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Friday, 27 July 2007

Trebles all round, Doris, and more feed in the trough!

At a time when the government have imposed a 2% limit on public sector pay increases comes news that our gallant and selfless MPs increased their expenses last year by 5.5% - even before the new £10,000 a year swill allowance comes into effect.

And now Parliament has risen for a ten-week summer holiday.

What will it take for these bloated, rapacious, self-indulgent, vainglorious, pompous self-important dunghill cocks to realise that the people of England are sick to the craw with their mendacious hypocrisy and grasping narcissism?

Truly the day will come when we take the most almighty broom to this Augean stables.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Plod isn't getting any brighter, is he?

And they want to let this lot lock people up for months on suspicion?

Who's up for a Nazi holiday?

I must admit, I thought the ruins of Speer's grandiose Nazi stadium were the last remnants of megalomaniac architecture from the Nazis. Not so, it seems. The Nazi 'Strength through Joy' movement constructed a vast monolithic holiday complex for good Nazis on the Baltic coast at Prora. Seebad Prora was taken over by the Red Army after the war and has languished in decent obscurity since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Not for much longer, it seems. The blocks are structurally sound and were built to last (though perhaps not for a thousand years) and German property developers have moved in to renovate one block for modern German holidaymakers. No doubt the attractions of the renovated rooms (below) will be matched with calisthenics before breakfast and some decent marching about to military band music at teatime.

Ah well, back to the old days ... or not

When I first started sailing, the procedure for leaving and entering the UK on your own boat was fairly simple. You had to fill in form C1331 and pop it in the special post box on the wall of your local port customs post before you left. When you returned, you had to call port customs on VHF. You could moor your vessel, but otherwise no-one could leave the boat for an hour after tying-up. If no customs officers arrived, after an hour you were free to disembark. We used to obey this quite religiously; moored on some lonely east-coast creek with the lights of the pub in sight, we would obediently huddle in the cockpit for the prescribed hour, with not another human being in sight. That's being English, I suppose.

Our semi-Shengen arrangements in recent years have meant that if sailing to and from other EU nations, you don't need to notify anyone in the UK at all. Just come and go. The French of course still preserve the old civilities, and when the French border police board you (as they will) on arrival (a) it is perfectly normal to offer the officers a small glass of red wine each (b) you will be expected to produce Certificate of Registration, passports, International Certificate of Competence, Insurance documents, radio apparatus licence, radio operator's licence and of course the vessel's log-book, properly completed in ink and not pencil. Friends have found a small rubber stamp and ink-pad inscribed with the boats name and registration number also engenders a small frisson of excitement amongst these gents; they will solemnly produce one of their own, and a small satisfied flurry of mutual stamping will occur (c) at this stage, it is again normal to offer the officers a refill of red wine, which they will graciously refuse.

I have found these arrangements not to be onerous. Generally relaxed and good-humoured, it does give the impression that the French are serious and professional about these things. Yet if travelling by ferry, until recently it was unusual to find even a single French border official on duty at the major ports. Strange.

I suppose it's inevitable that Brown's announcement that every person entering and leaving the UK will be security checked will extend to the half a million pleasure craft in private ownership in the UK, although without re-opening customs posts in scores of minor ports it's difficult to see how this will be done. Oh yes, I forgot. This is Brown's Totalitarian Britain. He will simply forbid us from leaving UK territorial waters at all.
Blair's C-list guests

There is really something rather pathetic about the news that, during his last fifteen months in office, Blair's guests at Chequers were not the great and the good, the best and brightest, but a motley collection of obscure C-list television 'personalities'.

Masters of Oxbridge colleges, Nobel prize winners, men eminent in jurisprudence, highly decorated soldiers, great academic historians, internationally renowned scientists, the chairmen of the nation's leading businesses, authors and artists of global acclaim are amongst those one would expect to share a board at the taxpayer's expense at our first minister's official country residence.

Instead Blair had Charlotte Church, Tess Daly, Vernon Kaye, Lorraine Kelly, Fiona Phillips, Chris Evans, June Sarpong, Richard Madeley and Steve McClaren. Only perhaps two or three of whom I have heard.

Clear confirmation that Blair sought to insulate himself from everyone who may have held a serious countervailing view to his own inane self-deception; the guest list of those who may be cruelly described as vapid dummies was no more than Blair closing his eyes, putting his fingers in his ears and going 'nah nah nah' to the nation.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Localism is the key to Tory success

Simon Jenkins argues convincingly in the Grauniad today:
What Cameron has still not found is a message around which to build his narrative. He remains a child of national politics and central government. His adoption of "social responsibility" as a watchword was bland. His more recent espousal of localism has substance, yet lacks the punch to appeal to party workers or unattached voters who today crave more control over their lives and environment. He has yet to discover a language in which to attack the growth of intrusive government under Brown. Empowering localities and freeing individuals from state intervention remains the single issue most likely to wed the centre and the right of British politics, but Cameron seems unable to perform the marriage.
C'mon Dave. Make Localism the key to the door to Number Ten.
Hats Off!

A group of around a dozen businessmen out on the town last Saturday managed to work their way through
  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio
  • 36 bottles Cristal champagne
  • 15 bottles Dom Perignon
  • 9 magnums Dom Perignon
  • 12 bottles Dom Perignon Rose
  • 4 bottles Cristal Rose
  • 2 Jeroboams Cristal champagne
  • 1 Methuselah Cristal
  • 1 Methuselah Polish Vodka
  • 1 Jeroboam Dom Perignon (to drink in the car on the way home)
Story in the Times here. 'Respect' is all I can say.

Still, I suppose the government will soon put an end to this sort of binge drinking with their proposals to slap an extra 10p a bottle duty on 'poo.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Floods - Broon keeps his hands deep in his pockets

A snippet of realisation that I heard as a comment on the radio today. Private insurance companies will meet a £2bn repair bill for flood damage. Building repairs are all liable for VAT. The Treasury's tax-take from the insurance companies will be in the region of £350,000,000.

So, not too painful for Gordon to announce an additional £200m of government aid to go to flood defences, then. He'll still be £150m better off than if it hadn't rained at all.
Core Conservative agenda for election-winning manifesto

With the Party's policy reviews moving into their final stages, here's my quick list of the key manifesto points I would like to see emerging:-

  • English Parliament - Cameron should honour his pledge for an English 'Grand Committee' or equivalent, whilst being committed to the preservation of the Union
  • EU Constitution referendum - whether the socialists have already signed up or not. There is no treaty in the world that can bind a future Parliament.
  • Localism - true and massive devolution of power from Whitehall to local communities, including policing, planning, welfare, tax and social governance - only localism will truly start to mend our broken society
  • Welfare Reform - to seize Frank Field's initiative and follow Clinton, whose welfare reforms in the States have proven to be a magnificent improvement both for the nation and for former welfare recipients; a welfare system that builds and supports our nation, not one that degrades and destroys it
  • Secure Borders - no amnesty for illegals, and action to close Labour's porous borders that have allowed millions of aliens to impose a massive burden on our social fabric
  • Party reform - no State funding as proposed. Members of the three main parties make up only 1.4% of the electorate - it is truly iniquitous that the other 98.6% should be refused the choice on their funding

That's my top six. How many will he score?
New Council housing - haven't they learned anything?

Yvette Cooper's announcement yesterday that £8bn of taxpayers' money is to be given away to provide 'affordable housing', and that councils will be encouraged to build new council housing, demonstrates more clearly than anything that this bankrupt Brown government knows nothing and has learned nothing.

The socialists' council estates are the rotten core at the heart of most of our social ills. Read any copper's blog to find where they spend 85% of their time - yes, the council estates. Where do the yobs with tags and asbos live? Yes, the council estates. Where do the nation's army of social workers, probation officers and other foot soldiers of the socialist State have the vast majority of their clients? The council estates. Brown's welfare dependency system, that provides not a safety net but a DFS recliner and 42" plasma TV to those not in work, has made our council estates places of workless burdensome individuals and disfunctional deviant families. A system of welfare that costs us £80bn a year, plus the cost of tens of billions for policing and clearing up the mess of their lives.

And these imbeciles want to build more of them?

Monday, 23 July 2007

Judge right to grant injunction against BBC

The Grauniad's Media section reports:
A high court judge has stopped the BBC airing a TV programme about an 18-year-old mother with an IQ of 63 whose daughter was taken away for adoption, ruling that it would be a "massive invasion" of the woman's privacy and "undermine her dignity as a human being".

Mr Justice Eady said "no rational person" could think, as the BBC had suggested, that it was in her best interests to be portrayed to the public in the light in which she was shown in the programme.

Programme makers originally met the young woman, named only as T, at a centre for young vulnerable adults and she agreed that her story should be televised.

Five programmes under the title Family Wanted were scheduled for broadcast on BBC1 last week, but the programme featuring T was pulled after the official solicitor, Alastair Pitblado, intervened and won an injunction stopping the BBC broadcasting anything that would identify her. A psychiatrist who examined T on behalf of the official solicitor concluded that she suffered from a mental impairment and a mental disorder, and was unable to give informed consent. She was prone to self-harm and the psychiatrist thought it was "inevitable that, once the documentary is shown, [T] will be recognised in her own neighbourhood and will be exposed to criticism, hostility and abuse".
Even intelligent people naive enough to appear on 'reality TV' are inevitably astonished at the way in which the editing process distorts and misrepresents them. How much more vulnerable is this child. My belief in people's right to take responsibility for their own lives does not extend to the seriously vulnerable mentally deranged. This was a right and proper intervention by the Official Solicitor.
The 'Times' gets its own Melissa Kite

Writing under the name of Melanie Reid, the Times has a correspondent as vapid, unfocused and unskilled as the Telegraph's infamous Melissa Kite. Writing in today's Times, Melanie throws away the chance to make a serious point about poverty reporting. Is she being ironic or humourous? Is her chummy 'dear diary' writing style intended to be winsome? Hard to tell. The rather clumsy piece lurches from 'factoids' to opinion, ignoring the convention that factual reporting in opinion pieces is either referenced to reports published elsewhere in the paper or reports them properly. So there are 100,000 social workers, are there? Where is this figure from? Does it include all those employed by health authorities as well as local government? What about probation officers? Educational welfare officers? Mental health workers? What are the comparative tax budgets of academic research on poverty and the social work industry?

Sorry, Melanie, I'm really not interested in wasting my time reading the jejune and inept ramblings of someone who's barely bothered to unplug the iPod from her ears and put down the Chardonnay to bang out such a piss-poor piece of writing as this. How it got past the Times subs in this state must remain a mystery.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Add another £1bn to the Olympics budget, Gordon

I'm willing to lay a tenner that by the end of next week some enterprising consultant will point out that

1) The 2012 Olympic site is on one of London's highest flood-risk areas (see map)

2) Olympic development will reduce natural drainage and ground absorbency

3) Existing drainage is completely inadequate and new drainage planned for the Olympic site will simply overwhelm current capacity.

The IOC will then seek assurances from the 2012 developers that drainage will be adequate, and the site will be protected against flooding. Of course, it will turn out not to be proof against rain such as last week's ....

Kemal Ataturk's memory dominates crucial election

Turkey votes today on what is characterised in the press as a vote between the supporters of the secular state founded by Ataturk and those who would want a more 'Islamic' Turkey. I suspect the realities are far more complex than that.

I've always had a soft spot for Ataturk - not only because he was a heavy-drinking chain-smoking visionary who would cause fainting fits of shock amongst our ninnyish brigades of health fascists. No, it was the speech he made to honour the memory of the Turkish and Allied dead at Gallipoli, today engraved on a memorial at Anzac Cove:
Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.
There is no army, stupid.

The inevitable question from a flooded midlands resident in the paper today - "Where were the army? They should have sent the army in" - begs the question as to why some people are still ignorant of the true status of our current military resources.

There is no army left. The London battalion - maintained not just for Royal ceremonial but as the capital's Civil Order Battalion - is currently provided from the Jamaican Defence Force. Next week the Catering Corps (now renamed the Logistic Corps) will be mounting the guard at the Palace and will have to deal with any widespread outbreak of rioting in the capital. The Guards have all been sent to the Middle East. A call from a mate in Worcester yesterday revealed our military presence in the flood area was him, an elderly semi-retired Quartermaster Major and two lance-jack clerk / typists. Without a pump or dinghy between them. And the major's car was in for a service.

Blair's crass vanity-war has broken the heart of our army. He has achieved what Barbara Castle ands Dennis Healey tried but failed to do. God, I loathe the socialists.
I, too, smoked dope - but not with those NuLabour mingers

From the age of 18 to when I was about 30 or so I smoked cannabis regularly. I suppose I was what would be called a 'light user'. I enjoyed it. I didn't become psychotic, commit crime or run around the streets waving a knife about. Smoking dope was a social activity - something to share. You needed at least two to do it properly. Four or five was ideal. A stack of albums and a hi-fi was also essential if there were no musicians amongst you; one of my old friends was a professional classical guitarist, who would usefully combine his daily four hours of practice with a social gathering.

We laughed a lot. We bonded. Dope brought out the altruistic, reforming, selfless parts of our characters. Our aesthetic senses were enhanced. I fell in love with Stanley Spencer's 'Cookham' at the Tate when mildly stoned - the humour, love for humanity and love for England in that work still moves me greatly.

The reason, I'm quite sure, why so many NuLabour politicians only tried dope a few times will be clear to anyone who has smoked dope socially. You see, cannabis is a great stripper-away of self-deceit and disguise; the attributes of a politician - the narcissism, the mendacity, the vast ego, the ambition and hunger for power, the selfishness - all become cruelly visible to all including the smoker. For such people it cannot be a pleasant experience or one that they would become fond of.

Why did I stop? Like the vast majority, I just grew out of it. Strong 'skunk' replaced the mild and giggly stuff and didn't do anything for me. We met less frequently - babies, careers, homes took up too much time. No great Road to Damascus moment, just the ending of a phase in life.