Saturday, 28 February 2015
Given the appalling quality of some of the news reports, perhaps it would be best if tributes to Leonard Nimoy, who died yesterday, are written by those of us who know what we are talking about.
I loved Star Trek. I used to watch it, no doubt to the consternation and slight despair of my family, avidly during its many repeats in the 1970s. I still watch it even now if it crops up on TV. And of course, like most fans, I just loved Mr Spock and his logic.
And it isn't as if we didn't see the flaws in Star Trek. It isn't as if we were unaware of the hammy acting and the ropey sets. I was always rather doubtful about the idea of Vulcan logic, although to be fair they did a better job of explaining this in subsequent series.
But Leonard Nimoy brought the part of Spock to life. He is a reference point, the reference point for all subsequent portrayals in the Star Trek family ever since. He defined his character and he defined the whole notion of this fictional race of emotionless, logical and cold aliens who had arrived at this state as a means of coping with their formerly very emotional instincts. Maybe it is the way humans may end up going as we throw off our more atavistic instincts and stop killing each other because of silly superstitions.
This is why Star Trek has always been so popular. It speaks of a time when humanity has thrown off its petty rivalries and is out exploring space. And it speaks of a time when we can go out and make friends with alien races, friends with men with green blood and pointy ears, friends of people who are noble and gracious and lack ambition, but possess humanity despite the fact he was only half human. That's why Star Trek overcame its ropey 60s scripts and special effects and became the monster franchise it is today. And it is because a bit part actor called Leonard Nimoy won the part of his life, embraced it, made it his own and defined it forever. He went on to direct Star Trek and other movies. But he will always be the man in the blue shirt, who went boldly and who lived long and prospered.
Friday, 27 February 2015
This blog has a policy of not publishing pictures of IS and its moronic hordes and so here instead is a picture of a polar bear. At least when they kill things and even people they do it for the very good reason that they are hungry and of course that they are carnivores and that is what carnivores do.
Astonishingly there are people who make similar excuses for jihadists. Many of them, as that BBC survey revealed this week, are part of an astonishingly large minority of the adherents of this 'religion of peace'. They claim, apropos of their misreading of their supposedly holy book, that depicting their alleged prophet offends them. Thus those who do so must be put to death. Nice. Very peaceful.
Yesterday, an organisation called Cage was in the news because it actually defended the jihadist formerly known as John but now revealed to be a Kuwaiti called Mohammed Emwazi who availed himself of the hospitality bordering on stupidity of this country and spent his entire life resenting it whilst of course educating himself at our expense. Emwazi was, said the dimwits of Cage, a beautiful and gentle young man. We can at least content ourselves that the jihadists, including Emwazi himself, probably sniggered at this description and thought it a little bit gay. But then what do you expect in this decadent, mincing, homosexual, Jewish dominated hellhole eh?
Cage is one of those organisations which believes that the reason that the likes of Emwazi have become vicious, sadistic, monstrous avatars of human beings is because of Western foreign policy. To their shame there are a lot of people on the left of our own politics, Guardian readers, Green voters and the like, who nod their heads sadly at this self serving interpretation. In so doing they take their usual cognitive dissonance to unheard of new levels bordering on the schizophrenic. To such people anyone from foreign lands is incapable of being a bigoted zealot who hates people for the sake of it. It must always be our fault. In vain do we point out that Al Qaeda was created long before Blair and Bush launched their rightly derided war in Iraq and their subsequent war on terror. The jihadists use Western foreign policy as a recruiting sergeant it is true, but they do so in a twisted and illogical way for wet behind the ears, angry young idiots. Young men and women are often angry, they don't have to be made that way. It's just that those of a certain kind of sensibility can be turned into vicious psychopaths.
Cage also argues, farcically, that Emwazi was turned into the deranged madman he is now because our security services were beastly to him and kept harassing him. Again this is a travesty of the truth. Our security services became aware of this beautiful young man because he tried to join the jihadists of al Shabab in Africa and go a slaughtering. It should be noted in passing that African jihadists have no reason whatever to be resentful of Western foreign policy. Indeed they never mention it. And even if it were true that he was harassed rather than merely questioned and kept under surveillance, this is a cause for celebration. It's just a pity they couldn't pin anything on him to prevent him going off and becoming a murderer. But for that we have to thank the sort of liberal who thought Edward Snowden was and is a hero and didn't laugh at that joke about him at the Oscars last Sunday.
Human history tells us that people can become angry, vicious and racist quite independently of the actions of others. After all if we followed that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion then we could find justification for the actions of the Nazis because of the iniquities of Versailles. Indeed there are people right now who claim that the EU is responsible for the actions of Vladimir Putin because we humiliated him and Russia by being friendly with Ukraine and inviting them to be our friends thus ignoring the right of Russia to exercise control over its sphere of influence and anyone who speaks Russian whether or not they want to be so influenced.
ISIL is a fascist organisation. It believes fervently, even maniacally, that it is right and everyone else is wrong. It believes fervently, even maniacally that non Muslims, and indeed even the wrong kind of Muslims are sub human. It thus justifies, in a way very recognisable for even the most casual students of 20th century history, treating these others as slaves, treating women as possessions and murdering and raping them based on a perverse kind of religious observance akin to that of the Nazis. It believes fervently, even maniacally, that the whole world must be bent to its will and made to worship its imaginary god and prophet and that anyone like me who writes sentences like this one should be beheaded or worse. We have not created these maniacs, they are created by the human condition and by our continued subservience to bronze age myths about gods and prophets. Emwazi, by all accounts, always hated this country. Our security services saw that and tried in vain to stop him. That is an argument for greater powers and resources for those security services even if it means that they might, in theory, read our e-mails and text messages. I for one am relaxed about that if it means we maintain the more important liberties we hold dear, including the liberty of Cage to make idiotic arguments defending the indefensible, although perhaps it would be a good idea to revoke their charitable status and stop giving them a platform across our naive and credulous media like the BBC. Still, isn't freedom of speech marvellous?
The gorgeous beast you see above is the new Ferrari 488, the successor to the equally beautiful 458. The new car, announced at the Geneva Motor Show this week, actually has a smaller engine, but will be blessed with turbos so making it more powerful than its already stupendous predecessor. Thanks to emissions regulations because of the imagined perils of climate change, cars now will increasingly be using smaller engines that are turbo charged. The Ford Mondeo for instance can now be bought with just a 1 litre engine.
And this sparks an interesting question. How does your average enviro crusader view the car industry's extremely clever and innovative solutions to attempts by purblind legislators to restrict them? Billions are being spent on research into new and more efficient engines, new technologies like hybrid cars are getting better and better. Cars are becoming ever more efficient. The likes of Ferrari, Porsche and McLaren have created stupendous new machines that are hybrids like the Prius beloved of Hollywood celebs but which are also fast and wonderful to drive. These cars, thanks to their deployment of electric motors to enhance petrol engines, are actually faster than their purely petrol equivalents. How the Green Meanies must hate that.
I'll give you another example. We all know the benefits of shale oil and gas, a new technology which is controversial largely because green pressure groups disseminate lies about its alleged dangers. These dangers are illusory. But the Green Meanies have a downer on any and all fossil fuels. They don't want to see clever people creating more efficient engines and ever safer ways of fracking because that would mean fossil fuels would continue to be burnt. There is promising research going on into fracking without using any chemicals at all. You would think this would be welcomed. It isn't.
The Green Meanies prefer us instead to erect thousands of wind turbines and build vast solar farms. Unfortunately both technologies are simply not good enough yet. Furthermore the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine. What is their solution? They don't have one. They just talk of research into energy storage. True enough. We do need to find a way to better capture and store the vast energy being emitted every second by the sun and from wind and wave power. But that technology is not even close at the moment. It simply doesn't exist. In the meantime we have to carry on using fossil fuels in order to keep the lights on.
But your average enviro lunatic doesn't want to hear this. In a world threatened by the likes of Putin, energy security is vital as is spending more on defence. Those tempted by the juvenile simplicity of the Green Party should look at the world as it really is. We are lucky that our ingenuity means we still have an abundance of oil and that we can use it ever more efficiently. Our reliance on fossil fuels cannot go on forever. We all know that. But the technology to replace it is still in its infancy. Wouldn't it be nice if the Greens could admit that. Unfortunately, underneath their green exterior they are as red as that Ferrari and nothing like as easy on the eye. Natalie Bennett imploded this week when asked a few simple questions. That's because the easy answers of the Greens are an illusion.
Thursday, 26 February 2015
I didn't watch last night's Brit Awards. I didn't watch it a) because I was watching the final sublime episode of Wolf Hall b) because I hate award ceremonies c) I particularly hate British award ceremonies which manage to combine the smug naffness of all such ceremonies but without the razzmatazz d) the Brits is generally a toe curlingly awful affair full, of mistakes, bad jokes and people making arses of themselves.
Anyway, why bother watching when you can just watch the best bits on YouTube? Such as Madonna falling over. Now that is funny. And i didn't have to listen to Ant & Dec for two hours to enjoy it.
And for the avoidance of doubt, I find this funny not because I am a misogynist, not because I am ageist, not because I am bitter about Madonna's success and millions. I find this funny because people falling over is always ALWAYS funny. This is a rule. The fact that it happened thanks to a wardrobe malfunction only makes it funnier. Now we can enjoy it forever and I still got to see Wolf Hall.
It is standard when writing about Islam and the problems with jihadism to start off with the standard apologia that Islam is a religion of peace. I'm not going to do that. Islam is not a religion of peace. No religion is a religion of peace. The whole point of religion is to demand adherence, respect, submission from people and to use violence if they are unwilling or resist. In this Islam is no different from the other major Abrahamic religions it has plagiarised and attempted to supplant. Mohammad, the false prophet, saw that Christianity had built on Judaism and attempted the same trick. Anyone reading the Quran can see that. It is as clear as day.
So Islam is not a religion of peace. It is precisely the opposite. It is people who choose to be peaceful and to coexist with others. In so doing they conveniently ignore large parts of their religion. But that is their choice, and a fortunate one for civilisation. And I happily acknowledge that many Muslims are peaceful and wish for peaceful coexistence with others. But the fact is that a substantial number of Muslims do not feel this way and indeed demand special treatment because of their particular obscurantist creed.
We have seen that with that BBC survey this week. The BBC being the BBC it tried to put a spin on its findings. But we saw that fully 27% of Muslims have some sympathy with the Charlie Hebdo murderers. Why? Because they love their prophet and demand respect from the rest of us. In other words they have their Sharia Law and wish to impose it on the rest of us. They demand that we dilute one of our most important beliefs - freedom of speech - in order to appease their long dead imaginary prophet and their particular set of delusions.
At this point it would be germane to point out that, as so often, true believers in Islam don't know their own stupid religion, they only know what they have been told about it. There is no injunction in their holy book about depicting their imaginary prophet. There is a rich tradition of Islamic art depicting Mohammad. Here's one from 600 years ago.
The whole tradition of not depicting the alleged prophet is based on the hadith and a very murky and opaque saying attributed to him and which the theologians have turned into something more meaningful than it ever was, if indeed it was ever said. 'Whoever makes a picture in this world will be asked to put life into it on the day of resurrection but he will not be able to do so.'
What does that even mean? Well it means that you have taken hearsay about the sayings of an ignorant man who believed the earth was flat and turned it into a command that entitles you to slaughter or at least get righteously angry towards others who feel differently. You can only impute to this very vague statement a command not to depict your idiot prophet with a great deal of tendentious argument, sophistry and wishful thinking. This makes you a cretin.
One of the other arguments deployed by Muslims is that freedom of speech is not as all encompassing as we claim. Now leave aside that we do not claim that it is all encompassing and that there are always limits. But, they ask us, what about the Jews? Well, what about them? Specifically they talk about the Holocaust. The Holocaust gets special treatment we are told. How so? There are countries that ban Holocaust denial it is true. But Britain is not one of them. And the Holocaust can be written about, depicted and talked about. Indeed in this country, if such is your wont, you can even deny it happened, although this too marks you out as a cretin or perhaps a fascist, or perhaps a fascist cretin. At best people will call you an idiot and be offended. But you have that right. There is no proscription. Idiocy is permitted. That is why we protect the right of people to believe in all seeing and all knowing sky fairies.
Another argument deployed by Muslims is that people who just happen to be Muslim and terrorist are unrepresentative of them and of their religion. This is true. But then they go further and tell us that people who just happen to be Christian, such as IRA murderers, were not identified as Christian. This is a facile argument too. The IRA were doing what they did and that some still do because of republicanism not Christianity. The simple fact is however that Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism has, as its inspiration and indeed raison d'être, Islam. We have seen that proven by this BBC survey in which a substantial portion of Muslims believe so fervently in their imaginary prophet that they have sympathy with those who murder to defend the idea of him and the imaginary proscription against him being depicted. That is Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.
If Christians were to take up arms and start murdering people because they had been to see Monty Python's The Life of Brian then we could call that Christian terrorism. But they don't do they. Similarly we atheists have, as a general rule, not gone about slaughtering people in the name of our lack of belief. This is not to say that Christians or atheists have not been murderers in the past and won't be in the future. But they don't use it as their reason or excuse. Islamic terrorists do.
Muslims of course don't want to hear any of this which is why they get so sanctimoniously angry about it. But they must. This is how the world progresses. They have every right to believe what they want to believe. I have every right to examine their beliefs and point out the inconsistencies and stupidity of those beliefs. The same has been true of all of the other religions. There was a time when I would have been burnt at the stake or otherwise executed for writing of Christianity in the way that I now do about Islam. Indeed I think that many of the tenets of Christianity are just as stupid as those of Islam. It's just that Christianity is largely benign and harmless, even if it is based on superstition and wishful thinking. But I can and will say this about all of the religions. That is my right in a free country. This is what we call progress. Beliefs cannot and must not be protected by the threat of violence and bullying. You cannot and must not invoke offence at what I write or what cartoonists draw to silence us.
Ultimately people who write about Islam and depict it are doing Muslims and the wider world a favour. If your religion cannot withstand a little mockery and some forensic examination of its bronze age ideas then it really isn't worth a lot. But then that, historically, is what religions are afraid of. As the BBC's dramatisation of Wolf Hall has brilliantly shown these last six weeks, there was a time when we protected ideas the way some Muslims wish to protect their religion. We grew up and got over it. The moment you come and live in a country that believes in freedom of speech and of debate then you run the risk of having your ideas challenged. Or is that what you are afraid of?
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
There is much rejoicing in Labour circles today. There is a party leader who is even more useless and clueless than their own. Their party leader just forgets to mention major issues during major speeches. But at least when he is asked about the vast gaps in his party's prospectus, at least when asked to explain the various contradictions, at least when questioned about his magic money tree from which he will produce the funds to pay for all of his various promises he manages to evade and lie and distract us like a kind of low rent magician. Well, most of the time he manages this anyway. He does not, as did the Green Party's Natalie Bennett, um and ur his way through a radio interview before going completely silent. He does not blame it all on a cold either. And he could, very easily. After all the nation could be forgiven for thinking that he talks the way he does because he has been suffering from a cold for the last five years.
This is not to say that Labour have all the answers on spending of course. We are currently awaiting their announcement on tuition fees, which they are promising to cut by a third despite the fact that the present system is working well and that Labour's predictions of disaster have not come to pass. But then few of Labour's predictions have come to pass. If they were to let facts get in the way they would simply give up and tell everyone to vote Tory since they seem to be doing pretty well all things considered.
Labour then should be very thankful for the Greens. The Greens do hopelessness and voodoo economics properly. They make proper uncosted promises, not the wishy washy sort Labour favours. Until recently they were promising everyone a guaranteed income without bothering to explain how it was paid for. The suspicion was, as this blog pointed out, that they were actually intent on nationalising everyone's money and then handing us pocket money. They chickened out on that one. Now they just promise to build half a million houses with money they will appropriate from landlords thus undoing any good that those new houses will do. But then that is the socialist way, even when they call themselves Green.
Since we last met of course there has been the latest scandal concerning MPs taking cash for exerting influence or worse. Sir Malcolm Rifkind apparently has so little to do as a backbench MP that he was happy to top up his salary which he felt was insufficient despite it being on a par with many professionals such as solicitors, accountants, senior managers and the like. Jack Straw who expects soon to be a member of the House of Lords, which has an altogether more relaxed attitude to outside earnings, is planning his retirement. Maybe he feels he should earn the sort of money Tony Blair gets these days for cosying up to the world's crooks and vagabonds. As a former Foreign Secretary he must know lots.
Labour, as is now traditional, have seen this small scale scandal as an opportunity to be at their preening, sanctimonious worst. Never mind that most of the MPs approached by the Telegraph and Channel 4 gave them short shrift. No Labour believe that urgent sanctimony is required, along with some proposals to ban MPs from earning anything outside parliament which they know damned well will never get through for the very good reason that they are impractical, self serving and unreasonable. What is wrong with MPs having second jobs? Isn't that a good thing? In a world in which the public is revolting against the kind of identikit professional politician as exemplified by Wallace, he wants to set that professionalisation in stone by banning them from having second jobs, banning them having directorships, banning them from having any outside influences. Labour's knee-jerk response to everything is legislation, bureaucracy and bans.
Dave said more or less the same. He said that the allegations were serious and that he was glad that they had reported themselves to the proper authorities. But, he said, the present rules should be enforced rather than changed.
Wallace wasn't happy with that. He objects to the notion that anyone should have a second job. Perhaps this will be Labour's policy too. They will ban anyone from having second jobs after the election and tell the nation that this will create jobs. This is the sort of approach taken by the French and President Hollande, Wallace's hero.
Dave said that he wasn't about to sign up to a ban when Labour won't stop MPs from working for and indeed sponsored by the unions.
And once again this PMQs followed the same pattern. Wallace is struggling to think of any questions to ask these days with time running out until parliament rises and the election campaign gets under way. Thus he has adopted the simple expedient of asking the same question six times. If only Labour were so economical with public money.
To be fair Wallace had a better day today. But this was not to say that anything he said made any sense. As on bankers and donors and now on second jobs for MPs, Labour are taking a wholly opportunistic, cynical and hypocritical approach. Dave, for once, struggled to deflect his opposite number. He raised the issue of unions as a kind of blunderbuss approach. For once it didn't work. For once Wallace had some impact. Perhaps Dave had a cold.
Tuesday, 24 February 2015
What is wrong with the idiots who run world football? Let me rephrase that. What is wrong with the idiots who run world football who are not Sepp Blatter and his bunch of self serving corrupt cronies?
Today, scarcely surprisingly, a FIFA taskforce has decided that Qatar is far too hot to hold its World Cup in the summer. And so, they tell us, the entire football calendar must be turned upside down in order facilitate the holding of the tournament at a time when fans and players will not fry.
Now in any sane organisation, the issue of whether the tournament could be held at a time when the tournament is always held, in the summer, would have been a central and indeed deciding issue. After all the World Cup in South Africa was held during what was their winter, them being in the southern hemisphere. But FIFA being FIFA this was a secondary issue. They wanted to pocket their bribes and backhanders and so football must acquiesce.
What makes this worse is the way the panjandrums of the domestic game have sadly shaken their heads and done precisely that - acquiesce. It's almost as if Sepp Blatter is his good friend Vladimir Putin and we are trying to keep the peace. Why?
Let's be clear about this, FIFA tells the world's football clubs, the employers and developers of the players, that they must willingly allow their highly paid employees to take part in FIFA's tournaments meaning that said players will often be injured or tired or otherwise compromised so that Sepp can hold his party and FIFA can cash in at the expense of others. Now they are saying that they will hold the tournament whenever they please according to a demonstrably corrupt process and football and its paying customers must simply stand aside and do as they are told.
As Margaret Thatcher might have said: no, no no.
The World Cup is a summer tournament. If FIFA chooses a nation with no footballing pedigree, which uses slave labour and is a backward nation which just happens to be rich then that is their affair. The rest of football should have some principles. The proposal to stage this tournament in this footballing backwater is bad enough, doing so at a time of year when football has always been concerned with matters domestic, going back 150 years is simply unacceptable. Say no. Stand up for what is right and fair. There are endless reasons why this tournament should not go ahead. The only reason it should go ahead is because a corrupt and out of control organisation says so. Saying no really ought to be easy.
Did you happen to see over the weekend, the BBC's coverage of the schoolgirls who have chosen, of their own free will, to leave this country, leave school and head off to Turkey en route to Syria where they intend to join the ranks of ISIL, marry a jihadi and then breed new johadis for the greater glory of their movement?
Frankly it was all bizarre and nauseating. Yes, one can only feel sorry for the families of these cretins, who are no doubt decent people to whom this has all come as a terrible shock. But the girls themselves, who, we are assured, are intelligent, thoughtful nice young women. Well in that case what are they doing heading off to join the ranks of a fascist, racist, murderous and nihilistic organisation? The most benign interpretation we can put on their actions is that they are simply naive an stupid. But we are assured that they are neither. Thus the only reasonable interpretation must be that these three have knowingly and advisedly decided to leave their families, leave their country which has educated them and given them opportunities they are now spurning, in order to join a death cult. In so doing they have committed an act of treachery against this country which ought not to make them outlaws and an act of appalling selfishness against their families and friends.
We are told that ISIL is a sophisticated propagandist. How so? Have these women and the many others who have followed the same path been brainwashed? Of course not. What they have done is buy into a nihilistic creed which is twisted and evil. This is not a subtle organisation. It glories in its lack of subtlety. Cutting people's heads off or burning them to death is not subtle or sophisticated propaganda. Enslaving people and treating women like pieces of meat simply because they have different beliefs is not clever and cutting edge. Thus anyone who falls for this is not a victim of brilliant sub Freudian manipulation.
The reason that a certain kind of young man and woman is being persuaded by this new branch of an idiot religion is because they see it as glamorous. The same was true of those who bought into the idea of Naziism. These girls are heading to Syria and may well now be there in the less than tender embrace of men who see them as inferior human beings by virtue of their sex. They have left behind a country where they had every opportunity to forge careers, make a difference in lives for a life of drudgery and childbirth whilst wearing a black sack.
And they have chosen this. Let's face it they were probably turned on by the idea. When they were planning their escape they probably Lolled about it in text messages. Soon, they told each other, they would be there and would soon be jihadi wives getting ravished by men who shoot people and treat women and non believers like dirt. How exciting!
And what these supposedly intelligent girls have not noticed is that ISIL is in the process of losing. After its early sensational gains thanks to the element of surprise, the world has reacted to their appalling violence and cynicism by hitting back hard. People are fighting back. It seems that their god is not so great either.
These girls are not missing they have absented themselves from civilisation. They will not be missed except by those who love them. We should have every sympathy for those they have left behind. But we should also be thankful that these dimwits have left these shores. They will soon learn the appalling error of their ways. It's already too late.
Monday, 23 February 2015
One is tempted to write of the long and agonising car crash that is Labour's disaster of an election campaign this weekend. Except this is no ordinary car crash. This is not even a slow motion car crash. This is a multiple pile up in which a reckless driver continues headlong towards his inevitable oblivion, ploughing into vehicle after vehicle and even managing to hit countless stationary objects along the way, some of which are as large as buildings - or John Prescott.
Yes, Wallace it has been announced, has cast around for someone, anyone to give him street cred and alighted on that man of the people who once said he would never enter the House of Lords. He then retired and entered the House of Lords. The Baron Prescott, driver of two Jags, is to be his party's go-to man on climate change. Do I have to repeat that sentence? No, thought not.
Seriously, what level of comical ineptitude decided them on this brilliant manoeuvre? Was it Prescott's brilliant record in government in which he was given a super ministry as large as his ego but which entirely dwarfed his ability to, you know, actually govern? Still, at least it afforded him a suitably large office in which to shag his secretary.
Prescott is of course credited as being the referee between the warring titans of New Labour - the TB/GBs. And perhaps this is the clue as to why his presence is needed now, unless of course we buy the line that Two Jags is required to finesse our policy on climate change. Note to Wallace: the core vote you are complacently relying on don't give a stuff about climate change. It's only metropolitan, Guardian reading numpties like yourself who care about that. But we'll come on to that imploding issue in a subsequent blog.
And so the only other explanations are that Wallace, fresh from an exchange with a voter last week who did not immediately greet him with a heartwarming Hampstead Heath style homily about what Labour needs to do for him, but told him he was too posh and too out of touch, has reached for one of Labour's one remaining working class people. Say what you like about Prescott, but he did once have a proper job. He didn't do it for long mind you. This most chippy of working class people threw in his lot with the unions as you have to do to get on in Labour.
Presumably, though Wallace has a tendency to forget his own speeches, he has not brought in the noble Lord for his services to speechmaking and the English language.
So, always assuming that Wallace isn't really trusting this proletarian fat cat with our energy policy - although Wallace managed to screw it up pretty well himself when in charge, we can only assume that the great pugilistic peacemaker has been brought in to keep him and his snarling shadow chancellor apart. Tensions are said to now be at such a biting point they could erupt.
Many are gunning for the charmless Balls. This is because he learned from his old master and is brooking no opposition in his fiefdom of economic policy. He is also angry that Wallace will keep making spending commitments that cannot be afforded and which give George Osborne ammunition when he charges, hardly unreasonably, that Labour cannot make their sums add up and keep spending the same money 3 or 4 times. Their Mansion Tax, even supposing they manage to get it through and that it ends up raising a quarter of what is claimed (highly unlikely) is set simultaneously to be used to cut the deficit and shore up NHS spending. This is the same Mansion tax which was last week defended by that other great hypocritical dinosaur of Labour, Neil Kinnock, a man who has never knowingly done anything useful in his career but has led a gilded and superannuated life at our expense. The Mansion Tax, said Neil, would cost people paying it no more per month than they spend on their lunch. There spoke a devotee of the gravy train. Of course Kinnock and Prescott would never buy their own lunch. They would charge it to expenses. That's socialism for you.
And this week we are to see the latest piece of electioneering genius from Wallace. This is the real cause of the tensions between him and his shadow chancellor. Entirely needlessly and largely through desperation, Labour are promising to cut university tuition fees. This is yet another example of them promising what they think people want to hear rather than what is needed to fix the country. Because, tuition fees are yet another example of Labour's dire warnings of disaster which have failed to come to pass. The government's system, designed by the unfairly sidelined David Willetts, has actually done exactly what was asked of it. It has delivered additional funds to hard pressed universities, ensured that only those who can afford it have to pay, removed a subsidy from the rich and middle classes and has seen a rise in people going to university. Furthermore the universities, as part of the quid pro quo, have had to raise standards and create a system which gives access to poorer students. In short the reforms have been a triumph. Labour want to reverse this for short term electoral gain. It was ever thus.
So could it be that Prescott has really been brought in again to act as peacemaker between the warring factions of a disintegrating Labour Party? Well, it makes as much sense as any other explanation, and certainly more than trusting the croquet playing, pugilistic, Jaguar driving dimwit to run our climate change policy based on his credentials as a tribune of the working class. But then this is Wallace's Labour we are talking about.
Sunday, 22 February 2015
And so, having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and been cast out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve went out wearing their clothes made for them by God who had said that they would surely die if they ate one of his sacred apples but instead had just made them leave his garden and made childbirth painful for women for all eternity. He had also created the concept of original sin of course which one day would enable Catholics to be miserable and self flagellating. But that was a long way off.
So, still alive and armed only with the knowledge that people are naked if they take their clothes off and thus wondering what all the fuss was about with that damned apple, Adam and Eve went out and, in the cold winter evenings, did what any self respecting couple would do under the circumstances: they took off their newly acquired clothing and fucked. Incidentally this does raise the question of what humanity would have been like had we not acquired the illuminating knowledge that we are naked if we take our clothes off. Would we be unaroused by seeing naked bodies? If we all walked around permanently unworried by nudity would we ever have learned of the joys of sex? How would we have made babies? I think that talking snake knew a thing or two myself. Either that or God is a eunuch.
Of course the Bible being the Bible it does not use words like fuck or even coitus or sexual intercourse. Adam 'knew' his wife. It doesn't say how many times he knew her and in what positions. But anyway she became pregnant and she had a baby. And this baby was called Cain. Then they knew each other again, at least once, and she bore him Abel. Even here for some reason God gets the credit. She had, she said, gotten a man from the Lord. How did that happen? Was he watching? Did he teach them how to do it, after all nobody had ever done it before. Was this something from that tree of knowledge? In which case it was well worth eating wasn't it? Like I say, that snake knew a thing or two.
At this point the Bible skips a bit. Well, a lot actually. No sooner are Cain and Abel born than they are working for a living. Abel became a shepherd and Cain was an arable farmer. And of course they gave offering to God. Why? What does he need offerings for? He's a God.
Anyway, being someone who grew things out of the ground this was what Cain offered to his ungrateful and decidedly mercurial and quixotic god. Why anyone would want to worship or adore this petty minded creep is a mystery right from the off. For God favoured the offerings of Abel over those of Cain because Abel offered him meat products and Cain only had vegetables and fruit. Perhaps God would have also preferred a good fry up. Nowhere is it explained why God needed such offerings in the first place. He's very needy as we shall see. He needs constant assurances from people that he is their number one god.
And so he had less respect for Cain and Cain was understandably upset by this. And God noticed this and asked him why, which is, as we have observed before, an odd thing for an omniscient being to ask. It is especially odd since he was the cause of Cain being upset.
And rather like Adolf Hitler, God played off these two against one another and made Cain jealous. And so, in a fit of jealousy, and because God had told him that one who pleased him would rule over the other, Cain murdered Abel. And all for a harvest festival.
God, being a bit dimwitted as gods go, did not notice this at first and so had once again to ask Cain a stupid question. But then he realised what had happened and he cast out Cain. He told him that he would be a fugitive and a vagabond. And Cain said that this was all most unbearable and that he would be an outcast and that his face would be hidden from God, although how this was possible is moot given that God is supposed to be able to see everything and nothing can be hidden from him.
Anyway Cain was worried about all of this, that he would be a vagabond and an outcast and that anyone finding him, knowing what he had done, would kill him. It should be noted of course that, according to the Bible, there were only three people alive at this point, himself and his parents.
But God, possibly realising this, which is the first intelligent thing he had done, said that anyone slaying Cain would receive the wrath of God sevenfold. This was him being a bit changeable again. Is God bipolar? He put a mark on Cain so that nobody would kill and so that this man he had sent out as an outcast could sire children with women who did not exist, or at least are not mentioned. And of course these women who did not exist would have the same parents as Cain. So he would be shagging his sister. It's no wonder the Bible covers this up by saying they just 'know' each other.
Note that this piece of facile drivel has been used by various religions and movements with those religions to support their assertions that black people are inferior. This fantastically stupid interpretation assumes that the mark of Cain refers to people who are black. Yet this is to assume that Adam and Eve and their children were white. Which of course they weren't. This whole fairytale is Jewish. The Jews were a middle eastern desert dwelling tribe like Arabs.
So Cain went out with a mark on him given to him by God and dwelt in the land of Nod, which apparently is east of Eden. Here he met his wife and 'knew' her. Who was this wife and where the hell did she come from? She would, by definition, be his sister.
Anyway, Cain, who was an outcast remember, knew his wife and they had a son. Perhaps they also had daughters but the Bible ignores them as irrelevant. Their son was called Enoch and he built a city. Quite why he built a city is left unsaid because it would have been an empty city since there were still only 5 people in the whole world and he was the son of an outcast and a vagabond and so he would have built his city to house himself, his vagabond dad and his mum who came out of nowhere. Surely a house would have done the trick rather than a whole city?
We then get a long list of the children of the progeny and the resultant generations of Enoch. So, we had Irad who found another wife out of nowhere and they had Mehujael, another unmentioned wife produced Methusael and then there was Lamech.
Stay with me because then it gets interesting. Now Lamech took two wives again without bothering to mention where from but this time they are at least named. They were Adah and Zillah. Now Adah had a son, fancy that, and his name was Jabal. He apparently sired a whole tribe of people who live in tents and raise cattle. So they built an empty city earlier but now some of them are living in tents.
Jabal had a brother too. He was the father of a whole tribe of people who play the harp and organ. Perhaps that city they had built had a concert hall.
Then there was the fantastically named Tubalcain who taught people how to make things from metal. Where he got the knowledge from is not said. Maybe he had sneaked back to Eden and eaten an apple that had dispensed more useful knowledge.
But Lamech was not a nice chap as he too had killed someone, even though it would have been a close relative he had slain. But he used the precedent of his great great great great great grandfather Cain and said that anyone who came after him in revenge would be punished not seven fold but seventy seven fold. Quite how he came to this conclusion is unknown, but it's the first example of a piece of non sequitur theology we will come to know and love in what is laughingly called the good book.
We then, despite all of these generations of the sons of Cain, go back to Adam and Even again, possibly as an afterthought and because the authors of this drivel realised that they needed another branch of the family to make it more balance and to widen the gene pool. Adam and Eve had another son to replace Abel. His name was Seth. He had a son called Enos. Where did they get their wives from since Cain had been cast out?
Saturday, 21 February 2015
Friday, 20 February 2015
This blog and its predecessor blog now long defunct has been warning about Putin and Russia for many years, long before it became fashionable to do so. I did so when Obama pressed his idiotic reset button when he first came to power. The rot started then as Putin sensed his opportunity and started casting around for ways of capitalising on American weakness. Yet even at the last presidential election, when Mitt Romney warned of the danger of Russia, the idea of Russia as a great threat to world peace was sniggered at.
Now look where we are. The present crisis has been a long time coming but can be traced back to the fall of the Soviet Union. There is a certain kind of Russian that sees that event or series of events as a terrible blow to Russian pride and dignity. That their former vassal states then turned away from the smothering embrace of Mother Russia only heightened their angry resentment. Not for Russia the British approach to its former empire. It was wounded and angry. That has stored up for years in much the same way that German anger was stored up after Versailles. Indeed the parallels with that ignominious period of world history are striking, except of course that this time the West has done little wrong. We tried to be accommodating and friendly. Obama pressed that reset button. Russia saw friendly overtures as similarly wounding. No longer a superpower they were diminished on the world stage and no longer feared.
Of course confidence returned as they were turned into a wealthy petrol state. But it really returned when Putin came to power and started using the soft power that this gave him to start reasserting Russian power over its near neighbours from whom it demanded respect adherence to Russian will and sometimes rather more.
The present crisis in Ukraine started last year when one Russian leaning president was replaced, not entirely democratically or fairly, with one looking west. This was something that had been actively encouraged by the EU. Some have criticised this. Certainly it has had ramifications that few suspected, but even that is only because we weren't properly assessing the pathological nature of the Russian president. Where Western leaders should hang their heads in shame is that they encouraged Ukraine to look west but then have been unprepared to stand behind Ukraine as it has been bullied and then dismembered. Indeed they have even appeased the bully and indulged him, allowing him to redraw international borders and appropriate for himself a new vassal state.
But this crisis did not start last year. This crisis has started because Putin has seen, post the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, that the West is war weary and unwilling to confront aggression. He saw our response to the ongoing catastrophe in Syria. He saw Obama's red line on chemical weapons trampled over and ignored. He went to the aid of Assad with all the same cynicism he is now deploying in Ukraine and sensed a wider opportunity. That is why Ukraine is now being carved up. It is being carved up as was Czechoslovakia in 1938.
The question is what are we now prepared to do to stop Putin? The longer we leave it the more cynical and dangerous he will be. This is a man armed with nuclear weapons, a vast arsenal of them. What if he concludes, hardly unreasonably, that not only would we be unprepared to to fight him over Ukraine but the Baltic states too? What if he decides he would quite like a piece of Poland? What if he decides that the West is unwilling and often unable to put boots on the ground. We certainly would be unwilling then to risk nuclear war. Is Putin the sort of man who could call the great nuclear bluff that has kept the peace these last 70 years? I suspect he is unless he is confronted and defeated.
Russia is not a powerful nation. It has to buy its new ships from France. Yes it has a big nuclear arsenal but its planes and ships are ageing and often decrepit. They are in the process of increasing spending and building up forces again but that is a process that takes time.
But the West must respond. In particular Europe must respond. Britain's defences have been denuded by a succession of governments under the mistaken impression that old style defences against old style enemies were a thing of the past. Now we know better. For now Russia is just probing and testing our defences and they have not been found wanting. I know, I'm on the flightpath. But we cannot be complacent. Defence is something all too easy to cut. Now those cuts must be reversed. The money is available even in these austere times. Just take it from the pointless and wasteful international development fund. A strong Britain able and willing to defend itself and its friends and neighbours is a must. Putin is dangerous. He must be confronted and stopped before it is too late. We must learn the lessons of history.
Thursday, 19 February 2015
If you had the misfortune of seeing the BBC's version of The Casual Vacancy at the weekend, you saw in all of its £5 million glory, paid for from public funds, a piece of lazy lefty groupthink dressed up as cutting edge drama. It is written of course by Labour supporting JK Rowling, the woman who made a half billion fortune by writing about an elitist public school style institution of educational excellence which is denied to muggles - a beautiful metaphor for the denial of decent education to millions of working class children because of dogma whilst a socialist elite avail themselves and their children of the best education the country has to offer.
But we'll get to education another time. The Casual Vacancy was typical of the patronising attitude of the left towards their lessers in society and their incoherent anger towards Conservatives who take a different attitude to healing social ills to simply dispensing largesse towards those at the fringes of society. The absurdly cartoonish depiction of a type of councillor out for profit and selfishness and wanting to live in a gated society away from the great unwashed is frankly pathetic and demeaning to Rowling and the BBC. How this programme ever came to be made is or ought to be a scandal. The BBC has fortunately been redeeming itself by making Wolf Hall despite its challenging subject matter and narrative that makes The Casual Vacancy look like Victorian melodrama. Of course this is essentially what it is.
But this is genuinely how the likes of a certain kind of lefty thinks. Anyone who disagrees with them about methods and approaches to social deprivattion is clearly venal and selfish and greedy. It never occurs to them to look at the evidence of their own eyes and look at what their own prescriptions for those ills creates and results in.
Take for instance the minimum wage. Tories were opposed to this when it was first introduced, although to be fair we were opposed to it for the wrong reasons. The minimum wage has become both a floor for wages - which it to be welcome - but also a ceiling. Employers across the country now, instead of engaging in proper bargaining and awarding hard work, instead of looking at prevailing employment conditions in their part of the country and the cost of living are simply paying the minimum wage and nothing more. There are other factors involved of course, such as the vast influx of people into the country actively encouraged by Labour which has kept a downward pressure on wages, but the minimum wage has also been a factor. It has effectively created a kind of bottom end employment band, the sort seen in the public sector. Employees in certain kinds of jobs will be employed at this rate and can expect nothing more other than annual increased decreed by a Whitehall backed committee. Employers have no need to offer more and effectively see it as government sanctioned. It is a classic example of well meaning meddling preventing a proper market place and thus ingraining poverty and preventing the proper work ethic and desire for advancement.
This is what we should remember when Labour talks of a cost of living crisis. Yes there are many people who struggle to make ends meet. People in work. But this is at least in part as a direct consequence of Labour policies that have skewed the market. Labour is intent on skewing the market still further. The consequences will be disastrous.
Labour are of course quite correct that the current low inflation, inflation that may well turn negative is down to market factors that are beyond the control of government. But Labour are opposed to markets. They would seek to put 1970s controls on markets, the same sort that failed and created rampant inflation. They would relax controls on the unions putting upward pressure on wages, but this would just price people out of jobs. Labour does not understand markets. That's why they thought they could control energy prices.
The present government is engaged on the long hard process of reforming our out of control welfare system. It is already producing results. Yet Labour and the Left have complained constantly. They have attacked a perfectly sensible and reasonable attempt by the government to end people being given spare bedrooms paid for by the taxpayer. Why is this wrong? What is the point of protected empty bedrooms in a country with a housing shortage?
Similarly there was faux outrage when the government abolished the Educational Maintenance Allowance, a benefit given to teenagers before they have even managed to start work. What a disastrous and disgusting but sadly typical lefty message that sent out. Thankfully it has been abolished and teenagers seem to be getting by just fine. Maybe they have had to get part time work. How awful for them.
Our welfare system has gone from being a safety net created at the behest of all parties (as was the NHS) in response to the deprivation and depredations of the early part of the last century to a system that, at its worst, gave teenagers just out of school some pocket money to spend on digital downloads, cigarettes, booze and partying. It's no wonder they were angry when it was taken away. They got over it.
But that exemplifies what is wrong with the way Labour and lefties look at the world. They cannot see that taking money from 'the rich' to give it away on these fripperies is patronising, infantilising, counterproductive and dangerous. I would go further. It is immoral. Redistribution when it reaches these levels is wrong. Redistribution to avoid outright poverty and real deprivation is moral and right. But we already have that. I won't trouble you with the statistics over how much the top 1% of taxpayers already contribute. I wrote about it only a week ago. If you keep squeezing them you have the perverse consequence of disincentivising the very people this country most desperately needs. Worse, you may actually drive them abroad.
But lefties refuse to see this despite the very clear evidence that the top rate of tax, when lowered from 50% to 45% has raised more money. People resent working hard only to have their money compulsorily confiscated by self interested politicians posing as defenders of the poor. They are not defenders of the poor. They are like the worst kind of Soviet hypocrites, telling the masses what they need and attempting to silence those who disagree. The only difference is that our lefty hypocrites seek to do it via lazily written but well funded dramas. That's socialism for you. Drama by superannuated committee of elitists who think they are the opposite.
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
It has been pointed out that digital radio may see an end to the pips, the much loved time signal broadcast by BBC Radio at the top of every hour, which denotes, by five short high pitched peeps and one long one, the exact time.
Being a bit of a geek and a wannabe broadcaster when I was a kid, I attached much importance to always having my watch exactly right. Once working in radio it was always a matter of professional pride to hit the pips on time. Crashing the pips would be a humiliation. And the time signal was and is an important and traditional point of punctuation in or between programmes.
But, thanks to digital radio, the pips may have to die. The additional and unpredictable processing time in different digital radios makes an exact time signal pointless. It just wasn't a problem with anologue radios. But what's the point of a time signal that tells the wrong time?
And we have already seen this phenomenon with digital television. There was a time when the BBC had clocks prior to news programmes. We announcers would talk over the clock up to the news. But then along came digital television. Suddenly the clocks were rendered pointless because they said different things to different people. That, sadly, is the price of progress.
As more and more of us switch from analogue to digital so the pips will become more and more pointless, just like the old clocks on BBC One. It's sad but inevitable. So here, above, is a reminder of how it used to be.
There was no PMQs this week as MPs spend time in their constituencies. In reality there are only five more sessions of this increasingly raucous and pointless exchange anyway. MPs will turn up for these but the rest of the time they will spend campaigning. The election is nigh and there is all to play for.
And one of the charges from Labour and all opposition parties, in fact more or less the only charge will be that you shouldn't vote Tory because they just reward their own and hit the poor and don't care. Socialists care, they tell us. They created the NHS and the welfare state. The Tories, they argue with zero evidence and even less credibility, are out to privatise the former and cut the latter. Look at the food banks. Looks at the poverty. Look at the inequality.
The problem for Tories is that a lot of people genuinely seem to believe all of this. Johnny Speight, writer of Alf Garnett, exemplified the sort of class war attitude that Tories are toffs and out for themselves. Speight was genuinely perplexed that anyone from a working class background, people like me, my parents, many of my friends, could vote Conservative. Yet they do. In their millions. Not perhaps as many as in the days of Margaret Thatcher, but if the Ukip legions were to come home it would mean that Eton educated David Cameron would win a majority.
Here is why that would be the best solution for Britain.
First of all it's got nothing to do with class. That is a spectacularly old fashioned and rather juvenile thing to say. That is why Wallace and co keep saying it because they have run out of things to say and are politicians who have never lived in the real world. It has to do with simple, easy to understand ideas and concepts rejected by the Left, although adopted under the radar. The Left after all were vehemently opposed to privatisation during the 80s. Now it is just a slogan, something to throw at the Tories as some kind of punchline and incoherent accusation in the absence of anything constructive or clear sighted to say.
But the reason that Tories are keen on privatisation is that it demonstrably works.
So let's deal with privatisation and the supposed benefits of public ownership. First of all there is plenty of private operation in the NHS, which goes on every day entirely uncontroversially. Most doctor's practices are private partnerships, many services delivered to hospitals are provided by private companies - from the provision of gas and electricity, cleaning services, agency nurses to the many drugs and ointments dispensed daily by hospitals or prescribed by GPs. The reason that we all live longer these days is thanks largely to new treatments and drugs. The vast majority of those come from private companies undertaking research, taking risks with investment in that research and coming up with new drugs. Eventually those drugs will become generic and cheaper. That is the deal.
Privatisation has had a mixed record it is true. Where it has been at its most successful was when publicly owned companies were sold into the private sector but had plenty of competition. BT is a great example. This huge company used to have a monopoly. Now it has plenty of competition and the market has changed hugely thanks to new technology like the internet. Where once we had a public company supplying phones for which there was an NHS waiting list, now we have a responsive company that can connect you in a day or certainly a week and competitor companies providing similar services.
Where privatisation goes wrong it is when there is a lack of competition. Energy companies are a good example and so are trains. But this has been due to lacklustre regulation. Why is it not possible for more than one train company to compete on the same line? Why could they not bid for slots in the same way that airlines have to at the most popular airports? The same is true of the energy companies. It is competition they lack. They were allowed to consolidate and become mega companies with too much pricing power.
Look at the supermarkets sector. Or oil. One of the reasons that inflation is so low and may soon turn negative is because of price competition in both of these sectors. This is the market doing what it is supposed to do. And of course it doesn't always do this. But that is because it has been allowed to consolidate too much pricing power. That is when regulators and government must step in. Often they fail to do so. This leads to market failure.
Some private companies manage, despite being in a competitive market, to create a situation which gives them pricing power despite that competition. Look at Apple which manages to charge premium prices for products despite all of the very similar devices available. But that is consumer choice. Nobody has made me buy my iPhone and my Mac. I have done so because they are great product, cool products that talk to each other and make my life easier. Apple has reached its position of being so wealthy thanks to providing excellent products. But the competition is out there and often catching up. Apple must keep innovating and providing products that people want to stay in its position.
Now compare that to the NHS, your local council, government departments. They are in a monopoly position. The NHS operates queues. It is good at reacting in an emergency, but even then you can have a wait. Furthermore politicians with their targets have caused bottlenecks and problems.
The other problem juvenile lefties seem to have with private companies is that they seek to make a profit. Why is this a problem? That is the way the world works. As Apple has shown, as Microsoft has shown, as Google has shown, as our ultra popular mobile networks have shown, the quid pro quo for their fantastically successful services can be that they become astonishingly wealthy. But is there anything inherently wrong with that? If they stop providing services and products that everyone wants and has come to need they will quickly be overtaken and supplanted. That is an example of a market working as it should.
And we all make a profit. When you go out to work you receive a salary or wage to compensate you for that work. You don't just receive what it costs you. You receive money which enables you to pay for those things that you choose to purchase in your life. You spend your profits as you see fit.
It is true of course that some people make more profit than others. This is then labelled by idiot politicians as riches. But those who earn more do so because they have skills, attributes, talents or simple nous that others do not have. Some may acquire skills and make them more saleable. Again this is the market working. In order to achieve higher earnings you have to work hard, make yourself more saleable, study, gain new skills, market yourself.
The great irony is that this is precisely what the Labour Party is about. Indeed it is all that it is about. They have run out of ideas and policies, all of their pronouncements about the economy have been wrong. And so they are engaged in a kind of marketplace of promises in which they compete with the other parties.
The problem with this is that it is this kind of promise of a better tomorrow paid for with other people's money that stymies the market and makes Britain as a nation uncompetitive. This is ultimately the Conservative philosophy. Britain is not an island so far as the world market is concerned. We cannot cut ourselves off from it. This means that we cannot tax the rich more than they will stand because they will leave and take their skills and talents and sell them elsewhere in a marketplace that does not compulsorily confiscate half of their earnings and then come back for more because they live in a nice house in London where all the best jobs are.
All of this is simple hardheaded pragmatism. Conservatives are this way, not because we don't care but because we do care, we love our country, we want it to be wealthy and for all to share in that wealth rather than rot at home on welfare, trapped in state sponsored poverty. But I'll come on to welfare in my next post.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
As predicted, Labour's hypocritical attack on tax avoidance is unravelling and making them look like the amateurish idiots that they are. It was ever thus. Labour can't help themselves. Remember the ethical foreign policy? Remember the end of boom and bust? Remember the pretty straight sort of guy? What is it about these people that makes them on the one hand think that they are on a special mission to change the world and look after the working class they know little or nothing about? Then they reveal regularly that they actually look down on anyone who doesn't share their point of view, doesn't buy into their 'progressive' approach. Most of the time this attitude is levelled at Tories. But a lot of the time it is also levelled at the very people they claim to represent, the working class. Labour these days prefers the none working class. They are like the old fashioned poor who are much more easily condescended to and grateful.
Unfortunately for Labour this attitude is pissing people off. They have been sussed. Ed Balls' ludicrous claim that we should all be asking for receipts from tradesmen is unravelling spectacularly, and in record time. But that is because he and Wallace are spectacularly arrogant. Seriously, what is the point of a class of people who are professional politicians having done nothing else in their lives, if they are so crap at it?
Wallace and co are serially useless. They cannot even dispense their lies and delusions well. At least New Labour under Blair and Brown could do that. The new old Labour are precisely that. They ignore the lessons of history and want to take us back to an imaginary halcyon period in which you can tax the rich ever harder without consequence for the country and redistribute the money to shore up your own vote without worrying about the devastating consequences for a poor and trapped underclass. This is not caring and sharing, it is careless and selfish.
Wallace walks around lecturing people. 'Look,' he is inclined to say, or 'let me just say this.' He is less the politician and more the born again preacher, utterly convinced of his own moral superiority and the moral turpitude of others just because they have a different approach to the world's problems. It never occurs to the likes of Wallace that Tories like me can care about the poor and underprivileged and those unfortunate to be born into families that don't care about education and bettering themselves. This is presumably why he cannot see that all of the 'solutions' favoured by the left have been a disaster for the very people he claims to care about.
But the greatest sin of Labour is their never ending hypocrisy. The moment Wallace started banging on about tax avoidance it was going to go bang in his face. So it is proving. But then the same is true of all of his cheap, rabble rousing interventions. They are a disaster.
We are already seeing what the effects of a Labour government under Wallace would be like. It is having an effect on our energy market and keeping fuel prices higher than they should be for people heating their homes. It is having an effect on the housing market as people pause to see if there will be an idiotic mansion tax levied without thought for the consequences. Labour are intent on turning us into France. They may even try to do so with the aid of the SNP, Scottish votes levying taxes on the English to create their imagined socialist utopia which will undo everything this government has achieved in education, welfare and employment.
Fortunately it seems that the British people are seeing through this. The latest polls are very encouraging. Hell, even Ant & Dec are providing political commentary and are hesitant about Labour under Wallace. For the record I don't think they are Labour supporters at all. They just feel they have to say that. This is an example of the sort of people who are shy Tory supporters but feel unable to say so because of their background. It's why I think the Conservatives are going to win.
But it is time now for the Conservative Party to push on and exploit this opportunity. There is an election to be won and I for one believe that this opportunity is an historic one. Conventional wisdom suggests that this election is going to be close. I don't believe it. The Ukippers can be persuaded to set aside their understandable anger and vote for the good of the country. The right combined can not only win this election but win a decent majority. Wallace and co must be kept out of government in the same way that Kinnock was kept out at two consecutive elections. Alex Salmond must be reduced to an angry bystander in parliament.
I shall be writing about this in tomorrow's post, with my own prospectus for government and what it should be saying to counter the lazy assumption that Tories don't care about society and the poor and that market solutions are bad. After all it is the market that has exploited the internet and made it ubiquitous and democratised information. It is the market that has given us the smart phones we spend all of our lives looking at. It is the market that has provided the jobs miracle that this government can boast about. But I'll write of all of that tomorrow. In the meantime I commend this set of policies from Tim Montgomerie. I agree with all that he has written, but I'll add a bit more myself tomorrow.
Monday, 16 February 2015
Well, this is interesting. The latest ICM/Guardian poll, one of the higher standard and more reliable of the polls in a very crowded field, has the Tories taking a lead and a four point lead too. They had a bad week last week, or at least a comparatively bad week, but it was after a pretty disastrous January and first week of February for Labour and Wallace.
I contend anyway that last week was not a bad week for the Tories. It may turn out to be the turning point. Through desperation Wallace has retreated to his party's comfort zone and is talking about how greedy and venal and awful the Tories are. But by doing so he has declared open season on himself, his party and its supporters, especially donors and the unions. Better yet there are still over 10 weeks until the election. Plenty of time to expose their hypocrisy and cant. It started at the weekend.
Labour don't really have anything constructive to say. Their campaign will be centred on smears and lies and promises of more spending they and the nation cannot possibly afford. In other words they think the British electorate is stupid. This is why they panicked when Emily Thornberry tweeted that about white van man. This is how they view the electorate which does not live in north London. It is there to be patronised and then ignored once they are safely in power. Then they can get back to their gerrymandering, lavish rewards for themselves and their supporters and taxing anything that moves and then wondering why the money runs out. That is the Labour way.
This poll shows the British people have sussed them. I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction this far out. Unless something disastrous happens, the Tories are going to win this election. I think they may even get a slim majority and be able to govern alone.
It would be churlish of me to fail to admit that last week was a good week for Labour and its leader Wallace. But, since he was churlish and childish in order to achieve his good week and seems to be intent on remaining so for the rest of the campaign, his was a pyrrhic victory. Indeed, since he tried to play the morality card on tax avoidance, it means that the spotlight has inevitably fallen on him and his party and its dodgy dealings. The word dodgy seems as appropriate for Labour as it does for the Conservative Party. More so really since the Tories are nothing like as sanctimonious.
The line emerging from Labour this weekend is very similar to their line on cuts and on the NHS. When Labour dodges tax it is okay. It's only when the dodgers are rich and Tory that it becomes dodgy. The same has been true of their rhetoric on the NHS, which famously came unstuck just a couple of weeks ago. Privatisation was okay when it was Labour doing it because they created the NHS and love it so much. But when Tories do it it is clearly because they have evil intent and mean to dismantle it and profit from it whilst tying damsels to railways lines and laughing. Mwah hah hah hah hah hah hah.
Labour have said that Wallace paid all of the tax that was due. Just how stupid do they think that we are? That is the point you bunch of fuckwits. He minimised what he was due with a piece of nifty legal footwork. He avoided some tax. Nothing wrong with that, unless you wish simultaneously to wear a halo and sanctimoniously lecture others for doing what you did but with more money involved.
Ed Balls went on TV this weekend and actually said that when we employ tradesmen to do work we should ask for a receipt to ensure that they pay their VAT. This is the right thing to do he told Andrew Marr. Yet in almost the next breath he claimed that when Labour used a device to avoid paying tax this was them merely being tax efficient. So something is being tax efficient if practiced by Labour but is wrong and morally suspect if operated by anyone else from Conservative donors to your plumber, electrician or window cleaner.
And perhaps we should also remember that Ed Balls and his wife have been serial house flippers on MPs expenses. Was that 'the right thing to do' Mr Balls? Are you going to voluntarily pay back the money you unscrupulously claimed, even though it was within the rules? Wouldn't that be the right thing to do?
Now we keep being told how clever and decent Wallace is, indeed Peter Oborne (who is either trying to play devil's advocate, be controversial or has had a brain haemorrhage and needs urgent medical attention) wrote last week that Wallace is a kind of genius.
The trouble is that Wallace is not a genius. He just thinks that he is. Wallace genuinely seems to think that he can go all the way to the general election and then win it based on the kind of rhetoric and posturing that we saw last week accompanied with as little detail on policy as he can get away with. He genuinely thinks that the British people will look at him and his party, a party currently in the low thirties in the opinion polls up against a party they keep calling evil and selfish and which has imposed cuts on the country for the last five years and that they will elect him based purely on that prospectus and nothing else.
The fact is that Labour are reduced to saying and doing what they said and did last week because they can't say or do anything else. They have to do this and hope that the British people don't notice and have the memory of a goldfish.
So, as an aide memoire, let's remind ourselves why Labour are not fit for government. I'll put it in bullet points to make it easier.
- Labour left government five years ago. When they left government they left a note telling their successors (tee hee) that there was no money left.
- They have spent all of the succeeding years complaining about the terrible cuts imposed on the country by the unfeeling Tories who are trying to get the public finances back under control.
- Labour told us that the cuts, such as they are, would wreak terrible damage on the economy, increase unemployment and inflict untold misery on the country.
- In fact public spending overall has increased year by year. The only reason that some budgets have had to be cut is that the Tories have protected certain other budgets such as that to the NHS and because we have to service the vast debts and that deficit Labour created.
- Labour, the party that complains about the cost of living and the squeeze on the low paid and benefits recipients was responsible for allowing hundreds of thousands of people in to the country putting downward pressure on wages and upward pressure on the cost of housing.
- Labour did this as a deliberate policy because immigrants tend to vote Labour rather than Tory.
- When in power Labour also deliberately put money into additional benefits, the public sector and quangos galore as this also shored up their political base.
- So Labour, the caring party, spent borrowed money we could not afford to trap people on benefits which ingrains and entrenches dependency and permanent poverty for their own selfish gains.
- Labour, the caring party, lavished borrowed money on the public sector resulting in extravagance and waste on an unprecedented scale again entirely for their own selfish gains.
- Labour, the caring party, created the act of parliament which created the current energy policy which means we have had to close down power stations to meet a ridiculous target to cut CO2 emissions. The effect of this has been a huge increase in our energy bills as we are forced to subsidise wasteful and inefficient wind turbines and other supposedly green generation.
- The greatest sufferers from this are the poor.
- Labour have benefited though since one of their donors has become hugely wealthy based on this new and pointless industry.
- Labour, when they came to power in 1997, promised an ethical foreign policy. They then went on to take us to war in Iraq based on deliberate lies and exaggeration.
- Labour promised an end to 'Tory boom and bust'. Instead they gave us a boom based on borrowed money and the biggest bust in history which even saw a bank run.
- During their boom they sold off the nation's gold making the country a multibillion loss.
- We are still paying for their boom too. Not only did they create the massive structural deficit the government is still trying to cut, they also built schools and hospitals using ruinously expensive PFI which eats into health budgets and means that they cannot employ sufficient staff. All so that Gordon Brown could spend money but keep it off the books.
- Labour created devolution for Scotland and Wales but is still refusing to give the same to England through English Votes for English Laws. They refuse to do this for their own narrow electoral advantage.
- Furthermore Labour are refusing to rule out doing a deal with the SNP to enable them to rule using Scottish votes to impose laws on England.
- One such law could be a mansion tax which would fall disproportionately on England and in particular on the south east. In the anniversary year of Magna Carta, Labour are actually proposing that some people in our country should have to pay a licence fee to the government for the right to own their property. This is an illogical, economically inept and dangerous proposition which runs counter to everything this country has ever stood for.
- Labour also propose to raise the to rate of tax to 50%. They propose to do this even though it is proven to raise less money. This is the politics of envy at its most moronic.
- Labour is beholden to unions, or rather the robber barons that run those unions. These barons are left wing and intent on taking the country back to the 1970s when they nearly bankrupted us all thanks to their selfish and economically illiterate demands.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it will do to be going on with off the top of my head and at 2 in the morning.
Wallace has nothing to say on the economy since everything he has predicted or complained of has been shown to be wrong. His complaints about the NHS are undermined by the fact that it is performing worse in Wales where his party is in charge. The cuts that the government imposed were not too far and too fast as he said, but were actually well judged and have created the fastest growing economy in the G7.
And so Wallace is reduced to complaining about tax avoiders, even though he is one himself and promising various goodies to various vested interests all paid for by money from his magic money tree or of course the mansion tax which is going to pay for so many things it can only reasonably be concluded that he is going to designate anyone living in anything bigger than a shoebox as being in a mansion.
This is what Labour does. Your money is not your money, it is for politicians like Wallace who have never done a proper job in their lives to confiscate from you and then hand out to people as they see fit and of course in return for their votes. The mansion tax is actually a good metaphor for the ruination Labour would inflict on the nation. One day prime minister Miliband would tell us how good we have it thanks to his administration. Now everyone lives in a mansion he would tell us. Even people who live in a caravan. Now, hand over more of your money, the public sector workers need a payrise so that they can pay the tax on their mansions. Life under Labour - it's like living in a world drawn by MC Escher.