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Saturday 15 June 2019

Are mandarins plotting a coup to put Puppet Stewart in Number 10?

Sedwill has broken cover to reassure the public directly that he is cuddly and harmless - which worries me greatly. This is not a proper thing for the Cabinet Secretary to do at any time - but bang in the middle of a Conservative leadership election, it is downright suspicious.

And now even the Telegraph is pushing weird no-hoper Stewart as a potential PM - but the latest meretricious column, by Bryony Gordon, is heavily censored with all comments forbidden. They know how their readers will respond.

The Deep State may not be willing to accept the nation's democratic processes. The son of a senior spook, no matter how disturbed, who can be manipulated and the leadership election sabotaged to put him in power as a puppet of the grey men sounds absurd, tinfoil hat stuff, but these are incredible times.

Not one non-establishment online opinion favours Stewart - but he's come out of nowhere and is being bigged-up by the establishment media. Not one Leaver MP is backing him. He shouldn't even be in this contest. Something is going on, and it smells as rotten as week old mackerel.

Telegraph reader comments on the final encomium to the weird puppet for which they were allowed are below -

Britain - the world's champion of freedom and democracy

Today I offer only an observation, but one that stirs within me the embers of pride and a certain feeling of rightness. It is this. Despite having endured decades here at home of historical revisionism in which our nation's history is mis-portrayed as a uninterrupted reign of oppression and conquest, the freedom and democracy protesters in Hong Kong are unified behind a single symbol of freedom - the British flag.

I can only hope that this catches on - and after Brexit, campaigners everywhere across the globe for freedom, democracy and justice will adopt our national flag as an enduring symbol of those fundamental rights.

That's all.

Friday 14 June 2019

Is it fair for this man to be in politics?

From time to time matters of real concern enter the robust and challenging world of politics. Today, having watched Rory Stewart's  performance and pronouncements I am more concerned than ever for the lad's mental heath. Those close to him should advise him to withdraw, rest and repair what can be repaired. It is simply not fair to allow a personality this vulnerable to be in politics. 
So far he has threatened a coup in the event of a no-deal Brexit, setting up his own vanity parliament somewhere near to the Palace of Westminster. Elsewhere he has made it clear he is an illiberal and authoritarian Statist. Stewart is quite simply wholly unsuited to democratic politics; he is a vain popinjay imbued with an immense sense of entitlement, a privileged scion of the patrician class, capable of displaying an alarming petulance when he doesn't get his own way.

Would you really want this disturbed little Nero anywhere near our nuclear codes?

Thursday 13 June 2019

It's the 19th Century again

I've drawn parallels here before between the political convulsions the developed world is undergoing and similar convulsions in the mid decades of the 19th century I do so with a degree of confidence that, just as we avoided 1848 in the UK, we will do so again. Serfdom didn't end in Austria until 1864 - around 350 years later than England - and its traces linger discernibly in the sparse alpine area in which I live. That's another post. This is about imprisonment. 

There came a point in the 18th century when we cut down quite noticeably the number of people that were hanged for trivial offences. The idea of prisons hadn't really taken off, so at first we sent the minor offenders as convicts to America, but that nation's independence put an end to it from 1776. Then, between 1788 and 1868, we sent them to Australia instead. Or rather we didn't. The following is from Mayhew and Binney's Criminal Prisons of London (!.pdf)- available online and I recommend it to anyone interested in penal policy.

Not only was the river wall packed thick with the corpses of convicts but so too was the land within the Arsenal - they filled that first, before they ventured out onto the marshes. The first burial ground, later the site of the Armstrong Gun factory now converted to extremely expensive luxury flats, was packed so full of deliquescent convicts that the stench sickened the arms workers.

We sent 164,000 convicts to Australia. But between 1776 and 1868, for 92 years, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 a year died on the Woolwich hulks alone - so nationally I am quite sure that many more convicts died awaiting transportation than were ever delivered to Australia. Disease, starvation and overwork killed them just as certainly as the hemp rope, but left the public with a warm feeling of virtue.

Today we have as many people in prison as we had in the late 1970s. Our population now is somewhat greater, so one could argue that we have made some advance. But for 50 years, not much. 'Porridge' may have reflected life inside in the 1970s but does not do so now. Drugs, Islamism, violence, suicide, privatisation and the utter disdain of the Uber and Netflix generation (even the Guardian can't really be arsed) for the welfare of the prisoner have made our prisons as offensive as were the Hulks to reformist Victorians.

When the Inspector of Prisons has to instruct the Secretary of State for Justice to take action at a prison in which 10% of inmates are at risk of self-murder we have reached a low point. Gaulk may be more concerned at his imminent deselection for the betrayal of his party's election manifesto, but even he must now take action.

And we must all be concerned. And we must not forget our obligations in the Corporal Works of Mercy - to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to give shelter to travellers, to visit the sick, to comfort the imprisoned, and to bury the dead.

The 'tump' at the upper left is marked by the twin masts in the engraving above 

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Drugs? Pass the spliffy, Doris

I have a confession to make. Up to the age of about 35. I smoked a fair bit of whacky baccy. Yes, I did inhale - as deeply as I could. It started with Radio Caroline - from the circles of the oceans to the centre of your mind I think the jingle went - actually a leaky trawler somewhere off Clacton, but the 'pirate radio' thing plus hours of pure stoner programming plus natural teenage rebellion did it for me. Leb Red, Roccy, Afghan black, crumbly blonde - we were aficionados, hashish snobs. Between listening in intent rapture to vinyl on the hifi (those album covers came in very handy) and laughing to the point of actual pain, we put the world to rights. This blog I think is a legacy of the latter memories. No, I didn't touch class As. Ever. It was a matter of principal. After my mid thirties, hashish just put me to sleep quite quickly. Buying a sixteenth  therefore became something of a wasted investment; settle down, roll a spliff, open a beer, put a Steely Dan album on and Zonk - wake up three hours later with sofa-neck.

I suspect many of my age cohort, we 'gammon' Brexiteers, have a common experience. We really don't give a toss about drug use. It's the hypocrisy we can't stand; Gove, a cocaine-snorter (a tedious breed whom I avoid and will not befriend) who banned teachers for life for doing the same. No wonder Govey babbles so rapidly - it's his coke muscle memory. Shame he didn't learn either morality or honour from his Scottish foster parents. He was and is a shit.

Adultery we can also accept, if not condone. Even - whether from John Gielgud or George Michael - cottaging in public lavatories induces no more than a slight pursing of the lips and half shake of the head in puzzlement. Likewise porn. What we can't accept is kiddie-fiddling, dishonesty and hypocrisy - bad news for professional politicians for whom the latter two have become almost qualifying traits.

So Govey, your campaign is dead. Not for being a dreary unimaginative coke-tooting ponce, but for your two-faced hypocrisy and the fact you were forced to admit it before the Sundays splashed the story.

Monday 10 June 2019

BBC Licence fee Referendum - pensioners vote to end concession

"It's no good, Tarquin, we can't sustain our levels of Executive Remuneration Packages for the thousands of skilled managers we need here at the BBC if we give licence discounts to the over-75s. We have to end it"

"Damn. That means inviting public responses - every charity will oppose it, as will MPs and politicians and of course the old buggers themselves. We won't get it through."

"We can, Tarquin - if we hold a Referendum!"

"Are you mad, Tony? If we ask 'Should we end free licences for the over 75s - Yes or No?' you know damn well what the answer will be"

"Ah, but we can finesse it. Ask several questions. Use first and second preference. I know some clever people who can design the thing for us so it looks fair, but will give us the 'End it' answer we want. It also has the advantage of nullifying all the 'Change' petitions and submissions from the charities - a referendum outranks everything else"

"Tony you're a genius! You deserve every hundred thou you get!"

BBC Consultation - We will do what you decide

Should we-

(a) Keep free licences
(b) Abolish free licences
(c) Change free licences by (i) giving over-75s a 50% discount OR (ii) raising the age to 80 OR (iii) means testing the free licence? 

Results - 84,761 responses were received

1. Keeping free licences was most commonly ranked 1st (48%) followed by Changing (37%) and Abolishing (15%)
2. Changing was most commonly ranked 2nd (55%) followed by Abolishing (25%) and Keeping (20%)
3. Abolishing was most commonly ranked 3rd (47%) followed by Keeping (30%) and Changing (23%)

When combining first and second preferences -

4. Changing was the winner with the greatest number of first and second preferences (44%) 
5. Keeping the discount had the second highest total of 37% whilst Abolishing had the third highest total at 19%

It is quite clear therefore that we now have an unassailable mandate to apply means testing of free licences for the over 75s. The old folk themselves have decided.

"Tony! There's a case of Lanson on its way to you. You're a bloody miracle! Any chance these people of yours can do us a second Brexit referendum?"

(NB the central section was taken almost literatim from the BBC's reporting of its consultation outcome at   

Boris promises to bribe the public sector

There is one part of the nation's demographic lost to the Conservative Party - the public sector. Home to agile, graduate, socially liberal Remainers, our schools, universities, hospitals, councils and every body or NDPB funded by tax are now solid Labour or LibDem territory. Not at the bottom, of course - not the young constables, cleaners, cooks and clerks - but the professional and executive ranks, say from £40k upwards, and all teachers and clinical practitioners.

These are the cohorts of our society least affected by globalism, most adapted to take advantage of AI changes, and who have suffered least from 'austerity' - which has meant closing libraries and school kitchens, not making managers redundant. They are not users of food banks, not customers of payday loan sharks, not precariously balancing food, heat or clothing against each other. These are the young, privileged new elite of Britain; the Netflix and Uber generation, with car leases and new apartments in Peckham who take one main and two weekend breaks abroad each year, visit restaurants and have surplus cash for entertainment.

So Boris is proposing to give away £10bn in tax benefits to them by raising the tax threshold from £50k to £80k. And it's quite clear who he's promising to bribe - as the Telegraph reports
Those who found themselves paying the higher rate included teachers, senior police officers and some nurses. The Conservatives subsequently increased the threshold from £41,900 to £50,000 in response to the concerns of Tory MPs. Mr Johnson's plans, however, go significantly further.
Personally I no longer have a stake in this - my post-retirement income is under the higher tax threshold. But I do care deeply for our nation, and for the welfare of all our people. The shittiest part of this public sector bribe is that the lowest-paid will fund it; the £10bn "cost of the move will be funded partly by increasing employee national insurance payments .." reports the Telegraph. Boris. you dickhead, take a look at this ONS chart -

Since 2008, the value of earnings of those on median pay (£28,400 in 2018 according to the ONS) has actually fallen.

This is not 'One Nation' Conservatism. This is naked, calculated subversion of public funds to bribe those who have electorally deserted the Conservative Party. I could not, this morning, cast my vote for Boris Johnson. For now, my vote is with Raab.

I've just split the effect by region (GOR) from the ONS tables. Below.
There was a news comment earlier that puts the gross cost at £20bn - net cost £9.6bn. Boris claims this money would go back into the economy; hmm. I suspect at this level a lot of it will go into savings, pensions and investments rather than into the tills of High Street shops, so perhaps a limited benefit for the country as a whole. And bugger all good if you're in the North East though your NHS GP (~ £100k) may look happier.