Saturday, 24 June 2017
Friday, 23 June 2017
Sometimes you have to wonder about democracy don't you, or remember what Churchill said about it being the least worst system. Then again we are some way off from the next election, even in the unlikely event that Theresa May fails to do a deal with the DUP and they cut their noses off to spite their faces.
A poll out today says that Chauncey is now seen by a majority as the better prime minister over Theresa May. This seems to be based largely on the fact he is better at talking to grieving members of the public and dispenses hugs. These are clearly great attributes if you are a PM. Maybe he could try it on Angela Merkel. Or Donald Trump. It's almost worth voting for him just to see that.
Theresa May has not had a good couple of weeks of course, but she is by no means suddenly lacking in capability as prime minister. She is just not the colossus of competence and sure footedness we had formerly assumed.
Chauncey on the other hand remains the confused half wit those of us who pay attention have always known. Only 3 weeks ago his MPs considered him a deranged liability. Then they abandoned principle and decided he is a genius, having lost the election, but by a margin that looked respectable. His various solutions to the country's ills remain dangerous and illiterate. He would create a defence and security crisis and bankrupt us. Most of the country saw this at the election. The others just saw the free cash he was promising and voted accordingly.
Now a few more have decided he is their kind of guy because of the hugs. Like I say, sometimes you have to wonder about the great British public and start casting your eye about for property abroad. But this should be concentrating minds in the Conservative Party. Mrs May needs to be replaced sooner rather than later. The smart money now seems to be moving in the direction of David Davis. He would be a good choice, indeed I was disappointed when David Cameron beat him to the leadership. If a coronation could be arranged then it should be done with despatch. Either way when Chauncey is regarded by a cretinous section of the country as the better prime minister then something needs to be done. Do the Tories have a hugger?
The Brexit talks are underway and the French are being as French as they always are, which is to say arrogant, superior and treacherous. They are couching it in reasonable language of course but President Macron's talk of the door always being open to us to rejoin is actually just intended to divide and rule us. It may succeed.
Even those of us who are are and remain ardent leavers have had occasional bouts of remorse or at least of doubt these last 12 months since the referendum. And this has only been made worse since the election result. The remainers, who had been seen off, are now fired up again and promising all kinds of trouble for the government as it seeks to navigate its way through the negotiations and to get it all through parliament without a majority. Both main parties promised Brexit, but Labour has no idea what it stands for since it cannot agree. The Tories are similarly divided and arguing for different versions of Brexit. Add to this the fact that we are probably going to change prime minister some time in the next few weeks or months and we are entering treacherous waters.
Of course if the EU was really serious about wanting to keep us and our 12% of the annual budget in the EU then they would make us a decent offer to keep us in. But that would undermine their precious project. And so we have to play this silly game of demanding a huge divorce settlement and of telling us we are in a different universe during preliminary talks. Yesterday the PM went to Brussels and made a generous offer to give EU citizens in the UK the right to remain here with full rights as UK citizens after Brexit whilst rightly rejecting their more outlandish demands over timing and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Can the EU reciprocate? Can it negotiate in the same spirit? If it wants us to stay then it should make an offer in that kind of vein.
This blog always argued that if the EU had made us a decent offer when it was talking to David Cameron then I could have been won around to staying in the EU. They didn't. I doubt that they are capable of such magnanimity because they are always looking to preserve their union and to forge it ever closer. That is what Britain rejected. It is why, though the Government will have difficulties, we are unlikely to be made a decent enough offer to ever tempt enough of us to want to stay in on the old terms. Different terms? Probably. But they won't be forthcoming.
Thursday, 22 June 2017
Do you get the impression that the election result has gone to Labour's heads a bit? During the election campaign they were on their best behaviour with Chauncey forever denying his worst excesses or unpleasant past. Now you get the impression that he believes his own publicity and he just wants to let himself be himself. They really do believe that they are on the cusp of a great revolution that will sweep the Tories from power and him to Downing Street. All he needs is another big news item to allow him to hug some unsuspecting member of the public and he will be carried aloft into Downing Street. He might even be able to crowdsurf there. In the meantime he doesn't have to bow to the Queen or pretend to engage in conversation with the PM as they walk to the Lords. It's almost a surprise he didn't stay in the Commons with his friend Dennis and ask him to become his new gag writer.
And Labour's over confidence has betrayed itself as they call on illegality or at least the confiscation of property for the sin of being in possession of a level of wealth they find unconscionable. How dare you own a flat you don't live in all the time? Confiscate it. They have also called for huge marches through London including yesterday's day of rage. Hilariously 300 people turned out for this day of rage. It was a day of we would be enraged were the weather not so lovely. That's probably why the Russians had their revolution in October. There is supposed to be a million person march in a couple of weeks time called on by John McDonnell the well known democrat. Perhaps they had best postpone it until the autumn.
Labour are wholly misinterpreting the current mood in Britain. Just because the country became less enamoured of Theresa May and because a certain bovine constituency became more amenable to being bribed by Chauncey and co does not mean that the workers are at last ready to bring revolution to our streets. People are probably fed up of austerity. I accept that. But it does rather presuppose that those of us who have been advocating it have done so because we are economic sado-masochists bent on budget surpluses to give us our kicks.
And ultimately, as we have to keep pointing out, though Labour did indeed do well in the election, the Tories did better. Quite a lot better. It's just that we Tories are not known for our marches. But then, as we saw yesterday, those bloody students may have turned out to vote this time, but they really can't be relied upon to get off their arses twice in a month. Given that they demonstrably have very short memories and clearly weren't paying attention in modern history lessons, it's not at all clear they will be arsed to turn out and vote again at the next election either.
Wednesday, 21 June 2017
What is the point of the Lib Dems? That seems to have been the question the British electorate asked over the election campaign and, presumably, could think of no reasonable response. It wasn't just that Tim Farron was and is about as effective a politician as a jelly blancmange - I doubt most people cared about his views on homosexuality. It was that the Lib Dems have reminded the country of how utterly pointless they are. They told us that they would not enter into coalition with any other party, come to no kind of electoral arrangement. So why bother? Why bother being a party that doesn't aspire to actually governing? Why bother voting for a party and taking seriously its manifesto when they stand no chance of implementing even part of it?
And now they are going through the motions of a leadership election. Chances are that they will end up being led by Vince Cable, a man whose reputation seems to hinge upon him having once said something quite witty about Gordon Brown at PMQs. Oh and he also claims to have predicted the financial crisis of 2008. He didn't.
Now Cable wants to lead his party but only for a couple of years after which he will hand over to Jo Swinson. He has the experience and that is what the party needs apparently. But why? Why does his experience leading a pointless party with very few MPs and zero chance of exercising power make any more sense than merely giving the job to Ms Swinson in the first place? Wouldn't she be just as likely to be as good if not better than a more experienced man, especially given that the Lib Dems have no intention of getting anywhere near power anyway?
The Lib Dems are confused about what democracy means, which is odd given that the word is included in their title. The age old complaint of the third party that the electoral system works against them is rendered moot given that they have no intention of ever using their influence again anyway. We have a hung parliament. We have a nasty extremist Labour Party bent on violent revolution. We have a Conservative Party on the verge of a nervous breakdown or civil war and possibly both. Yet the Lib Dems don't want to use their 12 MPs to influence the direction of the country for fear of being tainted?
There is a reason that Lib Dems are loathed by the other parties and this is it. They are a party that seeks election for election's sake, that says whatever suits it according to circumstance and poses as principled and righteous but whose very raison d'être is compromise and selling out those principles. The Liberal Democrats are neither liberal nor democratic. They serve no purpose. Do people grow up aching to be Liberal Democrat MPs? To what end?
Vince Cable may well end up being his party's next leader if only because the other options are so desperate. But what is the point of him and his party? Their brief period in coalition answered that question. Now they pose as the party opposed to Brexit. Yet they would refuse to any kind of electoral deal to try and influence it. Why? Self preservation. Neither liberal nor democratic is it.
Tuesday, 20 June 2017
I must confess myself mystified by some of the reporting and garment rending with regard to the Finsbury Park mosque attack on Sunday night. This had nothing to do with Islam, of course it didn't. But neither did it have anything to do with the far right. It wasn't really terrorism either. It was one damaged and pathetic man who became angry and bitter and decided, apropos of recent events, to take his anger out on Muslims. He could just as easily have taken it out on another group that might have attracted his ire. If someone had spilt his pint whilst wearing a Chelsea shirt he would probably have headed down the Kings Road.
Of course the politicians rushed to the scene to dole out their usual bromides and platitudes, including a lachrymose Chauncey desperate for someone to hug and the chance to emote some more. How he is enjoying the opportunity to engage in his touchy feely brand of asinine gesture politics. What a pity that he has no answers other than looking tearful and threatening land grabs. It's very noticeable that he went straight to this scene within hours to dish out his honest straightforward bollocks, but just talked in generalities about the other attacks without bothering to go and see them.
The reaction to this latest attack was ridiculously over the top. I suppose it was felt they had to react to this attack the same way as we all reacted to the attacks in Manchester and the 2 in London. Equality of grieving and outrage was strictly enforced.
But it is not really clear that this was an act of terrorism at all. This was a spur of the moment attack by a loser who imagined he was getting vengeance. In reality he was just using it as an excuse. Of course the same was true of the losers who perpetrated the other attacks too. But they had made their intent clear prior to their attacks and indeed had done considerable planning. They had been radicalised and had become extremists. He was just a drunk whose life had gone wrong. This is not to diminish what he did or at least what he tried to do.
Muslims have been expressing fear about how they can go on worshipping and going to their mosques in the light of this and other hate crimes. Well you go on the same way that everyone goes on. You don't let them win. You go on because to do otherwise is to let them win. You go on because there are more of us than them and life goes on. Keep calm and carry on. Here is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that this was an attack on freedom, freedom to observe a religion in this case as opposed to freedom to go out and have a drink or freedom to walk along a bridge, or freedom to attend a pop concert. Freedom comes in many forms. That's why it's called freedom.
And this was not Islamophobia. It was a hatred of Muslims. The two are not the same. Islam is a religion. It is an idea. It happens to be an idea with which I have a number of problems in addition to my problems with other major religions from which Islam is an offshoot and a rather poor imitation. But they are ultimately as bad as each other, albeit only one is currently inspiring credulous people to commit brutal and atavistic murder. I am very anti Islam. I am not anti Muslim. There is a distinction here that needs to be made.
Muslims are not a race. They are people who follow a religion, albeit in very different ways. It is a form of fascism to try and invent something called Islamophobia. This was not a crime of Islamophobia, it was a hate crime against Muslims, all Muslims regardless of what they believe and how fervently they do so. The unthinking cretins who label this Islamophobia undermine our freedom. They may not do so in a murderous way, but it is just as dangerous. Freedom is about being able to criticise and to debate. And yes that means religions too. Labelling things as Islamophobic is the same as trying to shut down criticism, in much the same way that other religions have tried to do throughout our history. We gained the right to be critical of those religions, to do so openly and then to stop believing in them at all. The same is urgently necessary for Islam.
Let us pause for a moment to remember my childhood. Actually the childhood of millions. If, like me, you grew up in the 60s and 70s you will remember fondly Brian Cant who has died at the age of
Brian found fame originally on Playschool and then on PlayAway, a show for slightly older kids and their parents who liked corny jokes.
He will probably be most fondly remembered however for narrating Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley, oft repeated animated programmes centred around their eponymous towns and villages and most famous for the fire station manned by Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub or for the windmill run by Windy Miller.
Cant was hugely popular, in part because he was working at a time when children's TV was dominated by the BBC and ITV when we only had 3 channels to choose from. A survey ten years ago revealed that he was the most popular kids tv presenter of all time, a revelation he was typically bemused and modest about.
It was a simpler time of course and the programmes seem very unsophisticated by modern standards. But perhaps that is why they live on in our affections so long after we all grew up. Kids nowadays don't know what they are missing. And we will all miss Brian Cant.
Monday, 19 June 2017
This cannot go on. Fairly or unfairly - it is a mixture of both but with the former in the clear majority - Theresa May is now seen as toxic: uncaring, unbending, formal and stiff. Her response to the Grenfell inferno has been correct in purely administrative terms but the optics and politics of it have been disastrous.
Chauncey is good at this kind of thing and it showed. His policy ideas were idiotic, juvenile and plain nasty as ever. But it didn't matter. He turned up and he listened and he showed he cared. Theresa May announced money and a full independent, judge-led inquiry. It was all that she could really do. But the fact that she once again opted not to speak to the public, to face their anger, to listen meant that none of this mattered.
The great irony of this is that the woman who once labelled her party the nasty party has now become the embodiment of that. As a consequence, even if she is not doing so already, she should consider her position. She should go into Downing Street, behind that lectern she likes so much, and announce that she is standing down. She should say this to her colleagues first of course in the hope that they will find some way of uniting behind a new leader without the need for a leadership election. The Conservative Party needs to step up and govern. It has a lot to do and it is not doing any of it well.
Theresa May has been found out. She is simply not up to the job. She was perfectly good at running a ministry in which being tough and uncompromising was an advantage. In that job she could hide away and do what she was good at without anyone noticing. You cannot do that as party leader and prime minister and yet that is exactly what she is trying to do. She looks out of her depth. She looks lost. She looks overwhelmed. Someone needs to have a quiet word with her and tell her to quit for her sake, for the Conservative Party's sake and for the sake of the country.
Unless they get a grip (as Boris accused others of lacking) the Conservative Party is in danger of handing the next election to Labour under a left wing extremist bent on class war and property appropriation. This is like 1992 all over again. The Grenfell disaster is a different kind of disaster to Britain's falling out of the ERM, but it has the potential to have the same impact on public opinion. The only remedy is for the party to get a grip and to install in Number 10 someone who is capable of doing all of the job and not just the part with which she is comfortable.
It's worse than that though because this government is rudderless. Theresa May was kept in office precisely because it was felt that it was best to have someone in office during this period of huge upheaval and existential debates and negotiations. Yet her powerlessness means that a vacuum has been created. The Cabinet itself is arguing and briefing against one another. Number 10 is doing nothing about it because it is in no position to do so. And this is only going to get worse. The Government is at the mercy of events. It goes into EU negotiations having conceded the whip hand to the Commission. We are going to get a catastrophically bad deal and the Tories will be blamed for it unless someone takes over and runs the show.
I backed Theresa May to become Prime Minister. I was wrong. She is not up to the job. She is a good and moral person, who cares about her party and her country. I don't doubt for a moment that she has been as moved by the events of Grenfell as the rest of us. But she had the kind of old fashioned British upbringing in which showing your emotions is not exactly frowned upon but regarded as weak. She is crippled by a social awkwardness and lack of personal confidence. She is incapable of being extemporaneous, of dealing with anything that isn't pre-scripted. She likes to take her time, consider matters fully and deeply, which is admirable but not always practical for a party leader and PM. She is not capable of connecting with people, of being witty and charming, of getting people to like her. This is not her fault. But you do have to wonder why someone with this inability to talk to real people who might ask awkward questions or be angry with her imagined she could be a successful leader of her party.
Mrs May should be honest with herself and with the country and admit this, perhaps not in so many words (she is incapable of this anyway) but it needs to be done. Something along the lines of: 'It has become clear to me that my continued presence in this job is impeding good government rather than facilitating it. I am therefore announcing my intention to step down.'
The Cabinet should then announce that it is uniting around Boris as the next PM and invite the parliamentary party to back them. That is the only way of rescuing this situation before it is too late. If absolutely necessary then we will have to have a leadership election, but it should start immediately and should be truncated as much as possible and concluded over the summer.
There were good arguments for keeping Theresa May in power for a while to get on with governing and dealing with the many plates she needs to keep spinning. But spinning is the very thing she has proven to be so disastrously bad at. Theresa May has to go and go now.
Sunday, 18 June 2017
So all has been going really well now for a while hasn't it. God has been making a series of rules and regulations and lots of highly unreasonable demands of his chosen people and thus far, since the unfortunate incident with the golden calf in Exodus, things have been going very well. Unfortunately things are about to go pear-shaped as God has a temper tantrum.
So the long journey was underway as God led, by means of a big cloud, his people to the promised land. But immediately they started to complain about everything, the conditions, the food, the having to carry his big silly tent and commandments around with them. God thus lost his temper and set fire to them. Yep, God is a pyromaniac.
Fortunately there was quite a lot of them and perhaps God ran out of matches, but anyway some of them went to Moses and implored him to help and he beseeched God to put out the fire. So he did. Anything for his pal Moses.
But even after this warning the people kept on complaining. You have to say don't you that these Israelites either weren't very bright or God wasn't very bright for choosing them. Because they kept on complaining about their plight. Why had they left nice cosy Egypt for this life of misery, they said. Actually you have to say they had a point.
They complained about the lack of food. I say again the lack of food. We have just had chapter after tedious chapter of Leviticus telling us in great detail about all of the animal sacrifices that God demanded and yet now they complain about lack of food. Had God and his priests eaten all of the animals, although you have to wonder what the animals were being fed on out there in the desert.
Moses heard them complaining and then he himself went to God to complain about them. No, really. Why did you send me to free this bunch of ingrates he asked. Just kill me now, I've had enough. I can't lead them anymore.
So God decided to give Moses some help. Note that, for now, Moses brother is completely forgotten about. It's almost as if he was inserted later when the story demanded a priestly ancestor.
God told Moses to gather up all of the elders so that he could delegate to them his duties and so that they could deal with the whinging and the complaining. They were to be the world's first middle managers.
God was really angry by now. He would give them meat, he said. They would have so much meat that they would be sick of meat. Moses asked how God would accomplish this out in the desert. God told him that he was God. He can do anything, although not choose a better chosen people apparently, or indeed get them to their promised land quicker to stop them complaining, which would surely have been the better and more expedient option.
And so God told Moses and through Moses the elders what would happen. They prophesied a great meat mountain heading their way. And it came true. Millions of quails descended upon them, tons of them. So many of them that they were piled up on the ground. It was a bit like a Friday night at KFC.
So the people gratefully scooped up the quails and began eating them. But God, being the nasty vengeful, toddler God we all know, got nasty. He visited a plague upon them all and many of them died. That's one hell of a food allergy.