Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Way We Are Governed In The UK

Participating, directly or indirectly, with UK funds in the Greek bailouts in order to keep the Euro alive.

Placing ill thought out trust in the merits of wind turbines for energy production and ensuring in consequence that our fuel bills continue to increase to painful levels.

Giving aid to Pakistan.

Rendering the country unable to deport foreign terrorists and other undesirables by leaving the Human Rights Act on the statute book.

Leaving the ordinary citizen vulnerable to bullying and browbeating by agents of the state, directly or indirectly (think of the DVLA helping out pirate parking firms), who never pass up a chance to go after a soft target.

Maintaining a hostile attitude towards grammar schools.

Fuelling inflation via quantitative easing.

Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of would be wealth creators burdened by excessive regulation.

And maintaining that the UK's membership of the EU is a good thing.

Policies of the socialist government with which we were enslaved for 13 years, all left untouched by the Coalition whose sole aim appears to be managing the legacy and the resulting decline rather than pursuing truly bold reforms.

One wasted year so far, and the threat of four more. Thank you, political class. You're all right, and nothing else matters.

On that note, let's bring an end to these occasional comments on UK politics and current affairs. Barring a truly seismic event, such as the break up of the Euro and the consequent collapse of the EU - we should be so lucky - there's little point in complaining. No one is listening.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Defying the EU: Slovak Beer, Please

On a distant occasion when the Danes stood up to a piece of EU lunacy, I thought it merited a symbolic celebration with Danish bacon and Carlsberg (not at the same time, though).

The decision of Slovakia to stand up to the latest Greek bailout insanity raises two questions. The first, when will they be browbeaten into submission just like other EU members who vote in an manner unacceptable to the Commission? The second, where can I get a Slovak beer - as opposed to a Czech Republic beer - here in the UK?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My Country's In Ruins: Come On, Rise Up

It is interesting to realise that Bruce Springsteen's song of despair and hope My City Of Ruins from The Rising was not a 9/11 song in its own right, but a reflection on the sad state of Asbury Park and the significant amount of blight it had suffered. The element of hope, as the Wiki entry confirms, can be found in the Boss powerfully imploring the city to "rise up" from the decay in the chorus.

Here and now in the UK, plagued as we are by Labour's destruction of the public finances, the EU's destruction of Eurozone economies and its browbeating of the UK into bailout participation, our sky high energy bills in the name of fighting climate change, and the ostrich mindset of the Coalition in the face of these problems and many similar, we can only wish that the message and spirit of that song might be taken up by an individual or group with the determination and ability to do something about it.

Sadly, it's more likely that we'll just end up Dancing In The Dark while we wait for anything of the kind. Especially if the EU forces closure of the power stations before their replacements are built and while the turbines stand idle.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Air Passenger Duty and The Law Of Unintended Consequences

So George Osborne has admitted, via a leaked letter, that APD "is fundamentally a revenue raising duty and currently raises around £2.5 billion per year", despite being dressed up as an environmental measure designed to discourage air travel.

Well, there's a surprise. But just as the 50p tax rate may result in less revenue being raised, as the high earners turn their back on the UK, does it not occur to him that the APD levy may in fact be utterly counterproductive, as long haul flyers head for Schiphol and Frankfurt, regardless of the collateral damage to the UK economy that this brings?

Or is this more along the lines of a concealed environmental measure, where such wreckage to British industry is looked upon as a small price to pay for being seen to be doing something green?

SCRAP APD NOW, CHANCELLOR.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Bag It And Bin It, Welsh Assembly

Hard on the heels of the Prime Minister's outburst against plastic bags, another live example from up here in Wales. With effect from 1 October, a new regulation from the Welsh Assembly requiring supermarkets to make a minimum charge of 5p per bag. Well, that will really help fight climate change, won't it. Even if the law of unintended consequences will mean that more household litter goes everywhere because there are fewer bags reused, more instances of dog deposits being left (no, let's not go down that one).

But one irony stood out at a Tesco shopping trip a few days ago. The checkout assistant offered two cardboard bottle containers free of charge, and without obtaining any pledge that they would be reused. They're not that good for lining waste paper baskets (etc), of course. And what was their production cost compared to a couple of plastic bags? And might Tesco have been giving them away free just to put two fingers up to the Welsh Assembly?

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bag It And Bin It, Prime Minister

One of Margaret Thatcher's more cringe making moments when PM was the long forgotten anti-litter campaign where she acted a little scenario for the cameras, carefully picking up rubbish before finishing with the slogan "Bag It and Bin It, That Way We'll Win It". No mention in The Downing Street Years, but it was picked up by Philip Johnston just over 6 years ago.

Fast forward to today and we have David Cameron jumping on the bandwagon of the absurd war on plastic bags, all no doubt in the cause of having to be seen to be doing something to fight climate change and regardless of the fact that one or two more problems relating to the UK economy, the Eurozone and Greek bailouts, and our astronomical energy bills might just need more attention.

I once speculated whether that Scottish bloke called Gordon something or other, when he was ranting and raving about plastic bags rather than the outcomes of his own economic mismanagement, might ever have realised how useful plastic bags were when clearing up after a labrador had answered a call of nature, and whether he might appreciate being sent a specimen. It would perhaps be unreasonable to tar the current PM with such wilful ignorance, so I will refrain from making the same offer. As long as he promises to apply Bag It And Bin It to his latest silly outburst.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Eurocrats Should Be Slayed - By Slade

Inspired by Capitalists@Work, here's a rewrite of an old Slade classic that's only too symbolic here and now: -

Do you remember the crash of September
The Eurocrats lied every day
Do you remember they conned every member
As Greece just kept squandering away

Chorus: -

If you’re in for a euro
You gotta be in for a pound
‘Cause over and over
They pissed cash all over the ground
So look around
Play the refrain
Waste it and waste it and waste it again

Did you discover they all ran for cover
When Greece took a tumble or two
Were you surprised when they tried on their lies
And bit off more than they could chew

(Chorus)

Do you remember the night they surrendered
We wanted to boil them in oil
How they had squandered as Greece madly wandered
The prophets foretold we’d be foiled

(Chorus)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Littlejohn Names & Shames A Jobsworth

How often in years gone by, when reading of yet another instance of The Mad Officials (to use Christopher Booker's phrase) in action, blindly following procedures but not common sense, have we wanted the journalists to go that one step further and actually name the rubber desk johnnies personally responsible for making ordinary people's lives a misery, rather than for their articles to be left hanging with "a spokesman for Squandershire District Council said....."?

Well, all praise to Richard Littlejohn today for not only naming Lance Kennedy the "Tortoise Tyrant" of Cornwall Council responsible for the persecution of a St Austell tortoise sanctuary and its owner, but also publishing his full job title (Cabinet Member and Portfolio Holder for Community Safety - as Littlejohn himself would put it, you couldn't make it up), work address, email address and phone number, third story down in the linked article after those about the released Islamist suicide bomb terrorists and the talking litter bins. Here's to the thought of a new trend?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Greece and the EU: Taking the Piss

Daniel Hannan relates a witty anecdote about the disappearance of the Greek head of state's fountain pen at a Cabinet meeting.

I am reminded of an ancient joke about the primary school teacher who discovered a suspicious puddle in the classroom after letting the children out for a break. When they return, she asks who was responsible. No one owns up. Thinking that the culprit must be too embarrassed to do so in front of the whole class, she says that she will turn the lights out and draw the blinds, and enable the culprit to own up via the pen and paper on her desk. In total darkness, she hears a suspicious hissing sound followed by the pen scratching. She turns the lights back on and steps in a new puddle, before discovering what is written on the paper: -

"The phantom piddler strikes again!"

Is there just a vague echo here of what Greece is doing to the EU - or perhaps what the EU political class is doing to its member states?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Crap Jobs: Another Atlas Shrugged Echo

Jenny McCartney tells the tale today of how John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development - there's a passing reminder of the classic "Personnel? That's for assholes!" from Dirty Harry Calahan in The Enforcer - explains the attitude of so-called disadvantaged youths towards the employment market as being markedly influenced by employers not sufficiently addressing the big issue - "the world of work is so crap".

While Jenny M's analysis is entirely correct, it reminds me of the scene in Atlas Shrugged where Hank Rearden has his hectic working day interrupted by his resentful mother, for the sole purpose of begging him to give a job to his wasteful idler of a brother Philip. And not just any dirty old job amid his blast furnaces, but an office job with a nice desk. Rearden's most telling response, apart from reminding his mother that he was running a steel plant and not a whorehouse, was "But he'd be no use to me whatsoever!"

Indeed. A sentiment echoed up and down the country by thousands of small business owners whenever they take a look at the legions of unemployable chavs and chavettes, many of whom would not lift a finger to seek to trade their state benefit existence for the said crap jobs. To say nothing of the barely literate applications and CVs that might come in, and the hopeless performance at interviews of any who make it that far.

If Mr Philpott cannot answer his own rhetorical "what is the point" question with an answer that involves having to start at the bottom in order to better oneself, perhaps he too is in a crap job.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Chris Huhne and a Joni Mitchell Tribute

I am indebted to niconoclast for the passing reference to Big Yellow Taxi on one of yesterday's ConHome threads about our beloved Secretary of State for Energy, particularly the thought that he probably thinks of the song as Big Green Taxes. Let's take this a step further, shall we: -

They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot
With its bird chopping blades, a racket
And a swingeing landscape blot
Don't it always seem to go
That they waste cash they ain’t got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot

They praised fashions green
Put industries in a museum
Then they charged the people
Billions in tax just to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go,
That they raise tax you ain’t got
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot

Hey, Coalition
Put away green energy
Give me cuts on my fuel bills
And leave me my car and TV
Please!
Don't it always seem to go
That they print wads they should not
‘Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot

Late last night
I dreamt the Commons door went boom
And the men in white coats
Came and took away Chris Huhne
Don't it always seem to go
That they inflate the whole lot
‘Til it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a turbine plot

(Repeat ad nauseam)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Chris Huhne: Tough On Energy Prices - But Not Tough On The Causes Of Energy Prices

If there was one question we were all burning to ask Chris Huhne today, it would not be "Did you get your ex-wife to take the rap for your speeding offence?" It would be "To what extent are our gas and electricity bills ramped up to such obscene levels as a direct consequence of the lunatic green policies of your government and their fanatical pursuit of EU targets for renewable energy?"

With every new story of how foreign wind turbine firms such as the Danish company Dong Energy (just about says it all) are being paid not to produce electricity when the wind blows really hard, and how wealthy landowners like the Prime Minster's father in law are coining it in for their part in despoiling the landscape with the said monstrosities, it is difficult to know whether to laugh or to cry. And the chance of Huhne the Eco-Loon getting tough on himself is sadly just as likely as the chance of his multi-millionaire Cabinet colleagues ever being able truly to feel the pain of the governed classes when the energy bills get higher and higher.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Chris Evans and the EU: Is The Tide Turning?

It was verging on astonishing to hear the dialogue between Chris Evans and his co-presenter just before the 7.00 news this morning. Having proclaimed that everybody knows that Greece is going to default on its debts, he went on to enthuse about the growing calls for a referendum on EU membership (notably from Mark Pritchard today) and in turn to say that he would vote to leave the EU even though he did not really know why.

Well, there's a startling revelation. Given how the skids were put under his predecessor Sarah Kennedy for many supposed political gaffes, including one about how Enoch Powell was the best Prime Minister we never had, how long before the fanatically pro-EU Beeb apparatchiks focus their sights on Chris Evans? Or would they fear to do so, knowing deep down that he has accidentally spoken for the majority, not just of his listeners but of the nation as a whole?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Greece And The Euro: Three Wheels On My Wagon

I couldn't resist...

Three wheels on my Euro,
And I’m still rolling along
The bankrupt Greeks are making shrieks
Savings fly, right on by
But I’m singing a happy song

I’m singing a higgity, haggity, hoggety, high
EU bureaucrats never say die
A mile up the road there’s the Brussels cave
And we can watch those greasy Greeks
Go galloping by

SPOKEN: “Silvio, they’re not sucking up to us!”
“Get your unshaggable lard arse back in the wagon Merkel!”

Two wheels on my Euro,
And I’m still rolling along
Them no good Greeks, bust in weeks
Market fears burn my ears
But I’m singing a happy song

[Chorus]

SPOKEN: “Duh, Rumpy Pumpy? Are you sure this is the right road?”
“Will you hush up? You and your maps!”

One wheel on my Euro,
And I’m still rolling along
Them flat broke Greeks, up shit creek
We’re all in flames, financial chains
But I’m singing a happy song

[Chorus]

SPOKEN: “Nicolas? Should I get a ban on treats and junkets?”
“Merkel, I know what I’m doing!”

No wheels on my Euro,
So I’m not rolling along
The desperate Greeks deserted me
They look mad, things look bad
But I’m singing a happy song

SPOKEN: “C’mon all you greasy Greeks sing along with me!”

Higgity, haggity hoggety, high
EU bureaucrats never say die…

Greece and the Euro: today Deja Vu, tomorrow Je Ne Regrette Rien?

In a strange, twisted way, it is verging on humorous to see Merkel and Sarkozy putting on the Comical Ali act to convince themselves – but clearly not their own electorates, nor the markets – that Greece is a valuable member of the Eurozone and must remain so (I almost added “at all cost”).

There are echoes here of how Norman Lamont was proclaiming the virtues of the ERM right up until sterling was ignominiously withdrawn from it on Black Wednesday, or until he finally saw the light on Wonderful Wednesday if you prefer. Not long afterwards, of course, he became the fall guy, but John Major’s reputation and government never recovered.

So what will be the song of choice for Merkel and Sarkozy, as and when Greece defaults and they will be proved to have inflicted wanton financial destruction on their own economies simply in the name of the European ideal? Je Ne Regrette Rien just doesn’t ring true. How about “Three Wheels On My Wagon, And I’m Still Rolling Along?”

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Sarah Palin: End The Aristocracy Of Pull

Time for another dip into Atlas Shrugged. At his wedding reception, Jim Taggart proclaims "We will build a society dedicated to higher ideals, and we will replace the aristocracy of money by - "

"- the aristocracy of pull." Thus Francisco D'Anconia completes his sentence, as a prelude to his famous Root of Money speech.

One reasonable definition of this phrase and its practical illustration: a group of powerful individuals who have reached their status not through talent or initiative, but through political connections.

Today James Delingpole reports on Sarah Palin's speech to a rally in Iowa on 3rd September. Just to take one passage: -

"Yeah, the permanent political class – they’re doing just fine. Ever notice how so many of them arrive in Washington, D.C. of modest means and then miraculously throughout the years they end up becoming very, very wealthy? Well, it’s because they derive power and their wealth from their access to our money – to taxpayer dollars. They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power."

Sarah Palin may be a divisive figure. She may be a little bit eccentric. But when she can speak as electrically as this, and subconsciously identify the aristocracy of pull as something that is the cause of so many political problems and has to be stopped, doesn't she have a point? And if the USA does not want her in the highest office, can we have her over here in the UK, please?

Saturday, 10 September 2011

GO and GQ: What A W****r

I have never rated George Osborne as Chancellor or shadow chancellor. A donkey with a blue rosette could have come up with the (broken) pledge to scrap inheritance tax that supposedly stopped Brown calling a snap election all those years ago. The vacuous prior pledge to share the proceeds of growth only lent itself to the Paxmanic "what if there is no growth?" Here and now, as John Redwood's talents remain wasted on the backbenches, there is something not quite right about a multi-millionaire trust fund beneficiary without tangible experience of wealth creation or preservation being in charge of the nation's purse strings, especially when his enthusiasm for decarbonising the economy continues to wreak havoc on fuel and energy prices. We can look back to the days of financial giants such as Howe and Lawson, and indeed to some extent Lamont (remember he took us out of the ERM), and despair when comparing the present day.

And would Howe, Lawson, Lamont or Redwood have gone to a GQ awards ceremony and told smutty jokes that demeaned one of the great offices of state? Not in a thousand years. But of course Osborne is the PM's mate. Which is evidently all that matters nowadays. We could even think of a comparison with the Blair reaction to the Prescott jab - "George is George". How sad.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Niger and Gaddafi: Follow That Camel

What might spring to mind if asked to come up with any interesting facts about Niger? Assuming that the response was not “Duh…”, or “Nee-zhair? Don’t you mean Ny-juh?” (or another embarrassing pronunciation despite the lack of a second letter G), there might be scope for a mention of its landlocked status. Or that fact that it comprises a large amount of Sahara desert, leaving its population based largely in the far south west corner. Or the fact that one of the WMD related allegations about Saddam was that he had supposedly tried to obtain yellowcake uranium or from there. Or that for a brief period of time in 1999, after a coup that was not long followed by another, it was governed by a President Wanke (and his surname was indeed two syllables long).

That’s about it, really. So would they really want to become suddenly in the forefront of world awareness for offering Gaddafi a safe haven in exile? Perhaps the thought of a shadowy figure with dark flowing locks galloping towards the frontier on a camel is too much to resist.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

PC: It's Just Not Cricket - Pass The Anaesthetic

As ever it is painful to read of the threats to the livelihood of Christopher Booker’s village cricket team in Somerset, whose fate rests in the hands of functionaries in Bromley and Liverpool all because the club had not made it sufficiently clear that it “would not discriminate against any one-legged Inuit lesbian Druid pensioner who might wish to join”. Leaving aside the fact that such a new member’s presumed difficulty in running between the wickets might be outweighed by the reduced probability of an LBW decision, we can only dream that one day there might be an anti-political correctness court or tribunal to which anyone affected by such bone headed stupidity could immediately apply for an Order Nisi quashing the PC decision with immediate effect, and leaving the apparatchiks with the burden of objecting to an Order Absolute on pain of a large costs penalty if they did so and failed.

But at least the fightback may have started. What a joy to read that one of the exasperating health authority adverts that was supposed to end up with one of the usual platitudinous pieces about diversity actually concluded with the message "the usual rubbish about equal opportunities etc". At least this paraphrasing would have been an accurate reflection of the non-anaesthetised thoughts that go through our minds when we read the customary "we are committed to promoting equality and diversity" with which all such adverts normally tend to conclude.

UPDATE: the Mail has now published the original ad in all its glory. Priceless.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Keir Starmer and the Art of Starming

So Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, believes that “riot justice is too tough”, that there is no need or justification for the naming and shaming of juveniles who took part in the aggravated theft, criminal damage and arson that afflicted our cities barely weeks ago, and that the Human Rights Act is a worthwhile and valuable piece of legislation that should be left in place exactly as it is. Why is this clown poking his nose into matters beyond his remit and not just getting on with the job of directing public prosecutions? Could it be anything to do with the fact that his background is not in the prosecution of criminals but in human rights – which some might argue to involve a great deal of appeasement and assistance of criminals – and that he was upon any objective standard a Labour placeman to this role?

Perhaps it is time to coin the noun “starmer”, and its associated verb “to starm” and participle “starming”. The noun’s definition: “an individual who not only remains in public office despite the defeat of his ideological appointers, but also overtly uses that role to thwart the objectives of the successor party.”