Friday, 31 January 2014
So, it's official, this January has been the wettest in the Uk for 100 years. No doubt this will be attributed to climate change. Well it already has been in many quarters, not least by our prime minister who didn't bother with any supporting evidence because there isn't any. Extreme weather? No evidence it has increased. And how do we define extreme weather anyway?
It's been wet. But then we are a country in the north of Europe and on the edge of one of the world's great oceans. We also lie beneath the constantly fluctuating jet stream which drives our weather and the gulf stream brings a great deal of moisture our way too. We have always been a damp country. At times we are soaking.
And let's remember that last year we were suffering an extremely cold and snowy winter. This too was attributed to climate change and the jet stream by some. Global warming, they confidently asserted, had melted lots of sea ice in the Arctic and disrupted the weather. So how do they explain the fact that this year it has been much milder and a great deal wetter?
The fact is that British weather and British seasons are the consequence of patterns that obstinately refuse to shift for months on end. Sometimes that jet stream stays further north and we shiver in the cold. Sometimes it drifts further south and we get drenched. In summer the same is true. That jet stream can bring us hot weather or, like a couple of summers go, unrelenting rain.
The great irony of all of this is that this weather has been made altogether worse by the actions of the green meanies. They captured the Environment Agency and decided, apropos of not very much, to stop dredging rivers so that nature might run its course and to hell with the poor sods who had homes they expected to be defended from water. It's the same kind of mindset of the likes of George Monbiot, who thinks that sheep should be banished from our hills and valleys so that they can be abandoned back to nature where wolves and bears will then roam. He seems to have forgotten the fact that sheep farming is what made this country prosperous in the first place and the small matter that we are a nation of 60 million plus. Monbiot might not be signed up to the bucolic joys of the current English countryside but how many share his vision of turning our green and pleasant land back 3000 years?
This is a crowded island which has a complicated relationship with our weather. One of the reasons we became prosperous is because nature bombards us with rain on a regular basis but that by and large we don't get too cold or too hot. Our weather may be unpredictable, but in a predictable range which seldom gets too extreme. This year has been one of those rare extremes, but it is an extreme made worse by those who wish to take us back to nature and abandon us to the elements. Yet at the same time these are the same people who say we should be taking all kinds of extreme measures to combat climate change and impoverish ourselves in so doing. This year BBC reporters are standing by floods, last year it was snow drifts. It's only a matter of time before we have dried up reservoirs again. And it's all because of climate change you know.
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Is Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, a more political Governor, or was his warning to the SNP yesterday about keeping the pound and ceding sovereignty a statement of the bleeding obvious? Ever since the referendum was announced (and you have to wonder if Salmond is now regretting the long lead time and opportunity to pick holes in his case he ceded to the no campaign) this has been the elephant in the room. The SNP policy on Scotland's currency has changed repeatedly in recent years. They once wanted to be part of the Euro, ignoring the fact that Scotland will have to reapply for membership of the EU. Then, when the Euro was exposed as the unfunny and ruinous farce so many of us said it would be, they changed tack and told us that they would simply hang on to the pound. It should be noted incidentally that, were Scotland to become independent, they would have to apply for membership of the EU and, even if they were allowed in, which is doubtful to say the least, they would then have to sign up to the Euro. Britain's opt out would not apply. Salmond's answer, as ever is bluster, assertion and bald denial. But those are the facts.
And it was facts, albeit of an economic kind, that Mark Carney spoke of yesterday too. Scotland would be leaving the UK but demanding, not very politely, to remain part of another currency union. They would expect the rest of the UK, essentially the hated English, to act as lender of last resort to their banks. Furthermore, as the Euro has demonstrated time and again, currency unions require regulation and fiscal transfers from one part of that union to others in order to make them viable. How would English taxpayers feel about that? It's one thing to wear that kind of thing when we are all part of the same country, it's quite another when one member flounces out but wants to keep dipping its hand into the coffers as and when it suits.
As others have pointed out, Salmond's case for independence is that Scotland would be better governing itself because Westminster and we evil English are unwilling to give them all that they so richly deserve. Yet the self same parliament he so abhors would magically, on Scotland voting for independence, voluntarily roll over, allow them to carry on using the pound, guarantee their banks and watch as they went on their inevitably ruinous socialist experiment much like that currently being seen in France and stand by ready to send them extra money when they come crying for help.
It's rather like football. No, bear with me. The Scots have their own football leagues and their own two big clubs that would, were they south of the border, be amongst the big boys of the Premier League such is their support. But they miss out on the television billions and so are doomed perpetually to be comparative minnows. Every once in a while Celtic or Rangers moot the possibility of joining the English Premier League so that they can help themselves to English money and join the big boys club. They use similar arguments to Salmond, that it would be good for us, that it would enrich us all and so we should invite them in without worrying about all of that winning games and gaining promotion nonsense and write the cheque so that they can take their share. Whenever the story crops up the response from fans is near unanimous: Get stuffed!
If Scotland does vote for independence come the autumn it will set the cat amongst the pigeons constitutionally and electorally in the rest of the UK. Only a few months later we would have a British general election, one that may already lead to a hung parliament and a situation made all the more complex and confusing when Labour would be denied its Scottish MPs further down the road once Scotland became a foreign land. Who would govern? Who would have the right to negotiate for the rest of the country? It's a legal and constitutional nightmare. Does Salmond seriously expect that politicians in England would offer up what he demands to allow him to get his way and gain a painless secession?
Mark Carney didn't go into this kind of detail. He just pointed out that it would be a funny kind of independence when Salmond would secede from the rest of the country and then immediately begin negotiations to carry on using the currency and cede it back again. That is the SNP case. It makes assumptions he is not entitled to make about the attitude of the rest of the country, especially the hated English. He gets to become independent, keep all the oil, bribe his electorate, grab land off the gentry and go on a mad spending spree to buy the next election, and all with the English standing as his guarantors. Does he seriously think we will agree to that, or does that smirk he wears perpetually on his chubby, self satisfied, publicly subsidised face tell the real truth?
Tuesday, 28 January 2014
It seems that the polls are closing and Labour's rating is collapsing - perhaps Ed Balls has a hand gesture he could deploy for it. Labour, after flatlining for so long, are, according to two polls released today now sinking, and their rating is perilously close to that of the Conservatives, you know the party that gives tax breaks to millionaires, taxes spare bedrooms and, according to the alleged comedian Rufus Hound, wants to kill people's children because they are poor.
People do not seem to be taking to that nice if dweebish Ed Miliband, even though he looks a lot like a beloved cartoon character. But perhaps that is because he is acting like a cartoonish political leader. Wallace's Labour Party with his idiot shadow Chancellor, looks more and more like Dastardly and Muttley rather than Wallace and Gromit. Their various cunning plans to see off the Tories prompt a few laughs, they get us all to talk but they ultimately fail because they are expensive, stupid and about as coherent as a UKIP manifesto.
Ultimately, despite the warnings of the Labour Party, the economy is recovering, jobs are being created, inflation is falling. Their predictions of rampant unemployment and a triple dip recession look more and more like wishful thinking. They hoped that all would go wrong so that they would be invited to ride to the rescue with various non specific but probably expensive prescriptions for the nation's ills. Now they are reduced to making threats against anyone who is doing well, making money and generally pissing off the Left. If they can't deliver policies that promote growth for all they will bring forward policies to hit those who have prospered and to hell with what it does to the economy.
And the British people can see this. They can see the vacuum that exists where Labour's economic policy should be only just over a year out from an election. They can see that Labour have a leader who tells his party what it wants to hear rather than what it needs to hear. They can see that he is now trying the same trick with the whole country.
If the Tories want to consolidate their advantage and perhaps even start to build a lead perhaps they should continue to offer the country what has clearly started to work. On welfare, spending cuts, education and even that cut in upper rate taxes this is a government that has been prepared to say things that risk criticism and anger but which will ultimately deliver results. Why not now say that the best way to promote and entrench growth is to cut taxes for everyone? Why not say that our broken education system is in need of a bit more elitism and bring back grammar schools? Why not say that our welfare system has created the very problems it was supposed to end and that it needs the IDS medicine and lots of it? This is a government that is now at last starting to reap the rewards of its principle stance up against a Labour Party that prefers not to say anything much and cannot even fess up to trying to deny us all a referendum on Europe. That is why the polls are going in the direction they are going.
Monday, 27 January 2014
Ed Balls is said to be shocked at the opprobrium that has been poured on his 'policy' of raising taxes back to 50% announced at the weekend. This is of course characteristic. It was a cynical notion, not so much a policy as his own equivalent of his leader's idiotic promise to freeze energy prices or tinker with the banks or grab land. Labour don't have policies any more it would seem, they just have soundbites and gimmicks. On the economy in particular this is all they have left. No doubt Balls expected his latest ruse to have them cheering him to the rafters. Happily the British people are nothing like as stupid as he seems to imagine. They can see desperation and cynicism when it is presented to them. They had plenty of practice after all when Labour were in power for 13 years.
But perhaps the time has come to remind everyone of something that seems to elude them when it comes to income tax and the notion of fairness, something that for some reason we allow politicians of all people to define. Why is it regarded as 'fair' for politicians to compulsorily, on pain of criminal charges, to confiscate half or more of someone's money? How is that 'fair'?
Taxes are levied on us all to pay for public services and to pay in to a central pool for the general benefit of all. We all, by and large, buy into this although there are frequent quibbles about the detail. Generally it is accepted that those who earn the most should pay the most. But it remains a mystery why we have developed the notion that the tax rate should actually rise the more we earn. Why is that? Where is the logic? Where is the fairness?
If we had what is called a flat tax system in which everyone pays the same percentage of their earnings in tax regardless of how much they earn, if it were introduced tomorrow, there would be howls of outrage from the Left and indeed much of the cowed and cowardly right too. But why? If we all paid the same rate of tax the rich would still pay more, a lot more, than those on low or average earnings. 30% of £30,000 is £9,000. 30% of £300,000 is £90,000. That is fair. It is also simple, easy to administer and a lot more difficult to avoid or evade.
And yet for some reason, mostly to do with their own inability to balance the books and make difficult choices, politicians have convinced us that it is fair that the so called rich should not only pay more, but should actually pay a higher percentage rate when they reach a certain threshold. There is no logic or sense to this whatsoever. If anything it would be fairer for the rate to reduce the more you earn as you would already be paying more than your 'fair' share. Typically, because of political cowardice and incompetence once again, higher rates of tax now hit people who are by no means rich. Middle income earners, people like police inspectors, teachers, accountants, doctors, middle managers, people who have worked hard and got on in life are hit with a 40% rate of tax. There are millions doing so now based on the notion of fairness. In fact this is spectacularly unfair. It is as spectacularly unfair and economically illiterate as taxing the very low paid and then handing them back money in the form of tax credits, another brilliant notion dreamt up by Labour and the Brown/Balls axis that did so much damage before we rid ourselves of their serial lies and delusions.
Ed Balls' announcement this weekend is a sign of Labour's utter bankruptcy of principle, morals or economic ideas. It has repeatedly been demonstrated that raising the tax rate does not raise more money. It has the opposite effect. It discourages those who wish to work hard, have ambition or who want to come here and invest. It tells people who have done well in life that they deserve to be penalised and punished by useless politicians who themselves have lost control of the public finances and who have to grub around in the political gutter picking up votes based on envy. We don't even have to look back to the 1960s and 70s, when similar policies produced failure and decay and turned Britain into the sick man of Europe. We only have to look across the channel to France where the same shameless policies have produced the same outcomes in record times as another useless politician refuses to cut back the state and tries to pin it all on the rich who have reacted, perfectly reasonably and rationally, by sodding off elsewhere. Can we really blame them?
Rates of taxation higher than 40% are a sign of the failure of democracy not of fairness. Ed Balls and his party are still unwilling to admit that they failed, that their economic policies helped contribute to disaster, that they spent too much money and would do so again. Instead they seek to blame the same bankers and wealth creators whose money they spent so freely when in power and to whom they sucked up so egregiously until it all went wrong. Now they mean to punish them and drive them abroad just to win an election and to hell with what it does to the country. Ed Balls showed this weekend why he is unfit to govern. The criticism he has attracted has not been strong enough. It is he, not the rich, who should be encouraged to move abroad.
Sunday, 26 January 2014
Saturday, 25 January 2014
Labour have been made to look pretty stupid on a number of issues these last few years, but on the economy most of all. This of course is entirely of their own doing. First they borrowed too much, then the economy went bust even though they thought they had abolished boom and bust, then they fiddled and tinkered with the economy by pointlessly raising income taxes, and then, once in opposition, tried to pretend that none of this implosion was anything to do with them and that the only way out of the mess of their creation was to keep on spending because going 'too far, and too fast' with the cuts was akin to suicide. Each new statistic of recent weeks has beautifully illustrated their folly and economic illiteracy. They are now reduced to complaining about how badly off everyone is with their 'cost of living crisis.' Even that may well be starting to explode in their faces.
Nevertheless Ed Balls and his boss are still trying to make out that, though they weren't wrong in the first place you understand and didn't spend too much money, oh no, they are now converts to the new reality of austerity. Accordingly Balls is promising to balance the books and get rid of the deficit. Except look closer and he is using a bit of Gordon Brown sleight of hand. He is promising to balance the 'current budget'. In other words he will still borrow to invest, and, as we all know, Labour found that that word could be used extremely flexibly as and when it suited them. So their promise to set their promise in stone by enshrining it in legislation is meaningless, even before you start getting down to the nitty gritty of what they would cut to enable this to happen. Remember Gordon Brown's golden rules of balancing the economy over an economic cycle. That economic cycle was constantly revised and retimed according to whim because Brown would rather fiddle the figures than actually act prudently. Are we really expected to believe that Balls has had some kind of Damascene conversion to prudence, or is he just trying to pull a fast one once again? And bear in mind that the present Chancellor has already promised to clear the deficit a year earlier, with no Balls style caveats about current spending.
And, just to compound the economic illiteracy, Balls has promised to restore the 50p tax rate. So he has just made his job of clearing the deficit that much harder because, as tax revenues have clearly shown, the lower 45p rate raises more money. To Labour, you see, the nation's finances are of less concern than being seen to hit the rich despite the fact that the richest 1% pay 30% of all taxes. The top 0.1% of earners contribute 14% of all taxes. The case for raising their taxes higher is non existent from the point of view of fairness, and that's before you take into account the damage that France's higher taxes inflicted on that nation by President Hollande have made. Unless you are a Labour politician playing to the gallery, still not learning from past mistakes, still refusing to acknowledge past mistakes and indeed now set on a course of dishonesty and evasion as before from which the country is only just emerging.
Lower tax rates raise more money. This is a simple incontrovertible fact. Labour don't want to hear it. Instead they just want to play petty politics and, like when they equally incomprehensibly promised to freeze energy prices, they damage the economy while playing these games. Not only would raising taxes bring in less money it would put off investors from coming to this country. But then this is the kind of economic genius we have come to expect. It's balls.
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Just in case you are wondering, I am still in hospital at the moment and managing to blog despite the best efforts of the various internet service providers who are charging me for access that is sporadic at best and block any attempts to view porn. The above picture has of course nothing whatsoever to do with this but, though I could provide a picture of my foot, or of my bed hair, I choose not to. It's for the best.
I have now had 3 operations on my foot, at University College Hospital in London, and am awaiting news of the outcome of the latest yesterday afternoon. Happily, thus far, the surgeons have not felt it necessary to remove my little toe, although this has been mooted more than once. I and the antibiotics are struggling against an infection. But to be fair the treatment I have received has been generally good, even the food is at times verging on the pleasant or even delicious in one or two cases. There are niggles, for instance information about my condition and prognosis is never easy to come by, but for the most part I am seeing the NHS at its best.
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Does the above picture offend you? If so, why? Is your religious belief so fragile that it cannot withstand a bit of gentle mockery?
And don't hide behind some supposed edict that the alleged prophet cannot be depicted. That is an excuse. You just don't like the idea that your beliefs are being mocked or not treated with the earnestness you feel they deserve. Well, tough.
We are on the cusp of another one of those 'debates' about freedom of speech, tolerance and the touchiness bordering on psychosis of some Muslims. A Muslim, Maajid Nawaz, who is also a Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, tweeted a picture similar to the one above and said that he personally was not offended by it. Predictably others have been offended by this and are demanding apologies. There have been a couple of death threats.
Here we go again. If you are offended by the above picture then don't look at it. You do not have the right in a free society not to be offended. You do not have the right to charge about demanding apologies and for people to be censured if they say something, do something or otherwise act in a way that you find offensive. Look the other way. Grow up.
There is a petition in support of Nawaz. Sign it here.
If you remain doubt about voting UKIP at the forthcoming by elections or the European elections this summer, a doubt that will have been exacerbated by this very funny UKIP shipping forecast then consider this. Labour don't trust the British people to vote the right way in a referendum and so are doing all they can, save for having the honesty to actually campaign and vote against it, to prevent us having a referendum. They are doing their best to stymie James Wharton's bill to ensure a referendum by various amendments including proposals to ask the question in Gaelic, Doric and Cornish and giving prisoners the vote.
Labour, the party of the people, doesn't tend to like the people very much because we do not live in leafy parts of north London and do not have all of the approved opinions on issues such as immigration, welfare, the NHS and of course Europe. They don't have the courage to say so however and so prefer to play Westminster's arcane games instead. The only way to punish them for this is to hit them in the ballot box, preferably by denying them those ultra safe northern constituencies they take for granted. They are even trying a smash and grab raid on those. Paul Goggins has only been dead a couple of weeks and already the election for his replacement is only 3 weeks away.
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
Much as the nation enjoys watching the Lib Dems in high dudgeon, or rather a series of competing high dudgeons all based on inviolable principle of the sort you only really believe in if you are a Lib Dem, its hard not to have a smidgen of sympathy for fatty Rennard. I don't know whether he is or isn't guilty of touching up those women. The fact of the matter is though that various investigations, including one by the police who probably felt they had better things to do with their time, has found that he has no case to answer. Thus, according to the law of the land and even the arcane rules of the Lib Dems, he is innocent. Shouldn't that really be the end of the matter? Why should he apologise?
Some women had their personal space invaded whatever that means. And therein lies the trouble. Some women would be entirely comfortable with a hand placed on their leg. Some would not. Some would have been happy for Lord Rennard to invade their space if he was not a double chinned lard arse. Had he looked like a male model no apology would have been considered necessary or sought. We are not talking about the sort of groping being alleged in various cases against celebrities who overstepped the mark repeatedly and knowingly. We are, surely, talking about the confused and confusing state of sexual politics in which men don't know what they can and cannot do with regard to physical contact or invading personal space and the rules change from woman to woman and year to year. This is a problem only exacerbated if the woman in question is a Lib Dem. One woman's hug is another's sexual harassment. It's astonishing we are not all constantly being investigated. It's either that or those of us who do not look like male models should just advertise for mates and establish ground rules and third party witnesses in advance. Dates should be conducted at a safe distance and with someone waving a red flag whenever the parties get within ten metres of one another.
Quite why Rennard, who is a politician after all, cannot find a form of words to apologise without accepting that he did much wrong is a mystery, but its showing the Lib Dems up for the bunch of useless, hand wringing numpties we all know them to be. This is the party that, with a straight face, tells us that government is better with them in it because they are so sensible and mature. Yet they cannot sort out, over a period of years, some accusations of one of their seniors putting his hand where some women would rather he did not put his hands. Only the useless, pointless Lib Dems could have a sex scandal which doesn't actually involve any sex. It's no wonder our energy system is such a mess.
That this is happening to the smug and self satisfied Lib Dems is just natural justice, since they are so quick to lecture the rest of us about all things modern and progressive. They are now discovering that life is not quite as easy to define, that two people can have differing opinions about the same thing held in good faith. They ought to know this. After all Lord Rennard pioneered the Lib Dem campaigning approach which saw their candidates have different policies according to where in the country they were standing. Perhaps that is the answer here. Sexual harassment is wrong, unless of course it is a senior Lib Dem doing it.
Monday, 20 January 2014
Apologies for my absence these last few days. I have been in hospital, actually I am still in hospital but, following a ward move last night, am now finally able to get wi-fi access.
And so I have, once again, been seeing the varying charms and abilities of the NHS. I have seen how care and treatment varies from hospital to hospital, from ward to ward, from shift to shift. Last Monday I visited A and E with my infected and badly swollen foot and was sent on my way with antibiotics. By Wednesday I was feeling so ill I needed to attend again. It was then discovered that the infection had dislocated a metatarsal bone in my foot and required surgery. All this is a consequence of the poor care I received at St Mary's Hospital last year when they couldn't get me out of the door quickly enough, although the same was true of various hospitals before them. If any solicitors are reading this please get in touch.
Sadly I have not been as across the news as I would have liked to have been these last few days. I have noted that another of UKIPs fruitcake tendency, who seem to make up much of the party except Nigel Farage (and even he has his moments) have surfaced again. The reason for all of our bad weather recently, he told us, is because God is punishing us for gay marriage. Quite why he is visiting his punishment on the west country is a mystery. Why not Soho? I would have been able to see it from my hospital window.
So do I withdraw my former advice about voting UKIP in forthcoming elections? Well, no. The political establishment need a kicking. UKIP is not a serious party. But then we are not being taken seriously by those who purport to rule us. Labour needs a kicking in its safe constituencies for taking us for granted. Europe needs a kicking this summer in the European elections for a parliament nobody takes seriously anyway. It would serve them right to have it filled with fruitcakes and loons.
Sunday, 19 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Tuesday, 14 January 2014
Okay, it's not quite as brazen as heading to a mafia owned flat to conduct an affair with a very attractive blonde actress who apparently thinks the sun shines out of your economic policies, but this is Britain. We have Wallace as the leader of the Labour Party. So instead he's telling us today that he, and he alone, is the champion of the middle classes. Is this the same Wallace who was raised by a communist and who admires northern people, simply because they are from the north. I'm sure he admires we midlanders too of course because he stands for One Nation whatever that means and we are good, solid, hardworking types too and in possession of lots and lots of marginal constituencies.
Once again it seems that Wallace and Labour think that all they need to do is say a few nice, policy lite, words about how wonderful we are, how much he likes and admires us and how much he is going to defend us and we will forget or ignore past actions and misdemeanours. Middle classes? Salt of the earth. Stealth taxes? No idea what you're talking about. Raids on pensions? Surely not. Endless enviro taxes? It's for our own good. Getting those same middle classes to pay all of that extra so as to bloat further the welfare state and still entrench poverty? Well Labour are in the process of a few weasel words there too.
This is the Labour strategy writ large. Wallace still believes that can be a political colossus and drag the British people to the left and impose his Hollande magic on a grateful country. He really does think, apparently having ignored the polls just as he ignores reports into union shenanigans and drug taking Labour bankers, that he is that good. Or else he seems to think he can say this stuff, talk about one nation, talk about how awful the cost of living is and how hard a time the middle classes are having, and we will vote him into power, carry him shoulder high into Downing Street and then watch as he goes about governing in the way he and Uncle Len think is best. It's much the same attitude to Labour's approach to an EU referendum. Just leave us to it. Trust us.
Monday, 13 January 2014
You have to hand it to these Frenchies don't you. Even though he has screwed the French economy in record time with a programme that the leader of our own Labour Party much admires and would like to emulate (indeed he may not have any choice if Uncle Len has his say) President Hollande has found time to cheat on a woman he hasn't bothered marrying in order to screw an extremely attractive blonde actress who admires the size of his commitment to social justice.
And then, best of all, the woman who was the first girlfriend, on finding out that she may have to form an orderly queue much like those at Versailles, immediately performed an Austenesque swoon and is being treated for a broken heart, a condition unknown to medical science since the days when they thought you could catch cold by being caught in the rain or that it was a jolly good idea to bleed the patient.
And all of this is being done with the French pretending not to care and respecting the privacy of the various parties whilst earnestly hoping that we rosbifs write about it and put it on websites full of tabloid salacious detail that the French can shrug and be condescending about before passing it around the dinner table. The old French respect for privacy was dying out anyway, ironically while our own judiciary try to create a privacy law for our own great and good, or at least Premier League footballers and TV presenters. And it has at last made Hollande interesting. Who needs privacy eh?
Sunday, 12 January 2014
In case you missed it last week, James Wharton's referendum bill reached the House of Lords. It passed through its first stage but is now set to undergo the same guerrilla tactics from Labour and Lib Dem peers who don't want the people to have their say for fear of not liking what it is that we say. The bill, those in the know say, is likely to run out of time and thus not be passed. It will do so, not because Labour or Lib Dems have the guts to actually come out and say that they are against giving the British electorate the referendum a clear majority have wanted for close to 20 years, but through the kind of underhand parliamentary tactics that bring our politics into such disrepute.
Typically the likes of Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson, failed politicians both but nevertheless parachuted into highly remunerative roles in Brussels, are against a referendum. Mandelson regards it as 'a lottery.' Kinnock, with that special kind of partial dishonesty at which the Left so excel, tells us that this is all to appease Tory right wingers and Euro sceptics. Apparently the vast majority of British people who have long wanted a say do not count to these lefty panjandrums with their gilded lifestyles gleaned almost exclusively from the public purse. The various public sector pensions earned by the Kinnock family could pay for the entire income of that benefits street in Birmingham the Guardianistas have been complaining about all week.
But let's step back a moment and examine Mandelson's language. 'We should be wary,' he said, in his peculiarly regal way, 'of putting our membership of the EU in the hands of a lottery.' A lottery? It's called democracy. Of course to a self important life peer and former unelected bureaucrat, this may feel like an unacceptable encumbrance, something to fear. For the rest of us, well we had always regarded it as the quid pro quo for having to suffer the likes of the Mandelsons and Kinnocks in the first place. At least we could boot them out. Now they get to lord it, literally, above us and tell us we cannot be trusted to make a decision those of us under the age of 50 have never been consulted about.
And yet, fortuitously, an opportunity presents itself in the coming months. Not only do we have the prospect of the European elections coming up this summer. Before that we have by elections coming up in Labour heartlands. The first is in Wythenshawe and Sale East. Now this ought to be an easy and dependable victory for Labour when in opposition. But these are strange times. Wallace is the Labour leader. And Labour are engaged, through the likes of the unelected and arrogant Mandelson and Kinnock, in trying to deny the British people a referendum on Europe. They don't think we should have a say because they don't think they will like what we will say. They cannot actually make a decent case for our continued involvement in Europe. Instead they just say it will bring uncertainty. Perhaps they mean to their pensions.
The Conservatives, who are trying to push through a referendum, haven't snowball's chance in hell of winning in Wythenshawe and Sale East. But UKIP do. UKIP are a party, for all their faults, who seem to have the ear of the working class and the north. In Nigel Farage they have a leader who manages, despite his privileged background, to do normal. UKIP can win. UKIP should win. Imagine the looks on the faces of Labour leaders, of Mandelson and Kinnock the next morning when the truth hits home. We will not be ignored. We will not be told that we are an unacceptable risk to your vision of a Europe you haven't the guts to make a positive case for. Vote UKIP. Vote for a Lottery.
Saturday, 11 January 2014
Friday, 10 January 2014
Few would argue that the Metropolitan Police handled the Mark Duggan affair flawlessly. Indeed their attempts to justify themselves were often cackhanded and made people all the more suspicious that some kind of cover up was being attempted.
But the attempts of the Duggan family, the family of a London gangster who himself had probably committed acts of appalling violence or murder in his comparatively short life, to try to present this as a racist execution by police should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Police officers, correctly informed that Duggan was in possession of a firearm, went to the scene and, confronted by an aggressive man, chose to open fire in the honest belief that this was their only choice. As it happens Duggan had disposed of his gun. The police did not know this. A jury believed them. That is British justice.
There are some cretins, including elected cretin Diane Abbott, who have wondered out loud, via Twitter, how this can be. He didn't have a gun and so how can this be a lawful killing? That someone who is a member of parliament and who may want to stand as the next Mayor of London cannot get her head around this remarkably simple concept ought to see her drummed out of politics for being witless.
Let's spell it out to them.
Duggan was an armed and dangerous criminal. At the last moment he disposed of his gun, not because he wanted to go quietly, but to try and get away with it. You see criminals disposing of stuff out of car windows all the time in those police chase shows on TV. The police either didn't know this, or suspected him, hardly unreasonably, of having further weapons. And were they supposed to stop and check what it was he had disposed of before apprehending him? The officer who opened fire did so at an aggressive and non cooperative suspect who, in the heat of the moment, not with the benefit of hindsight, he honestly believed to be a threat to the lives of himself, his colleagues and the general public. That, the jury decided, having heard all of the evidence - unlike their critics, including elected MPs who should be ashamed of themselves - was a reasonable decision. Hence the killing was lawful.
The family of Mark Duggan are now, unbelievably, trying to politicise this episode and present him as a black martyr. In fact he was a career criminal who disregarded the rights, safety and property of others and who went out armed knowing full well what could happen. That his family are now trying to present him as a blameless victim beggars belief. The colour of his skin was irrelevant. He was just a scumbag. In a perfect world he would have been apprehended, tried and sent to prison for a long time. But then in a perfect world he would not have been going out armed to the teeth, selling drugs and making people's lives a misery in addition to endangering the lives of innocent strangers with his gangsterism and gun toting. Justice has been done and seen to be done. And in more ways than one.
Oh, and if you want one last argument about why we should not be buying into the Mark Duggan legend, just remember beautiful little Thusha (just seeing her picture makes me cry), playing in her family's shop and shot and crippled by some mindless gang moron playing the big man with a gun. Where is her justice, or that for the other innocents, many of them black, minding their own business and trying to make a decent and honest life for themselves on London's streets and hoping that the police continue to win against the Mark Duggans of this world?
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
Men who are tonsorially challenged do not, in these modern times, get to become prime minister. But what if they lose their hair whilst still in office? It's an interesting question deserving of scientific investigation. Suffice it to say however that the present incumbent is not keen on finding out. Presumably he fears one of those William Hague cap shots. Thus Dave chose a hairdresser. That hairdresser disguised the prime ministerial bald patch. He was duly awarded with a MBE for services to comb overs. Of course they're not called that any more, Lino Carbosieri MBE is an artist. For him mid life crises are artistic challenges.
This was a subdued session because of the death, announced this morning, of the well liked Labour MP Paul Goggins. Tributes were duly paid, not least by Wallace whose quavering voice actually suits these occasions. But it did suck all of the usual atmosphere out of the occasion. The usual yah boo sucks was missing.
Wallace asked questions about those evil fixed odds betting machines that are allegedly plundering the working classes enabling the Labour leader to sound concerned and not at all patronising or even hypocritical because the increase in betting shops across the UK was Labour policy. They also wanted super casinos at one stage. Dave pointed this out but then largely agreed with him, although he said evidence would be waited for until taking measures against these machines that can allegedly take £300 a minute off punters. Of course they pay back 97% of all takings in winnings and so the chances of losing that kind of money are vanishingly small. But the political class wish to pat hard working people on the heads and show them they are being looked after.
They also spoke of the floods and Dave, perhaps because he is feeling the chill and damp on his bald spot, informed the House that all of this allegedly extreme weather is probably the consequence of global warming. This sounded suspiciously like green crap, all the more because no evidence exists, even according to the IPCC, to confirm this opinion.
They did raise their voices towards the end when Dave ambushed John Mann MP who was complaining about the police in his constituency having to patrol in buses to reduce costs. Presumably he hasn't seen the latest fare rises. But Dave pointed out that crime in the area is down 27%. There was much rejoicing on the Tory benches and the rest of us wondered where they put the blue flashing light.
All in all this was the very kind of more mature, less shouty, more considered and informative PMQs many have been calling for. Even Ed Balls was on best non gesticulating behaviour, although this could be because he is still trying to think of one. Be careful what you wish for. I found myself waiting desperately for it to end. It was all less than hair raising, for which the PM will be thankful.
The media are loving this polar vortex aren't they. It is wonderfully dramatic sounding of course and it looks astonishing. And the name itself is so redolent of something from the movies, a bit like that appalling film The Day After Tomorrow in which the world froze thanks to global warming.
And, with all of the regularity of a pendulum, the usual suspects have trotted this out as further proof of global warming in real life because it's such a remarkably flexible theory it encompasses hot as well as cold weather. Stormy weather too. Record low temperatures so cold your t shirt freezes in a minute? Must be because of global warming. I wouldn't be surprised that the reason that ship full of scientists got stuck on a ship in too thick sea ice was because of global warming too.
What they don't tell us is that they have absolutely no proof of this. They also don't tell us that no part of global warming theory predicts colder temperatures. Quite the opposite. Oh and finally they don't tell us that these polar vortices are actually quite common. They have been around for centuries.
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
I had a particularly miserable Christmas this year. I shall spare you the details; frankly I don't want to talk about it as it upsets and annoys me too much. But maybe one day I'll write about it. I might even write a book about it, or at least a poem based on the twelve days of Christmas or a new modernist take on Scrooge or similar.
There have been moments of joy, or at least of relief during my miserable Noel however. One of the brightest was the fantastic story of the ship full of scientists and what are laughingly called journalists off to look at the impact of global warming in Antarctica. They headed off with their cameras to film ice breaking (unfortunately there are no polar bears in Antarctica) and ready to despatch 'reports,' like latter-day Scrooges, back to be broadcast to the world showing the impact of our excessive consumption in this Christmas season on the natural world.
Unfortunately for them the natural world was having none of it. Despite it being mid summer in the southern hemisphere, their ship got stuck in the ice and needed rescuing. A number of rescue ships couldn't make it such was the extent of the ice that shouldn't be there, because the fact is that sea ice has been steadily and demonstrably increasing. Then the rescue ship that did make it got stuck too and also needed rescuing. This was a $1.5 million expedition designed to 'answer questions about climate change.' Then, mysteriously, since the answers were not wholly welcome, this became a tourist trip, albeit one with five dedicated journalists on board all ready to tell the world about the suffering of penguins and the melting of sea ice that is just not happening, even after Australia had what the BBC has somewhat desperately labelled its hottest year ever. The rest of the world did not. Temperatures are still flatlining. Maybe the Beeb should recruit Ed Balls to explain this to them. He has a redundant hand gesture he's dying to use.
So, what has happened in Antarctica is that a bunch of scientists, who are now calling themselves tourists, despite being made up of 11 leading scientists and 18 Phd students and who are part of the consensus, went to Antarctica and got hopelessly stuck in record sea ice that their consensus says should not exist. Some of the scientists are leading experts on sea ice.
Now in the big scheme of things this does not matter. It does not matter any more than that record hot year in Australia, or the fact that Britain is currently drowning or that America is shivering through temperatures 30 degrees below freezing. But it is another story to be added to the file which embarrasses and confounds the aggressive warmists. An expedition went to Antarctica intent on sending us more propaganda shots of how 'science shows' the true state of our climate and the climate showed that it will not so easily be defined and pigeon holed. We keep getting plenty of news releases long on doom and gloom about our climate future but all based on models. The reality keeps failing to live up to those nice, neat models created in lovely, warm publicly subsidised universities. When they go out into the field they get stuck and caught out by their own assumptions.
In a sane world, a world of scientific objectivity, this and similar embarrassments would prompt proper scientists to admit that the science of climate change is incredibly uncertain and that there is a lot going on that they and their models simply do not understand. Sea ice that is thickening, temperatures that stubbornly refuse to increase in line with the models, desperate theories about where all the heat is going (today they are even telling us there is a 20 year lag between the CO2 being emitted and its effects on the climate) and still that bit of honesty fails to escape their lips. Perhaps they are too chapped from the cold.
And one other point to have emerged over Christmas: it seems that the equally doom laden predictions of our upcoming Type 2 Diabetes epidemic may have been overdone too. The consensus was that rising obesity was creating a time bomb and that health services would struggle to cope. Now it seems that it can be overcome by simply going on a crash diet. Those with Type 2 diabetes, fatties in other words, can be cured of their condition by the simple expedient of eating less (a lot less) for a few days or weeks until their pancreas is rid of fat and able to function properly once again. It's early days but a fairly limited but convincing series of studies suggest that this may be the way forward. Another consensus may have been demolished, proving once again that consensus has no place in science.
Monday, 6 January 2014
I see that some of the victims of Jimmy Savile, well connected pervert and paedophile, are asking for one overriding inquiry to be set up to look into his crimes and ask the usual question of why it was allowed to happen and how he got away with it. But we already know the answer to that question don't we? It's because he was well connected. He made sure he was well connected. He was a man of minimal talent but huge chutzpah. It made him rich - although never as rich as he liked to pretend - and it got him friends in high places. They, usually unknowingly, provided him with cover.
This man was a DJ at a time when being a DJ, especially on Radio One, was a big deal. He traded on that. For reasons best known to television producers who don't think the same way as the rest of us, this clear weirdo incapable of forming proper adult relationships with women, was thought the perfect presenter for a kids TV programme. It was, to be fair, spectacularly successful and popular. But then it was a great format. It's a moot point as to whether it mattered whether it was Jim, Terry, Noel or anyone else who fixed it for them. They just wanted things fixed.
But this fame that Savile managed to achieve, and you only have to look at the sort of people who achieve fame nowadays to understand the process and how little talent you actually need, made him someone who was welcomed into our front rooms. He then added to his sainted status by mixing in royal and high political circles and of course engaging in his endless charity works. Was this St Jimmy being selfless? No, it was St Jimmy giving himself a free pass to hospitals and any other establishments he cared to help. He got access and he added to his legend as the selfless fund raiser. How could anyone doubt St Jimmy?
Of course many people knew about the real antics and drives of St Jimmy, but who could speak out? The victims were carefully chosen. This was a man with high connections and to whom the various establishments that housed those victims were beholden to for his supply of funding. Who would question him? Who would take the risk? He even took care to keep close to the police just in case.
Like I say, Jimmy Savile was a man of little appreciable talent. But he was a great promoter, particularly of Jimmy Savile. Like many sociopaths he didn't really know how to talk properly to people, but that didn't stop him understanding what makes them tick and exploiting it ruthlessly. There really is no mystery about Jimmy Savile. It's easy to look back with the benefit of hindsight and say we should have known. I wasn't at all surprised when this weirdo was outed and shown to be a nasty, cynical, cunning paedophile. But that doesn't mean I would have been any better at the time at outing him while he was still alive.
I wrote earlier of the contortions Labour are having to go through in order to make themselves look even slightly less ridiculous on all things economic. But then they are handicapped by the Shadow Chancellor who will keep insisting that he didn't say what we all know he did say. Here he is insisting that he never predicted a triple dip recession. But of course he did. He even had a hand gesture for it at PMQs. That gesture became a flatline. Now it's gone curiously missing.
They said the Government was going too far, too fast. They kept saying it as often as they now talk about a cost of living crisis. When that evaporates before their eyes as it is on course to do in the coming months as the economy grows and normalises what will the say then?
Don't be surprised if they then start focusing on debt. You see Labour have been engaged in a game with the Tories over debt and the deficit. In fact, despite all the talk of austerity, the debt has been growing as the deficit has only slowly come down. It suited Labour not to point this out because they said that even that slow progress was too far and too fast. But desperate times mean desperate measures. They are entirely shameless enough to talk about Tory debt. Gordon Brown used to do it after all and then even had the temerity to call himself prudent.
Labour's line is likely to end up as something like: yes the economy is now growing but it's taken you too long. This from the party whose policy was to keep ramping up spending and keep splurging billions on welfare. Nevertheless the British people are not as daft as they take us for and so Labour will now have to come up with something new. Perhaps we should ask little Lola to give Balls another one of her looks.
Christmas is over, the New Year is underway, and its back to work for all including your blogger. Thanks for all the views over Christmas by the way. Who would have thought that lots of semi undressed pictures of Rihanna would have been more popular than lords a leaping or partridges in pear trees? I mean, who knew?
Anyway, after a successful second half of last year economically, George Osborne was out this morning telling us how much more hard work there is to do and how much more austerity there is still to come. Oddly he chose to give this message of hard graft and a hard but virtuous slog in a Birmingham factory, thus closing down that factory for a few hours on the first day back at work.
Essentially this was George coming out and saying that the Tories are the realists and have a real, if rather depressing, outlook for how to drag us back to fiscal reality and the sunlit uplands of growth, prosperity and being able to pay our way in the world. Labour on the other hand have, after telling us that those same policies would lead to depression, triple dips and rampant unemployment and crime, alighted on the message 'ooh, isn't everything expensive nowadays' and called it a crisis. Under Labour everything is a crisis. Oh apart from anything to do with the leadership and unions. They are always hunky dory.
And this is what Labour intend to head into the next election saying. They have opposed all cuts calling them unfair and even labelling them taxes (probably a crisis of taxes) but now accept the need to be more stringent with the public finances. Except they won't say where. Cuts? Well they'll have a look and identify areas, but expect them to reveal they have found all kinds of efficiency savings that will magically negate the need for actual cuts.
We are now less than 18 months from our statutorily set General Election. The Tories are going to go into telling us that their work is only half done and they need more time. Labour are going to go into it saying as little as possible but that they have learnt their lesson and will not go silly with the credit card again before splurging on it and creating the seeds of the next cost of living crisis. The Lib Dems will sit in the middle and pose as the reasonable party, the party that holds back the others and keeps them honest and 'progressive'. Meantime in June of this year UKIP will win the European elections and precisely nothing will change because both Labour, the Lib Dems and the EU are determined not to allow us to have our say on the great European project. As things stand they will probably get their way.
Sunday, 5 January 2014
Saturday, 4 January 2014
Friday, 3 January 2014
BBC executives are, as we know only too well, paid extraordinary amounts of money. But, to be fair, some of these excessively well remunerated execs did have the good sense to turn down a new series of Birds of a Feather. Of course to most of us this would seem like a rather easy and obvious decision. Yet, though the Beeb turned it down, ITV (whose record making sitcoms is execrable at the best of times) thought it a good idea. You have to wonder how good television ever really makes it to the screens.
Other obvious decisions that seem to be of difficulty to the upper echelons of TV land, is that it is a spectacularly bad idea to bring back any old sitcoms. Open All Hours (especially minus Ronnie Barker) a remake of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, a return of Only Fools and Horses. Are we so desperate we have to sully the memory of old classics?
Birds of a Feather was never a classic. It was of its time and made stars of three actors whose careers, with the exception of Pauline Quirke's, went into terminal and probably richly deserved decline thereafter. All sitcoms are of course essentially the same. They all involve putting opposites into trying or contrived situations and watching their reactions. Every once in a while comedy gold is struck by creating great characters played by perfectly suited actors. Birds did that briefly for a period as part of the zeitgeist of the times. The zeitgeist has moved on. Even the Beeb has. So should ITV. Or perhaps they should make a sitcom about television executives and their serial in ability to come up with new ideas.
Thursday, 2 January 2014
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
For reasons I won't bore you with, I am currently living in a succession of hotels in and around London. It being New Year, I once again had to change hotels last night and, after a perusal of what was available, wound up in the Thistle City Barbican Hotel in Central Street, EC1V.
On first impressions it was very good. They let me go to my room early which was most welcome as I was exhausted. Unfortunately my exhaustion meant that I did not notice that the room was cold, the water luke warm. I just thought I was sickening for something.
I didn't sleep last night much because of all of what the newspapers call revellers in the street outside. On further inspection this morning however this turns out to be because the windows in my room didn't fit properly and there was a one inch gap allowing cold air, rain and the noise of those revellers in. It also explains why I was cold and felt the need to see in the New Year in bed. The luke warm radiator didn't help either and the shower was no warmer this morning.
On the plus side I had a good and hearty full English this morning, but they did charge me 12 quid for the privilege. On check out I complained about all of the above and they refunded me the cost of my breakfast. So essentially they are saying that you can stay in their hotel and, if you fail to conduct a full inspection of your room upon arrival, this is hardly their fault, but they will grudgingly give you a free breakfast to make up for your sleepless and chilly night. So I'm knackered this morning but well fed. I'm glad I had extra bacon.
Not a hotel I would recommend then on one night's experience. And I have a lot of recent experience of all that London has to offer.
The hotel has now contacted me again, offered me a larger room for £60 a night and a complimentary breakfast. I shall be availing myself of this in the coming days.