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Friday, 24 July 2009

My one-man boycott of Cocaine users

Although I'm not a purist Libertarian, I can support intellectually the legalisation of drugs, provided always that individuals remain wholly responsible for their own sustenance, health and welfare. I don't mind you being a smackhead if you can hold down a job, pay the rent on a flat and pay enough National Insurance (in the absence of a proper scheme) to pay for the NHS to treat your collapsed veins and failing heart. After all, I can tick these boxes for alcohol and tobacco, so why not for heroin and cocaine? Except that I viscerally loathe both smackheads and cokeheads. It's called prejudice.

I won't talk to someone in a social setting who has taken Cocaine. I walk away without comment. I won't employ a Cocaine user (and that includes designers) , entertain a cokehead sales rep, or have obvious Cocaine users on any of my sites. If you're bright eyed and babbling, sod off.

And because I loathe Cocaine I flare with anger every time some smart young panellist on the telly makes one of those quiet Cocaine 'in' comments, in a manner that says 'I know we're not allowed to talk about it, but hey, we're hip and cool and fash and of course we stuff mountains of the stuff up our noses'. Fine on ITV. OK on Sky. But, in my opinion, unacceptable on the BBC.

If the government are serious about keeping Cocaine illegal, they need to make an example at the BBC. All on-air presenters, commentators, panellists and the like should undergo regular pre-broadcast coke testing and be taken off air if they fail. They should introduce weekly regular testing for all BBC executives earning over £50k, with a three-strikes-and-out change to their contracts. The BBC should become a coke-free zone.

I'm fed up with coke. My one-man boycott of coke-users may be a small gesture, but at least I'm fighting back against this curse. That's my freedom.

Kirkbride Sleaze

Perhaps Julie Kirkbride has realised that she is unemployable outside Westminster, or perhaps there is no other occupation that pays half as well for someone of her talents, but in an abrupt about face this most corrupt MP who previously rightly announced her resignation is trying to crawl back into Parliament.

The thread on which she's hanging her hopes is that she was told 10,000 constituents had signed a petition calling for her to go, but they'd counted the signatures and there were only 3,300.

That's a bit like your wife asking to be forgiven for adultery with your regiment on the grounds that she was only unfaithful with the first battalion.

Perhaps the realisation is dawning amongst these troughers how hard ordinary people have to work to make a life for themselves and their families. If her local Conservative Association is mad enough to retain her, I hope the voters of Bromsgrove are intelligent enough to kick her out.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Flames of revolt in France

If 500 cars were torched on a single night in the UK, and 850 torched the following night, if the police and fire service came under sustained assault from fireworks and even gunfire, if arsonists torched bone-dry grassland threatening the lives of thousands, you'd expect something on the news, wouldn't you? All this happened in France between the 13th and the 15th of July - over Bastille Day - last week. Surprised? Well, you won't have seen much about it on BBC news.

As Brussels Journal reports, the French Interior Ministry has also tried to censor details of the nation-wide rioting from the French press. From government's point of view this deprives the rioters of the 'oxygen of publicity' and discourages an escalation of the violence. One can only speculate on why the MSM in the UK didn't pick up the story.

The pressures that front-line European nations - Spain, France and Italy - face from North African immigration are immense. North African populations are growing far faster than their native economies can cope with; it's been estimated that North African nations need to create an additional 34m jobs over the next 20 years to maintain the status quo, and the failure to do so will only intensify the push north of North African populations into Europe's soft underbelly.

There's a crisis building in Europe, and Britain better look to its own provision.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Rotten Parliament only rotten in part?

Bishop: 'I'm afraid you have a bad egg, Mr Jones', Curate:'Oh no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!'

It is axiomatic that not every MP is corrupt. An anonymous commentator on a post by Iain Dale is alone in evincing any support at all for MPs ; "I thought that when the hysteria had died down a little, people might have been capable of telling the difference between around 100 troughers and 650."

The comment is telling, for it reveals the true state of mind of the political class in reaction to this scandal. Firstly, 'hysteria' - as though the nation were a Sun-maddened crowd hunting suspected paedophiles in the streets. There was no hysteria, except perhaps from Nadine Dorries. There was, and still is, tremendous simmering anger. Secondly, the description of the extent of the corruption as being 'around 100 troughers' - as though this was a minor matter confined to a few. The public perception I suspect is that there are about 100 utterly corrupt MPs, about 450 more minor troughers and about 100 'pure' MPs.

The fervent hopes of the political class, that after a bit of excitement and a long Summer recess we can all get back to normal and that the scandal will be forgotten, reveals how detached they are from the reality of public feeling. Even the experience of canvassers in the June elections of the anger on the doorsteps can be ignored, it seems, as this political class build a barricade of self-delusion and denial around the reality of the impact of the scandal. The vast majority of comments on Iain Dale's post can be ignored, it seems.

The point about the curate's egg is that something that is partly good and partly bad is entirely spoiled. We do not use the term Rotten Parliament to mean that every MP is corrupt, but that the body of MPs, the Commons Parliament, is despoiled and rank and rotten as week-old Mackerel. Only a general election will cleanse the foulness.

And the more the political class deny the reality of this mess, the longer and deeper will be their pain.

George Foulkes needs to take more water with it

Foulkes, an immodest man with much to be modest about, an utterly undistinguished former Labour minister and uber-loyal Labourite, a toady, a convicted drunkard and arch proponent of the smoking ban, reckons General Sir Richard Dannatt has been 'giving succour to the enemy'.

Foulkes is as distasteful as something you scrape from the sole of your shoe with a stick. I reckon he also needs to start taking more water with it, but after claiming £54,527 in expenses in 2007/2008, there's a decent chance the slime will drink himself to death in the near future.

A lament for the English pub

My youth revolved around Suffolk pubs. There was the local at which we would all meet - variously the Swan, the White Horse and Mannings, the centre of gravity shifting between them over the years, and there there were the pubs you travelled to. Just for the sake of it. Many were famed, their virtues spread by word of mouth rather than the interweb. The Grundisburgh Half Moon. The Kelsale Poacher's Pocket. The Kersey White Horse, the Martlesham Red Lion, the Trowel and Hammer at Cotton (with swimming pool in the pub field). The waterside pubs with quarry tiled floors that didn't mind wettish lads trailing in some river mud; the Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill, the Waldringfield Maybush and the Levington Ship, the Ramsholt Arms. And many, many more, small Tolly pubs for the most part in those days, with cream glossed walls and bare boards on the floor decades before this became a metropolitan fashion. Just beer, banter and laughter; as many of us that could fit in one or two cars, and a wary respect for the local lads. Thus did we seal our bond with our County.

Just as a church acquires religious gravitas after half a millennium of masses or so, and an odour of sanctity that seems steeped in the very stones, so the twisted smoke-blackened beams of a pub, after two or three hundred years, are steeped in human joy, but also in men's sadness; men have left for war, and many of them returned after war, but never the same men as those that left. Those portals have seen the return of veterans of Blenheim, Talavera, Waterloo, Inkerman, Spion Kop, Flanders, El Alamein, Normandy and Inchon. And in my day, the Falklands. Those who never returned were remembered, and this remembrance too is steeped into the very beams of the structure. Ale has flowed in boom and recession, in times of plenty and in times of famine. The Corn Laws, the Great Reform Act, votes for women, the nationalisation of the doctors and whether Mrs Thatcher is a good thing have stirred debate and heated the air.

A pub was never just a place for men to drink. It was a testing house, a proving ground where the character and probity of those we lived with in community were assessed. Ale loosens tongues and gives us insight into others, and so we learned who were the fools and who the wise, who the cowards and who the bold, who the thieves and who the virtuous, who the empty boasters and who the quiet doers. A clearing house for information, an arbiter of standards, a neutral ground where a few quiet words could defuse niggling neighbourly tensions.

News from the BBPA that 2,400 pubs have closed over the past year, and that they're now closing at the rate of 52 every week, causes me great sadness. We all know the reasons; not just the smoking ban, but the Licensing Act and the cheapness of supermarket lager. Our landscape is becoming desert, a desert of the soul, with few wadis and scant shelter. The loss of our pubs is the loss of part of our selves. And my fear is Robert Frost's;

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert spaces

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Kensington Statists must be defeated

I've written before on the politics of highways (Zebras are Tory, Pelicans are Labour) and make no apology for returning to this subject. My local government hero is Daniel Moylan, Conservative former deputy leader of Chelsea and Kensington Council. Daniel cleared Kensington High Street of all the repressive torture-apparatus of the inefficient State; the lights that command, the cattle-pen barriers, the rigid class distinctions, the myriad of State orders, instructions and peremptory signs that disfigured our streetscape, and has given us a highways space that is safer and faster for all its users. It is a triumph of Toryism; in place of the State telling everyone what to do, Daniel left it to the free market and for users to negotiate directly with eachother over the goods, in this case highway-space. Then he did it again in Sloane Square, and again in museumland in South Ken. Yes, it's safer. And it's faster. Even for people driving 4x4s.

Simon Jenkins writes in tonight's Standard why Daniel's pioneering road revolution should be repeated in the area around Harrods. An influential group of Kensington Statists is working hard to preserve the Socialist inefficiencies and high casuality rates together with low speeds and very high costs that the Statist highways system entails. They must not be allowed to succeed. If necessary, Boris must throw in the entire weight of the Mayorality to tear down the entrenched Marxists and their miserable fortress command highways economy, and open Harrods up to the glories of Tory free-market road efficiencies.

Milburn's fundamental errors

The French bourgeois virtues as catalogued by John Updike, for which I have found a useful mnemonic in 'all English men chew toffee on dreary Mondays', are perhaps unknown to Alan Milburn. Assiduité, Economie, Mediocrité, Conjugalité, Temperance,Optomisme, Dynamisme, Modernité. Mediocrity, you understand, in the sense of 'the middle way' rather than poor quality. And whilst we have a middle class, the French still have a bourgeoisie. The characterisation of both, however, is not by birth, by accent, or appearance, or postal code, but by a shared set of values; deferred gratification, quiet aspiration, self-help and mutual assistance, a certain respectability.

Over the years I have found a sure-fire way of determining the nature of an unfamiliar company of persons in the way those present introduce themselves; forename only, or forename and surname. Go to a pub such as Soho's French House and fall into conversation with one of the bar-props there and it will not be long before they hold out a hand and declare 'John Smith' or whatever. It's a middle class thing. It means 'I'm somebody'. It means 'I might know your family or you might know mine'. I once arrived on site to meet the archaeologist from an Oxford firm who was impeding my foundations. The sight of a young man in dreadlocks, beads and combat trousers didn't bode well until he introduced himself; the surname was familiar from research for my long-gestated biography of the last Emir of Bokhara (a work still in progress). "There was a chap of that name up at Worcester during the war" I replied, "any relation?" "That would be my father." From then on we got on crackingly.

This sort of socialisation doesn't mean abandoning your roots or your accent. Dennis Skinner, I'm quite sure, is proud to announce himself as such, in the rich tones of an ex-Derby miner, yet for all his working class credentials it was Tupton Grammar School that enabled the character that Margaret Thatcher would later call 'a marvellous parliamentarian'; Skinner exemplifies all the bourgeois virtues par excellence.

But it doesn't take a grammar school, or a place at an ancient university, to enable upward social mobility. There are remarkably few barriers to entry to the middle class. And I use the term 'middle class' as shorthand for all the shared characteristics I have described above. No, all it takes is a desire to belong.

And this is why no amount of State designed social engineering by Milburn or anyone else will work whilst our entire government and administration spends so much effort on deriding, undermining and destroying the manifestation of middle-classness. You simply can't on the one hand encourage people to be upwardly social mobile and at the same time, in every public pronouncement, denounce the very existence of the milieu you are encouraging them to join.

Labour have destroyed the old working class with Welfarism. It is fifty-two years since Young and Wilmott published 'Family and Kinship in East London' - which documented a world rich in social relationships, social networks, interdependence and mutual aid, and the world that Arthur Seldon and Ralph Harris grew up in. That society evolved in mutual self-protection against insecure and low-paid work. When Welfarism removed the threats, the threads dissolved, leaving a whole cohort of society either to take the path of the stereotypical Thatcherite white van man to owning a 1930s semi in Essex or the other path to an amorphous underclass. Indeed, the growth of the underclass from the late 1970s has been phenomenal, along with its visible manifestations of bastardy, drunkeness and casual violence.

Labour can never resurrect the old working class. They can, however, make middle-classness an object of desire and aspiration rather than the scapegoat for all socialism's failures; only this will encourage the sort of upward social mobility that Milburn tells us he desires.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mary Honeyball / Iain Dale - Olympic tarts

I posted a comment on Iain Dale's post that in itself responded to Mary Honeyball's post, all over the number of tarts that the 2012 Olympics will attract. Mary Honeyball quotes a Press Trust of India report that itself partially quotes This piece from the Times in March 2008, from which I took all the figures I quoted on Iain's post .... follow so far?

The interesting debate is how many people will be employed by the Olympics over the pre-games and games period. Mary Honeyball first reckoned one million, but now doubts this figure. Iain reckons 10,000. I quoted 100,000 from the 'Times' piece above. Where is the truth?

The ODA, the body building the theatre (to use a metaphor), LOCOG, the body staging the play, and the government, as the 'angels' (with our money) all say different and confusing things.

The ODA says that 4,434 are currently employed on the Olympic Park, that this will rise to a peak of 11,000 in 2010 and in all 30,000 people will have been employed on the construction phase.

Tessa Jowell told the Commons that "These include 30,000 people helping to build the Olympic Park and Olympic Village; 2,500 people directly employed on the staging of the games with a contractor work force of some 100,000". Hang on, this doesn't make sense. Does she mean 100,000 off-site jobs, in suppliers and support firms such as construction materials and plant? This seems highly improbable. Anyhow, they're not on site. That's clear.

LOCOG says "By the time of the 2012 Opening Ceremony around 100,000 people will be working on the Games - including 3,000 staff, up to 70,000 volunteers and a large number of contractors." Ah. I wonder if the 100,000 figure quoted by Tessa Jowell included 70,000 volunteers? If so, it's highly misleading.

Anyhow, it seems only 30,000 or so will be employed in building the park, with a peak of 11,000 on site. So Iain is the closest.

And as for the tarts, it may be that the Mile End Road massage parlours may have to cope by themselves. Perhaps Joe 'happy finish' Ashton, could provide some advice here.

Memo to Damian McBride: Comeback Strategy

D -

It will be pushing things to get you back into the fold in time for the 2010 election, but here's the strategy we've come up with;

1. A public mea culpa, preferably on Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour'. Abject contriteness is the tone here, you can't believe you could have been so stupid etc.
2. We've found you a spot working with young black offenders in Newham; don't worry, won't be for long - just until we've arranged to 'leak' it to the Mirror.
3. A serious comment piece from you in the Telegraph; Damascene conversion stuff, how politics must turn its back on spin and media manipulation etc.
4. Get married - I attach photos of researchers at HQ who would be suitable and are willing - and spend a fortnight at Shrublands to get rid of the varicose nose veins etc. and lose a couple of stone. Lot's of publicity pics of New You to allow the rags to do 'before and after' things.
5. We've pencilled your peerage announcement in for the New Year's list; Peter's happy to take you under his wing. Don't worry - Gordon's agreed to Cherie's nagging for a hereditary earldom for Tony for the same list, so you will be 'lost' newswise.

We've also arranged a summer break for you - a 'working' holiday on a Cornish donkey sanctuary. A few miles from Padstow, so most of the cabinet will have the opportunity to lunch with you and discuss tactics.

Yours ever -

Purnell and Cruddas: dogs fighting over the bones

The Guardian this morning carries contrasting pieces by James Purnell, a corrupt former minister, and John Cruddas, another corrupt Labour MP and unreconstructed Socialist.

At a time when the most recent ComRes poll puts Labour at 23% against the LibDems's 22%, both Purnell and Cruddas agree on many things; both love the Leviathan of the central State, both support its interference in our economic, social, intellectual and political lives, both believe in equality of result, a forced equality of wealth, status or class, and both believe that its fine to restrict or curtail personal freedoms for the sake of Socialist ideology. Unfortunately for them both, the British public no longer believes in any of these things. Like dogs fighting over bones bare of meat, they've lost touch completely with the national zeitgeist.

As the Labour Party continues its inexorable march towards becoming a regional rump party of the North East and North West, the truth continues to elude the Purnells and Crudasses of their world - that the Labour Party doesn't have a monopoly on social concern, that all political parties are frustrated and angry at the scale of want, ignorance, disease, squalor and idleness. The country has seen Labour's solutions over the past twelve years; they have cost us a trillion in money and we have gone backwards. People aren't stupid. If either Purnell or Cruddas think they'll vote for more of the same, they are more deluded than I imagined it possible to be.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Lake District - Gordon's spiritual home

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) is almost as deeply loathed as Gordon Brown is himself; its lunatic pursuit of perverse socialist objectives at cost to the people who live and make their living from the Lake District, its elevation of a dodgy environmental credo above the lives of the local communities, its deafness to criticism, its cavalier attitude to taxpayers' money and its shameful incompetence must all make the Lake District a spiritual home for Gordon Brown. It is therefore no surprise to learn that he is to holiday there this year.

He and Sarah may have to engage a private guide, though; the LDNPA may by now have closed its guide facility for serving an audience that is too white, too middle-aged and too middle class. The Azara blog commented;
Who the heck are the morons who lead the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) and do they serve any purpose in life whatsoever. If you have to make budget cuts you say "we are cutting service X because we can no longer afford it", you do not say "we are cutting service X because we hate the people who use it, and bugger off all you horrid middle class people who dare to come to the Lake District". The Cumbria Tourist Board must be tearing its hair out. The British never have gotten the idea of tourism. Repeat three times: "the customer is always right". The LDNPA instead believe "the customer is always wrong".
On efforts to 'improve access' for the disabled, inner-city hoodies and pregnant Somalis, Azara says;
Note that "a National Park for everyone to enjoy" means that most of the current visitors to the Lake District (those who take cars) can go to hell, so in fact it is really "a National Park for most everyone not to enjoy". One of the problems with the Lake District is that it is already far too manicured, and no doubt the LDPNA will not be satisfied until there is a child buggy accessible route along Striding Edge. (Don't laugh. The Green Mountain Club in Vermont had to install a wheelchair accessible toilet at one of their shelters in the middle of nowhere because of federal government regulations. Where the morons of America lead the morons of Britain are sure to follow.) And you can bet your last euro that "youth; people with limited mobility; ethnic minorities and inner-city dwellers" are not well represented on the LDNPA itself (ah, but rules are for the little people, not the rulers).
Not only walkers and ramblers hate the LDNPA; boaters loathe them even more, if anything. Now I can understand not creating wash in canals and on inland rivers where it erodes the banks, and the need to keep speed down. But the Lake District is made of, er, rock. It's quite well known for it. A thousand speedboats cruising for ten thousand years wouldn't erode the shore by more than a millimetre - but the LDNPA banned them anyway. Yep, and they employ speed wardens to ticket boaters going faster than 4mph.

The LDNPA only really wants to see rag-and-stick boats hand-crafted from storm-felled Elm planks fastened with organic snot, with sails woven from clotted yoghurt and dyed with hand-trodden woad, and sheets and halyards spun from ear-hair. And they have to be s-l-o-w. So that the Somalis have time to get their cameras out.

So, Gordon, enjoy your hols; it's now become exactly your sort of place. I leave the last word to an ex-Lakes boater;
"Two years ago we had 4 boats plus a jet ski (and tenders) on the lake between my dad, my brother and I. We spent over 8K in mooring fees, £1500 in petrol for boats, another £750 in petrol for cars, £2500 on service and repair costs, £1000 on improvements (toys), £1000 in the supermarkets and shops and approx £4000 in the bars and restaurants (maybe a little more). We know this because we kept a track of our spending to give to the 'stop the ban team'. We also had guests up most weekends who used the B&B's and spent a fortune in bars and restaurants. So if we call that another £4000 the total loss was a small £22,500 for one family! We had been using the lake for over 25 years and always had at least one boat or caravan on there.

We spent the money because Windermere was our escape. We spent time together as a family with the children growing up in a healthy environment and they knew their cousins! At the start of this year all of the boats were removed. From a Family perspective we have only all met up once in 7 months! Previously it was every weekend.

As you can guess I am very bitter as it has ruined a way of life. Yes we could have stayed but to see something you love ruined (for us) would have been tragic.

So I feel sorry for those businesses who gave us such a great life for twenty five years who are now suffering. Of 8 People I know who said it would not affect them two have sold their boats and 5 are for-sale. Only one is staying put!

The money that was spent here has now been moved to Spain where we have bought a property. One boat is imminently going down there and the other (two + jet ski sold) may well in future years. Not only has the Lakes lost the money, the UK has as well.

Well done LDNPA! You are the best at wrecking the economy to save a tree or two (although I personally never damaged any trees, or actively damaged the lake banks) and do not believe their guff!"

Appalling evil of State functionaries & Rerum Novarum

Christopher Booker reports in the Telegraph the case of a normal, loving family whose five year old daughter was forcibly removed by the State and who is now to be put up for adoption, to lose contact with her natural parents and family for all her childhood.

No one who has any knowledge of this family is in any doubt that the action is completely unjustified; there is no suggestion, even from the stupid and deluded State functionaries who are pursuing the vendetta, that the parents were violent, or abused her. They seem to have made a snap decision based on an erroneous impression of a 'messy house'.

God help a Catholic academic of my acquaintance, whose immensely loving but chaotic and utterly disorganised home is filled with the laughter of his four children; the State 'mess police' would recoil at the state of his wife's studio, have vapours at the teetering piles of books and papers in the room he uses to work, and no doubt ascribe demonic intentions to the Byzantine icons that decorate the hallway with improbably painful scenes of Christian martyrdom.

This distasteful case reminds me of the authority that the family has lost under this evil Leviathan State; Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum reminds us what relationship should pertain;
No human law can abolish the natural and original right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal purpose of marriage ordained by God's authority from the beginning: "Increase and multiply."(3) Hence we have the family, the "society" of a man's house - a society very small, one must admit, but none the less a true society, and one older than any State. Consequently, it has rights and duties peculiar to itself which are quite independent of the State.

A family, no less than a State, is, as We have said, a true society, governed by an authority peculiar to itself, that is to say, by the authority of the father. Provided, therefore, the limits which are prescribed by the very purposes for which it exists be not transgressed, the family has at least equal rights with the State in the choice and pursuit of the things needful to its preservation and its just liberty. We say, "at least equal rights"; for, inasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature. If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire.
Thus only when the fundamental rights of family members are 'transgressed' in Leo's words, by physical or sexual abuse for example, does 'society' in the person either of the State (bad) or of neighbours and the local community (good) have the right to interfere. In the absence of such evidence, a mere deviation by a family from the prissy norms of a low-level State functionary, be such deviation however eccentric, gives no right of interference.

And before anyone quotes the case of Baby Peter, a whore sharing a house with two of her for-today sexual partners as well as the poor bastard by-blows of her whoredom doesn't constitute a 'family' - whatever the views of Harriet Harman and her evil doctrine - and should never have been supported by public money or provision in the first place.

Parhaps Labour ought to listen to the words of Barack Obama on the subject.