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Saturday, 10 March 2012

Why the Guardian fears UKIP

That unreliable and bankrupt little agitprop rag the Guardian, which shares with Ken Livingstone the characteristic of condemning tax avoidance whilst making full use of avoidance mechanisms itself, plumbed new depths today in a comment piece equating UKIP, the EDL and the BNP as part of a shared 'armed rising' fantasy. 

Your average UKIP member is hitting seventy, but still natty in Polyester blazer and golf club tie. The old petrol Suffolk Punch cylinder mower is proving a bit too heavy these days, what with the prostate and all, so he's recently swapped for a lightweight flymo. His stringback driving gloves and  Dunn & Co trilby sit on the hall table with the keys for the Rover and a framed photo taken during his term as President of the local Rotary Club. Frankly, the idea of the old boy armed with an assault rifle throwing himself into body rolls as he takes down a drug-estate, firing from the hip (he's hoping the NHS can do it in 2015) as he kicks down dealers' doors is an idea that can exist only in the coke-ravaged mind of a Guardianista. 

In his neat little greenhouse the trays of annuals have spurted growth and he's going to take a chance on a late frost and aims to plant-out after mid April. His front garden, like the others of this verdant street of well-kept 1930s semis here in Bromley, is designed to give pleasure to walkers-by as well as demonstrate a community united in responsibility. Apart from a vague belief that's God's an Englishman, there isn't much racist about him. He even (still unknown to his wife) had a Malay girlfriend during his national service there in the Emergency. And he prides himself that he obeys the Law (yes, it is capitalised in his mind) to the letter. He's not an Enemy of the State, a dangerous radical, a subversive, or any of the filthy things the Guardian may want to term him in its nasty little campaign of vilification. To dun Chesterton's words, smile at him, pay him, pass him but do not quite forget England's full of such good men who haven't spoken yet. 

Friday, 9 March 2012

Correction - It's Ken Livingstone, not Ken Twatface

For all those non-entities and D-listers who will never make it to the Dictionary of National Biography there is always Wikipedia, so democratic that anyone can post an entry about themselves anonymously. The problem is that registered users can also edit existing entries, and the sort of mischief that altered Ken Livingstone's entry to Ken Twatface is never far away. However, the source of edits is also open information - and as the Indie reports, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that over 10,000 edits to MPs' entries have been made from Palace of Westminster IP addresses alone.

And what all those chiselling, crooked expenses thieves who survived the cull of 2010 are most concerned about is, of course, their own expenses history. It is telling that they are still working to attempt to erase the memory of the Rotten Parliament (1997 - 2010), hoping no doubt that the public memory is short and that by 2015 we will have forgotten the Telegraph's comprehensive catalogue of sleaze, theft and peculation in favour of Wikipedia's noted inaccuracy.

Fat chance.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

In praise of Housewives

On International Womens' Day many women who are not running PR companies, writing blockbuster novels, flying fast jets, rowing the Atlantic solo or presenting TV shows may feel a little excluded. Those who promote the event-day never seem to recognise the work and achievements of a massive group of women in Britain without whose contribution we would be a poorer nation indeed - our Housewives. 

They dress and clean the kids, keep the house immaculate, ensure the fridge is always stocked, never forget a birthday, always make time to take a phone call, manage money superlatively, provide a constant emotional crutch and a mothers' touch and are imbued with a level of emotional intelligence that makes life run smoothly. They know the bin and recycling days for months ahead, the dog's flea spot schedule, are on first name terms with every other mother at the school, read the parish newsletter, have an eye for a bargain sharper than an eagle spotting a shrew, support their elderly parents, graft from dawn til midnight and yet never appear to answer the door other than looking relaxed and groomed. They can also do at least four things at once and bring universal joy by being amongst the few who still write letters. They run on a bit of sympathy and a few hugs - surprisingly low maintenance - and are resilient to most pests and diseases.


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

LOCOG Crass Cultural Illiteracy

So you're organising a truly international event that will attract tens of thousands of foreign visitors and training volunteers to provide visitor hosting services. Who do you get to train them? Why, a bigoted, blinkered, small-minded, moronic, untravelled, deeply ignorant, vacuous, addle-brained, culturally illiterate fathead of course. 

'a huge diversity of gay couples at the Olympics'

Part of the training package includes the question 'You're at the Olympic stadium, volunteering at the London Games. Someone complains to you that two men are holding hands. It is making them feel very uncomfortable. What do you do?' The correct answer according to LOCOG is 'explain that there is huge diversity (sic) of people at the London 2012 Games, which includes gay, lesbian and bisexual couples'

My Malaysian businessman mates, aggressively heterosexual, used to cause me some embarrassment  when they reached for my hand to hold on the street. It was, and is, of course a huge gesture of trust and friendship for which I am deeply honoured. Male hand holding is culturally extremely common not only in Asia but in Africa and particularly amongst Arabs. I suspect that not a few Wahhibi moslems will be deeply insulted this morning at being officially designated gay by LOCOG. 

If this kind of unpardonable gaffe is a foretaste of the organisational disaster to come, I shall be laughing my nadgers off this Summer. Locog chief executive Paul Deighton received a total package of £699,998 in 2010-11, including a £220,125 bonus. His chairman Lord Coe was paid £357,000. Calling the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia queer? Priceless.

Fewer than 0.1% of voters object to boundary changes

Fewer than 0.1% of the UK's 45m voters have objected to proposed changes to 'rotten' constituency boundaries that distort election results and deny voters an equal vote, the Guardian reports.

Actually it doesn't. You probably spotted that. It actually reports the 40,000 objections as evidence of national support for Labour's and the Libdems' corrupt and inequitable advantage in the 'rotten' seats under the strap 'England's Anguish'. And as Labour and the LibDems have some 200,000 members between them who could have written to the Electoral Commission, the result suggests that fewer than a quarter of their own voters want to retain their corrupt and skewed electoral advantage.   

But then you shouldn't expect either truthful or balanced reporting from that benighted little rag. They're still trying to convince us that windmills make good sense.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Blogging - What a difference a year makes

Just looking at the Wikio politics blog rankings - now rebranded as ebuzzing - I was struck by just how fluid the blog market is. It wasn't that long ago that the top two spots, month after month, year after year, were occupied by Iain Dale and Guido. Now Guido's down to 7th place and Iain's 'mega blog' at 59th is closer to me than the top 10. I continue to bounce around the 70s / 80s usually and I'm told that you (collectively) are 45 - 65 and male. 

Nice to be among friends ..

The Wisdom of Crowds

No apologies for this follow up post to that below; this subject is actually far more important than those with which the MSM are filling their front pages today. In the comments to the Telegraph piece, 'Septimus Brope' writes;
Rabble-rousing, populism and government by opinion poll.
That's referenda for you, the haunt of dictators and demagogues throughout the ages: they have absolutely no place in a Parliamentary democracy. To hell with them.
Tell me this, by what particular mystical mechanism is the average man on the street able  to decipher the several hundred pages of the Lisbon Accord , for example, and to form a considered opinion as to the detail, never mind the nuances, of its contents?
What are you suggesting; that we ask this nation of couch-potatoes, immigrants, illiterates and the educationally sub-normal to press a red or blue button to decide upon the great matters of state?
Are you kidding me? (my italics)
For a start, every person is in exactly the same position as MPs in their ability to access, read and decipher documents such as the Lisbon accord. A few non-MPs such as Richard North will even have a better idea than almost any MP of the meaning and implications. Indeed, MPs are so weighed down with selfish personal appeals from constituents against the State's rationing decisions that they will have less time to consider the issues than many of their voters. And are we to exclude 'couch-potatoes, immigrants, illiterates and the educationally sub-normal' from voting, as Fabians past would dearly love to have done?

Besides, we know that large groups make better decisions than individuals or small groups. The phenomenon, and it is almost a mystical mechanism, is known as the Wisdom of Crowds. In the case of a Commons vote, where MPs troop like sheep into the lobbies, it's the party HQ, a very small group, that makes the decisions. A much larger group will always make a better one.

Kellner damns Referism

Many thanks to yokel for the link - full text of Kellner's lecture at Reuters Institute HERE 

To follow from the post below, Kellner presents a case with which I strongly disagree yet his lecture is worth reading in full. Succinctly, he says that public opinion is pants and direct democracy is a bad idea, that we should leave things up to elected politicians, who need to engage better with us. He would ban all popular referenda on anything at all, and reinforce MPs' role as representatives rather than the delegates that voters now expect. He says;
The result is a dangerous expectations gap, with voters demanding more than modern governments can deliver. I believe this is one of the underlying reasons for some of the bleak polling results I have reported this evening – and for the growing sense that politics is failing, which feeds the growing appetite for referendums. Even had MPs always been modest in their election promises and honest in their expenses claims, most voters would sit somewhere on the line between disappointment and despair. Far greater and more candid engagement with voters is vital if we are to stand any chance of bridging the expectations gap.
Kellner puts his faith in Burke's dictum;
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
And argues that it stands the test of time, if we can only come to love our politicians a little more. He rather snidely inserts the suggestion and leaves it hanging that referenda are the tool of the fascist and right-wing extremist, and that they would give the UK paedo lynch mobs in a country deserted by all entrepreneurs earning over £1m a year. He also grudgingly admits a referendum could see us out of the EU. 

A useful and informed lecture, that sets out the ideological battle lines between paternalistic Socialism and direct democracy. 

Philip Johnston's take on Kellner's lecture is in the Telegraph, HERE

Monday, 5 March 2012

BBC / Oxford lecture

I'm hoping this will be recorded by BBC Parliament for viewing later at some time, but fear Peter Kellner's Reuters lecture will be buried in obscurity. Following a YouGov poll (not yet on their site) that reveals that 62% of us think politicians lie all the time (presumably the other 38% think they only lie some of the time) the Indie offers a brief teaser, quoting Kellner as saying
We are drifting towards a political system in which a combination of modern technology, mendacious journalism and angry voters will undermine representative democracy.
Which seems to suggest that Kellner lays none of the blame at the feet of the political class itself. Mendacious journalists and mendacious politicians live symbiotically, coprophage organisms both, each eating the other's shit. And in my view the greatest undermining of representative democracy is the centralisation of party politics, the disempowering of the grass roots and the change from political parties as mass membership organisations to consumer brands sold by the same marketing techniques as soft drinks or deodorant. 

The combination of modern technology and angry voters, far from undermining representative democracy, may be its saviour. Catherine Ashton, Kellner's wife, may wish she were insulated from the popular reality of public opinion on the EU's federast ambitions, may wish we were limited to the distorted mendacity put out from the Berlaymont and the tame BBC. And it's surely the refuge of  a rascal to blame the voters for being angry. Haven't we got enough to be angry about?

If anyone can find the broadcast details I'd be grateful for a note in the comments.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Gay 'marriage' and talking dogs

In the Molly houses of eighteenth century London gay men would meet to undertake parodic weddings, one dressed in veil and apron in the manner of a bride, as a fake minister joined them in matrimony; frequently the 'marriage' would be 'consummated' in a screened off part of the Molly house, and sometimes the 'bride' would even enter a parody of parturition to produce a doll from under her apron. All fine with me; I'm not out to stop inverts having their bit of fun with the traditions and rituals of the normal world. 

That's why I'm not overconcerned with Cameron's proposals for 'gay weddings'. He can legislate for dogs to talk, too, for all the difference it will make. 

You see, marriage is a sacrament. You can go through the ritual, and you can even go through the ritual in a proper church with an ordained priest saying the words, but unless the two participants are a man and a woman, who come before God's altar with the right disposition, it isn't a sacrament, and it isn't a marriage. It remains a poor parody, a sad leaden little thing, sans God's grace and bereft of any value, of no more worth than those pathetic parodies of the Molly house.

Politicians too scared to emerge?

The photo below, published in the Mail, shows the crowd who flung eggs and worse at France's most unpopular politician, President Sarkozy, in Bayonne. The terrified little man was forced to hide in bar protected by riot police until he could emerge safely.

England, too, has a long history of disrespect that made the streets unsafe for those loathed by the crowds. In the eighteenth century the coaches of the wealthy could hardly cross central London without having their windows put in by stones - indeed, on one occasion even the King's coach was attacked by the mob, the King himself showered with broken glass. Gillray correctly satirised the incident as an attack on the (coach of) State, being driven over the broken body of Britannia through a storm of missiles flung by an angry crowd

And now again the political class are becoming too scared to emerge amongst the public. Unless you live in one of the key marginal constituencies, you won't see a politician at all at election time. The cabinet and shadow cabinet attend only carefully staged events with supporters and news cameras present. Studio audiences are carefully vetted and managed. Dissenters are excluded from party events. The political class is as insulated as Ceausescu from public anger, living in a make-believe parallel world created by the spin masters and marketeers. When they slip up, and the wrath of the public communicates itself to them, we see incidents like the French President fleeing in terror in Bayonne last week.