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Saturday, 24 May 2008

T Boone Pickens or everyone else?

The improbably named T Boone Pickens alleges that global oil production is at a peak and that prices will now rise ineluctably. Economists, governments and the financial sector say differently. However, so far T Boone's forecasts have proven more accurate - a short interview here.

Kevin Maguire is absolutely right

'Red Flag' Kevin Maguire writes in the Mirror today that Labour should keep its nerve and get behind Gordon Brown. I absolutely agree.

Lord Freeman should resign the Tory whip

We're all grown ups here, and realise that the primary responsibility of the Chairman of a plc is to its shareholders. It's also a fact of life that the 'revolving door' is more alive in the defence and aerospace sectors of industry than elsewhere; ex defence ministers, civil servants and staff officers segue seamlessly from Whitehall to Boardroom.

Lord Freeman, who as Roger Freeman was Kettering's MP and served in the last Tory administrations holding ministerial posts in defence, health and transport, and was also a partner and former MD of Lehman Brothers. Elevation to the upper house in 1997 opened up for him a number of useful board appointments, including Chairmanship of the UK Advisory Panel at PricewaterhouseCoopers, London, Director of Thales SA France and Chairman of Thales UK plc, Chairman of Metalysis (a Cambridge University spin-off), Chairman of CrossCore Optimisation (an Imperial College, London spin-off) and Chairman of Cambridge Enterprise Ltd (The Technology Transfer Office). As a good capitalist I have no particular problem with any of this.

No. The problem comes with ID cards. As became evident in Crewe and Nantwich, the Tory party is opposed to ID cards for everyone (as opposed to just immigrants as dirtyLabour suggested). Good. So am I. Implacably. I am wholly in line with Tory party policy here.

Looking at the list of shortlisted contractors for the Government's ID card scheme, I can easily boycott goods and services from three of them; IBM, Fujitsu and EDS (Hewlett Packard). Oh yes, I am a serial boycotter. The lost profits to these companies of me not buying a new PC or printer from them may be miniscule, and a business purchasing decision to subject them to particular scrutiny only marginally more painful for them, but it helps me feel I'm doing my bit.

The remaining two shortlisted companies I can take no direct action against; CSC is American, and Thales UK plc doesn't make anything I buy personally or am responsible for buying.

However, I do think it's a bit off for the Chairman of Thales to continue to take the Tory whip in the Lords. For Freeman to quietly resign the Tory whip and sit as an independent would be both honourable and circumspect under the circumstances.

Friday, 23 May 2008

If Crewe and Nantwich were repeated nationally ....

If the Crewe and Nantwich result were repeated nationally (which of course it won't be), the excellent Electoral Calculus site (enter yesterday's figures in the 'Make your prediction' page) suggests a Conservative majority of 228 seats in Parliament. The unlucky Labour losers would include some of the best known names in Zanu Labour:

Aberconwy CON gain from LAB : Betty Williams
Aberdeen South CON gain from LAB : Anne Begg
Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine CON gain from LIB : Sir Robert Smith
Amber Valley CON gain from LAB : Judy Mallaber
Angus CON gain from NAT : Michael Weir
Arfon NAT gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Argyll and Bute CON gain from LIB : Alan Reid
Ashfield CON gain from LAB : Geoff Hoon
Barrow and Furness CON gain from LAB : John Hutton
Basildon South and East Thurrock CON gain from LAB : Angela Smith
Bassetlaw CON gain from LAB : John Mann
Bath CON gain from LIB : Don Foster
Batley and Spen CON gain from LAB : Mike Wood
Battersea CON gain from LAB : Martin Linton
Bedford CON gain from LAB : Patrick Hall
Berwick-upon-Tweed CON gain from LIB : Alan Beith
Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk CON gain from LIB : Michael Moore
Birmingham Edgbaston CON gain from LAB : Gisela Stuart
Birmingham Hall Green CON gain from LAB : Roger Godsiff
Birmingham Northfield CON gain from LAB : Richard Burden
Birmingham Selly Oak CON gain from LAB : Stephen McCabe
Blackburn CON gain from LAB : Jack Straw
Blackpool North and Cleveleys CON gain from LAB : Joan Humble
Blackpool South CON gain from LAB : Gordon Marsden
Bolton North East CON gain from LAB : David Crausby
Bolton West CON gain from LAB : Ruth Kelly
Bradford South CON gain from LAB : Gerry Sutcliffe
Bradford West CON gain from LAB : Marsha Singh
Brecon and Radnorshire CON gain from LIB : Roger Williams
Brent North CON gain from LAB : Barry Gardiner
Brentford and Isleworth CON gain from LAB : Ann Keen
Bridgend CON gain from LAB : Madeleine Moon
Brigg and Goole CON gain from LAB : Ian Cawsey
Brighton Kemptown CON gain from LAB : Desmond Turner
Brighton Pavilion CON gain from LAB : David Lepper
Bristol East CON gain from LAB : Kerry McCarthy
Bristol North West CON gain from LAB : Doug Naysmith
Bristol West CON gain from LIB : Stephen Williams
Broxtowe CON gain from LAB : Nick Palmer
Burnley CON gain from LAB : Kitty Ussher
Burton CON gain from LAB : Janet Dean
Bury North CON gain from LAB : David Chaytor
Calder Valley CON gain from LAB : Christine McCafferty
Camborne and Redruth CON gain from LIB : Julia Goldsworthy
Cambridge CON gain from LIB : David Howarth
Cannock Chase CON gain from LAB : Tony Wright
Cardiff North CON gain from LAB : Julie Morgan
Cardiff South and Penarth CON gain from LAB : Alun Michael
Cardiff West CON gain from LAB : Kevin Brennan
Carlisle CON gain from LAB : Eric Martlew
Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South CON gain from LAB : Nick Ainger
Carshalton and Wallington CON gain from LIB : Tom Brake
Ceredigion NAT gain from LIB : Mark Williams
Chatham and Aylesford CON gain from LAB : Jonathan Shaw
Cheadle CON gain from LIB : Patsy Calton
Cheltenham CON gain from LIB : Martin Horwood
Chester, City of CON gain from LAB : Christine Russell
Chippenham CON gain from LIB : Unknown (new seat)
Chorley CON gain from LAB : Lindsay Hoyle
Cleethorpes CON gain from LAB : Shona McIsaac
Clwyd South CON gain from LAB : Martyn Jones
Colchester CON gain from LIB : Bob Russell
Colne Valley CON gain from LAB : Kali Mountford
Copeland CON gain from LAB : Jamie Reed
Corby CON gain from LAB : Phil Hope
Cornwall North CON gain from LIB : Dan Rogerson
Cornwall South East CON gain from LIB : Colin Breed
Coventry North West CON gain from LAB : Geoffrey Robinson
Coventry South CON gain from LAB : Jim Cunningham
Crawley CON gain from LAB : Laura Moffatt
Crewe and Nantwich CON gain from LAB : Gwyneth Dunwoody
Croydon Central CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Dagenham and Rainham CON gain from LAB : Jon Cruddas
Dartford CON gain from LAB : Howard Stoate
Delyn CON gain from LAB : David Hanson
Derby North CON gain from LAB : Bob Laxton
Derbyshire North East CON gain from LAB : Natascha Engel
Derbyshire South CON gain from LAB : Mark Todd
Devon North CON gain from LIB : Nick Harvey
Devon West and Torridge CON gain from LIB : Unknown (changed seat)
Dewsbury CON gain from LAB : Shahid Malik
Dorset Mid and Poole North CON gain from LIB : Annette Brooke
Dorset South CON gain from LAB : Jim Knight
Dover CON gain from LAB : Gwyn Prosser
Dudley North CON gain from LAB : Ian Austin
Dudley South CON gain from LAB : Ian Pearson
Dulwich and West Norwood CON gain from LAB : Tessa Jowell
Dumfries and Galloway CON gain from LAB : Russell Brown
Dunbartonshire East CON gain from LIB : Jo Swinson
Ealing Central and Acton CON gain from LAB : Andrew Slaughter
Ealing North CON gain from LAB : Stephen Pound
Eastleigh CON gain from LIB : Christopher Huhne
Edinburgh North and Leith CON gain from LAB : Mark Lazarowicz
Edinburgh South CON gain from LAB : Nigel Griffiths
Edinburgh South West CON gain from LAB : Alistair Darling
Ellesmere Port and Neston CON gain from LAB : Andrew Miller
Elmet and Rothwell CON gain from LAB : Colin Burgon
Eltham CON gain from LAB : Clive Efford
Erewash CON gain from LAB : Liz Blackman
Exeter CON gain from LAB : Ben Bradshaw
Feltham and Heston CON gain from LAB : Alan Keen
Gedling CON gain from LAB : Vernon Coaker
Gloucester CON gain from LAB : Parmjit Dhanda
Gower CON gain from LAB : Martin Caton
Great Grimsby CON gain from LAB : Austin Mitchell
Great Yarmouth CON gain from LAB : Tony Wright
Guildford CON gain from LIB : Unknown (changed seat)
Halesowen and Rowley Regis CON gain from LAB : Sylvia Heal
Halifax CON gain from LAB : Linda Riordan
Hammersmith CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Hampstead and Kilburn CON gain from LIB : Unknown (changed seat)
Harlow CON gain from LAB : Bill Rammell
Harrogate and Knaresborough CON gain from LIB : Phil Willis
Harrow East CON gain from LAB : Tony McNulty
Harrow West CON gain from LAB : Gareth Thomas
Hastings and Rye CON gain from LAB : Michael Foster
Hazel Grove CON gain from LIB : Andrew Stunell
Hendon CON gain from LAB : Andrew Dismore
Hereford and South Herefordshire CON gain from LIB : Paul Keetch
High Peak CON gain from LAB : Tom Levitt
Holborn and St Pancras CON gain from LAB : Frank Dobson
Hove CON gain from LAB : Celia Barlow
Huddersfield CON gain from LAB : Barry Sheerman
Hyndburn CON gain from LAB : Greg Pope
Ilford South CON gain from LAB : Mike Gapes
Ipswich CON gain from LAB : Chris Mole
Keighley CON gain from LAB : Ann Cryer
Kingston and Surbiton CON gain from LIB : Edward Davey
Kingswood CON gain from LAB : Roger Berry
Lancashire West CON gain from LAB : Rosie Cooper
Lancaster and Fleetwood CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Leeds North East CON gain from LAB : Fabian Hamilton
Leeds North West CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Leicester South CON gain from LAB : Peter Soulsby
Leicestershire North West CON gain from LAB : David Taylor
Lewes CON gain from LIB : Norman Baker
Lewisham East CON gain from LAB : Bridget Prentice
Lewisham West and Penge CON gain from LAB : Jim Dowd
Leyton and Wanstead CON gain from LAB : Harry Cohen
Lincoln CON gain from LAB : Gillian Merron
Loughborough CON gain from LAB : Andy Reed
Luton North CON gain from LAB : Kelvin Hopkins
Luton South CON gain from LAB : Margaret Moran
Manchester Withington LAB gain from LIB : John Leech
Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East CON gain from LAB : Ashok Kumar
Milton Keynes North CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Milton Keynes South CON gain from LAB : Phyllis Starkey
Montgomeryshire CON gain from LIB : Lembit Opik
Moray CON gain from NAT : Angus Robertson
Morecambe and Lunesdale CON gain from LAB : Geraldine Smith
Newcastle-under-Lyme CON gain from LAB : Paul Farrelly
Newport East CON gain from LAB : Jessica Morden
Newport West CON gain from LAB : Paul Flynn
Newton Abbot CON gain from LIB : Richard Younger-Ross
Norfolk North CON gain from LIB : Norman Lamb
Northampton North CON gain from LAB : Sally Keeble
Northampton South CON gain from LAB : Unknown (changed seat)
Norwich North CON gain from LAB : Ian Gibson
Norwich South CON gain from LAB : Charles Clarke
Nottingham East CON gain from LAB : John Heppell
Nottingham South CON gain from LAB : Alan Simpson
Nuneaton CON gain from LAB : Bill Olner
Ochil and South Perthshire CON gain from LAB : Gordon Banks
Oldham East and Saddleworth CON gain from LAB : Phil Woolas
Oxford East CON gain from LAB : Andrew Smith
Oxford West and Abingdon CON gain from LIB : Evan Harris
Pendle CON gain from LAB : Gordon Prentice
Perth and North Perthshire CON gain from NAT : Peter Wishart
Plymouth Moor View CON gain from LAB : Alison Seabeck
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport CON gain from LAB : Linda Gilroy
Poplar and Limehouse CON gain from LAB : Jim Fitzpatrick
Portsmouth North CON gain from LAB : Sarah McCarthy-Fry
Portsmouth South CON gain from LIB : Mike Hancock
Pudsey CON gain from LAB : Paul Truswell
Reading West CON gain from LAB : Martin Salter
Redditch CON gain from LAB : Jacqui Smith
Renfrewshire East CON gain from LAB : Jim Murphy
Ribble South CON gain from LAB : David Borrow
Richmond Park CON gain from LIB : Susan Kramer
Rochdale LAB gain from LIB : Paul Rowen
Romsey and Southampton North CON gain from LIB : Sandra Gidley
Rossendale and Darwen CON gain from LAB : Janet Anderson
Sefton Central CON gain from LAB : Claire Curtis-Thomas
Sheffield Hallam CON gain from LIB : Nick Clegg
Sherwood CON gain from LAB : Paddy Tipping
Slough CON gain from LAB : Fiona Mactaggart
Solihull CON gain from LIB : Lorely Burt
Somerset North East CON gain from LAB : Dan Norris
Somerton and Frome CON gain from LIB : David Heath
Southampton Itchen CON gain from LAB : John Denham
Southampton Test CON gain from LAB : Alan Whitehead
Southport CON gain from LIB : John Pugh
St Austell and Newquay CON gain from LIB : Unknown (new seat)
St Ives CON gain from LIB : Andrew George
Stafford CON gain from LAB : David Kidney
Stalybridge and Hyde CON gain from LAB : James Purnell
Stevenage CON gain from LAB : Barbara Follett
Stirling CON gain from LAB : Anne McGuire
Stockton South CON gain from LAB : Dari Taylor
Stourbridge CON gain from LAB : Lynda Waltho
Stroud CON gain from LAB : David Drew
Sunderland Central CON gain from LAB : Bill Etherington
Sutton and Cheam CON gain from LIB : Paul Burstow
Swindon North CON gain from LAB : Michael Wills
Swindon South CON gain from LAB : Anna Snelgrove
Tamworth CON gain from LAB : Brian Jenkins
Taunton Deane CON gain from LIB : Jeremy Browne
Telford CON gain from LAB : David Wright
Thornbury and Yate CON gain from LIB : Steve Webb
Thurrock CON gain from LAB : Andrew Mackinlay
Tooting CON gain from LAB : Sadiq Khan
Torbay CON gain from LIB : Adrian Sanders
Truro and Falmouth CON gain from LIB : Matthew Taylor
Twickenham CON gain from LIB : Vincent Cable
Tynemouth CON gain from LAB : Alan Campbell
Vale of Clwyd CON gain from LAB : Chris Ruane
Vale of Glamorgan CON gain from LAB : John Smith
Wakefield CON gain from LAB : Mary Creagh
Walsall North CON gain from LAB : David Winnick
Walsall South CON gain from LAB : Bruce George
Warrington South CON gain from LAB : Helen Southworth
Warwick and Leamington CON gain from LAB : James Plaskitt
Warwickshire North CON gain from LAB : Mike O'Brien
Watford CON gain from LAB : Claire Ward
Waveney CON gain from LAB : Bob Blizzard
Weaver Vale CON gain from LAB : Mike Hall
Westminster North CON gain from LAB : Karen Buck
Westmorland and Lonsdale CON gain from LIB : Tim Farron
Winchester CON gain from LIB : Mark Oaten
Wirral South CON gain from LAB : Ben Chapman
Wolverhampton South West CON gain from LAB : Robert Marris
Worcester CON gain from LAB : Michael Foster
Wyre Forest CON gain from MIN : Dr Richard Taylor
Yeovil CON gain from LIB : David Laws
Ynys Mon NAT gain from LAB : Albert Owen
York Outer CON gain from LIB : Unknown (changed seat)

T. Boone Pickens sums it up

"The world produces an absolute maximum of 85 million barrels of oil a day to satisfy a demand of 87 million barrels a day."

Good. Now go figure the price elasticity of demand for oil and tell me what will happen to prices ...

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Dunwoody: "Would you like that large, Sir?"

I'm just a single, unemployed mother of five fighting hard for a job - Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey

Your luck's in, ducks. Can you start tomorrow?

Apis Mellifera and Maize

There was an old schoolboy riddle that asked "why don't polar bears eat penguins?" that played on the victim's ignorance of the geographical separation of the species. It came to mind yesterday when I was talking to a young man who had spent some short time in east Africa with one of the international volunteer organisations and therefore regarded himself as something of an expert on the required solutions to Africa's problems.

His argument got to the point of blaming the imposition of western agricultural systems as destroying the indigenous 'village' agricultural systems. "If we let them grow their traditional crops of maize and cassava in their own way ..." he said.

At that point I was obliged to point out that maize and cassava, and peanuts and sweet potato too for that matter, were not in the least native to Africa but were introduced there from the Americas by the Europeans. Only millet and sorghum would have been familiar to Africa prior to European intervention. His argument lost a great deal of its moral force at that point.

And so with the honey bee, Apis Mellifera. Generations of north American children who have grown up with Disney apparently believe the honey bee to be a native American species. But not so. Honey bees were confined to Europe and Africa before the colonisation of America, and were taken there to pollinate the crops introduced from Europe that were not pollinated by native American pollinators.

And therefore the title of this post is a little misleading; native maize in the Americas never required the honey bee to pollinate it. Many of the US' cash crops however do now rely on the honey bee; almonds, peaches, soya beans, blackberries, raspberries, cherries and pears being amongst them.

Around the world bees are dying from something called Colony Collapse Disorder, and no one knows why. Microwaves from mobile phones, GM crops, insecticides including imidacloprid and fipronil, climate change and other causes have been hypothesised but nothing is known yet. France has lost over 1,000 tonnes a year of honey production and has banned some pesticides, but to unproven effect. If the global collapse of honey bee populations continues, the US may lose valuable cash crops but Europe risks starvation.

I try not to be too Cassandra-like on this blog, but for over a year I have posted from time to time on the growing risks to our most basic well-being. The mass-migration of tens of millions of Africans driven by hunger, thirst and want northwards into Europe's soft underbelly, cheap air travel that provides a motorway for pandemics such as HN51 and multi drug resistant infections, Peak Oil and the prospect not of $200 a barrel (now almost a certainty) but $500, the effect of the increasing numbers of Extreme Climate Events on global food production, the dependence of the UK on imports for almost half the food we consume (we haven't been self sufficient in food since the Industrial Revolution), and the potential for a global economic depression that will make the events of 80 years ago seem mild in comparison.

On any balanced analysis of risk, the above overwhelmingly outweigh the insignificant risks of Jihadist terrorism. Yet the government and the opposition almost seem to have tacitly agreed to focus the public's mind on this rather minor threat.

Cameron's major speech this week included the following
... we have set out how we will achieve that mission – by ending the era of top-down state control and big government. We want to respond to what should be a new postbureaucratic age, by decentralising power, by giving people more opportunity and control over their lives, by making families stronger and society more responsible.

... Where services are individually consumed we will transfer power over those services to individual people, giving them a choice between competing providers. And where services are collectively consumed, we will transfer power over those services to the lowest practical tier of government, opening up provision to social enterprises, private companies and community organisations.
It's an encouraging signal at this stage. Nothing more. But if we're going to come though the coming crises as a nation, the economy and public administration must be ready to operate on what amounts to a war footing; Cameron's team should also be examining policy as it relates to a number of contingency plans to deal with national and international emergencies. Labour's Big State Centralism is ill-equipped to respond effectively to even a single threat event, let alone a multiple risk scenario.

When the chips are down, we will rely on our abilities of self-organisation at community and neighbourhood level; self-reliance will be the key, not waiting hopelessly for State aid. Local and intermediate institutions must be strengthened. The family and not the State must take precedence. We must learn to live without micro-management from Whitehall. If we do so, we stand half a chance of successfully facing whatever will be thrown at us in the coming years. But we must all be conscious of the threats. And as busy as bees.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Vir sapit qui pauca loquitur

The 'Standard' tells us this evening that Boris is facing his weekly assembly meetings with rare good humour. The continual sniping from the few remaining Labour members is interspersed with shouted interjections from the odious BNP AM Richard Barnbrook. When Barnbrook's idiocies irritate Boris sufficiently he responds in Latin.

British to smoke more, says Imperial

An encouraging piece in the Guardian this morning with Imperial Tobacco's announcement that cigarette sales in the UK are set to rise this year. This goes hand-in-hand with an announcement yesterday from the organic food producers that sales of organic foods are set to fall sharply this year. The government's forthcoming helpful advice on which drinks contain the most units of alcohol will also assist booze sales to increase. I also predict that sales of fat, sugary comfort foods will increase and yoghurt and beansprout sales will plummet, and also that Britain will waste less food this year. Gym and fitness centres will feel the pinch as subscriptions and income fall.

Good. We're getting back to normal.

And for those not in-the-know, the French government sold the Gauloises brand to the Spanish firm Altadis some time ago. Imperial has now bought Altadis, and has therefore added Gauloises to its stable of brands. Even though I pay my tax and duty to the French treasury rather than the British treasury, it's nice to know I'm now contributing to the profits of a British company.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

South Africa heads down Zimbabwe route

Last December some members of the NEC (yes, it stands for the same as Zanu Labour's) of the ANC were worried that that plod was closing in on their corruption. The solution? Disband South Africa's highly effective anti-corruption unit. Mbeki has just approved the measure, keeping his own thieving and corrupt supporters sweet. Transparency International, of course, deplores the measure.

They'll soon get a taste for this. Any independent voice in South Africa that questions their incompetence and corruption will be closed down, shut out and silenced. This is just the beginning of South Africa's slow but certain descent into the horror of Mugabe's Zim.

God rot their foetid souls.

Plod kills another innocent

As yet another innocent person's corpse lies in a mortuary fridge tonight as the result of a high speed police chase, the time has come to call a halt to this carnage. Every week another person is killed or seriously maimed by 'red mist' gormless idiots at the wheels of police vehicles.

Let's be clear about this. Chasing a car without a tax disk at high speed, or a moped rider not wearing a helmet, isn't worth the risk to public safety. It gives the idiot plod at the wheel a satisfying and addictive adrenaline rush, but that's about all.

Heather Mills, loathe her or hate her, lost her leg to a speeding police vehicle. No-one deserves that. Just google deaths in police chases site:uk and pages of innocent lives cut short by this moronic power-trip come up.

Being a plod isn't a licence to have fun at the cost of pain, death and the ruin of innocent lives. Here in London too many of these idiots on 'blues and twos' rushing to the Mcdonalds drive-in or just because they're bored in a traffic queue deserve dismissal. It's time to say STOP to this criminal and anti-social behaviour.

The suggestion has been made elsewhere that permission to use lights and siren or to drive at speed in pursuit or response should be given by the control room, and not left to the vehicle's driver to decide. I wholly agree with this. Any accident caused by a vehicle using blues and twos without consent would then automatically result in the driver's prosecution. A simple measure that could be implemented immediately.

Uniform in an age of 'rights'

Unlike their continental counterparts, British officers like to escape from uniform into 'mufti' at the earliest opportunity. When commanders become sufficiently senior to please themselves, they have long eschewed uniform even for duty; Wellington favoured a plain old hunting coat, and Monty spent as much of the war as he could in baggy cords and an old gardening jumper.

The wearing of uniform off-duty was often at the insistence of the battalion commander. The public behaviour of an officer in uniform reflects the honour of the regiment, and inhibits the more louche behaviour. Officers siting in a cafe or a hotel lobby sipping a gin and French would stand when approached by a woman, or someone more senior. They couldn't carry packages or parcels unless for a lady. And they certainly couldn't get drunk in public. No wonder so many preferred to keep uniform for the mess, where a less public decorum could prevail, and to seek the anonymity of 'mufti' for the rest.

Still, the sight of Household Brigade officers in blue 'patrols' with cap, gloves and cane around the streets of Chelsea always added a touch of class and a bit of glamour. They're still recognisable, though these days in jeans, polished brogues and Jermyn Street shirt they're more likely to stumble pissed from the door of Boujis at 3am than to chat decorously amid the palms of an Edwardian hotel lounge.
What's changed of course is deference.

Since the 1970s the social status of all those who used to be prescribed for the signing of passport photographs - doctors, lawyers, MPs, ministers of religion, officers in HM
armed services - has fallen into desuetude. This doesn't mean we're a more equal society, because we're not. Social mobility was far greater thirty or forty years ago. No, it's part of a long term erosion of the authority of intermediate institutions by a central State jealous of power. Paradoxically it's the MPs who are now feeling the brunt of the demise of deference; it's all your own fault, mateys.

And it's this pernicious 'rights' and 'equalities' agenda that fosters the illusion in the mind of the meanest underachieving scrote that he's as good as anyone; an officer in uniform runs the risk of an uninvited approach from such as these, ending in the inevitable challenge "You think you're better than me, don't you?". No wonder they prefer to remain in 'mufti'.
So yes to officers in uniform at private functions, in the steward's enclosure, in the audience at the Royal Opera. But no to walking the street or enjoying a drink in a public place in uniform - it's not fair to expose them to the grungy, repellent chimera of aggressive 'rights' and 'equalities' alive in the lowest parts of our society.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Tamsin Dunwoody - What Crewe and Nantwich should ask

Tamsin Dunwoody appealed to the council estate vote today when she said "I am just a single, unemployed mother of five fighting hard for a job".

Dunwoody-Kneafsey, granddaughter of Baroness Phillips, daughter of an MP, was educated at the Grey Coat Hospital and the University of Kent. A thousand council houses could be built on her estate in Wales. The public purse paid for her NHS training, where she accumulated 15 years experience. She currently works (or last worked) as a management consultant.

Dunwoody-Kneafsey has never had to fight hard for a job in her life. If she is economically inactive at present, it is by choice - indolence rather than injustice. She has more advantages than 99.5% of the population. If she can't use them, she must either be lazy or stupid.

Do the voters of Crewe and Nantwich really want to elect a lazy (or stupid) candidate who can't hold a relationship together?

For £10m, I'd get the middle classes drinking MUCH more

I don't think I'll see much of Labour's risible new £10m advertising campaign on alcohol units, but by all accounts it's fairly useless anyway.

I've been intimately acquainted with alcohol for many years, and this campaign smacks of amateurism. If we're to get the middle classes drinking more efficiently, then it misses three essential variables; cost per unit, the quality of the pissed, and environmental factors.

A bottle of Pichon Lalande drunk over three leisurely courses barely makes an impact at all. A pint of strong, cold lager quaffed in one immediately after mooring the boat up single-handed in a strong breeze and a 4 knot tide on a hot day produces a rapid warm euphoria and infectious bonhomie. Half a bottle of gin is a decent aperitif with good company and good conversation. A bottle of house red in a pub garden to wind down after work is more effective than a bottle of red quaffed at home in the same circumstances.

And in these straitened times, the middle classes might appreciate some advice on the cheapest and quickest route to inebriation; by and large they will be ignorant of the empirical research diligently undertaken on this by street drinkers and the underclass. Forget units, it's the mix that matters most here - a can of Diamond White cider mixed in a jug with a can of Stella lager (a small measure of Framboise or Creme de Cassis can be added) makes a cheap and effective skullblaster for a quick drink in the garden and the neighbours will mistake it for Kir. However, the quality of the pissed is not high.

No, these silly amateur tipplers have really missed the point. If they gave me the £10m I'd guarantee to increase middle-class drinking by at least 15%; I doubt this campaign will achieve much more than a 5% increase. Another Labour failure.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

I'll agree with Fraser Nelson on this

The abortion debate is one in which we each must listen to our consciences. I make no criticism of those who support the status quo, for such support is in line with their individual conscience. But for myself, the letter reproduced in Fraser Nelson's coffee house piece, and a harrowing article in the Telegraph from a gynaecologist have eliminated whatever doubts I had.

Yes, all MPs should read these accounts before they vote.

Teenage Gordon Brown would have been on 'special needs' register

I have so far this year seen nothing so dismal and depressing as the government's new 'Common Assessment Framework' for every young person from a foetus to a 19 year old. The form, which must be filled in by an adult who has undergone the government's five-hour training course, can be found HERE. The manual is HERE. The Mail reports that the police have dubbed it 'Every fat kid matters'.

Unless a child manages to conform to all the dreary non-aspirational tenets of Statist normalcy it is to be classified having special needs and placed on a State register. Interestingly, an 18 year-old Gordon Brown would probably have been so classified. Here is how his form may have been completed:

Health conditions or impairments which significantly affect everyday life functioning whether chronic or acute, including obesity
Subject is blind in one eye and pale and podgy. Admits he eats chips and porridge.

Being well-nourished, being active, rested and protected, gaining control of the body, acquiring physical skills
Subject admits occasional loss of control of his body, but feels his throwing skills for small objects are well developed

The ability to communicate effectively, confidently and appropriately with others
The subject admits deficiencies in these areas. He says people don't understand him. This leads to frustration and temper tantrums.

Ability to gain attention and make contact, access positive relationships, be with others, encourage conversation
Subject says he has no skills in these areas

Listening and paying attention to what others say, making playful and serious responses, enjoying and sharing stories, songs, rhymes and games, learning about words and meanings
He says songs, rhymes and games are frivolous and time-wasting, and he isn't much interested in other people's opinions.

Appropriateness of social and communications skills, for example, body language, excessive use of expletives or inappropriate language, for example brusque manner
Subject says he is impatient of others and sometimes has to throw mobile phones at them

Anti-social behaviour for example, destruction of property, aggression towards others, harm or risk of harm to others
See above

Early sexual activity, unprotected sex, lack of reflection or positive decision making about sex and relationships
Subject says he has no interest in girls and would rather read 'Engels for Boys' and has made a positive decision about sex and relationships - he's not interested.

Sense of belonging, being able to join in, enjoying being with familiar and trusted others, valuing individuality and contributions of self and others, having a role and identity within a group, acceptance by those around them
Subject says Labour Party is the perfect collectivist group so long as he can be in charge and no-one contradicts him

Understanding of the way in which appearance and behaviour are perceived and the impression being created
Subject picked his nose and chewed his nails continually during the assessment. His hair is greasy and unwashed and his standards of personal hygiene dubious.

The ambitions of the child or young person, whether their aspirations are realistic and they are able to plan how to meet them
Subject says he wants to be elected as Prime Minister. He can't see this is an unrealistic aspiration as his lack of capacity to engage emotionally won't make him a vote-winner. "Then by any means necessary" he responded. Assessor got scared at this point and terminated the assessment.

Conclusion: The subject is sociopathic and borderline psychotic. Immediate multi-agency intervention is recommended.