Thursday 28 September 2017

After the ball was over

Transcript: Victim Interview

Sergeant Copper: For the tape, my name is Sergeant Copper. Also present are Elspeth Socialworker and  representing Miss Young-Person is her solicitor Gloria Law. [pause, shuffling of papers, scuffing of chairs]

Now, Miss Young-Person, can you tell us, in your own words, why you are here today?

Young-Person: I want to give a statement. I want to tell my story. [pause] He promised me sweets if I went with him.
SC: Sweets?
Y-P: Yes. I like sweets
SC: Did he say what kind of sweets?
Y-P: No. He just promised me that there would be sweets; whatever I wanted.
SC: Did you take the sweets?
Y-P: No, because [pause, sobbing] well, I never saw the sweets. I mean, he sounded perfectly plausible. You know... whatever type of sweet I said I liked he said I could have. If I wanted mints he said he would get me mints. If I wanted toffees, then toffees I would have, he told me. But I never saw any toffees... or mints.

SC: I see. Did he ask you to do anything in return for these sweets? Anything for him?
Y-P: I don’t know, really. I mean, he didn’t ask us to actually, you know, do anything. Not as such. I think he just wanted us to love him. He smelled funny. Like camphor, or something.
SC: Us?
Y-P: Yes. At first I thought it might just be me; maybe I was... chosen. He made me feel special, you know, like a kind old grandad. And although he seemed a little lonely, as if he really needed me, he made me think it was all about me and that the world was there just for my benefit. He told me that no matter what I wanted, he would make it happen.

Gloria Law: It is. It is your human right that whatsoever your heart desires, you shall have it. Because it is your irrevocable human right to be happy and successful.
Y-P: Yes, but I thought he meant only me. He spoke directly to me, from my smart phone... at least, I thought he did. But then, when I went to meet him, I discovered I wasn’t the only one at all. There were thousands just like me.

Sergeant Copper: And what happened, when you met the others?
Y-P: Well, they were all very nice. All like me; just like me, in fact. They all had a sort of ‘glow’ about them, as if they – we – had all been drugged, or enchanted or something. I felt like I had no option but to do what everybody else did. I didn’t feel special so much then, more like we were all the same. I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I felt I had to play along because...
SC: Because, what?

Y-P: He held us in a sort of trance. It felt like we all knew the words to the song and if we tried to sing different words... well, it didn’t feel like an option I dared to try. You know, I sort of felt that even if I didn’t agree with what he was saying, I still had to sing the correct words, or else... I don’t know. We just all sang along, whatever we were feeling inside.
SC: You had to sing?
Y-P: He made us chant his name.
SC: Oh?
Y-P: [sings] Jeremy Corbyn...

Jeremy... not as other children.

Elspeth Socialworker: Well, you are safe now. Your parents are coming to pick you up after this interview. But we need you to do one last thing, before you go. Sergeant?
[indistinct noises. A box is placed on the table: video evidence accompanies this transcript]
Sergeant Copper: Miss Young-Person, using the doll, would you show us exactly where he touched you?

Monday 25 September 2017

The Nazis are coming!

There isn’t half a lot of hoo-ha (should that be Haw-Haw?) about on the subject of the rise of the right. The steam is spouting from every orifice as the puffing and panting squawk boxes of the activist left gear up to the next level of screechery. They are all getting their knickers in a twist and equating the surge in support for the AfD in Germany and the prospect of Anne Marie Waters leading Ukip with a call for cattle trucks and gas chambers. Behave, the lot of you.

Far right indeed! You may not have noticed, possibly because from inside that shiny bubble all you can see is a soap-sudsy distortion of yourself reflected back at you, but practically the whole of politics in the UK is slap bang in the centre. The voters for both sides all want pretty much the same things – peace, prosperity, freedom from worry and disease – they just differ in how they think it should brought about.

The pragmatists on the right understand that none of this comes for free and busily crack on feathering their own nests as all of nature tends to do. The idealists on the left believe it should be enshrined in human rights and spend endless hours in their dream state imagining a world of infinite diversity whilst maintaining equality for all. The workers on the right know they have to pay for what they get; and the dreamers on the left also know that the workers on the right will have to pay for what they get.

It’s little wonder, then, that the backbone of the country simply cracks on and the mainstream political parties try to appeal to as broad a spectrum as possible; inevitably, this means they rarely stray far from the centre ground. Last night, in response to a comments about Ukip hardly being ‘far right’ a Tweeter posted the following graphic to ‘prove’ they were, literally Hitler. Quite apart from the alarming scale, which purports to show an extreme fascist tendency for the parties they don’t like, this is a simplistic and unrealistic model.

Well, two can play at that game. Given that some of my detractors readily and regularly call me a Nazi I was somewhat surprised when I honestly took the test some months ago and came out smack bang in the centre. (Okay, I was half a small grid square above and to the right of the line, but I was still devastated!) Anyway, as something of an expert now in these matters I took the liberty of creating an updated and far more accurate version of that graphic to suit the current political landscape. Here it is.

So, as you can see, labels aren't always helpful and memes can be used to illustrate, but never to prove, any point you care to make. And as I’m in charge of this here commentary, I observe that the difference between left and right in Britain is fag-paper thin apart from a few oddball extremists. The only fly in that particular analytical ointment is Jeremy Corbyn’s fan club, Momentum. Given half a chance they would be out hanging Tories from lampposts.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Florence and the Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 17 September 2017

Killer Cable

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

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

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

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

Lend me your ears... mine are fucked

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

Monday 4 September 2017

An open letter to industry

Dear Employers,

You have a choice between two systems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 1 September 2017

Britain, BC

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

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

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

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

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

Britain, AD...

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