Friday, 31 July 2015
I know that opinion polls are not really in favour at the moment, but perhaps someone should commission one into the British public's attitudes to the swarm of migrants attempting currently to invade us by force. Perhaps we should also ask them what they think of the kind of mealy mouthed bien pensants who worry more about what we call these feral scumbags than what they are doing. The attitudes of the public might come as something of a shock to the various dimwits who leapt on David Cameron's words yesterday with all of the predictability of tonight's full moon. It shouldn't come as a shock though. After all the parties all competed to talk tough on immigration during the election campaign because they are very well aware that the public is angry about it. So how do they think we feel when we are laid siege to by people who have no right to come here, who are threatening lorry drivers, holding up the travel and commerce of those using the Calais facilities legally and causing criminal damage in the process? Answer: we're furious. Calling them a swarm is the very least they deserve.
They should also look up the word swarm. It is actually very apposite. It can be used as a noun or a verb. As a verb it means to move somewhere in large numbers. It is often used to describe protesters. How is this any different?
These people are desperate we keep being told. No they're bloody not. They have reached a safe and prosperous country and yet that isn't good enough for them. What they are is opportunists trying to pick and choose which country they decide to impose themselves on in their faux desperation. It may well be that some of them are from war torn countries, it may well be that some are the victims of genuine depredations. That is entirely beside the point. The genuinely desperate should be happy that they are now safe in France, even if that country is not so generous or gullible as our own. But the vast majority are nothing of the sort. They are economic migrants - armed with mobile phones - who have seen an opportunity and are causing criminal damage and mayhem and putting others into danger. They are also damaging the economy of the very country they wish to come and leech off.
What is driving this latest invasion force is not desperation, it is the fact that the French authorities, thanks to a combination of cynicism, incompetence and arrogance have lost control. There are said to be about 3000 of these migrants in Calais, with the number growing but hardly exponentially. Is it really that difficult to corral them and stop them breaking the law?
What we are seeing in Calais is effectively a riot. It should be treated accordingly. The British government should offer to help. But we should also now make the stipulation that anyone caught coming across from France will be stopped, fingerprinted and immediately returned to France. There will be little opportunity for their feet to touch the ground. Their details will then be stored on a computer and they will never be allowed to settle in Britain. Those wishing to come and live here have to live by our rules. It is not a good start to ignore and break those rules before you even arrive. Accordingly you are not welcome.
Some say that when he's hungry his eyes flash red; and that when he contemplates being introduced by Chris Evans from next year he whimpers and growls - all we know is: he's called The Stig.
It was announced yesterday that the old Top Gear team: Clarkson, Hammond and May but minus The Stig, an invention of Clarkson and his old school mucker Andy Wilman but 'owned' by the BBC, will from next year be making their programmes for Amazon. Its a sign of the times, but it is also confirmation that the BBC, at least in its comfortable current mode, is on its last legs.
Those of us who have long argued that the old way of funding the BBC is broken and cannot last are once again vindicated by this latest news about one of the Beeb's most loved shows and an example of its appalling management. One of its greatest products has been lost without so much as a penny being expended to poach it away, simply because BBC management did not have the wit or the imagination to find a way to keep them after the Clarkson imbroglio. Its cost them money too, its only a couple of years since BBC Worldwide, the commercial wing, shelled out millions to buy the company that owned Top gear from Clarkson and Wilman. That's why Top Gear continues with new presenters. But worse than that it exposes the fragility and pointlessness of the current BBC funding model. Whatever name they come up for the new Top Gear - proper Top Gear you might say - fans will no doubt gladly pay up for it. So why have a licence fee?
Those of us who are arguing for fundamental change of the BBC are not arguing for it to be broken up, sold off or closed down. That is typical BBC lies, evasion and spin. We are arguing that in a world in which its biggest stars can be poached, not by ITV but by a company best known for selling us books and DVDs but which is now expanding into new arenas, the old form of funding is broken. But, as this deal also shows, there is plenty of scope for new arrangements to replace it.
Sky now has 12 million subscribers. That is a substantial proportion - getting on for half of all British homes - who are voluntarily paying out quite significant monthly sums to watch television from just one company. The rise of Netflix, of BT Sport and now of Amazon illustrates that, if the product is right, people are able and willing to pay. The irony of the Top Gear debacle is that the BBC had the perfect vehicle to start this great experiment and handed it over gratis to the insurgents.
There is simply no reason why the current BBC services should not be funded by a combination of advertising and subscriptions. The only argument for the status quo is that it suits BBC management to have a guaranteed income and insures them against failure. But, as we have seen time and time again, that insurance has a tendency to make the corporation small c conservative, staid and dull. The best programming is not coming from the producers with a guaranteed income from the taxpayer, it is coming from those who need to be imaginative and daring to make a living.
The BBC tells us that competition and commercial funding would be bad for it, yet at the same time they are perfectly willing to use their power and guaranteed funding to compete ruthlessly for audience share and to pursue commercial opportunities to further expand the BBC empire. The irony is that they would actually be better off stopping making their lowest common denominator trash programming: Strictly, The Voice, EastEnders, The Apprentice et al and going back to making genuine public service programming. That is distinctive and more appealing to advertisers. Subscribers are willing to pay premium prices for it too. Look at the rise of the box set.
A classic example of BBC mismanagement and ineptitude is the annual Proms. These are hugely popular, high end, culturally significant and are classic examples of public service broadcasting that would have had Lord Reith himself purring. Yet the BBC shows only a small percentage of them on its channels. It has BBC Four, which is mostly repeats, and yet instead of turning it into the Proms channel every summer, it prefers simply to put them on the radio. The BBC could not only put the Proms on TV and win decent audiences for showing them all, but could probably charge for the privilege. It is a criminal waste of superlative programming which is loved and cherished by an audience in the same way that Grand Prix fans love Formula One and football fans love the Premier League. It can and should be monetised.
The BBC, as Top Gear so ably demonstrated, is almost uniquely bad at managing and capitalising on its hits. Yet it seeks them constantly. They are permanently throwing money at new and ever brasher attempts to make dramas that will provide them with a longed for international hit, the recent egregiously awful The Interceptor on BBC One being the latest example. Occasionally they do score them - you know, the sort they have with Doctor Who and had with Top Gear and which ITV has had with Downton Abbey. Content is king. But its not obvious why it needs to be paid for with a licence fee other than for the convenience of BBC management who have shown they are not particularly good at choosing the material that audiences want. Most of the time they simply get lucky, or have the sense to leave presenters and producers to get on with it. That used to be the way the BBC operated. It produced some of the best programming we have ever seen. Now management interfere, intrude and force programmers to adhere to guidelines like the stipulation that all comedy panel shows must have at least one female participant. Even if she isn't very funny. It is a miracle that Top Gear survived for 25 series without having a female presenter imposed on it, yet it remained hugely popular - even with women. Who would have thought?
BBC management then are not very good. They are generally pettifogging bureaucrats who occasionally get lucky. Danny Cohen is a classic example of the breed, the sort of manager that W1A lampooned, except he is not especially funny. They fail more often than they succeed and yet ceaselessly blow their own trumpets when they get the occasional hit. Then they usually leave with a big pay off to go and work in the private sector where they are never heard from again.
Actually the best way of convincing those managers that the way ahead is the commercial route, albeit with the corporation staying in public hands, is that it would enable them to continue receiving their elevated salaries. They might even get big bonuses if they deliver a true hit.
The only way for the BBC to survive is if it adapts to do so. It has to accept that the old broadcasting world is breaking down. We are entering an era of narrowcasting - of people paying for content they want and tailoring their own schedules according to their tastes. Its a process that was started by the multichannel era and which is now reaching its zenith thanks to the internet. The era of mass viewing, of huge 20 million audiences is long gone. Despite this end of an era however, there is absolutely no reason why the BBC should not be at the forefront of the new one. It has the brand and, despite recent scandals, it still has public trust. But it has to seize the moment. Why shouldn't the BBC compete with Amazon and Netflix as it has competed for years with ITV, Channel 4 and Capital Radio? It has the brand, it has the infrastructure, it has the back catalogue. All it needs is to be freed up and allowed to forge a new path. Oh and some managers with a bit of foresight and enterprise rather than the gilded bureaucrats stuck in the past and too comfortable with it.
Some say its management are simply lazy and not very talented and that they are an out of touch elite who want their gilded lives subsidised by the rest of us. All we know is, its called the BBC.
Thursday, 30 July 2015
Calais: For how long now have we been watching the gangs of 'the desperate' in northern France, queueing up for their chance to invade our island and watched with growing irritation and anger as the French ignore it or actively encourage it and we end up paying for it all one way or the other? How many years is it since Labour did a deal with the French government that, in return for the closure of the notorious camp at Sangatte, Britain would take a share of the refugees? Since then new camps have risen up, less organised for sure, but hardly bothered by the French authorities who tacitly encourage them.
Now it has reached a new crisis level. The French authorities are losing control and the immigrant hordes are organising themselves into invading armies. They are even using military style pincer movements to overwhelm defences.
As ever our own ministers are frustrated by the French authorities and are left taking piecemeal actions to try and stop this.
The usual suspects in the papers are writing their usual bleeding heart nonsense about whose fault this is. Its ours of course. There are a number of culprits for this crisis, but it is hard to see how we are to blame. Because we have a generous system of benefits? Because Britain is a tolerant and accommodating country? These are things to be proud of. Its just that our hospitality is often abused.
David Aaronovich in The Times (£) says its all our fault. This is for all of the usual reasons. He points out that other countries are absorbing millions of displaced people. This is true. But they are not doing what we do: handing them free education, free health care, money in their pockets, a roof over their heads and a long and tortuously slow legal route to erroneously claim refugee status which can be used and abused and usually ignored.
Aaronovitch takes the standard liberal lefty view, the one propagated by the gated communities of the Guardian and the BBC, that these are people who are simply trying to better themselves and so should be let in to avail themselves of our education system. It never occurs to them - well actually it probably does, but he would never admit it as that would be racist - that they might be coming for less wholesome reasons like an easy life, benefits, free housing and women who aren't veiled and, though certainly not virgins, are up for it. Apparently you can go to some parts of the north of our country and rape and abuse teenaged girls and the authorities ignore it. If you get one of these women pregnant you get to stay forever. What's not to like or climb a fence for?
Or of course it is blamed on our foreign policy. How exactly was that to blame? Yes Iraq was a mistake, one most of us except Tony Blair readily acknowledge, but it was done with the best of intentions in the hope of turning that country into a civilised and civilising country. Since then we have eschewed intervention. So we have intervened and we have not intervened and it is still our fault. The Americans were invited in to Saudi Arabia in the last century and yet they were somehow to blame for invading Muslim lands. So they were to blame for 9/11 apparently. Muslims have become expert at seeing conspiracies against them and become righteously angry. Its so much easier to be angry than to take a long hard look at yourselves and at the idiocies of your religious beliefs. Why is it that Muslims find it so hard to assimilate with host cultures when others seem perfectly able to accept the compromises of simply being tolerant, civilised and well mannered?
We have a tolerant approach to all those who come to this country legally and a too tolerant approach to those who come here illegally, yet when a whole section of our society cuts themselves off and ghettoises themselves is that our fault? Why do they always come from one religion? Is that our fault?
Is it our fault that, despite an ultra generous foreign aid budget, there are plenty of places in the world that are badly and corruptly run and so the people are miserable? Is it our fault that Britain is a stable, law abiding, prosperous country? Is it our fault that by and large we are accommodating and welcoming to the couple of million additional people who have come to live here in the last decade or so? Is it our fault that this is the reason why so many want to come here?
If we opened our doors to the hordes of Calais would the blame end? Or would we be inviting in the next crisis in a few months time when it would once again be our fault?
And then there is the French. Those great lecturers about European solidarity have taken a deliberate and characteristically cynical attitude to the hordes. Nothing is done to process them, nothing is done to remove them. Their illegal camp sites are tolerated and ignored and charities are allowed to operate in a sub Sangatte way by offering food, hot drinks, bedding, medical attention. They even get places where they can charge their mobile phones so that they can organise their next raiding party. These are desperate people we keep being told. Desperate people with mobile phones? When the police arrest the gangs breaking through the fences they are simply driven a few miles away and released. This has been going on for years. The crisis levels we are seeing today are a simple consequence of deliberate French inaction.
It is time to get tough. It is a mystery to me and any other sentient adult that those who actually make it to these shores are treated as if they are genuine refugees and processed accordingly. We know exactly where they have come from and so they are not entitled to asylum here. That is the law. They should have claimed it in France or wherever else they first landed in this continent. They do not get to pick and choose. Send them back.
These are not poor benighted souls, desperate for a new way of life. They are an invading army of mostly young men intent on picking our pockets because the French won't give them what they want. But it is not incumbent upon those of us in this continent to give them the easy lives they not unnaturally aspire to. We have a right to protect our interests whilst of course being generous to those genuinely in need. But the people of Britain are not feeling generous to gangs of thugs who are behaving in this way. Their reckless criminal behaviour should not be rewarded by treating them as invaders and criminals while on French soil and then lottery winners who beat the odds the moment they make it to England. Send them back after first taking their fingerprints. Tell them that if they come here again, even if they make it all the way to some northern city and get a job, they will forever be illegal immigrants and will never be allowed to stay. That is the consequence of breaking the rules.
And yes we should send in the army. Use the army to check every single lorry, van or other vehicle capable of hiding illegal immigrants. And lets start calling them what they are. These are illegal immigrants. They are not asylum seekers. They are engaged in a criminal endeavour.
Yes we should cooperate with the French, we have to because this is happening on French soil. We should cooperate with them to round up the gangs, close down the camps, stop the charities feeding the gangs, root out the people traffickers and then load them up on to buses and fly them back where they came from.
And if this crisis keeps getting worse then we should simply close down this point of entry for a few days until it is stable and secure and until the gangs are removed. People going about their lawful business are fearful and in danger. It is only a matter of time before someone who is just doing his job or who is simply going on holiday is killed or seriously injured by the criminals who are trying to invade us. Invaders have to be repelled.
Some prats in the media and opportunist politicians are criticising David Cameron for calling the swarm of immigrants a swarm. Yes because using a perfectly reasonable simile is the real problem here and something to get aerated over. Among those criticising the PM are the increasingly desperate Andy Burnham and Nigel Farage, who becomes more ridiculous and self serving as the days progress. To think he might have been an MP by now. Farage says he wouldn't use the word swarm to describe them, except he would and has - in the past on a different but similar story when actually the numbers were fewer and less swarm like.
The invading swarms are swarming all over fences and overwhelming police. Much like - a swarm. Let's worry about things that matter rather than about upsetting the thought police of the BBC and Guardian.
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
As this blog has said on many occasions in the past, there is nothing like a lefty for sanctimony. Most of the participants in Labour's leadership farce are good at this. I particularly commend the lovely Yvette, who has that look of sad disappointment down to a tee. How awful it must be to be one of her children coming home with a poor report card. Ed must come in for a hard time too if ever he leaves the toilet seat up or pulls that face he uses during football matches when they are in bed at night. You will often see her slowly shaking her head and looking on the point of tears as she admonishes the government front bench for some failing or another. Andy Burnham tries it too, but then they just remind him of his record running the NHS.
But there is nothing like the hard left for true, nailed on, holier than thou superciliousness. This is the sort exemplified by Little Owen Jones and, well lets face it, everyone who has ever written for The Guardian. They genuinely feel, nay know, that their particular brand of caring and sharing politics is inherently superior. Never let the facts get in the way of full on, patronising, patriarchal socialist provision for the neediest whatever it does for the nation's finances, competitiveness and the life chances of those they purport to be helping.
And this explains why Jeremy Corbyn is doing so well in the polls. He is the caring and sharing candidate who lets others worry about reality. And to be fair he knows what he believes and says it uncompromisingly. The fact that it doesn't stand up to a moments scrutiny is neither here nor there. When did that ever stop them?
And the best part is that those who are voting or at the moment promising to vote for Corbyn get to feel good about themselves. He has Charlotte Church on his side now. I would lay very good odds that she had never heard of him until a month ago. Now she is his biggest fan, at least until the next bandwagon comes along.
But that is why Corbyn is in the lead on first preferences. There really isn't much to choose between the other candidates, not least because only one of them has said much and she has said what the party doesn't want to hear and so is lagging behind as a consequence. Yvette and Andy? Meh!
So those enthused, genuinely enthused by the candidate who is preaching to the party in its feather lined comfort zone have enabled him to shoot into a huge lead. The candidates hedging their bets are vying for second place and the lead keeps changing. But in this election it is those second preferences that will count. Those voting with their hearts or because they are delusional or Charlotte Church will vote for Corbyn. Then someone else will come through on second preferences and win. Corbyn is the sort of candidate you vote for as your first preference or not at all. That is why Yvette Cooper will be the next leader of the Labour Party. This could turn out to be yet another debacle for the polling companies.
If you haven't already seen and read this story about an impossible new engine that might actually take us to the stars one day then do. It will cheer you up.
It's the invention of a British eccentric. It was invented and developed on a shoestring. It was dismissed by the experts at first as being nonsense and impossible. And, in addition to revolutionising space travel it will also revolutionise science. Because it shouldn't work. It breaks the laws of physics.
Yet the boffins at NASA say that the EM Drive seems to work. It takes solar power and generates microwaves that bounce back and forth across an enclosed chamber. This happens in perpetuity unless and until something breaks. Somehow this creates thrust. It shouldn't.
But the best part is that this isn't any old thrust. This is the kind of thrust currently restricted to science fiction. This would make a trip to the moon happen in less time than it currently takes to fly to the USA.
We are currently marvelling at those pictures of Pluto. It took us years to get there using conventional chemical rockets. The EM Drive could get us there in 18 months. Mars would take just 70 days. Even interstellar travel would become a little more viable. It would still take years but not thousands of years as now.
And lets restate this one more time. Science has no idea how this works. It shouldn't work according to everything we thought we knew. Remember that the next time that anyone tells you anything about science being settled about anything.
Science is never settled. There is always room for improvement. Apparently uncontested theories that have lasted for centuries can be challenged by new ideas. Newton's laws were challenged by Einstein at the turn of the 20th century. Now, in the 21st century, Einstein's ideas are being challenged in turn. There is considerable doubt that the standard model of the universe that science settled on years ago is right because 95% of the universe is unaccounted for. There is considerable doubt that the universe did start as a big bang as we have accepted for the last 50 years because things do not add up. 20 years ago it was generally accepted by doctors that stomach ulcers were caused by stress. Now we know its by a bacteria. Its starting to become clear that heart disease may have little or nothing to do with cholesterol. Correlation is not cause. I wonder in what other area correlation and cause might be getting confused. Oh and on that subject, remember when just a few years ago it was confidently predicted that there would be no more summer sea ice in the Arctic? This year its increased by 33%.
Now some of Newtons laws of motion may need to be rewritten thanks to a British inventor called Roger Shawyer. Science is never settled. Anyone who claims otherwise is a shameless hack and someone with an agenda, not a scientist.
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Lord Sewel. Even if it were not silly season this would still be a story that would have made it right to the top of the agenda. It has even beaten the SNP tying itself up in knots over whether another referendum is inevitable and if so how can it be up to the Scottish people as was their previous line. Now its just up to Nicola Sturgeon. Actually, it's not. It's up to a Tory prime minister in London. Ha!
But back to Lord Sewel. What is most beautiful about this story, other than a man in his later years dressing up in women's underwear and snorting a class A drug, is the fact that he was a man charged until recently with helping to push through a new system for bringing to heel errant members of our upper chamber. Then he turned out to be a man in heels.
But why is this happening and why is it so controversial? Well its not just that our tolerance for the peccadilloes of our politicians has become stretched beyond recognition. 30 years ago cabinet ministers resigned when exposed for having extra marital affairs. Now this senior peer is trying to hang on to his right to legislate for us all after using prostitutes and illegal drugs.
No, the reason is because the House of Lords should not exist in the 21st century and deep down we all know this. It is, or ought to be, indefensible. Seriously, try defending it to a foreigner. Its like explaining the rules of cricket to an American. It lasts 5 days?
If this were an elected politician he would now be in fear of his position. But he need not fear. He just needs to go quiet for a while and then sneak back in. That's what Baroness Uddin did. She stole £125,000 from all of us in false expenses claims, then did not pay it back because she said she could not afford it. Now she is back sitting in the House of Lords and claiming expenses again. The House of Lords has Jeffrey Archer sitting in it for crying out loud.
And the Lords is full. It has 800 members. But, because Tories are outnumbered in there, the prime minister may well have to appoint several dozen more. The Labour Party, yes the Labour Party, regularly uses the Lords as a way of frustrating the legislation of the democratically elected government. It is threatening to use every trick in the book in this parliament to do the same.
And yes I've heard all the arguments about the Lords being a place where legislation is properly scrutinised. But why couldn't a democratically elected upper house fulfil the same function? Why must it be used as a doss house for those put out to political seed? Furthermore it also acts as a kind of pension top-up for our ex MPs, ministers, quango chairmen and women and various former public servants. When the last Speaker of the House of Commons was forced out due to being useless, they sugar coated it by promising him his traditional seat in the Lords.
Any chamber that is unelected is an affront to democracy. Any chamber that is permanent is an affront to democracy. Any chamber that can have within its walls members who have brazenly broken the law and can then swan back in and claim £300 a day in expenses is an affront to justice, prudence, common sense and democracy.
Reform of the House of Lords was yet another issue on which the Lib Dems failed during their brief and ill starred time in government. Now they have more members of this house than they do the Commons. That is the nature of British parliamentary democracy in the 21st century. For all we know they are all wearing bras and panties under their ermine. Its probably one of those arcane rules they are so proud of.
At 7.30 this morning, after this post was written and while this blogger was still asleep, Lord Sewell finally accepted the inevitable and resigned his membership of our upper chamber of parliament. The fact remains however that it is a chamber long past its sell by date, one that needs radical and drastic reform and one over which we, the electorate and the poor mugs who pay for this farce, get some say over who legislates for us.
Monday, 27 July 2015
Only last Thursday I wrote that the SNP is preparing the grounds for another referendum and that in truth it started that process the day after it lost the last one. An SNP MP asked in parliament what preparations the British government is making for that inevitable day. The SNP mean to keep asking the question until they get the right answer. They learned this from the EU.
Yesterday, Alex Salmond, ex leader of the SNP and the man who told his nation that the referendum just under a year ago was the only chance in a generation to vote on this issue, informed us instead that another is inevitable. This is a rather stronger way of putting it than Nicola Sturgeon, Salmond's successor. You may recall that, during the election campaign, despite her general success on that stage amid her elevation to red suited mini political colossus, she was nevertheless booed. Booed! Why? Because she ventured away from more cautious words about a referendum and gave the game away that she wants another. The booing might be seen by those who are willing to be objective on this issue that the Scottish people consider this matter settled.
Indeed the SNP probably know this because ever since then the more cautious members of that party, particularly Sturgeon, have averred, at least in public, that there are no plans for another referendum. This is political speak for there are plans but they are not yet written down so that we can claim to not have any. In other words they are a bit like legal advice given about the EU which Salmond claimed to have been given but had not actually commissioned and which didn't exist.
The other form of words the SNP use is that a decision on a referendum is for the Scottish people. So how then can another referendum be inevitable? Have the Scottish people recently changed their mind? Have they changed their mind since Nicola Sturgeon was last asked this question? Is Alex Salmond talking to different people?
This is all very difficult. How will those renowned democrats in the SNP determine the will of the Scottish people? After all, the will of the Scottish people last September was to stay as part of the UK. Presumably the will of the Scottish people, even if you are Alex Salmond, could then reasonably have been identified as having settled the question for a number of years. Indeed it must have been, because Salmond then resigned as leader of his party and First Minister. Has the will of the Scottish people changed in the last 11 months?
No, say those men and women of the people the SNP. What will determine a change of will of the Scottish people will be some issue. But, since the SNP lost the referendum on the issue of independence, could it not be argued that they are not best placed to determine that will on this issue? Indeed you might argue that the will of the Scottish people and the will of the SNP is at variance. Thus Salmond's claim that another referendum is inevitable is null and void. Cos you lost, Alex.
No, say those doughty defenders of the popular will, the SNP. There are many issues coming up in the days, weeks and years ahead that will change the will of the Scottish people (as interpreted by us). These include England, but not Scotland, voting to leave the EU. Then there is the issue of that vow on more powers for Scotland and of course austerity. On all of these matters those great listeners, the SNP, claim to speak for their people, even the ones (the majority) who voted No last September.
Yet, here's the thing, at the referendum last year, the one the SNP lost - you know, that one - this question was also settled. The people of Scotland voted to stay as part of the UK. That means that questions such as these are taken collectively by the whole country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. From London. In the Houses of Parliament in which the SNP has MPs. That's the way our constitution works. It was recently reaffirmed in a referendum. You know, the one the SNP lost.
No, say those terribly reasonable and democratic people, the SNP, these are all game changers. The people will demand another referendum as a consequence of all of these matters. Quite how this works is a mystery too. Some great issue will arise causing the Scottish people to demand, via the SNP, another referendum. The SNP are the only ones who hear these demands. They are uniquely attuned to the Scottish people. The SNP will demand that this clear call by the Scottish people be listened to. They will then, if the last one is anything to go by, satisfy this upwelling of indignation by calling the referendum after a 2 year long campaign and on or near a date or anniversary that makes the Scottish breast swell with pride. So it will be a kind of long burning demand.
Oh, but one final thing, because of that referendum, which the SNP lost if you recall, the SNP do not actually have the power to call a Scottish referendum. That power resides with the British government. In London. This is probably fortunate since Alex Salmond thinks another referendum is inevitable and so would probably call one a month.
Of course the SNP could always put demanding another referendum in their manifesto for next May's Scottish elections. That is a way of determining the will of the Scottish people and talking about it openly and honestly. Or are you worried that the Scottish people, for whom you claim to speak, would be quite annoyed if you did? And you might lose. Like you did the referendum.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
Now, because apparently Isaac must have led a rather dull life, we skip ahead. He is now old and blind and clearly on his last legs.
Isaac called Esau, his eldest son to him. This is odd because in chapter 25 we were told that Esau went away having given up his birthright to his brother, Jacob. It is also odd because in just the last chapter we were told that Esau had married a woman from a different tribe which had upset his parents. Anyway, we ignore this because otherwise it would spoil this fantastically stupid story.
Isaac told Esau that he didn't know when he would die, but clearly felt that the moment was near. This prompted him to ask Esau to go out and get him some venison and prepare it in the way he loved. Esau was a hunter which his father liked, even though he was supposed to be a wealthy man with many heads of cattle and other animals. But Isaac wanted his venison and he wanted it in a savoury fashion. Then he would bless his son before he died and introduce him to his pal God.
So Esau went out to hunt. But the conversation had been overhead by Rebekah. She went to Jacob and told him what she had heard. She urged him to get what Isaac had asked for and pretend to be his brother so that he could get the blessing instead. Isaac wouldn't know the difference, she said, because he was blind.
But Jacob pointed out that his brother was hairy and he was not and that if Isaac felt him he would know that he was being deceived and a curse would be upon him. Clearly Isaac was so keen on this particular meal that when he received it he gave whoever had served it to him a good feel and rub of delight. Maybe that was what they did in those days instead of tipping or sending their compliments to the chef.
Rebekah dismissed this and told him the curse would be on her if this happened and to do as he was told. So he went and fetched two kid goats, not venison, and he slaughtered them and took them to his mother who prepared them for his father in the way that he loved. She then dressed Jacob in Esau's clothes, presumably having raided his extensive wardrobe even though they all lived in tents and even though Esau had, just a couple of chapters ago, banished himself. Anyway, Rebekah now put some of the skin from the goats on his hands and neck to make him hairy. That must have been most convincing. Why don't they use that method in showbiz?
The only flaw to this plan, other than that they were sending a different food to what he asked for and he was clothed in dead animal skin, seems to be that they had not considered the fact that Esau would later return with the same items he was asked for and Isaac and Esau would then wonder who the other chap was who had brought him food. Its like a sitcom in which someone has to eat three Christmas lunches.
Anyway, off Jacob went to his father. And his father said who are you, my son? To which Jacob replied that yes indeed he was his son, Esau, his eldest and he had done as asked and brought the food so that he could receive the blessing as promised. Isaac not unreasonably asked how he had managed to find and prepare the food so quickly, to which Jacob responded that it had been provided for him by God, who probably is a great hunter. He could kill animals with lightning and cook them at the same time.
And Isaac asked him to go near to him so that he could feel him and see if he was indeed Esau his son. Clearly this was a very close father and son relationship. In this day and age social services would have been called in.
Jacob went to his father who felt him. He discerned that the voice was that of Jacob but the hands were of his brother Esau. You might imagine that, since he was clearly in the habit of giving his sons a quick feel, he might have been able to tell that it was in fact the skin from a recently slaughtered goat.
But Jacob gave his father the food and he gave him wine and then Isaac smelled his clothes which smelled of the field apparently and was convinced that this was indeed Esau and so he blessed him and promised him that he was going to be the lord of the tribe and the leader of it and that all would bow down to him. All this for a bit of food?
But then, moments after he had departed, Esau came back with the food he had been asked for. They figured it out. And Isaac told Esau that Jacob had stolen his blessing. Stolen his blessing? How do you steal a blessing? Can they not just be taken back? He's got a friend who is a god who can smite whole cities, surely he could arrange to take back a blessing earned under false pretences? But apparently all of this was impossible. Isaac told Esau that he could not now give the blessing to him too and that therefore Jacob would now inherit all and Esau would have to serve him.
Esau was clearly most unhappy about this, furious even. He had had his birthright stolen, even though this had then been immediately ignored for the purposes of the story and now a blessing. He decided he would have to kill his brother. But once again Rebekah overheard this and warned Jacob and told him to go and stay with his uncle for a while until Esau calmed down.
Saturday, 25 July 2015
Friday, 24 July 2015
John Bercow, the oh so grand cuckolded Speaker of the House of Commons, who can tell the very mighty in our land to shut up and sit down - even if for no other reason than he thinks they have been talking for too long - very much enjoys his status and likes it to be known how important he is.
Therefore, not for this poisoned dwarf a mere taxi. Oh no. Bercow must be driven around in limos, even if where he is going is only a mile and a half away from his taxpayer funded home. Its actually a very pleasant stroll from Parliament to Carlton House Terrace. You can go through the park, past the lake stopping to feed the ducks and to look at the pelicans. The squirrels are very tame and friendly too. Take some nuts with you. They like nuts. Or you can do it John Bercow's way: hire a car and a chauffeur and charge it to the public purse for £172.
He also took a limo to go to a do at the Dorchester Hotel, also a mere 1.5 miles away. In a taxi both journeys would cost about £15, which is in itself bloody diabolical and is the reason why Uber is becoming so popular. His trip to Manchester to attend the funeral of an MP set us all back £1300 because he required a limo for two days and a hotel stay.
Just before the last parliament ended, the Tories tried to bring in a new voting system for electing the Speaker in an attempt to get rid of the jumped up bumptious twat. It was defeated by Labour. Another triumph for the party of the people.
But what are we to do with Bercow? Well clearly his penchant for the high life must be accommodated somehow if we are to to get rid of him. So why not get him a job with the EU? Or the BBC?
It is generally agreed, except possibly by the French and Italians but for entirely self serving reasons, that it is not a good idea to pay ransoms to recover kidnapped people. Terrible though this is for the victims themselves and their families, the logic is unimpeachable. If you show people that their behaviour will be rewarded then they are likely to do it again. After all that's how we have been raising children for millennia.
So why then do the western media respond to Islamic terrorists and indeed non terrorists demanding that their sensibilities be respected by not publishing pictures of their imaginary prophet? Why, when the Charlie Hebdo murders took place, did so few publications show solidarity by publishing its cartoons? This blog did so and does so again now. But I am hardly the Times or The Telegraph.
Now, sad to say, Charlie Hebdo itself is bowing to this pressure. It has announced it will no longer publish cartoons of the paedophile prophet, the warmonger and founder of a plastic religion created for the same purposes of every other religion and which has captured the hearts and minds of a billion cretins across the world, a substantial minority of whom demand the right to have their idiot beliefs respected or else.
If only the rest of the publishing world had shown some solidarity with Charlie, if only they had shown some gumption in defending freedom of speech we might have scored a victory against the Islamo fascists. Instead we have appeased them. As ever it will come back to bite us. There will be more demands for respect for their brainless beliefs. That is how religions prosper. That is how they have enslaved millions of people in parts of the world that aren't allowed to question. What's our excuse?
Since the election, in addition to the Labour Party going through its traditional existential crisis as it wonders what the hell it is for, there has been a surge of self righteousness from a crowd of know-nothings - people of the Charlotte Church tendency. This is a reaction to a Conservative government. Or they think it is a reaction to a Conservative government. In fact it is a reaction to the words cuts and austerity. It is because they don't have the first clue what they are talking about. Worryingly for Labour, the man who is currently out in front in their leadership race shows similarly woolly thinking.
Yet this week we had the latest figures released. This is the real meaning of austerity in modern Britain. We are not a country like Greece being asked to cut pensions and basics for an entire nation. We are merely being asked to live within our means. Yes, this means difficult and sometimes painful choices, but it leads to the long term health of the nation. And that is being proven.
Because over the year to June 30th, just gone, public spending did what? What do you think? It rose by 2.9%. Yes, it rose. In cash terms there was an increase of 2.9% in what our government is spending and, since we are living through a period with no inflation, that means that it was a real increase of 2.9%
Oh and welfare. What do you think happened to that? Despite more people getting jobs, higher rates and better take up of welfare entitlements meant that the overall amount we pay in welfare rose by 3.6%. Yes, rose. That neatly sums up why we need to do something about welfare and why this government has bitten the bullet. Even in a growing economy with people falling off the unemployment register, thanks to what the last Labour government did to our welfare system it still continues to suck more out of the economy.
It went from being what was envisaged in the Beveridge Report of a state safety net, to a way of life, a means for Labour to hand out money it couldn't afford to people and make them reliant on it. It entrenched reliance and poverty. What is worse we couldn't afford it as that vast deficit proved.
The good news though is that the economy is doing well and thus tax revenues are coming in and reducing the deficit. Revenues grew by 4.4%. So austerity is nothing like as austere as people claim it to be and it has not damaged the economy.
All the same our national debt is continuing to grow. It is now over £1.5 trillion. We will be adding to it right until the end of this parliament when we will at last run a small surplus. The corollary of this is that we are now paying more in servicing that vast debt than we are spending on defence. That is why we have to make economies.
Yes there are still going to be cuts. That is inevitable when the government is spending more than it is bringing in. But overall government spending is growing, we are still putting money into priority areas. The cuts to welfare are a sensible response to an out of control system which actually entrenches worklessness and poverty. But this is not the heartless austerity as portrayed by Guardianistas and fat middle aged ex singers with nothing better to do. This is targeted. This is part of a philosophy to make the state smaller, less intrusive and less expensive. The vast wastefulness in state services has to be addressed. But many are already efficient and well run. I got my new passport within a week with a text message to tell me it was on its way. The same is true when we send for driving licences. The switch from paper counterpart licences to a web based system has gone very smoothly after initial hiccups. If only the rest of government were so efficient we could save billions.
What is happening is rather like what happened when the Chancellor went on to a dieting and fitness regime. He made himself trimmer and healthier and looked better as a consequence. His aim is to do the same to the British economy. The figures show it is working, but there is a lot more fat to trim, fat piled on by the sort of government we had for 13 years which just thinks throwing money at everything is a panacea and calls everything investment to cover its tracks. Fortunately they lost the election. Their leadership problems are more to do with their confusion over the new economic reality the public has grasped but the left still ignore.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
When Norman Smith brought out his inner thesp and illustrated Labour's car crash it wasn't actually that bad. This was just in the wake of their idiocy in the House of Commons last week when they rebelled against Harriet Harman's perfectly reasonable and strategically sensible injunction that they should abstain on the government's welfare bill.
Harriet argued that we have just had an election and that the Tories had won. They won in no small part because they promised to cut welfare even further. Much of the public agreed. Thus it would be bad for Labour to fall into the trap of voting against this. Abstaining would be more expedient and allow them to then take on the bill line by line and argue against or indeed for individual measures. Labour MPs, or at least a substantial minority of them, preferred to take the Charlotte Church approach and virtue signal. It was a mess, it was self inflicted, it fell into the hands of the Tories and George Osborne. It was a trap with a neon sign over it saying 'THIS IS A TRAP: AVOID AVOID.' They strolled in.
But since then matters have got worse. They have even got worse since I wrote my very popular summary of the first few weeks of the new parliament. I only wrote this at the weekend when I thought I might be in hospital.
It seems that Labour may actually be about to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as its new leader. Jeremy Corbyn, a Tony Benn for the 21st century, but without the tax dodging house in Holland Park. Jeremy Corbyn, friend of terrorists, Jeremy Corbyn who wants to abolish student tuition fees but can give no clue how the hell this is to be paid for and who apparently hasn't noticed the recent history of pledges like these. Jeremy Corbyn, who divorced his wife because she wanted to send their son to a grammar school. Jeremy Corbyn, a Marxist in the mould of Alexis Tsipras, but without the simpering smile. What could possibly go wrong there?
Who is to blame for this debacle? Well, apart from the MPs who actually nominated him having apparently failed to notice that the system of MP nominations was created precisely to prevent the likes of Corbyn getting on the ballot, the blame falls fairly and squarely on the former leader of Labour. It falls on Wallace himself. And no, this is not just an excuse to publish a cartoon of him. But since you ask.
There are many reasons for Wallace's culpability. First there is the most obvious one. He is no longer in post. He took the cowardly way out after the election, typically portraying it as principled, and resigned with immediate effect. It was he who had led his party to a devastating defeat and yet he scarpered the day after whilst making a speech claiming that he would one day be vindicated. In so doing he plunged Labour into an election campaign it was in no state to endure. He also left it leaderless and rudderless for five months and the country with no viable opposition while the Tories made hay. Like Gordon Brown before him he put his own vanity and pride before that of his party and his country. He didn't want to endure the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortune he had helped create and so he buggered off on two holidays.
When John Major lost an election in 1997, by a landslide, he of course resigned and triggered a leadership election, but he stayed in post in the meantime. He led his party as the leader of the opposition. He even provided opposition to the new Labour government's devolution bill, pointed out the problems ahead and the issue we now call English Votes for English Laws, then referred to as the West Lothian question. Look back at what he said. It was remarkably prescient. John Major had lost humiliatingly. But he stuck around and did his duty.
Another way Wallace is responsible for this mess is that he presided over Labour's drift to the left. Indeed he encouraged it. Furthermore he watched as Unite imposed candidate after candidate on the Labour Party who were left wing and thus dragged the party further to the left. Many of them rebelled in that vote last week.
Yet, as the election showed, the country has not shifted left as Labour, its chief financial backer and its former leader expected it to. So Labour is extraordinarily out of step with the country it seeks to govern.
Think about where we are now. Three months ago we thought that Labour stood a chance of sneaking into government propped up with votes from the SNP. We thought they would push through all kinds of regressive, brainless, economically illiterate nonsense, hand money and powers to the SNP and hang on limply for five long years creating havoc, unemployment, debt and devastation. Fortunately the country saw this and voted to keep them out. Now Labour are in the process of ensuring that the next election, already difficult, could become a car crash of such proportions it would take the entire BBC political unit to act it out alongside Norman Smith and new editor Laura Kuenssberg (Congratulations, Laura).
Instead we could be seeing the beginning of the end of the Labour Party. It is already talking either of an immediate letter demanding a fresh election to depose Jeremy Corbyn and the civil war that would create. Either that or you will see a schism with many Labour MPs leaving the party and either joining others or creating a new one in the mould of the SDP. Perhaps they could join the Lib Dems and force them to select a new leader too - one who isn't a bigot over homosexuality.
The left is already split. It is already split between what is left of the Lib Dems, the Greens, Labour and the SNP. Now its biggest part could be about to split again. This week the SNP, as is their wont, invaded the opposition benches normally occupied by Labour because they were empty. But the way things are going, the SNP could be Her Majesty's not very loyal opposition in a few months time.
How should Tories react? Well, we've had a bit of fun with the whole vote for Corbyn joke, but I doubt few of us have actually taken part. For a start it would mean handing over £3 to Labour. But, I don't want to come over all Francis Pym in 1983, but do we really want Labour to do this badly? After all having a free ride does not necessarily make for better government and legislation. On the other hand, from a position in which we saw no possibility of a Tory majority, we could be looking at a landslide next time. Think what could be achieved. All of the damage done by Labour's years in power, particularly that done by Gordon Brown could be slowly unwound and Tory reforms entrenched so that they can never be reversed. And at the end of it Labour would be forced to either change or be replaced with a party that is more centrist and one that is less dangerous for the long term future of this country.
And all of this thanks to the appalling disastrous leadership of Wallace. In the end it could turn out to be his single greatest contribution to British politics. Is it too late to put that Edstone on the plinth it so richly deserves?
Let us imagine for a moment that the result in last year's referendum had gone the other way and Scotland had voted, very narrowly, for independence. The smug smile would only just have disappeared from Alex Salmond's face.
But can you imagine if, subsequent to that vote, David Cameron had started to agitate for a new referendum? What would the SNP's reaction have been? We promised, they would have said, that this was a once in a generation vote and so it is. The Tories are bad losers.
What if they had only won by the tiniest of margins, say a few hundred or a couple of thousand votes? No matter. That's democracy. What if they had sneaked out the inconvenient fact that oil revenues are going to be much lower than they had claimed during the referendum campaign? Would it have made any difference? Incidentally this is true. The Scottish government recently slipped out a statement that oil revenues are going to be what the No campaign said that they will be and which Salmond and the SNP rubbished. Scotland would indeed have a £7 billion deficit if it was independent or if it got full fiscal autonomy. And this wasn't just in the referendum. During the election campaign Sturgeon claimed to be anti austerity and yet was signed up to the same levels of spending as Labour. Oh and as for austerity? Well, that's for a post I'm publishing tomorrow.
What if, after the referendum, the British Government had reiterated its stance that Scotland would not be allowed to continue using the pound? What if this had then be restated subsequent to the general election?
The answer to all of these questions is obvious. Had the SNP won last September they would simply refuse to countenance a re-run and would now be preparing for independence. No matter how many lies they would subsequently have been proven to have told to win their result, nothing short of outright electoral fraud could have persuaded them. Yet they are now preparing the ground for another referendum. We knew they would. Some of us predicted it the day after they lost. It has taken them less than a year. Despite their claims that this would be a once in a generation vote, despite the boos that Nicola Sturgeon received during the election campaign when she let the mask slip very briefly, despite the clear sign being that Scotland wants devolution but not full independence, the SNP will never give up.
How then should the British government react? Well David Cameron should make clear his irritation, make clear that the SNP are once again being dishonest and playing fast and loose with the country they claim to love and then give them their damned referendum. But this time they should not get to set the terms. They should not get to set the question. And they should have to have it within a few weeks, not the 18 months of uncertainty we had last time. But then, when they lose, they will start agitating for the next referendum. Then the next. They will never give up.
The SNP is a single issue party that is obsessed with that issue whilst pretending to be 'progressive.' It is a party that is presiding over failures in health and education despite its higher per capita spending and yet which is prepared once again to endanger it all and create further uncertainty with another referendum campaign. It lost its referendum last year and yet will not accept that loss. The SNP means to keep asking the question again and again until the Scottish people give them the 'right' answer.
Or of course the Scottish people could open their eyes and realise the true nature of the party they have governing them. This party of liars and obsessives will never give up. And then, when they finally get their dream, what then? Then the reality. Scotland will be a small country that has voluntarily cut itself off from a country it is tied to by geography, culture, language, the economy, family ties and by law. The SNP just wants to cut off that last bit and claims, without any evidence whatsoever, that Scotland will prosper. It won't. At least for the first few years it will suffer extreme austerity and a huge brain drain to what will then be the near abroad. Taxes will have to go up or spending slashed. The SNP will undertake vast Mugabe style land grabs and then the Chavez style blame game will commence while the Scottish economy implodes.
The only way to stop this SNP nightmare is for the people of Scotland to stop voting for them. Because the SNP mean to have their referendum. They will find any excuse. The rest of the country voted this year to prevent the SNP and Scotland from having disproportionate influence over the rest of us. The furious reaction of the SNP to the general election result and Tory rule has been very revealing. Why is it that the people of Scotland cannot see through this gang of monomaniacal liars and preening poseurs? You will eventually. But who knows how much damage they will have done in the meantime.
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Like many people I loved the last Bond film, Skyfall. It was the best since Goldeneye and probably the best ever. It confirms Daniel Craig as the best Bond since Connery, and I speak as someone who hated the idea of him in the role when it was first announced.
The next film, probably Craig's last, will be Spectre. It deliberately harks back to to those classic Bond films of the 1960s, but with a modern twist. But then every film made with Craig as 007 has done that. This one is also directed by Sam Mendes, again, he says, for the last time. Let's hope not. He has brought such style and panache to a series that for a time lost its way.
We Brits love our Bond movies. Maybe its a way of telling ourselves that Britain may no longer be a great world power, but that we can fantasise about it more and better than anyone. Our fictional spies are much better than the American ones, even if they don't get to talk about DEFCON and sending in the 5th fleet.
Spectre is released, appropriately, first here in the UK on 26th October, not just in London but across the country. Its world wide a couple of weeks later.
Parliament begins its summer recess today. I may well have a small summer recess myself at some point in the coming weeks. But for now, a couple of months since the most surprising and delightful election result in modern history, made all the more delightful by what might have happened had it gone the other way, it seems like a good moment to take stock and see where we are.
The Conservatives on top of an election result that nobody, whatever they have said subsequently, was even remotely suspecting, are of course the top dogs at the moment. I always had a sneaking suspicion that we could win and do a little better than in 2010. I dreamt of a majority of course, but never once suspected that it was likely. All of the conventional wisdom suggested otherwise. All of the conventional wisdom suggested we were in an era of minority government and of coalitions. This meant that Tories governing as Tories would simply never happen again.
And now here we are. The major problems for David Cameron have been because he thought the same as the rest of us and planned accordingly. He expected to have to negotiate away the rougher edges of what he had promised. Now he has to deliver.
To his great credit he has shown every sign of doing all in his power to keep his promises. The cuts are going to be made, although Osborne had the good sense to even them out a little. The Budget was a triumph. It entirely wrong footed what little opposition there is and got Labour arguing amongst themselves about how to respond. Cameron has done what is recommended and tried to do as much of the heavy lifting as soon as possible after the election. There is much fighting and negotiating to be done. But he even honoured a pledge to bring a vote on fox hunting and was saved by the idiotic behaviour of the SNP. But more of them later.
There is still Europe on the horizon of course. But the ongoing disaster that is the Euro may represent an opportunity there. Will Dave surprise us on Europe? My prediction is that he will, and not necessarily in the way you think I mean. In the meantime this is a government that has its tail up and can get a lot done. It is a sign of its confidence that they are calling themselves a one nation government, reclaiming it from the defeated upstarts of Labour.
And what of Labour? Well what is there to say? They had the worst general election result in a generation and contrived to do worse under Wallace than under Gordon Brown. The stories of infighting, amateurism and downright stupidity have come out already and will soon do so in book form I have no doubt. They can be summed up by that EdStone. In 1983 they had the longest suicide note in history. This time they made their platitudes pithier but then carved them in stone.
Labour suffered a disaster in Scotland but didn't do much better anywhere else. They never came close to winning the election they all seemed so confident of. Even had they not lost Scotland they still wouldn't have won.
Since the election they very ill advisedly allowed Wallace to shrink off and resign calling an immediate leadership election they were ill prepared for. The result has been about as bad as it could be. Only one of the candidates, Liz Kendall, is prepared to think the unthinkable, and so is set to come a poor last. The candidate who is thinking what ought to be unthinkable might even win. If Jeremy Corbyn wins that could easily be the end of Labour. They could suffer a schism of 1980s proportions. But it would be made worse because, for all that the leftist fantasies of Corbyn are electoral suicide they are at least a coherent philosophy, even if it is a philosophy that has been repeatedly shown to be empty and economically illiterate. The rest of the Labour party don't know what they stand for any more. They define themselves by not being Tories. This week they have defined themselves by not being Harriet Harman. They define themselves by wanting equality. Do they even know what that means? Do they know what its ramifications would be? The election result shows they do not.
Whoever is elected in September, assuming it is not Kendall, will struggle to make his or her mark. They will all be tainted in some way by the past. Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper have nothing new to say and will hide behind platitudes every bit as bad as those deployed by Wallace on his stone. Corbyn would preside over a party that would implode. Best of all they will probably end up with Tom Watson as deputy leader. This is a party that has decided it likes the purity of opposition much more than government. In opposition you can chop and change as much as you like and never have to balance the books. Labour is good at that.
There isn't really much to say about the Lib Dems really. This is a rump party that ought to be dissolved and taken over by the others. The only defence of their decision to elect Tim Farron as their new leader was that they didn't have much of a choice. And to be fair he is a fairly typical Lib Dem, full of self righteous sanctimony.
The Lib Dems' problem is even greater than that of Labour's. There is no point to them. They spent the long years since their nadir of the 1970s telling anyone who would listen that they ought to hold the balance of power because they were the caring and reasonable ones. En route to this, as they gradually built up support and accumulated MPs and councillors, they tried to give different messages according to where they were bidding for power. They got away with this because they never actually got power but just got to complain about those who did and thus won protest votes. But then they got power and immediately admitted that their policies were a nonsense. They couldn't abolish student fees because it was unaffordable. They preferred to dispense with that promise and got a referendum om a change to the electoral system that nobody wanted instead. This was overwhelmingly rejected. They also failed to get House of Lords reform through and retaliated by preventing equalisation of constituencies which would have made the country more democratic.
Oh and along the way they prevented all legislation to make the country more secure and to crack down on human rights law abuse. But at the same time they tried to bring in, in cahoots with Labour, laws to control the press.
The impression then is that the Lib Dems have forgotten what the Lib part of their title means or are confused by it. Because they have now elected as their leader an evangelical Christian who believes that the Bible is the literal truth, that God controls our every movement and decision and who refuses to tell us what he thinks of homosexuality and gay marriage but voted against the latter last year.
The Lib Dems are a pointless party. There are only 8 of them left. They would be best advised to dissolve themselves thanks to intellectual bankruptcy and join either Labour or the Tories. Or maybe even the SNP. Some could set up the SNP's English branch.
Because presumably this is now the intention of the SNP. They sent their raiding party of newly elected MPs to Westminster in the belief that they would be able to extract lots of English treasure and send it back home. They would have driven a minority government of any colour to distraction until they found an excuse, any excuse, to have another referendum. Unfortunately the English were so angry at the prospect of not only having to listen to constant Scottish whinging but at having to accommodate it and pay even more for it that they voted Conservative. Now the SNP have got nothing to do. They cannot bargain, they cannot hold to ransom. They can only carp and pose and carp a bit more. They're good at carping.
Last week Mhairi Black, the newly elected SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire won rave reviews for her maiden speech. But this just goes to show the trouble with gauging opinion by social media. You would have thought that, after May, we might have been hesitant about that.
Because Mhairi Black's speech was typical SNP cant hypocrisy and delusion. She's no looker, as John Inverdale might observe, but she's no great thinker either. Now generally you tend to get this sort of thing from 20 year olds who are still at college and have yet to learn about reality. The SNP makes them parliamentary candidates. Her speech was a long whine of dog whistle, cheap rhetoric that the SNP engage in constantly. There was lots of guff in there about food banks and her oft repeated line about her being the only 20 year old that George Osborne was willing to pay a housing allowance to. Except this is drivel. The reason she is getting that allowance is not thanks to George Osborne, it is due to the SNP deciding that she is old enough and experienced enough to be an MP. MPs are entitled to a salary and expenses. Nothing to do with George Osborne. Its parliament. She was making a cheap rhetorical point. It is called cheap because it stands no scrutiny. But then that is the SNP for you. Little they say stands up to scrutiny. That's why they lost their referendum. They are like the liberals and have forgotten what one of the words in their name means. They stand for independence. But they could not convince the Scottish people to vote for it.
Black told us that she comes from an old socialist Labour family. They often do. How then do they end up with the SNP? Because the SNP has convinced itself that it can have some kind of socialist utopia by cutting itself off from its much richer and more populous southern neighbour. It apparently has not noticed that Scotland, like much of the outlying parts of this country, are more reliant on the state and old dying out industries than the rest of the country that subsidises it. Thatcher! they'll say. No. Mrs Thatcher just saw that the writing was on the wall for this old way of doing things and stopped throwing good money after bad. Scotland has had plenty of welfare and socialism. The SNP's solution is that, though it hasn't worked until now, just doing it a bit more will make all the difference. Mhairi Black's only excuse is that she is too young to know any better. But then how the hell did she become a bloody MP?
SNP candidates and MPs are reduced to the juvenile crap we heard from Mhairi Black and which we also heard from Nicola Sturgeon during the election campaign. Lots of stuff about austerity, but failing to mention that if the SNP got independence, which is its raison d'etre, there would be more of it. They recently had to admit that the oil numbers they relied on during the referendum were a fantasy. Or put another way, they tried to get their country that they profess to love, to make an existential decision based on a lie. Scotland would be £7 billion short if they were independent. On the plus side Mhairi Black would lose her new job and would have to go back to college to learn a bit more.
This week the SNP decided that, such was their frustration with things, they would prevent the Tories from changing the law on fox hunting. Except that David Cameron didn't much care about changing the law on fox hunting. It was a promise he had made and he was keeping it with a free vote. But then the SNP decided to frustrate him by threatening to vote on an issue that has nothing to do with them. They thus scored a spectacular own goal. Now English Votes for English Laws will be pushed through and the SNP will be rendered even more powerless than they were already.
Essentially the SNP is a bunch of snivelling juveniles who have never grown up. They also now have amongst them one who actually is a snivelling juvenile who has yet to grow up. They have somehow managed to convince a large section of the Scottish public that they are in their best interests. The Scottish people have however failed to notice that many of the things that whinging Nicola and moany Mhairi complain about are the responsibility of the Scottish government and of the SNP. If they are given the powers the SNP demands they will make matters they now complain about worse. They will try to raise money by raising taxes which will mean those people will move south of the border and take their companies with them. They buy into the left wing notion that you can invest your way to prosperity, but if you raise taxes then you make people less inclined to invest in your country only to be taxed on it.
Its possible you know that the SNP knows all of this. They talk progressive politics because they think it is a way of winning votes. Certainly it has been successful at grabbing Labour voters. But if they ever get the power they claim to want they will at last be found out. That day is coming. The SNP are at the height of their popularity right now but it will end soon. If the Scottish people are lucky it will be before enough of them have been stupid enough to vote for independence in that referendum the SNP keep telling them they aren't going to call. I for one am looking forward to their excuse for that. Maybe it will be about foxes. Or maybe they will be so outraged on being denied the right to vote on English laws that they call it. You never know. I expect Mhairi Black will make a rousing speech about it.
So at the end of this first short session of this new parliament it could easily be argued that two of the four main parties are pointless and could soon end up extinct. The fourth wants to make the whole country extinct and in so doing would soon end up extinct itself or leading a one party socialist dictatorship. The 2015 election was already one of my best moments ever. It just keeps giving and giving.