Friday, 28 February 2014

For the birds

We’ve had a few beautiful, sunny days of late. An early reminder that Britain is not perpetually lashed by gales and driving rain and sleet. Don’t count your chickens, but now and then it’s good to forget the grey old winter and look ahead to lazy summer days. Days when you can take a carefree stroll through a meadow, or follow a meandering stream as it babbles along a valley floor. Or do something a little bit more adventurous, like taking a ride in a hot air balloon, as Mike did.

The gas burner roared as the envelope filled with hot air and gently lifted Mike aloft on his first solo flight last year. Slipping the mooring rope, the earth slowly receded as the balloon left the clearing and soared above the trees. A few tens of feet above the ground and the craft succumbed to the gentle breeze to begin its drift across the early morning landscape. From the basket Mike could observe familiar features from an unfamiliar angle. The road network lost its third dimension and became a living map below him as he ascended higher and higher.

Map. He’d forgotten the map. For a while this was of no great concern but after an hour Mike realised he was drifting over unfamiliar territory and with a limited amount of gas on board he would need to get his bearings and find a place to land. From high above, the texture of the ground is indistinct and the power lines which criss-cross Britain’s farm land are invisible. Mike decided to fly lower and try to get his bearings. Eventually he spotted a dog walker downstream of him and decided to lose some more height. He shouted to the man, above the noise of the burner, to ask directions.

"Excuse me!” he bellows, “Can you tell me where I am?"

The man below thinks for a moment and then shouts back, "Yes. You're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

This obvious answer vexes Mike somewhat and wasn’t what he’d expected. They are far from any roads and only a few individual farms are dotted about the place but he’d hoped for more than this. He shouts back, exasperated, "You must work in Information Technology!" 

"I do" replies the dog walker, “How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "you think you are being clever. All you have told me is technically correct, but it's of no use to me at all. It’s of no use to anybody, really."

“Ah,” says the man on the ground, “I bet I can guess what you are.”

“Go on then,” says Mike, “but I doubt you'll manage on the available evidence.”

"Well let me see," says the man, "it obviously cost a small fortune to get you here, but you set out without knowing what you were doing or where you were going. You have travelled the entire way on nothing but hot air and now that you're in trouble you expect me to get you out of it. You’re in the exact same position you were in just before you spoke to me, which is lost, only now all of a sudden it’s all my fault. I know exactly what you are."

"Come on then," challenged Mike, becoming impatient, "what am I?"

"It's obvious," said the stranger, "you're a politician."

Thursday, 27 February 2014


What joy to be regaled by a junior climatologist on my train journey yesterday.  Fortunately her voice was crystal clear and carried from the front of the carriage all the way to the back where I sat, enraptured by her in-depth knowledge of the current shape of the ice sheet. How handy that piercing voice will come in when she is speaking at a Greenpeace rally to save the endangered wossname, or lobbying parliament for an increase in funding for the wind turbine forest. The best thing about listening to juvenile experts is that no matter how clever they are, no matter how well-informed they can seem to be, they can only ever see things through the narrow prism of their short experience.

This weak prism only splits the light into red and blue, left and wrong, while older eyes can access the full ROYGBIV of claim, counter-claim, causation, coincidence or plain old establishment, or anti-establishment bullshit. The absolute certainty of youth will, however, serve her well, allowing her to tap into the vast amount of resources being hurled at the subsidised, homogenised, diversified, packaged world of pointless studies – clientology.

The clientologist need not concern themselves with scientific rigour, engaged as they are purely with delivering to their client the conclusions paid for and backed up by other clientologists. Will my oblivious lecturer blossom into a boffin? Will she write learned peer-review papers about the peek-a-boo state of the Arctic ice? There is really no need; she already has the primary attribute for success and that is belief. Young people tend to believe in man-made climate change because they have been taught it as an undisputed fact for all of their lives.

But MMCC doesn’t need the predictable certainty of gravity when politicians the world over have been so successfully persuaded of its veracity by the climate change industry. So much so that when Ed Miliband childishly taunted David Cameron at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday he had only to label some of his cabinet as climate change ‘deniers’ to force DC into blustering “I believe man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats this country and this world faces…“ effectively committing his government to spend ever more money we haven’t got, shadow-boxing the invisible enemy, instead of fixing the economy first.

If the UK were to immediately revert to a Stone Age existence, abandoning all industry, shutting down all the power stations and ceasing the extraction of oil and gas the only measurable change in the world would be another 63 million people starving. But no, whatever the truth of the man-made element of climate change the UK is determined to punch above its weight in buying into it. And that means parents should take heed.

Noel Coward might have sung “Don’t put your daughter on the stage, Mrs Worthington” but today he’d be warning against the traditional career paths as well. Don’t push your sons and daughters towards measurable occupations, Mrs Worthington, they are all being done by foreign nationals these days. Doctors, nurses, builders, drivers, cleaners; don’t let them make anything, don’t send them into a world of concrete achievement where reward is based on performance. No, Mrs W, if you want your daughter to shine on an even bigger stage, put her into clientology.

Round here we call it 'Summer'.

“Get real on climate change” said Ed Miliband, signalling the way ahead. For the forseeable future the big money will be on producing reports that nobody dare challenge and an army of clientologists will be needed to tell governments exactly what they want to hear. I predict an upsurge of investment in ‘expert’ opinion, paying ever more money into an industry devoted primarily to increasing the approval rating of governments. Clientology has a proven recipe for success: Identify a problem, back it up with pseudo-science and statistics, extract even more money to formulate a solution and repeat until insolvent. Or is that just a load of ice sheet? 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

PIE are Squares

Corruption. In the seedy world of politics you need do no evil to be branded a witch, as Harriet Harman, sorry Har’person’… whoops, I mean Harper’kin’ has found out. Give a job to a relative, hush up embezzlement of petty cash by a colleague or say nothing about an indiscretion of the heart or unusual predilections and you are guilty by association. But that stuff never goes away completely and is the bedrock of investigative journalism peddling scandal to the prurient masses. I don’t believe for one moment that Harman ever supported the aims of the Paedophile Information Exchange - maybe she thought they were just a bunch of boring old men who like kids - but I’m more easily persuaded that she was fully signed up to the cultural Marxist agenda of breaking down societal norms under cover of the equalities agenda. Right on, comrades! But was she cynical, or was she just naïve?

To claim naïveté in her late twenties, after a decade or longer of manipulative left-wing political activism, might cast doubt on her judgement, but an admission now that the National Council for Civil Liberties supported affiliations with dubious causes merely to bolster their numbers and coffers is cynicism verging on the sinister. So which was it, Hattie? Duped or duplicitous? And why, when it could have been killed off in 2009 when the information was last widely promulgated, did she not stop it dead by a simple admission of youthful stupidity and an expression of regret?

Even last week, even after a period of prevarication and being backed into a corner, she might still have got away with a simple cheap apology on Newsnight. It need have cost her nothing; she could have denounced her past claiming that is was a different age and she was high on the zeitgeist. Apologies come so easy to the insincere; Tony Blair even apologised for slavery for goodness’ sake. But no. Instead of playing the game the public wanted her to play – in more skilful PR hands this could have been presented as a display of her integrity - she clumsily dismissed it as nothing but a smear campaign by the Daily Mail and said:

“I’m not going to apologise because I have nothing to apologise for. I very much regret that this vile organisation, PIE, ever existed and that it ever had anything to do with NCCL, but it did not affect my work at NCCL.”

What a shame then, that the Daily Telegraph immediately kept the story alive by casting further doubt on her claims:  Like a child covering up a simple lie with a slightly more elaborate one and then having to concoct a wholly unrealistic series of events, instead of getting off the hook she managed to wriggle further onto it. Time and again we see this. What is it in the DNA of politicians; what monstrous egos must the Archers and Stonehouses and Thorpes and Huhnes of the world possess that they are unable to simply be honest and direct?

Shadow Minister for Children?

Maybe it’s because it works more often that it fails? Maybe for every fallen attempt to cover up dubious doings there are ten examples of successfully sweeping the dirt under the carpet. We talk glibly and make jokes about the lies of politicians, but what if we only get to hear the half of it? And what if the stuff we don’t know is so much more underhand than what comes to light? So, as scurrilous as it seems and as personal as their attacks often are, maybe the Daily Mail is on the right in all of this and instead of backing off they should be encouraged to keep on digging. It’s entirely likely, in a reversal of the generally accepted saying, that it’s not what we know, but what we don’t know that really hurts us.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The future is bland

So, Labour wants to get back to its roots, widen its appeal and connect with ordinary voters from all walks of life. Despite all the state bribes, some of the most disaffected and least engaged voters are Labour’s core constituents; they love the benefits but they just can’t be arsed to vote, or maybe they haven’t the literacy to spell ‘X’. The only thing they can be relied on to do is not to vote Conservative, but as their default setting is simply ‘not’ that’s only getting half the job done and the party machine is already working at capacity finagling the postal votes from the future islamic caliphate. The day we get e-voting via the telly is the day they will finally bury the Tories. But to what depths will Labour have stooped by then?

Once upon a time they represented an enormous number of manual workers in brute labour-intensive industry, living short lives in sickness and squalor and without a voice. Quite rightly they managed to mobilise the downtrodden and greatly improve their lot. I have always applauded that, but that great mass of muscle is all gone. Most of the people Labour first fought for are long dead and their descendants have never known their struggle. And ever since New Labour had to become Tory-Lite to get Blair elected in a triumph of politics over reason, the ‘party’ has been more like the American pronunciation, ‘parody’.

So Ed Miliband’s latest plan sounds all very noble, taken at face value; offer cut-price, easy access party membership so that finances or closed shop union rules are no bar to entry and enlist the man in the street to join the cause. But the big problem is that Ed’s cause is ONE Nation, not several million of them and in trying to be all things to all people you become an atomised clown car of an administration, the doors and wheels threatening to fall off at any moment. How do you square the concerns of the displaced former working class with that of housing those you have imported to replace them? And how are the needs of small businesses addressed while simultaneously introducing a raft of workers’ rights that make illegals the preferred employee? How much positive discrimination is too much and how far do you hobble the gifted to give the mundane the impression of equality?

To counter the charge of cabinets being entirely staffed by the political elites you have an enormous problem. Partly because quite frankly anybody without an upbringing based on House of Cards won’t last five minutes in Westminster and partly because whoever you choose they will immediately be confronted with protest that they represent too narrow an interest group. Too black, too white, too left, too right – as absolutely, definitely not-racist Sadiq Khan remarked only yesterday on the Daily Politics, the Tories are a racist, sexist party because they are “male and pale”. Fuck me imagine, if somebody white had described Diane Abbott as “black and slack”?

Candidates for selection should consider the following advice: You must not have money, beliefs, more than one house, any filial connections in royalty, government, history, literature or art or talk posh. You should be as bland as it is possible to be; not too tall, short, fat or thin and you should never have claimed benefits, or picked up a parking fine or had a row with a neighbour. Oh, no kids either; no number of kids is the correct family size and they would only embarrass you anyway. While we’re on the subject, as the notion of family is always a touchy subject, it’s best you have no settled relationship or former spouse to come back to haunt you.

You also shouldn’t be male, white, middle class or live in the south. Rather than run the risk that any hobbies or interests might attract the charges of oddness or privilege you should neither keep newts, collect stamps nor have played rugby in fact, your past will preferably be so magnolia it defies interest or investigation. Also you mustn’t hold strong views –especially not about paedophilia. Or sex of any kind. With anybody.  In fact it would be even better still if your gender is a mystery. Like your past; because parents can also say the wrong things at times its better you have none. Oh and you shouldn’t have too many qualifications or be particularly successful – the British hate success.

Labour's road map for the future of Britain

Ladies and gentlemen I present the prototype for next Labour Prime Minister: An androgynous, single, black, orphan of average height, weight and intelligence. A former plumber with a college education and a bit of a bad back, with no history or hobbies or interesting features of any kind. Speaking with a soft Midlands burr in a voice so soporific and unexciting that nobody ever remembers what they promised, this is the perfect candidate to represent what Britain has become.  Just so long as they don’t resemble a black, female retarded Ed Miliband.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

It’s a confusing world out there for the unwary voter. On the one hand, you are told, the Nasty Tory Storm-troopers will come rampaging through your homes in dawn raids to wrench your children from your bosom, burn down your property and put your old dad out into the street to beg. On the other hand those lovely, caring Labours will fix everything for free, heal the sick, feed the multitude and reverse global warming or cooling - whatever – and it won’t cost you a penny because they will make the energy companies and the bankers pay for it all. I know; it’s a tough call, right? (The LimpDems will, of course, just watch from the sidelines.)

But here’s the thing, see, what evidence do you have that any of those warnings or promises will come to pass? Labour are laying it on thick about the baby-eating ambitions of the evil Tory villains, but is any of it actually true? Seriously, has the sky really caved in? How many hospitals have been pillaged for spare parts? Hasn’t public spending more or less stayed as it was? Have they somehow accelerated whatever it is the climate-changers say is changing? The fact is none of you know; not one of you. People would have died, got sick, become more stupid or polluted the planet whoever was in power and not a single one of us is sufficiently well-informed to accurately apportion blame. You need hindsight for that and even that can be unreliable.

Well, as it happens, as far as Labour is concerned at least, we actually do have some hindsight; not only are they responsible for creating the gory mess that is multicultural, low wage Britain, they even have the gall to admit it and moreover that they spent every last penny – and then some – in doing so. They even confess now that they would have to be just as austere as the coalition, phrasing that as tough talk on the economy. Yet at the same time they appear to be promising to restore the benefits (that the coalition haven’t really taken away) which is sort of tempting if you don’t understand any of this. And by way of largely irrelevant distraction, David Cameron’s father-in-law is going to make a packet from wind farm subsidies. The bastard. You should hate him because he’s rich. Boo!

It shouldn’t be necessary to be politically sophisticated to be able to make an informed choice. But when people can’t even rely on their own memories what chance is there? For instance, which came first, the tax credits or the depressed wages or the immigration flood, all of which are interlinked? And those windmills; are they a good thing, bringing energy security? Or are they just another way to rob the poor and give to the rich? Did the coalition really deliberately flood Somerset? For the average disconnected voter it is almost impossible to discern how much current strife is the result of which administration. Atos, for instance, was appointed by Labour and not as people are eager to believe, by the Tories.

If politics was actually about governance there would be no need for party politics. Like any giant company, the nation would simply appoint the best managers and accountants and scientists and engineers and lawyers and replace them as and when necessary. Regions would act like subsidiaries, responsible to the people who paid their wages and town councils would be hired and fired and held to account directly by citizens. If politics was about governance.

But it’s not. Politics is about power, ONLY about power; getting into power, having power and retaining power. In a private, profit-seeking company the very word ‘politics’ generally implies distasteful and counter-productive manoeuvring, often contrary to the company’s best interests. National politics, like stage magic, is a game played in the public gaze, masquerading as acting in the greater good whilst concealing the real motives which are rarely concerned with such outcomes. The general public and many MPs never quite grasp the prestidigitatory nature of the game and still believe you can genuinely change things in an instant – now that WOULD be magic.

So, in the run up to next year’s general election you can forget about governance altogether. The coalition has made all the changes it realistically can and they are hoping for continued good economic news. The opposition has rushed out so much paper policy in the last few weeks, it’s unlikely they will attempt any more, but they are going to ignore the economy and concentrate on how you feel. From now on it’s all about sloganeering. The governing parties will promise you fiscal responsibility and a steady hand on the tiller, while the opposition will promise, promise, promise knowing that people, having not really paid attention, will vote for bread now, not understanding that, with less government interference, cake is within their grasp.  

It’s a mess, but there is a solution. Belgium recently ran without a government for a year and a half and nobody really noticed because the government doesn’t actually run things at all; it just talks about running things and occasionally rouses mobs of gap-toothed, frothy-mouthed villagers with burning torches to mob the streets and demand… er, something or other. Then everybody goes home and nothing really changes. So, if you’re unsure where to place your ‘X’ next May you could do worse than vote for whichever party is offering you the least. That way, you won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Mass Debate!

I’m pretty sure I know what I believe in, politically. A relatively small, minimal tax state that serves the people, providing defence, law and order, diplomacy, education and emergency services, leaving the rest in the hands of efficient private enterprise best suited to supply the needs as and where they arise. I’m also certain about the kind of society I want to live in. A self-reliant, well-educated, civilised and tolerant population of people with ambition but also with a sense of proportion, unenvious of those who do well for themselves and generous towards those who need help.

I’m a realist as well and I know that none of this is actually achievable, or at least not for very long. The big state cannot be relied upon to hold power without becoming corrupt and private enterprise cannot be relied on not to generate monopolies and wield state-like power itself. Populations similarly are largely incapable of becoming civilised without restraint. The fact is everybody has a part to play whether it be mover or shaker or production line drone. And whoever holds the reigns of political power can only ever shift the balance a little bit one way (state) or the other (private) while the population’s part in the process is to be perpetually dissatisfied.

But one thing seems to be self-evident – give people a living without exacting effort from them in return and they grumble less overall. So the greater proportion of people that are effectively kept by the state, the greater the momentum towards ever more government. Which is the entire problem with Europe. People are fond of saying they are pro-Europe, but anti -European Union; it’s the same thing. There is no country called Europe, but that is the ultimate aim of the EU. And given that its officials are appointed rather than elected, the daily output of the regulation machine goes largely unreported and its aim is ever more expansion and control, the EU resembles totalitarianism far more than it does democracy.

But in the UK, like many other countries in this union of soviets, where your behaviour is controlled by ever more edicts, the greater mass of people simply believe what they are told, that in is good and out is bad. That in is prosperity and out is squalor. That in is freedom and light, while out is cold and miserable and nationalistic and therefore nasty. Look at your passport; above United Kingdom it says European Union. In the future it will only say European Union and all two-and-a-half of our main political parties have signed up to that. But they daren’t say it out loud, which is why only Nick Clegg, with nothing to lose, is picking up the gauntlet Nigel Farage threw down months ago.

I sincerely hope Farage will wipe the floor with Clegg and I fully expect him to do so. Clegg’s standing is low, the LibDems looking as if they were prepared to sacrifice principle for the sake of power, but we already know the planks on which he will fight this battle. He will repeat, over and over again, the lines his masters have given him, about jobs, trade and peace and love and he will look slightly ridiculous. Farage, for his part will have to resist the temptation to get boisterous and to point and laugh because his greatest weapon is his sheer likeability and the tone of common sense he strikes. But I fear it may all be for nought in the end. 

A year ago, in sheer frustration at the refusal of any party to even consider an in/out referendum, I joined UKIP as a show of support. I never intended to be an activist and I have never believed – as some evidently do – that a party made up mostly of defectors would be capable of returning more than maybe one or two MPs, let alone form a government, but enough was enough and my protest was duly registered. But after the way the Wythenshawe by-election was fought by the local UKIP branch – mirroring the LibDem approach of altering policy to suit the local voter - I’m not renewing. Despite the mainstream media painting UKIP as ‘far-right’ (which they never were) I’m hearing far too much left-wing, big state, benefit state rhetoric just now.

Seeing how formerly Euro-sceptic ministers are now tight-lipped about their old views and handle their about-turns with barely a twitch, I have little hope that any new party would be able to retain their founding principles for long. You never get to hear why they converted, either. It’s like a sect, the EU-Moonies, where formerly sane people now recite Agenda 21 like the prayer that saved their lives. There is something rotten at the heart of the European Projekt (the Kinnocks, for one) and it looks more and more as if there is nothing we can do to escape it. By all means vote for UKIP where they have a real chance of election, but for goodness sake, whatever you do, don’t let Labour back in to finish us off for good. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

The long and the short of it

Thee apple, the banana, the cumquat, the damson, thee elderberry… see the pattern? I’m running out of fruit now but what I’m talking about is the. No, I’m not missing a word at the end of that sentence, I am talking about the, the definite article. Not the the, as in many popular ‘guess what’s wrong with this sentence’ sentences. Just ‘the’ and how to pronounce it. Along with spelling and grammar, the dumbed-down media world now seem content with just the ‘thuh’ form and it is becoming increasingly rare to hear the ‘thee’ form which properly comes before a noun beginning with a vowel.

Now I’ve pointed it out, you can be annoyed too, as you listen to newsreaders opining about ‘thuh’ economy and introducing an item about ‘thuh’ independence vote north of the border. We have given up the battle, it seems; as far as ‘should of’ goes, because I frequently hear otherwise well-spoken people very definitely pronouncing ‘of’ instead of ‘have’ when they really ought to know better. Given that kids seem to be given so much language leeway in school these days, and unthinkingly use tortured txtspk for writing (possibly because it is almost painful for an educated adult to read) the only source of fluent language they are likely to hear is the broadcast media.

It’s just not good enough, is it? Whatever else the BBC may have become it still has a remit to inform, entertain and educate, so it’s about time its game was upped. Newspapers generally have a style guide. Publishers also are quite insistent that their proof-readers stick to the house style. Actually a good example is just that; is it proof-reader, proofreader or proof reader? All three are acceptable and all three mean the same thing and are pronounced the same way, but it matters very much that in a single publication you use just one form. If the BBC have a house style that accepts only one pronunciation of ‘the’ we ought to be told.

Now, some of you may believe I’m making too much out of this, after all, we all know what they mean, don’t we? And they are well spoken too, so what does it matter? Believe me, it matters but part of the problem is that there are no absolute, fixed grammatical rules in English. Once upon a time almost all of us would have been taught a set of identical (but still largely arbitrary) rules, but after so much ‘progressiveness’ and so many alien influences on a youngster’s life – bombarded by disparate parcels of sound and vision all day long – the ideal of consistency is long gone. It’s only going to get worse, I’m afraid.

Who what now?

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, they say. So, from now on maybe I should abandon all the rules and write my blog without worrying about such niceties. After all u dnt c mny vowls evn usd in txtspk & no punctuation dunt mean they cnt understand what the mean after all a comma is just a waste of a valuable character in twitter for instance and you can write much more quickly if you don’t bother using the shift key for a capital to start a new sentence as well and it helps if you except that the crect use of pacific words duznt matta as everybody noes what you mean n e way and there ios alredy to many bludy rools in the wurld so who cares about a poxy matter like weather you say the or the, huh?

Friday, 21 February 2014

A long old haul

Long haul flights are the bane of working life for many a professional. Sometimes, you like to imagine, you may get a bit of work done on the plane, or catch a few hours of much-needed sleep, but the days of automatic Club Class travel for business users are long gone. It’s all you can usually do to compartmentalise yourself and drown out the existence of all the mouth-breathers greedily sharing your oxygen. So Geoff, the cranky old civil engineer, was less than ecstatic to find that he was crammed into the window seat next to a talkative and eager young scientist.

There were no other free seats available, so even after take-off and the ‘Fasten Seat Belts’ sign blinked out there was no escape other than to roam the aisles. And after a couple of hours even that refuge was denied him as the flight encountered a region of turbulence and all passengers were asked to return to their designated seats. The younger man liked to chat and seemed to believe it was an activity best shared. Geoff just wanted to nap, but even his best hints – even saying out loud “I just want to sleep” - went unheeded.

So, pleasantries were exchanged. When asked, Geoff told the young ‘un he was ‘an engineer’. Reciprocating, the other said his name was Paul and he was a Palaeontologist. Not a palaeogeologist, he was at pains to point out, but the real deal. Oh yes, a dinosaur hunter in the flesh and with a growing list of peer-reviewed papers to his credit, especially in the fields of paleobotany, palynology and paleoanthropology. As the alliterative litany continued Geoff just thought he was taking the p and tried to switch off, tuning instead to the drone of the engines. It proved futile; the hind legs of a donkey were peanuts to this lad, who could bore the balls off a buffalo*.

Eventually, sensing from his captive a distinct lack of enthusiasm for his achievements, Paul suggested they play a fun game that he had played while he was doing his PhD under the supervision of the much admired and ground-breaking Professor Gerhard Strom, a contemporary of the great Jacob Bronowski and a legend in paleoanthropological circles. Anything, thought Geoff, to lighten the mood. Paul explained: "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me £5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you £5." Geoff just looked at Paul and rolled his eyes.

Paul, with rare empathy sensed he was losing Geoff’s attention and quickly changed the rules. "OK, if you don't know the answer you pay me £5, and if I don't know the answer, I'll pay you £50!" This catches Geoff’s attention, and he sees no end to the torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. Paul asks the first question. "What's the distance from the Earth to the moon?" Geoff doesn't say a word, but after a few minutes of silence he says, "I'm afraid I don't know." Then he opens his wallet, pulls out a fiver and hands it to Paul. Now it’s his turn.

“What goes up a hill on three legs” asks Geoff “but comes down on four?" Paul’s brow furrows as he concentrates, running through a gamut of facial contortions as he tries to dredge his memory. Eventually he takes out his laptop and searches all of his references. He taps into the airphone and Googles. Still no joy. Even the British Library, the Library of Congress and the databases of all the scientific communities yield no answers. Frustrated, he e-mails his academic colleagues, all to no avail. He finally concedes defeat and turns to Geoff who has been fast asleep for several hours.

Oh really? How interesting... 

Waking Geoff, he counts out ten fivers. Geoff takes them and begins to turn away to resume his snooze. “But wait” says Paul, “what’s the answer?” Geoff smiles, turns back to Paul and hands back one of the fivers. As he settles back to sleep he says "I'm afraid I don't know."

(*Courtesy of the much-missed Jake Thackray – treat yourself and have a listen.)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Mewl Britannia

Sometimes I am ashamed to call myself British. Actually, for a couple of decades I have called myself English because that way I can feel even more shame according to successive governments and social commentators because the English are pariahs even within Britain – as the largest country in the union by a long way we carry the can for all of Britain’s outrageous actions over the centuries. Hey, who’s worried, we have broad enough shoulders, don’t we? No longer.

In the 1970s, Britain was often referred to as the sick man of Europe but it seems that long after that economic tag has passed to France we are determined to reclaim the accolade more literally. I’ve said for years that the NHS is its own worst enemy and a recent report illustrates how far the disease of the nanny state has spread, with patients turning up in A&E presenting symptoms of extreme stupidity. (My own ‘sister-in-law’ once went to casualty with a blister – I have never recovered from the shock of finding that out.)

The same kind of idiocy occurs with the emergency services in general with overstretched ambulance, fire and police crews being summoned by the telephonic incantation of the dyslexic devils number, 999, for the desperate circumstances of being trapped under a duvet. Or being ripped off by a takeaway. Worst of all is the utter lack of self-awareness demonstrated daily by the entitlement obsessed who appear to have never heard of the British stiff upper lip or what it means. In bygone days, empires quailed in front of that lip and were conquered on the mere bristling of a neatly trimmed military moustache. Now the British lip is more likely to be found quivering, while its owner mewls in the corner about ‘rights’.

When I was a kid we were inordinately and unashamedly proud to belong to the most respected country on earth. At least that is what we were told, but was that such a bad thing? Since then the cultural Marxist machine – Owen Jones is one of its most successful creations and without any awareness of having being manipulated from birth repeats the sacred mantras with fluency – has told us to be ashamed, to be helpless, to turn to the all-knowing state for our daily bread, for our news and even for our opinions.

One of the cornerstones of the project has always been to devalue the traditional family unit. Familial loyalty causes people to look after each other, rather than rely on the glorious leaders and so is to be denigrated. Well, it seems to be working if this latest report is to be believed; one in ten of Britain’s fathers doubts the paternity of ‘their’ children. It’s hard enough getting fathers to stay with their family in the first place without this promiscuous uncertainty. One of the reasons women can’t understand men is that we genuinely don’t feel the way they do about children, especially other men’s children.

Britain, man the fuck up

So, no paternal figure, no traditional authority and the rise of the cult of the child. Patriotism is racism, self-reliance is greed and the Britain I was so optimistically raised in is gone forever. Multiculturalism will seal its fate and condemn Britain to dusty history and when we are just another region of Europe, our traditions harmonised and homogenised and licensed by the state the sunlit uplands of the socialist dream will have been achieved. Not by conquest but by the quiet acquiescence of a population never allowed to fully grow up. Infantile Britannia, good little Peter Pan-Europeans, all.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

What a life

Standards, eh? Tricky blighters. Once you let something slide you can bet your life its downward momentum will gather pace until the speed of change becomes frightening. Introduce a policy to not penalise pupils for spelling in history essays and within a few short years not only can nobody spell, they insist it’s no longer important. And punctuation now appears to be an utter free-for-all, the meaning of much writing being gleaned only by sheer guesswork. Come on people![sic]

Everywhere you care to look, standards appear to have slipped. Driving competence, common courtesy, respect for authority, kids calling you ‘mate’, casual work wear, visible and inappropriate tattoos on public figures… the size of Wagon Wheels. It’s all on the fritz and we’re going to hell and if you’re reading this on a smart phone the chances are your ability to focus on any task for more than a few minutes is already severely impaire... Oh look – a squirrel!

And since when was it the policy of the stalwart Daily Telegraph to run a bleeding heart mini-column in contradiction of its own editorial? While millions will applaud the Court of Appeal’s insistence that a whole life tariff must mean what it says, Martha Gill trots out the feeble plea that it’s barbaric. Actually, I tend to agree with her; it is barbaric to expect the British taxpayer to pay for somebody’s welfare – in or out of prison - for life, endless appeals by all sorts of busybodies adding annually to the cost and leaving families feeling not only bereft but cheated of justice. No, we should top the buggers and be done.

Useful, decent people do not end up being sentenced for life. (No, they don’t; stop believing that hippy bullshit.) Yes, yes, rigour in the prosecution process and the highest standards of evidence must be applied, but once somebody has been safely convicted, beyond any doubt, their sentence should be carried out. No amount of rehabilitation will ever absolve the killers of Lee Rigby and none should be allowed to. If their crime does not warrant a whole life sentence (I suspect most people would willingly have them despatched) then Martha Gill’s understanding of barbarism is wholly warped.

The way it is sentences are seen as a joke anyway. Denis ‘McShame’ served a mere six weeks of his supposed six month sentence. Perjurers Vicky Pryce and Chris Huhne similarly served only a fraction of their jail term and all three are out on the streets with careers utterly unharmed, possibly even enhanced by the process. But their cases fade to insignificance against the regular reporting of violent offenders being released only to commit identical crimes within weeks, sometimes days. The rights of people like this cannot begin to compare with the rights of those whose lives they blight.  

For some people prison clearly isn’t a deterrent; it’s simply a regular phase of relative calm in otherwise brutal and angry lives, but the ECHR believes they have a human right to reoffend. What about, you have to argue, the trumping human right not to be robbed, beaten, raped or murdered? Parents know – or learn – all too quickly how a lowering of standards leads to abuse. There is no point in threatening a sanction your kids know you’ll never carry out. Once you’ve lost authority it’s gone forever; give an inch and they’ll take a yard. It’s about time we could once again believe that our justice system is fit for purpose. 

The Errant Apostrophe - an offence against life itself

But restoring rigour is not the exclusive responsibility of the state; we can all do our bit and standards begin right here at home. So let’s stop the rot. Starting with apostrophes… 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Cry Freedom!

Alex Salmond - Wee Eck - is on the warpath about... well, about everything. He's an angry little fella and not without reason; he's Scottish but he isn't even ginger. But that aside, should they stay or should they go now?

As a vocal advocate of cessation from the EU it would be hypocritical, not to say churlish were I to hold a firm view, one way or the other on Scottish independence. It’s not my business and I – quite rightly – haven’t a vote.  Over to you, Scotland and whatever you choose I hope it solves your identity crisis and unites you either as an independent Scotland or an integral part of the old union. I think, however, that I do speak for many in the UK when I say I am pretty ambivalent as to the outcome.

Out is good. Provided we lose all of your socialistic and disproportionate influence on Westminster – under Tony Blair it seemed the entire cabinet were Jockanese at times. And of course, provided you no longer receive a single penny from the UK exchequer and cough up your fair share of the debt. You’re already a separate nation, of course, as you proudly remind us over and over again, so making that split formal will be relatively easy. To be fair we haven’t understood more than a small fraction of anything you’ve said during all our years together.

In is fine, too, except if you do stay in we know you’ll never stop banging the drum for independence so, for that reason alone it’s probably best for all of us if you leave. This is the fate that awaits us, too. Should Cameron be returned with a majority Tory government and should he honour his promise of an in/out referendum (I’m not holding my breath on either count) and should we vote – and it will be by the narrowest of margins – to stay in the EU, I know the issue of independence will never go away. So my plan is for ME to go away – after all, I’ll have the whole of Europe to find a quiet bolthole, ideally where I won’t understand the language well enough to listen to the politicians. (Scotland, maybe?)

Ignore all the recent shenanigans about currency and your own potential EU membership and the division of the spoils and all that. If you vote to leave I know as a nation you have the guts to go it alone. And just think; you’ll have your own Olympians in tennis and curling and I guess you’ll still be able to watch proper sports on the telly, so what’s not to like? But here’s an idea, why not say stuff Europe altogether and become genuinely independent?

For over forty years we have not had a say – yes, yes, there was the 1975 referendum, but I was there and even as a teenager I could see it was a big con – but you, Scotland, have an opportunity to just step away. If it ever comes about Brexit will be a tortuous process with the EU establishment putting up as many obstacles as it can out of sheer spite and doing its best to label the UK (what’s left of it) as a pariah state. As the UK-EU relationship is all haggled over at Westminster all Scotland has to do is print new passports. Hell, you don’t even need to pack. One day you’re in, the next you’re out. And bloody good luck to you.

And all of that has made me think. What if Wales is next? And all Nor’n Ir’n has to do is merge with their southern cousins for England to be on its own again. But wait. If that’s the logical end to all this and the last man standing in the union will be left holding the EU membership card, surely we’re missing a trick? Forget voting for an independent Scotland. Forget trying to wriggle out of Europe. Let’s have a vote on English independence and walk free from the whole shebang. Time for an English National Party? What could possibly go wrong? 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Open for business?

UK Plc makes dist’ings. They sell for £1 each and cost 95p to make, of which 10p is the cost of materials, 30p is the cost of manufacturing support, plant, maintenance, premises, marketing, sales, distribution, admin and management and the rest, 55p, is the direct labour cost on the production line. The worldwide dist’ing market is very price sensitive and people can easily get dist’ings from elsewhere, so UK Plc has little room for manoeuvre. To earn £5.50 an hour a worker needs to produce ten dist’ings. If he wants to earn more he has to produce more, but at anything more than 15 dist’ings per hour quality falls sufficiently to inhibit sales. So the best you can manage to earn on the dist’ing-line is £8.25 per hour.

That’s yer lot. And pretty much anybody can make dist’ings. All it takes is to show up on time and do what you’re asked. In fact, it is so simple that we could easily increase our profit margins by investing in automation and reduce our labour force to a tenth. It is very, very tempting.

Companies don’t hire people based on what the company can do for the worker. It’s a contract where if the worker’s abilities are in plentiful supply, the terms are pretty much dictated by the company. So given that dist’ing making requires little more than the ability to breathe the transaction is a very simple – you do what’s expected, we pay you and that arrangement can be ended at very short notice. If you are neither rare or talented you are worth little economically and if for any reason a new, plentiful and willing supply of even cheaper labour becomes available you just lost your job.

At the other end of the scale are the movers and shakers, the goal scorers who command a higher price the rarer their skills. It matters not what value YOU place on your time, nor what YOUR opinion is of your worth, the market sorts it out. At either end of the wage scale the individual works not for the benefit of the company but for the benefit of himself, although the higher you go, the more you recognise how the two are related but, either way, if your actions don’t suit the company’s aims it’s time to go. The same could be said to apply to a nation, but it is almost unheard of for a nation to lay off its redundant people. Stalin had a go, so did Hitler and Mao and Pol Pot, but their methods, whilst undoubtedly effective are generally frowned upon. So the country is stuck with you… and you’re useless. What’s a state to do?

Seems the cheapest and least thoughtful option is just to let you wallow in your irrelevance and pay you to subsist. You have other choices; you can strike out for yourself and carve a career in a self-employed business, or crime, or whatever takes your fancy, or you can take the dole and sit in front of the telly box. That IS your contract with the nation and to fulfil it all you have to do is pipe down. Economically, you are worth less than nothing if you don’t pay in more than you take out. It really is as simple as that. But are you grateful? It seems not.

I genuinely don’t believe transgressors against the nation’s laws, its society, should be given the vote – part of their punishment must surely be to lose the franchise – after all you’ve already proved you have no respect for the rest of us. But what about those on benefits? Well, obviously it may not be your own fault, you may not consciously have ended up that way, you may be looking for work. Or, as a result of the last government’s ridiculous floodgate-immigration, wage-lowering policies you may be in receipt of tax credits. Of course you should be allowed a vote but look what happened in Wythenshawe.

Who could have predicted that the residents of one of the biggest council estates in the country would elect a Labour MP? Less than a third even bothered to exercise their vote and of that third, Labour managed to mobilise half of them to vote for a continued battery-farmed existence.  I can’t be the only one who finds this absurd. Entrenched, tribal voting against the interest of the country as a whole is almost treasonous, but what’s the answer?

Is this what we want? 
Vote Labour and it's what you'll get.

I don’t claim to have a palatable solution to the over-supply of economically unviable humans but before anybody starts on about not being able to put a price on life, I have to state that life IS cheap. You need almost no resources to produce it and it can – and is – created regularly by people who are not even capable of knocking out a dist’ing and have no means of nurturing it beyond what the state hands out. From a business perspective our national model is utterly defunct. And I’m not convinced that ‘social justice’ is anything of the kind.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday Supplement

I almost feel sorry for politicians. Almost. I mean where DO you get your economic advice from? From the hoi-polloi who are mere cogs in the machine, the spare parts that come together to make it all work? Or the highly paid experts employed without restraint, their every pronouncement treated uncritically? Or the lobbyists paid to reward you for a favourable nod? Given that the great majority of the population have to live with the worst outcomes of government policy you might think they’d ask the electorate more often, especially as none of the experts seemed to see the crash coming even though ordinary people had been wondering for a decade how come the non-working family over the road had acquired several mortgages and a 4x4.

Throughout history most parts of the world have experienced what could be termed ‘natural disasters’. Floods, droughts, landslip, earthquakes and even bushfires are all part and parcel of living on earth. And every nation, every community has its memories – often living memories of ‘The Great Flood’ or the ‘The Great Drought’. So, naturally the politicians are going to turn to the record keepers at local and national level before coming – or jumping – to any conclusions. But no, instead of asking the people who live with it, they once again turn to the advice of ‘experts’ who concoct some vast eternal global theory to explain a localised, short-term event.

I would trust those with stewardship of the land every time before I placed trust in a theorist who has never donned a pair of wellies. And so, probably would you. Which is why it is even more unfathomable why these people are always the very last to be consulted, although I think I know why. By the time the politicians ever get to ‘the spot’ the damage has always been done - why would you leave Westminster if there isn’t a problem? And, powerless to actually do anything, these same politicians are only going for selfish reasons; to LOOK as if they care. And when they get to ‘the spot’ they find that everybody there is very angry with them, not only for doing nothing beforehand, but for daring to show their useless faces after the event.

Bewildered, the poor souls are driven to apologise for something they had nothing to do with, accept some crackpot reasoning, pre-briefed by their experts and resolve that ‘something must be done’ hoping that whatever that thing is, that they only just heard about, they at least pronounced it correctly on national television. Job done, they then hop aboard their helicopters and head back to Party HQ to watch themselves on the news. It rarely ends well. While a locally born and bred MP may have already been genuinely helping out, nobody asked for and nobody wants a safe-seat, quota-satisfying airhead getting in the way. So once the sound bite has aired the nasty journalists then cut to bitter locals decrying the arrogance of the gobshite they were prevented from confronting directly.

The expert solution...

“Why did nobody tell me this would happen?” ask the confused politicians, “How could you let me make such a twat of myself?” and “I STILL don’t know what that means!” No sensible person would expose themselves to such ridicule as a Philosophy, Politics and Economics graduate does when out of his depth. But the rule of the expert holds firm and true. Just as climate ‘experts’ can’t predict the weather and economic ‘experts’ can’t predict the future state of the economy, political ‘experts’, it seems, know absolutely fuck-all about politics. Isn’t it about time we just stopped listening to the experts altogether?

(For what it's worth the Met Office agrees with me about the floods. Click here.

Saturday, 15 February 2014


All right, I don’t usually blog on a Saturday but I’ve just been listening to climate mong-supreme, Chris Smith talking to sycophants Ken Livingstone and David Mellor on LBC’s morning show. It appears that La Smith, the big gay lord with a cartoonist’s sketch for a face is standing his flooded ground. I hope he has waders because this shit is going to get deeper. (Yes, yes, ad hominem attack but fuck it - it's what they do all the time.)

He blathered on about there being a definite, established pattern of more extreme weather due to climate change when even the most pimple-faced, juvenile ‘perfessor’ of climate propaganda isn’t so stupid as to make that claim. It’s filtered through to government too, with any number of MPs from the Prime Minister down blithely trotting out the line that yes, the climate is changing and yes, it’s mankind’s fault and yes, there is no doubt in their minds that recent over-reported extreme weather is proof of all this.

The outrageous Aussie communist Natalie ‘Gordon’ Bennett from the Green Party has even gone so stupidly far as to call for every climate change sceptic throughout the land to be sacked from any position of influence. So much for free speech, the allowance of differing opinion and well, for simple common sense. No doubt under a Green Government we would all wear the same environmentally friendly hemp sack-cloth and ashes and go about self-flagellating and apologising to Gaia while subsisting off lentils and sheltering in cave-communes between our shifts toiling to maintain Wildlife Refuge UK.

But hey, let’s ignore the unsettled science that says there is no pattern – for heaven’s sake just like economics NOBODY knows – and apply a modicum of calm and reason. Let’s ignore the lumbering state-funded quangos and think tanks and activists and above all ‘thinkers’ and let's turn instead to the ‘doers’. Instead of endlessly debating whether or not it’s real and spending £Billions on paying overstuffed bureaucrats to play pass the parcel with policy, why not draw a line under the whole fiasco and get real?

Cut Green funding right now. All of it. Stop penalising businesses, stop loading the energy prices and stop the fuck out of the green gravy train. Pay wind-farmers the market rate for the energy they generate and not a penny more. Hold them to contribution contracts and penalise them when the wind doesn’t blow, just like with any other service industry. If it’s viably economically they will survive – but while they are doing the sums (Prediction: not one single large scale turbine will ever be erected henceforth) let’s get busy saving the country.

Build new power stations, frack for gas, consider coal reserves. Patch up the potholes and repair the railways and where it is appropriate, traditional and right to do so, dredge the waterways, re-forest the hillsides and build flood defences and sea walls and, in short, put the British people first. Create employment based on real, practical things that cost a fraction of what it costs to pay for ideology and utterly relegate the climate debate to a sideshow.

Do this for ten years and restore this crumbing country to some semblance of dignity and then – and only then, when we fixed the things we CAN fix – see if there has been any provable man-made climate change in the meantime. If unequivocally there is, if the currently far from undisputed science can finally show a genuine link, Little Britain will have contributed sweet-FA to it compared to China, Asia and the USA, but at least we won’t have wasted another ten years imagining we did. And at least we will be ready.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Monkey Business

When you’ve been married for years it’s difficult to keep the flames of romance burning and like many a man, Dave was at a loss as to what to do this Valentine’s Day. Over the years he’d deployed chocolates and flowers, intimate dining, even several weekend breaks to Paris and Rome. But times were hard and money was tight and he knew she’d frown on him spending any of the money in their joint account that she had already earmarked for new patio furniture. But as the big day approached he had an inspired thought.

One of their very first day-dates had been to the zoo where, as teenagers discovering each other, they had both realised they were meant to be together. They admired the plumage of the birds of paradise, laughed at the antics of the meerkats and nervously held hands in the dark of the reptile house. Maybe nostalgia would work in his favour? So Dave duly planned his surprise, requesting the day off work and booking a table for lunch, with champagne and roses. It had been a long time since they had done anything just for themselves.

On the morning of the fourteenth of February he woke Julie with breakfast in bed. She complained about the crumbs. He gave her a prettily arranged floral bouquet which she thought unimaginative and she positively sneered at the soppy verse in the card he’d chosen. Dave was undeterred; surely she’d melt when he took her on a journey down memory lane to where they had begun. He was excited as he cajoled her to get in the car, but she was getting exasperated because he wouldn’t tell her where they were going. As they pulled into the zoo car park she rolled her eyes.

But Dave was excited and his enthusiasm rubbed off just enough that she got out of the car, pulled her coat around her and reluctantly took his hand. It was a grey, drizzly day but still Dave insisted they visited all the old haunts. He pointed out the pair of cooing love birds as they strolled through the tropical aviary, laughed at the antics of the bedraggled meerkats as they peeked out of the top of their sodden burrow and he fought past her protest to cuddle her in the dark warmth amid the collection of exotic serpents. She wasn’t really into it so, with half an hour before their table was booked, Dave led her to the primates enclosure.

Chimpanzees chattered excitedly as they chased each other round their habitat. An old orang-utan sat forlornly in a tyre and over in the corner, in a large separate enclosure, a silverback gorilla sat away from his harem and absently groomed himself. As Dave and Julie drew near he caught their scent and looked up with interest. They approached the wire and the gorilla stood up and sniffed deliberately in their direction. He seemed to be looking at Julie. Dave suggested she walked a few paces off to the left. Sure enough the gorilla’s gaze followed her. He sniffed the air again, then placed a paw on his crotch.

“He’s getting excited, Julie!” said Dave “Go on, blow him a kiss!” The gorilla responded by beating his chest and again clutching at his crotch. The unmistakable sign of his arousal was grasped in a huge paw as the giant stared lustfully at Julie. Dave looked around, saw they were alone and whispered to Julie to lift her top. She giggled and did so. The gorilla stood up and pounded at his chest with both paws, his now fully erect penis in clear view. Julie was enjoying herself for the first time in the day and blew more kisses at the beast.

Who loves ya,baby?

Dave looked on as Julie got ever more flirtatious with the great king of the jungle and he in turn got ever more excited until suddenly the mighty gorilla hurled himself at the enclosure and before she could get away managed to thrust an enormous leathery paw right through the wires and between the bars. The gorilla clutched Julie tightly to him, his hot breath snorting in her ear. She looked to Dave for help, but he just smiled and held up his hands in a gesture of amused helplessness. “Don’t worry darling” he said, “Just do what you always do. Tell him you’ve got a headache.”  

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Myths and Legends

Folklore. We’re brought up on it. The Big Bad Wolf terrorises the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel are lured to their doom by a cannibal witch and an evil troll waits to devour the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Even religion is packaged and sold the same way but with all the fun taken out; the pro-actively wicked Satan figure forever trying to persuade the passively righteous to stray from the true way. In Star Wars Lucas even calls the ‘wrong’ path The Dark Side. It’s there throughout history, in paintings, books… movies. Deep in our psyche we are predisposed to believe a lie rather than face the truth.

To explain why good people do bad things we perpetuate the myth of raw evil. Stick a ‘D’ in front of it and concoct a world view far removed from pragmatic reality and you have your bogeyman. Dark, malevolent, unwholesome, dirty, the Devil makes unsavoury work for idle or unwary hands to do. And we lap it up. Just as everybody nowadays has a concocted diagnosis to excuse their shortcomings, it means it’s not always your fault if you do bad things. You don’t need to try quite so hard; the odds were stacked against you. But if you stay here in the light all will be well.

But, you say, they don’t seem such bad people and they do seem to be having a good time and anyway, don’t we eat pigs and goats as well? Hush they say, don’t you know the devil has all the best tunes to tempt you? Just because somebody seems to cause no harm, that is merely the devil’s disguise – a shiny clean coat of niceness to trap the naïve. Stay with us, they tell you, keep the faith and we will guide you; we will tell you who to love and who to hate.

And it’s exactly the same in politics and therefore on Twitter. Left and right are so firmly equated, respectively, with good and bad that all you need to be deemed evil is to have the label ‘right wing’ attached to your back: “Kick me, I’m Evil!” it says. And for all the misery religion has caused and the millions of deaths attributed to various forms of collectivist societies, the label still sticks. Anybody not subscribing to the basic doctrines of ‘the left’ must therefore be the exact opposite. And if you earnestly believe you are the only people capable of caring, your opposites must be… evil. It’s childishly simplistic, yet it works.

Media portrays conformist left-wingers as normal and sane and ‘just like us’ even as – in its impartial, caring compassion – it introduces those outside the thrall of socialism as different and dangerous. So while calls to increase taxes and enact more laws governing behaviour and campaigns to modify even the way people think are promulgated as rational and sane, anything straying from the path is referred to in more critical terms. Thus Ed Balls can introduce impractical schemes to further punish the industrious, yet more pragmatic and workable ideas are dismissed as the output of ‘far right’ think tanks, or ‘far right’ parties or ‘far right’ ogres who will eat your children.

So it’s okay for lefties to refer to ‘cruel Tories’ and ‘evil right wingers’ but it’s verboten for righties to mention ‘deluded lefties’ and ‘fruit loops’ without censure. They’ve even coined a phrase to apply to anybody who disagrees with their ideologically filled platitudes, so while anybody who shares their simplistic world view is clearly intelligent and kind, dissenters indulge in ‘hate-reading’ of their crazy pronouncements and any attempt to present an opposing view is called trolling.

Express the simple and harmless opinion that people should look to themselves first and foremost for their living and their wellbeing and you are at best an oddball and at the hysterical left’s worst a pariah who would bring down all society. No my friend, I am somebody you need not unduly concern yourself with. While your lot are busy in your futile attempts to change the whole world, I will be getting on with my entirely plausible endeavour to mould just the tiny bit I can directly influence to better serve my own needs without imposing on others. It’s neither evil nor even particularly selfish; I ask nothing but to be left to get on with it.

The evil troll slays the harmless People's Dragon!

So while the extreme left are just as ridiculous as the extreme right, most people are neither. And neither are most people pre-disposed to hate and vitriol, yet the left-right, good-bad thing persists despite all the evidence that it’s just bullshit. The bizarre refusal to face the simple truth that evil is an invented construct that cannot so unevenly be distributed between left and right can be neatly summed up by a tweet I saw last night:

“The Tony Benn hashtag is full of people on the right wishing him a recovery. If he was right-wing, it would be full of lefties wishing death.”

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Lapping it up

Kissing babies. Who in their right mind would want a politician kissing their baby? Yet that’s what they did, back in the day. Thankfully that odious practice appears to have been consigned to the waste paper basket of electoral strategy. Unfortunately, the fish out of water technique of getting in everybody’s bloody way hasn’t. Thus every available pair of soft, clammy hands was suddenly on deck to kiss the metaphorical babies of the flood victims. That will be the flooding which, as far as Westminster was concerned, only just appeared out of the blue in the last week?

Christmas. It was as long ago as Christmas that thousands of homes were left without electricity after the first winter storms. Not a politician in sight. Then, week after week the rains came, the waters rose and people in the area began to get angry as the largely avoidable after effects compounded the damage. Finally, after an inadequate government response Eric ‘sandbag’ Pickles was despatched to shore up the coalition. And he did. He did and said the right thing. He said sorry. He admitted not enough had been done. He apologised again and pledged support. (And if you are in any doubt as to whether he was right to criticise Smith, you should read this article on what the Environment Agency is really all about.) 

And what happened? For the act of not backing up the lily-white boys of privilege in their inexcusable sloth he was berated. Honesty was NOT a policy any side wished to be equated with. Neither sympathy. Nor action. But then, after giving good old Eric a dressing down for doing the decent thing, it was as if Westminster’s own floodwater broke and the Southwest was deluged once more; this time by a torrent of airtime-hungry, ne’er-do-wells fighting over each other to be seen to do exactly what Eric had done. They must genuinely believe we are stupid, as false promises and insufferable platitudes dripped all day from our speakers.

The LAST thing the people of the Somerset Levels need is to be descended on by film crews and politicians, looking for their fix of disaster porn. And in a brazen and breath-taking show of making political capital from the losses of these beleaguered people Ed Miliband appeared in his wellies to make it clear that “now isn’t the time for politics”. One day – I’m not holding my breath – I would like to see a senior politician shut the fuck up, roll up some sleeves and grab a shovel, a sandbag, some debris… and actually DO something. Because unless you are actually there to help - not just 'fact-finding' - all you are doing is getting in the way.

And apart from moments of inept unintentional comedy, such as when local MP Alok Sharma asked Miliband exactly what he thought he was doing, the sum total of his contribution was to look exactly like the pointless,opportunistic gob on a stick he is. Oh and he kept touching people in an insincere and slightly creepy way that would get him punched over and over again if he tried it on the kind of ordinary people to whose votes he believes he is entitled.

No amount of money will put things right, so David Cameron’s heroic soundbites last night: “Nothing is more important than dealing with the floods” and “Money is no object in this relief effort” do nothing to paper over the cracks. But if the flooding has done one thing it has shown up how little the lives of ordinary people intrude on the Westminster bubble. It’s been going on forever, but since the New Labour project bounded onto the stage, government has drifted ever further away from the people it is supposedly there to serve. Not until votes were under threat was it clear that Westminster had even noticed.

So, Labour, Tory, LibDems, if you were scratching your heads wondering why millions of people are considering ‘throwing away’ their votes on UKIP and worrying about them splitting your voting base in many marginal seats, there’s your answer. While you were all ignoring the anxieties of the population over immigration, falling wages, housing, education, Europe, the economy, HS2, foreign aid, the NHS, rich foreigners buying up half of London, multiculturalism, riots, violence, FGM, creeping islamification of inner cities, the loss of British identity, pensions, the return of tuberculosis, slum landlords, electoral fraud and on and on and on… while you were ignoring all of that the whole nation was storing up the kind of resentment towards central government that you are seeing in Somerset.

So, by all means go and dabble in the mud pies, get yourself on the telly trying to look like you give a flying fuck, but don’t think appearing in the lapping waves will make you anything other than the useless Cnuts we all know you are.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Quota Crazy

Following the ludicrous ‘pack de benches wid me bitches’ stunt pulled by Ed Miliband and his gurning shadow cabinet homies last week in PMQs (anything to avoid veering into minor policy areas like the economy, Europe and immigration) the BBC takes its cue from its administration of preference. Head of television Danny Cohen says it is not acceptable to have all-male panels on its shows. He singles out shows such as Mock The Week, QI and Have I Got News For You to be taken out and re-educated. I’ll quote that again for you, it’s not a wish, it’s an edict: all male panels are “not acceptable”.

But surely the essential element in all of those shows is comedy; you know making people laugh and that? And two of the aforementioned are topical in nature, meaning the panellists should be able to contribute humour across a broad spectrum of subject areas while QI by its very nature is little-c catholicism personified. Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that there are no female comedians (wasn’t it so much easier when we were allowed to call them comediennes?) able to cover that remit, but I’m struggling to think of any off the top of my head. Because let’s face it ‘female comedian’ pretty much implies ‘female comedy’, which is generally either gynaecological or bloke-bashing. As I broke the news on Twitter: "BBC announce end to all comedy... as it disadvantages women."

I have absolutely no evidence to back this up – although that’s never stopped most expert commentators – but my experience is that the audience for comedy in general has a majority male make up. The odd fanny joke can be funny and some of the ‘stoopid cave man’ jibes are genuinely witty. I don’t mind a female comic, on the contrary, I’m all for a bit of variety, but while I would happily watch an hour of Mickey Flanagan or Lee Mack, my Jo Brandometer is probably set to around seven minutes. Even many women tend to prefer blokes with jokes, rather than the knowing, we-have-the-vaginas, right-on sisters of the comedy circuit. And anyway, the women already have Michael McIntyre. But hey BBC, they’re your viewing figures, you knock yourself out. Your former target audience will be down the pub.

But Danny Cohen went further still, saying he was keen to bring more diversity to the screen. Surely we’ll need bigger panels? And by the time Stephen Fry has introduced the gay one, the black one, the Pakistani, the obvious tranny, the lesbian the Albanian and the little fella, along with their amusing and politically appropriate buzzers, there will be precious little show left. Does Alan Davies tick enough boxes to even be allowed a place? Maybe he could find a new role as the token man on the panel in Loose Women for balance? But surely neither sex would joyfully tune into Men’s Hour on Radio 4 when Top Gear already does it so much better?

What next? David Attenborough to be instructed to scrutinise all his old footage to ensure that male animals are not disproportionally represented? BBC technical crews to be vigilant against any worrying disparity between the numbers of male and female BNC connectors? And with all those computers out there how has nobody observed the brutally male intrusion of USB sticks? It’s virtually rape, for goodness’ sake! And the more you look, the worse it gets; the men on the news wear ties and generally speak all proper – it’s  inhuman!

There’s even a thing called the National Diversity Awards - this year’s event is just next Thursday – where who knows what delights will be celebrated? The principal categories of award are under the headings Age, Disability, Gender, LGBT, Race, Religion & Faith, but why stop there? Go on, be brave, let’s add in Eye Colour, Political Leaning, Wealth, Walking Gait and look forward to the first award for a Blue-eyed, loping, centre-leaning, LibDem Zoroastrian, cis-gendered, septuagenarian dyslexic. ALL shall have prizes!

We're all the same now.

If all this is alarming, don’t panic. With every passing year there are ever more laws created to control how we live our lives and even the way we think about the world and those around us. Why, just yesterday the Commons approved another witch hunt – soon you will be able to dob in any motorist with children in the car and a driver’s window wound down an inch, on suspicion of their giving way to nicotine addiction. But you won’t be able to judge them; addiction is a disability now and it’s not their fault. See? It’s only a matter of time before reporting a crime will itself become a crime of discrimination – how dare you assume the guy with the knife running away with the handbag isn’t a victim himself? 

So, eventually, the weight of legislation will overwhelm the system and we can get back to business as usual. But how far will it go before that happy Nirvana is reached? This time next year what other normal behaviour will have been criminalised, marginalised or made dirty? When you look at it, the forced imposition of female comedians isn’t funny at all.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Quango Fandango

Bloody Quangos, eh?

Nobody bats an eye lid when Bloggs Builders becomes Bloggs and Son Ltd. After all this is how small businesses have always run; father passing on the tricks of the trade- and the customer base – on to the next generation. Even in larger companies nobody expects the management to exclude offspring in favour of unknowns when jobs are available. Let’s face it, what’s a half-hour interview when you have a lifetime’s knowledge of the applicant and can exercise a higher level of authority than you can over somebody else’s kid? Nepotism is natural - after all even the royal family do it.

Why would you think it any different in a quango? Chris Smith at the Environment Agency has highlighted that fact that the quangos are like unaudited little family firms, but in a position to convey favour and generosity that most of us would be astounded by. As for ‘autonomous’ this nasty little outfit appears to be anything but – taking its direction from the Nazi wing of the Euro-Greens and seeking to rid the land of inconvenient humans to fulfil some sort of enviro-mental final solution. Did I say like family firms? The one I had in mind was The Mafia.

On the face of it, quangos make a certain amount of sense; continuity, free from politically driven change and the cycle of government. They should be correctly purposed and work with their ‘constituents’ in a way that maintains or improves their lot. But all too often these under-regulated outfits are an end in themselves. Free from real oversight they ride roughshod over the little people and misreport their activities and their intentions. Like state enterprise everywhere they think their true purpose is to redistribute wealth – from the nation’s coffers to their own pockets and those of their friends.

If you want an example of the contempt in which any questioning of their activities is rejected, just listen to Smith’s bellyaching about suggestions he resign. In his eyes he is entitled to ride in the first class carriages of the gravy train for the rest of his days. Sod the £billions his department has cost the nation, sod the £millions they have cost ordinary people and bollocks to the ancient landscape they have wilfully drowned. What about HIS £millions? That’s the important thing.

Cronyism in government is frowned upon, highly visible and political dynamite when it hits the news. The extent of cronyism in ‘non-government’ is only just beginning to be realised
Just another way in which our rulers have little but their own interests at heart. A private company has to make a living in return for which it provides a service to paying customers. A PLC has to make profits in a competitive market to pay its shareholders. Even a government has to seek approval to carry on every so often. But many quangos appear to have adopted the Oxfam model, whereby the bulk of its funding no longer goes to the cause it is supposed to serve, but to its own internal structures. Smith is paid £110,000 a year for a job he spends two days a week doing.

Central state-funded organisations, autonomous or not, are voracious, inefficient money pits. The leaky culverts along which the funding flows act as cashpoints for the greedy self-interests of these latter day robber barons. How many times do we have to see it before we get it? Big state, in whatever guise, is inherently corrupt. They say the prolonged submerging of the Somerset Levels is a natural disaster. Well it couldn’t stop the rain, but the flooding is an entirely unnatural catastrophe of the Environment Agency’s making. Of course Chris Smith should fall on his sword. Time to start that much-vaunted Bonfire of the Quangos. Has anybody got a match?