Right plus further right equals Fascism; a perfect example of extreme left-wing ideology. Newmaths; with work, it will set you free. Double the chocolate ration, comrades, means half the chocolate ration but although you can see less chocolate you truly believe you've won. And if we say it's beef on the packet it's beef in the packet.

More spending = less spending. Getting to grips with the deficit = a bigger deficit. Being tough on benefits = more spending on welfare. When I was at school we did Chinese Maths. I think the politicians learned it too - they can only do takeaways.

Friday, 8 February 2013


Michael Gove is quite right to backpedal a bit on his education reforms. While I would have preferred a full-scale reversion to rum, sodomy and the lash, like in my school days (Or was that the Royal Navy? All that grog tends to addle a chap's memory, what!) I can fully see how a child reared today on one of Britain's Socialist battery voter farms might not be able to handle a wholesale injection of harsh reality. That is not, I hasten to add, a reference to the sodomy bit (although I gather that may become a compulsory part of the curriculum if the damned Lefties get back in).

Up here in Yorkshire we will be introducing our own regional variation of the National Curriculum, tailored to the lifestyles and opportunities available to us Up North. Why? Because we bloody well want to, so think on. Concentrating on the essential Three Rs - Reading, 'Riting and Riving about - our students will be required to also undertake a number of vocational subjects, with practical assessments in fettling, furtling and ferret-fondling.

Following the decline of traditional industries like wheel-tapping & shunting, clog making, hatless moor roaming and going to t'foot of our stairs, pupils will be encouraged to attend after-school clubs in a variety of subjects, such as "IT", where fish & chips, sausage & chips, egg & chips, black pudding & chips or chips & chips will be prepared and served... at teatime.

We will also introduce a regular curriculum-widening programme of guest speakers.Of course, in t'good old days we'd have had access to such luminaries as Jake Thackray, Fred Truman and Thora Hird, but I expect we'll get by wi' Kiki Dee, Geoff Boycott and Alan Bennett. If, of course, they can be arsed. We may have to lay on a chippy tea to seal the deal - that's where the IT department comes in you see; joined-up thinking, tha knows.

So, together with enrichment activities such as signing on, staying signed-on and getting on the sick, the mobility scooter proficiency test and the shut-it-cos-nobody-likes-a-grass class, our students will enter the world of work leisure fully equipped to deal with the trials that life may throw at them. They'll know how to negotiate a better deal from Sky and how to set the timer to record Jeremy Kyle so they don't have to suffer the hardships their parents endured, getting out of bed before noon. And they'll have an arsenal of techniques for throwing their ATOS assessors off the scent.

Sports Day, up north

A-Levels will include, as well as traditional maths, a number of incentives funded by our community partners.  BetFred will be sponsoring classes in statistics, in particular the odds of your accumulator coming up. Greggs have generously provided the use of their premises on a pay-as-you-go basis for the study of Pi and we are especially grateful for the generous support of Mecca Bingo for our sports programme.

And finally, we will introduce an even higher set of qualifications the R-Levels. Available in social studies only, this unique exam series will concentrate on the challenges presented in getting along with R-mam, R-gran and R-Bryan in a digital world with, for the occasional gifted student, a module on locating the whereabouts of R-dad.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and sign on.

Editor's note: It has been drawn to my attention that readers of a southern persuasion may not have got the HILARIOUS pun in paragraph 3. The clue's in the chips. Ready? IT = High Tea. There. Now read it again and this time, laugh uproariously. (And yes, the happy congruence with micro-chips and 'bytes' was not accidental - there's a lot of thought goes into this stuff, you see; I don't just cobble it together you know!)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Building for the future

I used to be an architect. That is, I used to once want to be an architect. Until I discovered what pretentious tits a lot of architects are. Nobody told me - and I didn't find this out until I walked among them - that architects are not the Vitruviuses and Wrens of old; visionaries steeped in structure and form with a deep love of materials, building and fitness for purpose.

What I encountered were 'artists'. Whilst your day-to-day architect may grapple with the odd bungalow or extension, those who aspire to greatness inhabit an ethereal world where they sketch awe-inspiring doodles like this which are then given to engineers - real, practical hands-on, dirty types - to make them work. That is not to say architects are useless, far from it, but they rarely tackle the practical and sometimes (especially with small domestic projects) their solutions make no sense.

The very term 'architect' is imbued with reverence and appropriated by other fields to indicate a deeper knowledge and expertise than might really be there. Jean Monnet is frequently referred to as the architect of the European Union and William Henry Beveridge as the architect of the welfare state. But never forget that an architect is usually a professional dreamer, relying on others to fashion his dreams from the fabric of the real world.

Thus 'architect designed' while sounding lofty, usually means over time, over budget and of dubious usefulness, yet still revered by those who can see the Emperor's new clothes. The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon, is universally lauded but never forget that the building as drawn was unconstructable with available techniques and when it was finally completed it cost not the original $7million estimate but $102million; almost fifteen times over budget. And it was not opened in 1963 as intended, but 1973; ten years late.

Of course, it's a lovely building and rightly revered for its appearance but it sorts of makes my point about architects  They often work largely independently of the bricks and mortar brigade and have little accountability. If you want an example closer to home consider that the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood was completed three years late and ten times over budget... and it won the Stirling Prize. Some would say that's like rewarding failure.

I have no doubt that the EU energy policy has an 'architect' at the control of the dream machine. From the heady heights of Tour D'Ivoire I'm sure the gigantic bird choppers, farm land given over to solar traps and the de-de-delayed smart meter intrusion into our personal usage habits all sound like wonderful ways of building for the future, but try telling the people of this estate of 'eco homes' that a doubling of their energy costs is actually saving the planet.

The EU - the house that Jack built

So, next time you hear somebody describing their house as architect-built, don't think "Wow" and green-up with envy. Instead, pity them their over-priced, undersized, expensive folly as you drive back to your cosy traditional home. The EU - built by architects... for sheep to live in.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dear Diary...

Day 1. Tuesday. My new, nicer life.

Yesterday I decided that, from now on, I'm going to be nice. To everybody. That means I will not get annoyed when leftards nice, caring people accidentally bring society crumbling down do their very best for us with their idiotic progressive policies of tolerance and equality and letting in hundreds of thousands of thieving gypsy bastards downtrodden people who come here only to steal and cheat and lie their way into our pockets work.

I will not be annoyed when I hear stories about the European Union spreading propaganda trying to educate the backward-looking people of Great Britain so they can be oppressed forever under the jack boot of communism enjoy the glorious freedoms and bumper turnip harvests that union will surely bring. One day. Soon, I'm sure...

I promised myself that instead of getting angry about the soft sensible sentences handed down to violent criminals misunderstood offenders, I would instead, seek to see the good in them and their potential for rehabilitation and call for their immediate execution  them to be released as quickly as possible so they will rape and stab and kill again and again and again become useful members of society.

And I really must find it in my heart to apologise to the vicious, nasty hating machines of Islam unfairly misrepresented Muslims who only want our total annihilation peace in the name of their medieval sky pixie Allah. I actually believe the sight of mosques on every street corner is a blight on our townscapes a symbol of our defeat at the hands of embrace of the poison that is multiculturalism.

This is proving harder than I thought. Time for bed.

Day 2. Wednesday. Try again.

Must think nice thoughts. Tea. A cup of tea will set me up for the day. And maybe some toast. My, is that the time? I normally post before eight and it's already nearly ten o'clock. Best have some more tea and read the papers for inspiration... happy, nice, generous thoughts. *Thinks - not the Daily Mail... not the Daily Mail...*

Rage all about it!

Right,what have we here? Bent bankers, bent MPs, gay marriage, heart attack, Delia quitting, Gazza back on the piss and sodding horse burgers... Aaaargh!!

Fuck it, what's the point of being nice? Anybody can be bloody nice! I'm back - now point me at something stupid!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Mustn't Grumble

It doesn't take much, does it? Left - right, religion, sex, Europe, chavs, toffs, the NHS, HS2, sniffing too loud on the train and the colour of your socks. When did we all manage to get so angry so quickly? Where's the historical starting point for all this offence-taking? The manufacture, packaging, marketing and distribution of grievance seems to be the only industry booming today.

Back in what now looks like the golden age, the good old days, the twentieth century, our imperial stiff upper lip ensured we didn't whine ourselves into a froth. Our moans and groans were topped off with a sigh and a "mustn't grumble" and off we went to face reality, sure in the knowledge that if we came home with enough energy to watch the six o'clock news we'd had as good a day as could be expected.

We were famous for it. Fair play, a sense of place, a certain pride in a job done well, however lowly, and expectations of a life not necessarily exciting, but at least safe and certain (apart from all those diseases we used to have, obviously). Whenever something kicked off, like the miners' strike, we were happily polarised into for or against and we sat back to watch events unfold, putting up with the minor difficulties like no light or heat or power until everybody got back a sense of proportion and got back to work.

We had winners and losers, strivers and shirkers and it was very clear where you stood. If you were a decent sort, you got on with it, struggled through and came out nearer the top of the pile. If you were, you know, the other sort, well we just didn't mix with you and you got what was coming... which was not much. And on a Sunday we even went to church to pretend we were a god-fearing nation, equal under the almighty, although if truth be told there was little much else to do, except watch the afternoon films on telly.

Oh yes, we were happy in black and white. Norman Wisdom, Jimmy Edwards, Stanley Holloway... Mr Pastry. And then came along Technicolor to blight our days with its garish primary hues, its madcap hallucinogen of Doris Day and the American Dream. Damn you, John Wayne!

And then, once colour had been invented, the rot really set in. Sergeant Pepper's fucking what, already? If any of The Beatles were still alive today, why I'd, I'd... I'd better have a lie down for a bit. Where was I? Oh yes, The Beatles, that's where it all started to go wrong. All you need is love, my arse! How does that pay the rent? Anyway, the floodgates were open now and all of a sudden people got ideas above their station, like wanting to be happy all the time.

But actually, now I come to think of it, being happy isn't such a bad ambition, is it? So how did that morph into what we see today? I blame Diana, the Goddess of Versace, who sacrificed herself... blah, blah, blah... something to do with a Dodo...  so that we could be miserable for ever. I don't remember all the details, history not being a strong point, but I do remember it was in 1997 and I'm certain nothing else that happened that year could have caused all this strife.

The pursuit of happiness has brought us to where we are today. Now, instead of looking for the silver lining, we're all constantly alert for the jagged, baby-killing, razor-lined, bile-spitting storm clouds of offence. That's why Tony Blair introduced multiculturalism and diversity - so we'd ALL have something to hate. Even if we are comfortable and content we have at our immediate disposal the means to contort ourselves into a spitting ball of fury on somebody else's behalf, if not at their behest.

Line up of the usual suspects

Well I, for one, have had enough. From now on I'm going to look on the bright side. All will be sweetness and light. I will smile at children in the street, pat stray dogs and help old ladies across the road. I will skip and sing and shut my eyes tightly at signs of malcontent and never let another harsh word cross my lips. Love, love, love and joy and happiness and sweet-scented flowers I will bring... But where's the fun in that???

Monday, 4 February 2013

Shut that door!

Although they have the same Greek root, polis, politics isn't about policy, as much as it pretends to be; it’s all about the wielding of power. In our flimsy facsimile of democracy that power derives from a mandate; it requires the garnering of votes via the grubby courting of popularity and the current popular pomme de terre chaud is single sex marriage.

Nobody knows how many gay people there are. Nobody. In the 1970s the gay rights movement distorted what Kinsey had said in his 1948 study and promulgated a belief that 10% of the population was gay. I was at university in the seventies and remember it well as, to much giggling (we were, after all, only kids) we tried to decide who amongst our peers it might be.

Of course, at the time we were all familiar with such comic figures as John Inman, Duncan Norvelle and Larry Grayson. As hugely camp as they were, they were nevertheless accepted without question as people first and poofs an unimportant second. Before gay militancy nobody was remotely interested in what homosexuals thought or what they did ‘in the privacy of their own homes’. Nobody really batted an eyelid until Stonewall came along and started shoving it down our throats.

Of course, since those days the closet door has been flung wide and our streets throng with openly gay people. Except they don’t. Nobody knows, but a recent ONS Survey reports - like the cost of national infrastructure - a figure ten times at odds with the original estimate. So, if only 1% identify as homosexual why has the government risked a major split over creating recognition for a union which affects so few, when there are pressing matters which affect every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom?

One word; Politics. However this un-promised, un-mandated and (by-numbers) indifferent vote has come about it is causing upset across the political classes. In the wider populace most people really, seriously couldn’t give a toss. We’d like a job, say, or a pension, or maybe a say in who makes our laws, but gay marriage? Seriously?

It is, by all objective measures a minority issue and in a ‘democracy’, minorities get short thrift. Minorities can of course become majorities (check out the Muslim population by 2050) or they can enlist the support of others. In this case, ‘the young’. Young people are interested in matters of relationships; of course they are. And why not? I must have spent the majority of my free time at university trying to get laid; I would be very sad if today’s students were not just the same.

And this brings me to Twitter Land where 140 characters can cleave nations asunder in moments; where an ill-chosen word or a hastily penned retort can cause outrage and outpourings of vitriol far in excess of its intent. And yesterday’s spat? I said I believed that the vote of young people was unreliable because the young are largely only interested in themselves. What a bad man I am, for which I apologise. What I thought was a reasonably level-headed conversation with Gareth was intruded upon by Reece, who had these choice words for me:

Over a number of tweets he called me a pathetic, naïve, patronising, incompetent, tit. He decided to read into my original words that I believed all young people were stupid. And he even endowed me with having the ridiculous notion that intelligence was a function of age. It’s amazing what you can do with words when, as he rightly acknowledges, you lack experience.

So, Reece, let’s look at all that, shall we? We are all stupid. At least we are all born that way. Unless somebody is going to tell me that knowledge is hereditary, everything we know has to be crammed in somehow. Parents, schools, observation, mishaps, happy serendipity… life. We learn by living, ergo, the longer we live the more we have the opportunity to learn. Some young people are of course geniuses and many older people are morons – but generally they always were morons. It is almost never the case that intelligent young people get less wise with age. (Of course, you are welcome to call me a moron, too, if that helps.)

The most important experiential advantage an older person has over the young is that he has already been where they now stand and he knows what’s around the corner.  The reason I believe the young vote is unreliable is because most people have different priorities as they age. When you’re young – and even more so these days – the world revolves only around you. As you mature you realise that you need jobs and freedoms to allow you to develop and those things become even more important when you have other people dependent on you.

The gay marriage issue is not really a matter for politicians to decide and certainly not now. It should have been debated properly, researched, agreed and passed as ‘any other business’. But politics isn’t about policy, is it? Politics is about mobilising support to win power and every vote counts. Younger people have been roped in to clamour for this non-issue because they will vote for things that interest them now; they haven’t yet seen their future. We have.

Wilson did it, Blair did it. The youth vote can tip the balance of power. But every time it has done so it has tipped in favour of a world order that just doesn’t work. The splits caused by the row over gay marriage may be enough to return Labour to office. If that happens, we will remain prey to the European juggernaut. And this was why I said and still believe that the youth vote, while possibly critical, is unreliable and easily swayed.

Everard never had all this trouble with young boys!

So, let’s get Tuesday’s motion out of the way and please, for pity’s sake, let’s hear no more about it. Age prejudice goes both ways, but in the case of older people it is at least an informed prejudice. Sometimes though - and I believe now is one of those times - we should be standing together to fight much bigger issues than who does what with whose ring. It’s time to fight together to shut that door on Europe.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Sunday Supplement.

Aaaaaand, relax.

That's what I'll be doing. After carrying our brave English lads to victory over the unwashed vicious Scots hordes yesterday at Twickenham. I have to confess to being 'all wored out'. For those of you paying attention I have also been trekking up and down the M1 hauling what I previously considered to be my meagre possessions to my new (old) home. It turns out I have what can only be described as a shit load of stuff. Where did it all come from?

Books, for a start. A voracious reader and a rapacious hoarder I have managed to hang onto virtually every book I have ever owned since about fifteen. So, that's, erm, a LOT of books. Why do I hang onto them? It's Ralph Brookes' fault. As our O Level English teacher he once asked the class how many books we had at home. I lied and raised my hand when he said "More than fifty?" He was trying to gauge the level of parental influence we may have been enthused by and I correctly guessed that more was better. I also remember being astonished when class swots Anne and Louise smugly asserted they had more than a hundred.

In truth, although I read at a furious pace and had done since first starting school, actual owned books were a luxury we just couldn't afford. And while my mother consumed magazines at an alarming rate - in Yorkshire some people still refer to a magazine as 'me booook' - my father read only the newspapers that delivered the horse racing results along with his daily dose of indignation against the mythologically rapacious Tories. (He has hated Margaret Thatcher from the very start yet neither he nor anybody else in the family has ever been adversely affected by a single policy she brought about. Quite the reverse, for they now live rent and mortgage free as a direct result of buying the council house I grew up in. There's tribalism in action.)

So, back to books. I regularly conduct a Ralph Brookes-style survey of my classes of electricians. All adult learners, almost all of them men, almost none of them ever confess to having read a book since leaving school. And almost all of them struggle to read accurately and with comprehension. The lack of this basic skill alone is what pegs them at a low level of understanding and thus a low level of life attainment in the workplace. Considering that for most people work is the thing that simply drains their energies, you'd hope that the tools to make more of it, to make it more engaging, to make it worthwhile would be valued.

All of which brings me onto Andreas Schleicher. He's one of the supposed forward thinkers shaping the way education is or may be implemented and a person who Michael Gove has roundly applauded as the most important man in English education. Here, right here, is the problem in letting the theorists, the progressives, get involved in important policy like education. Because they ignore, I believe, an important observation. Those who are able will get on and learn anyway, while efforts to engage those who are less able by making education 'fun' will result in ever more expensive ways of diverting the children who most need to be taught away from actually teaching them.

The notion of teachers as children's entertainers is not especially new, but it as and always has been, counter-productive and cost-ineffective to spend the most time and energy and financial resources on the least able. Of course, it is an uphill task to drill students in the basics when some arrive at primary school virtually un-house-trained and with no concept of discipline, but that's a clear argument for streaming. That way you can introduce curriculum widening earlier to those who can cope and concentrate on the absolute basics, including a few hard facts of life for those who would otherwise languish on the back benches.

So, give the kids a chance, eh? Teach them to read and you'll give them a better start than any number of citizenship classes and how-to-sign-on seminars. Art for art's sake, money for god's sake and reading for reading's sake... and not just the Sunday supplements.