Sunday, 31 July 2016
The eternal conundrum of the NHS is a riddle that may never be solved; where does all the money go? Variously described as a shining example to the world, a victim of its own success and a basket case, the National Health Service costs half of our entire annual budget. Okay, it’s not that much, but at £120 billion last year this is £4000 a year for each one of the nominal 30 million taxpayers. Of course, a huge number of those taxpayers are also in receipt of tax credits and other benefits so a conservative estimate probably makes it closer to £10k per head for those who receive no such rebate.
People in those income brackets and above of course are less likely to be sick, more likely to have access to private healthcare and even if they do succumb to illness are often too busy to seek treatment, certainly for minor issues. So it turns out that the NHS is really a wealth redistribution system, used disproportionately by those who play no part in funding it. I’m not arguing for dismantling it, nor for selling it off; bizarrely, for an evil, baby-eating Tory type, I think it is a wholly good thing that we have a health service accessible to all and free at the point of use. And yet...
It’s the same old thing, isn’t it? The left denigrate the rich and want to tear down capitalism and never seem to understand that if they get their wish and the costs of the welfare state had to fall more heavily on weaker shoulders the system would simply buckle under the strain. There is only so much money to go around and the NHS has been pleading poverty every single year of my sentient life.
Of course it can’t go on delivering an expanding menu of treatments to an ever greater population. Austerity isn’t mean; it’s living within our means. However you look at it, pouring more and more money into a system whose appetite is never satisfied is an appalling business model. Build it and they will come; give it away for free and they will gorge themselves. How, as a nation with our population, can we be so poorly that the NHS boasts of being one of the biggest employers on the planet?
Obviously, rationing healthcare is a dangerous road to go down; some need so much more than others. But shouldn’t we, as a society who pays for it all, start to take responsibility for this thing we can scarcely afford? If you knew you hadn’t the funds to replace it, would you deliberately crash your car? If you’re not going to eat it, why buy food with a short shelf life and then throw it away? So why eat, drink and drug yourself sick, relying on the health service to rescue you later?
The NHS is not free. I’ll say that again: the NHS is not free. Every penny it spends comes from the same source that funds defence, police, transport, education and your pension. Every bandage, pill, operation, therapy and consultation costs you, the taxpayer, and denies that funding to something else considered vital. You expect to draw on that pension for longer and longer these days, while also having your age-related illnesses eased? Which other fund do you sacrifice?
Take one every four hours... if you can afford it.
So, while nobody is suggesting you suffer in silence, if you really want to continue having access to non-judgemental care without up-front fees, how about taking some responsibility for your own health? And why not exercise a little personal triage before that automatic trip to the surgery? You keep demanding that the government saves our NHS. Why not save it yourself?
Saturday, 30 July 2016
The Daily Star ran a story to outrage its readers by suggesting that the navy is paying hundreds of millions of pounds to install palm-sized weapons aboard its diminished fleet. How the social media machine laughed! But the idea of a five-inch gun is not so ridiculous as it would seem. A Palo Alto firm has created an iPhone adaptation whereby you can turn your handset into a powerful sonic weapon capable of disabling an attacker at close range by temporarily disorientating them.
Right here, in the UK, you can walk into any Staples superstore and for a quite small fee, secretly 3D print whatever you like. Citing personal privacy, the company have installed self-service booths where you can just insert your design via a USB device and print whatever you wish with no fear of detection. A company spokesman said “We are happy to provide the service, but it is not for us to police what is being printed.” Amazon UK are openly selling a range of downloadable designs for 3D-printed weapons, undetectable to airport scans for £19.99 each.
Another story in this week’s round up is that Google has been secretly installing spyware into its popular Chrome browser. The software is capable of capturing audio and video via the microphone and webcam hardware installed in smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs and even some smart TVs. As the software can also capture keystrokes, this puts Google in a position where it could harvest every aspect of your online life and sell ‘you’ on to a queue of waiting customers eager to acquire such information.
One such customer is a company based in Brussels from whom you can buy EU identities for a few thousand Euros. So an African migrant need no longer worry about making the dangerous journey to a new life of crime and welfare dependency in the west via unscrupulous people traffickers. He can now simply go online, pay the fee and the documents will be created for him. If you wonder why this organisation hasn’t been shut down by the authorities it is because its start-up was funded by and its operation is overseen by those same authorities. The solution, it seems, to Europe’s illegal immigrant problem is to make them ‘legal’ immigrants.
In other news, a secretly filmed meeting doing the rounds shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton behaving not so much as sworn enemies but as co-conspirators in a grand prank being played on the world. The film was captured on a smart phone about a week ago and although the sound quality is poor, Trump can clearly be seen suggesting that she refer to him as a ’volatile little man’ in her nomination acceptance speech. They both laugh. Meanwhile here at home a senior Foreign Office official is under investigation for leaking to the press the intention to quietly bury the Brexit referendum vote under a mountain of procedural complications.
Oh, what a tangled web...
If you do a search online you can find all of these stories and many more variations on such themes. Hell, you can create your very own and spread the rumours. But the one thing which may prove difficult for even the most diligent researcher is trying to disentangle the truth from the Gordian knot of lies, obfuscation, blind faith, ideology and simple misdirection that permeates The Information Age. As Abraham Lincoln might say today, you really can fool all of the people all of the time.
Friday, 29 July 2016
The BBC simply will not take the Brexit vote lying down. Yesterday they reported Lloyds Bank’s announcement of local branch closures as being a result of the referendum result when in fact they are simply a symptom of the globalised world. Branches have been closing for years as people shop online, bank online and even socialise online. Nobody ever enjoyed the queues anyway as banks still ridiculously send all their staff to lunch at the same time as everybody else; machines do it so much better. Lloyds actually had to put out a tweet to explain these plans had been in place long before any hint of a leave vote was in the air.
The Greens also can’t stomach the thought of an independent nation and will seize on any ill wind as proof-positive that the wretched patriots and Eurosceptics have doomed the country to eternal malaise with a side helping of global warming to boot. So wedded are they to their pessimistic communistic concepts that they would like nothing quite so much as to see everybody starve, rather than see basic capitalism continue to feed the world. But then, their hatred of humanity is well-documented.
Labour, on the other hand, see themselves as the friend of humanity yet in Owen Smith would see a return to collective bargaining, wildcat strikes, flying pickets and all the paraphernalia of ersatz revolution... all of which would only result in ruin... which they could then gleefully blame on Brexit. There are some sick people in the world and collectively they would like nothing more than to see a free Britain fail miserably to regain its true place at the highest table. How they would cheer as the factories closed and commerce ground to a halt.
But businesses fail all the time, even in the best of times. And people lose their jobs regardless of whether we are in, out or partially engaged with Europe. Life goes on and events often have more complex provenances than we imagine. It is so easy to jump to erroneous conclusions. A friend of mine recently came home to tell his wife that they would have to draw on their life savings as he had just lost his job in his mid-fifties and had little chance of finding other work in what was a declining, traditional industry.
Bill had worked since leaving school at the local pickle factory, but piccalilli was very much an older taste and sales were down. The youngsters were looking for more exotic fare and he explained that the company had been looking for any excuse to lay off staff and that he was just another statistic in a gloomy pattern of industrial decline. She wasn’t happy, her dreams of retiring to a comfortable villa in Spain suddenly brought abruptly to a rude awakening.
“How dare they!” she yelled “You have given them almost forty years of devoted service. Why you? Why did they fire you?” He sighed, sat her down and said “To be fair, they had no choice. For years now I’ve had an urge to stick my dick in the pickle slicer...” She was aghast and clutched her hands together in front of her mouth. For a moment she couldn’t grasp what he was saying, although he had been acting strangely for some time and she supposed that working every day in such a repetitive line of work couldn’t come without some psychological effects. Before she could enquire further he continued.
She knows, y'know!
“Well, today I finally acted on that urge.” The wife ran over to him, told him to stand up and in one fluid movement she whipped down his trousers to see what damage had been done. There was none of the expected gore. She was puzzled and proceeded to pull down his underpants. “But you look perfectly okay,” she said, relieved. “So what happened to the pickle slicer?” Bill pulled up his trousers and refastened his flies. He looked devastated as he told his wife. “They fired her too.”
Thursday, 28 July 2016
I am delighted to hear that Labour leadership contender, Owen Smith (His name is an anagram, appropriately enough following his outburst against Theresa May, of *‘Hits Women’) is promising to replant and nurture the good old socialist fall back, the magic money tree. Yes, when Labour say ‘investing in the economy’ to cover up their standard policy of ‘borrow and piss up the wall’ it is the mythical missing ingredient they hope, this time, will finally materialise. Oh how we’ve missed the bonkers conjuring up of filthy lucre from fresh air.
Like vengeance-seeking Labour figures before him Smith (*'twin homes') first imagines that he will become Prime Minister and then he promises to soak the rich and double the NHS budget. Given that a wealth tax is likely to raise approximately the square root of zero-point-fuck-all it will be fascinating to see how those books balance. Maybe he believes that, post Brexit, rich Brits will have nowhere to run to, but he forgets that the rich are welcome everywhere their money is good... which is just about everywhere.
Owen Smith (*'theism now') has also promised that other quart-in-a-pint-pot policy of equality of outcomes (not opportunity, note) despite nobody in history ever achieving such a thing without aiming very low indeed. Positioning himself even further to the left than Jeremy Corbyn seems a curious move, given that the left have been unelectable since Maggie killed them off in ’79. Presumably he is hoping to capitalise (irony intended) on the recent surge in Labour membership from, we can surmise, mostly poorly educated, unemployable people. The Tories must dance their way into work each morning.
You see, the Labours have never quite grasped that if everybody can have it, it isn’t worth very much at all. You have to take what is there and add value. Those apples that grow for free in nature? Effort is required to harvest them, then that effort is later exchanged for currency, which can then pay more people to pick, while others go out and seek markets for the increased production. Effort adds value. In Labour-Land apples would be free to everybody and as a result they would have no real value which could be transferred.
Without incentive, where is the drive to acquire knowledge and push the boundaries of science and technology? Where is the reward for competing, for being better? Surely nobody actually believes that ‘all men are created equal’? Look around you... and then look up and down. Equality of outcome isn’t even a remote possibility without equality of origin, upbringing, education and aspiration. Face it; some people really are better people. And some are very much worse and society isn’t always to blame.
Labour's economic plan in detail
But wait, after fifty years of socialist thought in education isn’t it the case that the electorate come pre-dumbed to the franchise? With ridiculous notions of knowledge being redundant now we have the internet, child-centred (for which read ‘soft’) ‘facilitation of learning’, the ever decreasing levels of literacy and the near universal inability to work with numbers, it’s no wonder our school leavers are poorly equipped to compete with migrants. Owen Smith (*'moist hewn') may be onto something - now, there’s an equality of outcome for you.
(*Play the Owen Smith anagrams Game!)
Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Hate crime is the new... er what, exactly? The Association of Chief Police Officers and the CPS have agreed a common definition: "Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender." This helps not one bit; do they really have not one single advisor who has grown up in normal society?
Under this ruling most of the country’s children would have criminal records before they started school, were it not for the age of criminal responsibility... which is ten. So, make that before they start high school. No wonder there is a reported increase in hate crime ‘since the referendum’, as if the vote to leave the EU has suddenly caused all we bigoted little Englanders to release our hate on the world. If we’re going along with this nonsense how about the collective, focused and very real – forget your ‘perceived’ malarkey – sustained attack on leavers by the establishment.
Day after day we have to read in the press, online and in social media, about how our views are not wanted here, about how ‘people like you’ have condemned the whole nation to privation and diminished aspirations. We are told we are less intelligent, more thuggish and how we either live on welfare or work in menial jobs. Honestly, they say, it is clear that such dregs must not be allowed to subvert democracy by being allowed to vote. Try saying any of that about somebody identifiable as ethnically not from these isles and stand by for the dawn raid and the baton beatings.
Voltaire is popularly supposed to have said that if you want to know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticise. Whether this originates from the aphorism-generating French polymath or not it has a tempting trueness to it. But by this measure the usual notion of European ruling elites is somewhat inaccurate because it would seem that the one group we actually can criticise is straight, white Christian men. Hate crime legislation has pretty ruled out criticising anybody else, so maybe the real boss is a cross-dressing, gender fluid, disabled gay vegetarian with a lisp.
For a working definition of hate crime see 1984’s thought crime. If you think that is somewhat far-fetched remember that ‘islamophobia’ has already seen people charged. Think about that for a moment; being afraid of that surly looking, bearded man with the scowl and a rucksack full of explosives can make you the bad guy. If the apologists for every aberration, every deviation from ‘the norm’ could actually police our very thoughts they certainly would; Minority Report is only nominally a fiction. Don’t you just hate that?
Tuesday, 26 July 2016
Mental. We all are. Bat shit, stark, staring, certifiable lunatics who should be locked away from decent society. Mental illness they say can strike anybody down. The media have been going to great lengths to portray the recent slew of attacks by muslims claiming to be acting for allah as the isolated, unconnected actions of lone madmen. The murder of nineteen inmates of a Japanese care centre a few hours ago will be seized upon by the media as some form of validation for this. See? They will say, madness and hate... nothing to do with islam. (It would of course be amusing if it turn out the suspect has recently converted to worship ‘Arrah’.)
The perverse world we live in keeps on turning and there are nutters everywhere. Human minds are malleable, sometimes fragile things and while there is far more perceived mental illness than real it is clear that some are more susceptible than others to the lure of La Lune. We all go a bit mad from time to time, adding the extension ‘mania’ to any number of faddish delights. “I’m mad, me!” giggle daft, drunken youngsters or slightly unhinged maiden aunts. “He’s mad for it!” they say of demented adherents of hedonistic pursuits. It’s everywhere, this mild form of madness.
In the US and now over here, mad can mean angry, but it can also mean hectic. In fact, mad can be pressed into service to describe anything other than – and I hesitate to use the word amid today’s insistence that there is no such thing – normal. Eccentric, not-quite-right, off-his-head, bonkers, fruitloop, psycho, schizo... maniac. There are dozens of terms for madness, from mildly afflicted to crazed, denoting any relationship with it from affection to fear. We look after the slightly mad, lock away the disturbingly mad and run away, terrified from those who act on their madness.
Moments of madness, however, are often excused, I’m assuming because of the ‘there, but for the grace of god (go I)’ principle. Crimes of passion, ‘losing it’, ‘senior moments’ all seem to recognise that one day we may all need this defence. The very word lunatic contains a ready-made vindication that we are sometimes powerless to resist the urge to lash out. In fact, despite all the contrary protestations, we are as a species exceptionally well disposed towards those who act on their inner voices, so much so that even when those lapses of reason extend to planning and acting upon an urge to kill and maim, we pretend that such unstable rages are potentially within us all.
But maybe we’re rather better than that. Think about it. Even among the ever-increasing range of clinical diagnoses of insanity, only a tiny proportion have to be chained up for the safety of themselves and others and an even tinier proportion still have gone full crazy and actually set out on a killing spree. It strikes me we have an easy way out here. Given the desire of the establishment to portray all atrocities as the works of madmen why not just have islam declared a form of insanity?
Make the mosques into mental institutions and throw away the keys. The number who flee the cuckoo’s nest and go full jihad might just be comparable to the proportion of paranoid schizophrenics who get stabby. It has to be worth a try at least...
Monday, 25 July 2016
Here in my little right wing bubble – actually, strike that, make it vicious, hateful, far-right wing, murderous fascist bubble (may as well get all the accolades in) – I never hear dissenting opinions with which I simply could not cope. Emotionally, I mean. When I hear somebody suggesting we should all live together harmoniously I just want to go to my safe space, curl up in a ball, hug my knees and let out a primal moan (screams are just so violent) to the universe. If somebody suggests we should help the poor and sick I feel nauseous and I have to breathe into a paper bag until it passes. And when I see images of cute kittens on the Internet I feel an urge to self-harm, then disinfect all my possessions and put them all in alphabetic order.
Oh, sorry, wait. I’m getting confused, what I meant was: As a loathsome right wing troll I am driven to seek out offence wherever I can and then relentlessly tweet at the offender until merely ignoring me no longer works. Unless I am reported to the police for hate crime and banned for life from all social media my existence can have no validity. Actually, no, let me have a think and get back to you on this... Right, here we go. I’ve had a good look at myself, in accordance with the unsolicited advice given me by lefties and it turns out it’s not really me who has the problem at all.
As a righty – by which I mean a worker and taxpayer in receipt of no state handouts and needing no help to maintain a sense of self-esteem - I tend to crack on and do the things that need doing. Obviously, I can have no friends, because right-of-centre beliefs have become verboten, so my only social life must be on Twitter, where the interloping of offence-seeking inadequates presents itself mostly as a form of entertainment. Who needs to parody the left when they do such a good job of it all by themselves? But if you were to parody such a person here’s a useful formula on which to base your impersonation.
Start by joining a conversation quite late, preferably with a mildly insulting and slightly off-target interjection containing what you imagine are pejorative comments such as “this is how the Nazis started”. When you are ignored, vie for attention by this time replying to the tweeter you imagine you are ‘targeting’ and then, when that person replies – usually with a mild “Sorry, who are you?” block them without further ado. Alternatively, you can carry on tweeting increasingly graphic abuse long after everybody else has left the thread. But what do I know, maybe they find it therapeutic?
Now I will admit to bias here. I am biased to be more inclined to tolerate those who have no need to demand special recognition. Towards those who stick up for themselves but don’t quickly try to provoke violence or seek offence. Towards those who are contributors, not those who would extract tithes to pay for their own indulgences. I am broadly for the freedom to live the life you wish without insisting that others make special provision to accommodate you and particularly without fomenting a sense of hurt and injustice every time you hear something with which you disagree. There’s even a phrase for this allowing others to do and say as they wish... if only we could all remember it.
The easiest way of dealing with life, especially the bits you find not to your taste, is to simply shrug and get on with it. If others don’t conform to the way you think they should behave you are perfectly free to point this out. But why bang on about it to the point where it is clearly harming your case? It’s funny as hell watching a leftie self-destruct in public but it’s an unedifying spectacle. Have a bit of dignity; at least think of the children – do your kids follow you online? Yikes.
How to cope with social media
Meanwhile the roaming packs of ‘lone wolves’ who have nothing to do with islam are prowling around Europe stabbing and slashing and shooting their way into the less prominent pages of the press where it is dearly imagined they have far-right sympathies and/or mental illnesses. Talking of mental illness, cognitive dissonance is a rocky road to Unwellville, but the left seem to have developed a natural immunity. Failing that though, just find a safe place, squat, clasp your knees and hum...
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Jeremy Corbyn is under siege from all quarters. He seems like a decent cove, albeit the slightly unhinged one who will nurse a half-pint in the corner of the public bar, patiently waiting for the chance to educate the unwary about how he would build a better society. But at least he has convictions and many people support him for his unyielding adherence to those principles, too, it’s just a shame that they are invariably unworkable. Lawyers have said that Corbyn’s pledge to make companies publish pay details can never be implemented and is simply an unrealistic policy.
While it seems like a great idea to those who stand to gain from it, as Maggie Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money". Plus the law of unintended consequences has a habit of surfacing and inevitably hurting the very people you try to help. Free movement of people, for instance, has given us record rates of employment but has also depressed wages so that there is no incentive for people to come off welfare to take a low-paid job. The safety net intended to help out in times of need has become a way of life for millions and worse, for generations.
Bring in a minimum pay law and the lawyers will soon find a way round it, such as making employees declare as self-employed, taking care of their own holiday pay, sick pay and other payroll benefits and often tax-dodging into the bargain. Headline rates go up while real pay drops and less tax is collected. Make pay rates transparent and all that will really happen is that the onerous conditions of earning that published wage will be concealed from view. The only ones to gain, ultimately, will be the employers and their expensive legal advisors
Heath Robinson style, when you pull the lever to make one thing better a whole series of unexpected mechanisms are engaged and for every apparently positive outcome a dozen aberrations will occur. The success of legislation to change behaviour is generally measured at a level which ignores the detail, so something like minimum alcohol pricing does appear to lower overall alcohol consumption. But those who are dissuaded from buying are mostly the marginal consumers anyway; the hard-line alcoholics remain uncured and the market for counterfeit tax-free hooch booms.
If socialism starts out from a happy place where the talk is of equality and sharing and social duty and all that hippy-dippy loveliness, it invariably ends up in misery and as misery loves company there are plenty of failed socialist states out there to study. And this includes the UK. I mean, look at us: With every year of equalities legislation the inequalities widen. With every anti-prejudice law the prejudice hardens. Minimum wages become maximum wages and attempts to restrict working hours are so impractical we have to have an opt-out.
The naked truth...
One day, maybe, the world will be a fairer place, but that won’t happen until a different kind of human evolves and given that we have succeeded because of our greed and opportunism, that human will probably be an inferior breed. Until that day the best advice you can pass on to your kids is that whatever the rules, when the chips are down it’s every man for himself – as true under socialism as it is under any other paradigm. If there are laws there will always be loopholes and the winners are rarely those who abide by the rules.
Friday, 22 July 2016
If a normal week is a long time in politics, the week that’s just passed may one day be measured using geological core samples. What, with all the kerfuffle around British affairs, not to mention the serial atrocities across Europe and the sheer intrigue of the Turkish situation, even Kim Kardashian’s arse was relegated to a few meagre column inches in the back pages. But, enough about Kanye... It’s hard to keep up with each new day bringing another you’ll-never-believe-it-but moment. Being in journalism or politics right now is no job for the faint hearted, or weak kneed. Definitely a time for the youngsters to demonstrate that the energy and vigour of their youth is not merely wasted on them.
As for the old codgers - with the possible exception of Jeremy Corbyn - maybe time to move on? With Theresa firmly on the throne, her new cabinet growing into their roles, the old guard, relieved of frontline duties, can fade into the background. One such stalwart decided to take early retirement and announced, albeit to the ether, that he would not be contesting his seat at the next general election. Apart from the weekly surgery he offloaded most of his other duties and prepared to retire to his constituency home.
Still sprightly, in his early sixties, he found a new interest in the life he had little time for during the past two decades and managed to play golf twice a week, relax in the garden, take long country walks and he even began to write his memoirs. He also found more time for the family and could often be seen looking after his grandchildren, playing the elder statesman to his own little dynasty. One evening he took his wife off to an expensive, Michelin-starred restaurant in London to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
During dinner a slender, stunningly beautiful woman in her early thirties came over to the table, hugged the husband, gave him a lingering kiss and whispered that she could meet him later if he wanted. His wife remained silent during the exchange – a politician’s wife knows when to keep a dignified distance – but then glared at him and demanded to know “Who the hell was that?” The old politician said “What's the big deal? Surely you knew I kept a mistress?” The wife was flabbergasted and began to rise from the table, muttering about divorce and lawyers.
“Wait” said her husband “there is nothing to make a fuss about. We all have mistresses here in Westminster. We work long hours away from home and sometimes we just need to unwind. It’s more of a business arrangement than anything.” The wife was still seething and threatening to take him for every penny he was worth. Her husband let her finish then put down his napkin, gently took her hand and explained.
“You want a divorce, you say? Okay, if you’re sure. But keep in mind that I have spent years in the company of the country’s best lawyers. Everything I own is kept in trust, hidden in offshore accounts and sewn up tight with covenants and other legal entanglements. And all these precautions mean that should you sue me for divorce it will cost you a great deal in fees and you will end up with very little in settlement, if anything at all.” She was stunned.
He went on. “This means, there will be no more shopping trips to Paris for you, no more long winter holidays in Courchevel and you can kiss goodbye to the villa in Tuscany. I’m leaving it all to the children and you won’t get a penny for yourself. The Merc will have to go and I’m afraid you’ll also have to move out of the Chipping Norton mansion. But, hey, I still love you and think of the children and how this might affect them. The decision is up to you.”
She got up from the table and holding back the tears, excused herself to the ladies’ room. A few minutes later she came back looking composed, with fresh make-up applied and took her seat again. She told him that on reflection she realised her own interests were best served by not rocking the boat and acknowledged that they were still good friends. She could handle this. He took her hands in his, smiled and said he knew she’d understand.
Mistress is waiting...
They continued their dinner and the talk gradually became more relaxed. Then she noticed a recognisable figure at a nearby table. “Who’s that young woman with Dominic Grieve?” she asked. The man looked over and said “That's Dominic’s mistress. I told you, it’s normal around here.” His wife studied the couple for a moment then looked back at her husband, tipped him a conspiratorial wink and said, proudly “Ours is much prettier.”
Thursday, 21 July 2016
Some say Maggie may... yesterday the ghost of Maggie arose, in May. It could have been a one off, but I hope not; we’ve waited a long time for what we might just have seen. Whatever your feelings about the Thatcher years, there was never any doubt that she was very much in charge, until a coalition of the timid stabbed her in the back. And, notwithstanding the extremism of the Erdogans of this world, isn’t firm (but short of despotic) leadership something we have seriously needed for too many years?
Ted Heath was an oddball who is best remembered for having to heave his shoulders and perform that ridiculous laugh for the camera. Wilson could hardly wait to get the Beatles round for tea. Jim who? John Major appeared to revel in his ‘grey man’ persona; presumably many thought he was dead until the Remainers shoved him on stage to spread despair and despondency during the referendum. And then came Blair, a bigger courter of affection we have never seen. Love me, love me he cried to the strains of Cool Britannia as a succession of popular entertainers were photographed by his side.
Cameron declared himself ‘heir to Blair’, which tells you much but he did rise to the challenges of his office and carried off his duties with aplomb. After so many years it was good to see a leader who really relished leading, rather than following. I didn’t forget to mention Gordon Brown, by the way, I just thought it was best to draw a veil over that interlude. Anyway, now we have Ken Clarke’s ‘bloody difficult woman’ in charge and if yesterday was anything to go by, it’s going to be a thrilling ride.
Those of us old enough to have benefitted from the privilege of the grammar school, formerly the best state school system in the world, will remember our best teachers. They weren’t the ones who tried to befriend us, or the ones who repeatedly had to call in the staff bully to take back control. The best teachers were the ones who actually made us work for our learning. The subject specialists who brooked no dissent, ruled with an iron rod – and in some cases, the cane – but were relentlessly driven to pass on to us the secrets of the universe. They knew that they were shaping the leaders of the future.
If you think the caring, sharing, cuddly, touchy-feely, wishy-washy, every opinion counts society we have today is a good thing then you need a good birching more than most. We have lost respect for authority in parallel with authority losing respect for us and much of it comes down to the loss of those firm hands. This article in Spiked, by two teenaged Brexiteers says what people of my generation have been saying for decades, that the education system is at the spearhead of all that is wrong today.
Remind you of anybody?
We may yet be a generation or two away from the end of western civilisation – for islam will surely return us to the dark ages – but unless the British regrow the national spine we will have no chance of ever turning back the tide. Theresa May has her work cut out, but the evidence of the last week suggests she is more than ready for it. Call her a Cnut if you like, but at least she has the balls for the job.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
If you chain a baby elephant with a barbed wire snare to a deeply driven stake it quickly learns that to try and resist its restraints brings pain. Soon it submits meekly and somewhat fearfully to its incarceration. The elephant grows but the stake remains the same; its hide thickens but it remembers the pain and never again attempts to escape as the mahout cruelly forces the giant beast to do its bidding. By full growth the elephant is restrained by little more than a toothpick in relative terms, but still it does as bid. Until the day it is pushed too far and, enraged, forgets its chains and goes on a rampage.
The hold that western elites have on their beleaguered populations, forced from a position of relative affluence to a daily grind to just get by, is that toothpick. Where once a working man could support a small family on a single wage, it is now two wages plus tax credits to just stay afloat. Dreams of home ownership remain just dreams, social mobility belongs to the past and the sense of all being part of the same national endeavour has long ceased to register. Rampant consumerism, assisted by poor education and a lack of imagination drives the herd to be complicit in their own captivity.
Meanwhile the ruling elites are themselves in thrall to the cult of the advisor who will tell them, for a fee, magical stories about the economy, climate and ‘what the people want’. Perversely, one of the things that the little people seem to enjoy is to be taxed and berated into further submission: Pay more tax to fix the climate that you broke by demanding all the stuff you were driven to buy. Pay more tax to help the brown people that your forebears robbed to make you so rich. Pay more tax so that we can import ever more poor people here to do the jobs that our own poor people can’t afford to do. Stop complaining when all the new poor people lower your standard of living.
You’re a racist for not welcoming the people who priced you out of work. You’re a bigot for saying you identify as British and not European. You’re an islamophobe for noticing how your cities have changed and for not welcoming the ‘vibrancy’ of the mosques that now dominate your skyline, mysteriously granted planning permission against all the protestations. And you’re just plain ignorant when you question the wisdom of better people than you – it’s the economy, stupid, and furthermore you still owe us.
And to a point they’re right, the elites, as they watch from the lofty perches, high up on the moral high ground, the little people really aren’t very good at looking after themselves. But the elephant in the country is waking up and there is a sense that it may not be able to take much more. Bit by bit the electorate who have always been told they hold the reins of power through democracy are realising that the mahout has no more control of the forces they marshal than they do the weather. Across Europe those national elephants are toying with the idea of going rogue.
The slow death of Europe...
Do as you are told! Shout the mahouts. The whips crack and we shuffle a little and step back into line. But they only rule by consent and gradually that consensus is being eroded, straw by straw. You can always take a little more of the strain; now stand still, they say, while we load you up. Be patient, we’re all in this together... Now we just have this one more straw for you to bear...
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
It turns out that the real victims of Nice weren’t those who lost their lives or those they left behind. It wasn’t those who survived but suffered pain and crippling injuries and who may never recover from the mental scars. It wasn’t the wider population of the French Riviera, their businesses, their security, their joie de vivre. No, the real victims of Nice, we are now told, was the ‘muslim community’... Once again the political media machine is spinning for the aggressors even as their victims are spinning in their graves.
I heard a spokesman saying earlier that we should respect the muslim faith, but why, what is there to respect? The purely religious component of islam may possibly hold some of the peaceful aspirations its adherents insist. But the wailing muezzins and lofty minarets disguise the true meaning, submission, which urges muslims to invade and conquer and those who cleave to the faith are quick to brutal, unflinching, unhesitating, barbaric violence. I don’t ever recall lynch mobs in Britain but across Europe, every day now, we see muslims engaged in the most brutal acts of slaying, mutilation and demands for the subjugation of the host people.
He was mentally ill, he was radicalised, he wasn’t a true muslim; these proclamations from the pulpits of political correctness have become embarrassing. islam has no place in civilisation. islam never had a civilisation and those who claim coincident cultural achievements in the name of allah do so as thieves. In my lexicon islam does not even warrant the status or proper noun. It is sub human, beyond redemption and beneath contempt. The only place for islam in record is to be confined forever to ancient history.
But right now, that work has yet to begin. Turkey has long been the battleground between western culture and the islamic urge to destroy, but the principles of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk are under threat. He said “My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go.” and “Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable....” The current favourite insight from the past is: “islam, the absurd theology of an immoral Bedouin, is a rotting corpse which poisons our lives.”
How many more times do you need to be told?
He was right and modern leaders ignore him at their peril. France is in mortal danger now and Germany will follow. As its leaders are too weak to fight back, putting dogma before the evidence of their own eyes and the testimony of their own people, the only outcome will be yet more violence. Outreach work, liaison with the ‘muslim community’, constant protestations of their innocence, the mythical majority of moderate muslims; none of this has made anything better. Nobody cares for your snowflake sensitivities or your yearning to be loved by the rainbow coalition of peoples – the time for vigils and candles is long past - islam wants you converted or dead. Until you learn this, you have learned absolutely nothing.
Monday, 18 July 2016
Have you seen, I mean really seen, what the UK has to offer the holiday-maker? We have mountains big enough to be dangerous yet small enough to climb in an afternoon. Some of the best beaches in the world line our shores. Sights, sailing, swimming, scuba diving... all the activities you can imagine. Admittedly the weather is unreliable but so much variety is in driving distance you can wing it on the day. You want history, we got history. You want entertainment, art, shopping... it’s there in spades.
Plus you can speak the language fluently (if not maybe all that competently) you know what the road signs mean, your phone will work without any interruption and you can decipher the cultural shorthand so you know, for instance, that that ‘artisan’ bar may be less your cup of tea than Ye Olde Inne on the green. And of course, you can always get tea. And chips.
Or why not a ‘staycation’? Unless you’re on the old King Cole chances are you spend all your time going to work, doing the daily chores, eating and sleeping and never get to really live in and enjoy your own environs. Why go ‘all inclusive’ with a horde of strangers via a cattle class travel system to sweat under an alien sun. Really? You actually go for the sun? You do realise it’s the exact, same one we have here, yes? I pity you.
Think of the economy. Instead of exporting your earnings overseas to buy hangovers and tacky souvenirs, which only get lost along with the rest of your luggage, why not just have a luxury week at home. Splash out a bit on days and evenings out and inject a little love into local businesses. I’m serious, it makes more sense now than ever before, especially as your foreign retreat may now come with the added uncertainty of returning home with all your limbs intact.
Turkey is a ticking time bomb, North Africa is more or less off-limits and even the USA is about to go all ‘Mississippi Burning’ on its ass. France is in flames and Germany set to follow as all around the besieged European peace and love project borders are going up and fear is rising. The world is a dark and dangerous place right now and it is neither racist nor islamophobic to say so; how islamophobic, on a scale of one to please-don’t-cut-my-head-off, is blacklisting all muslim countries as potential holiday destinations?
I reckon we could all do to forego cultural enrichment for a year or so while we work out what the hell is going on and in the meantime make a bit of an effort to reconnect ourselves to our own heritage. Rather than trying to contract skin cancer on a crowded beach we could fill the coffers of the National Trust, explore our national parks, thrill to the theatre, the finest in the world or simply get out and enjoy the garden. All this and you don’t have to miss your favourite soaps, if that floats your boat.
The greenest and most pleasant land on the planet!
Think about it. In the sixties Bruce Forsyth sang "I’m backing Britain" as part of a national drive to reinvigorate the nation. Well why not, in this fractured, divisive, post-Brexit-decision purgatory, get behind that same spirit and say, stuff Sardinia, toss off Turkey, fuck Florida... I’m back, in Britain. And nobody can call you racist for doing so.
Saturday, 16 July 2016
A week was once thought to be a long time in politics. But these past few weeks have made normal political time look positively glacial. The British people’s decision to leave the EU – not yet sunk in, or even accepted, for some – has caused rumblings across the world and more fracture lines are showing in EU unity as Germany imposes border checks in response to the Nice attack; the Schengen area of free movement may soon be thing of the past. Meanwhile an attempted military coup in Turkey throws their entire relationship with the west into sharp focus. Every day’s events seem to make yesterday’s decisions into mere historical relics.
Other things of the past include cabinet ministers as Theresa May sweeps away the not so old and brings in the shiny new faces for the electorate to irrationally hate any time soon. The world of politics is a bruising one with many perfectly decent, effective and honourable people vilified for a single action, a careless word or simply not being photogenic enough for the public palate. And what awaits them after office? Some high-flyers will be endowed with riches, but others just slide off into the simple oblivion of a modest retirement far away from the glare of publicity.
Retirement these days can last a long time and one long-time retired, long forgotten and now very elderly couple’s flame flickered on some decades after their public fire ceased to roar. Although they were not poor, their Westminster pension from the old days made them far from rich. They managed to get by comfortably by skimping and watching their pennies and were in pretty good health for their age, mainly because of the wife's insistence on healthy foods and exercise since their sixties.
But fate is a fickle master and despite their careful regime they tragically met their demise in a plane crash returning from holiday. Being good people at heart they found themselves at Heaven’s gate with St Peter himself as their heavenly concierge. He welcomed them and showed them around their new home. It was a replica of their old home but with everything as they would have dreamed. Everything was bigger and everything was new and everything worked perfectly. In addition a maid tended to their daily needs, a cook busied himself in the kitchen and a gardener hummed happily away outside, making perfect stripes in a bowling green lawn.
The couple enquired about the cost of upkeep, to which St Peter relied. “How much? Nothing. You have earned this by being good during your lives and this is your reward. Heaven with all its blessings and luxuries.” The old man looked out the window to see a championship golf course, finer and greener than any on Earth. “I used to love golf” said the man, “but I couldn't afford to play much more than a few times a year on Earth. And with my back...” St Peter held up a hand. “Remember, this is Heaven. Your back is already better and the greens are free. Play as often as you wish. On the house.”
In the club house they walked through the dining room where tables groaned under the weight of a lavish buffet. Seafood, steaks, exotic desserts and free flowing wine. All limitless and free of charge. The old man glanced at his wife and asked, “Well, where are the low fat and low cholesterol foods, and the decaffeinated tea?” Saint Peter just laughed. “You are in heaven now. You can eat and drink as much as you like, whatever you like, and you will never get fat, sick, or too drunk to function.”
“We don’t have to work out to stay trim?” asked the man, to which St Peter just laughed and said “Not unless you want to exercise for the fun of it.” He went on, “No medical checks, no pills, no diet regimes. All you have to do here is enjoy yourself.” The man turned to his wife a tear in his eyes and said “You and your rice cakes, steamed veg, sugarless tea and all those bloody pills you’ve had me on... We could have been here fifteen years ago!”
Friday, 15 July 2016
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A crowd of happy people celebrating freedom and fraternity and coming together as a nation to mark the day of their liberation are suddenly, devastatingly brought to tragedy. A maniacal attack by what will be called by the authorities a ‘lone wolf’ kills and maims in the service of allah, yet is later decreed to be ‘nothing to do with islam’? Oh, you have heard it before? Yes and you will keep on hearing it until those with the power to act open their eyes and see what those who live with it have been seeing clearly for years.
The unquestioning adherence to a primitive religion based on the supposed literal word of god has a name. Cult. Cults deprive people of their liberty and their ability to think for themselves; they are rightly regarded as extremely dangerous. A cult of hundreds, who take poison in a South American jungle, is a travesty. A cult of billions, a significant portion of whom are prepared to act on their brainwashed beliefs to kill those who don’t share their delusion, is a threat to the security of every nation on earth.
In response to the attack in Nice, French President Hollande has called for troops to be involved. But what can troops do against spontaneous, acts of small, hidden groups or ‘lone wolf’ fanatics? And where are they hiding? The fact has to be faced that despite all the denials after the fact, the people who commit these atrocities are hiding in clear sight within what we continue to refer to as ‘communities’. Until we begin to see these communities which keep themselves segregated from society at large as the occupying forces they truly are, the military has no battleground to take and no enemy to prosecute.
Before the hand-wringers start to make their regular and fearful comparison with 1930s Germany, unless historians have been very thorough indeed in redacting every text, the Jews were not, as the islamists undoubtedly are, waging jihad. Hitler’s Nazis may have been motivated by an irrational loathing but this is not that. The west is under a sustained, overt and utterly determined attack from islam, using the shelter and support of the human rights deemed so sacred by its victims. The meek are not inheriting the earth here, people, they are being slaughtered.
Future Bastille Day parade?
The talk is done, finished… over. Reason has proved ineffective. And no matter how much you publicly flog yourself over past errors, the war on terror, the time is long past when pointing the finger of blame had any power to sooth the pain. If islam has truly been under the microscope then little seems to have been learned from the study. There appears to be little chance of finding a cure any time soon, so prevention is the only option. Unlike on the wider continent Britain’s island status has so far kept it free of rabies. Forget innocent until proved guilty, maybe we need to treat every muslim as infected until they can produce the irrefutable evidence they are not.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
David Cameron and I never met. Our schedules simply clashed and much as we would have enjoyed a jolly good natter over lunch and a fine wine, it was, sadly, not to be. I did, however, do as many did and acted as a sort of unpaid advisor during his premiership. And despite our occasional differences - we did fall out over the whole messy EU business, as he forcefully stood behind every diagnosis of post Brexit doom - he was still, for my money, the best PM since Thatcher and of the current and recent crop of British political leaders the only one who stood apart as a statesman. He used his last PMQs to remind us of what we'll be missing.
Yes, yes, yes, Eton, toff, blah, blah, blether and all that but, you know, breeding. It’s never bothered me where our leaders have come from and traditionally – and Britain is nothing without tradition – class has always been more important than some republicans have dared to allow themselves to believe. In the rarefied air of world politics it takes something extra, something more than most of us have, some special chutzpah to carry off those big state occasions. And yes, yes, yes, he has a big shiny face, but don't we all some time?
No, I liked the man and if that means you must hate me because your tribal loyalty demands it then it probably says more about you than it does about me. It remains to be seen how the new guard will compare with the old but at least for the time being if things get tough there will still be the Labour Party to laugh at. But there is business afoot.
Under Captain Slow’s new regime, Hammond has already shown his slowhand technique with the EU extraction deal. David Davis as Brexit Minister has also come out for a slow release, rather than the shock therapy that many Brexiteers would prefer. But is there some strategy in suggesting we won’t be out until 2022? It may well be that the EU as we know it won’t even exist by then; maybe the delay is not so much to allow negotiation as to avoid the need for it altogether.
But in these days when Smart phones are used in place of actual knowledge, when the experts are proved wrong time after time, especially on economic affairs and when the immediacy of feelings seem to have supplanted the certainty of considered judgement, ‘all-change’ is the only principal that still holds true. And the best way to deal with uncertainty is to look it straight in the eye and deal with what it brings you, rather than spend all your time explaining what you thought should have happened and why that would have been so much better and why your life is ruined as a result.
Whatever else the May days bring, if we can reverse the trend toward dependence in all matters and bring about a resurgent in British self-reliance and the stiff upper lip, they will have been a success. Foremost in the British values we must see restored is a robust sense of humour and in a move that suggests the previously unreadable Mrs May actually has one she has led the way. Only somebody with a deep and profound sense of fun could possibly have appointed Boris Johnson to head the Foreign Office.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
I usually go to bed having sketched out a few ideas for this blog. But last night I was spoiled for choice and I didn’t want to miss the Corbyn thing which turned lowly commentators into high drama queens as they lined up to forecast the death of the Labour Party. Well, you can’t keep your old arthritic dog alive forever; sometimes it’s kinder to let him go in peace. The Labour Party ain’t fit for opposition right now, let alone government. Can you just imagine where we’d be if Ed Miliband had become PM? He looks like a political giant compared with Steptoe, clinging onto the glory days of wildcat strikes and three-day weeks. Up the workers indeed.
Much fun was to be had musing on the timing of the expected split and what form a new coalition of red wedgers might take. I suggested the following catchy new names: Socialist Labour Alliance Group – SLAG. Socialist Common Action Branch – SCAB. Socialist Labour Alliance People’s Party, England Region – SLAPPER . And in memory of John Major’s unbridled contempt for the back benchers who wouldn’t toe his line, British Alliance of Socialist & Trades-Affiliated Regional Delegations – BASTARDs.
The excitement over the meeting resulted from the mighty Miliband’s rewriting of rules without, it seemed, having an expert legal eye cast over their fitness for purpose. Labour having rarely challenged an incumbent leader, hadn’t really foreseen the Corbyn situation and a passage that seemed pretty straightforward to anybody with more than a rudimentary grasp of English had to be tested by committee. Good old Labour, fiddling with semantics while their Rome spontaneously ignited. In the end the meaning most people would have attached was agreed and Jezzer got the green light to fight his corner.
How the thruppeny minions cheered! The Miliband-inspired device which had seen Corbyn elected in the first place was going to be enabled to repeat the process, resulting in a leader without even enough backers to fill a cabinet. £3 to join as a supporter had resulted in tens of thousands swelling the ranks. Of course, some were mischievous Tories, putting Corbyn in seat for the fun of it, but many more were hard-liners, prompted to kick off their own workers revolution.
But wait, said the National Executive Committee, I thought we wanted the bugger ousted? It was decreed that members who had joined in the last six months would not be eligible to vote. But surely this doesn’t exclude the troublemakers (tee hee!) who put him there in the first place and what of those who joined because they genuinely believed in Jeremy? Why, it’s as if the NEC only want ‘the right people’ voting.
Jeremy Corbyn greets his supporters
To allay criticism of gerrymandering the vote the NEC decided that new registered supporters could join for £25 and be allowed to hold up their card for counting. At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether existing Three-Pounders could chip in and become enfranchised. But hangonaminute, this paying for the right to vote has happened before. In trying to solve one constitutional crisis Labour may have just created another. Does anybody remember what happened to the last party leader who introduced a Poll Tax?
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Who could have predicted when David Cameron finally set a date for the referendum he was forced by Farage into giving that we would end up with the second female Prime Minister in our history? But when life gives you lemons it seems you have several options. Among the advice proffered by the internet these are, variously:
- Keep them because, hey, free lemons
- Grab tequila and salt.
- Grab gin and tonic
- Throw them back (really hard).
- Squeeze them in people’s eyes.
Although there is never a good reason given as to why life should want you offer you such a gift the original advice is that when life does indeed give you yellow citrus fruit you should make lemonade. Lemons ain’t so bad when you stop to think about it; it could be so much worse, it could be herpes... or Heseltine. Few can doubt that the Conservative dinosaurs have blood on their hands as regards Andrea Leadsom. She stepped down after a few torrid days of enmity from all sides of the parliamentary party, allowing May to be installed without a fight and without the say of the members at large.
The one constancy in big party politics at the moment is the blatant devaluation of democracy. Across the EU that democracy has been subjugated at the hand of almost faceless bureaucrats who make the decisions that the little people must not be trusted with. It was popularly feared that just as with the surprise outcome of the referendum, democracy was about to produce the ‘wrong’ result yet again. Damn you, peasants! Over the course of the last two weeks the Conservative Party – no amateurs in the political assassination game – have managed to eliminate every last pro-Brexit potential candidate. If nothing else you have to admire the machinations of the house of cards.
But, in grown-up land, things are what they are. Calls for a general election are misguided and will only set back the mission of disentangling us from the EU. What we need to do is get behind our new Prime Minister. Get behind and push. Push back at every potential U-turn manoeuvre, every hint of heel-dragging as we approach that Brexit cliff. When we go, we have to all go over this lovers’s leap together. Theresa May is not most of the population's idea of Prime Minister, but then neither was David Cameron. At least she did say “Brexit is Brexit” and we need to hold her to that.
The ironing lady is watching!
So let us watch closely and keep up the pressure to invoke Article 50 and start the formal exit negotiations. Let us make sure she despatches her ambassadorial flying monkeys to every corner of the globe to talk up our country, forge trade deals and show the world that outside the EU the future is bright indeed. In many ways she will have a freer hand than any PM in five decades to take the United Kingdom back to its rightful place as one of the foremost of nations. Let's hope she doesn't turn out to be a lemon... or herpes.
Monday, 11 July 2016
Nothing has given me quite so much pleasure this last fortnight as watching the never-ending procession of back-to-back hissy-fitting starring ‘the young’. With all the wisdom and foresight possessed by those whose experience of life post-mum & dad is a four-year degree in Unemployability Studies from a former second-rank polytechnic and a ‘gap-yah’ funded by the parental bank they just know their entire future has been stolen from them by their evil grandparents. Their god-damned, racist, Nazi grandparents who hate them so much they have ended all future prospects of travel, employment, happiness, peace, love and strawberries all year round.
This has greatly angered ‘the young’ so they have taken to social media with garment-rending cries from the heart. They have gathered in the streets with misspelled placards demonstrating their incomprehension at the difference between Europe and the European Union. And they have demanded democracy – on their terms – by insisting that those who voted against them, the old people, should be denied that same democracy. If they had any concept of cognitive dissonance they would be queueing round the block for therapy, insisting that the state pay to treat their traumatic stress disorders, but fortunately their education has dulled their ability to reason and think for themselves.
Somebody once told me that, after the age of twenty-five, you can no longer blame your parents. By the time I was twenty five I had been a homeowner for three years and I was married. I don’t recall ever expecting anybody to give me a leg up. I had heard of mentors, but never actually met one; I just assumed that once you left home that was it, you were on your own. But these days it seems the trainer wheels stay on for decades, with graduate training schemes and carefully plotted career pathways picking up the nurture baton previously passed from parent to tutor.
Seriously, at what point do you begin to do it for yourself? You want to walk the high wire? Then obviously you start low, build your confidence, have your mum hold your hand. Then you progress to height and use a safety net. But at some point you have to leave the net behind and take to the yawning chasms of the Grand Canyon with nothing but a pair of chalked pumps and a balancing pole. Go on, get out there... just get on with it.
It goes down to the difference between left and right again, doesn’t it? On the right I should expect the basics to be there, then for the way to be clear for me to make something of my life. A simple but effective fact-based education system emphasizing fundamental skills such as reading and comprehension, mathematics and science and a bit of guidance on what is out there. On the left, however, there is a demand for a fully comprehensive, step-by-step guide to life itself and an expectation that whatever you choose you must never be judged, you can never truly fail and if it all goes tits up that safety net will always be there. In little over a decade net dependency on the state - those who take out more than they put in - has risen from 43% to 53%. This is not a healthy model.
That's it snowflake, let it all out...
When you’re very young you shouldn’t need to ask. Soon you learn that expressing your needs is enough to have them fulfilled. But there has to come a point where you realise that no matter how hard you cry, help isn’t coming this time. You have to either modify your needs to adapt to your circumstances, or actually do it for yourself. It’s called growing up and it seems to be occurring later and later. A good many of those on the streets demanding that somebody else fix their world are long overdue that awakening.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
The media shitstorm around Andrea Leadsom is astonishing. Talk about playing the man. Every tiny scrap of, well, anything is being pimped-up and spun and presented as evidence of some sort of Hitlerian dominatrix complex. She’s – by media accounts – a liar, a hypocrite, a religious fundamentalist, a fifth columnist for Ukip, a racist and a homophobe. According to various sources she believes that children of unmarried parents will grow up to become axe murderers, that gay marriage will end civilisation and she has no hesitation in exploiting her own children for political advantage. She is, they say, a female Farage.
She is certainly like Nigel Farage in one respect – the relentless and downright vicious personal attacks have a remarkable similarity to the way he was pilloried by the bien pensant press for years. The establishment are out to get her. Meanwhile their favourite placewoman, Theresa May, is continuing in much the way she has conducted her ministerial career by remaining largely out of sight. Unlike Farage, however, Andrea Leadsom hasn’t had years to build up a following, demonstrate consistency and earn the loyalty of members.
The Firm, however, is still clearly worried. Recently the smugness with which they could expect the electorate to be hectored into voting ‘correctly’ has been eroded and superior smirks wiped from privileged faces. The rolling out of big guns from the past to berate the stupid voters and instruct them to do their bidding has had the effect not of a bulldozer flattening dissent but a peashooter. The public at large have remained unimpressed by headline acts but they have noticed one very peculiar thing.
When the elites on opposing sides get together to train their weapons on the little people who vastly outnumber them it smacks of desperation. It’s either a spectacularly brilliant double-bluff – maybe they secretly wanted Brexit, or Corbyn for leader – or far more likely it is a cock up of monumental proportions. Had they actually been listening, that rumble in the distance and getting nearer is the gathering stampede of millions of people saying no. No to politics as usual – in this respect Corbyn is dead right. They are saying no to the systematic abuse of parliamentary powers to do the opposite of what ordinary people want.
No, too, to being told how to behave, what they can and can’t say and what to think. They are saying no to the intrusive powers the state has taken upon itself to rip up our social fabric and engineer the pushing into second place of British culture behind that of any interloper. They are saying no to inferior education and life chances and no to the recasting of the British in history as the bad guys. They are exercising the very thing the establishment hates; democracy.
Has the electoral tide turned?
So, when the selection goes out to the party members, the blizzard of ‘helpful’ information about why not to vote for Leadsom may just prove to have been counter-productive. It doesn’t take so long for everything a hostile press has to offer to simply be ignored. On the other hand, while the newcomer may be a relative unknown, so in many ways is Theresa May. This lack of engagement by the grey lady of the Conservative Party might just be her downfall. The party doesn’t’ have to say yes to Leadsom; they just have to say no to May.
Friday, 8 July 2016
The Tory leadership contest(s) is down to the final pair, both women, which infuriates the progressives who, despite all their rhetoric and all-women shortlists, has yet to put a woman in charge of the UK government while the reactionary hooligans of the vicious ‘far-right’ are about to do it for a second time. The establishment is supporting the grey lady of Westminster – Major minor – Theresa May because, well, because. And much of the media are backing the same horse. All of which suggests they haven’t learned from the recent unruly behaviour of an ungrateful electorate who have shown they are simply not to be trusted with politics.
Or do they secretly want you to vote for Andrea Leadsom and are openly backing May because they suspect the party members, who have the final say, will reject the establishment candidate? And were Michael Gove’s manoeuvres a carefully crafted ploy to eventually put Leadsom into the final two – after all, he is frequently cited as one of the most intelligent players in the political game - or does the entire process just smell of cock-up? With two whole months to go, who knows where this could all lead and will we still be on course for Brexit at the end?
One question however, is surely beyond doubt and that is, why on earth would any normal human being want to put themselves forward for this sort of scrutiny? If you are an attention-seeking wannabe celeb a shady past can actively help to propel you to fame, but in a politician, even a scrupulously law-abiding, selfless, dedicated history of involvement in helping others can be twisted and turned into evidence for the prosecution. Failed relationships, membership of religious organisations, overdue library books... any and every past ‘irregularity’ will be examined under the microscope of public prejudice and used against you.
All of this unhealthy preoccupation with your existence before Westminster is why many MPs choose the obscurity of the back benches and live out their careers in the shadows, rather than in the unflattering glare of the harsh limelight. I am reminded of one such MP, long consigned to the dustbin of history, who had had a brush with the law as youth but later redeemed himself and went on to quietly campaign for a more understanding justice system. None too bright as a teenager, as an older man he liked to tell the story of how his youthful indiscretion had landed him in juvenile court.
When everybody was assembled the magistrate introduced himself to the assembly, briefly explained the procedures that were to be followed and introduced himself, inviting the other officials to do likewise. Young Mike sat nervously in the dock as, one by one, the main players stood and said their pieces. “I’m Joan, the stenographer and I record everything that is said during the session.” Then “Hello, I am the court clerk. I maintain a record of proceedings and help to administer oaths.” And “I am Steven Jones and I will be examining the defendant as part of my duties as the prosecutor.”
Attention then switched to the man sitting beside Mike who said “Thomas Preston, sir, I am Michael’s solicitor and I will be seeking to defend him to the court and prove his innocence.” At which point all eyes turned to the defendant himself. Mike stood, a little nervously, looked around at the room and stated, “Hello, I’m Mike... and I’m the one who stole the car.”
Thursday, 7 July 2016
Children learn lessons – it’s what they do. The rest of us tend to learn by our mistakes, sometimes by repetition of the same mistake over and over again until it dawns on us, but the novel idea that government is capable of learning at more than glacial speed is laughable. They say we should learn history so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past; if it weren’t so tragic at times the lengths to which some in public office go to repeat the same old errors should be enough to convince, at least, that history is a lesson that largely goes ignored.
No matter what colour of rosette fills the government front benches and no matter how solemn the tacit promises at their swearing-in not to bring the office into disrepute, never far away are the revelations. A look at the history of power, from local council to the highest office in the land, reveals misuse and corruption on epic scales. Scandals abound, revealing activity that would land most of us in court and yet frequently go unpunished when committed by our elected representatives.
Perversion of the planning and procurement procedures, sometimes clumsily, via the now almost traditional brown envelope back-handers, but more often for future favour. The promise of support now for a vote down the line, often going against express electoral wishes. Nepotism run wild as interfamilial and dynastic loyalties promote preferment and preferential treatment; each little act helping to build the walls separating the noble family trees from dilution by the not-so-favoured. The separation of them and us is never so evident as when seeing the chinless, talentless scions ‘kinnocking’ their way to the lofty heights.
By way of entertainment and distraction from our envy and anger they occasionally throw us the bone of buffoonery or, even better, some seedy sex scandal. From predilections towards questionable sado-masochistic acts through out and out, full-on latex dominatrix fantasies to the suspicions of kiddy-fiddling and disposal of the damaged participants with the full or partial collusion of police and judiciary. Such exploits, nearly always only coming after or near the death or senility of the perpetrators carry the stench of corruption, threat and extreme abuse of powers.
Life aboard the gravy train continues apace with only the occasional low-flyer thrown to the wolves to distract the pack from their pursuit. Minor victories – today’s headlines – become tomorrow’s chip paper and even widespread scandals such as MP’s expenses are only nominally punished; the same snouts continue to grub at the same trough with little evidence they are chastened beyond what was necessary for the press calls which magically wipe away their sins.
So you’ll forgive me if I show no great interest in the lumbering tomes of the Chilcot Report. Like every such report before it the contents will be largely unsensational, having been know at least vaguely for years and its conclusions will be no great surprise. I have no reason to expectat that we will be seeing a public hanging any day soon.