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Tuesday 31 December 2019

A final roll of schadenfreude for 2019

If I have a new year resolution it is to heed the PM's plea to put the bitter Leave / Remain divides behind us and to consign the word Brexit to history. In one month we will leave the EU, and that act will kick-start the healing and reconciliation. However, for now, for this last day of the troublesome teens, let's look back with schadenfreude -

Tony Blair
A man who did his utmost to frustrate Brexit, making visits to the UK's EU adversaries and encouraging them to block and frustrate his own nation's diplomatic efforts. Fortunately, so hated is Blair by all sides of the political spectrum, the Remain side ignored all his pleas to deny Boris an election.

Andrew Adonis & AC Grayling
Both were early victims of Brexit Derangement Syndrome, each starting the Brexit process with an intact and valuable public reputation but ending the decade with their lifetime's reputational achievements in ashes, as mocked and derided figures of ridicule whom absolutely no-one will take seriously in the future

John Bercow
Stripped of his power, the victims of bullying, long suffering Commons staff and all who were subject to his gross unpleasantness will be breathing a sigh of relief at Bercow's fall. While noting he really didn't have that great a height from which to tumble. Bercow is now reduced to Italian game shows and entertaining shoppers on the Clapham omnibus. Ld Lisvane, who suffered little Bercow's bullying as Clerk of the Commons until 2014, cannot be looking forward to the sanctimonious dwarf's seemingly inevitable elevation to the Lords.

Grieve, Gaulk, Soubry et al 
Purged from the Party, humiliated at the ballot box, the miracle is that these narcissistic idiots imagined that people voted for them personally in the first place, rather than for the party for which they purported to stand. How anyone can so delude themselves as to the extent of a non-existent personal popularity defeats me - or perhaps they were willing to undergo this public humiliation, indeed expected it, for the sake of the higher pay-off due from the Commons to defeated MPs than that paid to resigning MPs?

Though it has been long building, the BBC's support of every anti-Brexit position, almost in anticipation of the reversal of the 2016 vote, has now condemned it. Polls are now emerging, and will continue to appear, that demonstrate that the BBC has lost the public's trust. Criminalisation of non-payment of the BBC TV tax is now unsustainable, and we will see further major changes before the Charter is due for renewal in 2027.

The Dags - Mark Carney, Barack Obama, the CBI et al
Most dags are now engaged in pretending they never opposed Brexit or never supported Remain at all. Just like all the ordinary members of the NSDAP vanished in 1945, or members of the GDR Communist Party became invisible after 1989. The CBI in particular, having devoted four years fighting Brexit on behalf of the global corps, is now declaring it is 100% behind Boris and always has been.

You'll note I've included none of the capos in Brussels. That, if it comes, will be for this date next year.

In a spirit of non-sectarianism, I have ready both Jamesons and Black Bush, both Catholic and Protestant whisky, in addition to my now favourite Monkey Shoulder blended malt Scotch. I will raise a dram for us all - may we, and may the United Kingdom, have a magnificent 2020!

Monday 30 December 2019

Localism doesn't mean just devolving rationing

A somewhat boring post title for a subject that will become increasingly important. The centre is under pressure; after having hoarded power for a century, jealously guarding it and snapping-up any developing shoots of Localism, the central State and its bureaucrats cannot now hold it. The dam about to burst, not just in the UK but across Europe, is social care.

When IDS, the architect of the UC scheme, unveiled his proposals, I wrote that he was creating an unworkable behemoth. Far better to devolve welfare down to as local a level as possible, almost back to the principles of the first Elizabethan poor laws if necessary, to anchor both the costs (tax) and spend right down to the communities in which help is needed. This is anathema to a central State whose reason for being is to act as a substitute parent to citizens from whom it has taken our intermediate institutions. You've all read my excerpts from Robert Nisbet's writings on the subject and in 2020 I'll bring them back, along with de Tocqueville and others.

The first stage reaction of central States to the pressures has been to devolve just the rationing decision - saying in effect "Here's the cake. There's no more. Now you ration it out". The roles of local government and the NHS are being merged, children's social work is now merged with education. The government is carefully hypothecating increased NHS spend into hospitals and nurses knowing health service managers will still use whatever opportunities they have to divert clinical care money into social care services - care homes, home helps and home nursing of the elderly. The Telegraph carries a story this morning that is surely the tip of the iceberg, of NHS managers charging relatives £300 a day to 'assist' their care applications. The Express carries another - this time the EU devolving the rationing decision on food bank support.

IDS is a fine chap with the highest ideals and best intentions, but he was not the Dominic Cummings that welfare reform needs. With UC he has given us an unintentional monster that needs an unacceptable level of central State tax take to function adequately. It is unsustainable.

I believe it will only work when local communities are given the power to make 'time or tax' decisions themselves - whether to resource the needs of the elderly, sick and disabled in those communities by sharing the care duties or paying tax to employ others to do it, and to decide the balance, for there will always be one, between time and tax. That needs a Localism big bang the pressure for which will continue building during the roaring twenties. Hold on to your hats.

Saturday 28 December 2019

Economic Dream Team and national dishonour

Why has the Netherlands been so successful? A large part of the place is below sea level, built on reclaimed land, it has no natural resources or mineral wealth, no source of energy, no great natural agricultural advantage and they speak a language that sounds like hawking phlegm. Yet their per capita GDP places them amongst the wealthiest in the world, and in terms of economic freedom they're at the top of the index, along with Switzerland, the UK, Ireland and Iceland. Their courts are un-corrupt, they have a monarchy and a proud history of plucky adventuring, once even sending a fleet of ships up the Thames to destroy the English fleet.

The answer of course is trade, commerce, secondary processes that add value, shipping and above all wide horizons that allow the Dutch to punch above their weight. Chemicals, petroleum refining, electrical engineering, banking and a scientifically productive horticulture and intensive agriculture sector all make the best of the Netherlands' greatest asset - the Dutch. They even enlisted cannabis and prostitutes into the tax economy.

The fact that the Netherlands seem firmly fixed within the EU is our loss and the EU's gain.

In response to the EU's veiled threats to block UK financial services from operating in the EU post-Brexit, a suggestion has resurfaced to form an FinAlliance between the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and HK. It's perfectly feasible, and it must worry at least 26 of the 27. But imagine what such an alliance would be if it included the Netherlands.

Again, the reward of the deserving has been fouled and besmirched by the awards of honours to the undeserving, those deficient of either exceptional merit or great worth to the nation. Sally Davies, chief health fascist, Alison Saunders, failed and vindictive prosecutor and Melanie Dawes, Jonathan Jones and John Manzoni are either failures or unknown mediocrities and none of them has a place in our national pantheon. The system stinks. Until we clear this meretricious trash from our honours system, the truly deserving will be devalued and befouled by association. 

Monday 23 December 2019

Last post for Christmas

Change came to the valley this year. Since the days of King Francis' kataster, or land register, made at around the time of the battle of Waterloo, we have got by with a house number and the name of one of three cadastral communities that comprise the postcode. My house was number 40, the next three houses, on the other side of the old mineshaft, were numbers 162, 163 and 164 (they were built in the 1920s) , and the next house, on the old unmetalled track, was number 3, the house of the Deplorables. Every house built since 1815 was given the next available sequential number, irrespective of location. And our cadastral village is three miles long and a mile wide.

The system never caused the slightest problem locally, as everyone knows where everyone else lives anyway, and the postman's job is a lifetime sinecure, held for three generations by the same family. It was the internet that killed it. Rumour has it that an Amazon delivery driver from Graz, a decent man called Kemal who just wanted to finish his round and return home to the warmth of his family, was found sobbing in his vehicle at 11pm, having spent seven hours trying to locate number 67. Ah, they nodded when he had shown them his clipboard. The Huber house. It's down an unmarked forest track.

So we now have some sixty street names each with a geographically sequential run of numbers, and this being Austria the change went smoothly if somewhat unorthodoxly. It's still not quite fair, many feel, on the city boys who drive the internet vans; they have a fear of the high valleys, and not just in a Deliverance banjo-twanging way. The little GPS satellite high in the sky guiding them to their destination is often unreliable in the forest. And we actually do have well-established populations of bears, wolves and lynx - a cause of pride to us, but a source of fear to a city boy navigating an unsurfaced mountain road at 6kph with the Spruce boughs brushing the sides of their van.

The official figures have just been published like a sort of tierwelt league table; bears have taken 35 sheep this year, wolves only 4. The Land employs an expert called Roman, the Wolfsbeauftragter, with a helpline number, whom one calls to take DNA samples from any scraps of your sheep that remain uneaten. The State hunters' association must by law pay compensation for livestock killed by bears, lynx or wolves, even though the species are protected and cannot be shot by the hunters. It's a very Austrian thing. Before DNA testing many farmers were reputed to messily kill their own sick and worthless sheep and blame it on the local bear in order to pocket the generous (80€ per ewe) compensation. Our local bear has already destroyed several hives and taken a sheep from a small herd of Suffolk blackfaces (they really are - what are the chances of that?) at the bottom of the valley, so our sheepholding neighbours here are paying students home for the holidays to guard their stock.

Back to house numbers. I had, I thought, let everyone back in the UK know that my address had changed, but of course several Christmas cards have arrived with the old address. No problem. The postman will operate both systems until he retires, and he's still a comparatively young man. Frau Fuchs regrets slightly that number 3, our oldest house, now has a more anonymous number, but it's of little consequence to its occupants, our own Deplorables.

The house itself is an old farmhouse built of massive larch timbers and dating back to the 1600s. In the UK it would be as desirable as a Georgian parsonage, but here, where the old is scorned, and old houses are unwanted (hence me buying my own gorgeous 17th century mine-owners house for a song) it has been converted into three apartments, that are let cheaply to three single men, all white-beards, whom I have come to call the Deplorables.

They live together quite amicably, and once or twice a week one of them takes it in turn to take the local drunk-taxi, the Gomobil, down to the Spar to restock with beer. The rear of the van is loaded with crates of empties (one gets money back on crates and bottles - shops have automatic machines into the base of which one pushes a crate of empties which disgorges a little credit ticket to be redeemed at the till) and it waits outside the shop while the elderly delegate wobbles a trolley stacked with full crates out of the door. The rough track to the church runs through the farm, as of yore, and the old boys keep some chickens and goats in shanty sheds on one side with the house on the other. They have an elderly and somewhat toothless dog who barks but is afraid to approach closer than about six feet. I suppose he frightens some people - delivery drivers, probably. I like them. They are always beaming, always ready to exchange words or a cheery wave, and they annoy the more puritanical local OCD obsessives who disparage the drinking, the untidiness of the little stables and the animal turds, a rebelliousness which I perhaps admire most of all. They have perhaps achieved that wisdom of years which focuses on what is really important in life.

It wasn't until yesterday, sitting in quiet companionship over a beer down at the pub, chuckling at comments thrown out with the expert comic timing that develops amongst drinking buddies, that it occurred to me. In a real-world mirror of the crib outside the church, we had the elements of the nativity amongst us; in the sky above, the twinkling GPS satellite guiding the way, on the hills shepherds were watching the sheep, and the three wise men, between beers, felt the warm breath of the goats in their byre. All we lack is a pregnant virgin. But this is Austria, and I have come to be surprised by nothing, and we have two days to go.

With all my sincere best wishes to every one of you, I'm signing off now for a few days. Have a wonderful Christmas, all!


Saturday 21 December 2019

The pushback against anti-democracy

With apologies for intruding on our warm glow of satisfaction at the election result (for many of us,if not all), today I have a reminder that it will take another ten years to unwind the damage that Theresa May caused at the Home Office. Her survival strategy when Home Secretary was to hide, disguise, obfuscate and frustrate, to obstruct scrutiny as far as was possible, and when the blame was getting too close, to throw underlings under the bus. 

It was Theresa May, you will recall, who was responsible for importing into Britain 35-year old 'child' refugees complete with beards and middle aged crows feet. I submitted a request under FOI for a copy of the guidance issued by the Home Office to immigration officers in identifying these child migrants. The usual delays and requests for clarification spun out their overdue response to a year before the Information Commissioner took up the case; the Home Office then ignored the Information Commissioner's ruling, and instruction to provide the information. I was just about booking the flight to London to give evidence in the High Court in a case to be brought by the ICO when the Home Office gave way, and provided a glossy DTP'd booklet. The only problem was, it bore a publication date after the date of my FOI request, and after all those adult 'children' had already been admitted. I gave up.

The next one I won't give up. The new select committee chairs will shortly be announced and I will be following closely any calls for evidence by the Home Affairs Select Committee with interest. This time it's the strategy Mrs May developed with regard to the National Crime Agency. The NCA has spent a considerable amount of our tax money in producing glossy, advertorial 'annual reports' describing how brilliant it is, what a huge threat the general public poses to the State, and how they need even more power. The problem is, some of the information given in last year's NCA wankfest was misleading - seemingly deliberately so. I submitted an FOI request to the Home Office, the NCA's parent. No can do, came the response. The NCA enjoys a total exemption from FOI requests on security grounds. Fine, I said, it's not about operational policing matters, it's about inaccuracies and misleading presentation of statistics already in the public domain in the annual report. Who answers for this publication? No-one. Not the Home Office and not the NCA. They could spend a million of tax money issuing glossy brochures telling us that women with unibrows should be subject to surveillance and not one member of the public, not one journalist, not one taxpayer can challenge it. It stinks. And it's got Theresa May's smug inept fingerprints all over it. Hide. Disguise. Obfuscate. Frustrate.

While the EU has not been responsible for Mrs May's dreadful tenure of the Home Office, it has I think been responsible for encouraging our unelected government officials in this impertinence against public scrutiny. They've learned bad ways from Brussels. The abolition of the LCD by the federast Blair and the creation of a Euro-style Ministry of Justice was surely just a first step towards a national police force under the command of the Justice Minister, and the complete disassociation from democratic and local control of our citizen constables.

Charles Moore writes a good piece in the Telegraph today, covering also the intrusion by the courts into matters that are democratic. Sometimes precipitated by well-funded saboteurs of the democratic process such as Gina Miller, sometimes by the dangers of compliance with 'dynamic' frameworks of law under which judges - and not even domestic ones - instead of Parliament continually modify and update the extent and effect of our statutes. Lord Sumption, in this year's Reith lectures, although himself a Remainer, deprecated this growth of 'lawfare' and the intrusion of unelected authority into the democratic process. Moore has a straightforward remedy - to row-back on Blair's pollution of our well-developed state institutions.
The obvious safeguard for reform – this is me speaking, not Professor Ekins – would be to restore in full the rights of the Lord Chancellor, which Tony Blair, in a careless piece of sofa government one weekend, threw away.

By a very British paradox, the age when, through the Lord Chancellor, the government theoretically had complete power over appointing judges was also the age in which there was least politicising of those appointments. Judges judged, and politicians did politics. Now we can get back to that.
Update - 50p coins
On my post of 18th December I hoped that we would see the re-issue of the Brexit 50p coins. The government were ahead of me. The coins were approved by the Queen in Council on the 17th and millions will be released into circulation at the end of next month. Well Done! Carry on.  

Friday 20 December 2019

A typhoon is blowing through government

In the latter part of the 19th century, our legislators realised that government was seriously lagging the monumental changes to the Britain outside SW1. Britain had revolutionised but government was stuck in the past. Actually it was originally, from 1858, just SW. That postal coding in itself was one of the tsunami of reforms, legislative clearing-out, organising and administrative innovations that brought Whitehall into line with a world of trains, post, telegraphs, new towns and cities and the popular press. It all meant that the cobwebs of governance that had accumulated through centuries had to be swept away. The Palace of Westminster itself was rebuilt, and a rank of grand new Portland stone facades hubristic with Imperial pride thrust their chests out onto Whitehall. That's the scale of change it felt like yesterday - no wonder Corbyn looked so glum! Momentum is now definitely owned by the Conservatives (sorry, Owen) and when the great flywheel of state reaches speed, inertial forces will take the nation forward with stunning power. This session of Parliament may last little more than a year - by the Spring of 2021 the government aims to have enacted
  • European Union Withdrawal Bill
  • Agriculture Bill
  • Fisheries Bill
  • Trade Bill
  • Immigration Bill
  • NHS Funding Bill and NHS Long Term Plan
  • Medicines and Medical Devices Bill
  • Health Service Safety Investigations Bill
  • Social Care Reform
  • Education reform
  • Broadband legislation
  • Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill
  • Airline insolvency legislation
  • Railways minimum service legislation
  • Rail reform and High Speed Rail 2 (West Midlands - Crewe) Bill
  • National Security and Investment Bill
  • Science, space and research framework
  • English devolution
  • Employment Bill
  • Housing and renters legislation
  • Building and fire safety legislation
  • Crackdown on terrorists
  • Sentencing reform
  • Serious violence measures
  • Online Harms Bill
  • Police powers
  • Helen’s law
  • Domestic abuse and divorce reform
  • Extradition, foreign offenders and espionage legislation
  • Victims’ law and Royal Commission
  • Environment and animal welfare bill
  • Climate change Bill
  • Constitutional reform
  • Armed forces maintenance
That's quite some programme.

Only one face looked less than ecstatic on the government benches - JRM. He looked in fact as though he'd been given advance warning that he was unlikely to survive on the Treasury bench beyond the February big Cabinet reshuffle. Or perhaps he was merely confused by all the novel regional voices behind him, some of which he could not perhaps quite understand.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Bigoted thugs? No thanks.

The Conservative party is a broad church, and I am happy with the socially liberal membership policies of the party which are backed by an unequivocal set of membership rules that exclude any manifestation of racism, bigotry or discrimination based on class, caste, colour or sexuality. It does mean there are certain folk with whom I would not feel comfortable having in the party. Members and supporters of the 'Britain First' fascist movement  are among those for whom our party should offer no shelter from the collapse of the far-right. There is, to be frank, no place in our party for any of these thugs - and suggestions in the Indescribablyawful that BF members have been encouraged to infiltrate the party must be taken seriously. You're not wanted.

Fascist thugs - Not wanted in the Conservative Party
This was a problem that faced Nigel when he set up BrexitCorp™, and one of the reasons he structured it as he did, with no members to embarrass him as they had done in UKIP, just contributors and supporters who could be easily disowned if exposed in the media. Largely it has worked, and he's managed to keep the entryist fascists at arms length.

One or two try to creep in under the wire. In Scotland ex-UKIP MEP David Coburn tried to sneak into the Conservative Party using the online application - but was quickly rumbled, and his membership rapidly invalidated by Scottish leader Jackson Carlaw. They've heard enough nasty remarks from this chap in the past under his UKIP coat.

Ooot - David Coburn

Labour made the mistake of making the fascists welcome in their party. Didn't turn out well.

Update 19.30
BF capo Paul Golding, jailed twice in the last 5 years for religiously aggravated harassment, also applied for party membership, and has also been rejected. The ES has the story.

BF Thug Golding - also ooot.

Wednesday 18 December 2019

The return of Internationalism?

Reading the newspapers this week has been not unlike Christmas day as a small child - not quite knowing which present to open next, whether to succumb to the intoxicating interest of the one just opened or move to unwrapping another. It's almost as though all those childhood Christmasses were just training for the utter, pervading exhilaration of this election victory. 

Among this cornucopia of bliss, dear readers, I bring you just one snippet this morning. That Boris has instructed his ministers to stay away from Davos this year. Davos, the home of globalism, of the world's supranationalists, the world government and world finance oligarchs, at whose feet pygmies such as Blair and Mandelson grovel in obeisance, a Soros-fest for the 1%. I'm convinced half the British public still confuse it with Davros, leader of the Daleks, the enemy of human civilisation.

The Telegraph quotes Boris from 2016
"It is in a sense a struggle between people who want to take back control, and a small group of people who do very well out of the current system and who know Christine Lagarde and can go “mwah mwah” with her at Davos, or whatever it happens to be. Of course they’re going to be in favour of the system."
Does that mark a return for Britain to Internationalism, to free trade, commerce, mutual prosperity but national independence for the UK? Brexit doesn't mean less interaction with the rest of the world - it means more. It means extending our friendships and sending out our commercial gents across the globe - and I'm sure we will shortly see the re-issue of that 50p piece and its heartening message

 Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations

No Davros this year for Conservatives

Tuesday 17 December 2019

The joy of Engineering

One of my friends here is an engineering graduate of the prestigious TU Wien - the technical university. It markets itself as the European centre of technical excellence. Academic standards and demands on students there really are extremely high. It's a joy to talk in the language of Newtons - or Pascals, as they both quantify the same 9.81 - with someone whose face doesn't cloud over in blank incomprehension. But there's a gulf between us. A month or so ago in my workshop, in answer to a question, I said "about three eighths". Being British of a certain age I have no problem seamlessly moving between metric and imperial. He reached for his mobile phone calculator and tried to recall the complex equation he'd been taught for such conversions. "Twenty five point four divided by eight times three" I threw out. "No!" he was genuinely upset "You're ... mixing them! You can't mix them!". "Sorry" I apologised "I learned my engineering in Doncaster, not Wien". This is the same friend who answered, when I asked what the German was for 'over-engineered', and after he had solemnly consulted google, that there was no such term in the German language.

It confirmed what I'd long known - that I'd learned my engineering from the finest teachers in the world, the mechanical and electrical engineers who had been nurtured themselves by the National Coal Board from apprentices to graduates and post-graduates to Chartered Engineers. They had spent their time underground amidst the heat and piss and muck as well as their time in the lecture rooms. Neither did we soft would-be young quarry engineers pose them any challenge. "My name is Gerald Alass" announced one mech. eng. lecturer  on his first day "Some call me all-arse. I don't mind that. It takes a big 'ammer to drive a big nail."  I pray today please, please, let these people still exist - we need them now more than ever.

William Hague in the Telegraph - whom I think it's now safe to read again,if he's been purged of his Remainerism by Boris' victory, writes today
Alongside investing capital in infrastructure, we need the growth of human capital. Your problem, if you’re sitting in Rotherham, is not just that you can’t travel quickly to an international business based in Manchester. It is also that you probably don’t have the right expertise when you get there.
Universities have done much to bring more dynamism to many northern cities, but we all know by now that we are not short of graduates. British industry complains continually of shortages of technical and digital skills. And if we are going to build so much infrastructure, tens of thousand of additional people with construction skills will be needed. A decisive change in our woeful record of promoting vocational skills, both for young people and adults who need retraining, is the vital ingredient for rescuing millions of people from being left behind by technological change.

This is where ministers need to be more ambitious than their manifesto. Many laudable commitments were in there – 20 institutes of technology, a new National Skills Fund, and a requirement to use UK apprentices on infrastructure projects. But in the forthcoming reorganisation of government departments, and any reshuffle of ministers, this ought to be a prime focus. The country needs a revolution in the esteem accorded to technical studies, the ease with which anyone can move between skills training and higher education, and the ability of current workers to use the same system.
A voice on the radio yesterday whose name I can't recall suggested we need also a prestigious and world-class institution of our own of the sort that TU-Wien aspires to be - an MIT, a Manchester Institute of Technology. I fully support that. We already have either 4 or 5 universities in the global top 20 - whilst the entire EU27 has exactly none. While the US has both the original MIT and CalTech in the global top 10, our contenders are Oxford and Cambridge - institutions that may produce competent civil servants, but won't win the UK the international tech race.

And at the risk of sounding Northist, this human capital formation will best take place north of a line drawn from Bristol to the Wash. Sorry, but it just will.

Monday 16 December 2019

Reasons why Labour lost - by Labour

It is quite clear that Labour's resounding defeat, according to the Party, had nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn, the Party's extremism, anti-semitism, sheer nastiness, risk to the nation or betrayal of the referendum result and the Party's voters outside the metropolitan heartlands. Here is why, according to Labour, they lost -
  • It was the Jews / Israel. Lady Tonge said "The pro-Israel lobby won our General Election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn"
  • Voters are too stupid to understand the Party- Emily Thornberry, Lady Nugee 
  • Not everyone on the left-dominated Twitter agrees with me, therefore Twitter lost the election - Lily Allen
  • It was the voters fault. They're simply not worthy of the Party - Jeremy Corbyn
  • It was the billionaire owned media (of which only the Telegraph backed Brexit for the last 3 years)
  • Not enough luvvies came out in support of the party. 
  • Because we didn't lower the voting age to 11 and allow the EU to vote
The petulance level in London has risen to 9 on the Coogan scale and police and emergency services are braced to deal with copious tears and widespread whining when the Withdrawal Bill gets re-tabled.

Of course we'll also know very very soon whether the Lords needs swamping with 500 new Brexit peers just prior to its radical reform .. it's up to you, your Lordships.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Parking our tanks on Labour's lawn

The country has always been an egalitarian place. For a start, the planners haven't buggered it by creating monocultural ghettoes like the vast council estates of the metropolitans and the £1m villas of detached suburbia. In my old market town the cottage of a railwayman's widow nestled with the Tudor merchant's house of an FRS, and council houses (yes, we had them) were pairs or small groups of semi-detacheds woven seamlessly into the historical fabric. The pubs, the retailers, the amenities were used by all. Contrary to the caricatures, such small societies have the knack of tolerating and absorbing differences and varieties. My neighbour was curiously proud when Needham Market acquired its first Vegan - and the poor woman became the object of well-meaning but universal curiosity; "Are they allowed to touch newspapers?" asked the owner of the newsagents-come-toy-shop. Oh sure there were feuds, disputes and long-standing stubbornness, but we had five pubs (six if you included the bar of the Limes Hotel) and people spread themselves out. It was, if you like, One Village. There is little fertile ground for the Marxist politics of class hatred in such places.

Which brings us to Momentum. Everything that Labour promised in their campaign, every crazy giveaway and gift, every insane spending commitment, was not an end in itself but a lever with which to gull voters into building the bars of a Marxist central command State around themselves. Though their objectives were vile, it didn't mean that some of the persuasion-agenda stuff didn't chime with voters across the spectrum as laudable ends in themselves.

More social housing - why not? A young couple working in low-paid jobs should not be excluded from the possibility of a family life and a home, but of course neither should they have an absolute right to State housing. There's a median way. Rail fares - Villach to Vienna and Durham to London are both around 400km, but one will cost £29 for a single fare and the other £176. That's too great a difference. Training more nurses - for sure. Let's be flexible - there's room for not only SENs and SRNs but graduate Nurse Practitioners as well, for a variety of on the job, day release, full and part time training. Let's not be didactic.

The Conservatives, unlike the Marxists, don't have an ideology. However much Marxists try to impose one upon us. We're pragmatists, flexible and open to change. Agile, in the jargon of the modern management consultant. And this is where I fear those who are already projecting both their fears and their hopes onto Boris may well be disappointed. Just as they ditch their failed Leader, Labour may find that Boris has parked his tanks on their lawn.

Robert Tombs does a decent job of outlining the direction of travel in the Telegraph. No, Boris won't water down Brexit, and neither will he betray our Friends in the North. There is an obligation there. And an opportunity to destroy everywhere in Britain apart from the toxic big cities the poison of Marxist division. Tombs writes
Boris Johnson has a similar mission to transform the thin-lipped party of Cameron, Osborne and May – and beyond the borders of England too. This is a formidable task. But he has advantages: not only the spectacular own goals committed by Labour and the LibDems, and the desperate stridency of an SNP whose long-term hopes are threatened by Brexit.

He can, and indeed should in the opinion of even conservative economists, borrow more to invest – investment in its true sense, and not as a euphemism for all state spending. He can launch a big infrastructure strategy. He can push forward improvements in schools and in training: the tools – which Labour wanted to abolish – are already there. Outside the EU, he can help deprived regions more effectively and he can bring down the cost of living by cutting unnecessary tariffs.
That will do for starters.

Investment - the railway band was on hand yesterday for the official opening of a branch line electrification

Friday 13 December 2019


There were a tense few hours yesterday evening. The pound had fallen, things were looking shaky, the left were exultant on social media. It was a tense few hours until the exit poll came out; as soon as it did, I went to bed. Rising early it was like waking up to snowfall, and in the past hour and a half or so the live count cameras have been a delight -

Out go Soubry. Grieve. Swinson. Pidcock. Ummuna. Williamson. Wollaston. Lee. Gyimah. Dent Coad. They just keep coming. Corbyn petulant and whiny blaming everyone but himself; I think the comrades will defenestrate him by the end of next week. A couple of Labourites lost that I'd rather had stayed; Caroline Flint and Luciana Berger, whom I would dearly have loved to see as the next Labour leader.

Even better is watching the anger, shock and humiliation of the Remainers, who have now lost their last chance of blocking Brexit, all those prattish actors now feeling very sheepish, the Luvvie's Vote campaigners wondering who will feed them now, the has-beens. They're yet to show us the devastated faces of Blair, Major, Heseltine and the like but that's something to savour later over the smoked salmon and Cava. The TV faces look as shattered as they did in June 2016; Bercow a picture of slumped misery, Guardianistas numb with shock and grief. They believed their own propaganda.

What the fuck did they all think? That 17.4m of us would just say "Oh, OK, let's forget it then"?

The election is won. That hurdle is over. The future begins.

Oh yes. As a footnote, This. Thanks for nothing Nigel.

Referenced in the comments re the SNP seats

Thursday 12 December 2019

Well, this is it

Whatever the outcome of today's epochal election, it will stand as a high water mark of error, poor practice, confusion, division, uncertainty and sheer nastiness. The post-vote washup will go on for some few weeks I expect, but here's my take for starters

Electoral Commission
This election has shown up the failings and shortcomings of the EC like no other. The problem is not that they don't have copious guidance (see postal voting below) but that (a) they have no teeth with which to enforce the rules and (b) that's probably just as well because there are widespread suspicions of their partiality. They're an analogue bureaucracy operating in a digital age. Complete rethink needed.

Postal voting
Prior to the Blair corruption only a very small number voted by post - members of HM Armed Forces overseas, expats, the chronically sick and disabled. Now some 22% of all votes cast are postal. Typically votes are cast two to three weeks before the end of the campaign, which itself is legislated at 25 days and far too long. Previously I think it was 17 days. Yesterday there was a social media eruption over a BBC reporter commenting on postal vote outcomes. When only 3% of votes were postal, this mattered less - but now the secrecy of postal vote outcomes prior to the close of polling is critical. Seats are won or lost by one vote - so even if a handful of electors are swayed by a leak of postal vote information, it corrupts the system.

Social Media
I don't do Facebook so can only comment from the perspective of other platforms and message boards. In many cases it has become toxic. The left in particular use every method of bullying, intimidation, Twitter pile-ons, fake accounts and disruption. Yesterday there was a hack on ConservativeHome's message board. Social media activity is unregulated except for spend by registered parties and supporters - but this is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese

Street thuggery
Again from the Momentum left, the sheer level of street thuggery and intimidation during this election has been unprecedented. Guido identified one organised assault on a ministerial visit (yes, assault - read the legal definition of the offence. It doesn't mean punching the minister in the face). This behaviour has been widespread, and largely confined to the left.

Broadcast media bias
Again, the broadcast media have shown their bias like never before. It has been naked. Politicians are also wising up to the reality that the big broadcasters have passed their zenith, and their bluster, bullying and shoulder-shoving is to disguise the increasing role the internet and alternative media are playing.

Corruption amongst local electoral officials
This has never, to my knowledge, been an issue before. This time around, due I guess to a deeply Remainiac local government sector, we have seen a rise in fake and corrupt voter registration, and yesterday the exposure of fake and corrupt voting credentials. The leak of postal ballot information is a disgrace. It really saddens me to say we can no longer trust unquestionably the integrity of local electoral officials.

Well, we'll know tomorrow how well the polls have performed. Again, we must look at the role of pollsters, and whether we're happy with what they do and how they perform.

I'll be back on line here in the early hours - about 4am here, 3am there. Fingers crossed.   

Tuesday 10 December 2019

The fall of the BBC

The BBC's initial reaction to competition, when I was young, was to destroy it using the organisation's privileged broadcasting power. Thus was the entire Anglian region under 25 years old converted to Radio Caroline, the plucky gang on the trawler just beyond the UK 3-mile limit that broadcast defiance to the authoritarian BBC. Of course the organisation could not maintain a broadcasting oligopoly as technology advanced; demands for bits of the FM spectrum from a multitude of independent radio stations, the rise of analogue satellite TV and video rental. The BBC fought a rearguard action with some success until the internet came along. Then it was all over.

The BBC has been a long time dying. Its demise was on the cards, according to Parkinson's law, when it spent hundreds of millions on swish new headquarters, studios and executive office refurbishment. Big beasts take a long time to fall, and the BBC may still be with us after the next Charter renewal in 2027, but the era of expansion and an ever-increasing TV tax enforced through criminal law is coming to an end.

The Prime Minister clearly has a strategy. First, de-criminalise non-payment of the TV tax. This doesn't mean, as some MSM commenters have assumed, that payment would be voluntary - only that recovery would become a civil, not criminal matter. The 180,000 people every year hitherto prosecuted by the BBC in the magistrates' court would in future be defendants in the county court. As many of these simply can't afford the TV tax, the BBC has been happy until now to land them with a criminal conviction and fine, including the compulsory £15 'victim surcharge'. Those paying it are often foodbank users - the prosecutor is a £4bn a year behemoth. Just who is the victim here?

Using bailiffs or other recovery methods to enforce county court judgements for such low value debts will clearly challenge the BBC. TV footage of bailiffs seizing the pathetic belongings of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society (obviously this will not be shown on the BBC ...) will further turn the public against the broadcaster; cameras are banned from the magistrates courts, so their vindictiveness is currently hidden.

I expect there will be some sort of eminent, independent cross-party review of the Charter and its irrelevance in an age of digital diversity. There will be fudges and special interests will be accommodated. Expensive and unwieldy compromises will be enacted. It will take time. But this is the beginning of the end for the BBC as it is now, and the impact of its fall will smash the chains as effectively as did Stalin's gigantic statues when they toppled.

You really might enjoy this - Boris' final election video

Monday 9 December 2019

The 'Commercial gents' have lost their importance

Readers of Patrick O'Brian will be familiar with the author's benign contempt in the Aubrey / Maturin novels for the 'commercial gents'; rich city merchants, florid and grandiloquent, who wear patriotism like a cloak but whose only real interest is their own wealth. They are never entirely above suspicion of being willing to trade or deal with the King's enemies, of putting profit above patria, and O'Brian paints them unsympathetically. Yet trade and commerce are indeed the nation's 'life blood' - and today only the extraordinary success of British business has placed the UK fifth in the world's GDP league. 

But not all trade and commerce is good trade and commerce. Not all of it benefits the country and its people more than it benefits its owners - and that's the test. Why should UK trade policy be developed for the benefit of global shareholders whose activities have frequently disadvantaged both the country and its people? This issue has become much clearer in the minds of the electorate during the three years of Remain sabotage of the Brexit vote, with the CBI now dismissed as no more than a creature of the global corporates, and the car makers rightly identified as global hippies with no anchor to any nation, who will screw EU and government subsidies to put their car plants anywhere that pays their global shareholders maximum profit. Let's take a look at them -

Here you have the true importance of car making in the UK - it's almost exactly the same size as Romania's car industry, and substantially smaller than Poland's. And if you expanded the graphic to the whole world, we're exactly nowhere. The effects of globalism mean that the 'commercial gents' have lost some of their importance - and in this election, and in any future trade talks, their voices may be the loudest but that doesn't mean we should pay them the greatest heed.

Take fish and British waters. Farage talks a load of bollocks about this - as the Speccie explains -
Farage’s current predicament is rooted in a disastrous strategic decision he and an inner-circle of yes men took on the day Boris Johnson unveiled his new Withdrawal Agreement. Within minutes (possibly before the document had even been published) they decided to rubbish Boris’s deal as “not Brexit”. Farage bet the farm on being able to win that argument in the country. His aim was that the Brexit party would then take permanent possession of the huge Leave electorate, much of which had coalesced around it at the European elections.

Soon the Brexit party resorted to depicting things that applied only in the transitional period as if they would be permanent. There were claims Britain would be locked forever in economic alignment with the EU, unable to pursue an independent foreign policy or be in charge of what happened in UK fishing waters. It was even said the new Northern Ireland-only features could spell the end of the Union.

This position led inexorably to the logic that the Brexit party, as the only true Brexit option, must stand in every British mainland constituency at the general election. All other options – from standing aside altogether with a warning to Johnson that the Brexit party would be on his back during the next phase of future relationship negotiations, to fighting only a limited number of safe Labour seats in abandoned former industrial and coastal towns – were dismissed. But despite stirring up some of his Twitter followers against the Boris deal, Farage lost the argument among Leavers as a whole.
But Nigel's disastrous and mistaken strategy for BrexitCorp™ doesn't mean that fishing and our waters aren't important - but how important?

France is already making clear that it will block any trade deal unless the EU continues to have a right of access to UK waters. That's how important it is. On our own side the commercial gents from the City keep telling us that fishing represents a piffling little piece of the British economy, that financial passporting and the access of the City's merchants to European markets are far more important, and if it comes to push versus shove we should sacrifice our fish and waters for the good of the City of London.

Boris today moves the final days of his campaign to the Leave towns of the North. Voters here aren't dumb, and if they vote BXP it won't be because they've swallowed Nigel's distortions. It will be because they don't trust Boris not to give away the UK's fishing waters during a post-Brexit trade deal for the good of the commercial gents. And that, Prime Minister, is your key challenge in the North - to make it clear that British waters aren't up for negotiation.

Saturday 7 December 2019

UK can lead Europe in climate adaptation

Looking at common ground around the climate issues, I'm becoming increasingly confident that there is emerging a consensus around mitigation / adaptation. The science of climate change is as poorly understood as the pathology of disease in the 17th century, when physicians flailed around with notions of humours, bile and flux but had no better cure than a low diet and bleeding. Business at least is aware that making epochal decisions based on such large degrees of uncertainty is not wise - but if climate change is happening, either warming or cooling - and it seems that it is, it makes good sense to make money out of the ways in which we adapt to it. I'm deeply indebted to our friends over at Capitalists@Work, who reached this conclusion some time ago.

Now it seems that even Christine Lagarde is waking up to the reality. I tend to think that many individuals are placed somewhere close to my own position; I'll happily do my best to reduce, reuse and recycle because it's a good thing to do. I think about my environmental footprint in decisions that I make. And I follow in my personal life what we always termed in the Construction industry BPNEEC ('Bipknec') - best practice not entailing excessive cost, which in practice often became best practice not entailing cost. If Saint Greta leads the black-clad 17th century puritans wailing that we're all bound for Hell unless we eat turnips and live in a puddle, most of us are somewhere on the spectrum where spending a little less time and money in the alehouse and on wenching seems a sensible thing.

Politico.Eu has the story and I won't repeat it. Suffice to say that the ECB has now rowed-back on brave promises to tackle the causes of climate change by the heroic use of instruments such as bond issues. They're now just promising to buy unbleached recycled paper for the office photocopiers and not invest any further euros of the ECB employee pension fund in coal-things. Doing heroic stuff is not our brief, Lagarde is saying. That's up to the EU. Meanwhile the EU is mired in a battle for the post-Brexit budget. At one end are the one-per-centers, who would cap the contributions of member states at 1% of GDP, at the other the Imperialists who want 1.4%. France says she doesn't care so long as everyone else continues to pay for the French agricultural system, Poland says she wants a budget that will make them as rich as Germany, because the others owe it to them and Germany says hands off our savings - and don't challenge our hegemony. In the midst of all this, any meaningful EU action on climate change is truly improbable, and Brussels will fudge it by passing on carbon reduction 'targets' for individual nations to meet from their own resources.

All of which means that a careful and coherent government steer towards investment in adaptation and mitigation, in R&D for the same and of course in the export of both knowledge and technology that delivers adaptation will literally pay dividends for the country with a government coherent and focused enough to deliver the strategy. I'm really hoping that the UK is that country - and Thursday's election will either enable it or consign us to the virtue-signalling cesspit of Euro policy.

Friday 6 December 2019

Nigel's anger at BrexitCorp™ defectors

You'd have needed a heart of stone not to have empathised with Nigel's agony yesterday. After having set up BrexitCorp™ as the perfect vehicle for one-man control, he found himself powerless to prevent the resignation of four of 'his' MEPs. His private company structure may mean he can hire and fire candidates at will, even stand-down 317 from the hustings, but as he has discovered, once they are elected they are no longer 'his' politicians; they are their own creatures, and no contractual straitjacket on earth can prevent them from repudiating his control.

During the last months of the rogue Parliament, my own party experienced a great deal of this sort of thing. Every week petulant Remainer MPs would break-off to join some new party, some even managing to join two new parties within a week. No sooner had they ordered their new party letterheads than the name and logo would change again. At the time there was much angry agitation from Brexiteers that changing party after election should automatically trigger a by-election. I disagreed then and I disagree now.

What if their party change is overwhelmingly supported by their constituents? Why should everyone be put through the nonsense of a foregone conclusion? I'm much more in favour of a constituency's right to trigger Recall in such circumstances, provided the bar is set at the right height. Under FPTP a representative's seat is a matter for the voters, not for their angry ex-party officials. Under FPTP once elected they represent their constituents, not their party.

Now I'm not sure what the EP's rules are. UK MEPs are put in place on a party list system; if a party gets enough votes for 10 MEPs, the top ten names on the list get in. I suspect once they're in they're in - but this clearly doesn't suit for example parties structured like BrexitCorp™. I'm sure what Nigel would like, if numbers 4 and 7 don't suit, is to be able to sack them and substitute numbers 11 and 12 from the list. Happily, such control is inimical to democracy, even, I suspect, in Brussels.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Election fatigue

A week out from polling day and my motivation has plunged. Perhaps this is the low point of the campaign. Even Swinson's outrageous defence of giving the vote to 16 year-olds to game any second referendum just left me filled with contempt rather than anger. We're back to a binary contest, after those exhilarating weeks during which four parties each held some 20% of the vote, when Swinson dreamt of standing on the doorstep of Number 10 and Nigel imagined his drive to the Palace.

We've managed to get past the danger of Trump endorsing anyone in the election; he's flown away in a fit of pique that a playground gang of other NATO leaders were caught laughing at him. I really can't knock Trumpy, despite his manifold failings; Hillary would have been far, far, worse - and the US would have been mired in another trillion dollar war by now if Clinton had been in the White House, with a stream of transport aircraft bringing the coffins home. Better Trump, and families having their husbands and fathers home alive at Christmas.

Macron's desperation came through. He can only hold France together if everyone else continues to pay for it. His thrust to take greater control of the German treasury has foundered, and his defence strategy is centred on getting money, including NATO money, from all of the other EU26 to invest in French defence industries. Islamist terrorism is forcing his internal security to the limits, and the Gilets Jaunes are a continued irritant. No wonder he will be willing to use a fight over French access to UK fishing waters after Brexit (if the Conservatives win) to try to win back his collapsing popular support.

I'm hoping for a Conservative fireworks strategy - that we've been keeping the brightest bursts, the loudest bangs and the greatest impact fireworks in the box until last, to give a crescendo display over the next seven days. Our social media presence has also been risibly poor to date - our supply of talented 17 year-old video makers seems poorer than Momentum's.

One of the highlights of my social media week has been the piss-taking of the Guardian under the #TrollingtheGuardian tag. The newspaper's banning of a parody account on Twitter on copyright grounds has unleashed an amusing flood of pisstaking - leading to what one observer has termed ironic confusion, with the Guardian's real straplines reading like the Onion and the parodies having the flavour of authenticity.  Hey ho.  

Tuesday 3 December 2019

Let's pretend that NATO exists ....

The United Nations, as I never tire of reminding the ignorant, was originally the name of the military alliance that opposed the Axis powers in WWII. Britain, the USA, Russia and China. And at the very end, elbowing their way in to ensure they wouldn't be left out, France. That's why these five nations are permanent members of the Security Council. The young seem to imagine the UN was created out of an upswell of global altruism drenched in love and egality. It wasn't. It was forged from the shrapnel of war. The Atlantic Charter, originally an agreement created and edited by Churchill and Roosevelt in the dark days of 1941, grew into the UN charter. It exists as a forum to prevent wars of aggression through international jaw-jaw

However when jaw-jaw fails we must most reluctantly fall back on war-war. And that's what NATO is for. Formed in a Bipolar world, it fell into decline when the globe became unipolar but today in a Tripolar world it needs a resurgence of commitment - from the old nations of the world and those since 1945 founded on democracy, nations that have eschewed national aggrandisement and aggression and are committed to a defensive alliance.

And that is the big problem. There has arisen in Europe a new empire, a nascent Reich, that has very much not eschewed aggrandisement and pushing out its borders to create lebensraum. It wants all of Europe from Sweden's Iron Ore to Ukraine's wheat fields, from North Sea oil to the Mosul oilfields of Iraq. It wants armed forces to win and govern its territories, global-scale arms research and manufacturing capability and more than anything else it wants the 2% of GDP that its member nations have hitherto committed (in theory, anyway) to NATO.

Britain wants no part of this madness. The US may not be perfect, but at least American citizens are allowed to elect their President. And they have law and courts not under political control. And America, as Churchill said, always does the right thing. Eventually.

And that is the background against which the members of NATO meet this week to celebrate 70 years. I guess those years break down as 40 years of genuine mutual commitment, 20 of splurging the dividend saved from the wall coming down, and the past 10 with France, Germany and the western European EU nations just going through the motions and pretending that they're still a part of it.

The EU's strategy is clear; while we're in their 'transition' phase, they want the US and UK to defend Europe from Russia and China, for free. Once they've got their own army they won't need us any more. Everyone knows this. It's hardly a secret. Yet mutual security is so important that for public consumption we must all pretend it's not the case. But I'd love to be  a fly on the wall to hear what they actually say to each other this week.

Monday 2 December 2019


After this election campaign, the role of broadcasters will never be again as it was. Any reasonable person who watched Marr trying to humiliate the Prime Minister yesterday, without success, cannot fail to conclude that the usefulness of these things has passed. Marr was simply not interested in answers, only with throwing like spears as many barbed, distorted and wounding questions as possible, rat-tat-tat. As soon as Boris was deflecting the last one another was launched. It was not an edifying spectacle.

I can't quite track how the broadcasters assumed that they held this power and authority over our elected representatives - and by extension, assume they hold the same power and authority over we who elected them. But they are grievously mistaken. It's fine for us to disparage, undermine, scrutinise, reform and dismiss the elected political class- we're the voters. It's not fine for the broadcasters to impertinently pretend that they're acting in our name when in fact they're acting for a political establishment now under threat and fighting us for control of the nation. They're not acting for us, or for higher ideals, but for their own power and interest. And this election is the event that has called them out.

We don't elect a President in this country but representatives who ally themselves to a party. If the broadcasters have a job at all it is to present and probe the parties - taking whomever the party decides to put up to the microphone. If they imagine their job is that of attack dogs, establishing their own dominance and authority by savaging individual prominent politicians, they are mistaken. That's our job, not theirs.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Where should Leavers vote for the Brexit Party?

This is the advice for Leavers given by the Telegraph; vote for TBP -
  1. If the Conservatives haven’t won the seat since at least 1992 (or since constituency creation);
  2. If Ukip beat the Conservatives, and gained a vote share of over 20 per cent, in 2015;
  3. And if the Conservatives got less than 30 per cent of the 2017 vote.
OK - so let's look at the two constituencies below

1. Labour have held the seat since 1974..
2. In 2015 UKIP came 2nd with 28% of the vote
3. In 2017 the Conservatives got 34.2%

Result: Vote Conservative

Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford
1. Labour have held the seat since constituency creation
2. In 2015 UKIP came 2nd with 21.3% of the vote
3. In 2017 the Conservatives got exactly 30.0%

Result: Vote Conservative 

I think this is a fair and sensible algorithm for the Conservative and Brexit parties to use - what do you think? It's too late now for candidates to stand down, so it will mean the lower rated party must start campaigning for the other from now onwards.

Well, do we want to Leave or not?

Saturday 30 November 2019

BrexitCorp™ will deliver victory for Corbyn

This -

Sorry, but there's no polite way to say this. The Brexit party is set to deliver Corbyn an election victory and destroy Brexit. It's the same in a whole mass of Leave seats.

Can you show me any MRP polls that put TBP ahead of the Conservatives in any of these seats?

It's pure Farage vanity and childish conceit and it will destroy Brexit.

I simply don't know what else to say.

Déjà écrit

Evelyn Waugh - Decline and Fall

"I was on night duty last night between the hours of 8pm and 4am" testified the warder in a sing-song voice, "when my attention was attracted by sounds of agitation coming from the prisoner's cell. Upon going to the observation hole I observed the prisoner pacing up and down his cell in a state of high excitement In one hand he held his Bible, and in the other a piece of wood which he had broken from his stool His eyes were staring; he was breathing heavily, and at times muttering verses of the Bible. I remonstrated with the prisoner when he addressed me in terms prejudicial to good discipline"
"What are the words complained of?" asked the Chief Warder

"He called me a Moabite, an abomination of Moab, a wash-pot, an unclean thing, an uncircumcised Moabite, an idolater, and a whore of Babylon, sir "

"I see What do you advise, officer ?"

"A clear case of insubordination, sir," said the Chief Warder "Try him on No 1 diet for a bit"

But when he asked the Chief Warder’s opinion, Sir Wilfred was not really seeking advice He liked to emphasise in his own mind, and perhaps that of the prisoners, the difference between the official view and his own.
"What would you say was the most significant part of the evidence ?" he asked

The Chief Warder considered. "I think whore of Babylon, on the whole, sir"
Sir Wilfred smiled as a conjurer may who has forced the right card.
"Now I," he said, "am of different opinion It may surprise you, but I should say that the significant thing about this case was the fact that the prisoner held a piece of the stool"

"Destruction of prison property," said the Chief Warder. "Yes, that’s pretty bad "

"Now what was your profession before conviction?" asked the Governor, turning to the prisoner

"Carpenter, sir"

"I knew it ," said the Governor triumphantly "We have another case of the frustrated creative urge. Now listen, my man. It is very wrong of you to insult the officer, who is clearly none of the things you mentioned. He symbolizes the just disapproval of society and is, like all the prison staff, a member of the Church of England . But I understand your difficulty You have been used to creative craftsmanship, have you not, and you find prison life deprives you of the means of self-expression, and your energies find vent in these foolish outbursts. I will see to it that a bench and a set of carpenter’s tools are provided for you The first thing you shall do is to mend the piece of furniture you so wantonly destroyed After that we will find other work for you in your old trade You may go".

"Get to the cause of the trouble," Sir Wilfred added when the prisoner was led away, "your Standing Orders may repress the symptoms, they do not probe to the underlying cause ".

Of course the inevitable happened, and the prisoner used his carpenter's tools to saw-off the head of the prison chaplain, Mr Prendegast.

No doubt in the wake of yesterday's tragic events, someone will dare to question the wisdom of not only releasing early from prison an Islamist terrorist, but of inviting him to participate in a criminology conference organised by the University of Cambridge at the exact site of the start of London's previous Islamist terrorist atrocity.

Friday 29 November 2019

The week the gloves came off

That this is the most critical election since 1945 is not in doubt. Though it is being fought on the battlefield of Brexit, the war is about control of the state. The incumbent political class, with control of the Lords, the civil service, the NGOs, the broadcasters and media, the global business clubs and the universities, are naturally reluctant to see their power challenged by we oiks and upstarts. They really don't like democracy, and this election is rattling them. This is in fact a good thing - as rattled opponents make mistakes, and expose things they would rather keep hidden.

Yesterday it was the turn of Channel 4 News, which every sentient adult in the country knows quite well to be deeply biased towards the globalists and supranationalists and as a result their hatred of the Conservative and Brexit parties doesn't just seep into their news output but paints it. They thought they would be clever and 'empty chair' the Conservative and Brexit parties with lumps of ice. Hee Hee.

Two problems. The first, which is now the subject of an official complaint to Ofcom, is that broadcasters are under a legal obligation to ensure a balance between political parties during an election. Not leaders or particular candidates, but parties. In other words, the broadcasters don't have the power to dictate who appears to represent those parties on such events (which they clearly imagine that they do). We'll have to wait for Ofcom's post-broadcast ruling, but there is hope that this skirmish will bring the role of broadcasters out into the open. If Ofcom rule that broadcasters do in fact have this extraordinary anti-democratic power, it must be challenged in the courts. Secondly, I suspect that the public will turn against Channel 4 over this - we are less susceptible than they imagine to this kind of thuggish bullying.

Also this week has seen the unprecedented intervention of not just the Chief Rabbi and the Archbishop of Canterbury but the Hindu Council in warning against Labour's racism. Momentum's violent thugs and bootboys out on the campaign trail are threatening and intimidating candidates, and anyone brave enough to venture onto Facebook or Twitter will have experienced the hate and abuse online from those thugs with a note excusing them from games. Labour, after Corby's evisceration on live TV, have resorted to lying about the NHS.

However, it's the party stars who tell the biggest story. For Labour, we have hardly seen hide nor hair of Emily Thornberry, Kier Starmer, the Benn boy and their other southern metropolitan gobs, all of whom you couldn't avoid before the campaign. That's clearly because the party knows it's just about lost its northern leave voters, so want to keep those at risk of mistaking chip-shop mushy peas for guacamole away from broadcasters. And then there's Boris.

Have you seen Boris' recent appearances? His election broadcast last night? Is it me or is he misfiring like a badly tuned engine, without that mellifluous fluency and spontaneity that we are so used to seeing? Fraser Nelson imagines this might be due to the tightness of the leash on which they're holding him, but remember also that in barely four months in office there has not been an hour during which he has not been under the most unimaginable strain. Fingers crossed.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Remember, she's a woman.

Even the midst of this most critical of election campaigns there is room for the little wry surprises that evoke a smile. I've just seen a pic for the first time that immediately caused to spring into my mind the title of the post. Let me explain.

One of the key professional skills I mastered was that of leading a team. In delivering complex construction schemes it is a pre-requisite. If you asked me to teach it I couldn't - humour, self-confidence, supportiveness and all those sort of things came into it. And one has to do it time after time after time, and each time anew, with a fresh team. Sometimes a consultancy firm sent along an engineer / QS / designer / CDM supervisor with whom one had worked on a previous job, which was always a joy. And women were quite equal to men in every role. Except one that had me foxed. She was unhappy. The little signs were not hard to miss. But she was good, a valued team member, highly professional and I promise I acted utterly scrupulously in treating her not one mite different to any other member of the team. One Friday during a wind-down drink-up with another female colleague I mentioned the odd dynamic. "Ah" she said enigmatically when she had quite absorbed the situation "You need to remember she's a woman". I'm still not quite sure what she meant.

Many of you will recall this wonderful photo of McDoom -

Of course he looks like an utter plonker. It's a lesson to politicians, like Mr Ed's bacon sandwich, that the camera lens is the media's greatest satirist, and if you're visiting a combat zone or riding in an armoured vehicle appearance is everything. Only Mrs T got it absolutely right, with an Isadora Duncan style chiffon scarf in the turret of a Challenger tank. 

Now this is the first time I've seen the pic below of Theresa May. The jacket is very clever - it avoids wearing an actual combat jacket but affords an equivalent camouflage. But look carefully. She's not that fat; I swear she's wearing ballistic armour under it. I take my hat off. I never thought there would be one single aspect of May's premiership that would win my grudging admiration, but here it is. I should perhaps have remembered that she's a woman.

Wednesday 27 November 2019


Within the last hour Dominic Cummings has posted a new blog entry - it should be right on the top of the blogroll in the RH column. 

This is possibly the most important blog entry you will ever read - please do so!

Every one of us - Kipper, BXP or Tory must pull together. The future of our nation is at stake -
If Boris doesn’t get a majority, then Corbyn will take control of No. 10 on Friday 13th in alliance with Sturgeon plus the Liberal Democrats. And if this Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance takes control, their official policy is to give millions of EU citizens the vote in the second referendum. They don’t plan to lose again and they’ve literally written into their manifesto that they will cheat the second referendum — apart from giving millions of foreign citizens the vote, they will rig the question so the ‘choice’ is effectively ‘Remain or Remain’, they will cheat the rules, they will do anything, supported by the likes of Goldman Sachs writing the cheques like they did in 2016, to ensure Remain win.

Wheels come off Magic Grandpa live on air

They take Holocaust Denial quite seriously here in Austria. Back in 2017 one of Jeremy Corbyn's party members, as Andrew Neil pointed out to him, did the unthinkable -
Then let me give you the case of Lesley Perrin. She was a Labour Party member. She posted a video denying the Holocaust and questioned whether the six million figure was accurate. And what did the Labour Party do? It gave her a written warning. No expulsion, no zero tolerance, just a written warning.
The Austrians have a law, the 1947 Verbotgesetz, under which idiots are still being imprisoned for giving the raised arm or being as utterly crass as Lesley Perrin. In fact Holocaust Denial here will earn you from between one and twenty years in prison. And the law, under §3h, specifically has all the bases covered - "whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media". David Irving got three years for it. Lesley got a written warning from Jeremy. I wonder just how long the European Arrest Warrant, of which Lesley undoubtedly approves, will remain in force?

Corbyn's humiliation last night was an absolute classic. I watched it twice; the first time I really couldn't quite believe it was happening. It flayed the pretence and camouflage off him like the skin from a petulant saint leaving him utterly naked in the glare of the studio lights. Michael Deacon in the Telegraph has the best of the adjectives this morning - "waffly, defensive, confused, crabby, and clueless ... So tetchy, so sullen, so huffy. So sniffily passive-aggressive.... pitiful, and self-pitying" - and the best of it
He was behaving like the world’s oldest teenager: the smouldering victimhood, the muttering martyrdom. At any moment, I half-expected him to flounce out of his chair, stalk out of the studio, and stomp upstairs to his bedroom.
There will be some nervousness I expect at CCHQ at Boris' turn, which will be on 3rd/4th December if it happens - and it's likely that it must. Nigel must be conflicted, both relieved that BrexitCorp™'s polling means he's unlikely to be asked and miffed that, erm, he's unlikely to be asked. 

I was going to do a piece on Localist measures in the Conservative manifesto this morning but it would be as insipid as Earl Grey against Corby's live, on-air self-destruction.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Manifesto - Reform

Nigel Farage's hints at a future, post-Brexit, Reform Party speaks to many people; this blog has long advocated the need for some basic constitutional housekeeping, the necessity of clawing-back our democratic controls, of correcting the nation's drift into authoritarian centralism. I don't agree with Nigel on one major policy head - the need for a written constitution - and, to be perfectly frank, as a Conservative I find it hard to see the advantages of systems other than FPTP for the Commons. But if the Reform Party is a proper, democratic party with a constitution and voting and members and everything it will be of intense interest. Unless, of course, the Conservatives have already enacted the necessary reforms. I certainly support Nigel reprising his Brexit role, as a powerful lever to ensure parliament does the right thing.

And reform has not been neglected in the Conservative manifesto -
The failure of Parliament to deliver Brexit – the way so many MPs have devoted themselves to thwarting the democratic decision of the British people in the 2016 referendum – has opened up a destabilising and potentially extremely damaging rift between politicians and people. If the Brexit chaos continues, with a second referendum and a second Scottish referendum too, they will lose faith even further. It is only by getting Brexit done that we can start the necessary task of restoring public trust in government and politics:
  • We will get rid of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act – it has led to paralysis at a time the country needed decisive action.
  • We will ensure we have updated and equal Parliamentary boundaries, making sure that every vote counts the same – a cornerstone of democracy.
  • We will continue to support the First Past the Post system of voting, as it allows voters to kick out politicians who don’t deliver, both locally and nationally.
  • We will protect the integrity of our democracy, by introducing identification to vote at polling stations, stopping postal vote harvesting and measures to prevent any foreign interference in elections.
  • We will make it easier for British expats to vote in Parliamentary elections, and get rid of the arbitrary 15-year limit on their voting rights.
  • We will maintain the voting age at 18 – the age at which one gains full citizenship rights.
  • We will ensure that no one is put off from engaging in politics or standing in an election by threats, harassment or abuse, whether in person or online.
  • We will champion freedom of expression and tolerance, both in the UK and overseas.
  • To support free speech, we will repeal section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2014, which seeks to coerce the press. We will not proceed with the second stage of the Leveson Inquiry.
  • We will ensure redundancy payments can be clawed back when high-paid public servants move between jobs.
  • We will improve the use of data, data science and evidence in the process of government.
The repeal of s.40 and the scrapping of the second stage of Leveson will enrage the Luvvies and Slebs behind 'Hacked Off' - and with luck their cosy private regulator 'Impress' funded by Max Mosley will now wither on the vine. That alone will be reason to open the champagne.

The commitment to protect those engaging in politics in 'real life' or online from threats, harassment or abuse has become necessary - not only the thugs of Antifa and Momentum like the boot boys of the SA, with those who have notes excusing them from PE doing their bullying from the keyboard, but the likes of Yaxley-Lemon on the other side. Like the ends of a horsehoe, they are closer to each other than to the rest of us. This would take care and finesse to get right, and I'm sure every one of you would monitor progress closely.

All in all, an excellent slate of manifesto commitments. Again, I commend them to you. 

Monday 25 November 2019

Manifesto - The Salisbury-Addison Convention

You may wonder why political parties publish manifestos, or publish manifestos that contain such a wealth of detail. Primarily of course these are election pledges to the voters - a written contract, if you like. They are also a 'here I stand ...' document, committing the leader and every parliamentary candidate to a slate of policies. They are as well tick lists of measures pitched so electors may balance personal costs and benefits. Yes, they are all those things. 

But this detailed Conservative manifesto is, I suggest, something more. We have a House of Lords, deeply hostile to Brexit, an upper chamber that is utterly unrepresentative of public opinion, a chamber that has been subject to 'state capture'. Whatever government takes the reins on December 13th, it faces getting a legislative programme through the Lords. And here is where the title of the post comes in. The Commons itself says
The Salisbury-Addison Convention is a parliamentary convention to which the House of Lords has adhered since 1945 ... The House of Lords should not reject at second reading any government legislation that has been passed by the House of Commons and that carries out a manifesto commitment. In the House of Lords, a manifesto bill:
  • is accorded a second reading;
  • is not subject to ‘wrecking amendments’ which change the Government’s manifesto intention as proposed in the bill; and
  • is passed and sent (or returned) to the House of Commons, so that they have the opportunity, in reasonable time, to consider the bill or any amendments which the House of Lords may wish to propose.
And that is one reason why so much is crammed into manifestos. Boris makes no specific commitment to reform or abolish the Lords in the manifesto, but, after the disaster that Bercow has proved to our democratic institutions, and after the vexatious abuse of lawfare by Gina Miller and others to subvert democratic legitimacy, the Conservatives make a clear pledge
After Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the courts; the functioning of the Royal Prerogative; the role of the House of Lords; and access to justice for ordinary people. The ability of our security services to defend us against terrorism and organised crime is critical. We will update the Human Rights Act and administrative law to ensure that there is a proper balance between the rights of individuals, our vital national security and effective government. We will ensure that judicial review is available to protect the rights of the individuals against an overbearing state, while ensuring that it is not abused to conduct politics by another means or to create needless delays. In our first year we will set up a Constitution, Democracy & Rights Commission that will examine these issues in depth, and come up with proposals to restore trust in our institutions and in how our democracy operates.
So whilst there is no clear conclusion on what should be done about the Lords (and we all know that something needs to be done) they will face a level of scrutiny they have not faced under any government since the evolution of the Salisbury-Addison convention in 1945.

There is a warning here for the wreckers, the abusers, the illiberals and the anti-democrats. Our unwritten constitution is likely to be robust enough to renew and reform itself endogenously, from within. Wellington's rope harness.

Whilst I'm not shedding luvvie tears of wonder like Lily Allen over this document, it really is a winner - and contains also clear and specific measures for electoral and administrative reform and other things that I will look at in detail over the week. I commend it to you. 

Sunday 24 November 2019

The best laid plans ..

Well, I was expecting now to do a piece on the Conservative manifesto, but I'm afraid the party has rather cocked it up. Not only was the live video feed lousy and broken, but nowhere is there a link to the .pdf manifesto and costings supplement. I was also sort of expecting, as a party member, an email with a link to the document, but no such luck.

I shall have to write to that nice Mr Cleverly, who as Chairman is responsible for the housekeeping, I expect.

Sorry, nothing to see here.

Not just me, then. The Chief Political Correspondent and Assistant Editor, Daily Telegraph, Chairman of the Lobby, tweets


Thursday 21 November 2019


Possibly the most important piece of news of the day is easy to overlook. Our hero is no high profile politician or media personality, no minor royal with the emotional intelligence of a lump of mince, no virtue signalling pop star but a previously unknown 53 year old former policeman called Harry Miller. The story is featured in today's Telegraph

You will know me as a pretty laid back and socially liberal sort of blogger; if male readers choose to browse the internet dressed as Eartha Kitt or wearing outsize Victoria's Secret undergarments, I really don't care. I really, really, don't care. Being libertarian in outlook means so long as you're not harming anyone else, you can do as you like. However, I fundamentally believe that there are only two human sexes, biologically, and anything else can be classed as either make-believe or a psychological disorder. Now you may not have realised that writing that may lead to this blog entry being recorded by the police under their Hate Crime Operational Guidance (2014). Something similar led to plod banging at the door of Harry Miller -
Mr Miller, a married father of four, was investigated by Humberside Police earlier this year after a Twitter user complained that he shared a 'transphobic limerick'. Even though no crime was committed, his sharing of the limerick online was recorded as a 'hate incident' and he was described as a "suspect" in police reports, the court heard.

Mr Miller, who was previously an officer for the Humberside force, accused the police of "creating a chilling atmosphere for those who would express a gender critical position".

"The idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense," he said.
Mr Miller has succeeded in putting the police guidance before the courts for judicial review. The case continues. We must not only wish him every success but be ready to support the costs of an appeal should the case continue in the higher courts.