Friday, 31 October 2014
Far be it from me to disagree with the various commentators who are telling us that we are witnessing a seismic shift in British politics and an era of multi party politics. We aren't. What we are seeing is the reaction of the British electorate to uninspiring, anodyne, identikit politicians who sing from the same metropolitan song sheet and only come around to public opinion when facing existential crisis - losing their seats or their majorities.
Labour is now facing up to the same crisis they have been smugly watching happen to the Tories in England and indeed are now relying upon. Indeed theirs is worse. This is an incursion, not amongst the voters who switched to Thatcher and then to Blair, but in Labour's heartlands. These are the voters they have long taken for granted to deliver them the whole country. Actually, let me rephrase that, these are the voters they have long relied on to deliver them England.
It's no accident that Gordon Brown has turned down the opportunity to lead his party in his homeland. He doesn't want to be the leader of little Scotland. It is beneath his dignity. He only roused himself to campaign in the independence referendum when it seems Scotland - and thus England - could be lost to Labour.
And why are the Scots now backing the SNP? Because they want, not independence, they have just rejected that, but a party that speaks for Scotland. With Labour and the other parties they get parties that regard them as their rotten boroughs, voters who deliver them their constituencies and empower them to pursue their own agendas, their own often very rabid ideologies. These ideologies have little or nothing to do with the instincts and needs of the people they purport to represent. They are mere ballot box fodder, there to do as they are told once the vote and thus the dye has been cast.
Modern day Labour and even the unions that fund it and foisted its useless leader upon it, are bourgeois, middle class, elitist and London centric. They have nothing whatever in common with the vast majority of the people who vote for it or pay union subs. The centre ground is said to be the place our parties must reside in to win power. What that actually means is that the centre ground is the way you have to speak in order to get a hearing from the political establishment, the media (especially the BBC) the civil service, the quangocracy, the charity sector and the pressure groups who dictate, or try to dictate so much of our policy. This is why we have had foisted on us, without consultation, unlimited immigration, political correctness, environmentalism and cuts in CO2 harnessed to higher energy bills. There is a modern day political consensus which dictates our policies nowadays, but it is a consensus of opinion formers and career politicians. It has nothing to do with the vast majority of people who actually vote.
What the bovine masses of Scotland have not yet noticed is that the SNP is exactly the same as the other parties. It has its own agenda and it is fully signed up to the 'progressive' mindset which sees them promise the earth paid for with other people's money. The SNP should be grateful that they lost the referendum and so maintained their status as outsiders. Their prospectus for independence was a nonsense and would have been revealed in the months to come. Indeed with the oil price heading south as it is at the moment, the wheels would already have come off, but then since the stock market and pound would have crashed, that would have been the least of our worries.
What Labour created with devolution was the conditions for their own demise. The SNP are a bunch of shysters. But they are a bunch of shysters led by people with charisma and charm who are better at connecting with ordinary people and telling them bare faced lies than the Labour leadership. At the last election Labour did comparatively well in Scotland because they had a Scottish leader who, for reasons best known to Scots, is still liked and respected. Now they have Wallace, an English nerd who takes them for granted. They might as well have David Cameron.
The English are falling, albeit not in the same numbers, for the unlikely and, for many of us, wholly illusory charms of Nigel Farage and his band of bollocks brothers. Farage is the English Salmond. That is why he doesn't appeal north of the border, they already have their own spinner of lies and deceits. And he does it in a Scottish accent.
Our political class only has itself to blame for its demise and for the febrile unpredictability of the next election. If they will elect smooth, anodyne purveyors of lies and evasions as their leaders then the people will see through them and reject them. In a way this is inevitable in a democracy. It is the law of the jungle, because they all compete to offer more, regardless of whether it is viable or affordable. They are afraid to tell the truth because they know their opponents will use the opportunity to do the opposite. And so we get Cameron, Wallace and Clegg. In reaction we get Salmond and Farage. They are all ultimately the same. The latter two are actually worse. But for now nobody seems to either realise this or maybe they simply don't care. The political class deserve the kicking they will surely soon get. Unfortunately, thanks to the way our system works, we will then get them anyway and in coalition.
And as for Scotland, well Scotland is going to go independent. The SNP lost, but they actually won. They will win plenty of seats next May and they will demand another referendum. They will keep asking until they get their answer. Indeed don't be surprised if they try to argue that they should get their way without another referendum. The SNP are no different to the others. In many ways they are worse. But they are leading their country to separation. The Labour Party, self serving as ever, have actually ensured that thanks to their petty point scoring, oh so clever manoeuvres and by electing a leader even worse than Gordon Brown. In time Scotland will wake up. If they are lucky they will do so after the English have told them to get lost. At least then they will still be able to blame us.
Thursday, 30 October 2014
This blog is avowedly Eurosceptic. Indeed your author would call a referendum to get us out tomorrow were it within his power and would right now be refusing to pay a penny of that surcharge scandalously levied whenever it was levied - and who cares who knew what and when. This shouldn't be a matter for negotiation. If the EU tries to levy fines then we should refuse to pay those too and withhold any further payments to the EU until they back down. The EU is an arcane, undemocratic, unwieldy, ideologically driven farce created by people whose thinking belongs to the last century. It is a tyranny of the majority against a minority who pay the bills. It is time to say no. It is also time to call a referendum. The Lib Dems have frustrated that again this week. David Cameron should call for one as soon as possible, not in 2017 and use this row over money
But it ill behoves those of us campaigning to get us out of the EU to be as inflexible and arrogant as those we campaign against. Some Tory backbenchers are in danger of being so with regard to the European Arrest Warrant and elevating principle over pragmatism. The very same people who rail against human rights lawyers riding roughshod over the public good are in danger of failing to see the wood for the trees on this issue.
Tory backbenchers see the EAW as another step on the march towards ever closer union. And in part it is. But pragmatically it is also a way of preventing criminals from benefiting from the EU's porous borders in the same way that benefits tourists can do. Surely that is a good thing?
And no, I don't buy the argument that voting against the EAW will benefit terrorists. The government should drop that line of argument straight away. It is the sort of argument deployed by the Blair government when it was at its illiberal worst (although in passing aren't we starting to wonder if they weren't right all along about the need for an identity card scheme?)
And it has to be acknowledged that the EAW does represent a real transfer of sovereignty. But we shouldn't oppose it simply for that reason. It has been a valuable tool for reducing the length of time that extradition processes take. And, given how keen our courts are to respect the rights of criminals and terrorists like the various Abus who have clogged up our judicial system in recent years, shouldn't we trust them to look after British citizens who are subject to EAWs from foreign jurisdictions? It is illogical to complain about our modern day obsession with human rights, whilst at the same time failing to trust the courts from applying similar principles to British citizens wanted abroad. Quite apart from anything else we have the ancient rule of habeas corpus to protect us.
The government and parliament have a responsibility to ensure that a balance is struck between the rights of the individual and the rights of society to protect itself and our neighbours from criminality or worse. And of course, this being Europe, there is always the danger that once we give away this piece of sovereignty and allow the ECJ some jurisdiction in our criminal justice system it will, as usual, spread its tentacles ever wider. But that is part of a greater argument, an argument for another day. Conservative backbenchers will be doing nobody any favours by creating a row over this issue that few members of the public are aware of or care about. I have come around to the argument that this is one piece of Europe we must reluctantly accept. We must show that our objections to the European juggernaut are rational and principled and that we have the best interests of our country and people at heart. This is one part of Europe we can sign up to, in the same way we want to be part of that free market. Maybe when we leave we can leave the EAW in place. I'm sure that is a compromise we would all be willing to make.
Wednesday, 29 October 2014
One of the great puzzles about Wallace is his peculiar combination of control freakery, or at least attempted control freakery (his shadow cabinet tend to ignore him and carry on regardless) along with indecision, dithering and insipid half policies designed to grab headlines rather than achieve anything concrete. Last Friday Johann Lamont resigned as leader of Labour in Scotland because Wallace would not let her do her job and was, in his characteristically brave way, briefing about her behind her back and operating behind it too by sacking one of her staff without consulting her at all. This is his way. Ask his brother.
But thanks to this approach Labour's election strategy is falling apart. It was bad enough when he tried to weasel his way out of talking about English Votes for English Laws. Now it may not be an issue thanks to his own incompetence and tendency to take his voters for granted. They are rebelling, especially in Scotland. The country Labour has long regarded as its private fiefdom enabling them to rule the rest of us is no longer onside.
And speaking of weasels, Nick Clegg has been up to his usual tricks this week. Lib Dems are suddenly against what is disingenuously called the Bedroom Tax now that an election is imminent whereas before they of course went along with it. What other U turns can we expect from them in the coming months? Anyway, this means that they tried to force through expensive measures to mitigate the measure which removes a subsidy from people who have a spare room paid for by benefits. Without that they removed their support for a European referendum bill. No-Nick strikes again. He does love to say no to Tories. Or at least he does this close to an election.
Dave said that he was extremely disappointed that his old chum Nick has vetoed the referendum bill. Next to him No-Nick shook his head sadly. If it was allowed he would probably have stroked a white cat on his lap. Last week in the public gallery someone threw marbles at the big screen which protects our MPs. You can entirely see his point.
Wallace this week decided to adopt a scattergun approach to his questioning. He started with the European Arrest Warrant which the government has decided, largely for pragmatic reasons, to opt into. It is argued that failure to be a part of this will create problems and mean we are stuck with lots of foreign criminals. Many Tory MPs are against it, some for reasons of principle because this hands sovereignty over British citizens to foreign states, and some, it must be said, because they are automatically opposed to anything with Europe in its name. Perhaps they should rename it the Scrotes, Spongers and Immigrants Arrest Warrant. Wallace adopted his nauseating weaselly voice trying to tease Dave over his problems with his backbenchers. Dave pointed out that this was rich coming from the man who has just lost his leader in Scotland.
To muttering and long faces behind him, Dave defended the decision on the EAW and promised that there would be a vote in the next few weeks and before the Rochester and Strood by election which is expected to win Ukip its second MP.
And then Wallace turned to immigration. The man who leads the party that saw it rise by 2 million, which decided against interim controls against new accession countries thus boosting that figure in a manner that they denied would happen and which accused anyone who questioned all of this of racism is now having a Clegg style Damascene conversion. It will last until the day after the election. They will be tough on it they tell us, in much the same way they say they will be tough on the public finances whilst denying that they did anything wrong anyway. Dave asked them to apologise for this. Wallace felt the best form of defence was attack. So did Dave. Accusation and counter accusation followed. Nigel Farage probably bought himself a pint and smugly lit a cigar whilst adopting a Churchillian pose.
The Tories defence on immigration is that they inherited a broken system and that control of it is difficult or impossible without that much talked about renegotiation. Labour's attack line is based presumably on their assumption that we all have bad memories, much as is their economic policy. Welcome to the next general election, one dictated by Ukip.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014
The charge against David Cameron by Labour on the issue of Europe is that he is being dictated to by the Euro sceptic headbangers in his party. This, of course, is hypocritical nonsense. Labour's attitude to Europe is similar to Barack Obama's foreign policy - be nice to them and they will be nice and reasonable back. That is how we ended up with ISIL and an increasingly belligerent and aggressive Russia. Here, it is how Britain gave up part of its rebate, is paying ever more for little return, is seeing endless interference and petty meddling and means we have had to absorb an astonishing influx of foreign workers departing their sclerotic or low paying homelands.
David Cameron is not being dictated to by his backbenchers, he is listening to them and agreeing with them because they are in large part in agreement with those who vote for them. That is the way democracy is supposed to work.
Why do we object to handing over more money to Brussels? It's a long list. We object because the money will be squandered because the same Eurocrats who lecture us on sticking to the rules fail to obey them themselves when it comes to accountancy and accountability. We object because the money tends to be spent on grandiose schemes to big up Europe or add to the gravy train enjoyed by those who subscribe to its follies and largesse. We object because it still has two parliaments to appease the French despite their being on the receiving end of a large rebate at our expense. We object because it is spent on the unreformed and ruinously expensive CAP which subsidises inefficient farmers and pushes up the price of our food. We object because Europe appears to exist, or want to exist, in a bubble that says the Euro is fine, we can carry on spending forever and we will simply demand ever more cash and point to rules and European solidarity in perpetuity to legitimise profligacy.
Europe agreed a budget which recognised our leaner and more austere times. Europe, it was agreed, must exist on less. But Europe is instead now in the process of ignoring that through these kind of rules based demands for more and from the European Parliament, another pointless and counterproductive institution which allows them to pretend that they are democratic but which in fact enables them to carry on regardless. So, after an agreement between leaders - the people who actually stump up the cash - Europe decided it would carry on regardless. That is what this demand is all about. It is why it should be resisted. Europe must reform. It must reform for the good of Europe. If it continues to resist and label Britain as un-European for demanding change then, after trying and failing, we may well have no choice but to leave.
This is what David Cameron said in the Commons yesterday. What we are demanding is not unreasonable. Sticking rigidly to rules which must be set in stone is untenable and is also the reason for Europe's sclerosis. It has to change because the present system is not working and indeed is consigning millions to unemployment and poverty. The answer is not to keep spending more. Perhaps that is why Labour don't object, because that is their answer to everything. But Britain has been pursuing the opposite path an we have grown as a consequence, allied to our keeping out of the disaster that is the Euro. We shouldn't be punished for that we should be emulated. Europe doesn't want to hear that. It will have to.
Monday, 27 October 2014
The papers at the weekend were full of vituperation aimed at the alleged comedian and would-be revolutionary Russell Brand. They also, or at least many of them, took the opportunity to have a snipe at the BBC which devoted nearly 20 minutes to the hairy loon in a week that wasn't exactly lacking in news. And I'm not for a moment saying this was undeserved. Brand's latest book, Revolution, is, from what I can see, an incoherent rant rather than what it purports to be: a manifesto for revolution. And yes, he is a hypocrite and delusional, but then we knew that didn't we? It is infuriating. Here is a man blessed with good looks, charm and a charisma to which most men are utterly resistant, but for which women seem to fall nearly as quickly as their underwear. It's perplexing as well as annoying.
But surely all of the reviews and snide commentaries are falling into the trap of taking Brand seriously. And nothing in this book or the various interviews he has given deserve that. Sure Brand is good box office, he irritates and infuriates people and this makes them tune in or buy newspapers. That is the great irony. The man who claims to want to bring down global capitalism is selling himself rather than his thoughts and manifesto. He is prostituting himself. Russell Brand is a man who could only prosper in a capitalist world, because companies and even the dear old audience chasing BBC recognise him as box office, a putter of bums on seats, a man who makes them money. How does that make you feel Russell?
In fact if he had any sense at all, rather than admit in a few years time that this whole foray into politics was silly and self indulgent, he should simply wait a few months, until the book sales have dropped off and the royalties have come in, and claim that it was all a joke. It would make him a kind of British Andy Kaufman and he would be hailed as a comic genius. Those of us who saw that the emperor had no clothes - about 90% of the population - and who yawned and changed channels or turned the page, could smugly congratulate ourselves. And the Guardian, BBC Newsnight and the various other media organisations who took him seriously would claim they knew all along, that they were in on the joke and played along for the merriment of the nation. Nevertheless Jonathan Ross would be appointed chief presenter of Newsnight and invited to make a programme with his pal Russell in which they called celebrities and, with a nudge and a wink, told them they had shagged their daughter/wife.
Because all of this is a joke isn't it? It must be? Or are the Left actually taking this seriously? Is this their vacuity being exposed in the most brutal fashion, or is it a parody of leftist thinking? Surely the latter, because if it isn't they are in more trouble than we thought. They are not just in danger of losing the next election under their leader who is actually a lot funnier than Brand, albeit unintentionally, they are in danger of disappearing up their own fundaments. Perhaps Brand should have ended all doubt by calling his book Revolutiony wutiony. But I rather suspect that he is deadly serious and so are some of those giving him all of that airtime. He probably has the backing of Len McCluskey. Next: Kermit the frog is elected leader of the Labour Party.
Sunday, 26 October 2014
In a move which has astonished even its worst critics, the EU is demanding £1.7 billion extra from the UK as a price of its recent economic success. Other countries similarly enjoying success and which must thus pay more are Greece and Italy, which makes many wonder at the guesswork dressed up as calculations that led to these figures. The EU of course famously fails to have its accounts signed off by auditors on a regular basis. Clearly they are not too good at adding up. One of the reasons Britain's economy is said to be doing better is thanks to the black economy. So a part of the economy which cannot accurately be measured and on which no tax is paid means taxpayers will be asked to stump up more cash if the European Commission has its way.
Not surprisingly this created consternation and anger in the UK, which is being asked to hand Brussels far more than any other country thanks to our inspired decision to stay out of the Euro and thus not suffer economic stagnation. An angry David Cameron said that he simply would not pay the demand he labelled appalling and was backed by his party and Labour and the Lib Dems. It is of course a surprise that the two lefty parties are against this. Aren't they in favour of taxing those who do well and earn more than others?
In an echo of the horrific events in Woolwich, London last year, a soldier was shot dead in the Canadian capital Ottawa on Wednesday by a man who has recently converted to Islam. The apparent jihadist murderer shot the unarmed soldier (he was carrying a gun which contained no ammunition since he was on ceremonial duties) as he stood guarding the national war memorial. The gunman then went on the rampage through the nearby parliament building where he was eventually shot by the parliament's sergeant at arms after a brief but terrifying gun battle.
This latest jihadist cretin falls into the familiar pattern of the credulous and the stupid. He was Michael Zehaf Bibeau, a 32 year old Canadian, with a history of drug abuse, who was known to the authorities after his recent conversion to Islam. Police said that they believed he had intended to head to Syria and had gone to Ottawa to get a passport for that purpose. He was however on a police watch list as a potential jihadi with extremist views and so was denied that passport, a move that may have led him to launch the attack. Earlier in the week another soldier had been killed when he was run down deliberately by a car driven at him. The attacker on this occasion was shot by police. The concern in Canada now is that such lone wolf jihadists may be ready to carry out similar attacks. It is a fear shared in many countries, especially those currently engaged against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. There has however been good news on that front this week. Kobane has not fallen as feared and indeed the Kurdish fighters, supported by American air raids have fought back. Many jihadist cretins have been killed, including dozens of wet behind the ear dimwits from the UK.
Oscar Pistorius, a man the whole world except the South African judiciary now regards as an unhinged, temperamental, liar and a murderer, was finally sentenced on Tuesday. The sentence was for five years in prison, but typically he may well serve only ten months of this before being released to house arrest. What with this and the Shrien Dewani case, South African justice has been shown in a very unflattering light. The trial process took nearly as long as the former Paralympian will spend behind bars.
It all represents a baffling new definition of what does and does not constitute murder. Apparently, in South Africa, if you wake up in the middle of the night and claim not to notice that your girlfriend is not in bed with you before heading into a bathroom and shooting at someone who is behind a locked toilet door within that bathroom you are guilty of a lesser charge. You could not be held to have known that shooting someone, anyone, through said door would result in their death or serious injury. It was not reasonable for you to have first ascertained who it was behind the door and whether they represented a threat. And all of this is if we believe his ridiculous argument that he thought an intruder had got into the house, had made for the bathroom and locked himself in.
The judge held that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. But what was there to prove? A man with a proven temper, whom other girlfriends and Steenkamp herself had often admitted to being afraid of, shot at someone through a locked bathroom door. He changed his story repeatedly. Steenkamp, it was claimed by the defence, needing a pee in the middle of the night in a house shared only with her boyfriend, had gone into a bathroom, into a separate toilet within that bathroom and locked herself in. This seems unlikely, after all she had gone there taking a mobile phone with her. The pathologist said that, far from being seated on the toilet, she had been cowering on the floor when shot. Yet this suggested nothing to the judge, although this is a judge who found that someone shooting four shots at a locked door could not reasonably be found to have intended to kill.
We all know what really happened that night. Well, all of us except the judge. It is to be hoped that the prosecution appeals this appalling miscarriage of justice and this senseless killing of a young woman who had the misfortune to fall for an egomaniac with a temper and a gun fetish.
Britain was hit by the first proper storm of the season this week as the storm, formerly known as Hurricane Gonzalo hit our shores. A woman was killed by a falling tree in Knightsbridge central London and a man was crushed by his van as it was knocked off its jack by high winds in Essex. There was the usual transport disruption, with flights at various airports, particularly Heathrow, being cancelled to allow extra time between them. The wind gusted to up to 100 mph around the UK coastline, particularly the north west which took the brunt of the storm.
Was there or was there not a Russian submarine lurking somewhere in the Baltic Sea this week? Whether or not there was, it certainly got the attention of the Swedish Navy and some of the more excitable parts of our media as they longed for the good old days of the Cold War. This hunt for Reds in October conjured up all kinds of theories about what those increasingly aggressive Russkis could be up to. Were they dropping off or picking up a spy? Have they not heard of fake passports and airports? Were they testing Sweden's defences? Were they testing a new submarine? Were they simply lost? More to the point how is it that an economy two thirds the size of Britain's can afford defences that can cow the Ukraine, threaten Sweden and regularly buzz the airspace of various western nations including Britain's and all based on oil, the price of which is falling? Russia of course denied that there was a submarine in the vicinity, but then they also denied that they had any part in the events in Ukraine earlier this year or anything to do with shooting down that airliner over the same country. The search was finally called off on Friday, nothing having been found, although the Swedish authorities remained convinced that something had been there and had managed to get away.
Fans of inconsequential news will have been thrilled by the revelation that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have their second baby in April of next year. Kate was back in the public eye again this week, presumably so that the nation's photographers can try to get a picture of her baby bump. Why do they call them newspapers again?
In a cunning and devious new strategy, Alex Salmond, fresh from losing a referendum and making all kinds of noises about the betrayal of the Westminster politicians who have not yet handed over new powers to Scotland despite them having a month to do so, this week indicated that he may decide to go back to London as an MP at the forthcoming election. Why? Well it will be a nice top up to his pension of course, but it does seem odd that a politician who wants more powers for Scotland and indeed complete power now seeks to pontificate 400 miles further south. Of course London is nicer and more cosmopolitan and you can make a killing on property. Or is his plan to so irritate we English by voting on our laws and taxes that we declare UDI?
And Scottish Labour, already predicted to take a hammering at the hands of the SNP next May, is now to be leaderless. Johann Lamont announced on Friday that she will stand down as Labour leader after being undermined by Ed Miliband repeatedly as she attempted to reform the party as it heads for the fight of its life. Given that Labour will be needing as many MPs from Scotland as it can muster in order to subdue the English, this will be a body blow to Wallace's chances of victory next May. Ironically there has been much backbiting about her leadership amongst fears she may cost MPs their seats. Yet none against Wallace? And hilariously there are some who feel that the answer to this new vacancy could be for Gordon Brown to enter the fray and become leader of his party in Scotland. This is not a sign of a party in good electoral health.
More than a dozen fire appliances attended a fire at Didcot B power station in Oxfordshire last weekend. The gas burning station, which provided 1% of the electricity for the country will be out of action for an as yet unknown period while the damage is assessed and repaired. Given that so many of our stations have been closed down thanks to idiots who believe in manmade climate change, the chances of the lights going out this winter have thus been rendered ever more likely. The slack in the system is already unbearably tight and unforeseen events like this are only made worse by very foreseeable events like closing down generators before replacements are built, building lots of wind turbines and ignoring the fact that the wind doesn't always blow or that they are hopelessly inefficient. Passing laws requiring Britain to unilaterally cut our emissions by 80% so that politicians like Wallace can boast about how green they are could have a very noticeable effect on us all this winter, not least it may prevent you reading this blog.
Tesco, which could do no wrong just a couple of years ago as its seemingly relentless surge on to every high street and out of town shopping centre continued apace, is now enduring its own annus horriblis. Following the scandal over its overreporting of profits just last month, Britain's leading grocer reported a 92% fall in profits this week. The company's shares fell a further 6% on the news and its chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, bowed to the inevitable and announced that he would stand down. Accounting firm Deloitte has completed its investigation into the profits scandal and this has been handed to the city regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The company has suspended eight senior executives pending the result of this inquiry.
Ukip, the apparently bullet proof protest party which can seemingly say or do whatever the hell it likes without denting in any way its electoral fortunes, this week released a record. It then unreleased it after accusations of racism. Mike Read, the former Radio One DJ who thinks he can sing and often used to foist his 'singing' on a tired nation getting out of their beds on frosty mornings when he hosted that station's breakfast show, released the Ukip Calypso. Now this sounds offensive enough, but apparently, and I was not intrepid or indeed fast enough to hear it for myself, he 'sang' it in a faux Jamaican accent. This, some people said, made it racist. I have to admit to being puzzled about why this is racist, although I am grateful to the purveyors of this idiotic suggestion since they have saved us from Mr Read's song and the probable campaign to make it the Christmas Number One thus denying Simon Cowell his annual windfall and pocket money for his trip to Barbados. On Wednesday Read instructed his record company to withdraw the record. For a party that is supposed to be anti-establishment and anti political correctness, Ukip seems a bit confused. Surely they can't be more worried about votes and power than principles?
There was anger this week at news that notorious cop killer Harry Roberts is to be released from prison after serving 46 years behind bars. Roberts was responsible with another man for the murders of three police officers in west London in 1966. Had the crime been committed a few months earlier he would almost certainly have received the death penalty. As it was, the death penalty having been suspended only a few months before, Roberts was given a life sentence. The judge, Mr Justice Glyn-Jones, said he should serve a minimum of 30 years with the likelihood being that he would spend the rest of his life in jail. Now the parole board, which has taken on the role of deciding these matters thanks to human rights laws, has decreed that Roberts is no longer, thanks to his advanced age, a danger to the public or indeed the police and should be released. This blog and many others with the exception of Nick Clegg, respectfully disagrees.
I make no apology whatever for putting the story of Ed Balls and his idiotic 'Mansion Tax' next to that of an armed robber. I fail to see the difference. Balls revealed more detail on his barmy scheme this week, only to leave more questions. The nub of it is however that, according to Labour, if you own a house or flat which is worth more than £2 million - the vast majority of which will be in London and the south east - then you are rich, regardless of when you bought your property and how much its value may have increased. If you earn in excess of £43,000 then, again according to Balls, you are also rich and must find around £3,000 a year to pay Labour's envy tax. If you cannot do so then Labour will store up your taxes and put a charge on the sale of your property, treating you like a debtor. It's Labour's version of an old style Dickensian debtors prison. This economically illiterate policy will raise nothing like as much money as claimed, will have a massive impact on the housing market and could have a similar impact to the taxes Francois Hollande levied in that economic basket case France. Labour are also pledged to raise the upper income tax level back to 50%, despite it being likely to raise less money than the current rate. Or is all of this Labour's strategy for getting a rebate from the EU? You can see why little Lola is looking at the stammering buffoon the way she is.
The above picture is of Renee Zellweger. I know! This remarkable transformation, one might call it Renee Zellweger 2.0, has of course prompted much speculation that the actress has had some work done. The Bridget Jones and Jerry Maguire star denies this however. And to be fair she has shown that she is capable of transforming her accent (which was not racist) or putting on weight for a role and so why shouldn't any actor worth their salt change their face too? One can't help wondering what the role is though - probably some kind of superhero who battles against wrinkles. Ms Zellweger herself claims that her face looks different merely because she is at peace, happy and healthy. Indeed I can exclusively reveal, after extensive research and scientific tests, that if she wasn't at peace, happy and healthy she would look like this.
A conman who claimed that he was too ill and paralysed to stand trial for tricking his elderly neighbour out of £40,000 was caught out wandering around the aisles of Tesco and taking holidays with his family. Alan Knight claimed to be a quadriplegic who slipped in and out of a coma only for police to find CCTV images of him shopping and driving his family back from a holiday in Devon. He had been systematically stealing money from his neighbour for months to fund his lifestyle, but, when caught, claimed to be too ill to stand trial. He even had himself hooked up to an oxygen machine. Finally cornered, Knight appeared in court, albeit wearing a neck brace, and admitted theft and forgery. Judge Paul Thomas told him that he is likely to be jailed. Sentence will be passed next month.
Raphael Ravenscroft, the musician who played the famous sax solo on Gerry Rafferty's classic song Baker Street died this week. He was 60. The song, which was still earning Rafferty £80,000 a year when he died 2 years ago, had a big gap in it when the song came to be recorded which Rafferty filled with that sax solo. Ravenscroft, a session musician, was paid £27 for his part in musical history.
Ben Bradlee, the editor of the Washington Post from 1968 to 1991 died this week. He was 93. Bradlee was editor of the paper during the Watergate scandal, which the paper steadfastly and bravely exposed and which brought down a president, but he was also largely responsible, under the benign ownership of Katherine Graham, for turning the Post from a staid morning paper that was part of the crowd to the trend setting, dynamic and hugely respected publication it is today. The present day president, Barack Obama, was one of those who paid tribute. Bradlee, he said, was someone who believed that journalism was more than a profession, it is a public good and a vital part of our democracy. Ben Bradlee's long and astonishing career was a testament to that.
And another 70s icon Alvin Stardust died this week after a battle with prostate cancer. The glam rocker was known for his flamboyant hair and sideburns along with those questionable 70s fashions. But it all came about by mistake. Another artist had created the Alvin Stardust persona only for him to record an unlikely and unexpected hit with My Coo Ca Choo. He needed someone who looked the part and so he turned to small time 60s artist Shane Fenton. Fenton became Stardust, donning the leather outfit and outrageous hair. Fortunately he never took himself or his persona seriously and, though the hits came in quick succession for a short time, the image endured. He later had a career in musical theatre and was always a big hit on the nostalgia rock circuit.
Big football match of the week was the first El Clasico of the season: Real Madrid v Barcelona in the battle of the mega spenders. It also saw the return from disgrace of Luis Suarez after his suspension. But the bite seemed to be gone from the Uruguay international as his new club went down to a 3 - 1 defeat to their oldest and bitterest foes. Madrid were worthy winners and could easily have scored a couple more. Suarez looked to be in need of a few games before he starts paying back that mega fee and the forgiveness of football once again.
Earlier in the week Real had given a footballing lesson to Suarez's old club Liverpool, beating them 3 nil at Anfield. Liverpool supporters were left shell shocked and furious with Mario Balotelli who produced another insipid performance and swapped shirts with an opponent at half time. Elsewhere in the Champions League there were thrashings handed out by Chelsea, who beat NK Maribor by six goals to nil, Bayern Munich hammered 7 past Roma, Shakhtar beat BATE Borisov by 7 goals to nil and Borussia Dortmund put 4 past Galatasaray. Manchester City look to be following Liverpool out of the competition at the earliest stage.
In the Premier League this weekend the big game is between Manchester United and Chelsea today, yesterday Liverpool could only manage a draw against Hull, Manchester City lost at West Ham, Arsenal scored a comfortable win against Sunderland who were pleased not to see another 8 go past them, Southampton beat Stoke, Swansea beat Leicester and West Brom and Crystal Palace drew 2 - 2.
This week's pictures of Rihanna sees our Barbadian beauty looking a little perturbed, perplexed or possibly upset. Is this because she was upset at the fact this review and thus she did not appear last week? If so we can only apologise. And if she wants me to take her to dinner to make it up to her she only has to ask. Her people should contact my people. Even when Ri Ri is less than happy with the world she still looks pretty in pink. Dress down Ri Ri, it suits you.
Friday, 24 October 2014
It would be funny were it not so infuriating. First, in the past few days, we have had the outgoing and new president of the EU telling us that no, we will not be allowed to take control of our own borders and decide who can and cannot come and work here regardless of the consequences for our services, housing, community cohesion and national budget - this despite the fact that Britain has become the destination of choice for the largest number of EU immigrants of any other nation. And now, we have been told, we must pay for our recent economic success - a success that has come about in good part because we decided to stay out of the disaster that is the Euro - by paying a kind of fine to the EU. They want an extra 2 billion from us, no doubt they would call it a solidarity payment.
So the EU tells us we must blithely wave in to this country the continent's unemployed along with a sizeable proportion of what various eastern European nations regard as a nuisance ethnic minority and then pay extra to the EU so that they can lavish various failing nations with cash to sustain their failed economic experiment and continue to refuse to face economic reality whilst exporting their unemployed to those nations that have had the good sense to go their own way.
Not unnaturally this has infuriated British politicians. Even the Lib Dems and Labour are saying that Cameron should negotiate a better deal. But here's a thought: why not just tell them to get stuffed? Why is it that the unelected commission in Europe gets to send us a tax demand? How does this happen less than six months since European elections in which the people of Britain and indeed many across the rest of Europe not usually given to European scepticism backed parties that either reject ever closer union or want to get out altogether?
Similarly Britain should act unilaterally over EU immigration. No more benefits paid to non UK citizens. An annual limit on the number of national insurance numbers issued to non UK citizens, with those issued to EU citizens only valid for a limited period after which they would have to reapply. This, we would no doubt be told, would be illegal. But what does that even mean? What would they do if we refused to pay up or if we exercised our sovereignty and controlled who does and does not come into our country? At the very worst they could threaten to chuck us out, but, since many of us want to leave anyway, or at least to have a debate and a vote on it, that is something of an empty threat.
It is a mystery to many of us why we should have to negotiate with others about how much of our money we pay out. It is a mystery to many of us why we have to negotiate for the right to decide who comes to this country and how many of them we should allow. As a sovereign nation we should simply go ahead and do it. Parliament has the right to do more or less as it wishes, it could unilaterally change the terms of our membership of the EU and there isn't anything they could do. They may want an EU army but they haven't got one yet (and anyway they would need our soldiers and tanks to make up a large proportion of it) so they are not going to be able to invade any time soon. If they throw us out they would lose another £20 billion. That money would be quite useful right now. It would pay for the black hole that has been found in the NHS's finances for a start.
David Cameron should simply tell them that no they cannot have any more money. This is not a negotiation it is a refusal. Britain's finances are already tight and set to get tighter. The government is looking for savings, for ways to trim budgets, people have had to go without payrises. Only the EU would imagine this is a good time for us to pay more. David Cameron's answer is simple and straightforward. As he said earlier this week, the British people are his boss. We will not pay.
Thursday, 23 October 2014
The papers are full of a contretemps between Jon Snow, the veteran and increasingly doddery Channel 4 News presenter, and Tory MP Phillip Davies today. Davies revealed the spat, claiming that he was assailed by the presenter as he was shown around the ITN building of which the Channel 4 News office is a part. Snow, nobody is denying, decided to take the opportunity of this visit to go into full combative mode and interview the Tory MP about his claims of lefty bias. Was this an appropriate venue for such an altercation? Was this simple rudeness to a guest masquerading as journalistic principle? It's not as if there was a camera present. Should Snow's employers have told him to pipe down and get on with his job?
For the record I don't think that Snow, though he is clearly a lefty, allows this to get in the way of his professional obligation to be impartial. Channel 4 News however is like the Guardian of the airwaves. It's lefty tendencies are there for all to see, not through outright bias but through its assumptions of the right way to think, assumptions it seems to assume we all share. It's a kind of soft bias, the same that afflicts the BBC. It also has a 'representative' workforce, which means that, when it is not poaching staff from Newsnight, it seems to employ people in a tick box kind of way rather than on merit.
Presumably it is this tick box approach that ensures Snow stays in his job as a representative of that part of the workforce that really ought to retire graciously. He could head off to spend more time with his tie collection and his very attractive and much younger wife. Live television is a high pressure environment and Snow is demonstrably struggling to cope with its demands as his many embarrassing gaffes illustrate. On one occasion, a few months ago, he started reading an item off camera when it was not his turn and could clearly be heard from across the studio despite his mic being faded out. He had to be told to shut up by his co-presenter.
And there was further evidence of this in his fracas with Davies. Not only did he sound like a grumpy old man, but his logic was flawed. 'You're past your best,' Davies averred, not without justice. 'At least I had a best,' rejoined Snow. This doesn't actually make sense. Everyone has a best. The question is whether our best is good enough when compared to others. At Channel 4 News however your best is not the be-all-and-end-all, it depends on your age, ethnicity, sexuality and indeed sex. Then, and only then, do they take into account if you are any good. In the case of Snow, this is clearly no longer the case. His best is not even as good as the best of the hopeless Krishnan Guru-Murthy, one time Newsround presenter and a man so smug and self satisfied he resembles a fat cat that has recently inherited a dairy. It's probably why Channel 4 has poached another old geezer, Jeremy Paxman, from the BBC. And he's a Tory. Phillip Davies will no doubt approve.
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Disappointing news this morning. Ukip's foray into the world of pop music - is there no limit to their ambitions? - has been called off, at least temporarily. Former Radio One breakfast show host Mike Read released a record this week called the Ukip calypso. It's said that in the video for the song Douglas Carswell sang along with such gusto it contorted his face. Oh no, hang on.
Anyway, since Read sang the song in a faux Jamaican accent, there were accusations of racism. Quite why singing in an accent is racist is, I must say, a mystery to me. Perhaps I need to go on a cultural awareness course. But does that make all of us racist, after all it is well known that we Brits tend unconsciously to sing in an American accent. Should we all be singing like Billy Bragg? And this ban on non indigenous accents has the acting world in a flap, indeed Renee Zellweger is now so ashamed of her formerly lauded English accent in the Bridget Jones films that she has changed her whole face.
It is said that Wallace was set to call for a judge led inquiry into the whole thing, although I am told that reports of him chanting 'here come de judge' are wholly false.
Speaking of inquiries, Labour, which is generally very keen on them, is making a fuss about who is going to chair an inquiry into child abuse. They are demanding a register of dinner parties after the shocking revelation that Fiona Woolf, currently set to chair said inquiry, once had dinner at the home of Lord Brittan. That's the trouble with the establishment, they are so, well, established and in and out of each other's homes for what the PM once called a kitchen supper. If anyone would like me to chair an inquiry then please be assured that I have never dined with a cabinet minister or judge and that I don't even call it supper. I have even been known to eat it off my lap - via a plate you understand. Sometimes I just have a sandwich. I know! How non-establishment can you get? But desperate times means that someone as hoi polloi as me will probably have to be considered. It's probably because I was turned down by Oxford and had to slum it at the LSE that I am considered persona non grata in establishment terms. If only I had got into Christchurch and studied PPE I would have been supping suppers with the best of them and would by now be chairing half a dozen inquiries and quangos. Still, it makes me an ideal and unsullied chair of an inquiry. I shall decline all supper invitations until the inquiry is complete.
And so to this week's PMQs. Dave got underway, prompted by a question from Andrew Griffiths, with an attack on Labour's record in Wales where they run the NHS. Wallace got to his feet and completely ignored this but went on the attack about the English NHS. Dave responded with one of those lists of extra nurses and achievements in the NHS. To which Wallace responded that the PM couldn't defend his record. Eh? Why is it he doesn't use a script in speeches but sticks rigidly to one in the House of Commons?
This was then the pattern thereafter. One asked a question, the other ignored it whilst accusing the other of ignoring the question. Wallace deployed his little boy going nyahh nyahh nyahh voice and told the PM that it was him who is supposed to ask the questions. This is never a good sign. It means that Wallace is not getting anywhere and that Dave is in full Flashman mode. Dave did offer to allow an OECD inquiry into the NHS and wondered why Wallace wouldn't do the same in Wales.
Oh we can all see what he is doing said Wallace, his nostrils doing his talking for him as he whined his way through his questions. What was it? Well according to him Dave wasn't defending his record on the NHS. But it seemed to this viewer that Dave had done precisely that. If anyone wasn't defending their record on the NHS it was Wallace who barely mentioned Wales. Perhaps it's because the matter has all been raised by the Daily Mail. Wallace doesn't like the Daily Mail. Expect him to pose with it wearing an awkward grin at any point in the next few days. It's what he does.
This, we must wearily accept, is what we have to endure now for the next few months. Labour seem to think that they can win the next election simply by talking about the NHS and coming up with various schemes for raising money for it which they will then flush down its gaping, ever widening mouth. They are in the process of designating everyone in London and the south east as living in a mansion to pay for it. Apparently if you earn more than £43,000 a year you are also officially rich according to Labour and will thus be milked to pay for their various meaningless pledges - targets by another name - because targets worked so well for them the last time they were in government.
Both were on feisty and shouty form this week. Ultimately however answers came there none from either of them, to which Wallace would no doubt respond that it is supposed to be prime minister's questions. He says it a lot. Maybe he should ask Mike Read to set it to music.
Tuesday, 21 October 2014
One of the overlooked features of Wallace's pathetic, self indulgent speech last month, overshadowed by his forgetting to mention the deficit, was his pledge, accompanied by characteristic closing of the eyes as he admired his own righteous rhetoric, to completely decarbonise Britain by 2030. Wallace is already responsible for the ruinously expensive and utterly absurd Climate Change Act which, along with edicts from Brussels which we are once again slavishly following to our own detriment thanks to the presence of Lib Dems in government, is making power more expensive and closing down power stations before alternative capacity is built.
The fire at Didcot B over the weekend - Didcot A was closed along with several others because of a Brussels directive - means that we are that little bit closer to having power cuts this winter if the weather does its worst. So thin is our spare capacity now, and so farcical our reliance on unreliable renewable energy sources, that the authorities have created a legion of diesel powered generator parks across the country just in case. That's the kind of joined up, messianic policy Wallace got to foist on the country when he was in power in just one department. Imagine how bad it could it be if he got to run the whole country.
If the worst came to the worst the power companies and the regulator would introduce a rolling programme of power cuts by agreement with large energy users - factories etc - so as to keep the lights on. So not only are we raising the price of our energy entirely gratuitously by subsidising wind turbines and the like rather than build proper reliable generating capacity, we are actually proposing to endanger our economic recovery by making companies close down for a period because we potentially don't have enough capacity.
This is another one of those issues that will only become an issue if the worst happens. In the meantime the politicians prefer to be seen to be green. Indeed there is a distinct possibility, given the uselessness of the Labour leadership and thanks to the fall of the Lib Dems, that the Greens may do well at the next election. This is the party currently creating chaos in Brighton. Now, thanks to the implosion of support for parties of the left, the watermelon party are on the rise. Presumably they would regard power cuts as a price worth paying.
Suspending or indeed repealing the Climate Change Act would have zero impact on the world's climate. Britain isn't big enough or significant enough an energy user to make any difference. Not that this makes any difference to the likes of Wallace. In much the same way as they ignore the impact of immigration on the little people, Wallace and co feel no compunction at bumping up our energy costs before then making their idiotic promises of freezing energy costs. The Conservative manifesto should include the simple promise to scrap the Climate Change Act - or, as it was once pithily expressed, cut the green crap.
Monday, 20 October 2014
If you want to see why a certain kind of politician in this country is determined to prevent Britain from leaving the EU by the simple expedient of preventing the British people from having any say in the matter then you only have to look at what has happened this weekend. Outgoing EU president, Jose Manuel Barroso, came to these shores and lectured us about how awful it is that we want to leave, how awful some of the proposals for renegotiation are and generally how very backward it is of us to want to head for the exit door. This kind of patronising tosh is of course how many in the pro EU elite really think. Barroso, since he doesn't have to bother with being elected, is at least refreshingly honest about it all. Or is it honesty? I'm not sure it is. There is a certain kind of Eurocrat who just seems to think that this is the only viable way to think. Those of us demanding a referendum and who suspect that Dave's renegotiation efforts will be in vain only have to point to the likes of Barroso to make our case. QED!
A cap on immigration imposed by Britain would be 'arbitrary' says the puffed up panjandrum. No, Mr Barroso, it would be the policy of a democratically elected government as opposed to a principle imposed from on high without any consultation whatsoever, the consequences of which have been at best difficult and often disastrous. The 'principle' of freedom of movement is like a kind of constitutional amendment of the EU. It cannot, as things stand, be gainsaid. So this country is obliged to wave in hundreds of thousands of immigrants from across the continent, many of whose economies are struggling thanks to the Euro, and allow them the same benefits and access to public services as those who have been paying in all their lives. This principle, for which nobody has ever voted, is creating anger, resentment and even misery. It has even become a de facto law. It is a core reason for the declining living standards Labour claims to care about, but they will not even consider the easiest and best remedy - re-imposing control over who we allow to enter this country and who we allow to work here. Changing the rules would be illegal says Mr Barroso. To which the rest of us respond: exactly! But who gave Europe that right, the right to exercise a veto over our borders? That is why we want a referendum. After that we'll decide what is and is not legal in our own country.
Barroso raises the issue of the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in Spain. This is a false comparison as usual. My Mum was, until a couple of years ago, a part of this very modern diaspora. But she went there to retire. In so doing she took with her assets from this country re-invested in Spain, plus her pension income and thus contributed to the Spanish economy. She did not go there to work. Yes, some do, but most are there for the weather. Nobody is coming to Britain for that reason. They come here to work and because our economy is still doing well. Many employers of course welcome this vast reservoir of cheap labour. Britons in Britain have to work harder just to get work, even low paid manual work. Different rules apply to the incomers who have a huge advantage as a consequence. If I were to apply for a job as a bus driver for example I would need to provide references and a work history. Does the same apply to those coming from Poland? How is that fair or equitable?
Barroso is the outgoing president of Europe, one of two presidents - a farce that only the EU could create - and yet he still feels qualified to opine on what will and will not be permissible if and when Britain renegotiates. But this is the point. Nothing is set in stone, however much the unelected Eurocrats like to tell us that it is. Britain remains a democracy and a democracy sick of being taken for granted. Democracy is what the panjandrums of Brussels fear most. We should hold a referendum as soon as possible to show them we mean business. If we were to do so then suddenly the inviolable principles of Brussels would become more flexible. After all the Euro was created with a similar set of principles which have been fudged and ignored ever since. The principle of freedom of movement is one we no longer wish to be a part of, much as we did not want to be part of the Euro and the Schengen agreement - two more stupid ideas that are creating endless problems for the people of Europe that our masters in Brussels try to ignore. Perhaps if they listened more and lectured less they might get things right once in a while.
Saturday, 18 October 2014
I've had a few production problems this week owing to one of my many hospital visits. This means that the Video Diary is late but is on its way once it has been edited and uploaded. And I'm sorry, but there is no Review of the Week this week as I spent much of it incommunicado and you can't review something if you didn't get to see all of it. The Review of the Week returns next Sunday. Here instead is the return of Interlude for one week only.
Friday, 17 October 2014
Why do stock markets always seem to choose October as the best month to have a fit of vapours? My own theory is that it is to do with my birthday. I become another year older and the world realises that that is one less year until I finally depart this mortal coil and they react in the only sensible way: by selling shares, buying tin goods, shifting into gold, buying heavy weaponry and rending their garments. Indeed I may be the real reason for the rise of nihilistic bands such as ISIL. Oh they pretend to believe in an imaginary friend, but really they are just having a more extreme reaction to the prospect of a Paul Owen-less world and the permanent absence of my Video Diary, Review of the Week and daily musings on the world. Fortunately of course my work will be permanently preserved for posterity, indeed my novel will be published in the coming months. The world will no more be Paul Owen-less than it is Shakespeare-less. For the record, by the way, I do write all of my own stuff and I am not gay.
But, in the unlikely event that this is not the reason for these October crashes - and I admit that it is unlikely to be the cause of the 1929 crash - what is the cause? Well there doesn't really have to be a reason does there? Objectively there was no logical reason for the market to be doing quite so well as it has been for the last few months and so you could simply argue that reality has set in. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world at present, a lot of risks and potential downsides and now, after a good run, investors are getting out before it all goes tits up. This is not to say that it will go tits up, just that it is a possibility that cannot be discounted.
Most of the events that could cause tits to go up are political. China is facing the prospect of a long delayed implosion because it has been on a vast credit binge and is feeling the effect of the refusal of the rest of the world to recover fully and buy its goods in the same quantities as previously. Germany is having the same problem, only exacerbated by their determination to be German. America is intent on stopping QE which is essentially an intravenous drip for the world economy and to which it has become dangerously addicted. Every time the prospect of it being withdrawn has been mooted we have had a reaction like this. Now it is actually becoming a reality this correction or crash was inevitable. The Eurozone is still, well it is still the Eurozone with all of the contradictions and idiocies entrenched by our purblind political leaders. There is much uncertainty in the world from the marching morons of jihad to a hard to control disease which frightens people to a Russia that wants to be a superpower again whilst wondering how it can afford to be with the oil price plummeting.
Normally all of this uncertainty would have led to a rise in the price of oil which would have made matters worse, but the cartel is not operating as such. This is good news of course. Falling oil prices will in time give the world economy a boost.
But this goes to prove the basic point. This crash or correction is a symptom of nothing very much other than the previous boom in share prices was not entirely explicable either. We all knew this and so, at the first sign of a wobble, a general low level panic has set in. Canny investors may see this as a buying opportunity. I shall certainly be spending my spare millions not on canned goods and gold and DVDs of myself for posterity, but on enticing bargains in the stock market. There is much uncertainty it's true. But then there always is. We might have a Labour government in a few months time - that really would be an excuse to move into rented accommodation, or to foreign climes, put your money into gold and let your hair and beard grow whilst living in an inflatable bubble. For now though this is just an October wobble. And, by the way, if it steadies your nerves, please be assured that, despite my many recent hospital visits and nine toes, I remain in excellent health.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
I didn't get to see PMQs yesterday as I was enduring one of my many brushes with the NHS. This one only lasted three days I am happy to say.
Anyway during that session Wallace was widely applauded for the ambush he laid against Dave concerning one of his ministers, the popular and thoughtful Lord Freud, who is more into policy than mealy mouthed politicians speak. Unfortunately this means that he has a tendency to think out loud. This has been known to get him into trouble.
On this occasion Lord Freud was asked a question at the Tory conference about the possibility of paying people with learning difficulties less than the minimum wage as a way of encouraging employers to give them work. Outrageous you might well think. Except it isn't. It is a simple acknowledgement that people with learning difficulties are less productive and a way of equalising things meaning that employers are not penalised for doing the right thing for wider society. Wages would be made up by the state meaning that disabled people were not disadvantaged financially and also got the decided advantage of working and forming friendships with work colleagues.
Furthermore this perfectly sensible and reasonable policy is one that has been backed by various charities such as Mencap in the past and indeed by the Labour Party when in government. So the charities were in favour of the idea when Labour was in power, but regard it as unacceptable when a Tory so much as ponders it a party conference. Charities are supposed to be apolitical in order to get and retain charitable status. Here is definitive evidence that some of our bigger charities are not and have been seconded to the lefty cause as have many quangos.
Labour saw this as an opportunity. This conversation took place a couple of weeks ago and yet Labour only chose to make a fuss about it now. Why now? Because parliament was back and Wallace had had a couple of bad weeks and the economic news was wholly in favour of the government. This was a chance for him to change the subject and even get to call the Tories nasty.
Even now, after the real facts have emerged, some are calling for Lord Freud to resign. Lord Freud not only shouldn't resign he should be told to put his thinking out loud on paper. One of the reasons that unemployment is falling is because this government has been prepared to think radically about issues like this. Getting people into work is good for them and good for the country. Where people have disadvantages they need help. This is precisely the kind of help that government can provide, unless of course it is hidebound by political correctness and the desire to make political mischief rather than actually govern for the good of people it claims to want to help.
This is why Wallace and indeed Labour are and will remain unfit for government. On a range of issues they are for short term gain, the minor victory, the saving of faces rather than government for the greater good. They are doing it over Syria, they are doing it on welfare reform, they are doing it on taxes and government spending. Downing Street has commendably refused to call for Lord Freud to go. They should do more and say that any radical thinking is to be welcomed and given serious consideration. They should also ask some serious questions about why these charities have so dramatically changed stance on this seemingly perfectly sensible and progressive change.
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
I'm going to come back to the issue of English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) again today because what is happening beggars belief. Yesterday Labour, on a pretence of principle, refused to partake in cross party talks in the issues. Their excuses range from there not being enough time - and yet plenty of time to hand over powers to Scotland without consultation on the detail - to this somehow being a stitch up. As I wrote yesterday the only stitch up has been Labour's. They have relied once again on the insouciance and tolerance of the English and are amazed and offended that the status quo in their favour is now seemingly at an end. Perhaps they really do see democracy and fairness as a stitch up. How very revealing.
Yesterday in parliament Gordon Brown, a Scottish MP, revealed the breathtaking hypocrisy we have been so missing since he disappeared for his long sulk. EVEL, he said, had been imposed by David Cameron, this coming from the man who lost the last election and yet emerged at the very end of the referendum campaign to impose a new deal for Scotland on the nation which the party leaders were obliged to accept for fear of appearing disunited and handing the advantage to Salmond. There was no choice but to accept Brown's impertinent intervention. EVEL is the quid pro quo.
Brown argued yesterday that this will create two classes of MP. Actually it wont't because we already have them. Brown cannot vote on issues like the NHS or education in Scotland because it is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, but he demands the right to vote on those issues in England. That is no longer tenable.
And Labour knows this. Brown in particular knows this because devolution was created when he was at his most powerful in government. This appalling morass is one of his creation.
Labour are only now waking up to the disaster they have created. Happily it is a disaster that will impact on them. They created many when in power, from uncontrolled immigration to out of control human rights laws to a welfare dependent under class to the vast deficit. All are now coming home to roost. But this is one that they cannot ignore or deny because it may actually prevent them governing and imposing their politics of envy on England.
Britain is now effectively a federation in all but name. EVEL will create more nightmarish constitutional difficulties over tax and a range of policy issues leading to a separate English administration and a British prime minister who will effectively become a president - often with little or no power. This could also signal the beginning of the end of the monarchy.
But still Labour try to prevent the inevitable. Are they really going to maintain their present position up to a general election? Their leader is already regarded with suspicion, now the whole party could be seen as a bunch of self serving charlatans.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the Tories, UKIP and the SNP. Labour could find themselves caught in a deadly pincer movement which will hand them a much deserved ignominious defeat.
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Just when you think that Labour can't stoop to new depths of cynicism, along comes their line on English Votes for English Laws that it is 'a stitch up'. The only stitch up was the deal done by the party leaders as part of the referendum panic handing more powers to Scotland without bothering to consult the rest of the country. EVEL is a natural consequence of that.
Yes the whole thing is an unholy mess but it is a mess of Labour's creation. It isn't as if they haven't been warned. Now they wish to preserve the present system in which they already have an electoral advantage thanks to unfair and unequal constituencies allied to MPs voting on issues which does not concern their constituents. They have proposed a stitch up of a convention or devolving more powers to English local authorities so as to maintain the status quo that suits them so well. This is the same party that reneged on the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Are we living in a banana republic?
The government, if Labour won't accede to simple democratic fairness should make this an election issue. But it should make it one in Scotland too. Want more powers for the Scottish Parliament? Then vote SNP. Or Tory. Want EVEL. Vote Tory.
It beggars belief that Labour think they can get away with this self serving argument months before a general election. Politicians have created a federation in all but name. Things will never be the same again. Given Labour's serial mendacity, duplicity and tribal selfishness perhaps that is just as well. They created devolution. One of their own MPs warned of the dangers. Now their constitutional idiocy is about to hit them where it hurts. They deserve to be wiped out.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief. The Fat Leader, Kim Jong Un is alive and well and has not yet become an embalmed God alongside his father and grandfather.
The Fatter Leader has assuaged fears that he had been bumped off - presumably, given his size, by a tank or other weighty piece of military hardware - by appearing in public once again dispensing advice to note taking minions who are sadly nothing like as entertaining or thoughtful as those found in the Despicable Me films.
Presumably the Fatter Leader has hobbled back out into the limelight to dispel rumours about a coup or about his health, although since he is only 31 his need for a walking stick and mobility cart is not a sign of vigour. But I'm sure the people of Korea are happy to see His Corpulence back out amongst them as they tend to their crops and prepare for another savage winter. How reassuring it must be that their leader will be so well insulated from the cold and will not be endangering himself by doing anything more strenuous than walking a few steps and grinning like a half wit. It's good to have him back.
Monday, 13 October 2014
It's been endlessly amusing to watch the main parties scramble to adjust to the new political reality over the weekend. The funniest sight has been Labour, frightened out of their wits at the revelation that they nearly lost one of their rotten boroughs because 'their' voters may not be 'theirs' after all.
Suddenly people like me who have been 'banging on' about Europe, welfare and immigration are part of the mainstream once again. Of course something must be done about immigration say Labour now. Unfortunately for them their berk of a leader forgot to mention it in his speech just a couple of weeks ago. D'oh!
If you want a true reflection of what Lefties think on the issue you only have to look, not only at what Vince Cable said just last week adopting his usual sanctimonious and lecturing tone, but at Labour's actions when in power. From their attitude to our borders to the new accession countries of the EU, immigration was something they were determined to be 'progressive' about and to hell with the consequences for the low paid, those without jobs, those using our schools or the NHS they tell us plaintively that they love.
And now the workers are rising up against the bourgeoisie. Okay they are not doing it in an entirely logical way, but then people who lash out in anger and frustration at being ignored and taken for granted rarely do.
Labour have the temerity to call Tories out of touch. The worst sin Tories committed was believing that Lefties are in touch and that modernisation meant adopting their language. Tory attitudes weren't nasty, they weren't racist or mean spirited, they were just realistic. All we needed was intellectual self confidence, the sort Wallace once boasted about. How is that going for you?
Immigration may be economically desirable but it is not necessarily socially desirable. Apparently those clever politicians are only just realising this. They should have listened shouldn't they.
Sunday, 12 October 2014
It remains to be seen whether we experienced a political earthquake or just a tremor this week. The people of Clacton have certainly shaken everything up anyway, although in many ways it was a result that was nailed on. What really shook the establishment was the result in Heywood and Middleton, a safe Labour seat which is now a marginal and only Labour's by 617 votes. That was the margin between a Labour victory and a proper earthquake. The parties' reaction has been confused and yet not at all confusing. Some are in denial, some are spouting platitudes, some may actually mean it when they say this is a wake up call. But are they willing to do more than say what they think the voters want to hear?
Immigration seems to be the major motivation for the switch to Ukip of an astonishing numbers of Labour voters. Tories should be worried that such voters are unwilling to switch to them even though their message is much the same as Ukip's when push comes to shove. Ukippers are big fans of the Thatcher brand of Toryism that is apparently toxic to many voters. Nigel Farage's party, which is frequently amateurish and can be just as nasty as the Tories are alleged to be, can seemingly do no wrong. It can survive all manner of calamity. Now it has an MP. It may soon have another. But the bigger problem here is for Labour rather than the Tories. Labour's strategy for the next election, if it can be given such a dignified name is to rely on their core vote to get them into government. Some might call it taking their voters for granted. It seems that those core voters are not content to be taken for granted by a Labour Party that is out of touch with them and regards their concerns as best misguided and at worst bigoted. The metropolitan elite who run Labour, particularly that weirdo with the big nose who is their leader are trying a massive con trick on their voters. And so they turned to Ukip in anger and frustration. The Tories can respond to the Ukip threat by being a little more like Ukip. Labour can't. If this attitude persists to next May then Labour are screwed. This could simply be one of those tremors that serves to warn us of something bigger. The real earthquake could come in May when the whole country votes. Nobody can tell what will happen.
Labour's response to all of this? There have been calls to promote more northern MPs to the front bench. Westminster is fond of outbreaks of such tokenism. The last time it was the need for more women with the PM and his opposite number surrounding themselves with representatives of the fairer sex - not that they would be so patronising as to call them that of course, calm down dear. Parliament is back again this week after its long conference and independence referendum sojourn. If Wallace is surrounded by men wearing cloth caps and claims to be a Manchester United supporter then we will know the panic is really underway. It should be noted in passing that Nigel Farage, new sentinel of the people, is a privately educated former stockbroker. Douglas Carswell, his new MP, is firmly in favour of mass immigration.
Sadly it was another week dominated by the marauding crusading morons of ISIL. Incidentally is there any agreed line on what we should actually call them? Some call them ISIL, some ISIS, some IS. The BBC, I've noticed, calls them the so called Islamic State (IS). But if we can append the words so called to their title, surely that gives us poetic licence. You could legitimately call them the so called MEDB (murderous, evil, deluded bastards) or MEDC (murderous, evil, deluded c***s) this latter description would have the added advantage that jihadists tend to think less of c***s and consider them the lesser of the genitalia, this despite the fact that so many of them are virgin soldiers having been rejected by right thinking women everywhere and thus intent on avenging themselves on c***s everywhere. Oh and the infidel, although we're a bit of an afterthought if truth be known. If only we could get these losers laid they would be a lot less keen to go on murderous attacks as an alternative therapy for their terrible acne. Ironically, despite their dislike of c***s they all seem desperately keen to get 72 virgin c***s. I've never understood what happens then. Once the hopeless inadequates have rendered one of the virgins no longer a virgin (which would probably take these dickless wonders a couple of attempts) does he get a new replacement one? Does he get to spend his whole time in paradise with 72 women who are no longer virgins? Does that not take the edge off paradise? I don't think they and their imaginary friend, Allah, have thought this through.
Anyway, the would be virgin plunderers were on the rampage this week both in Syria and here in the UK. Fortunately here in the UK they were once again thwarted by the security services. Four men were arrested by the Metropolitan Police on Tuesday and one was tasered during the operation as police intervened against what is thought to be the first ISIL planned attack in the UK. One of the suspects was said to have spent some time in Syria. Police have noticed a rise in what the Met Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe called the drumbeat around terrorism in recent weeks. This summer the alert level in the UK was raised to Severe, meaning that an attack is highly likely. This is the second highest alert level and seems to have been vindicated. Hogan Howe said that this latest case was 'quite serious.' There has been speculation that potential terrorists are planning another beheading on Britain's streets. One of the arrested men, Tarrik Hassane, who had wanted to study medicine in London, has talked of his opinions on social media, at one point arguing that not only does his imaginary friend, Allah, condone violence and killing in his name but rewards those who commit murder with a place in heaven.
But in Syria their forces continued to besiege the border town of Kobane. On the other side of the town, Turkish forces and several tanks were waiting for them in case they try to cross the border into Turkey too. But they have not thus far come to the aid of the Kurdish people thanks to a general antipathy all too common in this part of the world and the reason for its problems.
The U.S continued to assail the ISIL forces from the air and also deployed Apache attack helicopters against them. Britain of course could not join in thanks to the stance of the Labour Party and the Lib Dems who continue to insist that it is okay for America to deploy in Syria but not Britain.
There seems to be a general reluctant acceptance that Kobane is all but lost since nobody is about to come to the aid of the Kurdish fighters other than from the air. They are outgunned by the jihadist cretins and their best hope will be that street to street fighting will give them an advantage, or at least make combat that bit more equal. Most of the civilians of this unprepossessing town of 100,000 people have already fled. There is general agreement that ISIL are not going to be defeated by air strikes alone, however sophisticated and deadly they are. Boots on the ground are needed. But nobody wants to put their boots in jeopardy, not even those countries bordering this madness, or maybe especially those countries bordering this madness. It is because of this vacuum that ISIL are prospering. This 21st century fascism is prospering because the world is war weary. History is repeating itself before our eyes.
The trial of Shrien Dewani, accused of having killed his wife during their honeymoon in South Africa four years ago began at last this week. Dewani, who has spent much of that time fighting extradition to South Africa, pleaded not guilty to the murder charges but had to admit that he had been leading a double life, visiting male prostitutes even as the couple were planning their wedding. He claimed to be bisexual and that his intercourse with men was only for sex. It was later alleged that Dewani surfed gay websites just a day after his wife's body was found. The defendant had denied that he was homosexual in the weeks after the murder and claimed that this was an attempt by the police and prosecution authorities to smear him.
A taxi driver, Zola Tongo, who picked the couple up, claimed, after turning state witness, that he had been promised R15, 000 by Dewani to hire two carjackers who would hijack the car and kill Mrs Dewani. Both the defendant and the taxi driver were forced out of the car at gunpoint but Mrs Dewani was not. She was found later with a single bullet wound to the neck. The only time when Dewani showed any emotion was when the gruesome photographs of his wife's body in the back of the car were shown to the court.
The court heard, and the defendant admitted that the two had had a tempestuous and often fraught relationship which had broken up a couple of times prior to their wedding. But the defence produced a letter to his future wife from the defendant telling her how he wanted a 'rounded life, a family and an input into the community.' He did offer her a way out of the relationship prior to their lavish wedding ceremony. The prosecution will however argue that Dewani changed large amounts of money prior to the murder and produce evidence of extensive contact between him and the taxi driver who, they claim, hired the men who carried out the murder at Dewani's instruction. The case continues.
Ebola came to Europe for the first time this week as a nurse became infected after treating two patients who had been brought from Africa where the outbreak of the deadly and terrifying disease is fast running out of control. Both patients who were missionaries have since died. The Spanish nurse, who had been wearing all of the specified protective clothing, mixed with friends and family as normal not suspecting that she was a health risk. Only when she started suffering from the initial symptoms of Ebola did health officials start tracing who she had come into contact with and put them into isolation wards where they are under observation. But it seems that initial opportunities to prevent the disease spreading were missed as the nurse's worries were dismissed. Now 50 people are being monitored.
Meanwhile British health officials have for the first time admitted that there is a real risk of the disease being imported to the UK by travellers heading here from Africa. At first ministers went along with official advice that screening travellers was pointless. Then the newspaper headlines persuaded them otherwise. Heathrow and Gatwick airports will now be screening passengers arriving from certain at risk designations. The U.S is also monitoring people arriving from affected countries and checking their temperature after a case of Ebola arrived in Texas. The patient subsequently died. Britain and America are of course much better placed to handle an outbreak than impoverished African states. But then the same should have been true of Spain. It only takes a mistake or complacency and we could see the disease here. Nevertheless the fact remains that, unlike in Africa, if you live in a wealthy western country you are most unlikely to contract Ebola and, even if you do, the chances are you will survive, always supposing it is diagnosed in time. This is a disease that is only spread by contact with bodily fluids and as such it is eminently containable. There is no cure as yet, but we do know how to treat it and prevent it from spreading. Remember the panic over swine flu, bird flu and Sars and then get on with your life. This outbreak seems to have come about mainly as a consequence of government inaction, complacency and incompetence. Even now the only major nations contributing to the effort of containing and ending this outbreak are the USA, Britain and a smaller contribution from France. Why is it always the same nations who respond to these international crises?
It was Nobel week this week, with the various prizes being handed out culminating in the big one - the peace prize. Now this can of course be a matter of contention and indeed hilarity. Recent recipients have been Barack Obama after only a few months in office - a man who is now embarking on a new war in Syria and Iraq, and another winner was the EU for reasons that nobody has ever been able to work out. This year they got it right for a change. The winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize was Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban for the sin of wanting an education and determinedly going to school despite the threats. Malala's campaign for the right of all childen to get an education has further enhanced her reputation. In a world in which ISIL are rampaging through the middle east, raping women and forcing them into ridiculous burqas and no doubt with plans for draconian restrictions on education too, she is a voice of sanity and reason at the still tender age of 17. A richly deserved award that she shared with Kailash Satyarthi from India.
Where is the Fat Leader of North Korea, now become the Fatter Leader? There was no sign of him this week at the commemoration of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party, an event he would normally be certain to attend, and there has been no sign of him now for 39 days. How is it possible for something that big to simply disappear? The absence of the Fatter Leader is sparking all kinds of theories to explain it. We have already had the stories about his having put on a lot of weight, so much, some say, that he may have broken his own ankles - he definitely had a limp the last time he was seen, even the party censors couldn't hide that. Others who watch these things theorise that there may have been a coup and the Fatter Leader is under house arrest and no longer the leader, just fatter. Maybe he's been sent to a Korean health farm to lose weight, or a concentration camp which would have much the same effect. His non appearance at the event this week clearly shows that something is amiss. It's just that we have no clue what it could be. Maybe Hollywood should make a film about it and enrage North Korea enough to respond and tell us what is happening.
It was the Lib Dem conference this week, but I won't sport with your intelligence by writing too much about it. Suffice to say that they tried to take credit for lots of things they are happy to be associated with, blamed the Tories for everything else, had a few eccentric debates about various issues including the unfortunate tendency of football clubs to want to win all the time and blamed Tories a few more times. Oh and they said they don't really want to govern with Wallace because he is a loser. I paraphrase but that is essentially what they said. Anyway, he has said he won't govern with Nick Clegg so it serves him right.
Nick Clegg went through more costume changes in one day than Lady Ga Ga on a shopping expedition.
He was at various times casual, smart casual, leader wearing his serious face, doting husband and jumper wearer.
Oh and he said he is never going to break a promise ever again. No, never. No, really. He wore his serious face and he changed his outfit a couple of times just to prove his sincerity. And the Lib Dems followed his lead and many of them took their ties off and their jackets and tried to look business like by rolling up their sleeves. Then Nick outdid them all by wearing jeans - and his serious face. Ha! Anyway, they all looked, well liberal, well liberal with the dress code anyway, which is to say they looked like people trying to look casual, apart that is from the people who were watching who really were looking casual - indeed some of them fell asleep. Cynics suggested that the conference was held in Glasgow to dissuade the real Lib Dems, the sort who are so casual they wear sandals and don't shave, from making the journey since they have a disobliging tendency to ask Nick awkward questions and to generally be less than polite to the leadership. But then how could anyone be beastly to a man who wears jeans and is so clearly a man of the people and who has a serious face ready to deploy for serious occasions.
The nation was clearly impressed. Labour have a leader who forgets large chunks of his speech. The Lib Dems have a leader who can wear different outfits for different audiences and, in typical Lib Dem style, tell them completely different things according to their demographic. They should make this a permanent change. In future we won't have to listen to leader's speeches, we can just look at what they're wearing. In Clegg's case though it might end up being the Emperor's new clothes. And you know what happened the last time a politician tried that look. Just ask Brooks Newmark.
The Lib Dem conference's message was essentially how jolly nice and reasonable they are. They then proved this by spending their entire time slagging off the Tories and Labour from time to time, but mainly the Tories and telling us all how vital they are to stop Tories from being Tories. How public spirited it has been of them to govern for four years with these unprincipled beasts. However did we manage to govern ourselves all of these years without Lib Dems there?
Twin Peaks, the cult, surrealist TV series from the 1990s in which few, if they are honest, really knew what was going on but they loved the style, is to return. David Lynch, the creator of the show, tweeted this week and linked to the teaser video above. Peaks, which was certainly groundbreaking and still has its own website even though the net was in its infancy when the show was first shown, will return for a third series and nine episodes to be aired in the US in 2016.
Doctors looking for answers to why Britain is suffering an obesity crisis should perhaps look to the viewing figures for the final of a contest to find Britain's best baker. The final Great British Bake Off was watched by a million more people than watched 22 men running around a football field last July for the final of the World Cup. An astonishing 13.3 million watched this celebration of cakes, pastries, bread and other spectacularly unhealthy but delicious foodstuffs created by amateurs and watched over by an unfunny comedy double act who specialise in cheesy double entendres and a seeming inability not to laugh at their own jokes. Well somebody has to. Next week BBC One presents a new series of The Apprentice, another show full of fake tension, pregnant pauses and desperate wannabes. But at least that one isn't made in a tent.
We all remember the tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a firm childhood favourite. The modern update isn't quite so evocative or delightful. I bring you news that a Spanish woman this week had to confess that the reason she recently gave birth to a baby suffering from dwarfism is because she had sex with a dwarf stripper during her hen night. Disney are said to be planning a film version: Snow White gets Down and Dirty with not so Bashful.
Last weekend, at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, the heavens opened thanks to a typhoon and racing was compromised. Crashes were frequent. Unfortunately for one driver, Jules Bianchi, he had the astonishing bad luck of losing control of his car in the same spot as Adrian Sutil had a couple of laps previously. Sutil's car was in the process of being removed by stewards using a crane. Bianchi skidded off and, instead of hitting the tyre wall which would have protected him, he ploughed into the JCB clearing this earlier crash. He was rushed to hospital by ambulance as the weather prevented his being taken by helicopter where surgeons operated to treat his head injuries. At the time commentators and the press didn't know what had happened. Video footage has now emerged. Do not watch it if you are of a nervous disposition. Bianchi is said to be in a critical but stable condition and urgent talks are planned to further tighten up the safety rules and perhaps introduce speed limits and a no overtaking rule while accidents are being cleared. Or of course they could simply send out the safety car or indeed stop the race when the rain gets as bad as it did this week. All of this is overshadowing today's race, the inaugural Russian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton is on pole having taken a narrow lead in the championship.
There was happier news this week about Michael Schumacher however. The former World Champion also suffered terrible head injuries in a skiing accident and was in a coma for several months. He did however return home last month, although little information was given about his condition which made many fear the worst. Now Jean Todt, his former boss at Ferrari and a close friend, has been to visit Michael and revealed that he should be able to lead 'a relatively normal life.'
Best sporting stories of the week came in the pages of books. Kevin Pietersen, former fearless England batsman served up his revenge on those who, he claimed, had bullied him in the England dressing room. Pietersen had never come across as a shrinking violet, either on the pitch or in his media interviews, yet all the time it seems he was the victim of terrible abuse, sledging from his own teammates. And he claimed that this was institutionalised within the England camp, he reveals this by doing a bit of sledging back from the pages of his book. There are few who don't feel the lash of the Pietersen tongue. He tells his tale the way he batted - it seems unlikely after this that he will play for England again - with verve, panache and with little regard to niceties or convention. It's a rip roaringly good read, albeit a kind of guilty pleasure. It may also go a long way to explaining the current form of the England team.
Less surprising was the publication this week of the latest work from the pen of Roy Keane, former fearless midfielder and a man who is never slow to turn a grudge into a vendetta. In particular Keane has turned his gimlet eye on his former manager and greatest fan, Alex Ferguson. They were never friends as such, but there was professional respect. Then, Ferguson's famous ruthlessness with his players was turned on Keane, the man who had for years made his side so fearsome and fearless. Keane cannot forgive. They were quite a team when they got on. Now that they don't they are weaving their magic for the book trade in the run up to Christmas.
It was international break time again this week. England went about the routine demolition of San Marino as captain Wayne Rooney scored his 43rd international goal as part of a 5 nil win. On Friday Wales took on Bosnia Herzegovina with confidence high thanks to the presence of a certain Real Madrid superstar in the team. They could only managed a nil all draw though. Yesterday Scotland beat Georgia 1 - 0; Northern Ireland beat the Faroe Islands 2 - 0 and the Republic of Ireland thrashed tiny Gibraltar 7 - 0. England play again this evening in the rather more tricky fixture away against Estonia.
There has been a lot of fuss in recent weeks about stolen naked and intimate pictures of celebrities. This blog of course would have no truck with such images. Why bother? There are plenty of other pictures of celebs and non celebs every bit as beautiful and alluring. For instance the Warwick University Women's Rowing Club now issues an annual naked calendar featuring images which ironically have been banned by Facebook for being to pornographic. Me? I think they are artistic. Surely they must also act as a boon to Warwick University's recruitment in these cash strapped times. I never regretted my decision to reject an offer from Warwick, favouring the metropolitan delights of the LSE. Now I'm not so sure. If I were a Sun headline writer I would probably write something like PHW - OAR.
Finally, I was worried for a time that I would be unable to bring you any pictures at all of Rihanna as she seemed to be busy doing something - recording her new album perhaps or preparing for her rumoured appearance in the next James Bond film. Happily our favourite chanteuse then showed up in Miami in this fetching little black number with matching boots. Clearly Ri Ri is a great respecter of the traditions of this blog. Okay, it's not a very old tradition but how do traditions get started?