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Friday, 14 August 2015

The end of 'Politics as a profession'?

It's really only in a minicab that I occasionally catch ten minutes of Iain Dale on the radio these days; too little, for I genuinely enjoy listening to him and radio is a natural medium for Iain. Alas, unless he moves to Radio 4 (taking over Jim Naughtie's spot on 'Today'?) I must make a special effort to tune the computer to LBC for particular shows or debates. I write this by way of preface as I am out of touch with Iain's views on certain subjects these days, and indeed his views may have shifted, just as mine have done, on various topics in the years since his diamond blog ruled the political interweb. However, back in the day, one of my most fundamental points of disagreement with Iain was over his support of politics as a profession, for career politicians, with a career structure, professional standards, education and training just as for barratry or medicine or pest control. 

The idea of career politicians has always been anathema to me; though not quite as far as the Chartists, who would have limited individuals to a single year in Parliament with no return visits. Parliament, I've always held, is somewhere a person should end up after having achieved something elsewhere in life, not instead of. And MPs should be rooted in their constituencies, not blow-ins such as the truly revolting Luciana Berger. And they should all be able to claim, as Sir Patrick Cormack did, that it was 'Country, constituency, party. In that order.'

Of course a month ago Andrew Burnham declared on live TV that 'The party always comes first' (to be corrected by a quick thinking Elizabeth Kendall 'Er, the country always comes first'). Here I think Burnham was being honest and Kendall the disingenuous SpAd. Isabel Hardman has a good piece in the Speccie  as to why this sort of political professionalism is a real turn-off for the public; we simply don't want 'professional politicians' and we prefer ordinary folk with feet of clay and just a single kitchen. 

It's not just in the UK that we're fed up with professional politicians; just look at the rise of the amateur insurgent parties across Europe - Podema, Syriza and all the rest - and of course this is a major attraction of Farage. We are seeing, to their shock and surprise, the professional political class being turfed out of office from Scotland to Slovenia. Corbyn is perhaps the most cathartic manifestation of that trend in the UK; his support is not support for his daft Socialist Worker nonsense manifesto but because he is not Yvette Cooper or Andrew Burnham or Elizabeth Kendall. 

The Indie's daily cartoon is well worth reproducing. But who's surprised? After the previous whitewashes, the British public were promised an enquiry under a Chairman who would represent the British people. John Chilcot is not that man. The delay - wholly avoidable - means that whatever he now produces is tainted by our perception of him as representing not the public but the Establishment. 

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Every word from Blair gives Corbyn 10,000 votes

There is something absolutely delicious in watching Blair's destruction; Corbyn's election as leader will destroy every atom of Blair's supposed 'legacy', will root out Blairism from the party and may even be instrumental in jailing Bloody Blair for war crimes. We may even have a motion at conference this Autumn to expel Blair and cronies from the party. Not content with allowing Blair to speak - and every word he utters gives Corbyn 10,000 additional votes - the purblind Labour establishment are contemplating rolling out the much loathed Gordon Brown to further ensure the margin of Corbyn's victory falls into truly Albanian proportions.  

I can't overstress the importance of this pivotal and cathartic election. Labour's members are signalling that they want to throw-out their old baggage - Blair, Brown, the thieves, spivs, crooks, kiddy-fiddlers, fawners, brown-noses, placemen, dags and all their third-rate Parliamentary liggers. The old baggage is appealing to members not to throw it out. Guess who will prevail?   

This is direct democracy in action, and the establishment are terrified. And not just Labour.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Milk for Life

As Archers listeners will know, the supposed future for the dairy industry is battery cows. Huge unnatural American breeds such as the Holstein (super Fresians) confined in their thousands in battery pens in vast rural warehouses, fed on factory-produced food that comes in sacks and is sometaimes made from fish. Never seeing the light of day, and fooled by industrial lighting that kids them that it is forever May, never feeling a meadow under their hooves or laying in the shade of a friendly Elm. 

Their high-volume low-fat milk is then further skimmed to remove cream and then homogenised by being squirted through diesel injectors at incredibly high pressure; this breaks down the remaining fat globules to particles so small that we humans can't taste it when the fat has turned rancid and is decaying. Which means we can still be pouring it in our tea a month after the cow was milked. 'Cravendale' is nothing but rancid poison with a good marketing campaign. 

What I want on my pint of milk is a breed, herd and farm identifier, an assurance that the cows are not factory cows, and a milking date. With no cream removed and the milk only lightly pasteurised. And for this I will happily pay £1 a pint. 

Am I the only one?

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Labour leadership - how they voted for Blair's War

Just a quick post this morning, with news that Corbyn's lead has stretched to a seemingly certain level. Could this election finally be payback by all the Labour sympathisers for their party's support for Blair's War in 2003? The two votes on 18th March for ever after divided the party and its supporters into 'fors' and 'againsts' - here's how the candidates (or rather those who were MPs at the time) voted:-

Jeremy Corbyn AGAINST Blair's War
Liz Kendall N/A
Yvette Cooper FOR Blair's War
Andy Burnham FOR Blair's War
Deputy Leadership
Stella Creasy N/A
Angela Eagle FOR Blair's War
Caroline Flint FOR Blair's War
Ben Bradshaw FOR Blair's War
Tom Watson FOR Blair's War

Monday, 10 August 2015

RIP David Nobbs

For those of us from a certain generation, Reginald Perrin was one of the markers of a sort of coming of age; first broadcast at a time of full employment and low house prices (I bought my first little flint-rubble cottage in Suffolk for £5,250 in 1977). The writing of David Nobbs was inspired, and set a bar that few today can pass.

Jimmy was one of my favourites, the warrior with feet of clay. Bit of a cock-up on the lip-sync front with this clip ...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

New tent-camp ready for 400 migrants

No, not in the UK, silly - our government prefer to put-up economic migrants in *** hotels. This is a new camp ready this week for migrants in a rather dull part of Austria; 8 migrants to a tent, 50 tents overall and running water in standpipes.

Asked about scorching August temperatures, an Austian spokesperson replied that a tree had been left in place to provide shade, although a second tree had to be felled on safety grounds. 

The migrants are not expected to make Austria their final destination in Europe. 

The Austrian government has plans to replace the tents with insulated shipping containers if any migrants remain in the country over Winter - but these require planning consent from the local gemeinden, which the Federal government is seeking to overrule. Few districts have volunteered to take migrants, though the government's plans are to share them out equally. Temperatures in Austria get down to -20 in Winter.