Monday, 7 May 2007
Please note, do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Our annual vacance en France would be ruined if you iron out all the most magnificent French quirks. Two days spent railing against the shops shutting at lunchtime and the impossibly slow pace of life and then....pure relaxation. Don't ruin it.
However, very grateful if you would kindly prevent illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe and Africa from reaching, let alone encamping at, Calais. One has always wondered how these people are hosted and cared for with impunity on your side of the Channel but suddenly become illegal immigrants by the time they reach Dover (in the back of or underneath whatever vehicle they can strap themselves to).
If they are legal at your end, be so kind as to make them feel welcome.
If they are not, please deport them before they make onward travel arrangements.
Get a bloody grip.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Not only is the voting system so totally incomprehendable, but there is a fundamental disconnection between votes and candidates.
People don't vote for Parties, they vote for people. A Party dictated regional list is contemptuous of the voter. These people do not take personal responsibility for their electoral platform, they are secondary campaigners and yet, based on nothing more than a proportion of the vote, they get to sit in power and make decisions with no individual and answerable public mandate.
PR is often represented as being"fair and equal" but it is nothing of the sort. It is a collection of robots controlled by an Orwellian Party dictatorship and I will do everything possible to prevent it spreading any further.
Scotland, poor sods, are condemned to a lifetime of powerless, coalition government managing social and economic terminal decline.
Blind to steady but evident advances the Tories were making all night long, the BBC did everything to portray the election as a disaster for the Cameron project.
Firstly there is no Cameron project, merely the resurrection of the Conservative Party as a whole and secondly winning control of 38 additional Councils and 900 additional seats to control nearly 60% of the Councils of England is impressive by any measure and a victory by all.
I am the first to accept that council elections do not wholly indicate national trends. The Tories made some pretty odd loses alongside their wins. However, people are now looking at and voting for the Tories in a way inconceivable just 5 years ago.
The most appalling aspect of the media coverage, however, was their complicity in the Labour line that the Tories were making no ground in the North and had "no Councillors in Manchester, Liverpool or Newcastle".
It is indeed the case that these three great Cities have no Conservative representation, but consider this - Labour have absolutely no representation on 90, yes, 90 English Councils. As the map below shows, Labour are lost all across the Country. There are another 40 or 50 Councils which have less than 5 Labour Councillors.
The media simply cannot bring themselves to accept the Tory resurgence. This is fine where media bias is well founded and well understood. I will never expect the Mirror or the Guardian to be treat Cameron fairly but that is a business decision and those publications live and die by their allegiance.
The BBC is very different. It exists in the public interest, funded by each and everyone of us through the most blatant and unreasonable tax.
It is very simple, the BBC can become politically biased if they want to, but they must face the same price and risk as all the others. Bias or license fee - not both. You decide.
With people facing two separate elections involving three different election systems, the result was a staggering 1 in 10 ballot papers spoilt. Spoilt by confusion and complication that is, not apathy and anarchy.
The whole point about the simplicity of democracy is that everyone can understand it. The act of marking a single paper with a single 'X' is time-honoured.
Rather like Bush and his ludicrous "hanging chads", one expected Scotland to burst into a flame of legal contest as losers claimed that their victory was buried amongst the discarded papers.
Those first in the queue should be the decent people of Scotland whose honourable attempt to participate in the democratic process has come to nought through no fault of their own. I myself have spent some considerable time trying to figure it all out and well done to all those who got it right. I cannot be sure I would have myself!!
The one group of people, however, who have absolutely no right to challenge the result are the Scottish Labour Party, under whose watch and with whose direction and compliance, such an abomination was allowed to take place.
It is ironic that their own thoughtless, flawed and pathetically "equal" system has brought about their own downfall.
Mr Allan Wilson, defeated Labour candidate in Cunnignhame North, smarts at his personal loss. Not half as much as the 100,000 Scots denied their right to vote.
A the end of a very bad day for the Labour party in the country , it is the news that Charles Clarke has publicly announced that he will not run for the Labour leadership and John Reid's news that he will resign from teh Cabinet when Brown takes over that really gives us the meaning of it all and describes just how bad things are.
Clarke, with his cohort, Milburn, has always had that glint in his eye that just told you he was going to go for it. But even one as slightly deranged as he has taken one look at today's political landscape and has pulled out.
Everyone now knows that the game is up and that Brown must face the music – alone. It will be immensely painful but thankfully it will be brief. And that is precisely why all the other potential candidates will sit on their hands. They prefer a survival strategy. The sooner Brown takes over, the sooner they lose and the sooner Brown can be dispatched and replaced. That is the time to rescue Labour, not now.
If you are around 50-ish, that is by far a better option than challenging now. After all, even if you win, what is the prize? The vile legacy of Blair and Iraq? The economic pensions black hole of Brown? A failing NHS? The torment of the Scottish Nationalists and the collapse of the Union? A revived and attractive Conservative challenge?
No thanks, Mr Brown. Its all yours, and you deserve it.
Brown has made his bed and he must now lie in it. He will fulfil the single ambition that has driven him for two decades and, in sweet revenge for his bitterness, cowardice, stubbornness and failure, it will be a (short) living nightmare.
If you have ever wondered what it is like to be governed by a very vicious, nasty man with a bunker, Millwall* supporter mentality, you are about to find out.
It pains me to realise that I am living the best years of my life under some of the most despicable political leadership I can imagine.
*Famously, Millwall supporters chant “Everyone hates us, we don’t care!”
Wednesday, 21 March 2007
This Budget and indeed the political activity of the last few days, provides all the evidence you need that Cameron is now running the country.
Cameron leads on environment, Gordon turns green. Cameron leads a Doctors rally, Gordon (& Tony) hold tortuous press conference on public services. Cameron looks for tax cuts, Gordon delivers - but just to out flank Cameron.
Gordon's mistake is that everything he is currently doing is designed to destroy Cameron. He can't help himself. He is the ultimate class warrior.
The trouble is that twisting and turning to outwit Cameron is a world apart from leading the country and his obsession will be seen for what it is.
I admire the loyalty of those who love Gordon, but even they must smart at some of the things he has and will do to win the votes of middle England. He is betraying his principals, the poorest in society and his supporters, but Gordon's "destiny" is more important than good or principalled leadership.
I may not like the policies they hold, but I do respect Socialists such as Tony Benn, who stand up for what they believe, argue with passion and honesty and take the rough with the smooth. Brown is the epitomy of true Scottish socialist / communist conviction, but he has done nothing for the poor. If anything, he has made their lives vastly worse by complicating the benefits process beyond their intellectual capability, failing the education system and standing by while crime and disorder in our poorer communities becomes endemic.
I despise his conceit. I despise his class warfare. And I despise his cynical, deceitful approach to government.
Admirable Chancellor - disastrous Prime Minister in waiting.
Pretty much sums it up for me.
Update: Did I really say 'admirable'?? Should read "abominable"!
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
In 1990, Thatcher was driven from office by her own Party after 11 (great) years in absolute power. Scotland delivered the final blow in its reaction to the trial of the infamous Poll Tax. Heseltine, the big noise of the then Tory Party, had previously dithered over the assassination, trying all manner of underhand tactics to prompt revolt. The departure of such a powerful leader exposed the shallowness of spirit in those left behind and the complete absence of talent or leadership.
In the end, the apparently dominant Heseltine failed to secure the leadership as the Party chose to “play safe” behind the featureless charisma vacuum that was Mr Major. The Government and, frankly, the country descended into unseemly decay. Scotland did for Thatcher and the Tories haven’t managed to win more than one seat North of the Border ever since.
In the next few months, Scotland will once again provoke political chaos, and, albeit in a slightly different way, the outcome will be the same. Power will be usurped, a talentless inner lining will be exposed, and the dominant figure will stumble in the final straight as a divided and rudderless party loses its nerve.
Scotland, Gordon Brown’s personal fiefdom, is set to go to the polls in 60 odd days to elect MSP’s to a Parliament that only exists because our current Government made it so. The polls suggest however, that they will express their thanks by voting Labour out of office in favour of the Nationalist SNP. Thanks indeed. Scots were never known for their sense of humour.
This time Scotland will do for the “Prince Regent” at the moment of transition, and the Labour Party will panic and play safe. This time, however, the Opposition are ready and waiting and there will be no extended death throes.
Gordon Brown, broken and furious, will never understand how his own people conspired to use the liberty he helped to give them to betray him.
The moral of the story, if that is what you are looking for, is that politics is a ruthless business not for the fainthearted. Power must be acquired and retained by fair means or foul. Most of all, if you don’t take control of your destiny, your destiny will crumble to dust before your very eyes.
Oh yes, and Scotland may be very beautiful but its residents are a political liability! I feel the onset of a new metaphor. Alongside the "Trojan Horse" perhaps we should have the "Scottish handgrenade".
Alan Johnson truly deserves contempt. At the height of a wide ranging national ‘youth’ scandal (worst place to be a child in the developed world, youth gun crime, gangs and male displacement), Mr Johnson commits himself to the single policy most responsible for the problem – the abandonment of marriage. Marriage and family are the essential building blocks of society. Withdrawing Government support for marriage in search of some liberal utopia is criminal dereliction of the youth it ultimately betrays. New Labour have made their bed, and they must now lie in it. Never has a cartoon ever summed up my feelings as this one by Brookes. If the rights were acquired by the Tories and used properly, this single cartoon could and should bring this government down.
The contest for the Leadership of the Labour Party is hotting up in true New Labour style. Milburn and Clarke’s launch of their ‘debate’ is little more than we have come to expect from this tawdry bunch. Its deceit is so transparent. Its propagators lie and spin their way through a press conference claiming that their purpose is to raise policy issues – but not one single policy is discussed. This cowardly, deceitful approach to politics is precisely the legacy that Blair leaves behind and precisely the reason why this leadership campaign is doomed to failure. All Cameron has to do is be honest, decent, open and true, and he will sweep these desperados from power.
The contest for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party interests me not. With one exception. The very fact that it is underway before we, or more particularly they, know who the next Leader of the Party is. They appear to be saying that they are happy to be deputy leader to any of Brown, Meacher, McDonnell, Miliband or Milburn and as such their political credibility is shot and their self serving rush for power is beneath contempt.
If I see another moment of media coverage of either Jade Goody, Anna Nicole Smith or that other brainless female, Danielle, I will lose all sense of decorum. The media does many great things but its creation and propagation of the cult of celebrity is an evil that must be brought to a rapid end.
Ireland have finally grown up. Patronising though that may be, I speak as man with significant quantities of Irish blood but who has grown up knowing nothing but Irish petulance and violence. I have stood between them and witnessed their bigotry first hand. As such, I expected little from the crowd at the highly charged, Nationalist venue, Croke Park in Dublin for the Ireland vs. England Rugby international. For those unaware, Croke Park is the now impressive Gaelic Football stadium in which, in 1920, British troops took revenge for the killing of British agents by opening fire indiscriminately during a football game killing 14 people. Since when the stadium has stood as a bastion of nationalism and until just two weeks ago had NEVER played host to any international team. I was deeply moved therefore, by the all round decency of the crowd last Saturday. Their applause for the English team, their silence (to a man) for the British National Anthem and their generosity in victory. Fantastic game of rugby!
Thursday, 25 January 2007
Wednesday, 17 January 2007
People want a bit of parity and fairness and everyone over-reacts, claiming that the UK will fall apart. What rubbish.
New Labour tactics are crude and self interested (as always). A Scots dominated government gave Scotland a little of what they wanted a decade ago, and just as it threatens to bring the party to a close, they start scaremongering.
If English MPs have no say in how public money is spent on health and education in Scotland and Wales, why should Scottish and Welsh MPs have a say on English spending. There is nothing wrong in pointing out the absurdity of certain people having a vote in issues which do not affect the people they represent or govern.
If that was acceptable we would have welcomed the Nazis with open arms. But it is not acceptable and we are right to demand that our “leaders” put right what they have screwed up.
This Government should have fallen the day that Scottish MPs imposed tuition fees on English Universities and students just to protect the Government from an embarrassing defeat. This is vastly more iniquitous than the poll tax trial in Scotland ever was, and that issue directly brought about Thatcher’s demise.
Devolution is very simple to operate. It is quite simple – just exclude Scottish and Welsh MP’s from debates and votes concerning any issues which are already decided upon under devolved powers in Edinburgh and Cardiff.
You don’t need a new building, you don’t need any new politicians and you don’t need a new flag.
You just need some common sense and a willingness to ask one simple question – will the outcome of this vote directly affect the people of Scotland and Wales. If yes, Scottish and Welsh MPs vote, if no, they don’t.
Tricky isn’t it.
Previously we had the debate concerning Saddam’s execution and the outrage that it had been filmed and was being shown on TV and on the internet. The manner of Saddam’s execution told the truth about Iraq and the strongest complaints came from those most upset that the truth had been exposed. It was in effect the perfect ending to Bush and Blair’s personal crusade and their ignorant misadventure. But instead of accepting the reality of what they saw, they tried to damn those who dared film it.
Iraq lies in tatters and the vengeful and hateful manner of his execution gave a pretty big clue as to how the next 20 years of Iraqi affairs will pan out. Anyway, as an aside, we all know that Blair’s speciality is breaking things he doesn’t like and then staring at the pieces without any idea how to put them back together.
How many history lessons does it take to learn that if you remove a suppressive dictator, you either accept that a new, bloody and vengeful power struggle will ensue, or you must replace it immediately with an equally forceful leadership.
Now we have Big Brother who crime is simply to film and broadcast the true character of “beasts” that we have created and which we conspire to create through our tacit condoning of modern contrived culture.
These people exist because we created them and because we allow them to.
The camera never lies and broadcasters do us a greater service than we care to imagine. People always say that before you can change, you must first see and accept what is wrong. Thanks to TV, society finally has the looking glass is so badly needs.
You see the Big Brother house currently hosts the perfect microcosm of society as a whole.
We have so many features being played out. We have raw selfish ambition. We have astonishing ignorance and stupidity. We have youthful intimidation. We have supine cowardliness. We have spiritual condescension. Our shallow, vacuous, selfish, disrespectful society writ large.
That Joe, Jade and Danielle are celebrated in society at any level is an insult to every molecule of my being.
That they are as unintelligent and ill educated as they are is the most potent comment one could make about a decade of New Labour education policies.
That they act as they do is the most accurate reflection of that generation of our young white population.
That the older people in the house do nothing is diabolical and yet unsurprising. It happens in every walk of life every day.
The girlie gang’s behaviour is tawdry and offensive. It verges on racism in as much as they are basing their dislike for Shilpa on her cultural mannerisms and traditions. I would suggest that their primary crime is bullying, but it is strongly supplemented with racial aggravation. When cats in a sack fight, the hissing and scratching is prolific.
Shilpa, however, knows exactly what she is doing and is more in control of the situation than most of the 15,000 complainants give her credit. She is in the house for ambitious personal gain. She is clearly as manipulative as any motivated woman can be. She is playing the audience well and they are responding superbly.
Regular readers of this blog know just how important an impact I believe a leader has on those they lead and so none will be surprised when I suggest that what we are seeing in the Big Brother House this month is exactly the advert I would make for a decade of Blair’s Britain. Big Brother is Blair’s real legacy. Big Brother epitomises the Blair years.
The cameras hold a mirror up to society and we don’t like what we see.
Thank god for that.
Perhaps we are now as close as ever to the point at which society fights back.
P.S. I would of course love to know just how many of the 15k complainants laugh heartily at Little Britain and the racially inspired humour derived from the Indian lady in the Fat Fighters Club. “Say it again?!”
Friday, 12 January 2007
He has spent the last decade patrolling the world throwing British people and resources at any and every problem he can find. Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq. His ego knows no bounds, especially when other people are cashing the cheques.
So, the world is in chaos; the Middle East is in turmoil; new unstable countries are pursuing nuclear capability; a full scale War of Terror is underway; our Armed Forces are in melt down - stretched to breaking point and criminally underfunded; our expedition / crusade to Iraq has failed; and Afghanistan could rage for another ten years, just as it did for the Russians.
So having broken this particular toy, what is Tony’s answer – to have a debate about what role Britain should have in the World today.
The only reason we need a debate, Tony, is because you have made such a total and incomprehendable mess of it all. Oh, and by the way, the rest of us have been debating this very question for a number of years. It is just that you haven't noticed or cared.
He is without question the most contemptible and unthinking Prime Minister we have ever had.
Saturday, 6 January 2007
All I ever hope for is that some significant part of my life coincides with a period in which my national team are the best in the world at my favourite sport.
Football fans of my generation will sympathise with that sentiment, I am sure. We have been nearly-rans in World football since 1986 and with such a fabulously talented squad of players.
When you think you are nearly there, a thrashing like this is quite unbearable. Worst of all, it is the sort of ‘video nasty’ you just have watch.
Another “worst” aspect of this debacle was the fact that deep down, you knew we were on the receiving end of something very special. I wished I could have been neutral and been able to enjoy it for what it was – cricket history and the swansong of two of crickets living legends. Shane Warne is the first sportsman whose career and mastery I watched as it happened and who will still be talked about in 100 years. He is my Pele, my Mohammed Ali, my Bradman. I should have enjoyed it more. I should have seen him live.
Since an inquiry into England’s loss is soon to commence, and they will almost certainly consult this blog for views, I really had better provide some.
England were whitewashed the day the Aussie squad AGREED to partake in a boot camp last year. It told me everything I needed to know about their seriousness, their humility and their commitment to each other. I, and now they, understand the monumental importance of a shared hardship in building the team. I come from a culture of “train hard, fight easy” and the Aussies approach to this series is its epitomy. I emphasise the word ‘agreed’ because in England, even if such an idea made it to first base, it would have been laughed out of Court. Go on, suggest it now – see what happens.
England were whitewashed because our BOWLING was atrocious. Batting may be the glorious face of cricket but bowling is the only aspect that matters. You see the ONLY way to WIN a test match is to bowl the opposition out twice. You can score a thousand runs, but if you only take 19 wickets, you draw. It really doesn’t matter how good your batsmen are (and ours really are pretty good), if your bowlers let the opposition back into the game at every turn, confidence wanes, fluency departs, runs dry up and the old middle order collapse becomes endemic. In the crucial 2nd Test, our batsmen scored a massive 1st innings total, only to watch their bowlers throw the advantage away. Its like pouring water into a bath with the plug out – pointless and demoralizing.
England were whitewashed because we didn’t have a Captain. Flintoff may be an incomparable all rounder, he may be a talisman, he may be capable of turning a game, but he is not a leader and he is not a Captain. He cannot even spell the words and must be sacked immediately. I am pretty much alone in this observation. The TV pundits won’t touch him but he is to blame. The Captaincy quite obviously suffocated his own game and his strategies were hopeless. But worst of all, Flintoff doesn’t have the courage to stand apart from the team. He tries to lead by having pals, which of course means that your team splits into two camps and falls apart under pressure. He was powerless to help the floundering Harmison and he wouldn’t fire Jones or Giles until the Ashes were lost because they are all best mates. Just remember, this is the man who was received by our Queen completely pissed. How we laughed.
In summary, I believe that:
Giles, G Jones (wkpr), Mahmood and Anderson should not play for England again.
Harmison and Trescothick must be put in last chance saloon and asked to find their own way back to the top. Only then will we know if they really want it. Is Harmison a tough Durham miner or is he a wet, Essex lady-boy?
Dogged though he is, Collingwood must make way for Vaughan, who must play at number 6 initially.
Flintoff must hand the Captaincy back to Vaughan and return to the ranks where he is most effective.
Strauss must be Vice Captain at all times.
The search for a strong wicket keeper / batsman goes on, but trust me every candidate under the age of 23 knows exactly what they have to do, and will stop at nothing to achieve it. One of them will make it.
The ECB must face up to their error and pay any price to bring Troy Cooley back as our bowling coach.
Young bowlers such as Lewis, Tremlett, Plunkett and Broad must square up for the two places available in support of Hoggard, Flintoff and Panesar.
Our batsmen must be reminded that scoring runs is a matter of pride under any circumstances and regardless of how crap everyone else around you is. Cricket may be a team game but at the crease, you are on your own and should be as selfishly determined to succeed as Tiger Woods or Roger Federer.
Strauss, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Flintoff, Vaughan, Wicketkeeper, Panesar, Hoggard, fast bowler, fast bowler. That’s the order and we have three un-named spaces. Go for your lives this summer, boys. Fight for it. The others all have.
We really do have a fantastic (and young) team here, but it must be lead properly, it must have ruthlessly disciplined and effective bowlers and it must live and breathe as one through thick and thin. It must also know that success comes from greatness, and greatest is not borne on the back of winning one perilously close Ashes series.