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Saturday, 16 April 2011

Making make believe

Not an excoriation of the political class this morning, but in praise of regional theatre. 

First, the myth that those of us who live in London are out at the theatre all the time. It's just not true. I suppose I've averaged about one visit a year in London - in contrast to the days I still lived in Suffolk, when half a dozen plays a year was not uncommon. The reason for this was regional rep theatre; a small company of players in a modest venue with an ambitious repertoire. In the course of a season, they'd mount whatever Shakespeare was on the Cambridge 'O' level syllabus for that year, a whodunnit, something by Ibsen or Chekov, a panto, and something slightly edgy written by a post-war Lesbian. If the rep theatre in Ipswich wasn't playing what you wanted, a short trip up the road to the gem of a Georgian rep theatre in Bury St Edmunds was there. And if Malvolio bore a slight resemblance to the chap in the trilby in last weeks 'The Ghost Train' or to the rich chap in 'Little Foxes', then it was soon forgotten in the suspension of belief that makes great theatre. 

Ipswich Rep closed many years ago and became a pub. The first time I met someone for a drink there, I couldn't believe how small it was; we were sitting at a table on what had been the stage and it was tiny. Yet I had known this space to be a convincing Danish castle hall, a busy London street and countless vast Edwardian drawing rooms. Whatever magic had been at work had all departed; I searched intently at the floorboards, expecting perhaps to see something, some trace of all the actors footsteps perhaps, but they were just timber boards. Bury Rep is still there, but without a rep company. They just host touring acts these days. 

The members of the rep companies earned practically nothing. In the 1980s, as Assistant Stage Manager, or 'gofer', would earn £41.50 for a 60-hour week plus free dog-biscuits (one of the sponsors was an animal feed mill). I'm not sure why they all folded; TV and video, I suppose. Or easier money being an extra on the 'Bill'. Or Health and Safety. Or the gubbment ruling that they couldn't do Shakespeare or Ibsen any more as it was 'elitist' and they had to put on plays no-one would come to by new black playwrights. And it's this latter interference in the arts that infuriates me.

If you want a play that's 'intellectually accessible' to use the jargon to a Somali, a Pashtun and a chap from Southern Sudan simultaneously, you can't do better than Shakespeare, or Kit Marlowe; indeed, they'd understand 'Tamburlaine' with an insight few sheltered Anglians would have. Yet the poor buggers are condemned to sit through some patronising drivel from an untalented nobody with an Arts Council grant who is inchoately angry about their bottom or whatever.

Let's roll back those large cash-hungry regional theatres with well-paid staffs and press officers, all dependent on tax cash. Let's encourage rep companies to re-emerge, in their own small theatres, making make-believe and bringing joy and wonder to ordinary folk of whatever class, creed, caste or colour. And let's flip the bird to anyone who tries to impose a social agenda on the theatre. 

Friday, 15 April 2011

Miliband discovers Britain

H/T Richard North

Regressive Labour

An excellent Newsnight clip on the Speccie is surpassed by one of the comments beneath and the response to it. Referring to Eric Pickles, 'Jennifer' posted "Pickles is an odious man. There is no worse specie than a working class Tory."

'Jeremy' responded "That is one of the most silly, shallow, ignorant, blinkered and hateful remarks that I have heard for a very long time.What sits behind it is the idea that people should stick to their class, know their place, think alike and not seek to get ideas above their station.

And now I think I know why social mobility under the last Labour government regressed to the feudal levels that it did - because that suits the Labour mentality. And you call yourselves progressives. What a sham! There is nothing "progressive" about the sort of regression that is represented by yourself.

And between the two of you, it is not Eric Pickles who is the contemptible one..."

There's really nothing that I can add to that. 


Dick Puddlecote provides a useful heads-up this morning on two related events;

First, an alternative term to 'Libertarian'. Yes, 'Liberal' has been hijacked and soiled, but we could take a lesson from the Comrades here. Once Marxism had been outed from respectable academia as a foundation for all scholarship, those clever lefties invented 'Marxian' as in "Oh no, Terry hasn't written a Marxist paper, but he's used a Marxian analysis .."

Strangely, I'm just re-reading Norman Stone's account of the death of classic Liberalism in Europe between 1878 and 1919, with the rise of both Socialism and Conservatism in its place. And hence it's obvious. One who espouses Liberalism is not a Liberal but a Liberalist. There. That's my bid for the prize. 

And secondly a reminder that the ASI bloggers bash is set for the 21st April. This is the last evening before the great get-away, so just for once I may be able to attend without screwing up the following working day ...

Time to send back the Health & Welfare migrants

First, let's be clear that our anger over immigration shouldn't be targeted at immigrants. If we learned that Dubai was paying £5k a week in welfare, with the best medical care in the world, to any who made it to her shores, many of us would be there like a shot. You can't blame the health and welfare immigrants to the UK for taking advantage of the opportunity offered to them. No, let's be clear - our anger must be reserved for the Labour Party and its 'open door' policy to all-comers that has changed the face of our nation. 

And once we're clear that Labour's betrayal of the British people on immigration has rendered it unfit ever to hold office again, let's get on with sending back all Labour's economic migrants with as much humanity and dignity as we can afford. First, let's start with the Health Service. Unlawful free treatment for immigrants is costing scores of millions; so no treatment, no GP registration, to any non-EU citizens unless paid for in advance in full. And that includes all the Nigerian village girls clogging up the maternity ward here. They can have their babies in Abuja or Lagos. 

Second, a 'combing out' of economic migrants living in Welfare housing, including all the Housing Association stock subsidised from tax. We can start with individual voter registration for this, but first we need to grasp the nettle and change the law to stop all Commonwealth citizens having the automatic right to register on the voting roll. Thousands of illegal overstayers are currently registered to vote, giving them access to bank accounts, welfare housing and benefits. The loss to British citizens of the reciprocal right of being able to vote in Burkino Faso or Tonga will be bearable. 

Finally, the devolution to borough level in London of UK Border Agency search and seize teams. Here in Lewisham they could fill a deportation-charter A340 every week with very little effort. For the next five years at least, let's convert all those walking co-ordinators and safe-drinking advisors to UKBA squaddists and get them doing something useful. 

Oh, and Cameron. We're all aware he only said what he said because there's some voting coming up, but if the man just for once actually took some action in support of his weasel words he might rescue just a smidgeon of credibility. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

MPs "Self-serving shits"?

From Andreas Whittam-Smith in the Indie;
Politicians find themselves enveloped in public disapproval. One new MP told a colleague that the hardest part of the job was coping with the disdain of the public. A cabinet minister had remarked: "Out there, they think we are self-serving shits." Why is this? And is it an unavoidable consequence of our system of parliamentary democracy?
No, dear - not of Parliamentary democracy, but of the party system. So long as the central Statists in party HQ select candidates to be blown-in, infiltrated, parachuted, imposed and thrust on our constituencies, so long will we be limited to dags and apparatchiks, obedient lobby fodder with just sufficient charisma and intelligence to garner votes locally, but without any dangerous independence of thought or action. Those morons who speak of politics as a 'career', who are convinced that a background as a student union organiser and an MP's researcher, with a 2:1 in PPE, is the perfect background for a Parliamentarian, are largely responsible for the dreck and dross infesting the Commons chamber. 

Only one thing will improve the quality of our MPs; the destruction of the power of the three big parties. 

Where's the meat, Dave?

From Simon Jenkins in the Guardian:
Research indicates that people are more satisfied with services the closer they are run to their community, as with clinics in Scandinavia or police in Japan. They are happier where they are allowed more personal and neighbourhood autonomy. Yet all British governments, national and local, remain implacably opposed to honouring this satisfaction. They do not trust people to tax and provide locally.
France has 38,880 local 'communes', each with an elected Mayor, each having substantial autonomy over local public functions. The average population of the communes is 1,580. Yet our Westminster masters, ministers and mandarins both, are terrified of local autonomy. So here's a challenge, Dave; use Suffolk as a test-bed. By the end of this Parliament, restructure local government in Suffolk. It's really not that hard. 

First there are the big towns - some big enough to run their own, separate police forces. Each big enough to elect a council of burgesses and aldermen to manage their affairs;

Bury St Edmunds 36,640
Felixtowe 24,000
Haverhill 22,720
Ipswich 118,400
Lowestoft 58,300
Newmarket 15,320
Stowmarket 15,740
Sudbury 12,080
Then there are the towns and villages, with a total population of around 390,000, but aggregated in groups of around 18,000 in the old 'hundreds' - there are 21 of these. For the villages, each hundred could run its own police force. Remember that our Localism exemplar, Vail in Colorado, runs a very effective small independent police force with a population of 5,000. And then there are the villages, some big, some small, but all of which can elect a Mayor to head their public governance. Here they are; read their names with pride and wonder:-

Acton 1780
Akenham 60
Aldeburgh 2690
Alderton 430
Aldham 200
Aldringham cum Thorpe 730
All Saints & St Nicholas, South Elmham 130
Alpheton 260
Ampton 70
Arwarton 110
Ashbocking 340
Ashfield cum Thorpe 200
Aspall 60
Assington 380
Athelington 30
Bacton 1180
Badingham 480
Badley 90
Badwell Ash 740
Bardwell 720
Barham 1460
Barking 430
Barnardiston 210
Barnby 510
Barnham 650
Barningham 930
Barrow 1540
Barsham 210
Barton Mills 830
Battisford 460
Bawdsey 320
Baylham 270
Beccles 9850
Beck Row, Holywell Row and Kenny Hill 4180
Bedfield 320
Bedingfield 230
Belstead 190
Benacre 80
Benhall 560
Bentley 750
Beyton 680
Bildeston 960
Blaxhall 220
Blundeston 1590
Blyford 120
Blythburgh 330
Botesdale 670
Boulge 40
Boxford 1270
Boxted 120
Boyton 170
Bradfield Combust with Stanningfield 540
Bradfield St Clare 160
Bradfield St George 360
Braiseworth 70
Bramfield 380
Bramford 2410
Brampton with Stoven 460
Brandeston 260
Brandon 8380
Brantham 2650
Bredfield 330
Brent Eleigh 180
Brettenham 270
Brightwell 60
Brockley 300
Brome and Oakley 430
Bromeswell 340
Bruisyard 160
Brundish 180
Bucklesham 550
Bungay 5050
Bures 920
Burgate 150
Burgh 200
Burstall 200
Butley 200
Buxhall 440
Campsey Ash 310
Capel 2970
Capel St Andrew 70
Carlton Colville 7690
Cavendish 980
Cavenham 120
Charsfield 370
Chattisham 140
Chedburgh 650
Chediston 210
Chelmondiston 990
Chelsworth 140
Chevington 630
Chillesford 120
Chilton 400
Clare 2060
Claydon 2190
Clopton 360
Cockfield 840
Coddenham 570
Combs 1020
Coney Weston 400
Cookley 80
Copdock and Washbrook 1130
Corton 1170
Cotton 510
Covehithe 30
Cowlinge 380
Cransford 160
Cratfield 280
Creeting St mary 710
Creeting St Peter 260
Cretingham 190
Crowfield 350
Culford 640
Culpho 40
Dalham 210
Dallinghoo 180
Darsham 290
Debach 80
Debenham 2040
Denham 170
Denham 180
Dennington 580
Denston 120
Depden 200
Drinkstone 560
Dunwich 70
Earl Soham 380
East Bergholt 2950
Easton 330
Edwardstone 360
Ellough 40
Elmsett 760
Elmswell 3390
Elveden 270
Eriswell 4920
Euston 130
Exning 1960
Eye 2180
Eyke 370
Fakenham Magna 160
Falkenham 180
Farnham 100
Felsham 420
Finningham 430
Flempton 180
Flixton 180
Flixton (Lothingland) 40
Flowton 120
Fornham All Saints 1140
Fornham St Genevieve 110
Fornham St Martin 1300
Foxhall 270
Framlingham 3340
Framsden 330
Freckenham 360
Fressingfield 1020
Freston 120
Friston 360
Frostenden 190
Gazeley 740
Gedding 130
Gedgrave 30
Gipping 80
Gisleham 690
Gislingham 950
Glemsford 3360
Gosbeck 220
Great Ashfield 310
Great Barton 2030
Great Bealings 310
Great Blakenham 1100
Great Bradley 350
Great Bricett 1250
Great Cornard 8060
Great Finborough 800
Great Glemham 200
Great Livermere 230
Great Thurlow 980
Great Waldringfield 1450
Great Whelnetham 820
Great Wrattling 210
Groton 240
Grundisburgh 1530
Hacheston 370
Hadleigh 8150
Halesworth 4930
Hargrave 280
Harkstead 280
Harleston 160
Hartest 440
Hasketon 440
Haughley 1750
Hawkedon 120
Hawstead 340
Helmingham 170
Hemingstone 210
Hemley 60
Hengrave 140
Henley 580
Henstead with Hulver Street 320
Hepworth 550
Herringswell 190
Hessett 490
Heveningham 120
Higham 140
Higham 140
Hinderclay 340
Hintlesham 580
Hitcham 620
Holbrook 2420
Hollesley 1400
Holton 830
Holton St Mary 220
Honington 1340
Hoo 90
Hopton 650
Horham 320
Horringer 890
Hoxne 820
Hundon 1070
Hunston 160
Huntingfield 190
Icklingham 420
Ickworth 30
Iken 120
Ingham 430
Ixworth 2240
Ixworth Thorpe 60
Kedington 1780
Kelsale cum Carlton 1030
Kentford 420
Kenton 170
Kersey 340
Kesgrave 11020
Kessingland 4200
Kettlebaston 70
Kettleburgh 230
Kirton 1050
Knettishall 40
Knodishall 860
Lackford 270
Lakenheath 4490
Langham 90
Lavenham 1780
Lawshall 940
Laxfield 910
Layham 560
Leavenheath 1380
Leiston 5430
Letheringham 70
Levington 270
Lidgate 220
Lindsey 190
Linstead Magna 60
Linstead Parva 90
Little Bealings 470
Little Blakenham 310
Little Bradley 60
Little Cornard 300
Little Finborough 40
Little Glemham 170
Little Livermere 40
Little Thurlow 230
Little Waldringfield 360
Little Whelnetham 180
Little Wratting 160
Long Melford 3500
Lound 370
Market Weston 260
Marlesford 220
Martlesham 5670
Mellis 460
Melton 3910
Mendham 440
Mendlesham 1380
Metfield 330
Mettingham 200
Middleton 370
Milden 90
Mildenhall 10120
Monewden 130
Monk Soham 170
Monks Eleigh 440
Moulton 1090
Mutford 500
Nacton 720
Nayland-with-Wissington 1130
Nedging-with-Naughton 400
Needham Market 4560
Nettlestead 90
Newbourne 280
Newton 500
North Cove 450
Norton 860
Nowton 140
Occold 500
Offton 370
Old Newton with Dagworth 1050
Onehouse 930
Orford 630
Otley 730
Oulton 4050
Ousden 260
Pakenham 840
Palgrave 780
Parham 300
Peasenhall 500
Pettaugh 220
Pettistree 200
Pinewood 4500
Playford 220
Polstead 820
Poslingford 180
Preston St Mary 230
Purdis Farm 2000
Ramsholt 30
Rattlesden 900
Raydon 490
Red Lodge 1640
Rede 160
Redgrave 540
Redisham 110
Redlingfield 110
Rendham 260
Rendlesham 2200
Reydon 2580
Rickinghall Inferior 380
Rickinghall Superior 830
Ringsfield 340
Ringshall 650
Risby 820
Rishangles 80
Rumburgh 330
Rushbrooke with Rougham 1140
Rushmere 80
Rushmere St Andrew 6440
Santon Downham 240
Sapiston 150
Saxmundham 3420
Saxtead 390
Semer 150
Shadingfield 170
Shelland 50
Shelley 60
Shimpling 420
Shipmeadow 160
Shotley 2380
Shottisham 200
Sibton 190
Snape 630
Somerleyton, Ashby and Herringfleet 420
Somersham 710
Somerton 80
Sotherton 80
Sotterley 120
South Cove 20
Southolt 70
Southwold 1380
Spexhall 210
Sproughton 1390
St. Andrew, Ilketshall 290
St. Cross, South Elmham 120
St. James, South Elmham 210
St. John, Ilketshall 40
St. Lawrence, Ilketshall 170
St. Margaret, Ilketshall 140
St. Margaret, South Elmham 100
St. Mary, South Elmham 170
St. Michael, South Elmham 60
St. Peter, South Elmham 40
Stansfield 230
Stanstead 310
Stanton 2680
Sternfield 130
Stoke Ash 240
Stoke-by-Clare 490
Stoke-by-Nayland 720
Stonham Aspal 590
Stonham Earl 650
Stonham Parva 350
Stowlangtoft 200
Stowlangtoft 270
Stowupland 1970
Stradbroke 1330
Stradishall 490
Stratford St Andrew 170
Stratford St Mary 740
Stratton Hall 20
Stuston 190
Stutton 820
Sudbourne 330
Sutton 550
Swefling 200
Swilland 170
Syleham 190
Tannington 110
Tattingstone 530
The Saxhams 300
Theberton 310
Thelnetham 230
Thorington 70
Thorndon 590
Thornham magna 90
Thornham Parva 50
Thorpe Morieux 260
Thrandeston 130
Thurston 3260
Thwaite 160
Timworth 50
Tostock 460
Trimley St Martin 1950
Trimley St Mary 3700
Troston 860
Tuddenham 450
Tuddenham St Martin 320
Tunstall 490
Ubbeston 100
Ufford 860
Uggeshall 170
Walberswick 390
Waldringfield 480
Walpole 220
Walsham-le-Willows 1170
Wangford 20
Wangford with Henham 640
Wantisden 30
Wattisfield 440
Wattisham 110
Wenham Magna 150
Wenham Parva 20
Wenhaston with Mells Hamlet 870
West Stow 180
Westerfield 440
Westhall 390
Westhorpe 210
Westleton 450
Westley 180
Weston 230
Wetherden 540
Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford 670
Weybread 420
Whatfield 310
Whepstead 430
Wherstead 350
Whitton 90
Wickham Market 2140
Wickham Skeith 320
Wickhambrook 1170
Wilby 240
Willingham St Mary 150
Willisham 270
Wingfield 330
Winston 160
Wissett 260
Withersfield 430
Witnesham 810
Wixoe 140
Woodbridge 7320
Woolpit 1990
Woolverstone 240
Wordwell 20
Worlingham 3730
Worlington 460
Worlingworth 750
Wortham 700
Wrentham 960
Wyverstone 370
Yaxley 530
Yoxford 700