Thursday, 23 October 2014

Juncker is right. And oh so wrong.

Austria requires hairdressers to undergo four years of technical college training and apprenticeship before being allowed to style hair commercially. In the UK, a school leaver fresh out of uniform can set up as a hairdresser. Result? Austrian women have the most unattractive and unflattering hair in all Europe, including Bulgaria, whilst for fifty years British hairstyling has thrilled and inspired women across the world. It's a neat and visible lesson in the effects of over-regulation in stifling creativity and innovation - qualities essential for economic success in a global economy. And just as mediaeval builders who moved for work from Saint Denis to Kent brought England's first ever gothic arches, English Ironmasters taught northern Germany the art of Industry. Free movement of skill, innovation and knowledge throughout Europe has for centuries been the secret of European competitive advantage - and this means allowing free movement of skilled workers. 

Even economic migrants or refugees from pogroms and persecution have enriched England; Hugueneots with glassworking  and mechanical craft skills, the anonymous German potter who brought the secret of salt-glazed stoneware to London, and not least the poor Russian Jews whose offspring would later found the IEA. And many more, many enriching, enabling and inspiring our own development. 

So free movement of people in Europe is always a good thing? To a point, Lord Copper. Try telling that to a Fenlands town where a third of the population are eastern European field labour, strong-backed peasants who can stand all day in the Winter mud and pluck mangel-worzels from the sticky clay. Making food cheap for Tesco, but killing local cultural heritage and cultural identity.

And this is the dichotomy we face; open interchange of skills, ideas and innovation helps us all, but free movement without any restriction whatsoever can destroy a traditional way of life, swamp historic communities and dilute national congruence. And you can't really tell which is which; Ralph Harris' father was a poor Jewish shoemaker, a penniless refugee, who wouldn't have made it past a points system.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Europe - An irresistible magnet

I defy any reader not to be moved deeply by the tragic tale told in Der Spiegel of an ill-fated attempt by a group of Africans to reach the Nirvana of Europe. I have written many times that one cannot blame immigrants for immigration; the fact that immigrants are here in such numbers is both a failure of border controls and a sustained campaign of anti-British spite and national self-hatred by the Labour Party. But primarily they are here because of our wealth; our economy and well-being are an irresistible magnet for the poor and aspirational.
Abdou, born into poverty in 1940, remained poor, even by Nigerien standards. He owned a few gourds as drinking vessels, and his three robes hung from a hook in his hut. He had sold his only cow for 98,000 CFA francs to pay for the trip north. Samani was squatting on the bed of the large truck, on the left side behind the driver's cab. He had an 18-liter water canister behind him and was holding a bag filled with three shirts and three pairs of pants. He had paid 30,000 CFA francs, the equivalent of about €46 ($59), for a space on the truck -- the traffickers had waived a portion of the fare, because it was all the money he had. He had also bought some underwear with a zippered pouch in front so he could hide his travel money. Acquaintances had assured Samani that clothing was free in Europe. A friend who had made it to Spain told Samani that Europeans happily hand out sweaters and jackets against the cold. Europeans replace their household goods every year, says Samani, placing whatever they no longer need on the kerb. Even the taxi drivers drive Mercedes in Europe, he says.
Clothing free in Europe? True. People can even buy a complete brand-new outfit for the value of an hour's cleaning work. Unwanted goods left on the kerb? Certainly true in my road, where children's toys and clothing, surplus novels, old speakers and bathroom shelves are left on the front garden walls for any passer-by who wants to take them. And Merc taxis? True also, but unlikely to be new Mercs. Still, it's astonishing that such simple tokens of affluence that we take for granted have grown to legend status amongst the poor, the hungry, the unclothed and the owners of just a goat or two and a few gourds to whom such things are beyond dreams of avarice.  

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

UKIP Calypso

Aficionados of Radio Four's old Start The Week from the Richard Baker days will recall the weekly topical Lance Percival calypso, bringing a ray of Caribbean sunshine to dull winter mornings. Ah, such an age of innocence - when reggae was a niche musical genre bought on 45s from Midlands markets and West Indians were better known for cricket than mugging. And absolutely no-one accused Lance Percival of racism for his attempts to master Jamaican patois.

I'm glad to say that UKIP's promotional calypso single is true to form - gentle, affectionate and guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation's face. For 79p you couldn't do better. Go on, smile. 

CLICKY for Amazon link

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Redundant Portuguese official talks out of arse shock

A redundant Portuguese administration worker, Snr Barolo, attempted to surprise British politicians this morning by talking out of his arse. Mr Barolo's bottom recited a traditional European children's nonsense poem before giving a chorus of 'My Old Man's a Dustman' in an effort to raise funds for the Portuguese economy. 

Snr Barolo is 67.

Snr Barolo's arse attempts a high note

Pope doing OK

It will hardly come as a surprise that the Vatican has decided that thieves should be forgiven and loved, but that theft should not be legalised. Indeed, as about half of catholic clergy are inclined to theft and their sinfulness and frailty makes them better, not worse pastors and shepherds, and as Christ himself was crucified between thieves, the church can hardly have decided anything different. 

Pope Francis has taken all the right steps. Last year he invited lay Catholics across the world to voice their opinions on a whole range of matters, including their feelings about thieves. Despite determined attempts by many bishops to distort and skew the process - with some episcopal blocking moves the equivalent of distributing a 60 page questionnaire written in Latin in very small print in light grey ink - the voice of worldwide Catholicism has reached the Papal bedsit. Last week was the bishops' turn to show that they heard and understood the voice of the flock. They had a shouty bit, agreed to disagree and decided to take a year to think about things. So far so good. 

Lay feelings are generally liberal towards theft. Most people reckon that thieves should not be persecuted, but wouldn't want their own children learning to steal, and would prefer stealing to be private rather than public. African Catholics detest stealing, and many want a return to the days of nose-slitting and ear removal for convicted thieves. 

All of which is unlikely to change the Church's current teaching - that many good people are tempted to steal, and the temptation to theft is widespread. Having a thieving tendency should be no bar to holy orders so long as one refrains from stealing. And in the event that the temptation proves too strong for human flesh to resist, there is forgiveness and a prodigal welcome for the repentant. 

(Dons kevlar hat ...)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Cameron just can't help lying

Mendacity is so fundamental to David Cameron's character that a lie comes as second nature when faced with any difficulty. Take the European Arrest Warrant; it's inequitable, unfair and wholly alien to the British system of law and justice. It's hated by the majority of Tory MPs, civil libertarians and voters with passports. The government now has the chance to opt-out of it - a no-brainer, one would have thought. 

Except for reasons known only to himself, Cameron is committed to confirming its application to British subjects by 1st December. Any corrupt, bribe-taking tinpot little magistrate in Greece or Cyprus can then sign a form to have a British subject dragged out of their UK bed, bundled onto an aircraft in manacles and consigned to squalor and the horror of a third-world prison. Why Cameron is so in favour of this defeats me - but he is. 

In fact, so committed is he to the measure that he's just lied to give Tory MPs the impression that he's not yet made up his mind. The lie, he hopes, will get them off his back and allow him to agree the measure without further fuss. 

Except, I suspect, they are better acquainted with his tendency to mendacity these days and may just not let him get away with it.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Owen Paterson full speech text

The full text of Owen Paterson's speech yesterday is in the Speccie - and well worth reading.

For what it's worth, I tend to agree with his position on GW;

"Other things being equal, carbon dioxide emissions will produce some warming. The question always has been: how much?"

"I also note that the forecast effects of climate change have been consistently and widely exaggerated thus far."

And of course the facts and figures that condemn the EU and the government's bloody windmills as utter lunacy. 

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Picture Quiz

What links the riots in Kiev (below) to the trio of pics beneath showing (a) SS-Oberführer Fritz Freitag (b) a group of veterans dressed in typical British Farah slacks and polyester blazers and (c) a symbol exhibited by footie fans in Lviv in 2013?