Friday, 31 May 2013

Swedish Child Labour Scandal

The appalling scene you see above is by Swedish photographer Emil Nystrom putting his one year old daughter Signhild to work in the family home. Clearly, as subsequent pictures show, this is a family with no notion of health and safety, although they do believe in learning by doing.

The EU Commission - The Best Campaigners For Us Leaving

There's something spectacularly unworldly about the EU isn't there. It's as though proper considerations, democratic considerations, even pragmatic considerations should not intrude on these guardians of the great ideal. Certainly they treat with disdain the opinions of mere taxpayers, those they laughingly call their citizens. Democracy? That's something they just pay lip service to without necessarily paying attention to our opinions, or even those of our elected representatives.

How else to explain the Commission's extraordinarily arrogant and spectactularly impolitic attempt to dictate British policy on our already out of control and ruinously expensive benefits system? What can they be thinking of?

They say our government is discriminating against non British people from EU countries who wish to claim benefits. They are right. That is the only viable way to make our system work without opening the floodgates. Other countries do the same thing, but they do it via a contributions mechanism.

But this is a classic example of the EU's tentacles spreading further and further despite what the treaties say. This latest attempt is, as so often, centred around the notion of the single market in which people should be able to work wherever they wish. Yet this is an issue about out of work benefits. Even if you think that a continent wide free for all for work is a good idea, surely we can agree that allowing anyone to claim benefits here regardless of where they have hitherto worked or paid taxes is a spectacularly bad idea. But apparently not if you are one of those pure of heart EU bureaucrats who rise above such petty considerations and need not worry about elections.

The case for getting out of this morass of turgid obtuseness; this sorry, overweening, burdensome, democracy free, Japanese knot weed of bureaucratic intransigence and purblindness is so overwhelming now it is fast becoming unanswerable. On issue after issue we have lost control of our country. More importantly, as the budget talks and now this issue illustrate, they are claiming ownership of our money too. The only issue is whether or not this government and its successor can keep the British people from having a say for another four years until a referendum in 2017.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Newsflash: Climate Changes Naturally

Just two days ago, I wrote this post about global warming climate change and how the inconvenient facts, if you are an AGW fanatic, are stacking up.

Then it was revealed yesterday that one of the chief cheerleaders for 'taking action against climate change' now admits that it might all be down to natural variability, and nothing to do with man-made emissions at all. Tim Yeo, who heads the parliamentary Climate Change Committee, made the stunning admission that 'natural phases might be to blame. So apparently the debate, which was over, is now well and truly on once again.

Yeo added later: 'The first thing to say is that it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet.'

What's that? We thought we had five years to save that planet. Now it's under no threat at all?

And Yeo, with typical slipperiness, added that 'I think that the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming.'

Well, duh! Nobody ever said it wasn't. Nobody has ever said that our climate hasn't changed and isn't changing constantly. That is what climates do. What we were disputing was that this was dangerous, potentially disastrous, life threatening, and down to our emissions of CO2, necessitating huge investment in useless and unproven technologies, destroying jobs and raising energy bills for those who could least afford them.

I've been saying for a while now that the wheels are coming off the whole sorry AGW scare. Forward momentum is now lost completely and they are fighting to keep it on the road. What Yeo has admitted is huge. He has said that all of the scare stories, all of the hyperbole about how we were all headed to hell thanks to our selfishness, all the demands for urgent reductions in CO2 and taxes to enforce it, all of the name calling was utterly wrong.

What he is admitting is that we sceptics, we deniers, we who demanded evidence, have been right all along. Still no hint of an apology though.


The resort of Porte Puymorens in the Pyrenees will be open this weekend for skiing - because it is so cold and the snow so good. Just saying. Tricky thing climate.


And this spring has been the coldest for 50 years. Just saying. Again.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Harry the Jihadis

A week on from the murder of Lee Rigby, there has been a lot of heat, not much light, a lot of talk of avoiding knee-jerk responses, but we have had plenty of them nevertheless, or at least talk of them, which for politicians amounts to the same thing.

As usual there has been a focus on the security services and their nearly impossible job which they nevertheless seem to have been doing remarkably well until last week. They were aware of the men alleged to have carried out the murder, but assessed them as not being of immediate concern. Indeed it is reported that MI5 tried to recruit one of them, Michael Adebowale, to spy for them. Presumably they are not in the habit of recruiting men who they believe to be on the cusp of becoming murderers, or is this a new and innovative way of preventing jihadism?

There have, as we might expect, been many suggestions about what needs to be done to combat jihadism, and the extremist preachers that we assume help to radicalise the impressionable, angry young men and make them willing to commit acts of savagery in the name of their imaginary friend and 'peaceful' religion.

One such call was to ban broadcasters from giving platforms to the likes of Anjem Choudary as they did last week. That would achieve very little. But the tendency of certain news programmes, well actually just two - Newsnight and Channel 4 News - to interview the likes of Choudary on these occasions is as much of a knee jerk response as those who call for him to be banned from the airwaves. Seriously, what do they imagine he has to say that can add to the 'debate'. What is there left to debate? This cartoon of a man, who has become pseudo pious after a youth of booze, birds and trying and failing to be a successful professional, has an incoherent and absurd set of grievances, a set of aspirations that will never be realised, and he implicitly endorses those who are willing to commit violence and murder in a forlorn attempt to change that state of affairs. So what's the point of having him on?

But it is no good the politicians fulminating about TV companies behaving in this way. They have it in their power to make this man's life, and those of others he associates with, a lot less easy. Powers exist to investigate people for benefit fraud, to ensure that they really are looking for work. Why not use them? If he is responsible for radicalising people then investigate him, get the evidence to prosecute him. We cannot deport Chaudry as he is a British citizen. But there are plenty we could deport. If we are going to change laws we should change these to ensure that our courts weight the public interest and public safety above the human rights of those who hate us and are taking us for a ride.

The great nightmare of the security services is that we will see more of these simple and difficult to detect murders instead of the great spectaculars that they have been very successful in preventing. But that is why a change of tactics is appropriate. Prevention is better than cure. Harry the jihadis, make their lives more difficult. Stop paying them benefits, make sure that they obey the letter of the laws they so despise, and, if they don't, prosecute them, fine them, imprison them as often as possible. They despise our society anyway, we can hardly make them more angry. We certainly shouldn't make life too easy for them. We certainly shouldn't subsidise them.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Inconvenient Truths Just Keep Coming

I got called names by a Green Meanie on Twitter again last week. Ironically this was because I tweeted my congratulations and respect for the BBC's Science correspondent for his balanced and sensible report about the tornado in Oklahoma. He pointed out, rightly, that there is absolutely no evidence that so called extreme weather events can be laid at the door of man and our CO2. It's true. The number of these major tornadoes has stayed remarkably stable for the last 50 years. The amount of death and destruction they wreak is entirely a matter of chance according to where they touch down. That, however much you may want to believe in AGW theory, cannot be laid at the door of CO2, unless you are particularly deluded.

It didn't stop me being called a moron though by someone called @gpolitica who describes him or herself as a capital markets trader and West Ham supporter. He or she actually sounds like one of those one man pressure groups that campaign on issues earnestly and without worrying too much about facts. He/she later asserted that there are countless examples of extreme weather events worldwide that do have something to do with CO2 emissions.

Really? Do you have examples? A trace gas is causing extreme weather events? Or do you mean warmer temperatures allegedly being caused by increased CO2? Of course you have evidence? No, thought not.

Of course this angry Tweeter is by no means alone. The Green Meanies have a tendency to jump up and down and scream and scream until they are sick when they read something they don't like. They are many and various, and generally very angry and self righteous. They include celebrities. I have been called names by Graham Linehan, the lefty writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, who is never knowingly wrong about anything; I've been patronised by Dara O Briain, comedian and science man who trots out the GM propaganda like a true believer. This is science, he tells us pompously and repeats the propaganda as though he has memorised it by rote. I've also been called the most unspeakable names by people I have never heard of. It must be true because it says it in the Guardian. They tend to say that 'science says,' as though science is a large homogeneous body that has regular meetings to decide what the line will be on any given subject. They tend to talk about consensus, another claim that has been shown to be specious incidentally. They tend to regard scepticism as akin to heresy. Sceptics, at least on this subject, are like flat earthers.

So presumably they will be very very angry this morning when they read that 'science says' increasingly that AGW has been a lot of fuss over nothing, which is what, ahem, we sceptics have been saying all along, and getting for our pains all kinds of abuse, in addition to being ignored by the BBC and Channel 4 News who prefer talking to feminist harridans trying to get Page 3 banned for no better reason than it offends them. It's astonishing isn't it that these august bodies are perfectly prepared to grandly give a platform to the likes of Anjem Chaudry, trusting their renowned interviewing skills to expose him, all based on the liberal idea of freedom of speech, and yet at the same time are prepared to give that same forum to pressure groups, not even as large as these Jihadist organisations, who want to ban men looking at women's tits and bums because they find it offensive.

But back to global warming climate change or whatever we are calling it this week. Green Meanies ought to look away now. You are not going to like this. 'Science' is being disobliging again. It may cause you to send me angry Tweets, question my parentage, and make lurid allegations about how much oil companies are paying me.

Recent papers have confirmed what many of us have been saying all along, that the climate is nothing like as sensitive to CO2 as has been alleged. A paper by Alexander Otto and colleagues at Oxford University has confirmed that. It should be noted however that we were saying this years ago. It was always scientific nonsense to claim that more and more CO2 would increase temperatures at the same rate because CO2 absorbs only certain wavelengths of light of which there is a finite amount. Thus CO2 initially increases temperatures, as is fortunate because otherwise we would be living on a snowball for a planet. But after a point it ceases to have the same impact. In addition it is now being confirmed that the climate, and oceans, and other variables do not react as was assumed by all of those models which told us we were going to fry. That's computer models, although we used to pay attention to other models too for some reason.

Of course the Green Meanies are unwilling to give it up that easily. We still have to do something, but now we have a bit more time, is basically the line. So all of that panic, all of that hyperbole about us having only five years to save the Earth (around five years ago) was wrong. We still have to save it, but now we have longer. There's no hint of an apology, no retractions of the name calling, just an adjustment to the rhetoric.

And what about the fact that warming has been stalled now for 15 years or so, as even Nicholas Stern recently admitted without so much as a blush? Well they have their excuses for that too. It's just a pause because of the oceans and the sun apparently. So they were putting all their faith in a theory that failed properly to understand the role of 70% of the surface of our planet, and the nuclear fireball in the sky that created us all in the first place? And they call us names.

What about the fact that we have just had another extremely cold and snowy winter, the fifth in succession? Oh that's because of global warming and the melting of sea ice. Tornadoes? Caused by global warming, even though they are no more common or fiercer than they have ever been. So called extreme weather is their latest act of desperation to try and get back on the front foot.

But if that wasn't enough, here's the clincher: The warming we have seen since 1880, and on which all of the panic, all of the name calling, and all of the ruinously expensive 'green' policies we have seen these last few years has been based, may not be statistically significant. You can read the full story on Bishop Hill's blog.  I recommend that you do so. He explains it all beautifully and in easy to understand, not too bewilderingly scientific terms.

But, to summarise, The Met Office, all knowing sages of all things climate, or so we are told, was asked, by a member of the House of Lords, Lord Donoughue,  whether they considered the rise in global temperatures since 1880 of 0.8 of a degree to be statistically significant. They replied that yes, they thought it was.

But there is a but. There are different statistical methods for coming to these conclusions. The one they used was inappropriate, and this is according to one of their own expert statisticians. They however refuse to give an alternative analysis according to this different method and are refusing to answer the question.

If the appropriate method were used, the warming would not be found to be significant at all. In other words it could all be down to natural variability. So we would all have been spending the last few years being called names, being forced to pay more expensive energy bills, being blighted with wind turbines, being frightened by tales of armageddon, having to listen to Prince Charles lecturing us with his inexpert, know-nothing opinions, and all based on temperatures that aren't doing anything unusual, and have now, by common consent, stopped doing it at all.

The whole sorry fiasco of global warming climate change has been unravelling for a while now, thanks to unrelenting pressure from scientists, bloggers, journalists and some independent minded politicians, usually the ones who don't have to worry about getting elected. There is nothing to see, nothing to worry about, we have all been held hostage by what has become an industry, a special interest group more tenacious and grasping than any other in the history of mankind. A lot of people have based their entire careers, and have made a good living out of what is looking increasingly like junk science. Some have even become rich thanks to it.

And that is what we sceptics, we deniers, have been saying all along. The models were wrong, they failed to predict the current pause. The theory was a theory explaining something that probably isn't happening, based on lefty guilt and a desire to stop industrialisation and globalisation that has lifted millions and probably now billions out of poverty. Any apologies? Not until the Earth freezes over. That's probably the next scare.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Feminist Harridans Go Nuts

I've been waiting for an excuse to post the above picture for obvious reasons. Now here it is. Why? Well, it is reported that two pressure groups, the snappily named UK Feminista, and Object are planning on suing supermarket groups for sexual harassment.

What are they doing? Are managers groping their staff behind the bacon counter? Are they demanding sexual favours from nubile checkout staff? No. These modern puritans are upset because newspapers are selling lads magazines which feature, brace yourself, women in a manner that has earned the sistas disapprobation and made them look like the miserablist in the picture below, a kind of modern day Oliver Cromwell, but without the laughs.

Lads magazines, it should be pointed out, are just magazines for men that feature pictures of attractive and semi undressed women. All harmless enough, particularly since they are intended for men. Yet this has drawn the ire of the self appointed censors of our free press  thanks to a law passed in the dying days of the last Labour government by Hattie Harperson.

This is one of the harridans above. She is Kat Banyard, founder of UK Feminista. She looks like a barrel of laughs doesn't she? But she is very angry on behalf of all women about this exploitation of women. Of course, as is usually the case, she hasn't bothered asking those she purports to represent. She just sets up and sends out angry press releases imagining all kinds of consequences for allowing men to look at naked ladies, none of which bears any scrutiny whatsoever.

And once again we have people claiming to be offended and thus demanding the right to censor what other people read or do for entertainment. The charge of harassment against supermarkets is just an attempt to stop these publications. So what if they're offended? And what are they going to object to next, pop videos? The average Rihanna video features Miss Fenty in a similar state of undress to many glamour models featured in Nuts. Does Ri Ri look exploited to you? Or is she rather enjoying the fact that she is one of the sexiest and most beautiful women on the planet?

It seems that these days anyone can start a pressure group, get themselves a nice snappy title that sounds as though it was dreamt up by a committee full of similarly angry looking women, and they will immediately be given a slot on Channel 4 News or Newsnight, probably next to Anjem Choudary.

I'm thinking of starting one myself, I'm even practising looking grave and angry in preparation. Subscribe now to my pressure group and please vote for your favourite title from the selection below:

a) Mind Your Own Businessta UK

b) The British Boobs Appreciation Society

c) Blimey You Don't Get Many of Those To The Pound UK

d) Confine The Ugly Sistas To Pantomimes Association

e) Date A Feminist and Get Them To Cheer Up Club of Great Britain.

God Is Not Great - He Is A Mental Affliction

In the wake of the murder of Lee Rigby last week, politics, the media,  and that legion of self appointed community leaders we all seemingly have to turn to at these times have, as usual, trotted out the same vacuous platitudes so as to keep the peace. They all have as their central theme that what happened last Wednesday has nothing to do with Islam, that it is a religion of peace.

Islam is not a religion of peace. How anyone can make this proclamation with a straight face is one of the enduring mysteries of modern life. None of the Abrahamic religions are peaceful. It is a ridiculous modern fiction. Their very existence is predicated on the very opposite of peace. They are religions of conquest, of submission to an idea. You cannot on the one hand demand adherence to that idea, to the absurdities contained within that idea on pain of ever lasting torture at the hands of a vengeful but strangely absent god, and then claim that that absent god loves you and wants peace for you.

All three of these religions have that at their centre. Christianity, until comparatively recently, was extraordinarily aggressive, engaging in wars of conquest throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Judaism is full of the most appallingly bellicose language, and is actually the founding document for a Jewish state. It is what made one tribe believe themselves to be superior, and chosen by a supernatural being, and justified them waging war on others, enslaving them despite the fact that they themselves were supposed to have been enslaved, and led from it by the founder of their new religion.

It's just that Islam, being the newest, most inchoate, most discrete, disorganised and chaotic has become the most aggressive, but for reasons we can readily see in its competitor religions. But Islam was created as a new and definitive version of those other religions for the Arabs. Their so called prophet conquered Mecca, and his new religion then went on to do the same for the middle east and large parts of the rest of the world. How is that a religion of peace?

It's pointless for adherents to claim otherwise. This is the religion which normally intelligent people like Mehdi Hasan proudly claim to be the most important element of their lives, more so than their wives, children, family. That's a sentient being actually elevating a contradictory and patently absurd philosophy above his own flesh and blood. How is that a recipe for peace?

And remember how furious believers in this make believe become when their beliefs are questioned, or when their god or prophet is mocked, lampooned or even depicted in a cartoon. When there was a teddy bear called Mohammed, when there was a badly made film on the internet about Islam, people rioted. People died. People were outraged that anyone could say something offensive about their beliefs and felt the need, the duty, to act violently in large numbers. Is that a religion of peace?

And this absurdist drivel then makes demands of its adherents based on aggressive medievalism that again we are supposed to conveniently ignore. The word Islam means submission, which is hardly a peaceful concept.  Some of the more unpleasant aspects of Islam, like the stonings, the executions, the treatment of apostates, non believers, and of course women we are supposed to draw a veil over and forget, just as we are all the references in the Old Testament, and indeed the less than peaceful New Testament, to slavery, conquest, rape, and the treatment of anyone who so much as looks at or covets your ass.

Yet these practices are taking place in the world today in the name of that religion. And those who believe that they are justified in doing so can quote from their silly book, the allegedly perfect word of their imaginary friend. If you choose to believe in every word of the Quran as the unimprovable word of god, and to take its edicts literally, then you can perfectly easily justify the most appalling acts of violence as being your god's will. If you think your absent god is great then why not? If you can convince yourself of the absurdities inherent in that position then you can very easily convince yourself and others to commit atrocities such as that we saw last week, and indeed much much worse. The murderers of Lee Rigby committed their crime whilst quoting from the Quran. That may be inconvenient, you may disagree with their interpretation. But there is no definitive interpretation, and all of the holy books are full of verses that, if such is your desire, you could easily quote to justify the most appalling acts proscribed by a civilised nation. These are not civilised books. We should not be surprised when they are used in this way.

The reason that these religions are not even remotely peaceful is because they are the creations of man, and man when civilisation was only just being created and various tribes were fighting for territory, power, influence and wealth. Invoking the name of a god was a convenient way to gird the loins of your soldiers, to convince the people that they were fighting for something noble and greater than themselves to which they should set aside petty considerations like their health, welfare and future existence for a greater mission decreed by an all powerful but strangely absent god.

All that we see now is what has gone on throughout history. Young men, almost always men: angry, impressionable, self righteous, aggressive, closed minded, are recruited to a cause and made to believe in something that will allow them to make their mark on the world. It was ever thus, and so it is now.

Yes, say the apologists, but this is a perversion of the faith. It is not what I believe. To which the answer is: so what? Religion is and always has been fantastically flexible in what you can and cannot believe. To some it is just a set of guidelines, something not much more important than a diet. To others it is an aspiration, a best practice guide for how to live your life if you possibly can. But for a few, many in the case of the more aggressive Islam (although it was the same here comparatively recently) it is something to be obeyed without question, something to submit to. So a belief in a strangely absent but apparently all powerful god becomes an inviolable code. Something to get very very angry about. Young men do so enjoy being angry about things.

People who believe that, who do the praying five times a day, eat the foods decreed by their imaginary friend, force themselves to renounce alcohol and take it all terribly seriously and literally will be of the mindset that this somehow mysteriously makes them better than the rest of us, more morally upstanding.  This is not unique to Islam. It is another human frailty. So people endure loveless or worse marriages for fear that divorce will offend their imaginary, strangely absent friend. They proclaim joy in the love of their god, but lead strangely joyless lives trying to please him, and convince themselves that that warm fuzzy feeling they get when they pray, or when their preacher lays hands on them, is god showing his approbation rather than the action of some readily identifiable chemicals in their brains.

And if people are willing to subject themselves to this abstinence and joyless state of life, the hair shirt mentality that is actually kinky when you analyse it, then it is not too great a leap for them to then imagine that they have a duty to try and get others to share in their joy. Why shouldn't we suffer too?

Now often this is relatively harmless, if irritating. There is the notion of Islamic banking, one of the more absurd contortions that believers go through, which sees money being shifted around so that they can fool their omniscient god that no, honestly, they are not borrowing money. Being patronised by those who know they are going to heaven because they pray, chant or sing hymns and waste an extraordinary amount of their lives praising something that isn't even as corporeal as an apparition, is, I suppose, bearable. Having them preach on street corners and tell you that you are a sinner going to hell is on the edge of acceptable, especially if it is done within earshot of children, or credulous, stupid people who might take it seriously.

And remember ordinary Muslims and Jews are perfectly willing, however peaceful they may claim to be, to commit an act of pointless and stupid savagery on their new born sons at the behest of their imaginary and strangely absent friend. But that is just a symptom of all religions' peculiar attitude to us and our sexual organs, which has created so much misery, pain and suffering throughout history and can see women have to marry their rapist, or be cast out of society, or much much worse for indulging their animal passions despite doing precisely nobody any actual harm.

But then there are those who take it to the next level. It's a process of small steps. Mutilating children? Telling children lies and inflicting psychological mutilation? Proselytising and calling strangers who follow a different moral code, or who reject your god, sinners or evil? Protesting at the funerals of soldiers because you believe your imaginary and strangely absent friend doesn't like gay sex? Demanding the imposition of god's law because it is superior to that made by man in democratic forums? And then we get to the justification of violence to achieve these goals, to defend supposedly god given lands. It's just tribalism with a god attached, a god who remains great but still mysteriously absent, and requiring the spilling of blood to show his greatness.

And yes, it is perfectly possible to accept that the vast majority of the believers in the various religions, and the one god with different names, are peaceful, law abiding and willing to believe privately without any imposition on those who don't share their beliefs. Life would be unendurable were this not the case. But it is people who are peaceful, not their religion. It's a choice. This is usually because most people are capable of editing religions for their own use, leaving out the inconvenient, stupid bits and just believing what suits them. It's a very pragmatic response, very sensible, although it would be altogether more sensible to stop believing in a god that needs editing at all. Isn't he supposed to be infallible?

But sadly we are not all that sensible. All religions were created in times entirely different to our own, times when life was hard, miserable, violent, brutal and short. Religion was a perfectly understandable and even reasonable attempt to impose order and law on disorder and lawlessness. It worked, even if it only worked within communities to the detriment of those who resisted or believed wrongly.

But what is our excuse now for believing in these violent, ignorant, obscurantist creeds, these belief systems that have demonstrably held back human progress and caused centuries of misery and suffering along with torture and countless murders which would make last week's outrage seem mild? It is high time we threw off these ancient shackles just as our ancestors threw off earlier gods. They are no longer necessary, and they are holding us back. Worse they are creating in a substantial minority a sense of righteousness that drives them to acts of senseless savagery.

Islam is not peaceful, no religion is. Any creed that claims to be a perfect recipe for a good and blameless life, and adherence to its demands is the opposite of peaceful. But it's worse than that. It's a form of mental illness, a wilful suspension of rationality for a cosy illusion. We should not be surprised that some are willing to kill for it. That has always been the case. It is why these religions were created. By making excuses for it, by allowing it veto powers and special privileges not enjoyed by other superstitions we are allowing it to warp minds, and we just ensure that the next murder in the name of their strangely absent god is only hours away. It is probably happening right now in some part of the world in the name of that god, and its perpetrator will feel a strange warm glow of approbation. Imaginary gods can do that.

This is why we supposedly aggressive secularists, who are nothing like as aggressive as believers have been down the centuries, and continue to be to this day, now demand that religion loses its special status. Believe what you want to, but do it in private. Remove religion from public life, take away its power to decide aspects of society that should only be the sole responsibility of democratically elected governments. And most of all prevent the religious from seeking to censor debate about their imaginary and strangely absent friend. If god is great he can withstand a bit of debate, even a bit of ridicule. If he can't, well what is so great about him?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Review of the Week

Story of the week, and one few will forget for years, was the sight of a man murdered by Jihadist morons in broad daylight on the streets of south London. They reportedly tried to decapitate him in an echo of similar killings in more troubled parts of the world. Two men, armed to the teeth with a gun and enough knives to equip a butchers shop, headed out deliberately to look for a soldier to kill. They headed to Woolwich, to the barracks there, and spotted one who turned out to be Lee Rigby, a 25 year old drummer with the Second Fusiliers. He had also served in Afghanistan as a machine gunner. He was married with a 2 year old son.

So they mowed him down with their car, mounting the pavement to do so, and then got out and hacked him to death. Witnesses happening upon the scene at first thought they were seeing the aftermath of a road accident, and that the two men were helping the man. Instead they were murdering him and then attempting to decapitate him.

But then events became even more bizarre and horrifying as the murderers stuck around, danced around the body of their victim, and started playing to the various cameras that passers by were pointing at them. At one point one of the murderers, covered in blood, and still holding a knife, talked of soldiers 'in his lands' in his London accent, and told the British people it was all the fault of the government, which we should depose.

Passers by, showing extraordinary bravery, tried to talk to the attackers, and to persuade them to give up their weapons. Others shielded the body of the victim.

Local police had arrived quickly on the scene but did not take on the heavily armed thugs, waiting for armed back up. When that arrived the two men rushed the armed officers who did not even have time to shout a warning. Both men were shot and taken to hospital. They were later revealed to be Michael Adebolajo, 28, of Nigerian descent but born in this country. He was a convert to Islam in his teens. The second was Michael Adebowale, 22, with a similar background, but who, after getting involved with gangs and becoming uncontrollable, became radicalised comparatively recently.

Lee Rigby's distraught family gave a press conference on Friday. His wife Rebecca said: 'I love Lee and always will. He was a devoted father to his son Jack, and we will both miss him terribly.' See the heart rending video here. 

Disturbingly, there were reports of what looks like a copycat assault on a French soldier in a Paris suburb last night. The soldier was stabbed in the neck by a man said to be of North African origins. The soldier was injured, but not fatally.

The week had got underway with more Tory party tribulations, as party activists were called swivel eyed loons by an anonymous 'friend of Dave,' who also just happens to be a leading figure in the party, and quite possibly the recipient of a peerage. There were denials about what was said, and who said it. The activists, it is fair to say, were not best pleased, and in many cases went off to the cosy embrace of UKIP, where being a swivel eyed loon is almost a requirement, but is certainly not an impediment. UKIP published an advert in national papers calling for them to swivel across to a party where they would be appreciated.

Tory backbenchers, anxious not to be left out from being called swivel eyed loons by the party leadership, and so as to wear it as a badge of honour, chose this week to rebel on the subject of gay marriage, although strictly speaking it was a free vote. There were all kinds of reasons advanced for this latest outbreak of dissent, from it being a distraction, to god objecting, to it being unfair, but one was left with the distinct impression that some Tory backbenchers just don't very much like the idea of gay people and their bedroom activities. One even spoke of aggressive homosexuals. Aggressive? What do they do, invade your home demanding you use more pink in your decor? Insist on the inclusion of more musical theatre in the national curriculum? This did tend to make the Tory MPs who were advancing these half baked arguments look like the aforementioned swivel eyed loons. How is it any of their business? And how will it affect them even slightly if people of the same sex marry?

Big YouTube sensation of the week was the sight of a lover actually having to escape via a balcony in Sao Paolo as a cuckolded and enraged husband discovered him and his wife. It would only have been more entertaining had it been John Terry or Ryan Giggs. What other cliches can we look forward to being realised and videoed for our entertainment? Man slips on banana skin? Bull charges around china shop? Damsel gets tied to railway line by man with silly moustache? Tory admits that actually he doesn't much like poofters?

A massive tornado, at times over two miles wide, hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. Two schools were completely flattened killing nine children. In total 24 people were killed by the devastating twister, and three hundred injured. 200 MPH winds wreaked havoc over a 30 square mile stretch of the mid west American state, and more tornadoes were expected as the season reached its peak.

Yet this was not, as some rather opportunistically claimed, an unprecedented event or even that unusual. It was certainly not a sign of more 'extreme weather' for which climate change is to blame. How is it, incidentally, that temperatures haven't changed now for 15 years, and yet somehow extreme weather is still being caused, and supposedly worsening? Just wondering.

Such EF-5 category tornadoes actually happen almost every year. They don't always hit major population centres, and cause this kind of devastation for which we should be thankful, but that is part of the unpredictability of this most brutal of phenomena. The process by which thunderstorms suddenly and unpredictably create tornadoes of variable size and ferocity remains one of nature's greatest mysteries.

World stock markets have been hitting new highs for the past few months, quite at variance with flatlining or shrinking economies. In London the FTSE 100 hit 6840. It has increased by 16% since the start of the year. It seems to be driven by all of the funny money being pumped into economies by central banks. It was supposed to fuel greater growth in real economies. Instead it is creating a bubble in various investment categories, making lots of money for banks and wealthy investors and is storing up the next big implosion a few months down the line.

In a sign that the geeks are not so much inheriting the earth as acquiring it with the billions they have made from selling their internet start ups, Yahoo announced that it is acquiring Tumblr, a blogging network, for $1.1 billion. Founder David Karp, who started the site after dropping out of school, will net $250 million. Anyone want to buy a blog?

In the space of less than a week there were three house fires in Liverpool. Hardly big news you might imagine. But they were all started by people heating up eccles cakes in microwaves. Heating? Eccles cakes? Microwaves? What is the world coming to? And what is the point of all of those cookery programmes on television if people are still making such basic and frankly philistine errors?

The High Court ruled that Twitter's favourite bimbo, Sally Bercow, did indeed libel Lord McAlpine when she not at all subtly linked him to an erroneous story about a senior Tory, and paedophile allegations. She cemented her status as an air headed cretin by accepting the verdict, but maintaining that she had no idea that a digital wink at the end of her tweet was libellous innuendo.

As further proof, as if we needed it, that we desperately need a decision from politicians on the future of aviation into and out of London, an engine fire on board a BA jet, probably caused by a bird strike, and which led to the runways being closed for only a couple of hours on Friday, led to widespread disruption over the bank holiday weekend. It's a national embarrassment. A third runway for Heathrow will be like a sticking plaster solution, and will be enormously controversial. When will puny politicians do their job and make a decision?

In a hectic news week, it may have escaped your attention that Sweden, that haven of tolerance, and generous cradle to grave benefits, has suffered several days of race riots. More examples of the dangers of multiculturalism? That's what many are saying.

New BBC Director General, Tony Hall, called a halt to the corporation's Digital Media Initiative, an attempt to make desktop sharing and editing of material more accessible more efficiently. It was abandoned at a cost of £100 million. The Beeb had apparently not noticed that computer technology moves ahead at an astonishing pace and so was running to stand still - at vast expense. The executive in charge of the failed scheme, John Linwood, has been suspended - on full pay. Nice work if you can get it. But it will probably save licence payers the equivalent of four series of Dr Who this year if he stays that way.

The English football season came to an end with the retirement of many icons of a whole generation. Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, and of course Sir Alex all called it a day. It has not been a premium season in the English Premier League, and yet next season the riches become even more outrageous as the new television contract kicks in. Manchester United may have run away with the last championship but how great a legacy has Sir Alex left his successor, as the old guard, the team who were once regarded as kids who wouldn't win anything, all head for punditry or obscurity?

And yet another departure took place as the special one, Jose Mourinho, left Real Madrid having failed to be special enough. Next stop Chelsea?

At Wembley last night an all German affair in the Champions League Final, or the European Cup if you prefer, as I do, was won by Bayern Munich, with a late goal by Arjen Robben. A year ago they were devastated by losing on their own ground to Chelsea. This year they came to London and won it. They were worthy winners.

In cricket, England cemented a superb and emphatic victory over New Zealand in the first Test at Lords. Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson in particular contributed with some superb and often unplayable bowling. The second Test, after a day lost to rain on Friday, got underway yesterday at Headingley, with Joe Root scoring his maiden Test century.

Oh, and Leicester Tigers beat Northampton Saints in some kind of important rugby final apparently. I don't care about rugby. It's a stupid game. But I add it for completeness.

Eddie Braben, the man who gave Ernie Wise his short, fat, hairy legs, and Morecambe and Wise many of their funniest and best loved moments, died this week at the age of 82. When Eric Morecambe had his first heart attack, the comedy duo's former writers, Hills and Green, left them for pastures new in the assumption that the comedy duo were finished. Instead they went from strength to strength, with Braben penning the scripts that saw a whole new character for Wise, and made his partnership with Eric Britain's all time favourite double act. Modern entertainers and comedians dream of audiences half the size achieved by Eric, Ernie and Eddie in the 1970s. See today's Sunday Funnies for an example of them at their towering best.


Sunday Funnies


Friday, 24 May 2013

Goodnight, Fallen Soldier

The Rage of an Inconsequential Terrorist Wannabe

My initial judgement on Wednesday's murder of a British soldier may not have been right on all counts, I didn't really expect it to be, although we have yet to hear of the background of the second man. But I think my initial assessment has been largely borne out.

This was not terrorism, this was cold blooded murder. The two maniacs who committed this senseless act of nihilistic brutality were essentially no different to those maniacs who go on shooting sprees in any country in the world, but most particularly in America.

In some of those cases in America of course the damaged and dysfunctional young men don't even pretend to be doing so for a reason. They just want to take out their rage on others; people who are luckier than they are, people who are happier than they are, people who are better looking than they are, people who are getting more sex than they are. Such grievances are hardly unique amongst young men of a certain age. Hollywood has made plenty of films focusing on their angst. But in a country filled with easily accessible guns, it's a combustible mix.

So were the two murderous psychos who killed a man in Woolwich different because they had a cause and, in their minds, a justification for their barbarism? No. Their justification is just an excuse. These are angry men who want to make their mark. They are too lazy, incompetent or stupid to do so in any conventional way, and so they imagine that they are freedom fighters for a cause.

Michael Adebolajo had been a part of this gang of inadequates for over a decade,  quietly festering with resentment, attending various protests, handing out leaflets about the evils of British foreign policy and invasions of Muslim lands. He was arrested in 2006 outside the Old Bailey after a protest, but was regularly attending such meetings, living on the periphery of a society he professed to hate, but presumably, as so often, perfectly willing to have it pay for his food and lodgings. You cannot help wonder how it is that his type manage to claim benefits when claimants are supposed to be actively seeking work. Why not cut them off since they clearly are doing nothing of the sort?

But perhaps this callous but typically amateurish and stupid act of anger and aggression should be seen for what it is. Yes it was shocking in its brutality and brazenness, but was also a sign of desperation. Al Qaeda has been decapitated itself over the past two or three years as more and more of its commanders, such as Bin Laden himself, have been killed by drones or special forces missions. Their attempts at more 9/11 style spectaculars have been frustrated both here and in the US. Now they are reduced to driving a car at a lone soldier and stabbing him in broad daylight. Savage certainly, but just a common or garden murder, and nothing more.

And listen to the incoherent rambling of this deranged man and you will struggle to make sense of it. Our lands? He was born here. And who appointed him the guardian of lands he has never seen and was actually prevented from travelling to? Perhaps the real cause of his rage? These lands he speaks of in such emotive terms are usually hotbeds of Muslim rivalry and murder. All too often western troops have been sent in to help them, and to try to stop the killing and the appalling treatment of his fellow Muslims. Many more Muslims have been killed by fellow Muslims than by western soldiers or bombs. But either Adebolajo doesn't know this, or chooses to ignore it.

David Cameron, Adebolajo told us, is not going to get caught in the streets 'when we start bussin our guns.' And there it is, the fantasy, the dream of Muslim hegemony, of Sharia. That is the irony of these incoherent dimwits. They rage with fury at the invasion of 'their lands' but dream of raising the flag of sharia over our lands after they go bussin their guns. They rage at our alleged savagery whilst dreaming of meting out the same.

None of it makes sense, none of it ever did. And they dreamt of this long before Iraq, long before Afghanistan, long before 9/11. Before Bin Laden became a household name, he and his gang were terrorising the people of Afghanistan and still trying to kill Americans because they objected to their presence in Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, and after the inevitable response,  they recruited men like Adebolajo and the cause changed. The cause is flexible just like their religion.

Adebolajo and his as yet unnamed friend, who may yet fit the type I outlined in my initial reaction, believe in a cause that makes no more sense than that of wannabe Nazi Anders Breivik. They are wannabe freedom fighters or suicide bombers without the brains, connections or ability to even blow their own brains out. We should not recall parliament for them, we should not devote any more column inches to them. If they survive their wounds, wounds put there with exquisite efficiency and beautiful irony by a highly trained and professional police woman, they will be put on trial and locked up for the rest of their lives. We should spare them no further thought. They are sick, sad, pathetic and inconsequential. That is probably what makes them so angry.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Bottom Line

In a way it was good that the EDL, showing greater speed than the Metropolitan Police, erupted on to the streets of Woolwich last night to claim 'our streets.' It is a nice and timely reminder that the morons who perpetrated that unspeakable, savage, brainless murder earlier in the day are not alone in their bigoted confusion and idiocy, and that such stupidity can be seen regardless of skin colour, religion, pseudo religion or political persuasion.

I'm not sure if it was a Twitter joke or whether it was true. Did EDL fanatics really attack Brighton Pavilion last night thinking it a Mosque? Presumably it's a joke, and a clever one because it has the ring of truth to it such is the ignorance of the EDL and its shaven headed, pig ignorant, ill educated, cretinous legions.

On such occasions as this we always get the same ritual denunciations from politicians of such barbarism being unacceptable, and of how we always stand up to attempts to terrorise us. But of course we don't do we. We eventually talked to the IRA. And within hours of this latest outrage there were people writing of how it was our foreign policy and foreign interventions that were the cause.

Why don't the same politicians, those who make the denunciations, and who reassure us that these are unrepresentative of a faith of peace (which is demonstrably untrue) also make a statement along the following lines: that we have a bottom line in Britain. It is that we obey the law, we respect democracy, we respect one another, we respect one another's life choices. We have the right to disagree with one another, to debate, to protest, to do so to and via our elected representatives, and not through what are laughingly called community leaders. But, though we may disagree with the policy of a government, we respect its democratic credentials and the rule of law. That is the bottom line and it is non negotiable. It is what has made this country, peaceful, wealthy and a draw for the millions of people who have come here seeking a better life. You do not have to agree with the policies of the government or of any of the parties. But neither do you have the right to use violence to undermine a system that has worked well for centuries and made this country what it is.

The two morons who perpetrated this outrage yesterday, confused and borderline psychotic as they were, have been sold the notion that none of these things should apply, that their allegiance is to a perverted version of a religion, that they should defend 'their' peoples without bothering to ask 'their' peoples if they agree. That a religion that crosses borders, crosses ethnicities, and has divided within itself and continues to do so, is somehow more worthy of their allegiance and blood than is the nation that gives them food and shelter and the very accents and language with which they speak their mindless drivel.

We are a tolerant nation. You are free to believe in whatever god or no god, you are free to lead your life as you see fit. But you must obey the laws of the land. Your adherence to our basic tenets of democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and respect for others is non negotiable and we will defend them to our dying breath. We have done throughout our history.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Woolwich First Impressions

It's early days I know, and the authorities have to be cautious, but surely we can come to some preliminary conclusions about the horrendous, and initially bewildering events in Woolwich this afternoon .

Is it terrorism? I don't think it is. This is a couple of not very bright, probably recently radicalised and damaged young men who will have criminal records and may even have been radicalised in prison. They spouted the usual confused rhetoric about their lands (in broad London accents) their women, and other jihadist drivel we have heard so many times. They talked about the fight going on forever, but then stood and waited for the police to arrive, inviting local people to take pictures of them with blood all over them and weapons still in hands. Are these cunning terrorists or men with severe mental health problems, and a desire, in their own twisted way, to be seen as heroes?

This is similar to what happened in Boston only a few weeks ago, except these two were nothing like as intelligent or organised. They just went out, with murder and some kind of vengeance on their minds. Yes they had a lot of weapons, but those are hardly difficult to come by in south London, especially if they have criminal backgrounds. They were certainly inspired by the kind of jihadist tripe that we have seen so many times before, but it is not as if this sort of thing isn't freely available on the internet and indeed from the right people in mosques and Islamic centres if you know who to ask.

The fear is that this is part of a concerted new campaign. We certainly have to be on our guard about that. But the greater likelihood is that these two took it upon themselves, were your standard angry young men, and decided that their anger should be directed at a soldier for reasons they would scarcely be able to explain to themselves let alone anyone else.

I stand to be corrected of course, it's just a first impression. But these types are not about to bring down western civilisation.

Cameron - The Tallest of the Pygmies

David Cameron appeared on Today this morning and gave an assured, confident and often impressive performance. This, despite recent difficulties, should come as no surprise. If Cameron is good at anything it is this part, the smooth and unruffled media appearance, the PR.

But in almost every other aspect of his, admittedly extremely demanding job, Cameron is failing. His party management is woeful. As a strategist, and often as a tactician he is wanting. For all the talk of his being unafraid of taking bold decisions, that is precisely what he is doing - in part because of Coalition strains, but not entirely. He lacks any kind of vision of where he wants to take us other than soundbites about being in a global race.

Even when he does, as he did this week, take a bold and principled stance on something, he does it in such a way as to balls it up. And, whatever may be said, allowing gays to marry is not a legacy issue. It is not something that historians will write of admiringly. There are no logical or sensible reasons why gay people shouldn't be able to marry. Thus now they can, and in the teeth of the resentment of people who couldn't really think of a convincing reason why they shouldn't, and made themselves look foolish in trying. Most of the public, rather than demanding in angry mobs that this appalling injustice be brought to an end, rather than chaining themselves to railings or throwing themselves in front of the Queen's horse, just shrugged and said why not? Where's the harm? Now gay people can have the same piece of paper that doesn't really matter as the rest of us. One nil to Dave.

But yes, Dave came on the radio this morning, chilled and relaxed as usual, and gave a good performance. When we remember Wallace's performance on The World At One only a few weeks ago, and the bloody awful speech he gave a couple of weekends ago because he changed his mind about being nasty about New Labour, that should give us a little perspective. Despite his week from hell, Dave was unruffled and impressive. Wallace gives appalling performances under no pressure whatsoever. It's what he does. He is the anti chillaxed leader.

And this is the point. This is why there is still a good chance that Dave and Conservatives can emerge victorious in 2015. He may not be up to much, but he's the least worst option. Wallace? Clegg? No thanks.

And ultimately what are the alternatives to Dave in his own party? Theresa May? Don't make me laugh? Phillip Hammond? Seriously? George Osborne? Now you're really having a laugh. Adam Afriyie? Who? And I like Boris as much as anyone, but prime minister? Seriously?

This is the central problem in British politics, and indeed modern western democracy in general. We have a political class who are pygmies, lack any real resolve, flail around from crisis to crisis never believing in anything, appealing to the centre ground, determined to answer as few questions as possible, to give as little detail as possible, full of anodyne soundbites, meaningless rhetoric and amounting to nothing. That's why nothing ever gets done, it's why politics is about tinkering with regulation, banning things that don't need banning like olive oil jugs, and crisis management when things go tits up. Dave is just the best of this bunch. He is the best at it. But it's not a great achievement. We won't put him on a pedestal, or mount a statue of him in Trafalgar Square with a plaque saying: 'He was the best at talking bollocks, and not answering questions.'

The next election is wide open because it's hard to choose between the parties. They decided together this week that gay marriage was the right thing to do and so we now have it. They can see that immigration is an issue and so they have all shifted to trying to sound tough on it. Thanks to the pressure of UKIP and the swivel eyed amongst us, they are going to have to shift on Europe too. But they will say as little as they can get away with, and hope that something turns up to get them off the hook.

How refreshing would it be if someone emerged now and said that actually what we want from Europe is a new semi detached status, of trade but nothing more. If we don't get that I shall recommend to the British people that we vote to leave. How refreshing would it be if someone said our NHS doesn't work in its current form and never will until we stop treating it as a religion and treat it as a service that is malfunctioning? How refreshing would it be if someone were to say that human rights has had perverse consequences, and that we have the rule of lawyers rather than the rule of law.

But such a person will not emerge and lead one of our mainstream parties. That is why the British public is turning to fringe parties like UKIP. Ah, we are told, but they have no chance of winning, we will all return to the main parties when choosing a government. That may well be true. It probably is. But how is that democratic? Instead of addressing a fringe issue like gay marriage, wouldn't it be nice if someone addressed something that really matters, and give the British people what they want and deserve rather than patronising us before calling us names when they think nobody is listening.

No PMQs .....Again

No PMQs again this week, as our hard working and back stabbing MPs need some time off to get their breath back after this and last week's heady events. It's yet another recess, this time for Whitsun. Dave is off to Europe for a session with his EU chums, so it's not as if he is going to be getting a much friendlier greeting than he would have got at PMQs.

I'm reliably informed, by the way, that Dave is no more of a shirker than either of his two immediate predecessors, both of whom used to work on the current PMQs model of once a week on a Wednesday rather than the old system of 15 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays in operation previously, and since the TV era began. Both Blair and Brown missed slightly more of these sessions than Dave's average, although of course Blair was in office for a lot longer. The figures come out at around 3.5% that Dave has missed, and 5% for Brown and Blair. But there do seem to be an awful lot of conveniently timed recesses, international summits, and prorogations this year don't there.

The next PMQs is on 5th June.

The Exorcist

Oh look the new Pope, humble defender of the poor, is also protecting them from evil spirits. The silly old sod performed what stupid people around the world are terming an exorcism. Of course to you and I it looks like an old man in a dress putting his hands on a young and impressionable man and him being unaccountably impressed by the contact. Perhaps he has had unwelcome contact with priests before. That is much more likely than that he is possessed by evil spirits.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The Alex of Prosperity

Once upon a time there was a political magician called Alex. He was adept at pulling the wool over people's eyes, wool made into the finest tartan. He boggled people's minds, told them black was white, and that red and white were evil and doing his people down. And the people believed him and they handed him more power, more power than their system had been designed to give, a system that had been designed to frustrate Alex. And Alex was pleased, he was as pleased and smug as a cat that had inherited a dairy.

And so Alex, seeing how much he enjoyed this new power, began to spin fairytale after fairytale, of how wonderful his land was going to be if only people would trust him and allow him to break free of the evil giants that lived in the land next door and who didn't allow Alex's people to fully express themselves.

At one time he told of how his people would be like the arc of prosperity, enjoying the largesse of their giant and uniquely respectable banks. But then those big bad banks went bust and had to be rescued from drowning by the evil giants from the land next door. So now Alex spoke of the Alex of prosperity, his own special creation where everything would be better thanks to his golden touch.

In the Alex of prosperity his people would still make the same goods but the economy would magically be worth £8 billion more just because Alex was in charge. And he would walk away from his country's debt obligations and leave them to the land of the evil giants, whilst the world's creditors would come rushing to his door to lend him money because he was magic Alex. The world's corporations, seeing his genius, would also rush to him, and beg to be part of the Alex of prosperity, and he would nod sagely to them from the top of the renamed Alex's Seat in Edinburgh, and give them a few acres in return for them bringing all of their lovely jobs to his people.

In the Alex of prosperity, the evil giants from the land next door would allow Alex to carry on using their pounds because Alex would tell them they had to and would offer them some magic beans in return.

And the gentle giants from the land of Europe would allow the Alex of prosperity to be members of their big club, because they could see that Alex was wise and clever, and because he had slipped something into their drinks the night of the negotiations.

When asked for details of how all this would work, and why it was he was so reluctant to give details rather than just weave fairytales, Alex looked them in the eyes and told them they were getting sleepy, very very sleepy, and got annoyed when they carried on asking him awkward questions. The Alex of prosperity waved the glossy brochure at them and told them all to be grateful. Hans Christian Anderson never had this trouble.

The March of the Aggressive Homosexuals?

There was a lot of fun had on Twitter yesterday after Gerald Howarth made his now infamous, and frankly infantile remark about aggressive homosexuals. Who are these aggressive homosexuals? Howarth seems to think that they have some kind of agenda. What could it be? Compulsory colour coordination, make Movember an all year round event? Are they going to ban heterosexuality?

As you will have seen from my last two posts, I have little sympathy for David Cameron now. But on this issue he is absolutely right. The rebels, and those giving the speeches yesterday, looked like crazed loons. Their arguments were absurd. How is the institution of marriage going to be affected even slightly by this change? Will heterosexual couples not want to marry because they regard it as somehow degraded? If so they are beyond help. Marriage is a private contract between two people that we all celebrate because it is good for them and good for society. That is all.

The reason that the rebels were reduced to making such arguments was that they could not admit the truth which is that they have a basic dislike of homosexuality. It repels them. They are not alone in this. There are plenty who will agree. But this is an atavistic, irrational response to something that does not concern us. It's not so very long ago people used to respond similarly to mixed race relationships. I have been on the receiving end of it. It's horrible. It's horrible because it is so senseless, mean spirited and facile.

I would be the first to acknowledge that David Cameron could and should have handled this matter better. He was trying to have a mini Clause 4 moment, a bit of modernisation we would all notice. Instead he just succeeded in reminding us how utterly out of touch his party can sometimes be. Perhaps he forgot this, maybe that is why he used a stick rather than a carrot.

But the real losers last night were the rebels.  In addition to losing the vote, they made utter fools of themselves. But we will now all hopefully move on. In a few years time we will wonder what all of the fuss was about. It will be a part of modern life we take for granted, unable to imagine that such an obvious and easy change should have proven so controversial amongst some.

Dave Should Swivel His Eyes To Some Real Conservatives

I wonder if David Cameron, who didn't bother turning up to the Commons last night to make a speech on gay marriage despite it supposedly being a core issue for him, was instead having a night chillaxing with Sam. If so it is to be hoped, between the smooching and the box sets, he watched some news.

In particular he would have done well to have watched Newsnight. That programme went in search of the swivel eyed loons. David Grossman headed to Clacton to interview some Conservative Party activists.

If only such people were featured regularly in the media. They came across as nice, decent, down to earth, sensible people. They were not wealthy, did not speak with plums in their mouths. They knew each other and got on, not because they went to the same school or university, but because they shared certain values, agreed on the desired remedies, and wanted to do the best for the country. They were middle class people who work hard and do their best and happen to think that the best solutions for the nation are Conservative ones. They contribute their time to that cause. They are, in short, the legions of the Big Society Dave used to talk about. He could learn a thing or two from them. So could his elitist set up in Downing Street. If these sort of people were more representative of the parliamentary party then the Tories would be ahead in the polls.

The reason Dave is in trouble is precisely because he ignores the real Conservative Party, the people who are in touch with what concerns the rest of us. People who went to state schools, use the NHS, know how hard it is sometimes to make ends meet thanks to rising energy and food prices. If only he reached out and listened to them rather than disparaging them for daring to think differently to him, he might not now be in the mess he is in.

And yes, some will have been against gay marriage. I happen to disagree with them about this. But Cameron should not dismiss their opinions, and call them names. He should engage with them, seek to persuade them either with arguments about inclusiveness, about marriage being a Conservative desire and priority, or with regard to the fact that it is the pragmatic thing to do. Instead Dave and his cohorts dismiss them as bigots and yokels who lack their sophistication and education. That is the modus operandi of permanently angry and sneering lefties to anyone who lacks their progressive credentials. Is that who Dave prefers to be associated with?

Dave's biggest problem is that, though he likes to talk patronisingly about strivers, he has never had to strive for anything in his life. It has made him lazy and altogether too chillaxed. He probably doesn't think of himself as lazy, and would no doubt point to the long hours he puts in. But it's about more than that. It's about application, it's about doing more than the bare minimum. That is what we get from this prime minister. He makes a speech and there is no follow up. He announces a new policy and there is no hard sell. There is hardly any sell at all. Soon he finds himself in a mess and has to pull something out at the last minute. It will have been the same all his life. It will have been the same at school and university. Work, application, doing the reading? Leave it to the last minute. The very clever can get away with it. But it's no good in a PM. You can't get away with it. It's the job is so wearing, and why only the very best, the diligent and the slightly obsessive are ever truly great at it.

It is why Cameron is fast turning out to be a lousy and ineffectual prime minister. He can't be bothered to get out and persuade people. He can't be bothered to do the hard work. He just assumes it will all come right in the end.  He should invite a few ordinary Conservatives into Downing Street and spend some time with them, time he would no doubt prefer spending chillaxing, or talking to his chums. He ought really to give a few of them jobs. If he did he would get a much firmer grasp on the people he is trying to govern. That, prime minister, is what politics is supposed to be all about. Perhaps they don't teach that on PPE courses at Oxford.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Cameron Must Go

It doesn't really matter whether a member of David Cameron's inner circle called Tory activists swivel eyed loons. The accusation rings true, that is the damaging thing. This is what they think of us, these arrogant posh boys who have never done an honest days work. This is what they think of people infuriated with the EU and its various absurdities allied to economic sadism. They think they just have to issue a few soothing words, give a speech or two and the status quo will be maintained.

David Cameron, under the guise of modernisation that was supposed to deliver a Tory majority, effectively mounted a coup within his own party based on a false premise. The party has been taken over a by a bunch of metropolitan types who consider themselves sophisticates because they still think the sun shines out of Tony Blair's fundaments. They don't seem to realise that we as a nation are sick of that type of politics, sick of the anodyne language, sick of being patronised by people who think that all they have to do is pat us on the head, call us strivers, talk about 'our country' to make them sound like one of us, and we will all be appeased.

David Cameron has been losing people like me for some time, but his headless chicken behaviour of last week, not to mention his supine surrender to the risible combined forces of Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Hacked Off - combined forces he should have treated with the same lofty disdain he reserves instead for his own party - over press regulation was actually the real beginning of the end. That is probably not such a major issue for most in the party, but it ought to be. It is symbolic of Cameron's lack of guts, his managerialism when what we need is proper leadership. It's no wonder he gets on so well with Barack Obama. They are two peas in the pod. They both have an innate sense of their own superiority despite the fact that they are just PR men with no leadership ability whatsoever.

On Europe Cameron just does not convince. He made that speech in January and then went back into chillaxed mode. He seems to spend a good deal of his time in this mode. It is a consequence of his schooling and upbringing, of his time at university too that has made him what he is today. The boy who was clever and privileged enough never to have to try has got away with doing the bare minimum all of his life. He even won his party's leadership by just turning up, making a clever speech, and that was enough. Never has Britain been so poorly served by the machinations of party. Oh, strike that, actually we have. It's why we ended up with Gordon Brown as prime minister.

Because Cameron is really turning out to be that bad. What does he believe in? What is his vision? He has none. He has a vaguely Conservative philosophy but, as with so many modern politicians, has been utterly unable to use this as a basis for a coherent set of policies. All he has are slogans and soothing words, the schtick of the metropolitan smoothy dispensed to we yokels.

Cameron's good fortune has been that he has a few around him, like Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith, who have clear ideas and policies and were willing to pursue them relentlessly, and more or less alone. Were it not for them this government would be five years of treading water whilst we drown in the debt he was elected to sort out.

But it is the overweening arrogance of Cameron that really turns us off. The prime minister, we were told last week, was intensely relaxed about the insurrection within his party. Well he shouldn't be. That is his problem. He should be out talking to his backbenchers, charming them, twisting arms, listening to their gripes. Instead he sits, Caesar like, while his Senate mounts intrigue after intrigue, hoping against hope for a Brutus to emerge.

And he surrounds himself with his pals. It's not just the various chums from his school and university days who, given their alleged sophistication and brilliance, must be a bitter disappointment to him as he lurches from crisis to crisis and omnishambles after onnishambles that they apparently never see coming. We have also been saddled with George Osborne, the supposedly great political strategist, who has talked cuts without delivering them, cut the wrong things when he has, and has made our debt problem worse. But Tories have to sit and take the barbs of Labour and the left about the need for extra spending to boost growth because we have been told we are living through cuts and austerity. Remember these people, if they are good at anything which we have to doubt, are supposed to be good at PR and presentation. So how did they get themselves into a situation promising five years of unrelenting misery and austerity, brutal cuts, and hard choices, only to deliver a dam squib that is neither one or the other? It's Cameron politics all over. It's the wet, useless, sit on the fence, wait for it all to blow over, something will turn up, put everything off until tomorrow kind of politics that makes people furious.

It's no wonder that many people are turning to Nigel Farage and UKIP. But he is not the answer either. He is just an image of someone who might be. He has published the above advertisement today calling on Tories to decamp to his party. But that is precisely the wrong thing to do unless it is done in a coordinated and organised way. The solution is not to give up and cross the aisle except en masse. We cannot cross the aisle because UKIP are not represented in parliament and are unlikely to be anytime soon in any more than symbolic numbers as things stand. What they can do is deliver us into the arms of a Labour Party content to win only 35% of the vote in our skewed electoral system and then take us on a course that will revert us back to the 1970s.

There isn't time to have a relalignment of the centre right in the same way that it happened in the 80s to the centre left. That would be a disaster. Something more decisive and immediate is required.

It is time to fight back against the Cameron tendency and retake the Conservative Party. Those complaining and mounting intrigue after intrigue need to step up and plunge the knife in. Don't believe this rubbish about Cameron being more popular than his party, that is more metropolitan language from those who don't like talking to real people and so use pollsters instead. Someone needs to risk all and mount a coup. Even if such a coup failed you would be doing your party and your country a great service because it would make Dave stop chillaxing and start fighting for his job. He would have to get tough with the Lib Dems and maybe even abandon his precious Coalition, which is his inbuilt excuse for sitting back and doing nothing.

Oh and the spark for all of this should not be gay marriage. That is the cause, not Europe, that makes Tories look like swivel eyed loons. There is no decent argument for not implementing gay marriage. It is a decent, fair thing to do. Other people's marital arrangements should not be dictated by the state, they should just be recognised by it and made official. Any objections based on religion are hokum, and wont to make you look ridiculous and reactionary. Or swivel eyed if you prefer. The argument is lost. If you don't like men marrying men, or women marrying women, then don't. Ultimately that is the central unanswerable argument. Face facts.

But on Europe, the economy, the ECHR, immigration, the NHS, welfare and so many other issues, it is time to free the country from the shackles of this hopeless government. For that we need to either remove Dave or make him change. That process was started last week, but only threatening to deprive him of his job or actually doing so will complete it. That requires someone to be prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, do a Heseltine and make a challenge in the knowledge that the challenger rarely wins.

But you would be doing your party and your nation a service. I would do it but sadly I'm not an MP. It's time to be brave and face Dave, rather than kicking him repeatedly and then running away. Ultimately that is all that is happening at present. The mechanism is either to challenge Dave in a leadership election, or threaten a mass exodus of MPs to UKIP. We need a fundamental realignment away from the cynical political class and back to those whom they regard as loons. Either way the Westminster game playing has to stop. It cannot go on if we are to prevent a Labour victory.