Friday, 6 July 2012

Australia's finally lost it

It is the vice of the twenty-first century, and perhaps appropriate to imagine its mantras spoken in an aggressive whining Australian accent, for that land in Oceania once well known for rugged civic virtue has degenerated into a whining, preening self-regarding little pink princess intoxicated with self-love. Once Burke's little platoons had no better exemplar than Australia's local institutions and communities, bound together with a sense of service and duty to each other and to their nation. From across the vast ocean we admired the sangfroid with which they greeted adversity, and in London we admired their sporting excellence and their teamplay, a nation of strapping straight-backed young men who could ride, shoot, reef, splice and steer. Now they all seem to be short, camp, pasty and unhealthy-looking chartered accountants from Sydney with a liking for show tunes and Asian restaurants and an obsession with longevity.

So imagine that irritating antipodean whine intoning "I've got a right to be happy. It's my right" in justification for walking out on a ten-year marriage and three kids, or a lisping little sociopath declaring "I don't care what anyone else thinks" or our preening self-regarding little princess declaring "I owe it to myself to use any means necessary to get what I want"; it's the rule of 'my' 'me' and 'I' and there are no people on Earth who have taken to self-love like the Australians.

And now they are to be taught from the cradle that narcissistic self-regard is good. It's official. Australia's Girl Guides will no longer pledge "I will do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country" but rather whine in concert "I will be true to myself and develop my beliefs"

And as Gloria Gaynor in sequins establishes herself as Australia's new Marianne I'll mourn along with Tom Waits the day Matilda died.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

If only we treated Brown and Blair as the Kermits do

Sarkozy's immunity having disappeared last month with the lost election, he was forced to flee to Canada yesterday in advance of elite French anti-corruption police raiding his Paris home. One day he's walking red carpets and dwarfed by the marble columns of the Elysee as dismounted cavalry snap their sabres to the salute, the next he's looking at the prospect of a 9' x 9' cell with a hole in the floor for a WC and running for his freedom. No doubt Cameron would be delighted to effect his swift extradition from the UK should he stop-off here, remembering the little man's Euro-snub.

If we did the same, Blair would be sheltering in Sharm El Sheikh not as an envoy but on the run from cops investigating cash-for-honours, and Brown's criminal economic incompetence would see McPlod booting down the door of the dour Manse in which he's taken root. As in so many things, the French have the edge when it comes to the proper regard to be paid to those who have served the nation corruptly or with malfeasance.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Ignore the City's teen petulance

Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph leads the hyperbole with 'cutting the City down to size' in much the same way that a teenage girl when ordered to 'clean out your bloody pony because I won't' responds 'You all hate me you don't want me here I wish I was dead ..' and so on. It really doesn't need saying that the City is highly valued and mostly respected and is a lot more than the bent banking, the dodgy mis-selling and the unforgivable fraud and corruption by the casino banks. Insurance and marine insurance and chartering, FX, the London Metals Exchange and the whole other world of financial institutions other than banks, the whole area of legal expertise that clusters West of the City wall (where a wise King expelled them from the City itself) leads the worlds in both litigation and dispute resolution and all that supports them, employing 1.1 million in all, is vital for both London and the UK economy. 

And that is why the cancer of privatised profits but socialised losses must be cut out. If the Lloyds names suggested that because of a run of bad hits the taxpayer should pick up the tab to allow them to keep their Surrey mansions and wealth there would be outrage. Just so with the buccaneer bankers. By all means let them operate in the City and pay taxes when they do well, but when they screw up or get caught they must fall by themselves. To do this we must separate retail banking from the buccaneer activities. And we must do it soon.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

MPs desperate to appear virtuous

If you can subdue the sour vomitous gorge rising in your throat at the sheer audacious hypocrisy of it, watch Diamond appearing before a Commons select committee this week as MPs tumble over themselves to condemn fraud, corruption and greed in a desperate attempt to appear virtuous; the loudest parliamentary critics of Barclays, as Littlejohn points out in the Mail, are often the members themselves bent as a Geller spoon;
Expenses Bandit Ed Balls and his hatchet-faced wife pretended their house in London, where they spend most of their time and where their children go to school, was their ‘second home’. Former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling ‘flipped’ his address four times, not only to force taxpayers to meet the bulk of his household bills, but to avoid Capital Gains Tax when he sold up. And he was in charge of the Treasury at the time. These are the same people who presided over the deliberately lax regulation of the financial sector which encouraged rogue bankers to believe they could get away with blue murder.

Then, of course, there was the former Home Secretary, ‘Jackboots’ Jacqui Smith, who banked £100,000 falsely claiming that her sister’s spare bedroom in South London was her ‘main’ home. You might have thought she’d be keeping her head down in the circumstances. But Jackboots has been turning up on TV newspaper reviews condemning the bankers, just as Balls and Darling have been leading the charge against tax-avoiders.
Never mind the bent bankers, we're still waiting for scores of bent MPs to lift their snouts from the public trough.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Housekeeping - new comment format

I've installed Disqus in place of blogger comments to make the comments a more interesting (I hope) place; while Disqus imports all the previous blogger comments, they're showing as zero. Don't worry; I have faith they'll all be back in the right order before very long

No, Matthew, it's not my fault

Matthew Parris is largely hidden behind the Times paywall these days, so you probably won't have seen  a piece on Saturday which takes us all to task for being angry with the hated triumverate of bent politicians, criminal journos and corrupt bankers. It's really all our own fault, suggests Matthew; they're all products of our creation.

What utter tosh. Even a cursory reading of the blogs, forums, comments and responses online over the past six years or so from the politically engaged across the spectrum would reveal a whole world of warnings and dissatisfaction; the shoddiness of cheap Chinese imports, the dumbing down of broadcasting and the media, the venality of politicians, the avarice of bankers, the loss of journalistic quality and expertise, the hunting for the lowest common denominator by a new breed of editors, the dangers of moral relativism, the vacuousness of analysis, the stupidity of pretending that politics is a career path, the self-censorship, the distortion, omission and misrepresentation of the reality, the populist scaremongering, the power of the State, Labour's fiscal lunacy, the failure of the police, the loss of institutions and growth of anomie

We didn't ask for Jordan and X-factor and celebrity ice-skating, for the thieving, peculation and greed of MPs, for brainless bimbos on Newsnight, for being robbed, fooled, conned and defrauded by the banks, for police who look like the SAS, for Cheryl Beckham's phone to be hacked, for junk mortgages on junk properties to junk borrowers, for tee-shirts at £1, for health Nazis and climate change zealots ready to lie and distort scientific fact, for fake charities, for our beloved pubs to shut in their hundreds and be replaced by bloody windmills, for lying financiers, dishonest businesses, con-artist utility companies and 16lbs a month of junk harassment from Virgin Media disguised as proper mail, for Chinese pliers that bend, and Chinese aerials that don't, for having to retune the TV every week as the watchable content reduces to just a few hours, for a retarded-looking little scarecrow of a man I'm told is my European President, for road duty on boat diesel, for not being able to have a fag in the local park, for ever more irritating mobile phones, for railways that don't work, traffic and parking restrictions that increase congestion, London daily air quality worse than the worst smoke-filled pub, for four billion of tax wasted by the BBC each year on moronic non-entities and staggering incompetence, for every greedy money-grubbing little mediocrity in the land to get their snout into the tax trough, for incomprehensible sing-song Indians in Mumbai call centres using low bandwidth VOIP to disturb my dinner, or for smug establishment columnists to tell me it's all my fault. 

It isn't. And I've every right to be angry; I've every right to be bloody furious. And I am.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Dave's 'hints' not worth a pitcher of spit

The pattern is clear. Once the right of the Tory party get a little too vociferous, when yet another round-robin letter emerges from the back benches, when the commentariat throw out warnings about the UK's continued passage through the icebergs on RMS Eu, Dave responds with a hint. Not a promise, not a commitment, just a vague, conciliatory hint to re-examine the terms of the UK's membership, to look at the options around maybe having a referendum. This is usually accompanied by an outright denial of something that hasn't even been proposed such as "... and I confirm that this government will NEVER permit the setting of UK interest rates by the ECB". For some reason I can't fathom, this quietens everything down. The Eurosceptic back benches go quiet, silly correspondents hail it as a breakthrough, or an important change in policy. 

Of course there is no change at all. Cameron is still committed to a relationship with the EU that is more than just a Free Trade Area; he remains one of the victims of the delusion that the nations of Europe must share their sovereignty to form a super-nation that challenges the US in economic power to prosper. But beset by the anti-EU mood in the country, he's striving to both occupy the popular ground and maintain the UK's membership of the club, if only as a 'lady member' not entitled to use the library or dining rooms and restricted to 6pm to 8pm in the bar.

In contrast, Liam Fox could almost be writing for UKIP today in the Telegraph. We must re-negotiate our relationship now, writes Liam, away from the political objectives and based solely on economic grounds. If the EU - whether the 26, the 17, the 10 or whatever - won't budge, won't be flexible, then we have an In-Out referendum. The clarity that eludes his leader comes easily to Fox.

And that is the point. So long as the Conservative party is led by a man who believes in his heart that the UK's place is under some form of European supra-national authority we will only sink deeper into the Euro mire.