Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poles apart

A few days moseying along the Poland/Czech border, last week. The profound impression it made is lost somewhere in the fog of sensations piled one above the other - the overriding image being of a couple of rusty Red Army tanks on plinths just outside of Wroclaw, their barrels pointing menacingly but impotently into the City's heart. An ironic joke, perhaps? Or a remnant of the Soviets' former power? I have no idea. I found communication difficult in a countryside where bars and cafes barely exist for people to meet in. Another remnant of Communist repression? That's the trouble... so tempting to see everything in those terms - both correctly and otherwise. Lovely, well-tended, patently decent, place, though.

Either way... it almost makes you want to kiss the ground when you land back in Britain. Bad as things have got here, they're nothing in comparison with the repression and hardship endured by Poland in recent history and we should be grateful for that, at least. The plane home was full of Poles and their babies; good people, an asset to us.

Interesting, then, returning to find we'd elected ourselves a couple of Nazis... and to hear mainstream politicos soothing themselves with the notion that those who voted for them aren't racists and didn't really know what they were voting for. Oh really? I believe it's remarkably true that, by accident or otherwise, BNP votes turned out to be almost the only ones worth casting - the only ones causing a ripple in the Euro elections. It was the votes for the status quo that were wasted.

I guess it's a thought crime, by current definitions, to wonder whether some kinds of immigration might be better for Britain than others. Whether migrants from the Third World, say, mainly brown, are a better bet than those from Eastern Europe who are wholly white. Or if Muslims are to be preferred as neighbours to, say, Hindus and Christians or vice-versa. Is it permissible to express a preference based on a considered conclusion? Doubt it.

There is a belief among the ruling class that they are ahead of the public in knowing what's best for us. The public is starting to disagree. Boringly, though, I'd voted Tory.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brief Encounters

God, it's hard to studiously avoid current affairs in a blog, when they're all around screaming at you to notice.

Last Thursday, on the 20.03 out of Kings Cross, there were just the twelve of us sharing the three First Class coaches. Twelve. Normally it's packed - including a good smattering of MPs heading north, weighed down with trouser presses, toilet seats, surround-sound TVs and grocery. Only a couple of weeks ago I followed Tory Turncoat, Quentin Davies, as he got into the lift at Grantham Station with a yellow paper-clip stuck to the back of his head. It seemed mildly eccentric and amusing at the time, but now it seems more probable he was actually smuggling stationery out of the Commons piece by piece.

Little wonder the National Express franchise is losing money. No point in having a business model of cheaper fares and more trains if nobody wants to go anywhere for fear of catching deadly Swine Flu.

Then there's the obesity pandemic you can't avoid either. Standard Class is at the front of the train.. so that when you get off, you're struck by the sight of the tide of enormous girths heading towards you as everyone rushes for the bridge in the middle of the platform. Weight, the gross excess of it, is evidently tied in with lower incomes and, therefore, reflected even in the relative affordability of train tickets. Does being poor make them eat too much, or does eating too much make them poor?

I'd been to see the fabulous Hairspray at the Shaftesbury. The plot concerns a fat white bird finding success, love and happiness through associating with hip black kids. Plenty of the former in the audience, as usual, but none of the latter - also as usual. Speculating on the reason why is probably another thought crime though, so.....

It wasn't one of my better days, either... Lord, it made me feel sour. Even the girl at Burger King took pity on me and gave me a discount. Heaven help me. How low can it go?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

One in a Million Flu - Panic On!

Population of Mexico: 109,610,000

Swine flu deaths in Mexico: 168 106 19

Am I missing something here? This is a killer pandemic?

Oh, and according to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta,
98% of H1 strains are resistant to Tamiflu - of which we've just ordered another 30m doses.

Something is seriously weird. Nothing adds up. The virus is, apparently, so widespread in Mexico that even English kids on a brief holiday to Cancun can't avoid catching it. Yet there are only, according to official figures, 443 confirmed cases in the whole country, of whom a third quarter twentieth have died. What are the odds?

What do I know? Questions, questions - they don't get asked, though.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Baroque and roll

King's Lynn, at 60 miles away, is our nearest live classical music venue now that East Lindsey has pulled its arts sponsorship. Or was. Last night's concert by the City of London Sinfonia may well be their final outing to North Norfolk - victims of funding cuts thanks to slews of Government money being diverted into the insatiable Olympic maw.

It was a scrappy and disjointed affair, too. A couple of (deservedly) minor works for mandolin sandwiched between some indisciplined Bach (reports our Arts Correspondent, Tarquith Vonackle).

I found the whole thing dispiriting - not just the performance but the morgue-like ambience.... the audience being twice the age of the players, for one thing. I don't know whether it's because most people don't get into classical music until they're pensioned off, so that it's a rolling cohort being refreshed by newly-qualified bus-passers just as the ultra-oldies drop from their perches - or whether, worse, the age-group is getting greyer by the year because young 'uns aren't joining at the bottom any more.

Sitting outside a bar in Malaga, in Feb, I was thinking the Boho girl chatting at the next table looked familiar. Eventually (the flower behind her ear was the clue), I realised it was the soprano who'd sung in Mahler's 4th an hour or so before. Then, she'd been wearing a stately yellow gown - her friends, who I also recognised as orchestra members, had been in their white-ties and tails. Now, in their jeans and teeshirts, laughing and smoking, you'd never take any of them for the stiff-shirted automatons who had earlier complemented the elegant formality of the Teatro Cervantes so perfectly. They came onstage. They played. They took their ovation and went off - with never a word and barely a smile.

Kids like these come out of music college full of zing and verve and must feel flattened by the dead hand of 'the way we've always done it'. The music deserves better than this.... It'll never have enough of an appeal to generations hooked on the trappings of immediacy - but I'm having a String Quartets craze on my Mp3player at the mo... the notes pop and fizz around inside the head in a way that even Beethoven could never have dreamed when he wrote them, so....

It needn't be for the few. I hope lessons can be learned from the queues of people killing for tickets to see the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra - that it
can be cool, it can thrill, it can pull the crowds in when it's done with enough energy and enthusiasm. Otherwise, oblivion awaits.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Timney's Bird

As a part-time bodhisattva (slightly lapsed), I've had to cut down on the blogging... I've realised that the karmic consequence of banging on about the awfulness of Life in General is an almost permanent sense of irritability. It's not even as if it gets results - unlike the mighty Guido. Our MP is the ancient and redoubtable Sir Peter Tapsell, and unseating him - or even suggesting that he might change his long-held views on anything - is as unthinkable as camels on Skegness beach. Sitting in the gentle Lincolnshire sunshine, pecking at a bowl of cockles and a beer, it's as cosy and safe as the Fifties ever were. So why spoil the pleasures of a vaguely contented life in the timeless Fens, where we're untroubled by the nastiness of the Outside World unless we read the papers.

Worse though, for those likely to be actually featuring in them. Just imagine what it would be like for a decent respectable woman from, say, Redditch, to spread marmalade on her morning toast, pour herself and hubby a coffee, settle down with the Sunday Times, and see herself depicted as viciously as above. It would make most reasonable women want to quit public life. Especially if they suspected it might be cruel but accurate.

Karma... none of us can avoid it. The neat thing about Zen Buddhism is that there aren't a lot of hard and fast rules to learn... Buddha said that he doesn't make the Laws of Nature - just reveals them. As one of his predecessors pointed out, "We are what our deep, driving desire is. As our deep, driving desire is, so is our will. As our will is, so is our deed. As our deed is, so is our destiny." Master that and off you go - nirvana awaits without the need for further formality.

Jacqui has no-one to blame but herself... £23K actually isn't all that generous an allowance for keeping a place in London for a year - but she had to go and try to enrich herself with it, the fool. So.... karma got her by the neck. It's just the way things are that's all... "As you sow, so shall you reap. With whatever measure you mete out to others, with the same measure it shall be meted out to you", as Jesus put it. Jacqui Exposed, as Scarfe does.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Light Entertainment

Parminder is sitting down, watching telly. Which part of her body is most in contact with the sofa? Is it:

(a) her arse

(b) her elbow

Only answer (a) or (b) not both.

Now turn over.

I'm pretty much OK with them drafting O Levels so that even the least sentient students are capable of being marked. It's questionable whether they challenge the brightest/hardest-working but still.... that's a whole nuther argument. Why, though, must the BBC follow this trend and make all of its programmes appeal to the dimmest viewer when doing so turns off those who might be worth a Grade C or above?

Cutting edge documentaries, on the Beeb, now go no further than sending some old buffer tootling off along the Wye Valley in a '56 Morris Oxford, grumbling about how much has changed. Rogue Traders, the other night, even had a sidekick for the presenter - a Portuguese bloke whose function it was to act dumb while words of more than two syllables were explained to him ('him' = proxy for the target audience). Oh, how the Diversity Dept. must have agonised before they came up with a nationality it was alright to patronise.

I can't bring myself to watch a whole programme... there was one about Ethiopia the other week that dealt with some fairly deep facts about population growth. But the gushing pubescents presenting it got the better of me before half-way. The one-time 'flagship', Panorama, now fronted by a Radio2 DJ, with its shallow subject-matter, cut-cut-cut photography and that damned ubiquitous low-bass urrrrrrrrr music to ominously underscore every serious point in case we're too thick to get it, is unwatchable.

According to many in the Blogosphere, it's all a plot to avoid letting the populace know how bad things are. That could well be true - that and the fact that "inclusiveness" has to include not only the half-wits but also those in the foreign community who've only recently arrived and can't speak the language.

Years ago (or so it seems) ITV was for the people who loved nothing more high-brow than Coronation Street and Hughie Green, while the rest of us sat nodding at the wisdom of Dr. Bronowski, ogling Joan Bakewell, or getting our kicks via The Old Grey Whistle Test. That was as it should be.... the commercial channels need mass audiences for flogging staples of the poor like Jaffa Cakes, Wonderloaf and Cadbury's Smash. The BBC doesn't. Leave it to them, I say.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I was only following orders

Something I can't get my head around in this Stafford Hospital case. At the top was the CE and his board, never straying from their fancy offices, handing down edicts aimed at satisfying their political masters' desire to see quotas fulfilled and money saved. At the bottom, harassed nurses tried to perform miracles with inadequate resources. But in the middle? Where were the Consultants? What role in this scandal was played by the lofty ones to whom cases are individually assigned who must each have seen dozens of their patients arriving with fairly optimistic prognoses, dying prematurely - often, presumably, through causes capable of being treated with rudimentary care.

Because it's simply inconceivable that these highly paid, highly responsible, senior professionals could have repeatedly swept through the wards, white coats open, their entourages trailing, yet failing to be aware of people slumped for hours in their own faeces and urine, comatose through lack of food and water, denied proper medication or even monitoring of their condition through staff shortages and lack of proper training. They must have known. How could they have kept quiet when this slaughter was going on around them?

Bugger 'lessons being learned' and 'challenges being met'. A full-scale police enquiry needs to take place with everyone who failed being identified and subject to eventual charge. The Nuremburg Defence should not apply.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mandy's Big Green Lie

The AllShookUp vehicle fleet features matching His and Hers 2litre automatic Mondeos, together worth about £500 if I'm lucky - both 10 years old, both with no service history, but both capable of sweeping me along in considerable comfort and with plenty of oomph for getting past tractors, caravans or dawdlers in Volvos with a minimum of delay. Their thirst for gas is more than compensated for by cheap third party insurance, never feeling the need to wash or polish them, and sheer nonchalance when they get dinged in supermarket carparks. MOTs willing, they will last me until they collapse in a heap of rust.

Mandelson, though, wants to bribe me to swap them for something 'green' - probably a poky little underpowered Kia or something equally lethal to overtake in. He'd have me throw away 10 good tyres, 2 working radios, seats for 10 people, 2 solid engines and gearboxes, miles of cabling, gallons of toxic oil and brake fluid and a ton of painted metal and plastic. And put my village garage out of work while he's at it.... oh and borrow the thick end of £20K into the bargain to buy new sets of tyres, seats, radios, cable, steel, oil, metal, etc. etc,, built in a factory spitting out God knows how much CO2.

The Government doesn't believe in anything - or if they do, expediency and hypocrisy get the better of them. Mandy's offer of two grand to trade in your old motor proves it.

Bunch of liars.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome back to Luton for Royal Anglians

Special Forces in camouflage mingle with the local totty

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Baroness Wazzock

I see the Tories' tame Muslim, Baroness Warsi, felt the need to join in the tributes to disgraced peer Lord Ahmed. She sent a message to a campaign organised to show "complete and all out support for the incarcerated Lord Nazir Ahmed while lauding his contribution to the British society in the context of the community relations and his role at the international platform."

The meeting also heard from Mohammed Sarwar MP (himself no stranger to brushes with the law) who said he believed Ahmed's sentence was excessive, and event organiser Abid Hussein, who felt that the punishment was excessive because, "he had ruffled the feathers of the higher authorities because of his strong views and support on various social and political issues notably the 42day detention period, war on Iraq and his pro-Palestinian stance."

Of course, many people would think that six weeks jail time, when the maximum sentence is two years, is too lenient for someone who drove for 17 miles along a dark motorway, sending and receiving texts and eventually killing another motorist. But no.... a bunch of Pakistani Muslims would sooner believe in another shadowy conspiracy to persecute one of their number.

Can't they see.. or do they not care - that outbursts like these only serve to antagonise the indigenous population and further alienate immigrants? Can't the drippy Warsi and the Tories see that there's no point in cosying up to 'moderate' Moslems in the hopes that appeasement will work - when every cause is taken over by those seeking to undermine our state?

Personally, I think that any Pakistani dissatisfied with justice - or anything else for that matter - in Britain should remember that they've always got a ready-made homeland waiting to welcome them at any time. Yes the corruption and poverty there, that are endemic at levels not seen here since the Middle Ages, might come as a bit of a shock... but PIA flights are cheap and frequent. Go. You won't be missed.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Smug and useless

Purnell's rapid rise up the slippery pole to Cabinet is via the typical route of the New Labour ruling classes. Privately educated, he left Oxford for a stint as a researcher at a leftie think-tank. Then, despite having no commercial experience, he joined the State Broadcaster as Head of Corporate Affairs, no less. After leaving for few years in the Spin Dept. at No 10 he landed a safe seat in 2001 and is now our Work and Pensions Secretary.

So he it is, with a working life full of pushing at half-open doors, never knowing dissent, a fully committed apparatchik whose place in the pecking order has been reached through unmitigated success at preaching to the converted... he it is who assures Labour's Black Asian and Minority Ethnic AGM that minorities will not be "left behind" by the effects of the recession.

And to make sure this won't happen, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, under its Chairman Trevor Phillips, has agreed to work with the Government to assess whether any groups were suffering disproportionately in the recession. They talk about assessing the impact on, "ethnic minorities, women, the disabled and older workers and advis(ing) ministers on steps to take."

What a load of bollocks. The clue is in the venue. At best, he's buying votes through cosying up to the immigrant population by reinforcing their sense of victimhood; at worst, he's promising extra help to everybody except fit white men. Either way, this smug, slippery member of the Nu Ruling Elite is so far divorced from reality that he'll say anything rather than do anything. And that's how we got into this whole mess in the first place.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today in Afghanistan, three more British servicemen...

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!

Rudyard Kipling

Three Four of our soldiers from 1st Battalion The Rifles were killed in Afghanistan today. If they're lucky, the PM will nod his condolences to their families saying, as he did today, they have "given" their lives. Wrong, Gordon. Nobody is that generous. They were taken from them in the dubious name of your War on Terror.

Their deaths bring the total of British fatalities to 148 - a total exceeded only by the USA with 660 losses and (proportionate to population) Canada with 108 and little Denmark's 21.

The combined total for the rest of our Western European 'allies' is 110:

France 24

Germany 28

Italy 13

Spain 25

Netherlands 18

Portugal 2

Is this war worth fighting - or not? If it is... for God's sake Brown, tell them to stop shirking their duty and do their share of the dirty work or we're coming out.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Theatre News

"Fucking Frogs! My grandfather didn’t die in the English Civil War so’s half the population of France could come over here and live off the soup!" from England People Very Nice, at the Olivier.

As a fairly frequent theatregoer, albeit seldom to anything more controversial than commercial musicals about men in frocks, I can't help chortling over the goings on south of the river where the National Theatre (subsidy £20m) is staging a play about immigration. The blurb says it's, "Written with scurrilous bravura. Richard Bean’s great sweep of a comedy follows a pair of star-crossed lovers amid cutters’ mobs, Papists, Jewish anarchists and radical Islamists across four tempestuous centuries."

But a member of one particular group is offended. Guess which. Correct.

Hussain Ismail writes an article for the Guardian saying, "Though it's billed as a comedy, (it) didn't make me laugh. It just made me angry. Racism often hides behind humour... blah, blah, etc." and has demanded (and received) a meeting with the director to air his complaints. To be fair, most of those commenting disagree with him. In general, they feel that the play uses comedy well to make a good point about the hostility felt by successive waves of immigrants. But here's what I wonder....

When a sophisticated metropolitan Guardianista hears a joke like, "Irish and Jewish, that's the worst mix. You end up with a family of pissed-up burglars run by a clever accountant." and laughs at it - is he only laughing in an ironic, counter-intuitive, post-modern structuralist way? I bet he thinks he is. The average NT goer wouldn't find the same gag funny at all if cracked by, say, Jim Davidson. Oh no.

Either way... The play might be offensive, it might be misguided. But I'm glad it's on. Every attempt must be made to resist repression by people who want to control our thoughts and means of expression - especially supporters of such a repressive ideology as Islam.

Hussain Ismael is organising a demo. Just him and a few Sparts, so far. Lord Ahmed would have gone but he's a bit tied up at the moment.

Meanwhile, over at the Globe, producers of that well-known slasher play, Romeo and Juliet, are in talks with Scotland Yard. Katharine Grice, a spokesman for Globe Education, said the director did not believe his production of Romeo and Juliet would fuel knife crime, but that he did want to conduct "responsible" research into how best to present it to a modern day, teenage audience. "It is about taking responsibility and having awareness that knife crime touches on the lives of so many teenagers in London," she said. "These scenes must not be seen to glamorise it." Watch out for hoodies in doublet and hose, it'll be the latest rage, mark my words.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Opposition? What Opposition?

Now that the Prime Minister is coming under fire for his role in the HBOS/LloydsTSB merger, the Tories should really be able to stick it to him. Should be an open goal, surely?

Oh wait.... "David Cameron, the Conservative leader, said that while he had supported it at the time, the merger is "now looking like a bad decision."


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Marx: "Owners of capital, etc." Fake quote.

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism."

You can hardly read a blog or a comments column on an online newspaper without seeing this from Marx, right on the money. Did he really say that? Really see it all coming? No he didn't. Well, maybe Groucho or Zeppo could have... But it's quoted everywhere to justify arguments about the current credit crisis (11000 google hits for the whole para) so.... But it's cobblers. It isn't written anywhere in his writings. Everyone quoting everyone else. An internet myth.

What it does show is that people will even look at a discredited ideology, so disenchanted are they by corruption and ineptitude that they even want to damn our system by comparison to the horrors of Communism.

It won't be lost on Brown and Co., either, that people will suspend their critical faculties and believe pretty much anything they're told if they hear it often enough.

Loose screws

Here we go again:

Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, said: “It’s not right – it looks so terrible. It has got to be sorted out. I want us to do everything we can as a society to make sure we keep teenage pregnancies down.”

However, David Laws, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for children said: “Because of their poor backgrounds we have a significant segment brought up in chaotic and unloving situations. Unsurprisingly, they often become chaotic and unloving themselves.”

Tony Kerridge, of the sexual health group Marie Stopes International, said sex education, or the lack of it, was to blame for situations such as that of Alfie and Chantelle. "Who can blame young kids when they get it wrong when sex education is so poor in this country?”

East Sussex Social Services say, "We shall be offering substantial support to these youngsters."

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a youngster in what was (although we didn't know it) a deprived Inner City slum, a thorough sex education was freely available from the big boys whilst having a smoke behind the bike sheds. And contraception was rudimentary, but 100% successful, through the simple but frustratingly effective method of girls keeping their knees clamped firmly together during sex because their mothers would kill them if they didn't.

Looking at those involved in the latest of many consequences of modern, more enlightened, ways of empowering the feckless into taking responsibility for their lives - I can't help wondering whether, frankly, they are mentally up to it. And whether, until there's some evidence that they can handle their freedom to do as they like without making life worse for themselves and society as a whole, an element of restraint should be placed upon them.

So, without much hope of a likelihood of any of these things being done - here's the Goodnight Spilsby guide to helping Babyfather and his brood.

(a) Prosecute as many of the adults as possible for aiding and abetting under-age sex.

(b) Remove the latest baby from its parents and place it for adoption with one of the thousands of decent couples desperate for a child but unable to conceive.

(c) Make it clear that any payments received from newspapers for selling the story will be deducted from benefits.

One in twenty-five British girls between the ages of 15 and 17 is conceiving. Genital warts, chlamydia and gonorrhoea is rife among British teenagers. I would bet good money that the lower down the social scale you go, the higher these figures rise - until they are at their most commonplace in the underclass. It looks to me as if the evidence shows that these people aren't up to making responsible decisions about the conduct of their lives - certainly not while the comfort blanket of unlimited state benefits is available to shield them from the consequences of their actions.

Time we stopped listening to the liberals, then. When all is said and done, "morality" means nothing unless there's some sort of consequence - and the consequence here is damage to lives and society as a whole. Time to put our foot down. Some hope.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Wilders - Tories have no clue

"We have consistently called on the Government to tackle extremists. If Geert Wilders has expressed views that represent a threat to public security, then we support the ban. But people like Ibrahim Moussawi, a spokesman for the terrorist organisation Hizbollah, have not been banned. The Government must apply the criteria governing entry into the UK consistently." Chris Grayling.

Well, well, well. That's a Press Release from the Shadow Home Secretary. What a coincidence - it's identical to a reply to an email from me asking him for the Conservative take on the Wilders thing.

So the best the Tories can come up with, is that they think Jacqui might be inconsistent, then. "If Geert Wilders has expressed views..." they say. 'If'? What do they mean, "If"? Do they think he has, or do they think he hasn't? And what do they think about Moussawi? Would a Tory Home Sec. have let him in him.. or not? Are they accusing Smith of favouring Islamists? If so, why not say it? Does freedom of speech come anywhere into this, in the Tories view?

Impossible to say, because the statement is just weasel words. Pusillanimous drivel from a party that has lost the will to say what it thinks for fear of offending anyone - even the feckless, the militant or the corrupt. It has its poll-lead handed on a plate through Brown's economic stupidity. It represents nobody but itself and deserves absolutely nothing, and this limp-wristed statement from the anonymous Grayling proves it.

Like Labour, the Conservatives capitulated to the threat of violence if this film was shown - they appeased militant Islamists and, in doing so, succumbed to the threat that is destroying the West while we look kindly on. Cameron and his sycophants disgust me almost as much as Labour.

Non-jobs News

There's no wonder we can't get anything done in this country.

I complained to National Express about the lack of disabled parking bays at Grantham station. The reply came back today from their Customer Relations Dept. saying, "I can confirm that we are working closely with the SRA, the Rail Passenger's Council and Network Rail to improve station facilities for disabled passengers. I have forwarded a copy of your feedback onto the relevant managers so we can use your comments in our future planning sessions."

Three bloody public bodies to deal with a request for a someone to say either "yes" or "no" to sending a bloke out to the car-park with a pot of yellow paint.

The Rail Passengers Council (actually now renamed in Labour newspeak as 'Passenger Focus') alone has a board of 14 quangocrats and a staff of 40.

God knows how we ever ran an Empire.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

British Jobs for British Workers!

From the Times: "On the day that figures showed the number of people unemployed at a 12-year high, the Office for National Statistics chose to reveal that the number of foreign workers increased by 175,000 to 2.4 million last year while the number of British workers fell by 234,000 to 27 million."

Ministers are said to be "fizzing" with anger at the release of the figures, believing they should have been kept hidden in case.. err... in case... well in case the PM is rumbled, actually.

And Keith Vaz intends to raise concerns about them being made public with the Prime Minister, “The danger is that such information could be misconstrued or misused by those who do not support the view that Britain should be a diverse and multicultural society”, he said.

No, we can't have that, can we. For Gawds sake, don't tell them the truth. I can't help wondering what other 'misconstrueable' evidences of the effects of immigration are being withheld, though - on similarly sensitive grounds.

Labour Heavyweight

Interesting that Labour peer Lord Ahmed (currently on bail awaiting sentence for dangerous driving on the M1) was just now interviewed on the BBC regarding Jacqui's banning of Dutch MP Geert Wilders from entering Britain. For Ahmed it was, in 2005, who hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for anti-Zionist author Israel Shamir.

Shamir's views include urging Jews to drop Judaism and convert to Christianity, belief in the Jewish blood libel, Jewish involvement in recent massacres, that there is a Jewish conspiracy to control the press and, reportedly, also suggested that the large Muslim population in Britain was important to turn the tide of 'Judaic Values' in Britain.

Ahmed claims his intervention over Wilders is, "a victory for the Muslim community". I think he's quite right. Whether free speech is the loser is another matter. There seems to be one rule for him - and another rule for him, too.

What's the Shadow Home Secretary's opinion on all this, I wonder. Zero, I guess... this is just another one of those pesky 'little' issues that nobody really wants to deal with - while all the time, liberties ebb away in the name of appeasing extremists maintaining community coherence.

Ordure, Ordure

Listening to PMQs today was like standing on a crumbling bridge and overhearing a couple of particle physicists arguing over the nature of its matter instead of getting proper engineers in to mend the fucking thing.

I've deleted three blog posts this week... all of which concerned some gripe or other of my own about current affairs. The reason being that I've put up links over on the left to people either working in the public sectors blighted by this incompetent Government or who have the time and more talent than I do, to brilliantly highlight the dangers to our way of life in this country brought about by its corrupt and self-serving attitude.

Nothing I can say, from my own somewhat fortunate and detached situation, can add to the sense of anger contained in their posts. Worse, I sense hopelessness caused by having no focus of opposition due, in my opinion, to the total absence of conviction and lack of clear direction in the Conservative Party.

This morning for example, on BBC FiveLive, Employment Secretary Tony McNulty made mincemeat of his Tory opponent, Theresa May. Yes, even at the start of the deepest recession for 100 years, with unemployment rising to record levels and the economy utterly bust, the doozy couldn't land a blow on Labour. Why? Because just like yesterday's show-trial of the bankers, politicians have become so remote from day-to-day life that theyr'e intent only on their petty Westminster games rather than addressing actual, real-life, down to earth issues.

What exactly is anyone going to do about the abuses of the welfare system, the prison system, the immigration and asylum system, the MPs expenses system, the curbs on free speech and assembly, the filthy and understaffed hospitals, the failing education system, the neutered basic policing? OK then. How many people will lose their jobs in the next two, five, or even ten years and how might this be different under the Tories? I've no idea. None. I take more than the usual interest in politics but I can't hear anyone saying anything that will specifically address specific concerns. Just noise.

The Conservatives in Government is to be wished for, certainly, on the basis that nothing could be worse than Labour. But that's about it. Nobody is representing the basic aspirations of decent people in this country any more. Britain will retain its position in the league for its violent, ill-educated, feckless, shag-happy, obese and clap-ridden TV addicts for as long as they have a vote to be fought over by Parties pandering to them.

We won't improve either economically or socially until we stop taking lofty overviews and start fixing the basics, one by one. It can be done, if the guts are there to do it. I know this for a fact.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Nothing ain't for nothing

I saw the famous accommodation barge last time we went up to the once-thriving, now near-abandoned, fish-docks to stock up (scallops from Chile, prawns from Bangladesh) and thought it was just the mother-ship for the Skegness wind-farm. Hideous thing. What none of us know.. well I don't, is whether these Italian tradesmen are being preferred because they do indeed have specialist skills not available locally or:

(a) work cheap


(b) possess a work-ethic lacking in the local workforce.*

What we do know is that in a free market, workers will travel from low-wage to high-wage economies and not the other way round, as surely as water always flows downhill. And that nobody would live in a rotting hulk moored in snow-blasted Grimsby harbour if they could get the same work for the same money back in Italy. "No discrimination" my arse. Something smells fishy, and it's not just the breeze wafting across the Humber from Hull.

Meanwhile, down here in the Fen end of Lincolnshire... nobody seems to want to strike for the right to freeze their balls off working bent double in a field - no protests from the English in Boston about the loss of cabbage-picking and carrot-sorting jobs to Europeans. Over 20,000 foreigners now live in the town giving it the highest proportion of any in Britain. Coincidentally, it's also the fattest place in Britain with a third of its residents being classed as clinically obese - most of these being those displaced from their traditional manual work and now assisting the local economy by claiming sick benefits.

This next bit is anecdotal-(ish): Each successive wave of immigrants - Portuguese, Poles, Latvians..., when they've been here long enough to qualify, can claim benefits when it gets pushed off the land by the latest arrivals. So effectively, we're paying double the cost of picking the crops... Once in the price of the goods at the shop... then again through taxes. Brilliant.

No wonder the unions are worried. Cold comfort for them from Mandy, who can afford to believe in all this stuff - it all made perfect sense to him when he did his bit for freedom of movement and went to work in Europe at £180,000 pa. Roll on the backlash. Let's hope pet projects like the Olympics site (37% foreign workers) don't get targeted. Oh no.

probably (b)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Hull and Back

I was on my way to the Theatre Royal in Nottingham on Wednesday for Boeing Boeing, a fluffy farce set in the comforting innocence of the 60s. There's a spontaneous shrine where you step off the tram, to a youngster beaten to death outside a nightclub in the early hours of last Sunday morning. Bouquets are piled up against a traffic sign, which itself is covered in graffiti tributes. Letters of condolence and notes addressed FAO the deceased, mostly written in text-speak, mourn his loss. All around it are thoughtfully placed bottles of his favourite tipple (empty), complete with convenient paper cups, to smooth his progress to heaven. And this weekend, hundreds gathered in tribute to his memory; some in cars playing his favourite tracks on their stereos. Dozens, including the Nottm. Forest Football Club Captain, are reportedly having themselves tattooed with his name and date of death.

Without meaning any disrespect to the life cut short, all this could just as well have happened in some distant land and be one of those foreign rituals like when you see Palestinians running along carrying shrouded bodies above their heads. I've become so completely disconnected from urban youth culture that I can only comprehend an event such as random street manslaughter on a basic level, much as I might view the carnage in Gaza with pity and a squeamish horror whilst safe in the knowledge that it's somewhere else entirely. Interesting that they seem to share a belief in an afterlife though.

The vomit, spit and urine-stained pavements of Nottingham are mirrored in Hull, where I was on Friday for a concert by the Halle. Their City Hall is more classical in style than the ornate Victorian Phipps/Matcham interior of the Theatre Royal but the message in the design is much the same - with a relief over the stage showing the Muses paying tribute to Britannia seated on her throne, while the Royal was built (according to its first owners) to "add to the number of those who seek a healthful pleasure in intellectual recreation". Each venue embodies the conscious effort to heighten the public's spiritual wellbeing through art, from an age when it was believed that this was both possible and necessary. We've come a long way from that sentiment.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


In professional wrestling, kayfabe (pronounced [ˈkeɪfeɪb] KAY-fayb) refers to the portrayal of events within the industry as "real", that is, the portrayal of professional wrestling as being not staged or not worked. Wikipedia.

It depends, of course, on the public being a willing participant... willing to connive in the absurdity of what's being portrayed and to allow themselves knowingly to be manipulated accordingly. It's an equal covenant which, when broken, can't be repaired. Once the fiction is admitted, there's no going back. Everything that's been expected to be believed, even the parts that may or may not have contained a germ of truth, appear as no more than a sordid attempt to profit from gullibility.

I haven't blogged since the last trip to Spain - mainly because of idleness but also because having seen what I'd written previously, I found it hard to believe I could have felt a need to comment on serious affairs. Life is so full of opportunities for pleasure, that it seemed wrong to concentrate on matters which, unless I read about them somewhere, barely impact on me at all. Maybe it's our duty to vicariously share the horrors of Palestinians, the war-ravaged Congolese, Sudanese, Ugandans, famished cholera and Aids-ridden Zimbabweans, the downtrodden and oppressed everywhere, the rape of the planet or even the lesser outrages of society within Britain - but I've all but given up. The direct experience of most of us inside the comfortable English bubble is so wonderful, with every enterprise set up to gratify some whim or other that, truly, we've won the Lottery of Life simply by being here.

But anyway as I was saying... Kayfabe. Our Government tells us it's expecting to borrow £60bn this year and a further £100bn next. Many other countries in Europe will be doing much the same. In the US, as we know, Congress famously approved an extra $700bn of borrowing to fund the bail-outs. Obama says he's going to spend a similar amount on New Deal style projects - in addition to the regular Federal deficit of a $trillion or so. So I dunno... how much new Global borrowing does all this add up to? Couple of $trillion? Five trillion.. more? All this on top of an existing debt mountain of $what? So the ever-so-simple thing is - where's it all supposed to be borrowed from? No such sum of money waits, ready to be invested, anywhere in the world. That's bad kayfabe. People would feel cheated if they could be arsed to look into things like that.

What people really want to buy into is being kayfabed into what to drive, wear, eat or watch on TV; what phones and ring-tones to use, films to watch, bands to be a fan of, names to call their kids. Without kayfabe here, they'd have to make their own choices - so that's good kayfabe. It saves people from having to make up their mind what's cool - kayfabe-cool - because they can follow the human herd-instinct and join with millions of the like-minded by keying in to a few simple signals. Buy this and be that, goes the message - and straight away the world defragments for us and we're part of one modern-day tribe or another; no longer isolated.

In other news,
Sunset Boulevard, at the Comedy, is well worth seeing if you can, if only for the towering bravura performance of Kathryn Evans as Norma Desmond. The onstage ensemble play the whole score, as well as act the piece. Just bewilders me that there's so much unknown talent - these people have spent the years I wasted as a youth, learning instruments to professional standard as well as taking dancing and acting classes. They go through a ruthlessly competitive audition process and then work to a standard of attention to detail and public scrutiny that would defeat most of us in our own jobs. All this for a pittance wage and complete insecurity of employment whilst producing something quite magical through their connection with an audience. I'm humbled by admiration for them.