Saturday, 29 December 2012

Still Protesting Too Much About Dawkins

Oh dear, it seems that The Telegraph really has it in for Richard Dawkins, witness this ridiculous piece, albeit in a crowded field, from their Blogs editor Damian Thompson, who writes a column every week that would not look out of place in the Daily Mail. This is not a compliment.

According to Thompson, Dawkins has had a very bad year. Why? Well, he had a momentary lapse of memory whilst appearing on the Today programme. Oh and another scientist, Professor Peter Higgs of Higgs Boson fame has criticised him.

I'm sure that Professor Dawkins is bereft at this appalling run of luck. And now to have the Telegraph's blog's editor on his case will be the final straw. Thompson challenges Dawkins to defend his position, before saying that he should do so on the top of a late night bus. Is this the same best selling author of many books on the subject of god and religion and the de facto spokesman for we aggressive atheists? It is. Dawkins continues to fill the halls (by the bus load) and shift books by the tens of thousands. That's why good Christians hate him so much whilst pretending to pity him. It's nearly as silly as their belief in the infallibility of the Pope, transubstantiation, the virgin birth, the resurrection and the presence in all of our lives of a beneficent god who nevertheless ignores all of our pain and suffering and the needless deaths of millions every year.


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

2012: Review of the Year

The year had barely got underway, and indeed January was only at its halfway point, but already 2012 was supplying us with astonishing and iconic images. One even came from a hermit nation, cut off from the rest of the world.

Strictly speaking, Kim Jong Il died in 2011, see last year's review. But his funeral took place after he had lain in state for a while; time for the adoring multitude to file past his body, although it was later revealed that he would be preserved in perpetuity; an eternal leader chemically wrapped for future generations. The wailing and garment rending that took place amongst the watching crowds, we scarcely needed to be told, was because they were all being watched and would have been punished for showing insufficient grief.

Any doubts about this assumption were despatched when it was revealed that one of the regime, who had dared to be seen smiling and joking during the period of mourning, had been executed by having shells fired at him to obliterate him from the face of the Earth. It was a sign that the new fat leader, Kim Jong-Un, was very much a chip off the old block; it was announced that the families of defectors would be punished for three generations. By the end of the year the new fat leader had gone one better than his father by shooting a 'satellite' into orbit atop a three stage rocket after a less successful attempt in April.

And then came the Costa Concordia, a vast sailing palace that came-a-cropper thanks to the folly of one man: a mullet-haired Italian named Schettino, who brought further disrepute on a nation that had only recently got rid of their bunga bunga prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. It was an event that took place in the calm and pristine waters off Italy's own coast. A spectacular act of reckless stupidity and vanity brought this vast ship against the rocks, toppling it over like a  beached whale. Slowly, amongst the excuses and the pleading, the truth emerged about what had happened, although it still seemed incredible and unbelievable. Essentially, he had been showing off.

Syria was an enduring sore from the off this year, a sign that all was not well with the Arab Spring, which the BBC renamed an uprising and one that had echoes in Egypt where the massacre of Port Said turned a football match into a tribal bloodbath. The Arab League made a half-hearted attempt to intervene and end the slaughter in Syria, but Assad's regime cast aside all decency and propriety as early as February as its determination to cling on created daily bloodshed. The so called international community this time stood by and wrung its hands, or in the case of China and Russia actively vetoed what little was being attempted to end the slaughter. So much for that shibboleth of the left - international law.

As the year came to an end, Assad was clinging on but only just and getting ever more desperate so that he was firing Scuds at his own people. There was even talk of the possibility of chemical weapons. And in Egypt the people once more came on to the streets in protest at a new president who looked as though he was trying to become a dictator. Yet this was the same president who had just intervened in yet another contretemps between Israel and Hamas and brought about a ceasefire.

International politics saw the re-election of botoxed and increasingly vainglorious Putin to the presidency he vacated and handed to his friend for safekeeping. There were protests and Pussy Riots, but the iron hand of the regime prevailed by demanding allegiance and punishing detractors. Later they would accuse America of starting a cold war as Congress pushed through a new law to try and tackle Russia's endemic corruption by banning certain suspects from the land of the free. It was about time. So much for Obama and Clinton's reset button.

And speaking of vanity, France decided to dispense with the services of Nicolas Sarkozy and elected instead the altogether greyer and less interesting President Hollande. They quickly, in fact in record time, tired of him too, notwithstanding his fascinating love life and intemperate girlfriend. By the end of the year there was an exodus of businessmen and wealthy actors, including Gerard Depardieu, who decided they would not pay Hollande's 75% tax rate and so went abroad, if only just across the border to Belgium, in some cases handing over their passports in the process. But at least now Belgium has some famous Belgians, even if it did have to import them.

Here in Britain, our politicians started the year with Dave on a high and his opponent suffering backbench muttering. By the middle of the year Wallace, as I had officially renamed him, was secure in his position having got decent, if unspectacular results in the May elections. The talk by now was of government omnishambles, with a Budget that unraveled faster than you can eat a pasty warmed to a temperature so as not to attract VAT, rail debacles and U turns galore. But then, as so often, Dave somehow managed to pull something out of the bag with his speech at the Conservative conference in Birmingham. In what was widely regarded as the best speech of his career, he managed to sound like a Tory again and to make the argument for Tory policies. By the end of the year, though still well behind in the polls, the Conservatives were feeling more confident and questions were once again being directed at policy-free Labour and their stammering shadow chancellor, although the muttering of discontent at times on the Tory backbenches over Europe and gay marriage meant that Dave was promising a big speech on one and quoting the Bible in his Christmas message. That should do it, Dave.

Britain's spectacular sporting year really got going in May as Chelsea somehow contrived to win the Champions' League final against Bayern Munich. Dave saluted them alongside Angela Merkel and a bemused Barack Obama. Or was he just upset by those sweat patches under Dave's arms?

And the government wasn't alone in suffering omnishambles and a very mixed year. The BBC managed to dumb down the Golden Jubilee, present the glorious Olympics gloriously but then contrive, within a few weeks, to undo all of that with its handling of the Jimmy Savile affair and its aftermath. There were three director generals in the course of the year, with another one to come next year, although this time it looks like the right man. Unfortunately there was only one Chairman of the BBC Trust, the arrogant, multi-employed but barely competent Lord Patten somehow clung to his job in a way that only politicians, quangocrats and limpets can.

But what of those Olympics? We had all been so worried about what might happen it was almost as if we were managing our own expectations. But in the end it was a magnificent triumph. From Danny Boyle's superb, eccentric, witty and imaginative opening ceremony to the superb exploits of the likes of Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Laura Trott, it was a shining light of hope on a drab and austere, rain-soaked island. As Boris would point out at the end of it all, it even had Tube travellers talking to one another. The Olympics united us in a wave of joyful enthusiasm that few would have thought possible. People smiled. Andy Murray smiled at least once. Far from being overshadowed by what had gone on before in Beijing, we showed what a free and creative people can achieve. It was the best Olympics since Sydney and for similar reasons. The people got involved with a real joy and fervour. By the end of it, the billions spent seemed worth every penny. And, despite the G4S security shambles that made us all groan as we contemplated a potential disaster, even this turned out well as troops were deployed alongside the brilliant legions of volunteers, making us proud. It became fashionable to be patriotic. It was only a pity that, at the end of the year, the morons of Northern Ireland were sullying our union flag again with a riot over it.

Musically it was another astonishing tour de force from women. Adele's 21 was still sweeping all before it, she sang the Bond theme, had a baby and around her there were the likes of Emeli Sande, Paloma Faith, Rita Ora, Gabrielle Aplin, Florence and the Machine and of course Ri Ri. I love Ri Ri, something she should bear in mind since she is so unlucky in love. 

It was a year when the changing of the international guard seemed to be there for all to see. America sent its now defunct Spaceshuttle fleet into retirement, relying on the Russians to service the International Space Station and that icon of the space race Neil Armstrong sadly passed away, although at least now he is with the stars he can content himself that he will never have to convince people ever again that yes, they really did go to the Moon. And we cannot speak of space and astronomy without mentioning the wonderful, inspirational Patrick Moore who also died this year.  Meantime China sent its first female astronaut into space.  Then again so did Austria, well Felix Baumgartner jumped to Earth from space, having got there via the much cheaper option of a balloon.

It was an event seen by 8 million people live on YouTube, another sign of our future. But even that paled into insignificance next to the YouTube event of the year - Gangnam Style, now watched by a billion plus. It and 20 Shades of Grey had the world sitting up and taking notice and conventional publishers fretting. This kind of randomness threw everything into confusion. What need of editors and conventional media when we can all do it ourselves?

Not that the new media was always welcome in our lives, or some of them anyway. We had royals naked or semi-naked across the internet, rape victims revealed on Twitter and blameless ex politicians libelled on it too. The law struggled to cope with the new reality, sending people to prison for offending others smacked of the thought police, although at least the Twitter joke trial finally came to a satisfactory conclusion with Paul Chambers conviction overturned. But the internet remained a sometimes chaotic force in our lives greater than anything since the printing press.

Obama got re-elected thanks to his peerless, internet savvy campaign. We had thought that it could be a close election. In the end the system ensured a comfortable Obama win, even if things were tighter in Congress and in the various gubernatorial races. Ultimately Obama was able to convince enough people that he was still the great hope for the nation. Romney only managed to convince white males. The recriminations are still going on in the Republican Party, while Obama wonders if he dare risk trying to wean America off its lunatic, self-destructive gun addiction, which saw massacres in July and December., although not according to the NRA which thought the solution was more guns and armed guards in every school. The world's incredulity increased further. Is this the price of democracy?

Not that our forces of law and order had a better year. There was the ongoing hacking debacle, which saw the likes of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson charged, whereas before the police had told us that there was nothing worth investigating. Yet the huge Leveson report found no police corruption, causing raised eyebrows. Fortunately a more exacting inquiry into the disgusting Hillsborough scandal showed a widespread conspiracy to cover up South Yorkshire Police's culpability by smearing fans. The victims' families were at last vindicated as the badly flawed inquest verdicts were set aside.

And, in a year when we finally managed to deport Abu Hamza, but could still not get rid of Abu Qatada and even had to release him to a new house on the taxpayer, when we had the ECHR telling us we cannot deport one man and that we must give the vote to prisoners, we ended the year discovering that our police force is not above conspiring against Cabinet Ministers and forcing them out of office.

The biggest story of the year however was undoubtedly the weather. Britain started off the year with the BBC portentously warning of drought. Within weeks the heavens had opened and large parts of the country were flooded. They never learn. Some parts of the country have been flooded a dozen times with more to come before 2012 comes to an end. In America New York was hit by a hurricane bring the city that never sleeps to a halt for several days. It produced some of the year's most iconic and unforgettable images.

All in all though it was a year that, all things considered, seemed to go rather well. Britain ended up feeling good about itself, despite the state of the economy. We all loved the Olympics, we seemed to love the royal family for some reason and we definitely loved Jessica, Mo and Bradley. The latter was voted BBC Sports Personality of 2012. We even had a sneaking affection for cry-baby Murray, who came good in the end after blubbing on Centre Court. There was sublime music, silly South Korean music and a new fat leader to laugh at above the 38th parallel. Best of all, near the end of the year, the Nobel Peace Prize was handed to the three presidents of the EU who actually went and picked up the award having correctly decided that this was not a joke. It just looked and felt like one to the rest of us, but that's probably why we don't get their vast salaries, pensions and private jets.

That was 2012: a lot of highs, a lot of lows, but at the end the general feeling that there is much to be optimistic about. What more can you ask of a year really?

Christmas Interlude

A Thought For Christmas

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas

This blog will keep going over the Christmas period but intermittently and largely in the form of musical interludes unless something big happens. My review of the year will however be posted tomorrow. All part of the service.

In the meantime, whether you are a Christian or not - and, as the census revealed, an increasing number of us are not or annoy Christians by going along just to enjoy the ambience and the carols - have a very merry Christmas. There's no reason why you shouldn't. After all it all started with the pagans in the first place. They knew how to enjoy themselves those pagans. I think we missed a trick there.

Richard Dawkins at Christmas

It has become traditional at this time of year for Professor Richard Dawkins to wind up the religious. He's terribly good at it. But then it is rather easy. Take this blog post by Christina Odone, who is in danger of protesting a little too much. Professor Dawkins has this weekend been winding up Catholics at the time of this their special made up festival. Christina, by the way, is a Catholic.

Like a turkey, says Ms Odone, Dawkins tends to crop up at Christmas. And he does, it's true. Dawkins is now at least as well known for his well argued and thus, if you are that way inclined, rather irritating atheism. That is why they call him an aggressive atheist. That is why Ms Odone goes to the trouble of writing a blog post about him despite the fact that, according to her, he no longer has the clout that he once had. This is because his perfectly reasonable comments about Catholics being guilty of other psychological forms of child abuse in addition to priests fondling girls or buggering little boys have not been reported elsewhere. QED, says Ms Odone, The world no longer cares about Dawkins' views. You cling to that if you like Christina, if it gives you comfort. I can't help noticing however that you don't even attempt to counter the professor's arguments, preferring to play the man.

You see the reason that the religious find the likes of Dawkins and the late, great Christopher Hitchens so annoying, whilst of course pretending otherwise, is that, deep down, in places they don't like to admit exist (probably sexual organs to feel guilty about if they are Catholics) they know that he is right, or at least the more intelligent ones do.  They are perfectly well aware of the flaws in their religion and the utter absurdity of their beliefs, of the overwhelming evidence that the Bible is make believe and that their faith can be explained in simple psychological terms based on empirical and anthropological studies. That is why they get so angry when someone calmly, rationally and with reams of evidence points this out. Dawkins is a scientist and so he deploys the scientific method on religion. This drives them nuts.

And the reason they are especially touchy about all of this at this time of year is that they know that for most people Christmas is not about the birth of their lord and saviour, it is an excuse for a holiday and a party. They get annoyed that some people, most of them actually, tend to go to carol services just because of the nice music and the ambience. Dawkins himself has been known to attend. Christmas is commercial, gaudy and little to do with religion. That's why we like it. This drives Christians to distraction, although, since they stole the whole idea in the first place, one wonders why they should worry that atheists and those who simply don't care have turned it into something else. It's the usual story with the religion, they are not content with celebrating something themselves, they have to impose it on others too and get annoyed when we choose to do things of which they disapprove.

Richard Dawkins is absolutely right to keep evangelising for rationality and for the human race to grow up and get real about life, the universe and everything. He is right to point out how much damage religions can do, Catholicism in particular. Odone bleats about having her feelings and sensitivities respected. But that old trick won't work anymore. If it's okay for Christians to evangelise and call the rest of us sinners then why shouldn't we return the compliment?

Odone cleaves to the idea that Dawkins is on his last legs, which isn't very Christian is it? But the ideas he espouses so eloquently are gaining ground and she knows it. That's why she tried to put a ridiculous gloss on the census figures for religion just last week, claiming, ludicrously, that they proved that Britain is still a god-fearing country. She mentioned Dawkins in that too, although, curiously, she neglected to mention that the good prof has done a survey himself in which he proved that those who call themselves religious in surveys like the census do so out of habit and don't actually attend or in any way observe their religion. Britain is secular, if not actively atheist.

I shall celebrate Christmas much as most people will tomorrow. I will give gifts to my family, eat and drink and watch TV. I might go for a walk. God will not enter my mind. The vast majority in Britain will do exactly the same. Religion is losing its hold on our lives. It's proponents are reduced to hoping that atheism's greatest spokesman may soon fall silent as time catches up with him. Is that the good news their posters keep telling us about?

Merry Christmas!

Not At Home With the Windsors

It seems that William and Kate are set to spend their Christmas at the Middletons rather than with the  Windsors at Sandringham. Why would they do such a thing? Well probably because they want to enjoy themselves without having to worry about all of that bowing and deference and paying attention to who outranks whom at any one time according to who is in the room. It could get exhausting during a game of hide and seek for instance.

Maybe they just want to slouch in front of the tele. Maybe they want to watch something else at 3 0 Clock like most of the rest of the nation. Maybe they don't want to go to church. Maybe the Middletons are just more fun and time in their home is more relaxing, especially as they will have Pippa with them and she knows so much about throwing a great party that she even wrote a book full of handy tips.

I don't think any of that is hard to imagine is it? Christmas is a trial for anyone forced to spend it with family and in laws and abide by their rules. Imagine having to spend it with someone to whom rules and even laws literally don't apply and who, as the Cabinet proved last week, it is impossible to buy a gift for.

Saturday, 22 December 2012


The NRA - The Enlightened Path to Peace

I have seen the light. I now realise that my reaction to the events last week in a sleepy and peaceful town in Connecticut were entirely wrong. My eyes have been opened by the NRA. If only the world had more guns. If only we could all be as clear sighted as Wayne LaPierre and his freedom loving associates. Clearly the massacre of Newtown had nothing to do with the fact that an unbalanced young man barely out of his teens had access to weapons that would not have looked out of place in Afghanistan. The problem was in fact that this school was not protected by a heavily armed militia. Indeed if only all Americans had access to such weapons for defence America would be the most peaceful nation on Earth. I'm sure our truncheon wielding police are desperate for the opportunity to be as heavily armed as their colleagues who guard our airports, Parliament and indeed Downing Street. Why oh why must we be so blinkered and lily-livered?

The theories have been coming thick and fast this week about why what happened did happen. But it was all so obvious when we stop to think about it. It wasn't the fact that god disapproves of gays, or our lack of piety and prayer. It was because some of our children are playing too many video games preventing them from praying only to go berserk. Then, in the absence of a national register of the mentally unstable, these lunatics are free to go out and slaughter the innocent because they aren't armed to the teeth. Arm them all I say. Give guns to kindergarten children if necessary. Better to be safe than sorry.

Indeed, when you think about it, this approach to peace would work on an international scale. We've got it all wrong by trying to prevent the likes of North Korea and Iran from getting nukes. Give every state the bomb and world peace will inevitably follow. I can't think why we didn't think of it before. The NRA has shown us the way to peace in our time.

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End?

As you will be aware, the world is coming to an end today, unless of course you are a BBC executive in which case you will be shuffled sideways to an alternate universe. I want to assure you that this, and this alone, is the reason why I didn't send you a Christmas card.

Still at least we are going out on a high. 2012 has been a great year. Yes there has been no growth and things have been pretty shambolic from time to time, but Britain ends the year nevertheless feeling quite good about itself. Even the lousy weather has failed to get us down.

So this may be my last ever post. If it isn't then I shall be having a few days off. I shall leave a few messages here and there and some comedy and music to keep you occupied in the meantime. And then, some time next week, if we are all spared, I shall post my review of 2012. Merry Christmas, and, if we live to see it, a very happy 2013. Don't worry too much about the 13 bit. The Mayans didn't.

Foodbank Britain

Labour made great play during this week's PMQs of the current phenomenon of thousands of people needing to go to food banks to feed their families.

Well there are a number of responses to this most dishonest of attacks, many of them better than the one David Cameron used as he invoked his Big Society idea.

First, as Isabel Hardman pointed out in The Spectator, the phenomenon of food banks is not a new one of the Cameron years. They were first set up in 2000 during the Blair/Brown illusory boom and  have been multiplying ever since, long before the boom turned to bust and even during the time Labour was pledged to eradicate child poverty by giving familes a couple of quid extra to get them above some arbitrarily drawn poverty line.

None of this is to diminish the appalling failure that food banks point to. But what is the solution? Wallace of course offered none. He is like the doctor who offers lots of sympathy but can think of no cure.

Because we have tried Labour's cure. That is to hand people ever more money. But simply handing the poor a little more money does not solve the problem. At best it just kicks it down the road until the money dries up as we are now finding.

The problem with the great Blair/Brown boom was that it was an illusion built on borrowing, spending and a massive influx of immigrants. Ninety per cent of all of the new jobs created under Blair/Brown were taken by immigrants. Meantime benefits were handed out to millions of Britons trapping them in a state of dependency, worklessness and with no skills or work experience.

And it is only work that will extract us from this problem. We can come up with all of the emotive Dickens comparisons we like but ultimately taxing and spending will only make matters worse. Or has Labour forgotten already the last decade?

Look around the world at what was happening during that lost decade here. Countries like China, India, Brazil and many more were bringing millions out of poverty by giving them jobs. This is a miracle, not of state provision and welfare but of capitalism doing what it does best. It's often not pretty and often lacking in sentiment as those whose jobs have been exported abroad can attest, but it is undeniable nevertheless.

But Labour's policies and their bleeding heart tendencies will only make matters worse. We know this because they already have. People are using food banks not because of the failures of the welfare state but because they created a welfare state that sucks the life out of our economy instead of providing a safety net as was originally intended. It has become a way of life for all too many. Yet Labour attack the hardly revolutionary idea that benefits should not be uprated by more than those who are working can expect. That is the very least that is needed.

Despite Labour's efforts and economic illiteracy, our economy is still creating jobs, still remarkably creative and robust. But we have to make it cheaper to employ people if we are going to grow. We have to make this the workshop of the world again. We have to educate people properly and that means   teaching them the hard lesson that you have to work your way in the world and even more so as it becomes ever more competitive.

Yes it is shocking that people cannot afford to feed themselves or to turn on the heat. But the solutions offered by Labour are actually the cause of the problem. The government is doing the right thing by taking the low paid out of tax to make it pay and by trying to reform our out of control benefits system. Yet Labour fights them every step of the way, they even created the ludicrous notion of the universal benefit so that those claiming can be joined by the middle classes in the state's largesse so that the poor loves don't feel different and wretched.

We cannot afford this classic lefty nonsense. We need to make hard choices and to tell it like it is. Tax and spend is a short cut to exporting jobs and creating ever more dependency. As so often the party of the working man actively prevents him from doing so.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Our Broken, Lying Police Force

Channel 4 last night published the e-mail, purporting to be from a member of the public which supported and corroborated the story given by the police in their logs in which we should have so much faith. You can read the e-mail here.

I unfortunately had to have contact with a member of the Met last year complaining about an assault. And that is why, having read this e-mail, I can say that it almost certainly is written by a serving member of the Met. How can I tell? Thanks to the appalling spelling and grammar and the tendentious way it is written. It could almost be the sub literate buffoon who took my complaint, asked me to tell him the full story and then told me it was beyond his powers of writing and to be more concise. He also told me, by the way, that he frequently didn't understand many of the e-mails sent to him by his superiors as they used big words.

The press, in a post Leveson state of fury, erupted angrily yesterday at the news that a police officer had been arrested over the Mitchell affair. Yet the investigation is about the fact that he seems to have concocted a story and claimed to have been at Downing Street when he clearly wasn't. It is true that there often are tourists outside the gates that gave Gategate its name, although whether any would have recognised the chief whip is questionable. But, as CCTV shows, there weren't any on this occasion. There also seems to be little evidence of Mitchell engaged in the kind of foul mouthed tirade that has been described.

On occasion after occasion in recent years our police, the service so many of us feel obliged to believe and trust has betrayed that instinct. We have been lied to on so many occasions that that trust is now damaged, possibly irreparably.

Just this week the verdict of the Hillsborough inquests has been set aside. This has happened because that police force engaged in a colossal conspiracy to cover up and protect itself by traducing the reputations of blameless men and women who had just gone to see a football match. This was the most egregious example of police malpractice but by no means alone. Stephen Lawrence, Jean Charles De Menezes, Lance Corporal Aspinall, Ian Tomlinson. These are all examples of the police covering up only to be caught out by evidence which contradicted their institutionalised lying. Thank god for the sake of British justice we live in a time of the camera phone.

I am sure that many serving police officers and ex officerz will be sickened by what has happened. It is only more regrettable that it has taken this happening to a Cabinet Minister to bring this out for all to see. Our police are tribal in their allegiance to one another. That is probably only to be expected. But their first allegiance should be to the law and to the public they serve. Only a month ago we had elections for new police commissoners. It is to be hoped that they will now prove their worth by making the police more accountable to those they purport to serve and to regain our trust. But we should all be asking the question now about Leveson. Should the Met have been absolved by him or was their corruption whitewashed?

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

PMQs 19th December 2012 - The Bah Humbug Edition

One of the things I think we all admire about politicians is their ability to lecture us whilst pretending that the problems they claim to be able to solve were nothing to do with them. This is particularly true of the Labour Party. Most egregiously of course this is to do with the economy. Their ability to pretend that there was no problem with a giant deficit, that it wasn't stuctural is now legendary. Their solution of spending even more is beyond satire. When they become irate about every spending cut one cannot help but stare in wonder. Now they are becoming self righteously indignant that the government is not increasing benefits above the rate of inflation.

The Conservatives released a poster campaign about this at the weekend, about Labour being on the side of those on benefits rather than the so called strivers. Labour cried foul. But, as Dan Hodges pointed out here, that is what Labour stand for. It is actually their official policy. It stands out because they haven't got many.

But before all of this Wallace made a speech on immigration last week. No, really. He did. Was this some Damascene conversion, an acknowledgement that those branded racist had been right all along? Well that was the intended perception. But do we believe it? Or is it just a bit of masochism to try and repair the damage, like when Alastair Campbell told Blair that he would have to go and get a good kicking from John Humphries to repair the damage done by taking a million quid from Bernie Ecclestone?

This was Wallace telling us he is a pretty straight sort of guy. Oh and he's the son of an immigrant too. We're all one nation now you know, it's just that it's got a bit crowded thanks to Labour who always think they know best and believe in democracy as long as they don't have to pay attention to what we all think. Just vote them into their modern day rotten boroughs up north and leave them to it.

Elsewhere this week, Nick Clegg had a relaunch. It was the fifth anniversary of his leadership and he wanted to tell us all what a grand job he is doing keeping those wicked Tories in check. His strategy seems to be that it is a dirty job being in cahoots with Tories but someone has to do it. And so he stepped up. They made him do that to students, these modern day Scrooges. Honest gov. If it hadn't been for him they would have been shoved up chimneys whilst shouting humbug. Gawd bless him! Given the time of year, perhaps we should call him Little Saint Nick.

Oh and Dave went to a Europe summit last week, his seventh, where they agreed to have another meeting. Little Saint Nick probably thinks this was a landmark moment. Lib Dems love Europe. Tories hate it. Boo. Hiss. If only everyone could be so grounded and realistic as those Lib Dems. You know, the party currently fourth in the opinion polls and struggling to hang on to its deposit at by elections.

And so to PMQs, the last of 2012.

Wallace decided to try and look statesmanlike for the first couple of questions with regard to the announcement, which at this stage hadn't actually taken place, that Britain is at last withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. These sort of sessions are always about appearances. No information was really sought or given that wasn't already known. They just agreed with each other, adopted grave countenances and the house was suitably sombre. But even if anything newsworthy had happened I found myself mesmerised by the pudgy face of Ed Balls, or Nelson Muntz as we have lately been calling him. He was trying to look serious. But without the silly expressions and the hand gestures he looked even more like Churchill the insurance dog, albeit rather less cuddly. Someone throw him a bone. Or one of George Osborne's bones.

But then, fortunately, Wallace, who can't stay statesmanlike for too long, decided to take the opportunity of the season and change the subject. There followed the beginning of a concerted effort on the part of Labour to go all Dickensian. Wallace, accompanied by nods from his nodding dog companion, asked how Dave felt about the increasing need of people in this country to rely on food banks. Cameron shot back that this was a good example of his Big Society. He's been seeking one for ages. Wallace gave that look he saves for these occasions and probably practices in the mirror or over dinner with Justine (lucky girl). It is apt to make anyone who sees it giggle. It's supposed to make him look like a disapproving schoolmaster confronted by insubordination. It actually makes him look like someone who has eaten too many sprouts.

 He revealed a stunning statistic: apparently two out of three teachers 'know a colleague' who has given food or cash to famished children. Dave didn't stop to analyse this bizarre statistic. Two our of three know a colleague? Where the hell did he get that from? And who made it up?

Instead of ridiculing this bizarre statement, Dave was sorry about the situation but told us the government was doing what it could. At this Wallace, ever dependable, chose to talk about tax cuts for the rich, you know the tax cut down to a level still 5% above that which Labour taxed 'the rich' for their entire tenure in government. Dave was having none of it. It wouldn't be Christmas without the repeats he said.

But, with Wallace out of ammunition and Dave having reeled off a list of government measures, it was over to Labour's ghosts of Christmas present to keep going with the theme and with a few more dodgy statistics to boot.  A couple talked of fuel poverty, Jack Dromey who seems to crop up a lot at PMQs for some reason, spoke of homelessness. Others made dodgy predictions about impending female worklessness thanks to the universal credit, another asked about Cameron's local hunt being beastly to cuddly animals and one made the Dickensian theme explicit by actually using the author's name and alleging that we will all soon be in workhouses.

This is the modern Labour Party, back in its comfort zone, talking about poverty and heartless Tories and apparently having forgotten that they left more people in poverty and fuel poverty than when they entered government and that 90% of the jobs created under them went to foreigners. Nothing to do with them though. It's all because of Scrooge's insistence on not turning the nation into a Micawber and living on promissory notes.

But Dave was on good form today. He ignored the bleeding heart sanctimony and hypocrisy of Labour and their ridiculous caricature of his government and party. Labour however seem to think that this is a winner and that if they tell us we are miserable and suffering we will believe them. It's a cheery note on which to end the year, one in which Labour has been riding high in the polls, the government has suffered disaster after disaster but one in which the country rediscovered its mojo in a terrific Olympics and Jubilee and in which the economy seems to have shown signs of recovery. Labour thinks it just needs to invoke the ghosts of Christmas past. It has to hope that the ghost of next year's Christmas doesn't have a happier tale of growth and further decreases in unemployment to tell. What would they say then?

And that's it for 2012. PMQs returns on 9th January. In the meantime you can see all of my reviews for this year by clicking here.  Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

UKIP - Democracy In Action

It is hardly surprising is it that UKIP are doing well in the polls. They have become the default protest party now that the Lib Dems are in government and showing that, once there, it is not quite so easy to be all things to all people. It's terribly amusing watching Nick Clegg squirm and try to be in government and opposition all at the same time. Read what he said in that relaunch speech and try to understand what he actually stands for. It seems to be bland soundbites and sounding reasonable without actually saying anything.

But, for all that I agree with them on the EU, UKIP is not a serious party. They are a one man party for a start. Look what happened when Nigel Farage stood down as leader and the hapless Lord Pearson took over. Their policies, such as they were, simply did not stand up to analysis. They were, in short, like a right of centre version of the Lib Dems, a pressure valve for the discontented and nothing more. Pearson was effectively eviscerated every time he appeared on television to explain himself, in particular when UKIP had a policy of a burqa ban.

Not that such parties do not have a role in British politics. This is a chance for those of us who have been ignored on Europe in particular to show our disgust for the consensus that cosily exists between the main parties. It is the existence of the likes of UKIP that is forcing the Tories to talk tough on the ECHR and Europe and for Labour to try and kid us that they have suddenly seen the light on immigration and to take an opportunistically tough line on EU budget negotiations. It's noticeable that this bounce in UKIP fortunes follows last week's census news.

UKIP will almost certainly do spectacularly well in the European elections in 2014. But that will be it. Once an election, a proper one that people actually care about, is on the cards the legions will return to the major parties, especially if David Cameron pulls his finger out and makes a decent offer to Euro sceptics, or the majority of British voters as we prefer to be known.

David Cameron can, with some justification, argue that he is currently constrained by being in government with Lib Dems. The reason he is in this position is that UKIP cost him a majority. Thus those who are frustrated by current policy would be just undermining our own desires by voting UKIP in a general election. None of this means that the polls are wrong or that those who have voted UKIP in recent by-elections are misguided. I recommended they do precisely that. But ultimately UKIP is not the answer. It remains to be seen if David Cameron at the head of the Conservative Party is. Over to you, Dave.

The Fat Leader's Immaculate Conception

Joyous news. The fat leader has a fat wife. Or Ri Sol-Ju may be pregnant. Expect an announcement soon, one that will be even more rapturous, at least in North Korea, than the reception given to Kate when William knocked her up. They will make the Daily Mail look reserved.

Of course the fat leader's wife would not fall prey to anything as decadent and lily-livered  as morning sickness. And the baby was probably conceived on a mountain-top at the end of a rainbow. And, unlike we degenerates in the west, there is no need to pass laws ensuring that this baby will inherit. They will wait to see what he or she is like first before ensuring the succession. Kim himself was a younger son.  They must ensure that he is wise, can write multiple operas, work 28 hour days and has the looks and charisma of his father. But the baby has started well - it's reported that he or she is already heavier and taller than many of his emaciated countrymen.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Never Ending Story of School Massacres

The events in Connecticut on Friday were awful, horrendous and heart-breaking. The shock of America and indeed the rest of the world that this has happened yet again is palpable and reflected in the acres of  coverage. But, and this cannot be stressed enough, that coverage just ensures that, for all of the words, for all of the grief, for all of the promises of action, this will happen again. And soon.

Why? Because this is a nation that allows a woman, regardless of whether she was a god fearing, law abiding citizen or not, to own five guns perfectly legally. Moreover, one of those guns was a sem-automatic assault rifl,e capable of firing hundreds of rounds in a few minutes. How can this kind of lunacy be defended under an ancient constitutional rule by a nation of farmers? How can there be any doubt that action should be taken urgently?

When a massacre similar to this happened in the similarly sleepy town of Dunblane in Scotland the reaction was of similar shock. But here it was if anything greater because it was a genuinely unprecedented event. We are not immune to these events in the UK, but on average they happen once a decade in Hungerford, Dunblane and most recently in Cheshire.  But in America this happens every few months. We have scarcely got over the last lunatic who walked into a cinema in Colorado with guns blazing, just last July.

But the main reason this happens is because going on a last blaze of glory shoot 'em up is a remarkably common fantasy, even amongst well adjusted people who would never dream of actually going through with it, although admittedly doing this to kindergarten age children is unusual. When you have teenagers with all of their angst, petty rivalries and resentments and ready access to deadly weapons you have a potentially explosive mix.

The perpetrator of this latest atrocity is the standard oddball loner, someone who found it difficult to talk to people and who was undoubtedly harbouring all kinds of inner demons. He will almost certainly have planned this, perhaps intially only semi-seriously. He was unremarkable and wanted to be remarkable, to go out in a blaze of glory. Having guns available, there was always a chance that it could happen.

In his own warped world, Adam Lanza is now a hero alongside other mass-murder perpetrators, from Anders Breivik, Seung Hui Cho to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold of Columbine infamy, the arguable start of this appalling modern trend. It's almost always against schools or colleges, almost always ends in the suicide of the shooter and almost always turns out to be motiveless if analysed rationally. We will probably never know exactly what imagined slight sparked this tragedy. All we can be sure of is that the publicity will ensure that somewhere, some similarly damaged individual will be watching and admiring, and, unless the politicians do something, planning his own vengeance on his own tormentors unless they cut him some slack.

Obama is making all the right noises on this issue. But he has to keep the pressure up. As a second term president he should make this his attempt at a lasting legacy. Even if he can just restrict people to revolvers rather than these idiotic instruments of mass murder, he could take his place among the greats.

Bradley Wiggins: Sports Personality 2012

Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins, BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012. He is a worthy winner in a year of triumph for British sport in general.

As usual I wanted Jessica Ennis to win, and not entirely for reasons to do with sport. But even if we leave aside her general loveliness and beauty, she too would have been a worthy winner. Yet second place this year, in a crowded field, is as good as a win. She was the face of London 2012, and, let's face it, the body too.

And also, in a week when the debate, sparked dishonestly by the leader of the Labour Party, has turned to immigration, she is the modern, inclusive, mixed race face of Britain too. Oh, and didn't Denise Lewis look stunning again tonight? God I love her.

Friday, 14 December 2012

This Crowded Sceptred Isle

Every evening, between 7 and 8, in one corner of Lincoln's Inn Fields in central London, a group of men, they are almost all men, gather. Near the appointed time, and unprompted by anyone, these people start spontaneously arranging themselves into a couple of long, snaking queues. At first it is unclear what it is they are queueing for. They are waiting for something, patiently and almost silently except for the susurration of quiet conversation and the occasional shout as that conversation turns more rowdy. It's a testament to a great British tradition - the queue for no apparent reason.

Eventually however, just as the queues reach their maximum length as more and more arrivals join them, the reason becomes clear. A couple of cars, SUVs or vans appear. From out of them emerge half a dozen people, armed with large vats filled with food. They are here to feed London's homeless. Men and women from various organisations, predominantly churches and charities, arrive and set up store, armed with benign and kind smiles which occasionally turn into momentary frowns of shock as they hear some of the language their customers utter.

It's an astonishing sight. The vans arrive and the queues join up with them. Paper plates are handed out along with a plastic fork and hot food is shoveled on to them. The nightly dance of the homeless begins. They reach the front of the queue, receive their food and then, eating it as they walk, shuffle towards the back of the other queue for their second hand out of the evening.

It's a sight repeated across various parts of London, although this is the biggest and most popular. In other places old donated sandwiches are handed out, in others tea and coffee. Once fed they melt away to their doorways, subways, train and coach stations for the night. In the morning they will probably go off to one of the many day centres around the capital where they might be able to get another meal. Food is not a problem for the homeless. They are often fed better than those with a roof over their heads struggling to pay bills.

But it is the accents of these men and women that really demands attention. These are not just Britain's homeless. These are the international homeless, mostly European. We are now attracting to our shores not only those seeking work but also the waifs and strays of the continent looking for a handout, free food, free second hand clothes and, if they are lucky, free housing too. The next time you buy a copy of The Big Issue ask where the vendor is from. There is a good chance it will be Poland, maybe Spain, even Italy.

The numbers of international homeless have grown to such an extent that the various homeless advice services and day centres offer whole days specifically tailored for east Europeans. They employ Poles to speak their language in a kind of economic cycle nobody could ever have predicted. As the European economy continues to struggle it will only get worse. Next year these legions of economic migrants will be joined by those from Romania and Bulgaria, given the right to come anywhere they please by idiot politicians with a dream of a united Europe but no thought for consequences.

Earlier this week the nation was less than startled to have all of this officially confirmed by the census. The uncontrolled immigration that Labour presided over and which we must allow thanks to our membership of the EU, was there in black and white for all to see. An increase of 3 million in just ten years. It's no wonder some of them have to live on the street. But then, since they are fed, given free advice and often, after hardly working if at all, handed free housing, who can really blame them?

But at what point will the politicians call a halt to this ongoing experiment? At what point will they tell people that they cannot just come to Britain on spec in the hope of work, food and shelter? At what point will they prevent people from claiming benefits in this country or burdening our public services having paid nothing for it?

What is it about British politicians that they must do everything unilaterally? They have this bizarre attitude that, if Britain sets an example, the rest of the world will follow. In everything from open trade and markets, the environment, human rights to open borders we permit the rest of the world to take advantage of us and leach off us.

And we have heard all of the standard arguments this week. Lefties have told us that immigration enriches us all, both economically and culturally. Well in the latter sense perhaps, but economically it is a nonsense. All that has happened is that we have had an invasion of those willing to work for low wages and to be exploited whilst overstretching schools and hospitals and other public services. The same people who complain about poverty, low wages and unemployment for so many and bemoan cuts to welfare cannot or will not see that it is their dogmatic policies of an open door that  creates those conditions. And of course employers are keen on this. Immigrants starting out in a new country will inevitably he harder working than those who know their rights and resent being offered low wages, wages that need not increase because the pool of those willing to accept them has expanded. And of course they want to import people from abroad with ready made skills requiring no training.  It's cheaper, quicker and easier. But why do we let them? Training is part of their contract with those they employ and in the nation in which they employ them.

And, in this crowded little island that is hardly building at present, where are these millions supposed to be living? Is it any wonder that houses have become prohibitively expensive and that rents too are out of reach for hundreds of thousands across London and the south east?

The only positive outcome of these figures this week is that we can at last talk about the issue without being accused of being racist. But ultimately there remains little we can do to address the real damage done to our society and its finances. We are having to cut back on our welfare state but are only scratching the surface. Inevitably we will have to cut back on welfare and introduce new rules of eligibility. But why didn't we do this before? There is no way we will be able to stomach changing the rules retrospectively to take benefits off people who arrived on these shores and are housed and fed at our expense having never paid a penny in contributions. Meantime we will start taking benefits off those who paid in all their lives and increase taxes on the middle classes, thus making us less competitive in the world.

As we debate and maybe even vote on our membership of the EU, it is this aspect most of all that should cause us to pause for thought. Labour, probably deliberately for entirely cynical reasons, decided to allow uncontrolled immigration into the country and lost control of our borders. But, as the present government has found, it is the EU that is the real problem. It is one thing to be open and welcoming and to enjoy the benefits of a more diverse and cosmopolitan society. But we have to exercise some form of control, we simply cannot afford to be the default choice of the world for emigration. We are not America. We do not have the huge empty spaces to accommodate this level of immigration. Our economy is coping remarkably well and generating many new jobs. But, though unemployment is falling, it remains unacceptably high. Yet there are less people unemployed now than we have absorbed into the country these last ten years. Why aren't people furious about that?

Would it be unreasonable at this juncture to simply call a halt for a while, to say that we need a pause to build, generate jobs for those already here and to say that, for a while, other countries must accept the world's refugees while we deal with those we already have? Would it be unreasonable to do so on our terms with the people being consulted this time? That is the best argument for us getting power back and getting out of the EU.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

North Korea Hails The Fat Leader

Apparently this North Korean newsreader extolling the virtues of her bankrupt state and its fat leader is now an internet hit. I'm sure he and his crackpot regime will be very pleased. Despite his western education, the fat leader seems unaware of irony and will probably believe that the video is being watched by people as thrilled as they are that they are finally able to send a three stage rocket into space 40 years after Apollo and while their people are reduced to eating frogs and grass when the evil capitalists refuse to send them any food. North Korea and China also recently took seriously a satirical suggestion that the fat leader is the sexiest man on Earth. Then again when you are chubby and well fed in a nation that is permanently emaciated it probably does qualify one as sexy. He's rather like some member of our own aristocracy in the 18th century I suppose. And he did inherit his position.

Of course this publicity about the rocket launch is all part of the fat leader's plan. He is taking a leaf out of his fruitcake father's diplomatic book of tricks and hopes that this will persuade their neighbours to reopen talks for fear of what terrible revenge the DPRK might visit upon them with one of their leader's toy rockets.

But should we? Should we be afraid? Or simply amused? This is a nation whose total economy is worth about a quarter of what we spend annually on welfare. It has taken them several attempts to get this rocket right and probably an appreciable portion of that puny GDP. It might have eaten into the fat leader's cognac budget. It's certainly increased the likelihood of his people starving. All in all those laughing at them on the internet might have a point. There's more chance that the world will come to an end thanks to the Mayans than at the hands of the fat leader.


It seems, just to add to the joke, that the satellite put into orbit is now tumbling back to Earth. Will that make the news?

Free Press? Ask Maria Miller

Oh dear, and things were going so well. Well, quite well anyway. But Dave has only himself to blame. The heir to Blair has inherited one trait from his lustrous predecessor, his inability to spot decent talent, inability to promote those outside his close circle and spectacular inability to perform a decent reshuffle. We saw it with his choice of a new chief whip, who lasted days in the job, was defended by Number 10 but then had to go over Gategate. Now it is the beginning of the end of the slightly dim Maria Miller, Culture Secretary and the woman charged with navigating her way through the post Leveson morass.

Mrs Miller has been caught out using taxpayers money to house her parents in a manner that looks remarkably similar to that which brought down Tony McNulty in the last Labour government when the expenses scandal was at its height. Mrs Miller has today mounted a cack handed fightback which, in the best traditions of this government, has made matters worse. Oh, and her special adviser even threatened The Daily Telegraph about the story with a nudge and a wink about press regulation. No, really. She should be sacked for that piece of crass stupidity alone, although at least she has provided proof of why we need a free and unregulated press beyond the control of cynical and at times desperate and slightly stupid politicians and their advisers.

Get rid of her now, Dave. Look decisive. You'll only regret not doing it now when she walks the plank in a week or so. It's Christmas, send her off to spend more time with her family in her taxpayer funded home.

The Dash for Frack

Predictably, the green meanies are up in arms about the government's announcement that we are to explore the possibility of fracrking our way to some semblance of energy security. Build more windfarms is their default response as Britain shivers through its current windless cold spell.

Look across the pond and America is currently enjoying lower energy bills and is even, thanks to another related technology, becoming self sufficient in oil. It would be irresponsible of any government to ignore the possibilities of this potential bonanza which amounts to the equivalent of a whole year's British GDP. Quite apart from anything else the gas is mostly English. That should shut the SNP up too.

In general the green meanies are more or less against anything that is not 'natural'. It's a wonder they don't insist that the wind turbines they are so in favour of aren't bio-degradable. They could rot into the ground whilst simultaneously generating power. They are even against research into nuclear fusion, a potentially unlimited, cheap and non radioactive form of energy generation that may come along just when the gas runs out.

Most of us can see that having a new North Sea bonanza would be a good thing. But you won't necessarily realise this if you rely on the BBC for your news. Their angle, presumably after doing a Google search and having watched a few videos on YouTube, is all about the alleged environmental dangers. That too is what we have seen from the environment correspondent and honorary green meanie Roger Harrabin.

What we should bear in mind is that we live in a world in which the likes of Russia, a fractious, unstable, corrupt and murderous regime use energy as a bargaining chip on the world stage and in which other gas producers sit uncomfortably in the most repressed and unstable region of the world which could be on the edge of insurrection, war and anarchy. Meantime energy prices in America have come down by two thirds, something consumers in this country who frequently have to choose between eating and heating would surely  welcome. Gas prices are largely the consequence of increased global demand, not corporate greed. Thus if we can increase supply - well, you do the maths.

We are already tied into a unilateral reduction in our CO2 emissions that our developing nation competitors are exempt from. Are we really going to further hobble ourselves by not utilising our natural resources? Thankfully not according to this announcment today. This is good news, especially at a time when our economy is in dire need of a boost. But it would be nice if it was reported as such and if the likes of the BBC did not interview environmental pressure groups as if they are dispassionate experts.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

PMQs 12th December 2012 - The Class War Edition

It's been another up and down week for Dave and his government, although it has still been better than most. On the one hand George's Autumn Statement went down very well and hasn't unravelled like his Budget. On the other hand there has been the ongoing contretemps between various Tories over gay marriage to the bemusement of the nation. Seriously, what's all the fuss about? Sometimes it seems that a certain type of Tory just cannot help themselves. Oh and the Daily Mail of course.

But this will all blow over. Perhaps Dave just brings these issues in as a kind of pressure relief valve. Some Tories like to go all disgusted of Tunbridge Wells every so often over issues that the rest of the country doesn't care about. It goes down well at the tea parties and with the blue rinse brigade.

But overall it has been a good week and one rounded off with some really excellent news on unemployment to add ammunition to George's claims that the economy is healing. Better still the Autumn Statement completely discombobulated bully boy Balls who was reduced to complaining about those nasty Tories jeering and George's fiddled figures. Yes, Ed Balls. Yes, that Ed Balls! I know!

And Balls was at it again just yesterday too. Accompanied by some heckling heavies to back him up in case of beastly Tories ganging up on him again, he went along to Treasury questions for another dust up with George, his posh boy nemesis determined to make up for last week. And for a time he held his own as the two traded blows. But then George got one over on him again, referring to the fact that the taxpayer will have to compensate Northern Rock customers to the tune of £270 million dating back to the time when Balls, yes that Balls, was in government.

Balls reacted in a way that can only be described as a temper tantrum. He screwed up that Churchill (the insurance dog, not the famous former PM) like face and looked as though he was chewing a wasp. He scowled and chuntered and even threw a few papers around like a toddler asked to eat sprouts. He was even told to calm down by the deputy speaker who once worked in the Treasury. Maybe she had a guilty conscience.

I only report all of the above because of what happened at today's PMQs. Dave was at the Dispatch Box once again and opposite him was Wallace, who is, he told us this week, proud to be called Wallace and indeed proud that his wife prioritises her career over his - after all how else could he afford his lovely million pound home in north London? And next to Wallace was Churchill Balls. Was he cowed or at least a little wiser after last week? Not a bit of it. He was if anything more unbearable, unpleasant.

It all started off predictably enough. Wallace got to his feet and asked a question about last week's statement asserting that low earners would be penalised just as much as those on benefits (did this mean that he agrees with the benefit cap?) Dave disagreed and asserted that the government was for workers, perhaps thanks to that rise in the tax allowance. But we didn't really get to hear this part of the argument because bovver boy Balls was up to his usual tricks from a sedentary position and even armed with charts instead of hand gestures and so Dave responded, calling him a bully who can dish it out but can't take it. He never learns, said the PM.

At this point Wallace, who must have been victim to a few Nelson Muntz bullies at that supposedly tough comprehensive school he told us about at his party conference, exclaimed surprise that Dave, a Bullingdon boy, had the nerve to complain of bullying. It should be pointed out that, as he said this, he was flanked on both sides by two members of his front bench who attended private school, but let's leave this to one side. Have you wrecked any restaurants lately? he asked a propos of what we were not quite clear. Can you bully a restaurant? And whose is the more questionable behaviour, the alleged antics of  David Cameron 30 years ago or the dishonest, boorish behaviour of a man in his 40s on two occasions in the last week in full view of the entire nation?

Ultimately, on a day of rather good news for the economy, Wallace and his oafish shadow chancellor were looking for the cloud rather than the silver lining. It's their only electoral strategy, the hope that this government is going to screw up even more than they did and hand power back to them by default. It's so much easier than having policies of your own. It's definitely easier than telling people that cuts are going to have to be made and yes some of them will have to come from our vast and out of control welfare budget expanded by Labour to create their voter base of worklessness and dependency.

And that was about it. Oh they exchanged a few more barbs over who was taxing millionaires more without bothering to mention the fact that they tend to pay more tax when the tax rate is lower. But it was all overshadowed by the previous intemperate exchange. Some have said that Dave became red faced and angry. But there was no sign of it on my state of the art high definition large flat screen television. Maybe I should complain to the manufacturers.

Ultimately we were none the wiser about tax and benefits except we know what the lines of each side are going to be and that, if this is a cunning Osborne trap, Labour are confident they can talk their way out of it. But mostly we learnt that, according to Labour, it is okay to go to a posh school, a posh university and be a bully if you are a socialist and a Keynesian. It is wholly unacceptable and you will be punished for all eternity if you do these things, indulge in some youthful high spirits and then become a Tory. We all suspected it but now it is clear. Some people, even in these PC times, will never be equal. The class war is on.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The EU - Peace In Our Time

It is positively Dickensian in its absurdity. The panjandrums of the EU yesterday went to Oslo to accept, on behalf of all of us, the Nobel Peace Prize. As is typical of this bloated institution, and which even Charles Dickens might have struggled to fit into a narrative, it took three presidents to go there and perform this simple ceremony having apparently 'fostered peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights across our continent, often against its democratically stated will.

The panjandrums of the EU know best and will not be gainsaid. This is why they stand up to those who insist that their institutions should be slimmed down or their officials made to work a little longer and harder for their vast tax protected salaries and pensions and why they resist calls that many of the pointless institutions created at our expense should be abolished since they don't actually do anything. Theirs is a noble cause. It must be they've received an award for it now. They've even created a 'House of European History' with £82 million of our money to pump themselves up a little more.

Let's leave aside this ludicrous award. That an institution like the EU can be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Lech Walesa, Aung San Suu Kyi or Liu Xiaobo has already been decried across the world and brings the prize into disrepute. Perhaps former luminaries should hand theirs back in protest.

But it nicely illustrates how self regarding and ridiculous the whole EU has become. What started out as a simple trade agreement is now a vast project of integration and economic suicide for which nobody has voted and indeed are actively voting against. For some of the victims of this grandiose fantasy, those silly enough to join the Euro, this has been evolving into a tragedy to riot against.

Last month, the BBC ran a series examining the charismatic appeal of Adolf Hitler. How was this silly little man with no coherent philosophy and whose method of governing was akin to anarchy able to hoodwink an entire nation and wreak so much destruction? Those who are so critical of Germany have only to look to the EU today.

This is only a slight exaggeration. The motives of the Nazis were thought noble by many at the time, and not just in Germany. The whole project was supposed to address the injustices of a world war as now. The Third Reich, though clearly wrong headed and racist had at its heart the dream of greater prosperity and the desire for Germany to regain its rightful place in world affairs, addressing the wrongs of Versailles. That was how they won so many to their cause. The EU too was created by men and women whose aims, though laudable, were pipedreams. But, since those aims were laudable, it enabled them to slander anyone who disagreed. The grey men of Brussels  invoked the European dream and thus dispensed with the need for rational, fact based debate. Anyone who disagreed or called for a pause was either ignored or accused of being insufficiently European - a terrible slur.

And, once again, it falls to the British to stop this farce, to point out that this emperor has no clothes and that the present path leads only to economic sclerosis, bankruptcy and ruin. The current economic policies implemented to defend a disastrous monetary union are plunging millions into unemployment and despair, piling debt upon debt and making Europe even less competitive in an ultra competitive world. The Euro has just been a handy device to enable Germany to continue exporting whilst lecturing their customers about being spendthrifts. Only last week Germany was labelled a currency manipulator by the American Congress. Is that the European dream? Is it likely to foster peace?

At the EU summit last month, David Cameron scored a minor victory by stopping, at least for now, the demands for more of our cash heading to Brussels. But they won't take no for an answer. They never do. We have been put in the ludicrous position of being able to be outvoted by our European partners on how to spend our money. We can say no until we are blue in the face but the net recipients can simply refuse to accept this and demand more money. They can even do so whilst demanding we give back our rebate, although fortunately we can at least refuse to hand that back. Not that that stopped Tony Blair who is now campaigning to keep us in the EU and probably to be one of the panjandrums himself.

Cameron will soon make a major speech setting out his approach to the EU. There are hints, just hints, that we may at last be given that in/out referendum we have all been demanding. But this is just a negotiating tactic, or maybe a sop to keep us quiet until after an election. The real aim is to have that elusive renegotiation we keep getting told about. Who are they kidding?

There is simply no way that we will ever be able to renegotiate our relationship with the EU to our satisfaction. The EU accretes powers to itself like a black hole at the centre of a galaxy. It is its raison d'etre. There is no logical reason for the EU to administer agriculture subsidies, for fishing rights to be held commonly, for it to legislate on consumer laws, border laws or to tell us who we may or may not pay benefits to. It just does. Telling them no would just result in blank faced incredulity or active hostility at our impertinence. Competence must be pooled for the greater European good. They don't have to explain why.

The only solution for Britain, which does not share this mass delusion, is to get out. Where we lead others may follow. But it will fall to us once again to act alone.

That should be the policy of Britain. No nuance is required. We are not sleepwalking to European exit as Labour allege. We are doing so with our eyes wide open, fully cognizant of our actions.  The only frustration is that we have been consistently prevented from doing so before. But the momentum is in that direction. Talk of getting powers back is as futile as appeasement was in the 1930s. Ultimately Europe is a bandwagon that will not stop and so we must jump off to await the inevitable crash.