Saturday, 31 January 2015
Friday, 30 January 2015
I offer you the following quotation from a BBC senior manager, Danny Cohen, about its new series Wolf Hall: 'Remarkable audience figures for Wolf Hall last night. But the total numbers on this don't matter either way. The quality is everything.'
Isn't that glorious? And how true. This is in response to news that Wolf Hall dropped a million viewers after its first episode. More people, inevitably but slightly depressingly, prefer to watch the latest series of unlikely carnage in Midsomer.
But Wolf Hall was always going to be challenging drama. Many people stop reading the books for the same reason. I was one of them at first until I made myself persist. This is BBC drama, like the equally glorious Parade's End of a couple of years ago, which trusts its audience and challenges it. This is drama which assumes a level of education and knowledge of its audience and refuses to lower itself obvious exposition, you just have to keep up and read between the lines. If you don't know who, for instance, William Tyndale was, you might have been a little puzzled by some of the dialogue. But you could always, in this digital age, look it up. If you don't know who Tyndale is by the way then Melvyn Bragg has written about him and made an excellent programme for the BBC about what he meant to medieval Europe. If on the other hand you did not know who Wolsey, Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn were then the events in Midsomer were probably more up your street.
I have never understood the sort of person who sees something difficult and changes channel or puts aside the book because of the quantity of unknown words or concepts in it. That is why you pick up a book or watch anything new. How do we gain a vocabulary if we do not read anything challenging?
And this is what the BBC, with its guaranteed income and no need of commercial support, is supposed to be all about. This is expensive, intelligent, challenging drama. It is political intrigue, it is our history, it is what defines us as a country. If you don't find that fascinating then I feel sorry for you. And, though you certainly need to concentrate, this is not a drama that is especially difficult to follow or understand. For those of us enjoying this Wolf Hall makes those hours of enduring Strictly, The Voice and Mrs Brown's Boys worthwhile. Thank you BBC for renewing my faith once more.
Thursday, 29 January 2015
What would actually be wrong with Wallace saying that he had decided to weaponise the NHS? I was just wondering. I mean it's jolly clever what Dave managed to pull off at yesterday's PMQs. He managed to get away with the fact that his government has closed down lots of A&Es when he said that he would fight jolly hard to ensure that they wouldn't be closed down - and he's the prime minister for crying out loud, that is probably something he could have prevented. And he managed to get away with this by getting all red faced and angry about someone using the W word in Parliament, and they weren't even using a different W word about that nodding twat Ed Balls.
The reason that Dave got away with this is because he pulled a trick that Labour and the Left uses on other people. They get really really angry about words. It happened this week to Benedict Cumberbatch, the terribly nice, terribly good actor who had gone on to a TV show to say lots of terribly nice and progressive things about black people and had instead offended lots of people, some of whom might even have been black, by referring to them as 'coloured.' Or should that be co*****d?
Now when I was a lad, coloured was the PC term for black people and calling them black would have resulted in a sharp intake of breath. But then the committee for deciding these things met - I assume there is a committee, but I could be wrong - and decided that coloured is wrong and objectionable for some reason and so we must not say it any more on penalty of being viciously Twitter mobbed and forced to apologise and read The Guardian for six months.
This week The Telegraph, a paper that is going downhill so rapidly it is in danger of overtaking the Labour Party, published an article in which it explained helpfully what other words we must not use any more for fear of giving offence. Because apparently this just won't do, even though just 3 weeks ago people were marching in Paris and other cities to defend freedom of speech after cartoonists were shot for drawing pictures and offending people. No, it seems that, less than a month after this seminal event, it is not as seminal as we thought, although it should be noted that The Telegraph failed to re-publish the cartoons but instead published a mealy mouthed excuse for not doing so. Like I say, The Telegraph, having sacked most of its better and more free thinking writers in favour of young cheap people who think it is okay to write an article about what words are offensive, is a pale shadow of its former self and I am now subscribing to The Times instead.
According to this article in my former daily read, it is offensive to call the writer of the article, an attractive young woman called Radhika Sanghani, a cretin. I have probably now offended her twice by also calling her attractive. But the word cretin is also apparently offensive, and not just because this is also a word I use to describe people who believe in man made global warming or who vote for the Lib Dems. She suggests I call her stupid instead. But I prefer to call her a cretin. It is so much more pejorative. It is also a noun. I didn't want to describe her stupidity, I wanted to name it. I am aware that she is not literally a sufferer of an affliction called cretinism. This is what one might term artistic licence. Clearly this sort of thing doesn't matter at The Telegraph anymore, but then they have recently sacked a lot of editors.
But this is the world that Dave so ruthlessly exploited to save having to answer a question. Wallace has still failed to come up with any response to this. It flummoxes and discombobulates him every time. Consequently his last great hope for winning the election - talking about the NHS - is rendered hopeless. And all because of the Left's egg shell treading attitude to words. It's beautiful really.
Think about it. Why, apropos of his alleged offence, has Dave been allowed to get away with labelling a word used in a particular context offensive? Why, when Wallace was accused of using an inappropriate word, did he back off, stammering and making excuses? Well Dave has got away with this arrant nonsense because Lefties do it all the time and get away with it. Lefties think that they, for reason of being offended, or offended on other people's behalf, have the right to prevent us from using certain words or from looking at boobies in national newspapers, and no, Radhika, I am not talking about you. Thus, without realising it, they have been hoist by their own cretinous, sorry Radhika, petard. They saw that Dave was offended and backed off. Oh no, they said, fuck me, have I committed an unforgivable faux pas and used a banned word? Instead of saying, 'What the hell?' Or even, 'Oh fuck off you precious twat', they backed off and hurriedly tried to think of an excuse for behaving in this vile and insensitive way. And about the NHS? That its holy shades should have been so polluted practically makes weaponising it a capital offence.
Politicians behave in an insensitive way constantly you understand, it's just that they cannot admit doing so as this would cause offence and mean people voting for someone else, always supposing they could find someone else in the political class who behaved differently. Remember the hilarious story of Emily Thornberry and white van man? Modern lefties loathe the average working man as a bunch of hairy knuckled troglodytes who probably drink instant coffee and watch EastEnders and Mrs Brown's Boys provided to them by a bunch of sneering public schoolboys at the BBC who provide entertainment for the masses as a modern kind of opium, whilst considering that the only good things about private enterprise and marketplaces are as an excuse to pay them their ridiculous salaries and pensions because that's the market rate.
And so there is something rather beautiful and wondrous about Dave's persuading them that saying that weaponising the NHS is offensive. Because that's what they do. That's what the BBC was doing for them just last week. It was telling the nation that the NHS was in crisis. Were there hospitals exploding? Was there a mass outbreak of ebola? Was there a sudden shortage of managers? Was it really in crisis in the week after Christmas, or was it just a bit busy, as is usual at this time of year?
Well it turns out that this crisis was essentially down to a few hospitals, not that many actually, which saw the percentage of patients being treated and despatched either to a ward or back home, fall from the 95% target to the high 80s. As crises go then it was not one to see international headlines and offers of support from the UN.
If people who are getting a free and generally excellent service are having to wait a smidgen longer than the target, is that really something necessitating having reporters and an OB van outside a hospital watching and waiting as Mrs Fivebellies' goes perilously close to having to wait to see a doctor for five whole hours with her sore toe? I mean, I know the tele was crap over Christmas, and it was still better than watching Miranda's fantasy love life, but are we really that desperate?
The real scandal, the real desperate, disgusting, dire scandal, is not that a few people are waiting a bit longer, it is that our politicians are fighting over trivialities. The real scandal is that Labour is accusing the Tories of privatising the NHS when they know damned well that nothing could be further from the truth. They wouldn't dare doing anything of the sort, because the outcry would be akin to us discovering a whole new Auschwitz. That's why the Tories have privatised less than Labour. Yet, as the hapless and useless Andy Burnham let on in his car crash interview with Newsnight on Tuesday, people who get private treatment are usually perfectly happy with it and it produces better outcomes. But we must not have any more of it because that would be ammunition for politicians' weapons. Perish the thought that we should have a health system that actually works. Nothing must change, reform must be resisted. Then, at each election, it will be weaponised and everyone will claim to revere it before they bung more money at it before wondering why it keeps lurching from crisis to crisis. Deep down they are as cynical about it as they are about the poor saps who always vote for them, regardless of how much they look down their noses at them and at their choice of vehicle and flag festooned homes.
The NHS needs defusing from its state of permanent weaponisation. It is a service that cannot carry on as it is because we cannot possibly afford it. We cannot afford it because it has been too successful at prolonging our lives to the point where our brains are often now giving out before our hearts. We cannot afford it because our politicians refuse to make it as efficient as possible to make our money go further. We cannot afford it because we don't value it, a consequence of it being free and non contributory. We don't have to pay for it and so use it and abuse it without any questions being asked. We cannot afford it because our democracy does not allow anyone to be honest about the nature of the problem.
If any politician were to be honest about any of this we would sharpen our weapons and the language we would use about them on Twitter would have us banned by The Telegraph and Radhika Sanghani. That's why Wallace wants to weaponise the NHS. Fortunately for Dave, he doesn't have the wit to do do anything with that weapon other than shoot himself in the foot.
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Wallace hopes one day to be our prime minister. If and when he does he will have to make daily, often hourly big decisions. Some of them will go well for him, others not quite so well. Others may turn out to be disastrous. That is life.
Unfortunately for Wallace he seems to have a memory problem. Specifically he seems to have a problem remembering inconvenient things. For instance last year he conveniently forgot to mention the deficit and immigration in his speech, a speech that he had memorised, albeit not too well. Then, like a spotty 15 year old school boy caught not having done his homework, he claimed to have forgotten. The irony is that Wallace was the kind of 15 year old schoolboy who not only never forgot his homework, he probably did other people's for them too.
And now Wallace claims to have forgotten whether or not he used the word 'weaponise' to describe his strategy towards the NHS. This is a non denial denial in the trade. By not denying that he said it he has effectively accepted the truth of it, like the aforementioned spotty schoolboy who insists that he really really did do his homework but the dog ate it. Perhaps he should claim that the dog ate the NHS.
The reason that any of this matters is because the NHS is about the only thing that Labour can talk about in the next 98 days until the general election. Everything else Wallace has tried to weaponise has blown up in his face. The cuts that were too far and too fast? Ker-boom! Unemployment? Ker-boom! And it seems that the only way you can rely on a bloody cost of living crisis these says is to elect Labour. Inflation is down to 0.5% and the sodding oil price has halved thus giving us all an effective tax cut. What's a leader of the opposition to do? It's enough to give him a memory lapse. This is probably why Wallace has forgotten promising us all an energy price freeze and now tells us it was an energy price cap.
Unfortunately even the good old NHS is not doing what he had hoped for it. Labour keep telling people that the NHS will go to hell under the Tories but then they have said that for 20 years. And, as Andy Burnham showed on Newsnight last night, they don't actually have any clue about what they would do about the NHS other than throw money at it and use it to hit the Tories with. Wallace tells us he would hire lots of nurses and doctors, but the government has done that. Why would they make any difference under Labour?
Neil Kinnock, with whom Wallace is being unflatteringly compared, used to say it constantly. The NHS remains in more or less the same state it is always in, under whatever party - coping, mostly admirably, but with the occasional bottleneck, or problems getting appointments, which is why A and E is under constant pressure.
Aha! say Labour. But again the problem is that things were not notably better when they were in power. Privatisation! they say, like it is a magic word. But they were privatising stuff more when they were in power and under the same man who now accuses the government of the same. And then there is Wales. Wales is the gift that just keeps giving. Labour is in charge of the NHS in Wales thanks to devolution and it is performing worse than in England. So it can't be the fault of the Tories can it? Wallace forgets.
Nevetheless Wallace, owing to the fact he can't talk about the economy, unemployment or anything else that matters, once again decided to raise the NHS. If the election debates happen Wallace will want to bring everything back to the NHS even when talking about nuclear weapons. Well, the SNP try that to be fair.
Wallace, after talking briefly about yesterday's commemorations of Auschwitz, changed gear to the NHS. The PM, he said, had promised to fight tooth and nail to save 29 A&E units. What had happened? The PM at this point might have stood up and said that the rationalisation of A&E units was a perfectly sensible and better way to use resources efficiently for better patient care. He didn't though. He asked Wallace if he had said he wanted to weaponise the NHS.
Wallace said Dave should apologise and said that he had closed three of the units he said he would fight for. Why? Dave said why wouldn't he apologise for saying he wanted to weaponise the NHS. Nick Robinson said he had and we all trust Nick because he works for the BBC and has an old fashioned hair cut.
Wallace said Cameron was running away from the question. He mentioned another unit and asked if it was open or closed. Had he forgotten?
Dave said his record on the NHS was excellent. Wallace's record on answering about whether he used the word weaponise was however lamentable. What are his motives? Why wouldn't he withdraw it?
Wallace, who likes to show that he occasionally listens and remembers a response, said that his motive was to rescue the NHS, although from what he didn't say. Perhaps from his shadow health secretary who presided over North Staffs. He said the PM is using Wales for political reasons. He said that everyone knows that Cameron is in a hole on the NHS. Do we all know that? I'm not really sure we do. Anyway he then claimed that new guidance has been issued making it harder for hospitals to declare a major incident which news organisations then report on making it look like a crisis is taking place when it is just management speak for saying 'bloody hell it's busy.'
Dave said the new advice was issued by local management and there was no ministerial involvement. He then mentioned Wales again.
Wallace was getting a bit desperate here. Things were not going as planned. When he mentions the NHS, Tories are supposed to shrivel and die, like a witch in the Wizard of Oz. But Dave was fighting back. Worse he then accused Labour of spending its new taxes more than once. They were going to spend the new south east tax, otherwise known as the mansion tax, which they will foist on that part of the country with votes from the SNP and Sinn Fein - who will enter parliament especially, having previously eschewed the place - and then they will pass a bill enabling them to spend the money on the NHS, new homes and reducing the deficit all at the same time with the same money. Now that's triple counting value for money. Wallace, said Dave, wanted to create a coalition of people who wanted to break up Britain and bankrupt Britain.
It had not gone well for Wallace. It was definitely one he will want to forget. Ker-boom!
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Thanks to their fantastic and seemingly perpetual detachment from reality, The Left (I have decided that it needs capital letters since it is so permanent and so identifiable a part of our political landscape) have alighted on Syriza and Alexis Tsipras as their new heroes. Why? Because has has won an election by being unashamedly leftist - which is to say he has sold his desperate people a desperate dream of nirvana funded with somebody else's money in which he will lavish upon them the sort of entitlements which bankrupted the country and caused it to have to go begging for loans about which it is now very very angry. How dare you lend us money and then ask us to pay you back? Oh and we demand the right to stay a part of your club and be funded by you in perpetuity. Fancy a nice holiday?
This is the state that the proud nation of Greece now finds itself in. It is likely soon to become even angrier, either at its betrayal by Mr Tsipras, or by the EU who are likely soon to tell them all to go for a long walk off a small but pretty Greek island.
That our own Left finds anything to admire about this proud but bankrupt nation illustrates how intellectually bankrupt they are, and how bankrupt we would soon be if we listened to them.
Unfortunately however, a rising number of our countrymen do seem to listen to them and take them seriously. It's bad enough when they do so to the Labour Party with its promises of largesse all paid for by a tax on the rich. The Mansion Tax they have outlined but refused to elaborate on since it tends to see them exposed to ridicule, is currently set to pay for thousands of new nurses and doctors whilst simultaneously reducing the deficit they used to tell us wasn't that much of a problem. Oh and they also tell us that we will be able to reduce the deficit by paying low paid people more. Or something like that. I confess I stopped listening after a while. This might be their cunning plan actually. Wallace is so tedious a speaker, so entirely unencumbered by charisma that he could say more or less anything and nobody would know since they would have switched off or drifted off to sleep. When he loses the election he should become a salesman. Do not sign any document this man places in front of you.
But all of this is sane and reasonable when compared to the policies of the Green Party. In many ways the Greens are like Labour, but they actually manage to be worse. Labour promise to spend money they haven't got. The Greens promise to spend money they haven't got and which they will never have because they are committed to a zero growth economy. Profit is evil according to the Greens and so is economic growth because it is somehow incompatible with the environment - although of course we would never have had a middle class to worry their heads about being green without economic growth and the industrial revolution, but that is just what you might term an inconvenient truth. Oh and the Greens are against economic growth despite the fact they are committed to open borders and legalising drugs and prostitution. These would boost growth and so would have to be compensated for by making the rest of work less for less money. Genius!
But the Greens would want to tax us more on our diminishing returns so that they could give it out to the deserving, or at least what they regard as deserving. So they would give everyone, regardless of need, wealth or professional status a 'Citizens Income' of £71 a week. This would be topped up by all kinds of other goodies according to need, but not necessarily according to worth. I think this is the Greens way of saying that they want a society in which everyone is paid the same and they would confiscate all wealth. But even they aren't brave enough to say that. So they have dressed it up this way. In their brave new world of zero growth and open borders in which we could decide our own work patterns and spend the rest of our time in a brothel, the only way they could make this pay is by paying everyone the same and confiscating everything else. Its communism in other words. Like all forms of communism though it would doubtless make some people more equal than others - usually in big houses confiscated from the rich. That is if the rich stuck around, which of course they wouldn't. The Greens however say they will. The rich will happily stay on these shores and hand over their money and property and exchange them for sandals. No, really.
You think I'm exaggerating? Well, I'm certainly reading between the lines. But then you have to with politicians. But this is where we are heading if we listen to these zealots dressed in sandals. Look at what carnage they have already wrought to our energy policy. Thanks to our idiot politicians obsession with looking green, we have wind turbines up and down the land which are making a tiny contribution to our energy needs and were, until good old fashioned oil became more affordable, causing a good proportion of us to freeze for fear of our energy bills. The idiot politicians had been told by someone that we needed to cut CO2 and so they did so by building generating capacity that didn't generate and needed a subsidy and so they levied that on to our bills. Now we have lots of white elephants disguised as wind turbines up and down the land and a system which, if need be, will cut power to factories if we run out of juice when it gets too cold. Oh and we also have generators, diesel generators in generator parks ready to come to our rescue - although at least these are now cheaper to run thanks the the cut in oil prices.
The idiot politicians told us we should all switch to diesel cars because it was a good way of cutting CO2. Unfortunately diesel pumps out something much more harmful into the atmosphere, namely particulates that actually shrink young lungs, and so now we are seeing a U turn so fast it could be performed by The Stig on Top Gear. It won't be long before diesel cars are banned from city centres, all thanks to greenery.
And then there is shale and fracking. One of the reasons that the oil price has taken a dive this last six months is thanks to there being a glut of oil on the market. This is because of American shale. The U.S, sick of being accused of conducting its foreign policy 'because of oil' is now self sufficient in the stuff. This means that the world has too much and that, the law of supply and demand tells us, means that the price must inevitably come down. And so it has. But the Greens and our idiot politicians don't want this for us. Oh no. And so they make up all kinds of scare stories about it and a whole committee of idiot politicians believed these scare stories from various campaigning groups rather than bona fide scientists who actually know what they are talking about. This committee of idiot politicians wanted a moratorium on shale gas. Fortunately they were ignored. But we have an election coming up. Who knows what happens if Labour gets in led by the man who gave us our present energy policy.
So you see what is going on in Greece is madness. It is a whole nation taken leave of its senses. A bit like Scotland voting for the SNP. It could happen here.
Monday, 26 January 2015
I suppose, given the levels of fraud, deceit and delusion that Greece and its politicians engaged in when it joined and then took full advantage of the Euro, we should not be surprised that that country has now voted in landslide proportions for a left wing party long on promises and short on economic or political reality. Most astonishing of all, this is not a party that has won thanks to the vagaries of proportional representation and coalition. This is a victory that could see the liars and fantasists of Syriza governing alone with a majority of their own. There will be no excuses. They will either deliver what they promised or their political honeymoon will be the length usually associated with Las Vegas weddings performed at midnight with a bottle of vodka as best man.
It's not unlike the situation here, or rather in Scotland. The SNP, the party that lost the referendum and whose economic policy is currently being blasted apart by each drop in the oil price, is nevertheless riding high in the polls based on Scottish pride, vanity and guilty consciences. Scotland looks set to vote in May for chaos and recrimination and will file for divorce on the grounds of its own unreasonable behaviour. Compared to Greece and Syriza though, the SNP are being model citizens. Syriza and the Greek people seem to think that they can have their cake, eat it and then order another cake because they enjoyed the first one so much. Oh and they seem to have maxed out their credit card, can they borrow yours?
This is not to say that we do not understand the despair and torment of Greece. We do. Those of us who warned that this would be the outcome of the Euro take no particular pleasure in now being vindicated, not least because it will rebound on us. And we aren't even in the Euro. Greece went on a wild spending binge and is now paying for it. Except they are now calling foul and saying they don't want to pay. Worst of all they are voting en masse for a party that is promising to bring back the kind of largesse formerly enjoyed by Greece, a socialist spending spree that makes even our own Labour Party look austere. Oh and they want to stay in the Euro too.
This is why it is considerably more difficult to have any sympathy with Germany and the rest of Europe currently set to take a hard line on the impecunious Greeks. They knew what they were getting into but did it anyway. They saw what Greece was doing and let it carry on. Is what Greece did so very different to what France does and keeps voting and indeed striking to preserve? This is a Europe wide problem and one the Germans now find themselves on the hook for. Instead of acknowledging their folly and pulling the plug on the Euro they keep denying the economic facts of life.
The reason that Greece insists it wants to open the spending taps again whilst staying in the Euro is because they consider membership of that hopeless travesty is a matter of national pride when anyone looking at it objectively can see it ought to be a matter of national ignominy and embarrassment. But instead of saying how could we be so stupid, they simply demand that the membership rules are changed. They should remember that old Groucho Marx joke about not wanting to join a club that would have them as a member. Had they followed that rule they would now be basking in relative prosperity.
What happens in the coming days and weeks has been a long time coming. Syriza have no way out. They must either play their game of high stakes poker and win or be punished. Europe cannot afford to let them win. If it does it will set off a domino effect. The difficulty is that the dominoes may well fall either way. They could give Syriza a way out and embolden other extremist parties across other European states also struggling with austerity. The politics of this in Germany and other similar like minded states are also fiendishly complicated. Alternatively Greece could be made an example of and could be chucked out of the Euro. Will it still be allowed to stay in the EU? Will freedom of movement be suspended so as to prevent a new crisis?
And will this set the dominoes falling for a different reason. What if people like me have been right all along and that it is not austerity per se that has been holding back Greece and other states but the Euro? Will other countries decide to leave before the politics gets equally bloody? What then for the great project? Would there be a need for new treaties? What would the British demand under these circumstances? What a fantastic opportunity that would be.
Greece should be told that there will be no new deal. They have made a commitment and must stick to it. It isn't as if the people of Greece want to leave the Euro. If they want to remain in it then they must obey its rules, even if those rules are idiotic and self defeating.
And yes it is true that this is an offence against democracy, but then Syriza were telling their people a tissue of lies. Greece believed those lies and will now have economic reality imposed upon them. You cannot throw off your obligations simply by voting to renege upon them. Or at least you can't do that with no cost. That is actually a valuable lesson the people of Greece may have to learn. It is one that could also be taught to the liars and fantasists in parties in other countries, not least the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, Greens, Ukip and SNP here in the UK. Greece, the country that invented democracy may have done us all a service. If it means them getting thrown out of the Euro and accepting their true, realistic and diminished place in the world, they will have taken the right decision for all of the wrong reasons for themselves too.
Sunday, 25 January 2015
The Euro is in trouble. Again. Today Greece goes to the polls and is odds on to elect Syriza, a left wing group, which, as is the way with left wing parties, has lots of rhetoric and bombast and no idea about economic reality. Much like our own Labour Party in fact. They are set to demand changes to the deal done to keep the country afloat. This essentially means that they plan to renege on their debt and go on a spending splurge. Again, much like our own Labour Party. They also wish to remain part of the Euro and EU. Again, much like.....well, you get the picture.
Meanwhile, as Europe has plunged into deflation as a direct consequence of the Euro, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, announced a massive €1.1 trillion round of quantitative easing. This will involve purchasing public and private sector bonds by creating money at the press of a button. It is essentially printing money and shovelling it out into the economy in the hope of creating some inflation. It is also an effective devaluation of the Euro, a policy that is catching on around the world as all of the major economies seek to devalue their currencies in order to make themselves more competitive. It is a kind of undeclared war. Unfortunately for Greece, its bonds will not qualify for this purchasing programme and it will have to carry on with its austerity programme, although the Greek electorate may be about to have a say in that.
The other problem for this act of too late desperation is that it comes against the express wishes of Germany and other northern European states. It represents a kind of legalised coup by the European Court of Justice which paved the way for this measure by branding it legal. In so doing it ran roughshod over Germany's constitutional court and has caused alarm and anger in that country. It is entirely possible that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Euro, but with Germany and like minded countries about to precipitate its break up rather than those that have caused the problems.
Liars and sophists the SNP have decided, having been beaten fair and square in a referendum less than six months ago, that they will take the fight to England for having the temerity to be propping them up now that the oil price has bombed and with it the only viable reason for their independence. Not only will the SNP be exporting Alex Salmond down south to get him out of the hair of his new leader, they will allow him and his fellow MPs to vote on English matters in the new, post general election parliament in which the SNP may well end up holding the balance of power. But they can only use this new power if they decide to shamelessly vote on matters that should be reserved to English MPs.
And so this is what they will do, Nicola Sturgeon announced this week, although she was only echoing what her former boss has been saying in recent weeks having apparently forgotten that he is no longer leader. Ms Sturgeon, whose party spent the referendum campaign making the deliberately dishonest argument that the Tories wanted to privatise the Scottish NHS, even though it is run by the Scottish government, now claims that her MPs will vote to protect the English from encroaching privatisation, which of course is also not happening. This statement of self serving, tendentious drivel was then immediately given competition for most dishonest statement of the week by Labour's assertion that it would not drive demand for the greater need for English Votes for English Laws. Expect this to be a rising issue during the election campaign. It might even cause the English to vote Tory, which would be a nice way to show the SNP the finger and thus give Alex Salmond nothing to do other than smirk in his new career in London.
And on Thursday the prime minister headed to Scotland for the first time since the referendum to deliver on that vow he and the other party leaders made just before the vote. Scotland is to be handed substantial new powers over tax and on welfare matters. It will now control income tax rates and bands, areas of welfare and employment programmes, it will have further borrowing powers, air passenger duties and will get a proportion of revenues from VAT. Overall Scotland will become responsible for 60% of its spending.
Characteristically though, the SNP were not happy, sniping from the sidelines about a betrayal and making their usual blatantly untrue assertions about the true character of what was being done. The Yes side lost the referendum. We should possibly remind ourselves and them of that single unassailable fact. Thus the arrangements being handed to them are for a federal structure in which Westminster will have a say. That is why Scotland has MPs at Westminster in addition to its own parliament. That is how federations work. That is what the Scottish people voted for, however much the SNP may dislike it.
If they win as many seats at Westminster as is currently predicted, measures must be taken to ensure they can have no say whatsoever in English matters. If Labour use SNP votes to prop them up in power they will never be forgiven. It will inevitably mean the break up of the union, although sadly I suspect this is going to happen anyway. Scotland will never be happy until it has gone its own way. Then it will also be unhappy, but they won't be able to blame England or send us the bill. On balance then, as some of us started to think during the referendum campaign, they probably ought to either put up with what they've got or shut up, or at least stop voting for the SNP bunch of liars.
Barack Obama gave his sixth and penultimate State of the Union address on Tuesday. When he came to power, he told the nation, it was in the grip of a vicious and historic recession. Now he gave credit to the American people but took a shedload of it for himself too for the way they have clawed their way back. 'The shadow of crisis has passed,' he said and then gave one of those pregnant pauses that are his signature while he waited for applause, cheers and possibly for underwear to be thrown.
This was less a speech and more a lap of honour, albeit a year too early. This time next year will be his valedictory performance. Maybe this was a dress rehearsal. The improving economic performance vindicated him he claimed and showed that his critics had been wrong all along. Of course it does nothing of the sort. It does show how remarkably healthy and robust is the American economy.
The man who once pressed a reset button on America's relationship with Russia has changed his tune too. Russia is full of bluster, he rightly said, and its economy is on its knees. But the fact that Putin may now be unable to follow through on his bluster is despite Obama and not because of him. Many of us warned him that his approach to Putin was naive and dangerous. And so it has proved. Fortunately the oil price rather than U.S foreign policy is in the process of reining him in.
In fact this could easily have been a speech given by his great bro David Cameron in the upcoming election in the UK. It would have made more sense as a piece of electioneering. But for Obama it was just about rubbing his enemies noses in his success whilst telling them that his last two years will be just as confrotational as the first six, even if he couched it in the usual rhetoric of seeking consensus and working with Republicans. Obama has run his last election and can now simply enjoy himself annoying his political enemies and using executive fiat in a way that will have them fulminating even more. Then, once it is over, he can earn fortunes with his undoubted gifts and popularity - at least abroad - and be accompanied forever by the strains of 'Hail to the Chief.'
Following the high profile defections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless last autumn, Ukip hinted several times that there would be more to come. There weren't. Instead this weekend the Tories were able to announce that they had won a defector from Ukip, Amjad Bashir. Okay, he's only a European MP, but he is also that party's one and only Asian politician. Furthermore, in an act of delicious revenge, the announcement of Bashir's defection was made on the eve of Ukip beginning a media blitz at the start of its general election campaign. Nigel Farage, because they don't appear to have anyone else to speak to them despite the fact that they now have two MPs, will be appearing on Marr this morning and across the media in the coming days. That should be a laugh.
Ukip tried to pretend, in their characteristically juvenile and amateurish way, that they weren't bovvered by the defection and that Bashir was being investigated for something or other anyway. Yet he was suspended at exactly the moment his defection was being announced by the Tories in time for the Sunday papers. Mr Bashir says he is moving to the Tories for the entirely sensible and pragmatic reason that they are the only party that can deliver a European referendum and because his old party is amateurish and boorish. Indeed there were rumours this week that Douglas Carswell may have fallen out with his party leader and may now be realising that he has jumped ship to a party which has no policies to speak of, is full of racists and has a leader who doesn't take kindly to having his thunder stolen.
This blog has a policy of not publishing pictures of Jihadist cretins, and so here is a picture of a polar bear instead. Sure he would rip your head off too given half an opportunity, but at least he looks cuddly and has a more rational reason for doing so - he's a polar bear.
But the jihadist cretins are in the news again and so we must reluctantly allude to it. Firstly the cretin in chief, Jihadi John, was back this week threatening defenceless people, this time Japanese nationals, and demanding, ludicrously, a $200 million ransom. Are they short of Kalashnikovs?
There was a video released last night in which this demand was changed and in which it was claimed that one of the hostages has been murdered. This was unconfirmed as this post was being published. The old bombastic and nasty videos of executions are gone now, possibly because victims refuse to silently acquiesce as before. Things are not going too well for the IS morons. They are suffering reverses on the battlefield and now even their propaganda is going awry. God isn't great.
Oh and their competitors for cretinism, Boko Haram, this week slaughtered an entire village in Nigeria. Their leader, Abubakar Shekau, boasted of the slaughter of hundreds and taunted African leaders, the kings of Africa as he called them, to come and get him.
So are the morons following this madman absolutely sure what they are fighting for? Slaughtering entire villages? Does this sound like something you should be doing in the name of your imaginary friend? Where does it say that in your book of fantasy and idiocy? Are you sure this guy isn't just another one of a long series of corrupt, greedy, deluded African despots doing what so many in this benighted continent have done before? Is he notably different from Idi Amin, Gadaffi, Mugabe, Charles Taylor? Sure he hasn't got a country to terrorise yet, but then he has credulous idiots fighting for him to achieve that and useless and corrupt governments who are doing nothing to prevent his slaughter. In other words this is just another in a long line of African tragedies. It's only a matter of time until he gives himself a long list of titles in the usual manner of dictators. He might even decide to call himself a new prophet. I hesitate to trot out the line that this has nothing to do with Islam. But it doesn't seem to have a very strong connection to it does it? It has a stronger link to pathological madness. He probably thinks Allah talks to him. It won't be long until he thinks he is Allah.
Oh and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia died on Friday. But then who gives a shit? The British government had to pretend to though and even flew flags across Westminster at half mast owing to the fact that Saudi Arabia is a vastly wealthy and influential medieval state, not noticeably different from the morons of ISIL in outlook, but with more oil. David Cameron and the Prince of Wales are in Saudi Arabia right now for the funeral.
Rather like those sitcoms set during the war which lasted longer than the conflagration itself, the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War has now been going on around 20 times longer than that ill fated and much resented foreign adventure and still shows no sign of coming to an end. Or rather it has come to an end, it's just that it hasn't. The inquiry last heard a witness back in 2011.
The arguments have begun instead. The problem, of course, is that the report is going to criticise politicians and civil servants and it will do so in a form they will find difficult to refute and so they are fighting tooth and nail to have it turned into a whitewash so that they can shake their heads and call it a whitewash. Tony Blair, the man who most hopes it is a whitewash, not unlike the Hutton Inquiry, said that he wants the report published as soon as possible. But sources close to the report revealed that he has failed to respond to the letters being sent out to those being written about while he searches for a lawyer to help him. Since he is an ex barrister who is married to a barrister and who has several close friends who are barristers, one cannot help wondering what is taking him so long. The report is unlikely to report before the election or even this year, although those claiming a conspiracy for this reason are surely barking up the wrong tree since those likely to be criticised have long since left power and are currently enjoying lucrative post politics careers - the sort that can pay for lawyers to delay critical reports.
Prince Andrew came out of hiding this week to attend a conference at Davos, which entirely coincidentally is in Switzerland, which is well known for its plutocrats and skiing. The Duke of Pork addressed, briefly, the allegations made against him, which is to say he simply reiterated denials without going into detail. He then said that his focus was on his work. This immediately caused eyebrows to raise because he doesn't do any. He does ski though.
A crusading lawyer, Alberto Nisman, was found dead with a gun by his side last Sunday, just a day before he was due to present a 300 page dossier of evidence which, he claimed, proved a cover-up regarding Argentina's worst ever terrorist attack. The attack, in 1994, killed 85 people and injured a further 300 at a Jewish Centre in Buenos Aires. The report was said to accuse Argentina's president, Christina Kirchner, of collusion with Iran, the prime suspects for the attack, in order to whitewash the incident and curry favour with them in return for commercial favours.
The flat where Mr Nisman's body was found was said to be locked from the inside, but there were reports of another secret entrance to the flat. Police, perhaps rather too quickly, claimed that Mr Nisman's death was a clear suicide, but offered no explanation for why he would do this just a day before a moment in his career he had been building up to with such fervour. Mrs Kirchner has denied the accusations against her and claimed Nisman had been fed false information by corrupt secret service agents. She did admit however that it seemed unlikely that the prosecutor would have committed suicide. There were large protests on the streets of Buenos Aires in the wake of Mr Nisman's death.
Big news of the week and possibly of the year was that the Page 3 girl getting her tits out for the boys in The Sun seemed finally to have succumbed to the harridans and new puritans of the left and been consigned to history. Boo! Except it hadn't. On Thursday, after a gap of five days without the feature, it returned with a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth in all of her glory.
Prior to this the media and the campaign to bring Page 3 to an end had celebrated its demise. The Sun however was either playing an early April Fool's joke or was just getting itself some free publicity. Or maybe they just didn't like the thought of lefties celebrating a victory and so resurrected it. I prefer this latter explanation.
Quite what harm this great British tradition does is a mystery. Blokes like looking at good looking girls. So what? But if you are of a certain mindset this means of course that you are a sexist and deliberately doing down women and demeaning them and considering them as sex objects rather than people in their own right. It never occurs to them that men are capable of looking at a woman, fancying her and then want to get to know her too. It's conveniently ignored that women often trade on their looks and sex appeal and male weakness for the female form. More power to them say I.
But Page 3 has been in the sights of the joyless harridans for years now. Not that The Sun actually said that it was killing it off. It just seems to have put some bras on the boobs and semi-retired them for a few days. On Thursday it was back. The wimmin will no doubt get angry about that now. Just before Christmas the same suspects were furious because a West End restaurant asked a breast feeding woman to cover herself up.
Anyway, this blog refuses to kowtow to the forces of political correctness. I will be publishing a gratuitous picture of a girl with few clothes on regularly. Feel free to send them to me via Twitter or e-mail. I knew that blogging would one day produce a dividend for me.
And at least one tennis commentator refuses to worry too much about this modern notion of sexism which seems to mean that men can no longer admire women for their looks. It does render watching women's tennis less entertaining if we cannot enjoy it without at least occasionally admiring long athletic legs and girls in short skirts.
Fortunately Australian presenter Ian Cohen has taken to asking the players to 'give us a twirl' to the consternation and fury of wimmin, but the secret delight of men everywhere. It is true of course that men would never be asked such a question. But perhaps they should. Maybe there are women and indeed men out there who are desperate for Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer et al to show off their pert derrieres. I think it should be made a fixture of all sporting events. What's half the reason that most of us keep fit after all? There really isn't anything wrong with admiring men and women for their good looks and lithe bodies.
Do you remember Broadchurch? Of course you do. It was a terrific series brought to the nation in the autumn of 2012, which had the nation on the edge of its seats. I remember particularly fondly two commentators on Radio Five Live breaking off during a boring game to discuss the series and who they thought was the murderer. The series won plaudits for the wonderful Olivia Colman and David Tennant, awards aplenty and a huge, by modern standards, audience. The trouble was that it was a whodunnit. And, as is the way with whodunnits, at the end we found out whodunnit in a very satisfying and brilliantly written and played final episode. The nation smiled, wiped away a tear and changed channels like they do at the end of The Truman Show; because that's what we do.
But ITV wanted another series because, well just because. And so they got one. And we all watched, more out of curiosity because how could they have another series of a murder mystery? And we were right and they were wrong, because Broadchurch 2 is rubbish. It is contrived, far-fetched, frequently plain silly, convoluted and transparently desperate. They have played fast and loose with the law, common sense and our patience to try and turn this into a court room drama in which the accused has suddenly and inexplicably decided to plead not guilty after his confession, and have created a number of plot devices and non sequiturs in order to make this look plausible. They have failed. Oh and they have shoe-horned in another murder mystery from DI Hardy's past to give it a bit of tension, except this is even sillier and more far-fetched than the courtroom drama. In this new case DI Hardy has, on a police inspector's salary, put up the estranged wife of a man he believed to be a murderer in a very quaint and picturesque cottage only for her to run off with him the moment he and his cohort are inevitably distracted. This is a plot so full of holes it could be Kim Jong-Un's favourite cheese.
And so the new show has dropped 2 million viewers, who have switched instead to the BBC's venerable Silent Witness in which all murders are solved by a pathologist.
Fortunately, in addition to the pathologist, this week saw the BBC's lavish adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies come to our screens. This re-imagining of the much told Tudor tales of sex, lust and machiavellian intrigue told through the eyes of the shadowy Thomas Cromwell started superbly with a characteristically excellent performance by Mark Rylance. At a time when the BBC is obsessed with making tripe like Strictly and The Voice along with an awful rehash of Open All Hours, which is essentially Last of the Summer Wine with a different set and new cast, this is an example of what it can do when it puts its mind to it. This looks set to be the best drama from the Beeb since the superb Parade's End. Praise doesn't come any higher than that.
As you will no doubt be aware, the Enviro Nazis are keen on propagating the claim that last year was the warmest ever. It wasn't. This is propaganda dressed up as science. It is specious, tendentious tripe. You cannot measure temperature across a whole planet, especially when the trend you claim to have identified goes back to the 19th century meaning you have to mess with the data to make it fit. Temperature can go up and down hour by hour and when the sun goes down. It changes when the wind blows, when it gets cloudy. This claim is an average which claims to have identified a tiny, statistically meaningless rise to make it a record. It means nothing of the sort. It is trying to hide the fact that average temperatures have now not risen at all for 20 years, even though they should be if we really are suffering an environmental crisis. But they don't want you know that, hence this talk of the hottest year ever. If the science is so certain why do they have to engage in propaganda?
It does however give me an excuse to publish pictures of weird ice seen every year. Even years that are supposed to be the hottest year ever.
In a startling revelation this week, we discovered that Norman Wisdom, Laurel and Hardy or possibly Mr Bean may have worked at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. How else to explain the news that someone, possibly a cleaner, knocked the beard off the world famous death mask of King Tutankhamun and glued it back on with superglue. Nobody knows when the damage took place, but we do know that an order came from above to get it repaired as quickly as possible because the mask is one of the museum's biggest draws and the dilapidated museum needs the visitors. At least when our British museums steal items from faraway lands and refuse to hand them back we look after them.
This week's pictures of Rihanna see this blog's favourite enjoying some fast food at an LA Lakers game. Ri Ri was looking spectacularly beautiful this week as you can see. Meanwhile she was winning a legal action here in the UK against Topshop shamelessly using her visage on T shirts without paying her a royalty. What an appalling and diabolical liberty. Using the divine Ri Ri's image without her permission? Astonishing presumption.
Saturday, 24 January 2015
50 years ago today, almost exactly nine months before I was born in fact, Winston Churchill finally released his tenacious grip on life. Despite the fact that he died before I was born, and despite the fact that he was from an entirely different era in oh so many ways, like many others I have always admired this small but mighty man. I have read more books about him than about anyone else - from the magnificent works of Martin Gilbert, which explored his astonishing life in microscopic detail (a task made so much easier because Churchill was so intent on writing his own history himself) to the less detailed but equally insightful works of the likes of Roy Jenkins - I could probably go on Mastermind and give a more than decent account of myself and of the great man.
What is it about this colossus of the world stage that so fascinates us? Well, he kept us free for a start. But for the bravery and pig-headedness of Churchill, Britain would have accepted what many thought was inevitable and done the kind of deal with the Nazis that the perfidious French did. Instead, largely thanks to the rhetorical flourishes of one man, who so wowed the Cabinet in 1940 that they really were prepared to fight them on the beaches and never surrender, Britain held out against Nazi Germany and thanks to our pluck, determination and ingenuity we eventually prevailed, alongside allies who eventually, and a little reluctantly, came in on our side. That they did was again largely thanks to Churchill, who undertook marathon and highly perilous journeys by plane and sea to America and to the Soviet Union to ensure their participation. It was Churchill and his great friend Roosevelt who created the special relationship. It really was a special relationship then, rather than just a catchphrase. It was a relationship which saved us all.
Churchill was no scholar. His scholastic career was undistinguished. He did not go to university and instead went to Sandhurst for a military career, although even that was a struggle.
But it was as a man of words and journalism he made his mark and eventually as a politician. Now at last his brilliance started to emerge. He was a man of passions and of intense patriotism, at a time when the forces of the Left hadn't decreed that it was something to be ashamed of. This was a man who loved this country, loved what it stood for, loved Parliament, loved democracy and had an old fashioned but still noble desire to do public service. Of course he was also a man possessed of a fierce ambition and a strong notion of his own greatness, but that ultimately did him, this country and the wider world a great service.
Like many he made many mistakes and some of his opinions would not necessarily bear scrutiny with the benefit of modern sensibilities and a lot of hindsight.
But when he became prime minister it was by popular demand. He did not win an election. He was carried to power, after the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government, on a wave of popular sentiment. The man who had been warning of the threat of Naziism had been vindicated. Now it fell to him to mount our defence and inspire us to victory, a victory that many said was impossible.
Many are shocked when they learn that Churchill was then booted out of power in 1945. But it is to forget that he had led a coalition government, a national government made up of the main parties after the Tories had led us into the war and appeased Hitler, even though that was what fashionable opinion was at the time. And what Britain had done during that war had been a kind of experiment in socialism. What with our success and the apparent success of the Soviet Union and bitter memories of the 1930s, it was not surprising that the people of Britain desired change. Churchill's election campaign failed to recognise this, failed to notice the spirit of collectivism that had galvanised the country and enabled his great victory. His criticisms of socialism seemed out of kilter with the age, although they weren't wholly wrong as subsequent events have shown.
But it was for his spirit and leadership during the war for which he is rightly recognised as one of this country's greats. His subsequent premiership in the 1950s was a pale shadow of his greatness. And when, in that cold January of 1965, the light finally faded from his eyes, it was the great war leader that the country remembered fondly. Nobody who has seen it can go unmoved by the funeral procession through London, the barge down the Thames, the cranes of docklands bowing as his body went by. In another age Churchill was a man who would have been rewarded with a dukedom as his forebear, the Duke of Marlborough was, indeed one was offered to Churchill on the understanding that he would turn it down. He was a man of rare talents, great determination and fortitude and he brought out these attributes in the rest of us. We will likely never see his kind again more's the pity.
Friday, 23 January 2015
The broadcasters have put forward new suggestions which will see the Greens along with the SNP and Plaid Cymru take part in the election debates. Now of course there will be protests from the other parties, most notably those in Northern Ireland but possibly also the Monster Raving Loonies. For the sake of clarity, the monster raving loonies are a joke party - the same is not true, we are assured, of Ukip, the Greens, Respect, Plaid Cymru or the SNP. It's just not always easy to tell. To be fair the same could easily also be said of the so called main parties.
The Lib Dems are upset now because they have been lumped in with the other joke parties when they take themselves terribly seriously, even if the rest of us don't. Many of us are particularly looking forward to the announcement of their next manifesto. That should be a genuine comedy moment.
The broadcasters are now also threatening to empty chair David Cameron if he refuses to take part again. He should tell them to go ahead. What a ridiculous spectacle a debate with that many participants will be. How will anyone get a word in edgeways? How long will the programme last? How can you have an empty chair when one of the debates is between the empty chair and Wallace? Then again the empty chair would probably have more charisma and make more sense. Anyone not taking part will win by default. I for one plan on voting for the empty chair.
What they should actually do is turn the whole thing into a competition instead of a debate. Something like the Hunger Games would be preferable, but failing that something along the lines of the Upper Class Twit of the Year would suffice. The Political Class Twit of the Year would be a competition between many people who are also upper class but try to hide it. And the various promises they make, the idiot policies, the taking the electorate for fools, the brainlessness, the economic illiteracy can all compete with one another to see if the electorate falls for them. At this point they will all pretend that they had the idea first. This is the equivalent of the upper class twits of Monty Python fame running around in circles as they attempt to run in a straight line.
If the prime minister has any sense he will shrug and tell the broadcasters that their plans are unworkable and that he will not take part. Let them stage their Political Class Twit of the Year Competition. He should just sit on the sofa with Sam with a big bucket of popcorn and watch the disaster unfold.
You may have noticed in recent weeks, indeed even before last year actually finished, that many people have been keen to inform us that 2014 was the hottest year ever. This included the usual suspects at the BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian, Independent and other assorted organs that really ought to know better. So keen were the spinners for global warming to get this meme out there that they started telling the world this back in October when there was still a quarter of the old year left to go.
Why was this happening? Well, this is obvious. They are building up to next year's climate conference in Paris and trying to undo the damage done by the climate's refusal to head into the temperature stratosphere as predicted by all of those models. Remember when we kept being told we had five years to save the planet? That was about five years ago now and the temperature has stayed stubbornly where it was.
Thus they decided to make last year the hottest year ever. This they did by choosing a set of data which goes back to the 19th century but, because it is incomplete and pleasingly unreliable owing to ancient records not being very complete and being scientifically questionable, they can adjust it in a way that makes things look altogether more agreeable. Which is to say of course that they can adjust it to make it look as though the temperature has suddenly increased in the last 50 years. Which it hasn't.
What they don't use is much more reliable satellite data, which is only available for the last 20 years or so but which is accurate and better at doing what temperature readings are supposed to do for these purposes, which is average things out across the whole planet.
What we are never told about these things is that it is fantastically difficult using ground based measuring equipment, no matter how accurate, to get a reliable measure of temperature. Satellite measures have similar problems, but at least cover wider areas objectively. Why the problems? This ought to be obvious. Temperature varies constantly. It varies because the sun is out, the sun goes behind a cloud or sinks below the horizon, the wind blows, the wind changes direction, it rains, it snows. As we all know, weather can be localised, it can be utterly different within a mile or two. We have all seen rainbows in the distance when we are standing in beautiful sunshine. We know that the seasons vary, but the seasons also vary from year to year. We had a decent summer in the UK last year after very many wash outs. We have had a couple of mild winters after a run of very cold winters. But it would be idiotic to draw any conclusions from any of this.
Furthermore we simply don't have anything like enough measuring devices out there to accurately measure the temperature at surface level, not least the oceans, which cover 70% of the planet, or in the vast wildernesses, mountain ranges, grasslands and deserts, all of which have a huge bearing on the weather and climate. And so what they do, and nobody tells you this either, is they fill in gaps with guesswork. No, really. They take a measurement from one station and use it as a basis for measurements for what can be areas of thousands of square kilometres. Most of the temperature readings are, necessarily, in populous areas like Europe and North America. But it means we have no idea of how temperature is performing across the vast majority of the planet they tell us is warming.
So how can it be possible to draw any meaningful pattern? Answer: it can't. These readings are meaningless and tell us next to nothing. Yet they confidently assert that last year was the warmest year ever. How do they know?
Even the satellite measurements give us only a snapshot. They simply don't go back far enough yet for us to come to any meaningful conclusions. But what we do know is that temperatures have stayed stable now, with only a very minor deviation one way or the other for 20 years. If CO2 is having the impact we keep being told it is having then it shouldn't be doing that.
The claim that 2014 was the hottest year ever is, ahem, hotly disputed. It is spin and not science. These readings keep being adjusted upwards and the historical data downwards to fit an agenda. And even if you take the 2014 claim at face value, 2014 was 0.01 degrees warmer than the next warmest year which was 2010. That is within the margin of error. It is statistically meaningless.
Finally, the warmest year ever? What they actually mean, but curiously forget to mention, is that this means the warmest year since we started keeping records. That means in a little less than 150 years, a long time in human terms but a blink of the eye in planetary terms. We have substantial evidence that our planet has been much warmer than this and much colder. It has been in both states long before humans were here driving cars, flying planes, burning coal and oil. The fact of the matter is that 2014 was an unremarkable year. If we look at the more meaningful and useful data going back thousands of years rather than just 100 years, 2014 was actually a cool year by historical standards. Since the last ice age the planet has warmed and cooled. Right now, it remains comparatively cool.
So why are they so anxious to tell us that 2014 was the warmest year ever when it wasn't? I'll leave that question open.
Thursday, 22 January 2015
Blogs do not have pages as such and so it is impossible for me to have a Page 3. However I resent being told by the joyless harridans of the left that it is unacceptable for me or anyone else to like looking at naked ladies. I like looking at naked ladies, not because I am a sexist, misogynistic pig, but because I am a normal, healthy male who has a natural desire to look at naked ladies. It's the most normal reasonable thing in the world.
And if women are honest they rather like the fact that men like looking at them and get a kick out of doing so. There are websites such as redditgonewild in which women, freely, without payment and just for kicks, publish naked selfies of themselves - often showing a good deal more than their boobs. What's wrong with it?
It is perfectly possible to have the greatest respect for women, to want equality whilst at the same time finding joy and sometimes a bit more from looking at them as women with all of the bumps and curves that make the fairer sex so much fairer. We are all, however evolved and intelligent we may be, prisoners of our baser instincts to some extent. The desire and urge for sex is a pleasurable and healthy one. Only the new puritans of the left apparently cannot see this. Their reductive view of the world is joyless and permanently angry. Why shouldn't women capitalise on their looks and bodies if they are lucky enough to possess such attributes? That's life isn't it? And anyway, just a few days ago we were all angry about an assault on freedom of speech. Well this is the same. We are being told what we can and cannot look at. And I for one resent it.
The Sun does not seem to have stopped Page 3 anyway. It is back in all of its harmless glory today. Perhaps they never intended to stop it. Perhaps people were leaping to conclusions. Perhaps they were just getting cheap publicity or were playing a joke. Or perhaps, and this is my favourite explanation, they saw all of the triumphalism of those writing about Page 3's demise and thought screw you. I really hope so.
Anyway, this blog is going to step into the breach which not now a breach just to show solidarity. From now on I shall be publishing a daily picture of a pretty woman, often with few or no clothes on. I'll call it Page 3 for the sake of tradition, in much the same way that our newspaper industry is still called Fleet Street despite departing from that part of London many years ago. I'm striking a blow for freedom - and hormones.
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
It has been, not so much a momentous week in politics this week, but it has certainly been an interesting one. It has been an interesting one not necessarily in a way that benefits the Labour Party.
First Dave went off to America and was greeted by his bro Barack in a way that had Labour spitting with fury. Their leader got a very grudging 20 minute meeting with the coolest as well as most powerful leader on the planet. To get that they had to hire one of his old aides for £300, 000 they can ill afford. And then, a few months later, the bleeding Tories get the red carpet treatment, a dinner and then the sainted Barack backed his pal's economic record and policy. The Labour love-in with Obama was officially over. They sent in Hattie to give him both barrels. How they must have been quaking in the West Wing.
Dave and Barack as friends. Its enough to make a man like Wallace cry. They even eat sandwiches together and manage not to look like aliens who have recently acquired a mouth.
Worse it was revealed at the weekend that Wallace's misadventures with butties are part of a pattern of clumsiness and a general inability to talk to or associate with normal human beings without being an arse and a self centred tit. When being parachuted into his safe seat in Doncaster he stayed with the Labour mayor, since defected, and treated his house like a hotel whilst setting fire to a part of it. He then attempted to cover the damage up by purchasing a Muslim prayer mat.
Furthermore, it was claimed - and Labour have not denied this - the reason that Wallace and Ed Balls were so keen to hold an election in 2007 was because they could see a recession coming and were desperate to get back into power again before the damage was done. So the party that had claimed to abolish boom and bust wanted to fix an election timetable before the bust happened. How typical.
Fortunately Gordon Brown flunked it and the nation was spared this even greater disaster than the one they wreaked on the British economy. But it all did serve to illustrate what we already knew: Wallace is a useless, socially inept, politically cloth eared, selfish, obsessive chancer who will say and do anything to get what he wants and will ditch you the moment you cease to be of use to him. This is a man who seriously thinks he can be our next prime minister. He is currently looking like an even worse candidate than the man who arranged his seat in Doncaster for him.
It should also be noted that the party that parachutes people like Wallace into seats has this week been complaining about privileged and well educated people like James Blunt or Eddie Redmayne being so prominent in their respective branches of the entertainment industry. You couldn't make it up.
We also learned this week that Labour would rather not, in addition to immigration, talk about the economy on the doorstep as its canvassers hold those conversations with voters trying to convince them to vote for Wallace. Today though Wallace decided to talk about it. Well, sort of. His approach to the economy is to try and find fault and to then accuse Dave of not caring. Living standards are his one big hope since every other attack line Labour have tried during this parliament: remember the cuts being too far and too fast? have failed. Would Dave confirm, he said, that this will be the first government since the 1920s, to leave office with living standards lower. As usual this was Wallace cherry picking. Did he not notice the 1970s?
Dave was having none of this. He pointed out the remarkable record on jobs and unemployment, he trotted out other figures about disposable income and the tax cuts implemented by the government to take the low paid out of tax altogether. This, he said, was ignored by Labour's figures.
Wallace then, in much the same way as he once tried to cover up a burnt carpet with a Muslim prayer mat, raised the subject of the deficit. The government had failed on this he said. But wasn't it Labour who said that even this minimal effort was too far and too fast? The PM said that Wallace couldn't even remember the deficit in his speech which floored the twerp and presumably will continue to do so all the way to the election. He also noted that the Labour Party had nothing to say about unemployment. Ironic that. The Labour party would rather not talk about labour. Add that to the list of subjects to be avoided.
Once again Wallace called Dave complacent and talked about us being a nation of food banks - a gloriously stupid soundbite that just makes him look out of touch when he is accusing the government of being the same. Cameron was supremely confident on ground that the Tories see as their trump card. He gave Wallace a broadside. He could not talk about unemployment, the deficit or the economy he said. He has an energy policy that doesn't work and has been undone by the laws of economics and an idiotic mansion tax that has united both Lord Mandelson and Diane Abbott in opposition owing to its idiocy. Indeed Ed Balls, its architect, has said he will give no more details about it unless and until he does so from the safety of government. Once again their attitude to democracy and elections speaks of the kind of arrogance they accuse the Tories of.
Wallace looked beaten and deflated as well he might. His last resort was to accuse the PM of chickening out of the debates. Dave ignored him. He quoted Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, as saying that Britain has exactly the right sort of growth which the rest of the world would like to emulate. Every day, said Cameron, Britain is getting stronger; every day, he added, Labour look weaker and more divided. Wallace had been given a carpeting. Or maybe it was a prayer mat.