Monday 31 March 2014

Sugar Rush

Earlier this month the World Health Organisation (Why can't they enlist Roger Daltrey as spokesman?) published yet more scary guidelines to spell out how everything you do will help to kill you. This time it was the sugar wot done it and the recommendation is that we should all consume less than six teaspoons a day. I expect the people at Mars are over the moon (“A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”… and then it kills you.) Of course the big problem is that the amount of sugar in even savoury packaged foods is simply enormous.

But I’m all right, Jack, I reckon, because apart from the odd takeaway most of what I eat is prepared from scratch. I’ve never understood the whining and bitching from the entitled classes about the cost of fresh food because basic veg is cheap as you like and we all eat far too much meat anyway. Everybody bangs on about how marvellous lefty blogger Jack Wotsername is when really this is how we all used to eat, back before we had to ask permission from the government before we dared try to have an  original thought.

The problem with so-called progress is that simple skills are easily abandoned in favour of a lazier life and I’ve long lost count of the number of documentaries I've watched that reveal , without a hint of shame, the extent to which young – and not so young – people are pretty much dependent on the state and television to protect them, accommodate their failings and tell them how to live their lives. Admittedly, it is difficult to monitor your food intake with pre-prepared foods, which is why there is so much information printed on the packaging. But, of course, one of the essential basic skills that seems to have been lost is the attention span required to read and understand that information; if it’s not on Youtube, forget it, food nazi.

The much vaunted traffic signal system – pictures rather than all those horrid, oppressive, fascist words – has yet to be fully adopted, partly because it is voluntary. It turns out that despite needing to be told what to do, people don’t really like to be told what to do. Even if the traffic lights do become ubiquitous there will be plenty of people confused enough to misinterpret what they mean. Cue the court cases as the morbidly stupid plead that they thought red meant it contained carrots; extra-tasty, full fat, sugar-stuffed carrots.

So, yes I generally feel pretty smug in the face of the latest food failure non-story as I’m generally an all things in moderation man. For instance, as I write this, shortly after waking, I’m drinking water. After I publish I’ll take tea, possibly with a squeeze of lemon and I generally don’t drink a lot of coffee, taking sugar in neither. Fizzy drinks also have no appeal for me - the last time I had a can of pop may well have to be measured in years and most of my meals are fresh veg, some meat, some seasoning and simple. Yay, go me; I have much to be smug about.

But I only have one glass a day!

But none of that explains why my waistline has steadily going from sylph-like to shameful in just a few years. Maybe I just need to stay a bit more active? Confident I’m being a good little soldier on the food and drink front, I hit the rowing machine, take longer walks and carry on regardless… but now they are talking about the sugar content of booze. It turns out – although I always suspected as much – that even when you have consciously avoided the perils of sneaky sugar, they still manage to smuggle the stuff into you… in bottles. Three and a half teaspoons of it in a gin and tonic? As I go to drown my sorrows I catch sight of myself in the mirror… Make mine a large one.

Friday 28 March 2014

Call me Al(zheimer)

It cannot be denied that we have become a less caring society, contracting out the extended care of our increasingly long-lived elderly to the state; breaking the family bonds so completely that when dementia strikes the sufferers are often without a friendly face to turn to. Alzheimer’s disease is a nightmare end feared by many and feared more so by those without company in their final years. As life expectancy rises and medical research despairs of finding a cure this is a fate which awaits more of us each year.

Janice was a one-time care home worker and although she had moved away from her early caring career she was still determined to do her bit, so when she came across a frail old man, bewildered and weeping on a park bench she gently took a seat by his side. He looked out across the boating lake with a vacant expression. Janice examined his sorrowful countenance and took his hand. He became dimly aware of her presence and half-turned to face her. “Hello dear” he said, as you might greet a close relative.

Using her gentlest voice and her most concerned expression Janice dutifully played the part of a favourite niece and listened to his tale. He explained how he had come out to feed the ducks, indicating the bag of stale bread on the bench beside him. He liked to come here because this was the spot where he had met his wife. Janice noted his use of the past tense and clasped his hand tighter, breathing a soothing murmur of empathy. He suddenly switched to the present. “Actually” he said “you are about the same age as her.” Janice took a breath and played along, nodding as he told his tale.

“Yes, my wife is a lovely woman; half my age and a real looker. She takes care of herself and she loves to take care of me, too. When I’m with her we are like newly-weds; we hold hands and kiss all the time. I call her Pookie and she calls me Dirk and we flirt and flirt and flirt.” He brightens as he recalls his married life and Janice makes small noises of encouragement; it is good when they are in a buoyant mood. The old man warms to his theme, a blush of colour coming again to his cheeks.

“And our sex life is wonderful!” he exclaims and now it is Janice’s turn to blush. “We have sex most mornings, to work up an appetite for breakfast. She wears sexy lingerie in bed and stockings during the day. She likes to give me the occasional flash of stocking-top to keep me going and some days, if I have the energy, we make love in the afternoon. But always, always, we fall asleep, exhausted, hot and sweaty in each other’s arms after an extended bout of thrilling tantric sex.” His smile is wide and Janice is flustered. But suddenly the old boy’s features droop and the sad face of earlier returns. He sobs uncontrollably.

Janice knows the drill and hugs him, patting his back and uttering soothing there-theres. Keep talking, she reminds herself, keep him engaged. Poor, poor man; try to take him back to those happy memories. She gently reminds him of all he has just told her, feeling a little embarrassed as she recounts the detail but knowing she’s doing the right thing. He just sobs all the more. “You must really miss her after all these years” she says and with that the old man stops and looks at her.

“She’s not dead!” he exclaims “I’m not completely doo-lally. I know exactly where I am, it’s 2014 and David Cameron is the prime minister, we just had the Sochi Winter Olympics, I watched the Farage-Clegg debate on Wednesday night and I’m very much looking forward to the second round.” Janice was astonished. “And” he went on, “I do have a hot wife, half my age and we do make sweet, sweet love every morning and every night!”

Janice drew back and studied his newly animated face; he certainly seemed to be lucid. “Then why all the sobbing?” she asked. The old man composed himself, took a breath, looked her in the eye and said “I’ve forgotten where I bloody live.”

Thursday 27 March 2014

Ding-dong, Round One

To paraphrase Malvolio, some are born rich, some achieve riches and some have riches thrust upon them. It’s a human imperative to acquire wealth, nurture your own children above all others and pass onto them what advantages you can; the envy of wealth is an essentially human thing and drives many of us on to greatness. But in the great modern rush for equality a head start is frowned upon – usually by those who have none - as an evil to be banished to feudal history. In the Guardian, James Butler argues that “Inherited wealthis an injustice” and proposes its abolition, presumably by confiscating your estate via a 100% inheritance tax.

In the eyes of your card-carrying, caring socialist it is better to take than to receive; it is better to be equally mediocre than perpetuate a system where some have and some have not. So James must have been delighted to hear that it is not only financial inheritance that could be denied future generations but cultural capital must also be withheld - how dare the English have a head start, for instance, in the international language of commerce? To assist British education on its downward spiral we now import such numbers of foreign-born children – I’m guessing to go up the chimneys our bone idle offspring won’t - that City of Leeds school has taken to teaching English as aforeign language.

In some parts of Leeds English has been a foreign language for centuries but, damn and blast it, nobody must benefit from innate expertise. In fact, sod it, forget English altogether; I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before The EU decrees we resurrect Esperanto so that we can all struggle equally to communicate. Only when every single one of us starts at rock bottom will the great European experiment have achieved its ends. Although I can’t help but notice that in order to pursue those aims, a new royalty is emerging, passing on the reins of knowledge through dynastic inheritance; some family fortunes are more equal than others.

So last night’s Leaders’ debate on EU membership, between Nigel Farage representing the concerns of many millions of ordinary people and Nick Clegg, fighting the corner for yet more integration was a fascinating glimpse into the future. On the one hand a generally plain-speaking and credible example of an independent thinker, on the other a dedicated sticker to a script written in a galaxy far, far away. “In is good, out is bad” said Clegg, tirelessly swinging his hypnotic talisman and repeating ‘facts’ with no provenance, knowing his future ascension to the European throne room may depend on carrying this debate. Farage did his best to blow cigarette smoke at him.

But the most fascinating bit of the whole exercise was how the various pundits presented their ‘analysis’ of events. Danny Alexander declared Clegg the clear winner, but he would, wouldn’t he? John Redwood managed to both declare for Farage and dismiss him in the same statement. And lots of ‘independent’ journalists sought to preserve their future access to all sides - and hence their living - by slimily plumping for a no-score-draw. But the only official poll, recording the views of 1000 people selected to represent the political affiliations of the country as a whole, declared 57% to 36% in favour of Farage.

Mrs T would have won hands down!

It won’t end there, will it? Because it is highly likely that the votes cast represent inherited opinions, some of which will be based on personal experience, some of it on hand-me-down familial dogma. Worst of all, because it appears to show that people actually want, overwhelmingly, to have their say on our EU membership, that ballot must be overturned at all costs. Next week it is the job of the BBC to host the event. Anybody want to guess what the outcome of that second mini-referendum is likely to be?

Wednesday 26 March 2014

The Four Windmills of The Apocalypse

Do you remember Up Pompeii? Frankie Howerd, as Lurcio, regularly encountered a series of unlikely characters who dragged him into their deranged world with increasingly far-fetched but ultimately pedestrian plots, almost always relying on deception and the concealing of truths on pain of death. None of Lurcio’s encounters were met with such dread and derision as those with Senna the Soothsayer. “Woe, woe and thrice woe…”? Well, that’s the climate change lobby, that is.

If you believe an upcoming UN report, Senna was right. In a preview in The Independent the report warns of floods, earthquakes and plagues of locusts. The earth will shake and the seas will boil and death will stalk the land. Wars will be fought for food and world populations, far from rising, will be driven down to Stone Age levels. Kevin Costner will come to be vindicated, even worshipped, as the prophet of Waterworld and the quest to find the mythical Dryland will be man’s final hope for survival. Woe, woe and thrice woe, indeed.

All of which makes me wonder what’s in it for them. Global Warming has become Global Lying or at best Global Fibbing-a-bit. Based on lies, half-truths and projections based on methods few scientists would recognise, the climate change industry actually heralds a coming age of prosperity for many. The report will quantify things they can’t explain and make predictions based on trends they haven’t observed and yet, we’re told, there’s a consensus. Yes, there’s a consensus; there’s a general recognition of a huge market for plausible apocalypse fiction, sold as fact to doom-hungry consumers of bad news.

Populations have moved in response to climate and geographical change for ever. In fact the whole history of man is related to the species’ migration across slowly changing continents and occasionally from fast-changing events. Floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, mudslides, avalanches and disease have always happened and I’m pretty sure Noah’s little escapade wasn’t the result of too many burnt offerings. Or maybe it was? Maybe The Bible marks the first step in spreading climate change propaganda as a vengeful God blames his flood on the activities of mankind.

But mankind is nothing if not adaptable and the basis for species survival is to exploit niches. Look around you. All those bird choppers, solar panels gleaming from rooftops, condensing boilers, heat pumps, insulation, draught-proofing; climate fear is driving all of that. The Warm Front Scheme,* the Green Deal, the Energy Company Obligation and incentives for ‘green’ industry, there is money to be made. Nobody is going to be around long enough to win the ‘is it – isn’t it?’ climate change debate, but that’s not the point.

The great global warming gold rush is with us now and as with the real gold rush the money is not going to be made by the diggers and grafters, the bent-back prospectors but by those who sell them shovels and blankets. Fuck the planet, they say, it’ll see me and mine out, but there’s gold in tham-thar beliefs. So whether you are peddling newsprint, for or against, or supplying dodgy justifications for the purpose of claiming subsidy, or manufacturing kit for the new eco shrines, there is treasure to be had.

The agricultural and industrial revolutions, the ages of steam and rail and flight and information, all have brought benefits to those willing to accept them and so it is now as we usher in the bright new dawn of Environmental Capitalism. Watch as today’s unwashed protesters suddenly realise they have tales to tell, knowledge to sell and contacts to exploit and turn themselves – even while denying it – into Climate Mercenaries. Just as grizzled old class warriors have become titled lords (“It’s not for me, it’s for Pauline!”) the anti-frackers (gotta love Bez!) will eventually join the ranks of the privileged they profess to despise. Oh fickle fiends, oh weak-willed man, oh woe, oh woe, let’s grab that dough.

The Epilogue (Oh, that bench is cold, madam!) No, listen: So, whether or not you believe in climate change or man’s part in it, governments have fallen wholesale for the scam and it would be a grave error not to recognise it. New times bring new opportunities and you don’t have to be ‘for’ or ‘against’ - nobody is listening to that argument any more - you just have to be ‘with’ it. Now get fracking!

(*Warm Front closed last year but other schemes have taken its place.)

Tuesday 25 March 2014

A Piece of Paper

In the absence of any concrete policy to argue about, the subject of qualified teachers raised its diversionary head again yesterday as opposition MPs confused Michael Gove’s quest for educational excellence and competence with socialism’s insistence that all must have qualifications, titles or some form of accreditation – yes, we are all winners. Curious then, how they seem less concerned that parents, who produce the offspring that the state must then attempt to educate, should be suitably vetted and certified and examined and qualified. Of course, the last thing we need is politicians deciding what qualifications would be suitable to judge people fit to breed. But it’s not a bad idea, is it?

We routinely and robustly proscribe all sorts of natural human activity on the basis that it is counter to civilised behaviour. Humans steal almost by instinct – you have to actively teach children that theft is wrong, yet our supposed rulers regularly demonstrate that crime goes effectively unpunished. Maybe MP criminality is more acceptable than proletariat wrongdoing? Humans also cause intentional harm to each other with an astonishing regularity; you could hardly credibly state that murder is dying out, for instance. And one of the most basic drivers of human violence is the competition for mating rights. Surely, in the quest for responsible parents there should be obstacles to surmount, exams to pass and qualifications to be attained?

Of course, as in all things, one of the most difficult of human instincts to suppress is the opportunism – red in tooth and claw – that ensured our very survival as a species. Introduce a legal requirement for a parenting diploma and in the twenty years or so before ministers wake up to the abuses reported to them from day one by a multitude of whistle-blowers, bogus bratting colleges will spring up and award undeserved degrees in getting up the duff. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if an awful lot of lecturers will happily help their paying students with their ‘homework’. Yes, you say, wagging your finger at me, you would paint humanity in such a sordid light but, you see, unlike politicians, I am not seeking election and can therefore tell the truth.

And the truth is that no matter how you layer on the veneers of civilisation the animal within all of us will find ways to scratch it off and reveal the crude plywood beneath. It seems to me that some regulation is needed, but you can only go so far. You can prohibit the physical aspects of racism, for instance – making it illegal to discriminate on grounds of differentness and punishing verbal and physical expressions of the same – but you can’t eradicate antipathy; we haven’t yet perfected thought control. You can also mandate the acquisition of paper qualifications, but you’re on a hiding to nothing if you believe that everybody can justify holding them or demonstrate the actual worth that such parchment purports to confer.

But for some reason, despite all the millennia of evidence against, our rulers are obsessed with putting barricades in the way of reason and are too quick in creating structures open to abuse. Insist on teaching qualifications for all and I guarantee you that standards will not only not improve, they will probably go down as the unworthy will find ways of obtaining the closed-shop entry ticket, while assessing their actual competence will take a back seat for a while. It is as clear as day to those of us who live in the real world; why is it so difficult for governments to understand?

Testing times...

Maybe, rather than MPs insisting on forever regulating the rest of us, the rest of us should be quietly regulating them. Next year, if you hadn’t noticed, there is to be a general election. But why should we have to put up with candidates selected by obscure and often hereditary processes to fill party ambitions? I propose that only suitably qualified candidates be allowed to stand – no diploma, no hat in the ring. That gives them all a year to stop meddling, put in some hard graft, hand in their homework for scrutiny and revise for the big day. And we will all be marking the exams.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Man of Harlech

Iain Jones wiped the sweat from his brow as he crested the overgrown slag heap. Never properly landscaped, the unnatural mounds had been reclaimed by nature and were all that was left to mark an ancient industry. His fathers and their fathers before him worked this rugged landscape and in their turn had fallen prey to King Coal. Black lung, pneumoconiosis, had taken many before their time or crippled them in their short retirements. But it was how men of steel made their living and it was in their blood.

Jones himself had never worked the pit; just before he left school to take up his apprenticeship and his job for life they’d stolen his birthright from him. Bloody Tories, bloody Margaret Thatcher and bloody English rulers. Not for him the life of honest toil and the glorious shared struggle against the pit owners. Not for him the narrow horizons of the valley and a short life of graft and crippling pain. Like many others he had been forced against every fibre of his solid Welsh heritage to take a cushy job with the local authority where he worked to European Working Time Directive hours for a pittance. And then the bastards had the gall to tax him at the millionaires’ rate for it. His father had never dreamed of becoming a higher rate taxpayer and Jones wore the shame like a badge.

From the top of the manmade hill he looked down on his self-build home. Once there had stood rows of miners’ cottages, huddled in the shadow of the pit head; now long gone. Forced to accept Tory blood money the terraces had been flattened, the land cleared and sold off for building plots. He’d grown up in a cramped two-up, two-down but now he endured a spacious, four-bedroomed Scandia-Hus detached house, furnished by his stay-at-home wife from the catalogues of Maple, Waring and Gillow, with a kitchen by Smallbone of Devizes. His working-class soul was tormented by the luxury but damn it, he’d worked hard for what he’d got. Bloody Thatcher.

Jones trudged on to the old Miners Club for the meeting. During all the years of strife the government had never broken their spirit and their solidarity was as strong as ever. As he approached the hall, the last rays of the dying sun disappeared behind the hills; the distant glow of Port Talbot’s industrial lights took over and a chill, katabatic breeze began to flow down into the valley. He shivered once as he strode across the car park; a few BMWs were parked in a straggly row, but the new Jaguar and the two-year old Range Rover told him his old comrades were already there. A wave of warm air greeting him as he stepped inside; Taffy and Dai stood at the bar, pints in hand as they engaged in the same conversation they had been having for thirty years.

“This bloody Tory government is ruining this country, see” held forth Dai, “letting the bastard bankers get away with thieving from us working class boyos.” Jones took a large swig of his drink as behind them a gavel was struck and the meeting was convened. Speaker after speaker took to the stage and the familiar litany of grievances was aired. What gave the Tories the right to dictate to the working man? How dare those who had been schooled at Eton assume superiority over men who worked with their hands? What gave them the right to rule, they who had never done a proper day’s work in their lives? Every angry statement evoked shouts of agreement from the audience. How dare they?

“Yesterday” said the final speaker “on the BBC’s The Big Questions, they were discussing making reparations for the oppression of slavery! Well, we here in the valleys have always been slaves to the ruling classes!” A cheer from the crowd. And I tell you what, lads” he continued “we don’t even get to have our own king. All we have is the Prince of bloody Wales, look you!” A roar rang round the hall and Dai yelled out over the melee:

“Prince of Wales, ‘e calls himself? ‘E don’t even live y’ere. ‘E never even visits! Spends all ‘is time with them Cornish toffs down south. And ‘e’s never ‘ad to work for a living; ‘e got the job just because of his bleddy parents. Well, I didn’t ask for ‘im and I, for one, don’t bleddy well want ‘im!” The crowd’s response was deafening and it took some minutes to subside as, to a man, they noisily agreed with Dai’s vocal rebellion against the yoke of the privileged. It took the repeated banging of the gavel to bring the meeting to order. Finally, silence resumed and the speaker summed up.

Man of the people

“Comrades, we will no longer suffer this ruling elite. The Bullingdon boys can go to hell and the only man who can represent these honest sons of toil is a true man of Wales; a man hewn from the living Rhonda coal, somebody who has broken his back at the seam and knows the sorrow of poverty and the plight of the working man!” The assembled throng held aloft their Labour membership cards, to a man. “So, it is agreed, the next Member of Parliament for Aberavon will be Stephen Kinnock!”

Friday 21 March 2014

The Ladder to Success

Everybody wants to get on in life. Some are weak and give in all too easily, while others are determined and when they get knocked down they pick themselves up, dust themselves down and… well, you know the rest. Not for them the old saw “If at first you don’t succeed, try and get signed off on the sick”. And Mark was nothing if not a tryer. In his short life he’d had a go at many things. Take selling; he’d sold cars, washing machines, insurance and time shares. Well, he’d tried, but the selling game is not for everyone.

Undeterred, he’d moved on and done a few weeks at a call centre, cornered people on the dole in town to complete market research questionnaires, distributed flyers for the local takeaway shops and even spent an unhappy day incongruously dressed as a banana in the pouring rain, trying to drum up trade for fly-by-night ‘designer’ outlet. You name it, he’d done it; washed cars, stacked shelves, picked vegetables, packed boxes, delivered boxes, emptied boxes. Then one day he found himself staring into an empty box, uncertain whether he’d just emptied it or had yet to fill it, or whether he was supposed to take it someplace else and in that moment he had an epiphany.

Mark realised he was made for better things and without a further word he slipped off the apron he’d forgotten why he’d had to wear and marched out of the warehouse into the glaring light, the foreman shouting insults at his back. The sun beat down and warmed him through and Mark began to walk. He didn’t know where he was going but deep in his heart he knew he had a purpose. There was a reason he hadn’t settled into a job; the universe had bigger plans for him. All that afternoon he trudged around town until finally, exhausted he dragged himself to his bedsit and lay down to sleep.

He was out like a light but not one of those proper lights, like Edison and Swann made; more like a crappy low energy compact fluorescent lamp, flickering on occasion through the night as disjointed thoughts surged through his mind. In his fitful dreams he saw many futures. He saw himself as a great success, piloting his yacht through the Caribbean; he saw himself as an abject failure, low on heroin and fuelling his habit by giving blow jobs in grimy alleyways. And then, just before he woke, up he had a vision; a shining, golden ladder climbing all the way up into the clouds. It was a sign.

Some people are made to be the cogs in the machine, grinding away until their teeth are all worn down and their bearings shot by the drudge of merely staying alive, but Mark was no longer one of them. He had purpose, resolve and he set out that day to follow his dream. He travelled the world, seeking out gurus and breathing in possibilities and searching to realise his destiny. One morning, while strolling the outskirts of Lhasa he saw a sign in a window, which read, simply “Success”. An arrow directed him to the left and Mark took its advice. Soon, another one read “You want success? Keep going”.

Eventually he arrived at the foot of a golden ladder and his brain fizzed as he recalled in detail the vision that had set him on his quest. Here he was and as if there was any chance he could have missed the significance, a small sign was attached to one of the lower rungs which read “Climb the ladder to success!” He began to climb and soon found himself disappearing into the shroud of low cloud that clung to the early morning; it was so much like his dream he could barely carry on in his excitement. In the gloom of the mist the ladder seemed to go on forever.

Why Buddha is always laughing...

But eventually, he emerged from the low cloud into the light and arrived at a rooftop terrace. Ahead of him a fat, semi-naked man sat in the lotus position, his skin glistening with a sheen of sweat, looking golden in the morning sun. He smiled and beckoned Mark come to him. Mark, exhausted, crawled forward until he knelt at the foot of the low dais on which the guru sat. “You want success, my son?” said the Bhudda-like figure, to which Mark responded eagerly with a nod and said “Yes! Show me!” The fat man drew aside his loin cloth to reveal a prominent erection. He grinned and declared, “My name is Cecil, but all my friends call me Cess…”

Thursday 20 March 2014

Budge it!

Lest I ever forget that Labour’s day is done and their entire approach is based on bribery, lies, envy and class war, Ed Miliband reminded me yesterday with his atrocious response to George Osborne’s budget speech. If you were looking for an example of evidence why Miliband and Balls are not fit to lead the country you would be spoiled for choice but the budget address really took the biscuit.

George Osborne – love him or loathe him – delivered a forthright and sensible budget based on getting us all out of the mire we were placed in, yet again, by  a profligate and populist Labour government. There were never going to be riches to divide and the message was to stick to a plan that by all accounts appears to be working, even though there are still some areas of concern and aspects that deserve close scrutiny. After the best part of an hour he sat down to await the anticipated incisive, analytical dissection of his plans by a worthy and informed opposition.

Instead he got – and this is pretty much agreed by every commentator in the land – a braying jackass, straight from the ranks of Militant Tendency, deploying every jaded, anti-Tory, comic-book  cliché he could muster. Dan Hodges in the telegraph called it “…a series of Labour Party press releases randomly thrown together without anything even resembling a coherent textual – never mind intellectual – structure”. I called it a load of lefty bollocks. He trotted out all the standard ‘”tax cuts for millionaires, looking after your mates, in it for yourselves” drivel that has been Labour’s entire ‘policy’ since 2010. It was almost as if – why, surely this could never be - Labour had no response at all.

So, sod it. I’ll do my own budget – I need the practice for when the country comes to its senses and puts me in charge. I hope you’re sitting comfortably:

Right. It strikes me that far too many of you are whinging and griping and moaning about your benefits being reduced to still-above-what-many-in-work-will-ever-see, for which I introduce my Whine Duty. It’s very easy; you complain about what you get for absolutely free and we cut it. Complain again and we sign you off. That’s it. If you’re not happy with free money, we will simply remove the source of your unhappiness. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

Child Benefit? You had children for your benefit and not for anybody else’s sake, so there you go –the children ARE your benefit. Do what you like with ‘em – veg picking, going up chimneys, furniture; you obviously didn’t give a fuck when you had them, so neither do we. In fact, forget child benefit, in future you will need to buy an annually renewable licence to have kids. If you don’t pay to renew it we’ll take them off your hands and shove ‘em up the chimneys ourselves.

Bingo Tax? Too damned right. If you’re so dim you think bingo is entertainment it’s about time we cut off your life support. According to every happy-clappy, new-age, joie de vivre, proclamation of all that’s good about the human spirit, life itself is a precious gift. I’d never go that far and for some it’s an unwanted gift, admittedly, but if the biggest mark you can make on the world is to amuse yourself dribbling over bingo it’s time to turn off the machine. Beeeeeeeeeeeep… Oh, that will help out enormously with pensions, too. Joined up, see?

And finally, food banks; they’ve caused nothing but trouble so we’ll close them. Free food? In the middle of a cost-of-obesity-crisis? That makes no sense and anyway, you’re always saying we should do something about the bankers, so there you go. Sorted. This is a budget for standing on your own two feet and not sponging off the rest of us and I commend it the house.

In Moncrieff's bar, Miliband was having a drink with a bunch of sycophantic goons. He was propped up on a bar stool while his acolytes stood around him and toast after toast was raised to the hero of the hour as he regaled them with quotes from his little red book. But one of the comrades was missing; in a corner, looking dishevelled and dejected, sat a broken Ed Balls, nursing a slow pint. I went over to ask what was wrong. “I’M supposed to be the braying jackass!” he complained bitterly. But why, I asked, would you want to be referred to as a donkey? Ed looked at me for a second, then nodded towards Miliband. “Ee-aw, ee-aw, ‘e always calls me that.”

Wednesday 19 March 2014

You Lucky Kids!

The law of unintended consequences decrees that however the government tries to redistribute wealth it will all pretty much end up where it started out. Increase handouts to those evocatively labelled as ‘the most vulnerable in society’ and they will willingly hand it back to those who make fat profits from tobacco, alcohol and gambling. Bribe higher rate taxpayers by giving back some of their tax and they will squirrel it away while finding ways to avoid paying so much in the first place.

It’s all just smoke and mirrors and window dressing to make policies which have zero impact look as if they are bold and imaginative. Yesterday it was Caroline Flint’s turn to pretend that Labour had an answer. Unfortunately, when asked for detail on The Daily Politics, she repeatedly replied that the party was in ‘consultation’ about their already announced plans. This is code for “We have published a policy we think will be popular, but have no idea how we’ll pay for it.” When pressed, her best figure was a miserly £100 per year for the lowest paid.

A packet of fags costs about £8 so Labour’s latest flagship economic miracle might yield about five counterfeit ciggies a week for those most likely to die an early death from lung cancer. I’m assuming the genius here is that by helping them to an earlier grave the savings are made by reducing the overall cost of geriatric care in the future. Meanwhile, George Osborne will be on the Westminster stage this afternoon, trying to make a tax hike look like a gift while selling the next five years of so-called austerity as belt-tightening today for a brighter tomorrow. Somehow all this is achieved by giving away childcare allowances, mostly to those who can do without it.

Beware, they say, of politicians bearing gift horses in the mouth... or something like that. Oh, how we’ll laugh in the future at the folly of our forebears. As we sit huddled round campfires in the eternal blackout of an energy-starved Britain, the troubadours will sing ballads to lift our spirits as we warm our hands. In anticipation of those times I have taken the liberty of rewriting that working class hymn to hard times, Liverpool Lullaby. Please feel free to sing along.

Oh you are a lucky kid, 
Stupid as a dustbin lid. 
Regardless of the things you did, 
We'll gerra bribe from the state. 
Oh you have your father's wits, 
You always get right on my tits, 
But to top up all our benefits, 
We'll gerra bribe from the state.

You look so scruffy lying there 
Tattooed neck and shaven 'air, 
Skunked to fuck you have no care 
And we haven’t got a penny.
It's quite a struggle every day 
Living on the DLA, 
We smoke and drink it all away 
We need that childcare bennie.

Although we have no silver spoon, 
Better days are coming soon 
Now Gideon’s working like a loon 
To give us all a pay day. 
Perhaps one day we'll buy a scratch, 
That wins us load and loads of cash, 
We'll all go straight out on the lash 
And piss it away by Friday.

Love? Hate? It's on the state!

Oh you are a lucky kid, 
Idle as a dustbin lid. 
But it doesn’t matter what you did 
We'll gerra bribe from the nanny. 
Oh you have your father's brains, 
You're both a pair of thick wankstains, 
But you bring the dosh that George ordains, 
.... Now, gerroff yer face with yer Mammy.

Let's hope everybody gets what they deserve - sod all! Happy Budget Day, everybody! 

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Wright On

So, Clarissa Dickson Wright shuffles off this mortal coil and joins the “choir invisibule” as Monty Python had it, although her demise was somewhat overshadowed by the suicide of Mick Jagger’s girlfriend, L'Wren Scott – no, me neither – which made front page news the world over (forget about flight MH370 – so last week). Recently the eulogies were all for politicians, today it’s ‘celebrities’. It’s a funny old world.

In the end they all go and we have what I find a distinctly odd tradition of not speaking ill of the dead, unless it’s Margaret Thatcher. Instead we seem to go the other way and pour on tributes where they are not deserved, endow the deceased with physical attributes previously unseen and moral codes never adhered to. Thus every dead teenager was a paragon of glowing youth with a glittering future ahead of them and every dead pensioner was a brave and wise elder leaving a shining legacy.

In truth, a vanishingly small number of people have any impact on the world beyond their immediate contacts and even then the memories, in most cases, soon fade. They must; death is an inevitable consequence of being born and with knocking on 60 million deaths every year it’s just as well we don’t try and engage with every one of them, although the curious phenomenon of wayside shrines to complete strangers strikes me as ludicrous morbidity. I blame Saint Diana.

But unlike Dopey Di, Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson Wright was the genuine article. A one-off; an oddity from a bygone world. A maverick, she very much ploughed her own furrow and her lifestyle almost certainly had much to do with her early departure, but I suspect she went very much on her own terms. I can’t imagine Saint Peter having much of a say on whether she gets through the Pearly gates to the celestial bar.

This appetite for death and its ceremonial trimmings is, they say, an essential part of coming to terms with loss but while most deaths are greeted with mourning and a bit of garment-rending and straw-grasping, crass eulogising of an insignificant presence, with Clarissa we can at least engage in the counterpart; the celebration of a life larger than most.

Because she really didn’t give a shit what anybody thought. Quentin Letts gives her a splendid sending off in his obituary and you should read it because it’s very good. There shouldn’t be any tears, for this is not an account of promise unfulfilled or of a stalwart seeker of the absurd notion of social justice. No, here was a woman who lived her life as, perhaps, we all should; doing exactly what she bloody well liked.

Is the bloody bar open yet?

Unlike most of us though, she did leave a small and important dent on the world. She had her platform and - via the medium of knocking up a hash on the telly - health and safety, political correctness, the nanny state, the parlous state of education, celebrity culture and overt sensitivity, among many other modern fripperies felt her hard gaze and stern words. And apart from a few miserable lefties we cheered her on. So raise a glass and drink a toast not to the loss of a distinctly odd woman but to a bit of what was lost with her. To the slow death of Common Sense; R.I.P… you will be sadly missed.

Monday 17 March 2014

Conspiracy? What Conspiracy?

Conspiracy theories abound regarding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. From terrorism to aliens to remote ‘cyber-jacking’, to the pilot being a bit miffed at his government. When Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 it was a different, simpler age; it was 1937 for a start and she just didn’t make it. But today, with all the world’s press and social media going into speculation overload and the entire planet’s intelligence machinery working overtime we still know nothing. A plane load of passengers along with its sophisticated navigation and tracking technology simply disappears and nobody on this twenty-first century world can tell us what happened.

It's easy to believe that everything you are told is a lie, a half-truth or an honest falsehood. Nobody knows anything. Nobody. And there’s a reason; if they tell you stuff you’ll have an informed opinion and nothing is so dangerous these days than the loose cannon of an opinion you formed based on the facts. If you have the facts you are free to come up with any old conclusion and heaven knows, some of you may stumble upon the truth which will never do. No, far better for peace and harmony and easy control to feed you a line, or for balance, two lines; that way you get the semblance of veracity and also have something to squabble about.

Take Crimea. They just voted overwhelmingly to return to Russian rule and Obama just said that vote will never be recognised. You see, this is what happens when people make the ‘wrong’ choices based on the wrong facts. That’s why they don’t tell you what happens in the EU institutions because you’d be appalled and angry. Then, because they don’t tell you, you have no basis on which to make an informed choice should a referendum be offered, which is why there will be no referendum. And besides, they wouldn’t want you to vote recklessly, impetuously, because you are appalled and angry. This concealing of the facts is simply to keep your sensitive, feeble minds from having to deal with the unfortunate consequences of democracy.

The NHS, crime, employment, unemployment, immigration, welfare spending, defence, education, roads, railways, energy generation… in all these areas you don’t really know the facts because you just don’t need to. You don’t need to because if even the ‘experts’ are split on party lines, what chance is there that you, with your busy lives, would have the remotest chance of processing them and coming to a responsible conclusion? All of human existence is based around ‘what if?’ and ‘if only’ and you make your supposedly democratic choices based on which fairy tale you believe. Limit the choice, narrow the options and turn it into a simple black or white selection. Trust me, it’s easier for everybody that way.

What about HS2? Where did the idea come from?  Nobody asked us, you say. True, nobody did. That’s because you are too ignorant of the facts to make an informed choice. But we’ve already got good enough rail links to the capital, you say. Yes but this would be better, they tell you. But if it is better, you say, won’t that mean more people migrate from poorer regions to London, leaving a skill shortage in the north to the benefit of London and the detriment of everywhere else? Ah yes, they say, but that way we can milk their higher earnings for taxes and redistribute that tax to you. And think of the jobs!

But where is the money coming from today? And everybody up here is already living off benefits anyway and nobody has ever done a job, so we can’t get skilled people, so we import them from Europe... and then we have nowhere to house them. That forces house prices up and then, their kids end up better educated than yours so when they leave school they will to have to travel south for work because the track their parents built has been completed. Yes ‘they’ say, exactly. That’s why we need HS2, you see – that’s joined up government! And by now your head has exploded.

Eventually all you tiresome Brits will die out and stop complaining. But until then we have to organise amusements to stop you thinking too hard. Where is flight MH370? It doesn’t matter… you wouldn’t understand. But because it makes no difference and costs nothing, feel free to speculate. I’m going with aliens.

Friday 14 March 2014

The Divine-C Code

The internet has much to answer for. Under a century ago children in village schools still scrawled their letters on a slate. In my day every school desk had inkwells although we, society, had grudgingly moved on to fountain pens. Ballpoints were verboten until I got to sixth form and the only people who learned to type were girls hoping for a career in the typing pool or as, giddy heights, a secretary. Although we did a term of computer studies, sending whole decks of punched cards to the County Hall mainframe before they even called it that, the notion of a computer in every home was fantastic science fiction. And that was a mere forty years back.

Suddenly – and to those of advancing years, trust me it IS suddenly – computers dominate our lives; every kid with a yen to learn can teach himself to code and with the aid of the mighty world-wide web has a million tutors on hand around the clock. Now no corner of the globe, it seems, is untouched by digital technology and he who can control it is king. The net even reaches beyond earth and into space and even further, to the netherworld. And so it has come to pass that even the kingdoms of heaven and hell are pitting their wits against each other in ways far from biblical…

It came to pass that Jesus and Satan had an argument as to which of them was the better programmer. The squabble became an out and out row – you may have experienced the unusually stormy winter weather in the south of England, where they live – for many days until their dad intervened, in his mysterious way. His booming voice ringing out from Yorkshire, where He lives, the lord God Almighty decreed they settle the argument with a contest and set them a task to program from scratch a database to hold the souls of the saved and the damned.

The King of the Jews and the Lord of the Flies sat either side of an enormous desk, their PCs back to back, and began the task, each pausing occasionally to respectively smile beatifically or glower at the other. Time slipped by as their typing fingers upped the pace and code flowed onto the screens. Hammering at their keyboards Jesus and Satan coded as if approaching the end of days. God, as judge, looked on and smiled to himself; apart from the clatter it was the quietest he’d seen them in millennia. Soon the deadline loomed and the boys furiously shifted up yet another gear, each to dominate the other.

Suddenly, a flash of lightning rent the air. The smell of ozone hit their nostrils and as the deafening crack of thunder reached their ears the power went out. In the darkness The Lord chuckled and lit a match. His face lit eerily by the flickering flame he bade the quarrelling pair hush for a few moments more. With a snap of his fingers the lights came back on, power was restored and their computers automatically rebooted.

“Showeth me thy work, foul demon!” he demanded of The Devil, using his affectionate nickname for the devilish scamp. Satan looked confused as he desperately searched for his files. Dejected he looked up at God and said, “We have nothing. We lost it all when the power went out.”

“Speak for yourself!” said Jesus and so saying he hit the Enter key. The massed choir of the angelic host poured forth from his speakers and on screen a window popped up bidding him to enter a name. He typed in “Tony Benn” and pressed Enter, whereupon the screen filled with text and began to scroll, displaying every deceased Tony Benn from the beginning of time, along with their final resting place, political affiliation and last words, the typeface in blue for heaven and red for hell.

Satan was furious. He raged, he howled and then he turned to Jesus and demanded, “B-b-but how?” In the voice of Hades itself even his involuntary stutter dripped p-p-p-pure evil. The temperature dropped a few degrees. “I lost everything, yet Jesus’ program is intact! How can this be? Surely this is some divine trick?”

The Devil's Code? C666

A low rumble began in God’s belly and grew in intensity as it travelled through the vast cavern of his chest, emerging in a mighty bellow of laughter as he held his holy ribs. The carpenter’s son laughed at his right hand. When the laughter subsided, God placed a friendly hand on Satan’s shoulder and chuckled. “Don’t you know, lad? I thought everybody knew… Jesus saves.”

Thursday 13 March 2014

Crystal Clear

The world’s gone referendum mad! Well the UK has gone referendum mad! That is, its political parties have gone referendum mad… a bit. Not really sure how to set out their stalls, the main parties have each now announced ‘crystal clear’ positions on the whole kit and caboodle; positions so clear that a battalion of spokespeople, pundits, columnists and commentators appear to have spent most of yesterday explaining and counter-explaining them. I think most ordinary people understand by ‘crystal clear’ and ‘simple’ that a thing is so self-evidently what it is that further elucidation is unnecessary. Trouble is this particular duck looks like a horse, talks like a monkey and walks like John Wayne.

The nub of the neighing, anthropoid, big-leggy duck situation appears to be this:

The LibDems, having demanded an in/out referendum in 2008, because they firmly believed the voters would opt to stay IN, are now absolutely on the side of NOT holding a referendum because they are terrified the public might vote OUT. But just in case they are accused of dithering they have altered their stance – but say they haven’t and to politicians saying and doing are much the same thing - to add that IF further powers are ceded to the EU a referendum WILL be forthcoming. IF you vote for them. Good luck with that then, Nick.

The Conservatives, on the other hand, despite spending the last forty years banging on about Europe have never managed to get their heads around what they want because their big business backers are vehemently pro cheap labour and Tuscan villas and big UK landowners just love the subsidies for blighting our rural landscapes with wind turbines and damn the peasantry. At the back of their collective mind, though, is a nagging concern over loss of sovereignty and influence at ‘the top table’. But having procrastinated for so long, that particular fear has largely gone away. As there is little in the way of sovereignty left to give they can now afford to be so fiercely pro-EU that they can promise an unconditional in/out referendum following the inevitable failure of reform talks, hoping that with a resurgent economy the issue of the EU will quietly cease to be a concern for voters. Clear so far?

But Labour are obviously the front runners in the PlainEnglish Campaign as they announced their latest offering. An offering so convoluted that after even Snakey Mandelson failed to make it understandable on the Today programme, Andrew Neil had to ask Angela “Eddie the” Eagle about a dozen times on the Daily Politics. Ed Miliband’s Financial Times article was headlined “Miliband rules out early EU poll” while The Daily Mirror splashed “Ed: we will give EU an in-out vote.” Effectively, Ed has sort of made a promise he sort of believes he will never have to sort of keep. Presumably he hopes people are stupid enough to believe, yet again, that he is for whatever they are for and against whatever they are against. Nice trick if you can pull it off, but what do you actually stand for, you muppet?

As I recall, Labour were rabidly anti-EU in the seventies and eighties but seeing the fabulous wealth their most fatuous leader has acquired since being booed off Brighton beach and into Brussels, maybe they decided they should have some of that; to this day denizens of the Rhonda dream of winning the lottery and becoming “As rich as Kinnock.” Given that it is Labour’s core constituents who have suffered the most from the EU’s open borders, their yeah-but, no-but stance is far from the decisive workers’ party leadership Ed wants to claim.

Other commentators sought to place the issue of an EU referendum far down on the voters list of priorities, but trust me, it’s up there. Maybe UKIP are popular because unlike the other parties everybody knows what they stand for, at least as far as Europe is concerned, and they are the only party never to have altered that position in twenty years. And in contrast to that steadfast vision of an independent United Kingdom the prevarication of the two-and-a-half-main parties over this and so many other issues is precisely why the electorate will stay away in their droves come the general election. There is a feeling of helplessness and inevitability about voting that, however you cast your ballot, the same rotten lot always get in.

Now you're talking, Mr Ed.

So, to sum up: Libdems – don’t trust you; won’t hold a referendum. Conservatives – don’t trust you; will have a referendum, unless they can quietly forget about it. Labour – don’t trust you; might have a referendum, might not, but vote for them anyway, it will be like pass the parcel. As for UKIP, despite their obvious popularity with the disaffected of all three parties and huge recent gains in opinion polls, it’s unlikely they will have more than a handful (if any) MPs but a vote for them IS a sort of referendum. Oh, and the Greens don’t trust you either, but nobody gives a flying fuck what the Greens think.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

The Crow Road

When Margaret Thatcher died the obituaries written years beforehand were taken down, dusted off and liberally published across the globe. World leaders lined up to pay glowing tribute and she was afforded what amounted to a de-facto state funeral. Bob Crow got Twitter. At only 52 and on his usual ebullient form, nobody expected the burly communist bear of the RMT Union to go out with a whisper. A lone voice called for a state funeral via an e-Petition, which was rejected out of hand; some would say a fitting response from the establishment he fought hard to oppose.

I missed the Twitterfest, but I gather it was mostly good-humoured variations on the themes of Buster Bloodvessel comparisons and suppositions that at least a London council house would shortly be available. One I did see and retweet was to the effect that finally, like many unfortunate Tube passengers suffering the numerous strikes he orchestrated, he was now ‘The Late’ Mr Crow. There certainly wasn’t the visceral, seething hatred that was spat out when the great lady passed, in fact many on the right showed grudging respect for his formidable and indefatigable devotion to the cause. There was no murder of Crows.

Of course, wee Owen Jones was bereft, but later the fragile boy got all teary when Toby Young challenged the way he and his ilk eulogised the big man. Given that, by all accounts, Bob liked a laugh and despised the modern diversity-driven milksop version of the world he would probably not have given the drippy little tosspot the time of day. Anyway, he must have had a sense of humour if his ideal world was a Socialist Workers’ paradise – like Cuba, perhaps? Or Venezuela.

Many sought to lionise his stalwart championing of his own workers’ rights, holding the capital to ransom, making travelling across London more than three times the cost of an equivalent journey across Paris and inflating tube drivers’ wages to over twice that of a nurse. Odd then, that having pushed his members’ salaries into the 40% tax bracket, he didn’t then lobby for tax cuts for higher wage earners? It’s a tricky business, this socialism, isn’t it? And then of course there’s the oft-mentioned matter of his own remuneration.

One of twitter’s Reds made the point that he was paid entirely out of the willing contributions of his union members and didn’t take money directly from the state like, for instance, every MP in the land. But then that surely made him an exemplar for capitalism and free market pay bargaining; how could he then complain about banks doing the very same thing? As this Spectatorblog suggests, he was very nearly a Conservative.

Whether you saw him as the scourge of the ruling class or a heroic warrior for social justice; whether you believe his brand of communism was lunacy or utopia; love him or loathe him he’s gone now. If he ruffled your feathers there’s no need to Crow about it. No reason to get in a flap, the pecking order is clear. He fell off his perch and squawks no more. Maybe after that Brazilian holiday he just came back too orangey for Crows.

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Jobs for the boys?

Yesterday on ‘The Twitter’ the evil* journalist (*Ask the feminazis) Mark Sparrow, suggested “Maybe MPs should have to do two years public service at minimum wage before they can be eligible to stand for Parliament.” It’s a notion with, as they now say, traction; most voters believe the ruling elite have become a self-serving irrelevance, except for the way in which their interference negatively impacts on everyday lives. So any way in which they could be forced to confront the concerns of ordinary people would be welcomed.

Of course, it would never work. Those dwindlingly few MPs who have actually risen from such ranks tend to stay firmly on the back benches, keeping their grubby experiences to themselves and those from more salubrious upbringings would always find ways to ‘dodge the draft’ or be assigned cushy positions far from the front line. Or simply treat it as some form of validation to be endured, rather than learned from. There’s always a way to defeat the intentions of well-meaning legislation.

Which is why Ed Balls’ assertions that Labour’s latest policy would not be abused is so much hot air. Guaranteed jobs? Real jobs, subsidised by the public purse? Firstly, that is not how the job market works; if such jobs existed then applicants would be vigorously sought without subsidy. Furthermore, these jobs at minimum wage would be most readily filled by cheap, migrant labour. So Labour’s jobs guarantee for young people can never be anything other than a bribe for companies to take a chance on an ungrateful British youngster compelled to the task for fear of losing benefits, rather than an eager migrant who may have travelled thousands of miles to be here of her own volition.

It is so typical of socialist thinking though; that a lifetime of being coddled and cossetted by the state can be overturned at a stroke by the introduction of compulsion. New Labour spent years stuffing colleges and ersatz universities with pointless studies of valueless subjects, pretending that anything called a degree was worth the same as anything else with the same title. Thus a degree in David Beckham Studies or Golf Management and Turf Studies (I shit you not) is the equivalent of a first in Physics or Maths in cloud cuckoo land, a place where employers cannot afford to dwell.

And worse, far from providing employment opportunities these so-called Mickey Mouse degrees have had the added effects of simultaneously raising expectations while holding back the development of responsible attitudes to work; most of these students should have either been pushing brooms or stacking shelves from the age of sixteen or better yet, attending technical college and picking up real skills allowing them to compete in the market that became utterly dominated by Polish and Lithuanian tradesmen.

Labour effectively presided over a period of distorting the labour market so severely that some of these youngsters are already well on the way towards a miserable middle age, trapped in a world which needs the simple skills and motivation they neither understand nor possess. And another effect of all this degree inflation is that where a job formerly required only common sense, application and a bit of experience, now a ‘degree’ in the subject is a necessary prerequisite even for interview. Well done Labour, you managed to reintroduce the closed shop.

Job creation - Labour style

Meantime, on the radio this morning, as most mornings these days, the worst of all news for Labour - the jobs market is expanding as the economy grows. Even the Eds have to preface their doom-mongering with a grudging welcome to good news, a welcome which sticks in their craw. But I have a solution to their troubles. Why not put serving Labour MPs on their jobs guarantee program and give their seats to the unemployed? The kids will probably achieve fuck-all during their six months in office but at least they’ll do less harm than Labour.

Monday 10 March 2014

A better kind of poor

Accusations were flying thick and free from the LimpDem conference stage this weekend as they attempted to resurrect their busted flush of a party and distance themselves from the Tories. Danny Alexander couldn’t have been more emphatically anti if he’d claimed that without the LibDems at their side the Tories would have by now mandated the compulsory eating of babies as an alternative to food banks – nice roasted, by all accounts.  And by re-branding themselves as the “Party of In” they now seek to present themselves as empowered and mighty players in the EU experiment.

I say ‘experiment’ because I’m sure Greece and Spain and Cyprus and the other raped and impoverished southern European countries, with massive unemployment and crippled economies feel closer kinship with vivisection subjects than with their richer northern neighbours. But don’t panic fellas, that inequality is being addressed and we’ll all soon be just as poor as you. And Cleggy is determined to take us on that journey come hell or high water. He claims to love all nationalities, so why does he hate the British so much?

Despite the passage of over a decade since a report suggested that over three million UK jobs ‘depend’ on the EU and despite numerous rebuttals of that claim it still seems to be Clegg’s only real rationale for remaining in the club. Oh, that and his other dodgy assertion that, should we leave, Brits abroad will be immediately dispossessed and repatriated. Both claims are, of course, utter bollocks; the main jobs that would be lost would be the commissionerships for Clegg and his troops.

The argument that British workers abroad would lose jobs and domicile rights just doesn’t hold true. The British have been emigrating economically or otherwise for centuries and none of that will stop. And as for jobs at home, even in the ‘good old days’ of manpower intensive industry people lost their jobs and moved, often en masse. From mills and pits and the land old jobs have gone and will keep on going. But Clegg wants to play on that fear of the inevitable and spin the declining pay and displacement of labour as a wholly good thing.

What IS a monstrosity is the fact that in 21st century Britain, by whatever definition, we still have poverty. And if the LibDems believe that ever cheaper labour is not partly to blame they might want to try asking the actual poor, because every place where we have poverty we also, presumably coincidentally in Clegg World, have large and new immigrant populations. Mind you, if you listen to some commentators a bit of poverty is a small price to pay for opening our borders to so much thrilling diversity. You see, through the right coloured spectacles cultural ‘enrichment’ is just as good as the monetary kind.

If only we would open our minds and see the world through Nick’s sparkly eyes we would see the incredible benefits of membership. Soon almost none of us would have to work at all. We would live comfortable, easy lives while our Lithuanian gardener tended the lawn, our Portuguese cook prepared dinner and the Polish builders erected the nursery extension for the new baby currently incubating inside our Romanian surrogate. Of course, as we would be ‘unwaged’ we’d still be poor, but it would be a new and better kind of poor. But what do I know? 

Friday 7 March 2014

The march of progress

Progress, noun, ˈprəʊgrɛs’

1. forward or onward movement towards a destination.

2. development towards an improved or more advanced condition.

You can’t stop it, they say; progress gathers a certain momentum as it carries us inexorably towards change. Of course the adjective ‘progressive’ is a backward motion in political terms, having been appropriated by the left to spin their desire to return to the failed dogma of Marxism as the opposite of the disaster it generally engenders. But nonetheless, progress usually connotes desirable outcomes, as is the case with the latest deployment in technology in healthcare.

The NHS is trialling a new remote diagnostic procedure which if successful could greatly relive the strain on both general practitioners and accident and emergency departments. It turns out that a simple urine test, which can be automatically analysed, offers a fast route to treatment for many common complaints. Funded by a small fee for each use, possibly only five pounds, this could herald a new era of self-sustaining investment in healthcare, allowing twenty-four hour access to reassurance or confirmation for all. My local branch of Tesco has installed one of the machines for the free trial and I decided to give it a go.

The procedure couldn’t be simpler. You pick up a container from the dispensary, nip to the toilets, produce a small urine sample and pop on the sealed lid. Then you insert the container into the machine and you can either wait for the results – about ten minutes – or opt to have them emailed to you. As I’ve been suffering a bit of joint pain in my elbow lately I decided to give it ago, rather than bother the walk-in centre. So I toddled along to Tesco, did the deed and went off to do my shopping. When I deposited the sample the machine had given me a small card, like a car park ticket, so on returning to the machine I fed this card into the slot. Almost instantaneously a printout appeared.

“Welcome and thank you for using this diagnosis machine. Please note that this is not intended to replace your normal health screening services and persistent symptoms should be referred to a qualified medical practitioner.”  Well, duh-er, I thought. The diagnosis followed: “You appear to be suffering from tennis elbow. Recommended self-treatment: soak the elbow in warm water occasionally. Avoid heavy lifting and twisting movements. If symptoms persist after two weeks, see your GP.” I was impressed at this accurate assessment of an ongoing and recurring problem.

Later that evening while thinking how amazing this new technology was and how it would change medical science forever, I began to wonder if this machine could be fooled. So the next time I was in Tesco I picked up a container and took it home with me to carry out a little experiment. I collected a small stool sample from the dog, persuaded my wife and daughter to contribute to the urine content, diluted the whole lot in tap water and gave the mixture a good shake before decanting off a little into the sample bottle. On a whim I masturbated into the bottle for good measure.

Back in Tesco I furtively inserted the sample into the machine, took my ticket and waited impatiently for the result. It took ages. I was here for well over an hour and each time I inserted my ticket it was returned and a message on screen told me the diagnosis was not yet ready. Finally, the ticket was retained and the printout began to roll. It said: “Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. Your dog has worms. Get him vitamins. Your daughter is using cocaine. Put her in a rehabilitation clinic. Your wife is pregnant with twin girls. They aren't yours. Get a lawyer."

I was amazed and slightly stunned at these revelations and wondering how I should react to this news,most of which, to be fair, I'd already suspected. But the machine wasn't quite finished. A second page of print appeared, which stated: "...and if you don't stop wanking, your tennis elbow is never going to get better.”

Thursday 6 March 2014

True Lies

So now it turns out that eating animal protein gives you cancer. Yes folks, we’re back in the realm of the ‘expert’. What’s the betting that this is the work of mutant ninja vegetablists with a mission to save the human race from itself by enacting a twisted form of benign vengeance? You have to be cruel to be kind, they say. No, you don’t; never mistake cruelty for kindness even if the ends are honourable. It has to get worse before it gets better and it’s always in the last place you look? Ermagerd, what is wrong with you people?

The darkest hour is just before dawn? Bollocks. Many hands make light work yet too many cooks spoil the broth? People live their life by these contrary, contradictory and downright inaccurate rules. No wonder some of you greet the start of Lent with such glee – you just can’t help but find pleasure in imposing prohibition on yourselves and others in pursuit of some unattainable reward in the fictional hereafter. I believe you are the foot soldiers of the inexorable march of socialism, scatter-gunning self evidently incorrect assertions under the guise of authority until an unsophisticated population accepts everything at face value and complies without challenge.

"For every additional 100 immigrants … 23 British workers would not be employed". So said the Migration Advisory Committee in 2010, a report that informs Theresa May’s views and efforts in regard to immigration. Oh no, says a different analysis, neatly bifurcating British public opinion depending on which ‘expert’ guidance you want to hear. Does nobody do the sums for themselves anymore? And then we’re straight back to that blanket proclamation: ‘immigrants are a net benefit to the UK economy’, or as Vince Cable is now dancing a joyous jig to: ‘immigrants are an ENORMOUS net benefit to the UK economy’. But of course, like the curate’s egg, immigration is good only in parts.

Unlike the nineteen fifties we have no population shortage. The displacement of unskilled UK workers in favour of foreign, cheap labour is near 100%; it benefits large employers and traffickers of illegals only. At the top of the tree it may well be true that we have a skills shortfall that can only be met by immigration but at the arse end of humanity, there is no benefit, net or otherwise to the people reared here. You have to earn over £30,000 per annum before you pay more in taxes than you receive back from the state, apparently. But yet again that is an average figure and taken at face value means that the vast – and I do mean vast – majority of UK citizens are a drain on society. How then can minimum wage immigrants, who suddenly seem to be doing ALL the shit jobs, ever attain the status of net contributor?

The moral is of course, don’t believe everything you hear, read, or have thrust down your metaphorical throats. Look around you for the real evidence and pretty soon you’ll realise that most of what you are force-fed is agenda-drive bollocks, often delivered by willing dupes. Earnest juvenile planet-savers, union-roused teachers, flash mobs of the pale and sickly walking wounded class warriors of the Hundred Years' War that is the NHS and well-paid ‘experts’ producing paranoia-inducing propaganda to order.

I don’t know the whole truth. You don’t know it. He, she and we don’t know it... and neither do they; to conjugate the truth all you have to do is put ‘don’t know’ in front of it, which means that, unless you want to slavishly believe all the claims and counter claims that are tubed to you daily with little or no provenance and drive yourself slowly mad in the process, you are going to have to do what most of us used to be able to do before the advent of 24/7 infotainment. Look around you, read some books, take an interest in history. For instance, we are all several inches taller than when food was harder to come by... I know it’s difficult, but just think for yourselves. And eat plenty of meat.