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Saturday, 9 January 2010

Salt bins and red diesel

Years ago I recall the County Council used to pay a retainer to farmers who had invested in a snow plough attachment; once a sufficient depth of snow had settled, out they would come to clear the 'B' roads. Not completely, of course, but down to driveable condition, and the council gritters could economically deal with the thin layer remaining in their own time. No more alas; word is that the Treasury is no longer prepared to turn a blind eye to the use of red diesel for highways work, and no farmer is going to keep a tank of road diesel just on the offchance.

Years ago, urban streets were furnished with salt bins, kept stocked by the councils, ostensibly for the use of street sweepers to spread, but in practice a community resource as people cleared their sections of pavement and those of elderly neighbours with it. Again, no more; we can't be trusted with such things these days. One council even warned householders not to clear the pavement - on the grounds that if anyone slipped on the cleared section, the householder would share liability for damages.

I suspect this risk averseness will dominate many people's thinking; if I slip and fall, who can I sue? Who's to blame for the snow? No doubt oleaginous lawyers across the land are already squidging their pudgy damp palms in glee at the sueing opportunities. And as half the country seems paralysed (with many Londoners imagining that those warnings not to travel unless absolutely necessary apply to them) our surrender of personal responsibility to the State seems complete. Wait for the State to clear the snow. Wait for the State to bring you food.

Right. Things to do. Outside.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Coo coo ca-choo, Mrs Robinson

The Robinsons were never the most attractive political family; like the loathsome Keens, they amassed a fortune in public funds as a grasping double-act. The kitsch vulgarity of their home in the Province, their tawdry holiday home in Florida and their tasteless flaunting of Leviticus all proved sufficiently attractive to their electors, however, and I think this latest episode won't harm them unduly.

You see, both the Robinsons and their voters are Springer Show people. The tearful and repentant Robinsons on the stage, the toyboy waiting in the wings, the audience ready to hiss or aaah! at every twist in the tale; the supposed attempted suicide, the feigned repentance, the seeking of forgiveness. All the spectacle lacks is the voice of an angel imparting political advice unto Mrs Robinson's ear.

"Did your Parliamentary researcher's salary from your dad compensate for the fact your mum was screwing a boy younger than you are?" Springer could ask of the Robinson offspring, and the audience would oooh!

"You were screwing the taxpayer for half a million a year in salaries and expenses, Iris - but this wasn't enough, was it? You wanted to screw some more" Springer could demand, and a photo of the boy in his underpants taken from Facebook would flash on the studio screen. Springer would produce the boy's tearful mother, with a Belfast accent that could cut steel, warning Iris to take her geriatric hands off her son; the harridans would fly at eachother across the stage, the air thick with clumps of dyed hair and facepowder as Security pulls them apart.

Yes, pure Springer.

Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes
Put it in your pantry with your cupcakes
It's a little secret, just the Robinsons' affair
Most of all, you've got to hide it from the kids

Coo, coo, ca-choo, Mrs Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo, wo, wo)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

What a mess!

Oh dear, what a mess! As the comrades are busy reinventing what happened yesterday, let's look at a few basics;

1. There is no Labour MP who is an obvious candidate to succeed Brown in the eyes of the electorate

2. Labour MPs and ministers have all but avoided outright support of Brown whilst condemning the coup attempt - Miliboy's 'I am working closely with PM on foreign policy issues & support the re-election campaign for a Labour Govt that he is leading.' is about the weakest support ever for a PM from a serving senior minister, but Brown isn't going to sack anyone between now and the election.

3. Hoon and Hewitt must have known all along that there was no chance of their letter resulting in a leadership contest

4. The only chance coup plotters have is to secure Mandelson's support in advance; this Hoon and Hewitt signally failed to do. Mandelson realises that Brown must be kept in post until the election to take Labour's kicking; if mass public resentment earths itself in Brown's humiliation, Labour has at least a chance of electing a 'clean' leader

5. If Labour is wiped out everywhere south of the Pennines and becomes a rump party of the NE and NW, they will not elect Miliboy as leader - Crudarse and the 'Compass' faction will head the new, Lite Labour, party - and Mandelson's metrosexual New Labour will die a death.

No, Labour's future is so dependent on the election outcome - and look out for polling in the marginals, rather than just the headline party shares - that the only reason Brown is clinging to power for as long as possible is in the Micawberish hope that 'something will turn up'. There is no other reason for not calling the election right now, that he wants to go down in history as the captain at the helm when the party was forced to go to the country rather than the man who led the party to voluntary suicide.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Polly almost right for once ....

I meant to blog on this last weekend, and I think it's still important enough to return to. With the exception of her penultimate para, I agree with every word of Polly Toynbee's New Years Day opinion piece in the Guardian. It is a masterfully penned analysis of Labour's woes.

Labour's electoral schism, between the class warriors and the heirs to Blair, leave them wide open to destruction; a few barbed quips from Hague that make the main news bulletins, or a laconic soundbite from Eric, would do the trick. Yet Dave's team are intent on offering him as the new Teflon Tony and in avoiding negative campaigning, and are missing the chance of landing a few telling body-blows. 'Vote for me, I'm Nice' may be the safest electoral strategy from CCHQ, but it's also the most anodyne and least motivating approach that they could have devised.

The nation doesn't need niceness. We need a strong government with a clear vision. So far the Conservatives have failed to offer this - but there's time yet. I'm still prepared to give Dave up to election eve to come up with the goods to win my vote - although many of you are certain he never will. Let's see.

The glory of regional accents

I've never enjoyed the felicity of Professor Higgins in being able to distinguish an inhabitant of Limehouse from one from Bow, but the distinct differences between an Ipswich accent and a Suffolk one, and between a Suffolk and a Norfolk accent were always clear. In London, I can still pick out an Anglian voice in a noisy and crowded pub and gain comfort from it - much, I suppose, as men did in Kit Marlow's day when rapid agglomerations of those regional loyalties, often with knives drawn, protected strangers in London's inns and taverns. And after a few years here, the accent of North London sounds quite different to that of South London despite being separated by no more than the width of the Thames.

So I'm happy that regional accents are thriving. Accents are about identity; identity is about locality. Accents are a rejection of the homogeneity of the Leviathan State in favour of difference and diversity. As Pakistani moslems with thick Bradford accents travel outside that town to discover that it's their accent, not their colour or their dress or their faith, by which they are primarily identified then they cannot help but strengthen their own Bradford identity; a couple of generations of this will dilute jihadism away far more effectively than State measures ever can. Our Bradford moslem will take more comfort from the sound of an 'infidel' Bradford voice in a London crowd than he will from the Prophet, and this is good.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


With many apologies to all of you, I'm back. 'Raedwald' disappeared suddenly from Blogger on 29th December. This was down to a Blogger robot, which for some reason classed this as a 'Spam Blog' and decided to delete it. It's taken this long to get a human being to reverse the robot's opinion (many thanks Blogger).

And now I need to decide whether I'm going to take this seriously and set this up on a proper host with Wordpress or something or continue to risk Blogger's robots ...