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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Emily's Knocker

When the Sun took white van man Dan Ware to call on Emily Thornberry in North London, one tiny incident captured my attention. As he was filmed knocking on the door of her townhouse, the improperly fixed lion-head knocker slid down to hang on a single fixing, exposing the original dark paint behind Emily's sunny new Primrose yellow front door. Dan gave it a half second look that suggested that his instinct was to nip back to the van for his tools, before recalling it was a Sun prop van, filled with nothing more useful than journalists. 

I'd love to offer this as a metaphor for something meaningful about Oborne's political class - the bodged, amateur paint job failing to hide the darkness beneath, or the British lion not being safe with Labour. But I won't. And since those antique knockers sell for hundreds, the chances of it still being there today are probably slim.

I have a certain sympathy with both Emily Thornberry and Dan Ware. Emily is one of few MPs who though not from a working class background has experienced real hardship and poverty in her life - as a child, following the break-up of her parents' marriage. Her actions and career since suggest to me she grew to fear and loathe poverty and financial insecurity, and I believe her snap of Dan's home was a reaction to something that for her represented everything that scarred her. 

And for those of you who don't know Medway, Dan's home in Strood is relatively up-market. You can walk from Strood (and I have done, more than once) across the Medway, through Dickensian Rochester and into Chatham, and thence into Gillingham. Chatham is rough. I mean really rough - even the women have neck tattoos, and the babies have ear rings and are clothed in Burberry check babygrows from the market. On Friday nights, the gutters run with piss. On Saturday morning the footways are spotted with blood. Chatham isn't so much working class as underclass. It's a long way from leafy North London - about 150 years away. 

And that's the real challenge for all politicians - including UKIP ones. How can the lives of people in places like Chatham be improved without actually just throwing money at them?   

Friday, 21 November 2014

Congratulations, Mr Reckless

There's really nothing more to be said except well done to all at UKIP, and congratulations to Mr Reckless. The new political world seems to be panning out:-

Party Members / supporters
Labour Party The public sector (excluding HM Armed Forces), ordained persons and persons in religious orders
Conservative Party Big corporates, global business, the seriously rich, International white trash, senior civil servants and military who don't support Labour
Liberal Democrat Party People who want to legalise marriage with animals, Vegans
United Kingdom Independence Party Everyone else, ordinary people

Mrs Miliband bans England flag

Scene: Around the oiled Swedish antique pine breakfast table at Dartmouth Park, North London, over the morning Muesli ...
"Ed - Go and take that bloody flag down! That's the fifth call I've had this morning from the neighbours!"

"Justine, please ... I've just told all our MPs that they must all have England flags flying on their houses by the weekend - how can I opt out?"

"I don't care - this is bloody Dartmouth Park; it's bad enough that the two mill price tag round here had just brought all the neighbours within the bloody Mansion tax band; I mean, I can't show my face at the Montessori nursery without eyebrows being raised, and someone actually tutted at me in the Croissant queue yesterday, and now you want to devalue the neighbourhood with ... that ....tacky ....rag!"

"Well, if it takes the value under two mill just by flying a flag, they shouldn't complain, should they?"

"Ed! Go and take it down! Now!"

"Justine, you know you're always saying how the Prius isn't big enough for us anymore? How would you feel about something larger? With room for a Biedermeier commode in the back? In white?"

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Emerging media meme: Women are the enemies of Freedom

There's an emerging theme about, or perhaps, as they say, just a random concatenation of stories, that when deconstructed is suggesting that women are the enemies of free speech. Tim Stanley reports in the Telegraph how the foetal-killing rights movements shut down an Oxford debate on abortion; the Guardian itself has reported on women's use of social media to launch burning brands and pitchforks against targets such as convicted rapist Ched Evans and ESA Loud Shirt Scientist - the tone suggesting millions of frazzled pre-menstrual women poised in fury over their keyboards for the next victim to appear - including women. The Standard reports how Tory councillor Susan Hall has been bitched online for calling TOWIE contestant Gemma Collins, an obese woman of no great intelligence, 'stupid and fat', the story being the vicious backlash rather than a politician's review of some dross TV. And of course a rather vulgar chap called Julien Blanc, sounding rather like the vegetable constituent of a French dish, has been banned after an online fury for having sex with lots of women. Many of them, no doubt, fat and stupid.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

FIFA behind IOC on points at top of Premier Corruption League

FIFA scorned a penalty yesterday, but captain Sepp Blatter's move to stall a corruption enquiry by calling in Gendarme Louis Ginois from the Swiss alpine canton to investigate a shortfall in the tea fund put the IOC ahead on points at the top of the league. The IOC got off to a cracking start at their first fixture, when the old joys of Lithuanian tarts, Columbian marching powder, stretched limos and bulging goody bags from Gulf Sheikhs gave them a gift of a win. 

Despite Blatter's star African wingers each pocketing over €1m in bribes, their game never really took off. EU sanctions have hit dodgy Russian money hard, and the oligarchs are out of the game this season. Blatter must surely now be looking ahead at the transfer window and at his chances of winning a good defender or two from the IOC squad to regain FIFA's place at the top of the league.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

MP explains how he works 120 hours a week

The Indie has a go this morning at MP Geoffrey Cox for his earnings as a commercial QC whilst sitting as an MP. To be frank, having an MP with a real job or a farm to run is always better than having some jumped-up teenage mutant researcher with a 2:1 PPE who has never done a stroke of real work in their lives, so here's Raedwald's rebuttal of the Indie's allegations that Mr Cox can't himself make

In total he has spent the equivalent of more than 100 10-hour days on legal work during recess but also when Parliament was sitting, earning as much as £1,333 per hour to make a total of £452,545
"This shows that you really don't understand the basis on which barristers charge. For example, I have a minimum charge threshold of 15 minutes - so even if I only speak with my instructing solicitor on the phone for 20 seconds to acknowledge receipt of a document, this is recorded as 15 minutes. 
Then there is reading time. This is calculated at the traditional rate of ten hours per pound avoirdupois of documents for all papers received, whether I read them or not. In a complex commercial case when several boxes of papers are delivered on a sack-barrow, this can be recorded as hundreds of hours. 

Then there are my refreshers, hourly charges for refreshing my memory on the contents of documents that I may or may not have read. On top of these, you must allow for case review charges, a standard charge of fifty hours, which comes into effect every time your papers find themselves on top of the pile of briefs on my desk. And meetings with instructing solicitors sometimes extend to three courses, with stickies several hours. 

So you see, for every hundred hours charged for my legal time, it's unlikely I actually spend more than an hour of 'real world' time away from my Parliamentary duties. I hope that this is now the end of the matter."

Monday, 17 November 2014

My search for an all-year poppy

Walking about in a high-immigrant area of south London last week proudly sporting my poppy - something I have done every November since a schoolboy without thought - I did something I've never done, which is to assess how many others around me were doing similarly. The answer is far fewer than I would have thought. Very few young people, very few women and very, very few immigrants - the notable exceptions being a pair of wizened little Nepalese fellows, almost certainly ex-Gurkhas. And yes, I was aware, but not at all concerned, that should some deluded Jihadist with a breadknife be on the prowl, I'd make a prime target.

I'm of an age and background that views outward displays of partisanship as rather vulgar and capable of causing unintended offence; union flag enamel lapel pins, a crucifix or suchlike are therefore out. And none of my clothes are permitted to display the tailor's name except discreetly on a patch in the lining. The poppy is the one symbol, worn for one brief week, that says so much; respect for those who have lost their lives, a belief in the causes for which they fell and a quiet and dignified statement of national solidarity. 

My search is on for something that communicates in the quiet, respectful, tolerant way as does the poppy those values which I and many more hold dear. A Help for Heroes wristband comes closer than a union flag badge but still doesn't quite hit the right note. 

Any ideas?