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Thursday, 19 April 2012


Christopher Howse in the Telegraph wonders how long a new shop in Dover Street named 'Acne' will last, following the demise of a Westminster cafe named 'Mange' after even Londoners became familiar with the skin condition of urban foxes. Regular visitors to Calais will also no doubt recall the trainer shop on the Bd Jacquard named 'Athlete's Foot'. 

Apols for light blogging - it's work, innit.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The cost of democracy

A diverse, transparent and unrestricted party political system with low barriers to entry and an equal playing field for all is an important precursor for real democracy. In order for parties to get their message and identity out, they need money. Either they all rely wholly on membership fees and voluntary donations - which, if unrestricted, will give the party that offers most to the oligopolistic multinational corporates a clear advantage over all the rest - or an element of tax funding is applied, and / or caps or restrictions on donations to prevent parliament being 'bought'. So far, I think, few would argue with the foregoing. 

Any tax funding must also recognise the right of those unwilling under any circumstances to contribute to political parties - 'not in my name'. Thus any tax subsidy must be individual, positive and confidential. There are only two ways of doing this;

1. A £1 - for - £1 tax-match for donations up to a maximum limit for individual donations

2. A separate funding ballot at general elections to 'vote' say £3 to the party of choice, or to 'vote' nothing at all to any of them, the recipient party not having to be the one for which an electoral vote is cast

Why both Hayden Phillips' and Christopher Kelly's proposals are corrupting and antidemocratic is because both refuse to recognise the second option; both want to restrict the pot to the 'big three', therefore establishing permanent incumbency and status as 'parties of State'. 

And while Miliband's acceptance that big voluntary donations from the unions must be capped along with other donations, he's still seeking to keep the individual levy intact. This really doesn't take the matter much further forward - and the chances of any proposals being agreed by the Big Three that are acceptable to the UK electorate emerging are slim. It's high time therefore that the politicians handed over the issue of party funding to we, the people, to decide; they simply can neither be trusted nor relied upon to come up with a solution to this themselves.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Bexley is Bonkers

I've always been aware that if I fall asleep on the train and miss my Zone 2 stop I'm likely to wake up in Bexley, a sort of terrifying maze of millions of 1930s bungalows and privet hedges. I've never really thought it had a council, believing perhaps it was run as a sort of colony by the Daily Express, but it seems not only does it have a council but that council has some serious questions of real substance to be answered about the activities of its officers and members.

A local blogger is facing jail for being very rude about one of them (HT Fausty). The whole affair looks in need of a much wider airing; it looks at least as though the courts have been misled. Time for some daylight on the whole affair, I think

Who cares if Miliband wins in 2015?

David Hockney's impassioned rail against Boy Lansley, reported in the Mail today, demands that Lansley keep his 'mean, dreary views out of my life'. And that's the problem with the entire Cameron government; it's full of petty, spiteful, jejune, immature, bigoted and dreary ministers dosing out exactly the same petty, spiteful, jejune, immature, bigoted and dreary policy that we had under Incapability Brown. There is no renaissance, no localism, no rolling back of the State, just more of the same old. More and more traditional Conservative voters are now thinking 'Why the hell shouldn't I vote UKIP in 2015? Who cares if Miliband wins? What's the difference?'

Lansley is a minister of almost unbelievable stupidity. Early in post he floated a scheme for fitting RFID readers to all the nation's lamp columns, and issuing smart cards to the nation's school children. Kiddies who 'captured' a certain number of lamp columns - supposedly proof that they'd been running around outside shedding fat - would be rewarded with a new pair of trainers. Seriously. You couldn't make it up. Then he signed the department up to a £250m schools sponsorship deal with Unilever, Kelloggs, Nestle and BirdsEye - purveyors of high fat, high sugar, salty convenience foods - that would allow them to capture the under 10s with a degree of brands awareness previously unimagined. 

Quite why the imbecilic minister believes that children can read and be influenced by cigarette branding, yet be completely immune to branding carried by fudge bars, crisps, biscuits, pizza and ice cream, a branding shoved down their throats in the school refectory and assembly hall by Lansley's own department, is beyond me, but there it is.

If common sense is so far beyond Lansley one can hardly expect consistency except in witlessness.