Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Yesterday, at the Tory Conference, George Osborne was commendably honest, with just a bit of spin here and there, about his record in office and about what there is still left to do to get the country's finances back in order. By promising to freeze welfare spending for two years he laid out the stark choices we must face as a nation and which Labour seek to duck in their usual indulgent way. When Wallace 'forgot' to talk about it last week he revealed the true Labour mindset: he was burying his head in the sand and hoping a problem he doesn't want to face or talk about, simply goes away.
Perhaps the Chancellor has hit upon something with this commendably honest approach to what ails us. The fact that it has been seen as brave by the commentariat tells us all we need to know about the state of modern politics. Yet the Tories took a similar approach prior to the last election and were backed by the British people who could see what Labour had done to the economy and that their spendthrift approach had done little or nothing to improve the public services on which our cash had been lavished. The NHS was still an accident waiting to happen and was frequently leaving people frustrated, angry or often much much worse as the scandals in Staffordshire revealed. Lavish spending on welfare had entrenched dependency and made poverty worse and had created a sub class of people who had never worked and had no intention of doing so. The party of education, education, education had presided over a decline in standards while spending money on inflated pay and shiny new schools whilst dumbing down exams so that politicians could boast about illusory progress.
So perhaps, when he gives his speech to the Conference this week, David Cameron should take a similar approach: a near end of term report about what has been done, but what remains to be done.
On the NHS money has been spent but it remains hamstrung by unrealistic expectations and unreasonable demands. The reason A and E is and remains under pressure is not a lack of resources it is because we abuse it and treat it like a queue jumping system. People who don't need A and E treatment should be turned away and sent to their GPs but they can't because of our rights based approach and tendency to litigiousness against a service that is free at the point of use. Similarly our GPs are under pressure because people, in a service that is free and provided for no cost, do not value it and so feel free to treat it as they do water coming from a tap. And our priorities are skewed. How can it be right to provide breast augmentation surgery to a woman who claims psychological harm when someone is denied life saving drugs on the basis of cost? Isn't it time we stopped regarding the NHS as a one stop shop for all of our health issues from cradle to grave? We have to be realistic about what it can do and what it should do and start charging for elements we can no longer afford.
Lefty politicians are fond of telling us that they love the NHS. We are said to regard it as our national religion. It's time we did treat it with that kind of reverence, either that or only use its services the way we do the Church of England and only go there occasionally and then reluctantly. Instead it gets treated as a political football. The SNP even claimed that voting for Scottish independence would save the NHS, despite the fact that they were already responsible for it under the present settlement. They should have been lynched for that piece of spectacular dishonesty. Fortunately they effectively were: at the ballot box.
Progress has been made on education and schools but there is much still to do. Michael Gove was hated by the education establishment for the good reason that he was shaking them out of their complacency. We know that the best state schools are capable of competing at the highest level and of raising their pupils to those highest levels. Yet the left sticks to its outdated dogmas. It's hard to understand why. They have embraced the idea of patient choice in health, why not in education? We don't all go to a GP or hospital ordained from on high. We have choices as patients. Why should the same not be true of parents choosing schools? It's the only way to make schools raise their game consistently.
It's time to hold up our hands and admit that cuts to defence have gone too far. In a dangerous world we have been cutting back on what makes us safe and that cannot continue. It has already been decided that we will have two and not one aircraft carriers. In a world which is getting ever more dangerous we need to be able to bring our influence, which has largely been for the good, to bear on it. And we cannot be constrained and cowed by mistakes of the past. Yes we have got embroiled in foreign wars which, in retrospect, were a mistake. But that should not prevent us from ever being involved again. Our interests are clearly served by defeating the maniacs of ISIL. Indeed there are already reports that British jihadists are regretting their stupidity in going now that bombs are falling. This is a clear example of us reaching out and making the world a better place. And there is a moral imperative too. ISIL, far from being the righteous fighters for god they claim to be, are murderers and rapists. They enslave people, treat women like property and behead people who disagree with them. The naive young fools going to fight for them are trapped and threatened with violence or death should they change their minds. By taking them on and defeating them we will be ridding the world of a pernicious cancer. Accordingly we should divert the foreign aid budget to defence. Our foreign aid pledge was made at a different time. The world has changed and we must be adaptable enough to change with it so that we can influence that change. That can best be accomplished at this time by stronger forces.
On Europe we seem to be engaged in an argument over nothing. People are walking out of the Conservative Party before any renegotiation has even been attempted, let alone accomplished. Britain is a net contributor to the EU budget. We are a voice for reform. But the current arrangements are unacceptable. We will demand a new deal. Britain has historically been very successful at negotiating such deals. That is why we were able to stay out of the disaster that is the Euro. We are not party to the Schengen agreement. We had opt outs on a range of issues in the social chapter and got a budget rebate until Labour gave part or all of them away. Nobody is saying we will not leave if we get a bad deal. That is an option in an in/out referendum. But first we have to try and make our present arrangements more palatable. That is fair and sensible. To walk out of the Conservative Party in a fit of pique now, because of what you think the PM might do, is idiotic. To walk out and join a party that hasn't a cat in hell's chance of playing any role in government or of delivering a referendum is practically insane. It actively does the very opposite of what Euro sceptics say they want. One might reasonably suspect rebels of having an alternative and rather more selfish and self serving agenda.
It's time to stop apologising for being Tories. We want the same things as most people. We want freedom, democracy, respect and tolerance. And our philosophy is all about those things. The state should not be in the business of running people's lives for them, the state should be a facilitator and nothing more. Taxes are a necessity in any modern state to pay for the services we rely on. But they should be kept to a minimum. The money we all earn belongs to us, it is not something the state allows us to keep. When politicians levy taxes they are effectively confiscating our property. Now Labour are proposing a tax that actually says that people who live in houses or flats above a certain value must pay for the right to do so, an annual licence must be bought and paid for because some politicians resent your success. And so in a country where they are already paying up to 45% of their earnings in tax, where they might pay 7% of the cost of their home in stamp duty when they buy it, where they pay duty on fuel, alcohol and a sales tax called VAT levied on most things except the food we eat, Labour and the Lib Dems are coming back for more, they are doing so simply because they have proven incapable of balancing the books and think they can spend your money better than you can. Conservatives think that that is wrong and immoral. We should not be shy about saying so.
Coalition with the Lib Dems was a necessary evil. Think of it as an experiment to prove to the British people that voting for a majority Conservative government is a much better idea. If you want a metaphor for what is wrong with Lib Dems and lefties in general just look at Nick Clegg's absurd free school meals gimmick that was thought up on the hoof without bothering to check if it was deliverable. We saw much the same thing from Labour constantly when in power. It's what lefties do. It's why Lib Dems should spend another 90 years in the political wilderness as a protest party. And the same is true for different reasons about Ukip. They don't actually have policies because they don't really need them. And look at the SNP, currently breathing a sigh of relief that they lost the referendum and don't have to deliver their undeliverable promises of a socialist utopia. The bully boys and angry lefties wanted an independent Scotland so that they could try and fail to deliver their promised land. Labour are trying to pull off the same trick at the next election and will tell lies and ignore economic facts to try and pull it off. They are even trying to ignore the rights of English voters for self determination to pull it off. The British people are too sensible to let them get away with it. Just as the Scottish people were.
Monday, 29 September 2014
This blog, along with many others, has long been pointing out that the Labour Party is trying to get away with a confidence trick for the next general election. Their strategy, if it can be glorified as such, is to say as little as possible about as much as possible whilst pointing out where things are not going entirely swimmingly, and hope that the electorate doesn't notice that they offer no solutions to the ills they are so adept at identifying. Wallace's speech last week has rightly been slated because it was a long teenage whinge about the state of the world and a long wish list of a happier, more prosperous and fairer world with a complete absence of mechanisms or policies to deliver any of them. Apart from more money and a touching faith in the unwieldy machinery of the state to deliver, Wallace offered nothing whatever. Indeed so little does he have to say about some of the burning issues of the day that he didn't even present them as a problem. He 'forgot' to mention the economy and the deficit, he neglected to raise the issue of immigration and hoped we wouldn't notice because we would be so blown away by his liberal and ungrammatical use of the word 'together' along with his extensive chats to people on hampstead Heath which was meant to show him being in touch without having to travel too far. His constituency is in Doncaster. How interesting that he didn't bother consulting people there about the burning issues of the day. Or did he forget about that too?
But this lack of any real thought out policies is not an issue restricted to the main parties. It is one that the supposedly insurgent parties share too. Look at the SNP prospectus for an independent Scotland, now thankfully just an historical curiosity that we can look back on in wonder and ponder how they came so close given how thin it was. In time the SNP will probably see their defeat as a blessing. Had they won they would now be having to deliver and would now be having to admit how ill thought out and empty was their prospectus, how realistic were the claims of No dismissed as scaremongering. By now they would be having to answer some very awkward questions about where the hell the money for their lavish promises was going to come from whilst 'fessing up that sharing the pound really wasn't on the table after all. Maybe by now Salmond the liar would have had to resign anyway. He should be grateful that his resignation managed somehow to look principled and heroic when it could and should have been ignominious.
And then there is Ukip. The party that wants to be to England what the SNP is to Scotland, albeit only after many attempts by Nigel Farage to go north of the border only to be forced into hiding. Ukip nationalism is every bit as unpleasant as the worst of the SNP's. The SNP don't see it that way of course, but then they are as serially dishonest with themselves it seems as they are with everyone else.
And Ukip's policies? Well blink and you will miss them. Ukip don't really see the need for joined up policies because they know, as did the Lib Dems before the last election, that they will never have to put them into practice. Instead they pose and preen and call the other parties names. They can face both ways and tailor their message according to which part of the country they are in and which section of the population they are addressing. Their solutions are simplistic and usually impossible verging on the absurd. many people will agree with them. I do with some of them. But agreeing with Ukip policies is the same as wishing that we could have world peace, cure cancer and stop murderous madmen from imposing themselves on the world's poorest peoples and making their lives even more miserable and unbearable.
The government has lots of policies. It has them because it is the government. Dave probably wishes he had the luxury of sitting on the fence on a range of issues, and indeed when he can get away with it, such as on Heathrow expansion for instance, that is precisely what he does. But for the most part, such as having once again to wage war in Iraq, he is forced to come up with a policy. That means that a substantial number of people will disagree with him. That is what being in government forces you to do.
All of which makes it doubly frustrating and baffling when Tory backbench MPs jump ship and join Ukip alleging that they have somehow been betrayed by the Tory leader who has adopted policies they disagree with. Are these men teenagers? The pm has promised a referendum on our membership of the EU. He has said that, all things being equal, he would like Britain to stay in the EU, but that this will depend on how his renegotiation goes. Douglas Carswell and now Mark Reckless have said that they do not trust him and so have used this as an excuse to walk out. Frankly they both deserve to be punished by their electorates for their astonishing stupidity and fecklessness. That they won't be is perhaps a judgement on the Tory inability to get their message across. It is time it was put across loud and clear. Time is running out.
Sunday, 28 September 2014
Public opinion is a fickle thing. Only last year most Western nations and especially America and its president were dead against intervention in Syria and the Middle East. This blog was too. Events have changed since then. Back then we knew that the enemies of President Assad were every bit as nasty as he is capable of being. Since then, as they have become more numerous, wealthier with their ill gotten gains and more powerful, they have proven that they may even be worse.
This army of credulous morons and sadists dressed up as righteous fighters for their imaginary friend have brought medievalism with modern weapons to the poor benighted people of Syria and northern Iraq. Mass executions, beheadings, rape, sexual slavery - all in the name of the fictitious Allah. The world has watched on in shock and bewilderment and millions have become refugees as they run for their lives away from these madmen. Take a look at the video above, filmed secretly in the town of Raqqa, which is under the control of jihadist cretins. The woman is called over by one of the dickheads in black. 'You must behave better,' he says. 'We can see your face. God loves women who cover themselves.' Why? she doesn't ask. Is your god as stupid as you are? Why do women have to cover themselves and not men? Where does it say that in your facile book? Or did you get that from Islam for dummies? Have you ever had an original thought of your own you credulous, cowardly, brainless fuckwit?
On Wednesday an ISIL linked terrorist organisation in Algeria announced that they had murdered yet another hostage, this time the Frenchman Herve Gourdel in retaliation for France's involvement in the strikes against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. The video released of the murder demanded that France stop the attacks. The video was released shortly after President Obama gave a speech to the UN vowing to destroy ISIL.
This week the rest of the Arab world joined a coalition of the willing led by the U.S and started bombing and degrading ISIL held territories including their de facto capital Raqqa. Crucially countries joining in with the attacks were Sunni Muslim states. The countries included Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan. President Assad was warned in advance that attacks would take place against targets in his country but was said to have had no input.
Britain, until this weekend, had thus far made no contribution to the attacks. David Cameron was talking up the possibility of doing so and was in New York, at the UN this week, but, following last year's defeat in parliament, has been wary of doing so without full political support. He was also wary of the Labour Party, which last year promised him support before withdrawing it and voting against him in a pathetic bout of petty political point scoring. Labour are once again hoping for UN votes, which magically create legal cover for bombing. Quite why Labour have such a fetish for the UN is always a mystery. People are dying, being murdered, raped and made homeless by a bunch of murderous, marauding fascists. But Labour want to talk about it and take a vote on it before taking action. Better yet Labour's position was that we can attack ISIL in Iraq but not in Syria. For that we need a vote on Syria. So all ISIL have to do is head for the horder and they're fine. Oh and, according to the man who might soon be our prime minister, it is perfectly okay for America to attack ISIL in Syria but illegal for Britain to do so. Is this just because he loves, that is luuurves Barack? It's the only rational reason for Labour'a latest bout of idiocy and hypocrisy in what has been a bad week for Wallace, but we'll get to that.
Anyway, parliament was recalled on Friday so that the issue could be debated. Fortunately, since Iraq has asked Britain to get involved, probably after Dave asked them to ask us, this gives our intervention a veneer of legality for Wallace to hide behind. Pathetic isn't it. The Commons in the end backed intervention in Iraq but not Syria, voting by 524 to 43. Cameron, backed by many MPs who questioned the logic of restricting ourselves to Iraq, said that he hoped to build a consensus for extending the strikes into Syria. Opinion polls suggest that the public, as well as MPs, are broadly supportive of this latest intervention in stark contrast to last year.
Yes it was the Labour Party Conference this week. A traditional part of this is the opportunity for Ed Balls to run around in an ill fitting football kit pulling faces and going into a tackle with journalists the way he used to send Damien McBride in to battle for Gordon back in the days when they were in power and before they discovered that McBride is a wrong 'un, which of course they didn't know before hand. No, really. Balls is an enthusiastic footballer, if a not particularly talented one, much like his economics then really.
At the conference itself, Balls' attempts to make himself look restrained and responsible were about as successful as his attempts to rein in his natural instincts on the football field or indeed the dance floor.
And there was another mystery. Justine Thornton, wife of the Labour leader, is to be known as Justine Miliband for the time being because, well just because. Apparently it is more important to make Wallace look less weird (look, he even knows about girls and has had sex) than it is for Labour to defend the right of women to be equal and to have whatever name they choose regardless of what the Daily Mail thinks.
It was also alleged this week that there is an element of anti semitism in the country's persistent dislike of the Labour leader. This of course isn't at all desperate. Do many people even know he is Jewish? Do they care? Do they in fact think that he is weird, other worldly and entirely incapable of appreciating what ordinary people think because he is weird, other worldly and incapable of appreciating what ordinary people think.
Anyway, as if to prove my point, Labour and its leader spent their entire conference trying to avoid talking about English Votes for English Laws even though, after the Scottish Independence referendum, that was the subject everyone else wanted to talk about. Wallace's big speech included lots of references to his conversations with ordinary people, presumably these were not Scottish ordinary people because when he went there they booed him and he retreated to his hotel room. He also talked about the NHS. For Labour this is de rigeur and could even be made compulsory if they win power again. All speeches will from now on include a reference to how wonderful it is and how much more money must be invested in it. And he talked about how much he is going to tax people that Labour doesn't like, such as rich people and tobacco companies and rich people. Oh and the NHS. Oh and life is going to be wonderful and he wants 10 years to make it that way. Oh and the NHS. And aren't people who are rich bastards. Unless they work for the NHS. But even then they might well be bastards if they are earn too much. Unless they are union leaders.
Wallace did however completely forget to talk about the deficit, the economy and immigration. This, we were told, was because he forgot because he will insist upon trying to memorise his speech in an attempt to look normal. Unfortunately for him this meant that he was the only person in the country not talking about the economy and immigration. This did not make him look normal. In an attempt to make him look normal, in addition to those inane stories about people he chatted to on Hampstead Heath, presumably because he sneaked up on them and caught them unawares - never a good idea on Hampstead Heath, in addition he kept addressing his fellow conference-ees as Friends. Was this a knowing wink to the fact that that sitcom is now 20 years old? No. He seemed to think that this would make him look in touch and accessible. The nation and indeed the poor unfortunates in the hall who had to listen and look as though they were enraptured let it be known that they were unimpressed. Friends? If the Daily Mail writes something disobliging about him and his family again this year we will have to form an orderly queue to join in.
Despite a week of disaster for Labour, and as they headed into their own conference in beautiful Birmingham, the Tories somehow contrived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a double disaster. First the aptly named Mark Reckless announced to the Ukip conference in Doncaster that he was defecting to them. As an act of treacherous, selfish idiocy this looked hard to beat. The likes of Reckless claim that they want Britain out of Europe. How is helping Labour win the next election helping to achieve that?
But then even this act of crass stupidity was beaten by a Tory minister being caught up in a newspaper sting and sending a picture of his genitals to someone he had just met on the internet. Brooks Newmark is a father of 5 and thus clearly has a problem keeping his dick in his trousers at the best of times. But why he would want to photograph it is a mystery. He resigned and brought himself and his party into disrepute and probably had to face some questions from his wife. What a plonker! And no that isn't meant as a compliment or as a commentary on the photograph, which thankfully I haven't seen.
Tesco like to tell their customers that Every Little Helps. Clearly this was also a motto its executives took to heart since they managed to inflate the under pressure company's profits by £250 million, a move which a healthy company would not have to stoop to. The news wiped £2.6 billion off the company's shares as questions were asked about the future of Chairman Sir Richard Broadbent. Prior to this scandal emerging the board dismissed warnings from its auditors about the way accounts dealt with suppliers. Four Tesco executives were suspended while new Chief Executive Dave Lewis looked into what looked like a desperate attempt to massage the company's accounts, an attempt worthy of the Labour Party. Maybe they should bring Gordon Brown or Ed Balls on board as a non exec. There were reports that the anomaly only came to light thanks to a whistle blower. Tesco has been under pressure from the likes of Aldi and Lidl and recently announced a cut in its dividend following a dramatic cut in profits. Only a few years ago Tesco could seemingly do no wrong as it dominated its sector. Now Britain's biggest retailer is in disarray.
Britain spent £1.7 million trying to deport Abu Qatada as he, his lawyers and civil liberties campaigners claimed that he would not get a fair trial in his native Jordan. This week Qatada was acquitted of the charges against him in Jordan after Britain was finally able to deport him last year. It is feared that he will now go straight back to preaching hate against the country he was so keen to stay in and will attempt to radicalise British youth from afar. The upside is that he will no longer be doing so at our expense and must do so in the less salubrious and luxurious surroundings of his own country. He will never be allowed back into Britain again, although you cannot discount the possibility that he will head to Calais and manage to smuggle himself back into the UK in the back of a lorry only to claim asylum again. Given the state of our human rights laws it would probably then take us five years to remove him again.
Serial groper, Dave Lee Travis, the former Radio One DJ and all round creep, was convicted of indecent assault this week and sentenced to three months in prison, although the sentence was suspended. The judge, Anthony Leonard QC, said that the offence was of a different order to some of the other high profile celebrity cases under Operation Yewtree which was why he was not sending Travis to prison. The former Top of the Pops presenter claimed, not without some justification, to have been partly vindicated in his fight for justice because his conviction was on only one count following a retrial and after being acquitted on a dozen other counts. Nevertheless there are plenty of rumours concerning Travis and his notoriously wandering hands. His angry response to the conviction and to some of the witnesses against him, including Camilla Long of The Sunday Times, a woman young enough to be his daughter and who was also subjected to the hirsute cornflake's unwanted attentions, did him no favours. The prosecution was however unable to show that he is a sexual predator. His own response just showed him to be an arrogant and unpleasant has been. Long may that continue.
The next time our prime minister goes to see the Queen she may not be amused. She is certainly unlikely to purr as he is admitted into her presence. Maybe next year he won't be invited to Balmoral - a heavy punishment indeed. The PM was caught this week telling former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, about the Queen's delighted reaction to the news last week that Scotland has decided not to leave the Union after all. Traditionally the conversations between the monarch and his or her first minister are supposed to be confidential. They are certainly not supposed to reveal her penchant for animal impersonations. One can't help wondering what noises she made when talking to Alex Salmond. A strangled cat perhaps, or would he have just mistaken that for bagpipes and assumed her approval?
Last week I reported rumours that The Fat Leader may be suffering from health problems owing to his fondness for Swiss cheese. Now it seems that, not only has The Fat Leader become The Fatter Leader, resulting in him walking with a limp, it may even be preventing him from going on his renowned visits around the country to see his adoring people. The Fatter Leader has not now been seen in public for three weeks. Perhaps he has become one of those fat people who can only be removed from their bed or chair by use of a crane. Indeed so fat has he become he has gone from Kim Jong-Un to Kim Jong-Two. Someone recommended the 5:2 diet to him, but he assumed that that was the ratio of cheese to salad.
Still, it does explain this famous picture of the Korean peninsula at night. It's not that the North cannot afford to keep the lights on like its more prosperous southern neighbour, it's that the lights are blocked out by the Fatter Leaders growing belly and arse.
This weekend the baton passes to me. Yes gorgeous George is getting hitched to British lawyer, Amal Alamuddin, and so I officially become the world's most eligible bachelor. Form an orderly queue ladies. The world of showbiz is congregating in Venice to see if it is actually true. I would have been there of course, but sadly I had to bring you this blog and so had to decline.
There are now so many of us living into advanced old age and becoming centenarians that the civil service has had to take on additional staff to send out birthday cards from the Queen. Quite why this requires so many staff is a mystery. How long does it take them to send a birthday card for crying out loud? Anyway this is clearly another example of our civil service failing to move with the times, although to be fair they did stop sending Telegrams, but even that was only because the service was discontinued. But now is the time to update it further. Instead of a card why not send a text message? You could even include a selfie of the Queen. Or what about Facebook? How nice it would be to wake up on the occasion of your 100th birthday and find you have been poked by Her Maj. Incidentally, if, like her mother, the Queen lives to the age of 100 do we all have to send her a card? It seems only fair.
Ferrari is to have a recall of its 458 models because someone could get stuck in the boot. The recall, which will only take place in America, is to fix a problem with the secondary latch in the car's less than capacious luggage holding facility. The latches, which are a regulatory requirement in America, are supposed to specifically prevent anyone being trapped in what they call the trunk. Presumably it was a regulation that came about following legislators seeing too many episodes of The Sopranos or similar. Apparently the problem only afflicts Ferraris when they are stationary. So there is a tip: if you are small enough, lithe enough and flexible enough to get into the boot of a Ferrari just wait until it is accelerating up to 60mph in 3 seconds or up to its 200 mph top speed and then get out. Alternatively it could all be a publicity stunt by Ferrari to show how much space there is in its best selling sports car. Maybe they are trying to appeal to the family market rather than the Middle East potentate, Premier League footballer or American gangster market.
The new bigger version of the iPhone, the iPhone 6 Plus, has been praised for its fantastic design and usability. Now, it turns out, it is also very flexible. Perhaps a little too flexible. New users have stuffed the phone into their pockets only to retrieve it and found that is has become bendy. Perhaps this is Steve Jobs getting his revenge from beyond the grave. After all until this year Apple and Jobs always said that the iPhone was the perfect size. Now the new one, it seems, can be folded in half. Apple also had to release two different versions of its new iPhone operating system this week when one of the updates prevented users from making calls. If they are anything like me they probably didn't notice for a couple of days. Phones just aren't phones these days.
In this weekend's football, Chelsea's serene progress towards what looks like an inevitable title win continued with a 3 nil win against Aston Villa. Meanwhile the difficult starts for those clubs challenging them continued. Liverpool continued to struggle to recapture last season's form and flair in front of goal. They had to rely on a Steven Gerrard free kick to get their goal and then Phil Jagielka scored a screamer in injury time to earn Everton a not entirely deserved draw. Liverpool had looked better but still not good enough. Manchester United got a much needed win at home to West Ham but saw captain Wayne Rooney sent off as he hacked aggressively at the legs of Stewart Downing and was deservedly shown red. Manchester City beat Hull 4 - 2 away.
Last weekend Gary Lineker, clean cut television presenter and former footballer who was never so much as booked on the field, was reprimanded by BBC bosses for his use of expletives on his personal Twitter account when his beloved Leicester City came back from 2 goals down to beat Manchester United 5 - 3. There are few who wouldn't have sworn under such circumstances. Some of us punched the air and turned it blue.
But how good would it be to quit your job in the way that Charlo Greene did live on KTVA in Alaska. Introducing an item on the station about a marijuana business, she unexpectedly revealed that she owns it and that she would be devoting her time to promoting the legalisation of the weed. As to her present job? 'Fuck it', she said. 'I quit.' If only the BBC could persuade Nicholas Witchell to do the same.
Last week this blog's second favourite Barbadian beauty (my girlfriend Leah is also from Barbados) had naked pictures of her released on to the internet by some weird geek for whom this is the only way they will ever get to see nude women. This blog of course would never publish such things. We are far too tasteful and respectful. This week's pictures of Rihanna see Miss Fenty back in New York where she has been putting the final touches to her new album. Consequently Ri Ri was looking demure and businesslike, and every bit as lovely as ever. Clothes you see make all the difference.
Saturday, 27 September 2014
This blog has long been a fan of the BBC sitcom Outnumbered about the trials and tribulations of a normal family, albeit a rather middle class one, inhabiting a semi in London and watching as the parents are routinely outwitted by their brood of prodigiously intelligent children. The problem for the writing and directing team behind this modern classic was that the bloody kids grew up, stopped being cute and adorable and so the sitcom came to an end.
And so that team, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton came up with a brilliant solution. They would simply start all over again with a new family, more cute kids and an even better cast. They would get a bigger budget, but not that much bigger - this is a British film after all - and would make the whole thing that bit grander and more ambitious overall. But it would essentially be Outnumbered on a bigger stage. What wasn't to like?
And that, essentially, is what What We Did On Our Holiday is. The cast is incidental, although it does feature David Tennant, Billy Connolly and a proper bona fide film star in Rosamund Pike. It was all made on what is, for a film, a small budget that can probably be used as a tax write off if it all goes wrong. But if it pulls in the audiences then it will be the most profitable film in the world. Ever. And people won't notice that it looks and sounds like a sitcom, even down to the lighting and the editing which makes the timing of the jokes look a bit off.
None of which is to say that this is a bad film. It's entertaining in parts. But you will enjoy it all the more if you go into the cinema, or more likely watch the DVD, knowing what to expect. And what to expect is a feature length sitcom made on a paltry budget and which subscribes to various hackneyed ideas about what such films should include. It doesn't have wobbly sets or a studio audience of course. Sitcoms don't these days, or at least they don't if they are post watershed and post modern and don't feature an Irish comedian in drag doing jokes about knobs and arses and big bosoms. That is very much pre modern.
No, what they did on their holiday is what most families, or at least most British families that exist in television and film world seem to do. They go away, get mildly embarrassed in a very understated way, bicker, smile knowingly, bicker a bit more, make a few whimsical remarks that nobody could ever take offence to, have a minor crisis in the third act as the great secret is revealed and then resolve it all with smiles, hugs and laughs all round which are meant to make us go ahhh!. There is a bit of sentimentality and moderate mawkishness, but not too much because this is Britain for crying out loud and it's not a Richard Curtis film. The characters are two dimensional, the kids run rings around the adults and granddad is all twinkly and knowing and ever so slightly cloying.
This then is a film which, even if there wasn't an audience baying for it to be made, will nevertheless win an audience. That's if they are not at home watching TV of course. But then that was always the risk. This is not Outnumbered, it lacks that show's originality. It has suffered by being put on a bigger stage. But most of all it has suffered by being what is, effectively a sequel, when something new was required of these usually innovative and daring writers. Instead they went for something safe and thus, almost inevitably disappointing. You can't blame them for wanting to do this and cash in. You just wish for all of our sakes that they hadn't.
Friday, 26 September 2014
It's not been a good week for the leader of the Labour Party. But then whose fault is that? We can probably just about feel sorry for his clumsy efforts to kiss his own wife. That could have happened to anyone. But in every other respect his problems are entirely of his own making. The reason he is managing simultaneously to look confused, shifty, dishonest and hapless is because he is all of those things and more. This is a man who either cannot make up his mind about things or doesn't want to because of the consequences. This is a man who wants to be our prime minister in just 8 months time. This is a man who could easily have to make huge life or death decisions for all of us next year.
First of all nobody forced him to make his speech on Tuesday without the aid of an autocue. He did it for shallow reasons, imagining we would be impressed by his ability to remember a script - something most of us were able to do in our teens. But do we believe him when he says he forgot to mention two of the biggest subjects the electorate cares about but which his own party would rather he didn't talk about? How convenient that his pre-briefed speech (the one he didn't bother reading from) included those items but that he didn't actually mention them in front of his adoring audience at his party conference. As usual this was a party leader being led by his party. Desperate for their approval he chose not to mention subjects he knew they hate talking about. Austerity? The deficit? No thanks. Immigration? This is the party that looks the other way when little girls are being raped and abused in a Labour fiefdom. They would rather not damage community cohesion, not to mention the large Asian vote they rely on.
Take a look at the interview above. Once again Wallace fails to mention either subject. The deficit is important he says before changing the subject. He then gives the game away. The deficit, he claims, was caused not by Labour overspending but by the recession and those evil bankers. Wrong. This report by the Office for Budget Responsibility nails that lie. The public finances were being run irresponsibly for several years before the crisis happened. When it did happen Britain was ill prepared and had a structural deficit - in other words we had been spending too much when we should have been saving for a rainy day. Many of us said it at the time, although not, to its shame, the Conservative Party. In 2008 we were proven right.
Labour still refuse to accept this, which is the real reason Wallace won't talk about the deficit. He doesn't see it as a problem and is annoyed that it might constrain him if we are foolish enough to elect him next May. Labour are talking the talk, but they would rather not even do that. The spending taps will be opened again if they get back in and to hell with the consequences. They will raise taxes, spend like crazy throwing money and public services and their paymasters in the unions and the past four years of constraint will be a complete waste of time. Wallace isn't forgetting to mention anything. He just doesn't want to talk about them. He 'forgets' to talk about issues like Europe, trade union powers, English votes for English laws and immigration because he and his party don't want to. He knows that the electorate disagrees with him about all of them and so he avoids them.
And then we come to the issue of ISIL, Britain's role in the attacks taking place and Labour's absurd position vis a vis them. Labour are telling us that they support attacks on ISIL in Iraq because they come at the request of the Iraqi government. We cannot do the same in Syria, they claim, because that would require UN authorisation. Syria would not object to our intervention against their enemies. They would welcome it. But that isn't good enough for Labour which has a fetish about the UN and the bizarre and farcical notion of international law, which sees something become legal if it is voted through by the Security Council and isn't vetoed by one or more of the 5 permanent members.
But, says Wallace, he sees nothing wrong with the U.S ignoring such niceties and attacking ISIL in Syria. That's okay. But it's not okay for us to do so. Could it be that Wallace doesn't want to upset Barack Obama with whom he may want another photo opportunity between now and next May? If George Dubya were still in power one can't help wondering what Labour's attitude would be then. Is this what the principles of the Left actually add up to?
This blog was against us attacking Syria last year because we didn't really know what the consequences of it would be. Now we know. The consequences are there for all to see. The consequence is ISIL, which murders people for believing in the wrong god and enslaves and rapes women for the same reason. ISIL doesn't worry about very much except its imaginary friend and their own peculiar version of his laws. They certainly don't worry about international law, human rights or international borders. Labour worries about them though meaning that our forces, if deployed, will observe a border that ISIL ignores. Thus Labour is ignoring the murders and rapes and the sexual slavery taking place in Syria. Or has Wallace forgotten those too?
And the man making these arguments, the man who will do so in parliament today, who is endangering us all for fear of his own party, the man who is incapable of making a decision and arguing for it and showing leadership, is the man Labour seriously present to us as their candidate to be our prime minister in May of next year. He 'forgot' to talk about our still huge deficit on Tuesday. Is that the excuse he is going to use to defend his absurd position on Syria and Iraq?
Thursday, 25 September 2014
It's generally agreed that two of the best orators of recent years, whatever you may think of what they actually say, are Tony Blair and Barack Obama. Interestingly neither of them felt the need to make their speeches having memorised them 'off by heart' like a schoolboy learning his lines for the school play. At no point have they felt the need to wander around the stage during their speech gesticulating in an odd way that is presumably meant to make them look more human but in fact makes them look like an octopus that has had a stroke. But best of all, owing to the fact that they read from scripts, at no point have they forgotten large chunks of this important speech, passages devoted to the economy and to the immigration problem - you know stuff that interests and concerns ordinary people but is largely downplayed by those lofty representatives of the people in the Labour Party who always think they know best.
When I was at school we often used to use the excuse 'I forgot,' when being asked by teachers for our homework. We were seldom believed. It usually meant we simply hadn't done it. And it is a particularly poor excuse when you have the option of reading from a crib sheet or having your speech displayed for you on auto cue so as to avoid having to remember it. Wallace tells us that this is how he does his speeches. He seems to be peculiarly proud of this, as though this feat of memory is something we should admire. The trouble with that is that he usually forgets part of it. Thus this is a Mr Memory who really ought to tie a knot in his handkerchief. Or maybe just read from the sodding script.
Wallace talks about this memorising and extemporising as though this was all his big idea, his great contribution to modern politics. Except it isn't, Dave did it first. Wallace followed suit and has done so ever since after people grudgingly accepted that he was good at it, albeit in the same way that he was once good at doing Rubik's cubes. Dave has since gone back to reading his speeches from auto cue, probably for the very good reason that he is the prime minister and has better things to do with his time than memorising speeches like a spotty schoolboy learns his timetables or the alphabet.
Surely the Leader of Her Maj's Loyal Opposition has better things to do with his time too? He has to go out and meet ordinary people, all of whom magically agree with him about anything and everything - interestingly he remembered all of them and all of their names, it's just the economy and our debt and deficit that slipped his mind. He has many other things he could better be doing with his time - learning to eat bacon sandwiches in a dignified way, thinking up some policies, writing to Barack Obama and asking him if he can have his picture taken with him again - a selfie would do.
Some have suggested that Wallace missed out those parts of the speech like the bit devoted to the economy and the deficit because he is not particularly serious about doing anything about either and has nothing much to say about them other than platitudes. They are almost certainly right. But the fact is that this was a speech so empty of any content or anything serious to say about the country he aspires to lead in a few months time that he had to resort to gimmicks such as memorising it, using the word 'Together' like an evangelical preacher, telling us how often he meets ordinary people - none of whom booed him or threw eggs at him - and addressing the hall as 'Friends' a dozen times in a forlorn attempt to look, well, friendly rather than a Metropolitan politician who doesn't actually have any friends or even a family anymore since he stabbed his brother in the back and he left for America.
And this, 'Friends', is the man who wants to be our prime minister next May. This, 'Friends,' is the man so confident about his chances that he is pursuing a mere 35% of the electorate to get him there. Perhaps they have focus grouped it and found that 35% of the electorate are impressed by such feats of memory. More likely though is that Wallace knows that this is his only real achievement in public office. He memorises speeches, just not very well. It's a metaphor for Labour in government.
Wednesday, 24 September 2014
In The Times yesterday, Rachel Sylvester suggested, no doubt prompted by the Labour spin machine, that Wallace may be the victim of anti - Semitism. No, really. Anti - Semitism. Is this why he can't eat a bacon sandwich? Or am I missing something here? Many people, perhaps confused by the bacon sandwich incident, will have had no idea that he even is Jewish.
Perhaps Labour are now realising, like the rest of the country, how serially useless and weird their leader truly is and are getting their excuses in early. Perhaps they are simply trying the SNP defence and alleging that this is all some kind of conspiracy against a man who is right about everything and would be our glorious leader but for the forces ranged against him in the media, the blogosphere and those bastard Tories.
Or perhaps they were getting their defence in early having learned what he planned to say in his speech. There have been times when Wallace has confounded us all and produced a decent speech and set the agenda. Last year, whatever you thought about his idiotic stance on freezing energy prices, was one such occasion. This most definitely was not such an occasion. This was an empty speech, devoid of content, rich on telling his party what it wanted to hear. After yesterday's extremely half hearted attempt by his shadow chancellor to talk tough on the economy and tell the party and their paymasters a few hard truths about the lack of money, this was the party leader pressing their buttons and telling them how wonderful everything is going to be once he is in power. It was essentially the same as when a prospective beauty queen wishes for world peace. The new Jerusalem is coming and all we have to do is vote for the weird kid with the big nose. Oh and you can do that whether or not you live in Scotland because he's going to ignore that particular issue.
And this was a speech which avoided a lot of awkward subjects. If you want to know the subjects on which Labour is none too confident and on which its leader does not want to rock the boat just note the big current issues he didn't talk about or mentioned obliquely. On Syria and the problems with ISIS he was studiedly vague and non committal. 'We will never turn our back on internationalism,' he said. Eh? What the hell does that even mean? Are you going to back air strikes or not? Or are you going to sit on the fence for as long as possible and then defeat the government to win applause from your tribe of backbenchers like last time?
And of course the there was Together. Together? What happened to One Nation? Not a mention of that. It's all forgotten. This is a party leader who cannot even make up his mind what his party's slogan is. If he had been deciding things in the 90s it would have been New Labour, no Old Labour, no New and Old Labour. Middle aged Labour? Botoxed Labour?
Together was meant to be contrasted with his notion of the Tories, you know the party of the men with the evil twirly moustaches, the tall hats, who tie damsels to railway lines. Labour though are for us all Together. You could hear the nation saying 'Awwww! So, that's okay then.'
Oh and then there was our brilliant NHS on which more money is to be splurged. This coming from the party that saw people being neglected on wards and having to dial 999 for help, the party whose targets for NHS care caused such problems, the party that covered up the scandals. But never mind because Wallace is going to give more money to the NHS. But didn't they try that before? Isn't that what they did only 4 years ago? Didn't they pledge then to bring spending up to European levels whilst there were people being killed through neglect? Not a word on how this will change things. Not a word on the problems just down the road because of the way the NHS is funded and our ageing population.
How is this all to be paid for when we have that deficit which they are really really serious about, no really? Well they are going to increase taxes. But not on you, dear reader. Oh no. They will only hit rich people who live in mansions, or flats, well people in London and the south east actually for the sin of living in a place that doesn't vote Labour. They will probably do this with Scottish votes but Wallace doesn't want to talk about that. Perhaps that's why he's stopped talking about One Nation.
It should be noted by the way that Labour are playing their usual trick of proposing a new tax and then finding several ways of spending it. So, according to Labour, the Mansion Tax which will actually hit normal sized houses and even flats and will disproportionately hit only one part of the country, will be spent on the NHS, bringing back the 10p rate of income tax and on reducing the deficit. That's quite a tax. Furthermore Labour are going to bring back the 50p rate of income tax. They are going to do this despite the lessons of what has happened in France and despite the fact it may well raise less money than the present rate. This is not a party that looks serious about the public finances, our deficit or our debt. This is a party that is playing to the gallery.
But most of all this is a party and a leader bereft of ideas. This was an empty, vacuous speech, long on promises of a wonderful new world created by Wallace but with absolutely no detail whatsoever about how he is going to create his promised land of as many houses as we need, jobs for all, green jobs (whatever that means) equality for all and wage rises across the board. It was fortunate for Wallace that other events in the world, from bombing ISIS to convicting a former disc jockey for his wandering hands will be deemed more important than this empty speech.
What this was then was a Labour leader who has looked at the arithmetic of the election and thinks he will be able to get away with just appealing to his base and allowing them to sneak him over the line to power. He just needs his usual rotten boroughs and Scotland and he thinks he will be there. He will then probably claim a mandate. There is no content, nothing to see. But Labour think they will get away with it. They will even get away with having the worst leader in 30 years, worse even than Gordon. This is a man who couldn't even go to Scotland when the Tories are in power without being shouted down and forced back to his hotel. How confident is he really that he is going to get away with this and be in Number 10 next May? He says he wants 10 years in power. Perhaps he just means 10 years as leader of his party. This was a speech in which he should have been presenting himself as our next prime minister. The man who wants to be taking big weighty decisions, being bold and decisive didn't even have the guts or resolve to present the truth to his party. This is why the country doesn't like him. It's nothing to do with his ethnicity. It's to do with him being a geeky, cowardly weirdo who should still be working in a back office writing policy documents that nobody reads.
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
There they are at their annual conference and they wanted to talk about how responsible they are going to be. Of course they are not actually going to be responsible at all. But that's what they wanted to talk about. Instead the media wanted to talk about English Votes for English Laws. Labour do not want to talk about this. They don't want to talk about this, not because they think it vital that the English public are consulted, Labour seldom worry about that sort of thing. They don't want to talk about it because they hope that if they ignore it then we will forget about it and they will be able to use Scottish Votes for English Laws as usual. Without that Wallace's 35% strategy in which he relies on the bovine masses of Labour's rotten boroughs and doesn't have to worry about persuading the rest of the country. This could undo all of that.
And it isn't as if Labour have much to talk about anyway. There is their half hearted attempt to convince us that they are now going to be fiscally responsible. For this Ed Balls made a speech yesterday to his party much of which was greeted with stony silence. But then this is true of all Labour conferences. Fiscal rectitude? Cutting your coat to suit your cloth? Being responsible? This is the party that still doesn't accept that they spent too much money while in power last time. They hardly want to hear that Labour are going to be austere next time around even if they are going to be a very special kind of austere which will see them still taxing, borrowing and spending lots and fiddling the figures accordingly.
The Labour schtick now, reluctant though it may be, is to acknowledge the need for restraint. Yet why is there such a need? They will not say. Is it because they spent too much last time around? No of course not. Last time around Gordon Brown entered The Treasury and concocted all kinds of fancy sounding rules to make him look prudent. Then, when push came to shove, he fiddled his own rules so that he could keep the spending taps open when the economy went from boom to bust. Since economies do not respond to having mobile phones thrown at them he had to fiddle the figures. And who was behind him advising him. It was Balls himself. Yet even now Labour cannot bring themselves to face economic reality, hold their hands up and express sorrow and regret. They are just going to pay lip service to it all, hope they get elected and then fiddle the figures again or use fancy accounting methods which mean he will balance the books in current not total spending. Labour apparently haven't noticed that the country has grown wearily accustomed to such ruses having lived through 13 years of it.
And it seems that this is all that can be expected of this conference. Labour have no ideas, nothing new to say, no apologies to offer. It is more of the same, more tax, more spend, with a leavening of bash the rich to make themselves if nobody else feel better. The rich, who already pay more than their fair share of income and other taxes, are to be hit with a higher tax rate and will have their mansions, or flats, hit with a brand new tax as a punishment for living somewhere that votes Tory. This, if they can get away with it, will be a tax voted through by Scottish MPs. That's why they are angry. David Cameron is shamelessly grubbing for votes. That's what Labour are supposed to do.
Monday, 22 September 2014
You know how I hate to say I told you so and so I shall leave it unsaid. I will however point out, oh sod it, I told you so. It has taken a day, maybe two and already the SNP's grace in defeat has disappeared faster than one of their mobs miraculously appeared to harass, shout at, throw things and otherwise menace anyone campaigning for No.
And now those renowned democrats are telling us that they were robbed, that there may be a need, after that once in a generation referendum, to hold another one so that the Scottish people will do as their masters tell them. Or else.
There is even talk of them declaring UDI. Presumably there would then follow that day of reckoning, maybe on all of those older people who voted en masse for the Union in an act of treachery that Salmond condemned over the weekend. What charming people they are.
And Salmond argues that the 'Westminster elite' are reneging on their promise of new powers for Scotland. The referendum only happened last week. Parliament is currently in recess. The main parties are, it is true, engaged in a vigorous debate about constitutional issues and Labour are attempting, absurdly, to prevent the inevitable consequences for powers for England. But that is happening because of the intention to hand powers to Scotland. Salmond, as usual, is playing fast and loose with the truth.
And what the SNP and Salmond, who we thought was standing down (perhaps he is now regretting his fit of pique on Friday and wishes to carry on after all), refuse to acknowledge is that the people of Scotland may have voted No because he didn't make his case. His case was famously full of holes as the No campaign, the media and bloggers like myself pointed out many many times.
Salmond also lied constantly about key elements of his case for independence. There was the famous non existent legal advice about the EU. Then just days before the vote he claimed to have spoken to various European leaders who had assured him that Scotland's membership would be nodded through quickly. No such conversations took place according to those governments. His claims about oil were shown to be wrong. His back of the envelope calculations for the cost of his new nation didn't add up. Scotland would have been without a currency and, if Salmond had carried through his threat to renege on the debt - something in the light of his reaction since losing we can regard as very likely - then Scotland would have been an international pariah.
But now, after getting over his initial self pity, this petty, juvenile, vengeful, nasty little man is back to his trick of blaming everyone else but himself. The SNP had every advantage in the referendum. From timing to setting the question and indeed even being allowed to change the voting age, and yet now, like a spoilt child, he is stamping his feet and telling the world that it isn't fair. The attempt at dignity was just an act and he couldn't keep it up. Now he is back to himself and bringing himself, his party and his nation into disrepute. What a pathetic and embarrassing spectacle from a man who hoped, by now, to be the prime minister in waiting of a proud, newly independent and ancient nation.
The people of Scotland should look on now and heave a sigh of relief. You dodged a bullet. Can you imagine what life would be like under Salmond and the SNP if they were given full powers? Can you imagine how they would behave towards those who disagreed with them or voted the wrong way? When he made his dishonest, mawkish, self pitying farewell speech he excluded those members of the press he disapproved of because they had been disobliging. He has tried to bully anyone who has expressed an opinion contrary to SNP dogma. What would Scotland have been like with this man elected as Prime Minister with a compliant party and parliament behind him?
Given every advantage and allowed to get away with his lies and evasions, Salmond and the SNP lost last Thursday. It wasn't close. They lost by a full 10 percent. That, in an election, would be a landslide. Yet now they want a re-run. Now they are talking of unfairness and accusing anyone who voted against them, particularly the over 55s, of selfishness. You lost, Alex. You lost fair and square. The matter is settled and it is settled for a generation. Now go away and feel sorry for yourself somewhere else.
Sunday, 21 September 2014
Big story of the week was of course the Scottish referendum. In the end No won it and won it convincingly by 10 clear points. No finished on 55% of a record turnout with Yes on 45%.
Prior to this, both campaigns had mounted their final pushes. David Cameron was in Scotland on Monday and gave an impressive speech. It was a speech of passion, emotion and a remarkable amount of what looked suspiciously like sincerity. This, he told the Scottish people, was no ordinary vote. It was a vote for their children, grandchildren and for generations as yet unborn. This, the No campaign had been saying all week, was a decision Scotland could not revisit. This was forever. This was a decision that would break up our family of nations that has been through so much together and cast them asunder. It was all part of 'a vow' delivered to the Scottish people via The Daily Record newspaper. In this they promised new powers for the Scottish parliament and making the Barnett Formula, which gives that country a remarkably sweet and advantageous funding deal, permanent. Of course they did all this without bothering to consult the rest of the country. This quickly proved problematic.
And Gordon Brown emerged to give a barn storming speech which even those of us who loathe the man had to admit was impressive. Less impressive however was that attempt to bounce the rest of the country into handing Scotland further powers and a permanent advantage in funding. English, Welsh and Northern Irish politicians reacted with fury to this vow from the three party leaders which had been put forward with no consultation whatsoever.
Alex Salmond gave an equally passionate speech, but his oration as usual was long on rhetoric and wishful thinking. His theme too was about this being a decision, not perhaps forever, but for a generation. Perhaps people believed him too. It was hard to see why they should if the polls were correct about how tight this was all going to be. By Friday afternoon, after conceding defeat in the morning, the smirk had gone and he was announcing that he will stand down as first minister and leader of his party once a new leader is elected this November. But we have to give him his due. What other politician could have managed to sell such a remarkably ill thought out and plain stupid idea to people and actually come so close to winning? There wasn't a single part of the independence prospectus that stood up to scrutiny, from defence to the NHS, from currency options to North Sea oil. Salmons didn't care about any of that, he didn't care about the disaster he would have created. He nearly pulled it off. Perhaps, when he reflects on all of this, he will be glad about that. He leaves the stage a hero who was vanquished by we evil English. Had he won he would have been remembered forever in ignominy as the pied piper politician who sold his people a tissue of lies and led them to disaster.
Because, in the end, and despite the panic that had been created in London following just one rogue poll, the No side emerged triumphant and by a margin greater than most had anticipated (although this blog called it exactly right 2 hours before the first result came in). The SNP and Salmond had failed to convince even those who live in Salmond's own constituency of the merits of their case. This was probably because the merits were few and far between and he and his party refused to talk about so much. The Yes side won Glasgow but the rest of the country by and large stuck with the status quo. The middle classes voted for the retention of the Union and rejected Salmond's socialist utopian dream which would have become a nightmare. Tommy Sheridan was furious, which made it all worthwhile.
Now attention will turn to the English question, usually know as the West Lothian question, namely the scandalous use of Scottish MPs votes in parliament to force through legislation that only affects England. Labour, even while the ink was drying on the referendum results was already attempting to downplay the need for this very obvious and necessary change because they fear their electoral chances if reform happens. Wallace and his party will not get away with that, especially with an election only months away.
On Saturday Brown was telling the world that his proposals for Scotland will be delivered, and they will be delivered by Burns Night. Has anyone told him that he is no longer in power? I think the thrill of being back giving speeches and winning applause has gone to his head. In any case the English must play hard ball on this. New powers for Scotland is fine, we can live with that. But not until a deal is done giving the same self determination without outside interference to MPs representing constituencies in England. Labour are holding out against that. They must not prevail.
The English are sick of being taken for granted and noted and resented some of the language used by the Nats in this referendum campaign. If Scotland wants more powers and the ability to set its own tax rates then so does England. David Cameron intimated that he is open to this possibility. It will however create a massive constitutional mess.
Following the murder last week of British aid worker David Haines by ISIL, a meeting of foreign ministers was convened in Paris to discuss a united response to the terrorists and maniacs making life a misery for a large swathe of Syria and Iraq. It looks increasingly likely that countries like France and Britain will join the U.S in a concerted strategy against the savage and nihilistic psychopaths of ISIL. Indeed some maintain that the recent murders of two Americans and a Briton and the threats against others are a sign that this growing strategy has ISIL worried, a view that seemed to be reinforced by ISIL's latest video featuring another British hostage, John Cantile (above), who read a statement telling the world that he had been abandoned by the British government and begging them to negotiate with the jihadist cretins. It sounded like them protesting too much. The world is uniting against them, including Muslims who don't share their fanatical worldview. Their days could well be numbered.
And security forces in Australia foiled an alleged ISIL plot to behead a random member of the public in Sydney this week in an attempt to demonstrate the fascist organisation's worldwide reach. Raids across the country led to the arrest of 15 people along with the seizure of various weapons including guns, a scimitar, machetes, balaclavas and military fatigues, all of which were to be used to shock, horrify and terrorise.
The ISIL recruits are of course famously dimwitted. But news reached us this week of a new low. Apparently the ISIL recruits, who of course dream of their time in paradise with their 72 virgins are worried that the virgins will not be forthcoming if they are killed by women which is apparently happening in parts of the Middle East where women are not regarded as second class citizens and are as keen to fight and kill jihadist morons as their menfolk. The fanatics believe that to get their heavenly reward they have to be killed by a man. This holy book of theirs is remarkably specific isn't it. Where does it say that I wonder. 'And lo, the pretend prophet did implore and instruct them only to be killed by fighters with testes.' Allah hates women and wishes them to be hidden from view. Allah in fact may be gay, or at least a bit confused. Perhaps it's because he's surrounded by all those virgins and lots of young men who can't fuck them because they've had their balls blown off.
Two British tourists, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, both in their twenties, were brutally murdered on a beach in Thailand this week. Their bodies were found on Sairee beach and police have been struggling ever since to identify a motive or any suspects, those who were first considered were exonerated by DNA tests. Police have also taken footprints from the sand around the couple in an attempt to identify the attacker or attackers. Their working theory is that there were at least three attackers. CCTV has been found of Mr Bailey walking towards his death at 1.56 am. There is also a theory that the couple were engaged in consensual sex before being disturbed by their murderers who then raped and killed Miss Witheridge. But police seem to be struggling with the case in a country in which tourism is so vital.
It takes a special kind of genius, in a world in which everyone wants the latest mobile phone as a fashion accessory, to run a mobile phone business and bankrupt it, but that was what happened to Phones 4 U last weekend. The phone retailer called in administrators after the 3 British mobile phone networks pulled the plug on the company and refused to deal with it any more. This, they alleged, was because the company was demanding too high a share of their under pressure profits for selling phones. The networks would rather deal with the likes of Carphone Warehouse or sell their wares themselves and cut out the middleman. Phones 4 U, set up by John Caudwell and sold by him in what looks increasingly like the deal of the century, was bought by a private equity company and loaded with debt. It was this debt which forced the retailer to try and squeeze so much out of the networks and thus caused them to end their contracts. It remains to be seen if the company can be saved along with the jobs of over 5500 people. Vodafone has bought some of the shops, subject to approval and the administrators laid off 600 people this week at the HQ in the midlands.
Shaun Wright, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, finally bowed to pressure and resigned this week following the Rotherham child abuse scandal. Before being elected to the post, Wright was a local councillor in charge of children's services at the time when the worst abuse was taking place and the council overlooked, ignored and often covered up the abuse. Documents relating to the scandal which should have alerted officials and councillors to its extent have gone missing. The abuse was perpetrated by various men of mainly Pakistani backgrounds, the vast majority of whom have never been prosecuted and remain at large. Inquiries have blamed misguided concerns about being thought to be racist and community cohesion for the serial failure of the police or council to take action and protect 1400 children. The commissioner had steadfastly refused to resign for several weeks despite calls on him to do so from across the spectrum and during an uncomfortable grilling by the Home Affairs Select Committee last week when MP Paul Flynn told he was ashamed to have been in the same party as him. Wright had resigned from the Labour Party before he could be expelled but had said he intended to continue in his post.
And on Thursday, Joyce Thacker, the Director of Children's Services at Rotherham Council, who was deputy Director when some of the abuses were taking place, and who had also refused to resign finally bowed to pressure and did so. It was announced that she was leaving her post by mutual consent.
A woman's virginity is worth £3000 according to a Chinese court. A woman sued a man who, she claimed had 'violated her right to virginity' by seducing her and promising her he would marry her when he was in fact already married. The court agreed and compensated her to the tune of £3000, although she had asked for £50,000 for psychological damage. Traditional attitudes to love, marriage and virginity are still endemic in China despite encroaching modernity. Still, we may laugh at such attitudes here but they are more progressive than those recently displayed by Rotherham Council towards children being raped and exploited.
The beautiful lady above is Ghoncheh Ghavami, a law graduate with dual British and Iranian citizenship. She is currently in an Iranian jail and has been for nearly three months. Her crime? She attended a game of volleyball, although no formal charges have ever actually been made. They probably don't know how to phrase it. Recklessly looking at bouncing balls? Indecently viewing men in shorts? Women have been banned from watching football since 1979 and this ban was extended to volleyball in 2012. Mrs Ghavami was under the mistaken impression that the ban had been lifted. Her family is appealing for help from the Foreign Office to get her freed. You can sign the petition to get her freed here.
Another momentous vote took place this week. The Royal and Ancient golf club, founded in 1754, bowed to pressure and, by an overwhelming majority, agreed that from now on it should accept women members. The club, regarded as the home of golf, has hosted 28 Open Championships on the world renowned Old Course which was first inaugurated by agreement with the Archbishop of St Andrews who retained ownership of the land's rabbits.
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce company, launched itself on the New York Stock Exchange and saw its value soar making it worth more than most other major technology firms like Facebook and Twitter and even worth more than Coca Cola. Like most Chinese companies, Alibaba is essentially a rip off of a Western company, this time Amazon, but it has been spectacularly successful in its short 15 year history since its now billionaire founder, Jack Ma gave up his career as a teacher to launch it.
It was a disappointing week for England's representatives in the Champions' League playing in the first round of games in this year's compeition. Only Liverpool managed a win against Ludogorets as Steven Gerrard scored an injury time penalty. Elsewhere Arsenal were beaten by an excellent Borussia Dortmund who at times ran rings around the London club. Manchester City also lost against another German club, Bayern Munich were much the better side even against City's expensively recruited superstars beating them by a goal to nil. Chelsea could only manage a draw at home to Schalke. Less surprisingly Real Madrid began the defence of their title with a 5 - 1 defeat of Basle.
In the Premier League this weekend most of the big games are taking place today, the biggest of them all being Chelsea taking on champions Manchester City. But yesterday Arsenal shook off their Champions League blues with a convincing defeat of Aston Villa in Birmingham. Southampton continued their impressive early season form with a win away at Swansea, honours or dishonours were even between Burnley and Sunderland who could only manage a goalless draw, QPR and Stoke played out a 2 - 2 draw as did Newcastle against Hull, although such a result is unlikely to stop the muttering and active campaigning against manager Alan Pardew. Liverpool went down to another defeat as they continued to struggle to integrate new team members, adjust to their post Suarez shape and find the form of last season. It's still early days of course but, having returned to European football this week, they will quickly want to get back on track and aim, if not for the dizzy heights of last season, at least for that 4th place.
In Spain, Christiano Ronaldo scored his 27th career hat trick as Real Madrid's front line of galacticos ran riot against Deportivo La Coruna, winning 8 - 2. Ronaldo's achievement was put in the shade by an astonishing goal by James Rodriguez who scored a beautiful curling shot from outside the penalty area. The third member of this super expensive trio, Gareth Bale, got in on the act with two goals of his own.
Wembley Stadium will be the venue for the 2020 European Championship semifinals and final after a vote this week. The tournament that year is going to be split between cities right across Europe with Glasgow and Dublin hosting matches at the group stage. Europe of course does not lack top quality stadia and England in particular could easily host the entire tournament with its world class venues belonging to Premier League clubs. Wembley has become a firm favourite since it was rebuilt and has already hosted two European Cup finals. The tournament in 2020 will be the first time football has come home since 1996. The chances of our hosting the World Cup however are nil since the FA has vowed not to bid again while Sepp Blatter is in control of that corrupt and venal organisation.
We all know that Kim Jong Un, the Fat Leader of North Korea, is the big cheese in that poor, benighted country. But now he is getting even bigger - thanks to cheese. Apparently the double chinned wobbly one is hooked on Swiss Cheese, or Emmental as it is known - the one with the holes in it - a delicacy he grew fond of during his schooling in Switzerland. Now, at vast expense, he has the stuff imported in huge quantities and gorges on it. This, it is alleged, and who cares if it is true, is making him even fatter than previously and has even contributed to him acquiring a limp. Perhaps someone should play a game of the emperor's new clothes and tell the dimwit that you are only supposed to eat the hole. That's the best bit. On the other hand let's hope that the fat little fucker eats his way to an early grave and a painful death.
You've heard of having a Brazilian? Well now that is to be amended to having a Colombian. The Colombian Women's Cycling Team have a most unfortunate uniform. The top and bottom are fine. It's the nude coloured bit in the middle that is making tongues wag - if you will excuse the expression. On the plus side it has made the team extremely popular and a roaring trade to teenaged boys for their bedroom walls is reported.
A Grenadier Guardsman caught pirouetting and doing a silly walk whilst on duty at Buckingham Palace became an internet sensation when his dance was caught by a watching tourist. Unfortunately for the unidentified soldier, his superiors have taken a dim view of his dance and he may now face disciplinary charges and possibly even jail. But why be so po faced? Here is a chance to modernise them changing the guard at Buckingham Palace. They could set it to music. They could bring in some choreographers. And who can blame the poor chap? It must be very boring walking up and down like that. It's not as if these Guardsmen actually do any guarding or could even shoot anyone if they broke in. There are police guards for that. Their role is pointless. I say let them all dance.
So, Cathy, what was it about the billionaire Richard Lugner that made you want to marry him? Richard, 81, is marrying Cathy Schmitz, a German playboy model. They are in love. 'Apart from the age difference,' said Richard, in between naps, 'everything fits.' But that's probably because he can afford bespoke. Who said money can't buy you love? Cathy wrote on her Facebook page that her wedding day was an unforgettable experience. And the wedding night? Thanks to modern medicine and a team of doctors on hand, well that may well have been too.
First a health warning: there now follows a really really terrible joke. I mean really awful. But I confess it made me laugh. I'm seeking help.
The above picture is a picture of a false moustache. It was hidden in a room by a flatmate who then moved out. His former flatmate did not venture into the empty room for five months but when he did and found the moustache he called his friend understandably perplexed. His former flatmate was delighted. 'Aha!' he said, 'you've found my secret 'stache.' Five months waiting for that joke. Now that is dedication. He just needs better material. But you have to admire his stiff upper lip.
This week's pictures of Rihanna show the softer side of our favourite chanteuse and sex symbol. Ri Ri, once more jetting around the world, this time headed home to Barbados where she attended the christening of her baby cousin Majesty. Rihanna clearly loves kids which frankly makes me love her a little bit more myself.