Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Peanuts


Corbyn and The New Era of Nice



Well......I mean, well.....what can you say? Really! What can you say?

It wasn't awful? It sounded like what it was, the speech of a man who looks like a geography teacher or a social worker. Is that being a little unfair on geography teachers and social workers? At least they have proper jobs and do something socially useful. Jeremy just wants to be nice.

Except. Jeremy, the man who is introducing a new kind of politics of honesty and straight talking doesn't just want to be nice. He just wants us to think that he wants to be nice and straight talking. In reality this is simple spin. Just not very good or convincing spin.

After all this is the man who sucks up to terrorists and anti-semites. Being nice? Well he can certainly be nice to some people, just so long as you agree with him. Others? Not so much.

And of course Tories don't count. Tories aren't people. It is inconvenient then that so many people voted for them at the last election just 4 months ago. I expect that was false consciousness. Or the bastard media. The era of niceness did not extend to Tories, the media or trolls on Twitter. That showed em huh! I consider myself told. I have been going around calling ex celebrity dimwit Charlotte Church a tax dodging hypocrite when it isn't really very nice. It would have been okay if she had been a Tory, or a hedge fund manager or someone who dodges taxes but votes Tory. But otherwise it wasn't nice. Who knew?

Jeremy clearly feels no obligation to be nice about the media. The media are bastards. As evidence of this he told conference (no definite article required - this is the conference to end all conferences, which is nice) that the bastard and not at all nice media had printed a silly story about him having once expressed a wish to see mankind wiped out by an asteroid. Oh how they laughed. The media. They're very silly and not at all nice. Unfortunately the story was true and is a matter of public record. Jeremy, when he was just a backbencher, had indeed signed an early day motion to precisely the effect that mankind is not very nice and it would be better for all concerned if we were wiped out by a big rock hitting the planet. Now to be fair, this is a fairly common attitude amongst a certain kind of enviro fascist, Gaia loving weirdo. They regard humanity as a kind of cancer on our beautiful planet. Its just that this particular weirdo is now the leader of the Labour Party and wants to be seen as nice.

Was there anything else in the speech? Well, no, there wasn't. This was an hour long speech that neglected to mention the deficit this year, not because Jeremy forgot but because he doesn't really care about it. Its something that only those bastard and not at all nice Tories care about. Oh and 11 million people who voted for them because of the bastard media. Bastards!



But to be fair, Jeremy didn't say much about lots of other stuff. He did say how much nicer the world would be if we could all be nice. Oh and how much fairer it will be if we all hand him our earnings and allow him to spend it on being nice. We need lots more houses. That would be nice. If only someone had thought of that before. Nice. Who needs soundbites? We just needed nice.

Oh and he had a soundbite too. Or at least I think that's what it was. Young people, he said, 'let's give them the space for their fizz to explode into the joy we want.' This was a crowd that was generally willing to applaud anything that the half-hearted tie wearer was saying. But even they looked askance at that one. I think a few of them expected a police investigation actually. It all sounded a bit 1970s - and not in a standing around the brazier in a class warrior kind of way either.

Its no wonder that Jeremy then stuck to vacuous platitudes. Nasty foreign regimes are bad he said (did he also mean his friends in Iran, Russia?) War is bad. Poverty is bad.

Yes! the crowd exclaimed. At last a major party leader was saying these things. Oh glorious day! Poverty, bad! What insight! What incisiveness! What niceness!

Oh but he didn't forget to mention nuclear weapons. Apparently, and I can't believe we haven't noticed this before, they aren't very nice. This is why Jeremy doesn't believe in them. He wanted to talk about them but was prevented from doing so by lots of people who disagree with him. This is not very nice. Jeremy is leader you know. He got a big mandate from lots of people who liked his niceness. Therefore we are going to have to talk about nuclear weapons and the false consciousness that was probably planted there by the really not very nice media. The world would be a much better place if more of the media was nice. Like those nice people at the BBC and Channel 4 who have been very nice and managed to find several parts of this not at all rambling and discursive speech in which Jeremy sounded nice. Not insightful or interesting or passionate. But definitely nice. Nice is all you need. The world is crying out for nice.

And yet some are persisting in not being very nice. For instance some are insisting in a not at all nice way, on running Jeremy's figures through something they are calling reality and pointing out that they are wanting. Of course it may be folksy nonsense to claim, as Jeremy did, that building lots of new houses would actually make the taxpayer a profit, but its not very nice to point this out is it? Similarly our spending on Trident does not make up a quarter of the entire defence budget as Jeremy claimed. It actually amounts to only 5%, but does this really matter? And of course it is true that Jeremy's claim that the prime minister has the power to save a Saudi Arabian dissident or the Redcar steelworks is nonsense. But then David Cameron is a Tory, and as we all know they are not very nice. Oh and if you spy some double speak there then you are not being very nice either.



Oh and some are reporting, in a not very nice way, that Jeremy's speech was exactly the same platitudinous drivel that had been written around the same time he first entered parliament and had been rejected by the last 5 leaders of the Labour Party owing to its sounding like platitudinous drivel better suited to the 6th form common room.

Now strictly speaking it is true that this speech did indeed share some features with that speech that was never delivered. But Jeremy thought this was a shame. He liked the speech. He liked the speech so much that he felt it should be given an airing. That was the nice thing to do. He added some of his own phrases, stuff about being nice and Trident not being very nice and how nice it was that so many people voted for him. But he found the whole timbre of the speech rather inspiring and elevating. He wasn't wholly convinced that his audience would feel the same way though because at one point he seemed to actually read out his own stage directions. But again this was appropriate. In the 1980s, America elected a president, you may recall, who was dismissed by sophisticated lefties as being a simpleton. Now the sophisticated lefties have one of their own.

But in future this will be Jeremy's approach to giving speeches. He is going to keep saying the same thing over and over again for the next five years. He has been doing that for the last 30 years and it must have worked because he just got elected leader of the party with an overwhelming mandate from lots of people that the party very nicely decided to let join after handing over only £3. Nice!

This then is the era of nice. It would be nice if people just listened to Jeremy - he has a mandate you know - and paid heed to his wisdom. You can tell he is wise because he has a very nice beard and is old. And we all know that old people are definitely always nice. Old people with beards who have spent all of their adult lives attending rallies and shouting through megaphones are clearly so nice as to make their formerly risible ideas become unopposed party policy.

Finally, Jeremy wants no more to be said about his shadow chancellor and friend, John McDonnell. Some of the things said about him have not been very nice. He was only being nice when he said those warm, supportive and nice things about murderers. Murderers are much misunderstood in Jeremy's opinion. Unless they are Israeli soldiers of course. But let's not talk about that. Or the IRA. Or other things that Jeremy, who has a huge mandate you know, would rather you didn't ask him about. It's really not very nice of you to be so persistent. Come the revolution something not very nice might happen to you if you carry on like that. Maybe you'll be hit by an asteroid.

World History

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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Peanuts


The Cereal Killers of Corbyn's Labour Party


Why would anyone care that a section of our society is willing and able to pay £4 for a bowl of cereal? It's not a rhetorical question. Please, could someone tell me? A cafe has sprung up in an up and coming trendy part of London. This cafe, called the Cereal Killer Cafe, sells cereal. Now you might look askance at this. You might consider it odd that we have reached a point in our society when, not only can people not be bothered to cook, but cannot even be bothered to pour some cereal from a box and add milk. But hey, you pays your money, you takes your choice. If there are such people and they are willing to pay then why not cater to this formerly unsuspected niche. I personally favour McDonalds or Wetherspoons excellent value cooked breakfasts, but I've never really been the trendy sort.

But try as I might I cannot get angry about this. Yet a mob have descended on said cafe, bullied the staff and owners and thrown paint at it.

But this does fit into a theme of our times doesn't it. The Left is angry. The Left wants to beat people up. It enjoys being angry. It is vaguely aware that beating people up and vandalising their property just because they disapprove of them is wrong and doesn't really fit in with their alleged ethos. And so they concocted an excuse. They are opposed to the gentrification of society. Apparently breakfast comestibles are a sign of bourgeois degeneracy.

The following should be said in a Terry Jones style Monty Python voice: Well, there goes the neighbourhood.

Except of course there doesn't go the neighbourhood. The Left as usual have got it spectacularly wrong. The country is becoming increasingly middle class. This is a good thing. Indeed the sort of people who care about this sort of thing and throw paint are themselves middle class. Only the middle class has the time, energy and money to care about it. They probably get it off Mummy and Daddy or from their lives in academia. Indeed at least one of the ringleaders of this protest was from my alma mater the LSE - a more gentrified place you could not wish to come across. Maybe it should sell up its property in and around Kingsway and turn it into social housing. It could move to Milton Keynes. Or Birmingham.

Being middle class may not be as romantic as going out and sweating and working hard and getting grime under your fingernails. But then that's because the sort of people who think this is romantic have never actually done it and would turn up their noses at such depredations. A large middle class is part and parcel of having a prosperous and advanced economy. A large middle class is a sign we are doing well. The larger the middle class the better we will do in the future too, because middle class people are healthier, better educated, have fewer children but ensure those children are well fed, well educated and well behaved.

The days of us being horny handed tillers of the soil are long behind us. In the age of globalisation, gentrification is inevitable and desirable. We do make stuff these days, but we make stuff in different ways, the sort of ways that see us working in offices, in front of computers, in the sort of jobs we dreamt of when we headed off to university in our tens of thousands - just as politicians encouraged us to do. The corollary of that, of the end of the old east end of grimy factories and men doing a hard and dangerous days work for a days pay and of the increasing prosperity of London, is that the old working class areas are now middle class areas. Its why shops that sell exotic bread, gourmet burgers and even breakfast cereal are doing well. We should be pleased.

Except Lefties are not pleased. Lefties are not pleased because Lefties don't really like this progress. They imagine that this is not a sign of progress and enrichment at all. It is a sign that the poor and dispossessed are becoming poorer and in possession of less. And so they march and throw paint. Or, if they are ex celebrity Charlotte Church, they march under a badly written placard telling the world how mad she is and how she's not going to take it any more. Its never said what else they are going to do. They just virtue signal and then go home - probably to some sour dough bread or focaccia dipped in olive oil; yummy.

Oddly these are the very people who have alighted on Jeremy Corbyn as the answer to their dreams. Jeremy Corbyn, the man who has never done a proper job in his life, is most decidedly middle class and has spent his entire life being angry about stuff just like them without once having to come up with any answers. He is the sort of person who is furious about a shop that sells breakfast cereal. He'll probably call for a debate about it at the party conference.



Yesterday, at said conference, John McDonnell treated the country he one day wishes to govern to its first look at what we might laughingly call his policies. They amount to just a different form of angry shouting and paint throwing really. People avoid tax; they must be punished. Amazon, Starbucks et al, companies we all use on a day to day basis, use perfectly legal means to pay as little tax as possible. By and large few of us seem to care enough to stop buying their products. They're cheap, they're efficient and so we carry on. Incidentally, for proof of this maxim, I was amused at the weekend to read that people are using the Volkswagen scandal as a means of: what? Cancelling their orders? Picketing their local showroom? No, people are asking for a discount on a new Volkswagen. Proof positive that lefties and greenies live in their own little bubble world.  Don't you just love capitalism?

Not that they are listening of course. Lefties don't as a rule. Businesses must pay more tax, McDonnell said yesterday to rapturous applause. It cannot be said often enough that when this happens the businesses have a tendency to up sticks and leave, or simply find ever more clever ways of using the law to defeat the politicians.

We all do this to some extent. Buying duty free is avoiding tax. Paying a tradesman cash in hand is avoiding tax. Setting yourself up as a company like Charlotte Church has done is a sophisticated way of avoiding a lot of tax. This is normal human behaviour. Its why the lefty dream of socialist nirvana will remain a dream. Corbynistas boast of the 260,000 votes he got to make him leader. Great! Only 12 million needed and you will be PM. Trouble is the rest of are less starry eyed and more cynical. And we quite fancy a new VW.

It is this seeming inability to see the world as it really is and people as they really are that means the lefty dream always goes wrong. According to McDonnell, landlords will be clobbered and thus an already grave housing crisis will be exacerbated. If people who have invested, perfectly legally, are hit with taxes and controls they will move their money elsewhere. Its really not hard to understand.

This, McDonnell told us, is the new politics. Except it isn't. Its exactly the same kind of politics the Left always adopts if given the chance. This is why the British people is reluctant to give them that chance. Because the instincts of the Left are to get angry and to hit people hard and throw paint at them for doing nothing worse than look after themselves, seek to make an honest profit, do what most Britons do and see nothing wrong in doing. Its why we are becoming more middle class. Its why Labour doesn't have a hope of winning power. Its why they will end up just shouting and bullying and throwing paint as usual.


World History

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Monday, 28 September 2015

Who the Hell is Ronnie Pickering? And Do Tough Guys Drive Citroen Picassos?

Peanuts



Oh Missy, You're So Fine


This time last year the latest reboot of Doctor Who premiered featuring the oldest Doctor since the show had debuted, 52 years ago. How would the new look, very youthful, very hip iteration of the show cope with an older, less lithe, less elastic actor in the role? Well, as it turned out, very well indeed. Peter Capaldi immediately showed why he is generally regarded as one of the best actors to take the role, but he also brought to it the enthusiasm of a true fan - one raised on the show. Here was a man who had always longed to take the control panel of the TARDIS - so much so he didn't even need to be shown what all the controls do.

Capaldi's first series was well received - by all except the idiot TV reviewer of The Sunday Times, Adrian Gill, an exception that proves the rule - and culminated with a rousing story about his arch enemy The Master, now in female form. Such was the tour de force performance of the brilliant Michelle Gomez as Missy/ The Master, that few fans seem to have realised that this may be Steven Moffat's less than subtle way of softening us up for the oft dreaded female Doctor. After all, if The Master can regenerate as a woman......

And so what better way to start the new series than by asking Gomez to reprise the role? And of course Doctor Who never worries too much that a returning character was killed, vapourised or otherwise met their demise the last time we saw them. It makes you wonder why the Doctor ever has to regenerate at all.

But let us not quibble. Otherwise we would have been denied one of the great stories of recent years with many genuinely clever moments and some great gags too. This was a story that included The Master/ Missy, The Daleks, Davros, some hand mines that were actually hands, a gag about Davros's chair, some really quite clever gags about why Daleks talk the way they do and say ex-ter-min-ate so often and.....oh, well suffice to say it was very inventive and often laugh out loud funny.

And to come back to my point about a female Doctor, the producers might have missed a trick here. Much as I and many others would be resistant to the idea, it would be hard not to enjoy the Time Lord played by someone with the verve and comic stylings of someone as gifted as Gomez, or indeed Gomez herself. Could that not be worked in somehow? This is sci-fi after all. I might write a treatment about it. You read it here first.




World History

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Genesis: Chapter 36 - A Tale of Lots of Wives, Lots of Sons but No Daughters (Except When They Get Raped)


Chapter 36 is essentially a long and not at all convincing list of how numerous the tribe of Israel had suddenly become. It enumerates the offspring of Esau, eldest son of Isaac but supplanted as his heir and the favourite of God by a terribly clever trick, a trick so clever that it even fooled God.

But even after that particularly stupid and facile story, this list of the offspring of Esau is all complete fiction too, not least because neither Esau nor his importuning brother ever actually existed. They are as fictitious as Adam and Eve.

Even if this were not the case, we know that this list of names is a fiction because they all have different names. No names are ever repeated, which seems a little unlikely. It smacks of those concocting this list and getting themselves a long list of Hebrew sounding names and ticking them all off as they went along. Thus none are ever repeated, no father ever named a son after himself or his father. Ever. Also, as previously when Adam and Eve and Noah and his sons had a lot of kids, spouses and servants/slaves come out of nowhere as if by magic.

You will recall that Jacob and Esau, the sons of Isaac, headed off to find themselves wives and to start families with nothing with them save for the clothes on their backs. Jacob somehow, and in a ridiculously contrived way, ended up then with four wives. But we are now told the same happened to Esau too. How very convenient if you happen to be concocting a story about the birth of a nation. After all what better way of creating a nation than having two brothers who get themselves four wives and thus a lot of children, especially since they will of course live to the age of 160 or thereabouts.

You will also recall the silly story of how Esau was a great hunter but was tricked out of his true inheritance by his brother, Jacob, later renamed Israel. Esau went off in an angry huff at being disinherited and found himself lots of wives and bred a lot. And, we are now also informed, he stopped being a hunter and was now a great herdsman thus invalidating the former story, but never mind. He and Jacob now had so many heads of cattle and other beasts that this was the reason they had to live in different parts of the world we are now told. The former reason, that Esau hated his brother, is now utterly dispensed with.

Oh and these two men who went out in the world with only the clothes they were wearing now not only have all of these animals to their names but lots of land they have somehow acquired to graze them on.

This chapter gives a long and tedious list of all of the sons (never daughters) by all of their various wives that these two remarkably fecund men  now had. Anyone would think that the authors of this fairytale were concocting a genealogy so as to convince themselves and anyone listening that theirs was a long and noble lineage, thus giving them a spurious claim to the lands they called their own through ancient rights dating back centuries. Some people still believe this drivel to this day.

Anyway, within a few short generations we are told the offspring of Jacob and Esau were dukes. This is to say that not only had they acquired lots of land and lots of beasts of the field but also ruled over at least a thousand people. All that after starting from nothing? Within half a dozen generations?

The following sentence is a dead giveaway and so we quote it verbatim: 'these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the land of Israel.'

There is a classic case of protesting too much. Much too much. The intent is clear though: the land of Israel is ancient and noble. Don't try to take it from us. God gave it to us you know.

Anyway, after that intermission we next come to the story of Joseph and his coat of many colours that would one day inspire a man and his friend to become songwriters. And that actually happened. Sadly that is not a fable. Even the part which saw them allow their songs to be sung by Jason Donovan and a daytime television presenter before his hair went grey.




Friday, 25 September 2015

Peanuts


We Are All Victims of Our Moral Imperialism


Many of us have watched in amazement and quiet contempt as the arrogant leaders of the EU have imposed themselves and their economics on Greece, Cyprus and the other struggling members of the eurozone these last few years. We have been waiting for the implosion. It hasn't happened yet, but the misery it has caused has gone on and on. Greece remains a slow motion car crash, an eviscerated country with rampant unemployment, a departing population tied into a currency they should never have been allowed to join but to which they cling like addicts.

But now there is the migration crisis. Angela Merkel, the formerly flawless matriarch of the western world has been accused, rightly, of moral imperialism. Her idiotic offer of sanctuary to Syria and the world's waifs and strays has created, as was predicted, chaos and a swarm of people routinely described as desperate. They are not desperate. Not in the true sense of the word. They are people who have been offered an opportunity and mean to avail themselves of it. They mean to impose themselves on countries that do not want them and have no obligation to them. Yet thanks to Merkel and her moral imperialism those countries are being bullied and cajoled into actions their electorates actively dislike and want prevented. Once again Europe's attitude to democracy is exposed for all its arrogant disdain.

All summer we have been watching this. All summer there have been 'desperate' people making their way across the Mediterranean or whatever porous border they can find and demanding their rights, demanding our help and assistance. It is the equivalent of someone turning up on your doorstep and demanding the right to occupy your spare room. Oh and would you mind feeding him, clothing him and giving him some pocket money too? He's desperate you know.

When, 2 years ago, we debated whether we should get involved militarily in Syria we were generally opposed. This blog made the argument that attacking Assad would only make matters worse as had happened in Libya. The people who could end up in charge would be even worse than the vicious dictator Assad. Vladimir Putin was his usual cynical and disobliging self, ruthlessly supporting his ally, despite the murder and the mayhem. And so, after Iraq and Libya, we stayed away.

And now it is still coming back to bite us. Syria is in chaos, Putin has sent in troops and is building a base while using western hesitancy as an opportunity to further impose himself on a part of the world he wants on his side for strategic and other reasons to do with Russian pride and arrogance. Putin may even use this imbroglio as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean after their intervention in Ukraine, use it and his assistance as a bargaining chip to remove sanctions that are currently hitting the Russian economy hard. Ukraine may have to be sacrificed in order to settle the situation in Syria. ISIL has risen like an evil phoenix from the flames of insurrection and is threatening mayhem on a wider scale if we do not intervene. And so Ukraine will be quietly forgotten and abandoned to Putin.

We stayed out of Syria, and yet we are once again involved thanks to our moral imperialism. Its a self defeating moral imperialism too. We laud our own values, rightly for the most part, and the lefties demand that we accept huge numbers of immigrants to come and enjoy the western lifestyle, our generosity and freedom. And then they condemn any attempt or requests that these incomers assimilate into western lifestyles, obey our laws, subscribe to our values. They call it cultural imperialism. Lefties condemn our interventions abroad regardless of the motives. Then, when chaos ensues, they demand we accept refugees from that chaos in their tens or hundreds of thousands. Possibly millions if word gets out that Europe's doors are open.

We have created for ourselves a lose lose situation. If we don't intervene chaos ensues and we have to pick up the pieces. If we do intervene chaos ensues, we get the blame and still have to pick up the pieces because we blame ourselves. Our moral imperiousness creates its own problems which we then export to more reluctant members of our club via moral imperialism happily facilitated by an EU that regards the democratic will as something to be ignored or actively disdained.

The British response has been the most pragmatic, the most sensible. We are funding the camps around Syria that provide safe haven even if they are not as delightful and comfortable as asylum in Germany, Sweden or the UK. Yet still the government is condemned for its heartlessness. It is taking the approach that only the most desperate should be accommodated, the most defenceless and helpless - like children. The rest should be told to stay where they are in UN camps. They may be granted asylum from there.

That is the only viable solution to this problem, short of peace in Syria. Those effectively imposing themselves by force  on the countries of Europe must be told that they are not welcome and that they are actually being rude and importunate. You do not have the right to demand entry to countries that have not invited you. They have every right to say no, send you back and indeed ensure that you are put at the back of the queue. This should now be the attitude of Europe. It is the only way to stem this tide. Turn the boats around, create new camps if necessary, fingerprint all arrivals and tell them they are unlikely to get the treatment they have been told about because they are queue jumpers and importuners.

When the west intervenes in middle east countries we are told that we are engaging in imperialism. The corollary of that is that we have no moral obligation to accommodate the waifs and strays of a conflict we have tried to stay out of. Our moral imperialism is failing. What we now need is moral realpolitik.

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World History

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Peanuts


Celebrity Dimwit Charlotte Church is on the March Again


I see that porky ex celebrity and dilettante activist Charlotte Church is planning on heading to the Conservative party conference next month as she continues her campaign of, well, who knows what? Certainly Charlotte doesn't. She doesn't really understand.

Charlotte and her fellow protesters are planning on wearing pig masks at the protest, in reference presumably to the unproven allegations about David Cameron and not to the fact that Charlotte has become a bit porky herself since she stopped being a singer.

Most celebs appear on Strictly or I'm a Celebrity. Know-nothing Charlotte prefers to go on demos instead.

It is a mystery what it is Charlotte is actually protesting about. She doesn't seem to know. The copy and paste speech she read out at a demo a few months ago exposed her ignorance. Economics is a foreign country to her.

This blog has challenged her to a debate. I'll be happy to meet up with her at the conference. I think I'll recognise her even with the mask on. She'll be the one exuding self righteous indignation from beneath her expensive designer gear. And the mask, although I'm willing to bet she won't wear that for long as it would mean she wouldn't be recognised for being angry about something that she feels she ought to be angry about.

And that's the point isn't it. She's mad as hell and not going to take it anymore apparently. What it is she's not going to take is left unsaid and what she plans on doing about it is a mystery. It seems to amount to tweeting things and being unable to defend them when challenged.

So this blog renews the challenge. Come on Charlotte, prove you know what you're talking about. Or is this really just about trying to revive your long dead career by trying to show you care like those other celebs who lent their name to Labour's campaign just before they lost the election?

World History

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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Peanuts


The VW Scandal: Caused By Our CO2 Obsession



Without wishing to make excuses for Volkswagen, politicians ought to be taking their fair share of the blame for the scandal now enveloping that formerly admired company and the car industry in general. VW has already admitted what US regulators have proved, that they used a clever (genius actually) piece of software to get around emissions regulations.

But they have done this because the politicians via the regulators keep moving the goalposts. They want efficient engines but they also want them to emit less pollution. Ultimately, when you burn fossil fuels, some pollution is inevitable. The car industry has performed miracles in recent years in making those engines ever more efficient, ever quieter, ever more reliable. Something had to give.

And this is all down to the political obsession with so called global warming and CO2. One report this week on the Volkswagen scandal toed the usual warmist line. Engines, it said, have been configured to emit as little CO2 as possible as we know it causes global warming.

We know no such thing. The jury is out.


We are being lied to egregiously on the issue of global warming, climate change or whatever we are calling it these days. That is the real scandal of this story. The science is nothing like as settled as we keep being told. The planet is not even warming at the moment and some scientists are betraying their calling by trying to make the science fit the theory rather than going where the data leads them. At the moment, despite the millions spent on research, there remains little or no evidence that CO2 emissions are causing the global threat that we are being told about.

The global temperature has stayed stable now for nearly 20 years. Yet in that time 57% of all of the emissions man has ever pumped out have been emitted. So the link is simply not there. If CO2 were doing what we keep being told it is doing then temperatures ought to be increasing as rapidly and dangerously as we keep being told. The models say this. It isn't happening. The theory has been disproved or is at least seriously wanting.

And yet the politicians like a bovine herd keep talking the global warming talk afraid to speak out. Consequently industry, especially an industry like the car industry which relies on good PR and image, has had to kowtow to this idiocy. Buying diesel cars was a good way to cut CO2 emissions. Unfortunately it meant we are also emitting particulates that are properly dangerous. We have been worrying about the wrong emissions thanks to the bovine stupidity and inability to think independently of our politicians.


And when they criticise the car industry and levy their fines, the car industry should hit back. You wanted more efficiency and lower CO2. We gave it to you. Consumers bought the cars because they were more efficient. Now diesel cars will have to go. We will all switch to petrol, which is the cleaner alternative. They are also getting more efficient. But what about our lorries and buses and vans? What are we going to run those on? Punishing the industry that is going to innovate and engineer us into the future is a bad idea.

Oh and if the diesel engine is now going to be such a bad thing, why is it that our government is currently creating dozens of diesel run generator parks around the country to make up for the shortfall in electricity we might suffer because all of the coal fired generators have been shut down? All again because of this nonsensical obsession with a harmless trace gas in our atmosphere that actually creates an abundance of greenery as it encourages plant growth.

VW will pay its fines, its chief executive will fall on his sword, it will say its sorry and will try to mend its broken reputation. But VW makes superb, well engineered cars that consumers want and even lust after in the case of some of its high end motors like Audi, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. It is the politicians and regulators who should be answering the truly awkward questions. Except of course the media too is in the grip of the global warming hoax. We will probably have to wait a while longer before that scandal erupts.

World History

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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Peanuts


Make Trains More Like Planes


Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of his party, his supposedly refreshing brand of honest and principled leadership has come up against cold hard reality and been found wanting. His sophomoric positions on all manner of issues, like the EU, NATO, a benefit cap have been either reversed or buried in waffle. Corbyn is accustomed to talking only to people who agree with him. Having to actually justify his ideas is new to him. He's proving himself to be every bit the intellectual lightweight we all said he was before Labour took its fateful decision. And, as Dan Hodges points out, the issue of Trident renewal is heading his way too. Corbyn will have to answer some awkward questions on that, on when he would use our armed forces and why he is opposed to an independent nuclear deterrent that has helped keep the peace he professes to love so much, so much so that he aligns himself with murderers, terrorists and anti-semites.

There is one issue however, just the one, on which he seems to have alighted on a policy that actually resonates with the British public. People seem to want the railways to be nationalised again, to return to the days of British Rail, which people clearly seem to feel was a halcyon period of efficiency, top quality service and low costs.

Now I would be the first to acknowledge that the present system is not working well. It should be noted however that this is in part because there is a legacy of low investment and a need for additional capacity and modernisation. This is a legacy of the years of neglect under British Rail. It should also be noted that the tracks, stations and infrastructure is nationalised. It is only the trains that are run privately. In general the trains are modern, clean and efficient. It is the tracks that let the system down.

It is however true that travel by train can be very expensive. Commuter trains, especially those running into London, but the other major conurbations suffer the same problem, are costly and crowded. But do those calling for nationalisation imagine this would be different were that to actually transpire. Commuter trains are crowded because that is when people want or need to travel. The state owned London Underground is no different and suffers the same issues as the overground system. Furthermore the tube suffers from union militancy and a refusal to accept modernisation. The unions are furious at the suggestion their members should be asked to work at night to help Londoners enjoy the capital at weekends without worrying about getting home. The tube has brought in an excellent smart card system called Oyster which does away with tickets. Yet the unions are opposed to the closure of unused ticket offices which would free up resources and allow further investment.

Nationalisation of the railways would simply enable the unions to transplant this boneheaded obduracy to the whole country. It would enable them to drive up wages, hold the country to ransom. How would this equate to cutting costs for commuters?



The cost of rail travel seems to be the main driver of enthusiasm for railway nationalisation for most travellers, although in the case of Jeremy Corbyn and his ilk it is simple ideology. But the money for rail investment has to come from somewhere. The fare structure is about simple supply and demand and the need to pay for those shiny new trains and the modern infrastructure like the excellent new station in Birmingham opened at the weekend. The notion that people who use services should pay the full price of them is a sound and reasonable one. After all drivers pay for the roads they use through the huge taxes on fuel plus an additional annual excise duty. Travelling by car if the full annual cost of ownership, maintenance and fuel is factored in is at least as expensive as train travel but of course more convenient. By contrast travel by bus, because it is slower, less comfortable and less convenient is cheaper. This is, whether you like it or not, simple market economics at work.

It is not nationalisation that will make our railways more efficient and affordable, it is more of such market economics. The present structure, as I argued in this post earlier this year, suffers from the fact there is little or no competition. The current franchise system hands whole lines to individual companies. Thus there is no competition. The regulators have also made matters worse by creating a byzantine system of fares that nobody understands. There are bargains to be had if you book far enough ahead and travel when trains are underused but if the system were changed to allow multiple operators on the same lines it would give consumers choice and make the operators compete for their custom in much the same way that the low cost airlines have revolutionised air travel for millions. Ryanair gets a lot of well deserved flak, but you cannot fault their efficiency or their impact on the cost of foreign travel we could not have afforded 50 years ago. Whereas once we got a foreign holiday once a year if we were lucky, now people go on weekend city breaks all around Europe. It is market economics that made that possible, not Corbyn's beloved state controls.


World History

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Monday, 21 September 2015

Peanuts


Pig Gate


I don't really understand why we are supposed to care that our prime minister may, allegedly, more than twenty years ago, have done some odd things with his private parts and a dead pig. At least it was dead. There have been stories in the recent past about various senior politicians who did not have youthful exuberance and alcohol to excuse their lewd and licentious goings on.

One thing this episode does prove however is that David Cameron was entirely justified in not offering a job to Lord Ashcroft whose rage at being overlooked has produced this story. Ashcroft was given a peerage and that is more than enough. That he continues to involve himself unasked in British politics and without troubling to be elected is a greater scandal than alleged ancient porcine goings on, which are almost certainly untrue.

We have all done silly things in our youth, often involving alcohol and sexual peccadilloes. Lord Ashcroft on the other hand has used his money and contacts to write a story without any proof offered out of a sense of entitlement. He spent lots of money on backing the Tories and expected to wield power in return. Cameron failed to offer him a post he felt he had bought. He apparently continues to hold a grudge five years on. We should all be thankful that all of his money has thus far only been able to buy him a few tame websites and his endless opinion polls. His influence on our public life stops with talk about private parts.

It really is time this ignoble Lord was excised from public life altogether. If ever there was a reason for reform of our upper house, Lord Ashcroft personifies it. The fact that he has the clout to publish a revenge biography full of unsourced tittle tattle should not mean that the rest of us have to pay him any attention. This dilettante politician who thinks he can buy anyone is really no better than the likes of Russell Brand and Charlotte Church.

Greece and the Left: Be Careful What You Vote For


Perhaps its appropriate that Greece, the country which, in its ancient form, invented democracy, should be so keen on holding plebiscites. It is less appropriate that it seems constitutionally incapable of accepting the results and consequences.

Yesterday, for the third time this year, Greece went to the polls. The result is clear. Alexis Tsipras has been re-elected, this time shorn of his party's ultra denialists and fantasists. The Greek people showed little enthusiasm for the man they were hailing as their saviour just 8 months ago. Its almost as if they  decided to punish him, albeit by keeping him in office. For a Greek political establishment that has been living an economic fantasy of lavishness and irresponsibility for years, that is well deserved. For  the man who came to power in January promising a series of unachievable aims all paid for by other people and who spend almost his entire period in office in a game of brinkmanship with his creditors, it is probably only right that he now takes ownership of the inevitable consequences of his folly.

Experience tells us however that Greece's political class is incapable of the reforms being demanded. The country's latest bailout requires that they seize the nettle of reform their populism and cronyism has hitherto defeated. Mr Tsipras, a thus far fundamentally unserious politician until the crisis his own obstinacy made worse forced his hand, will likely balk at the unpopularity that will now surely follow if he pushes through the reforms he has agreed to.

And so the cycle will begin again. How long until the next crisis? How long until Tsipras concocts his next set of excuses, how long until he demands new negotiations? How long until he calls another election or another referendum? How long until Europe finally loses patience and pulls the plug on Greece's membership of the euro?

Last week our own Labour party elected our own grizzled version of this nightmarish vision of socialist fantasy. Ironically those who believe in the Corbyn revolution hold up Syriza as proof that a hard left government can be elected by popular proclamation. The two have their similarities in fairness. Lots of lavish promises, lots of fantasy economics, lots of spending with other peoples' money. And then reality intruded. In the end they actually made matters worse and the compromises made ended up being worse than what was on offer before. The lesson of Greece and of our own deluded left is be careful what you vote for.

World History

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Sunday, 20 September 2015

Peanuts


The Bible: A Very Grim Fairytale - Genesis: Chapter 35 - Jacob is Name Israel (Again) And Some Very Old People Die


The Bible, and Genesis in particular, has a lot of difficulties with names. As we saw in Chapter 32, Jacob was renamed Israel by God himself. But the name didn't stick because he kept being referred to as Jacob, not Israel. More confusion is about to arise.

So God said to Jacob (not Israel) arise, go to Bethel where you shall live from now on. He also demanded that Jacob, or whatever he was calling him, build an altar there as thanks for all that he had done for him. God is a very vain and needy god indeed it would seem. He is in constant need of reassurance in the form of offerings and altars. He does love a good altar. Well, don't we all.

Interestingly God told Jacob/Israel that he should go with his family to Bethel. Remember that for later. You'll be glad you did.

So Jacob/Israel went to his large family of sons and wives and even a few daughters and told them to pack and make ready for the big move. He also told them that they should get rid of the other gods they had with them. Other gods? We assume by this he meant that they had various items in the form of other gods. Surely if they were actual gods it would have been very crowded and there would have been a lot of smiting and jealousy going on. Oh and lots of altars of course.

And so, after Jacob/Israel had taken the precaution of burying all of these gods, plus some ear rings, which the Bible helpfully informs us were taken from their ears, they made their way to Bethel. And as they started their journey God went around threatening all of the local peoples not to mess with Jacob/Israel and his sons, even though they had committed mass murder on an entire city. So that's okay then.

So they went to Bethel, which had been named Bethel once before, because Jacob had been there before. After all God had told him to go to Bethel. Jacob otherwise would have said: 'where is Bethel?'

And Jacob/Israel built God an altar, presumably as thanks for the protection and for forgiving his sons for all that murder. And then he renamed the place he had just come to Bethel even though he had been told to come to Bethel. When they say that God moves in mysterious ways this is likely what they mean. He manages to move to places that have been named already and then renames them with the same name.

And then Deborah, Rebekah's nurse died. This is odd too because we didn't even know that Rebekah and her nurse were with them. The last we heard, Jacob left them all behind when he went on his quest for a wife and ended up with four.

Anyway the death of this nurse required her to be buried of course and for another short naming ceremony. All of this, by the way, was just a transparent attempt by the authors of these fables to lend their claims to land some legitimacy. Look, they were saying, this land is clearly ours because God gave it to us and our imaginary ancestors are buried there.

God appeared to Jacob at this point and told him that he was renaming him Israel. But we already knew that. Still it had to be reiterated because even Genesis had apparently forgotten.

And God made the same promises he had made before about him having lots of kids and of fathering a nation and that he would have kings come after him and so on. And he gave him the land that he had given to Abraham and Isaac (who was still alive at this point by the way). And Jacob - he is still not being referred to as Israel even now - put up a stone pillar and poured drink and oil, which he just happened to have about his person over said stone and then, are you ready for this, called the name of this place - wait for it - yes, Bethel.

And then, in a really packed chapter full of incident, Rachel went into labour, had a son and died. Just before she died she named her son Benoni but then Jacob/Israel renamed him Benjamin, which seems a bit cruel. The woman had died for crying out loud.

Then we had yet another naming ceremony for the bloody place where this happened - they are protesting about all of this a bit too much now aren't they - which was called......Bethlehem. Apparently there is a pillar at this place right to this very day. If you believe that you'll believe anything.

Then Israel - he is finally referred to as Israel - journeyed on. And Reuben, one of his sons, perhaps confused by his father's sudden change of name, slept with his father's concubine and they had a child. Just in passing, this must have been a hell of a long journey - there are people dying, children being conceived and born and they still haven't got there yet.

Anyway, at the end of this long and eventful journey, Jacob was suddenly Jacob again and they met up with his father, Isaac. This is strange because earlier, if you recall, they had buried Rebekah's nurse. Was Rebekah not with Isaac? And how had Isaac survived the 20 or so years since he had sent his son off to find a wife? He was old and blind then.

But no sooner had Jacob arrived back than his father died, which was sublime timing. He was, we are told, 180 years old. He was buried and even Esau came out of nowhere and attended the burial. If you think about this its remarkable how quickly Esau could have managed to get there given it seemed to take Jacob months. But then he did have to do a lot of copulating, renaming, altar building, stone erecting and talking to God along the way. Clearly this caused many delays. Maybe he would have got there earlier, but people kept getting his name wrong. Even God.









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Saturday, 19 September 2015

Peanuts


Video Diary - The Charlotte Church, Celebrity Dimwit Edition



I have received the following deranged tweet from a fan of Charlotte Church. He seems to be operating under the delusion that he is a policeman. This is my first actual threat on the internet, albeit a particularly cack handed and comical one from someone who clearly spends far too much time alone and watches too much television.

But I thought I would share it with the wider world as it has really brightened my day. Compared to some of the people who leap to her defence for no obvious reason and without knowing what they are talking about, just like her, Charlotte Church seems quite sensible and intelligent. But then this is definitely damning with faint praise.



Introduction to Astronomy

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Friday, 18 September 2015

Peanuts


McDonnell's Non Apology Apology



Let me remind you that we are, according to the Jeremy Corbyn camp, in a new era of straight talking and honest politics. Let us compare and contrast then with the writhing about and evasions of John McDonnell last night on Question Time. John McDonnell appeared to apologise. Except it was a classic politician's apology. In reality he didn't apologise at all.

According to this serially dishonest man - when looking after the finances at the old GLC he was told that he actually had more money to spend thanks to the Thatcher government but made a deliberate decision not to mention this as it didn't conform to his ideology - he had to make his statement because it helped along the peace process. If it saved even one life, he said last night, then it was worth it.

What arrogance. At the time of the Northern Ireland peace process, a process that Sinn Fein joined because their campaign of violence and murder was failing and had brought them into deserved ignominy after some of their more appalling acts, John McDonnell was not involved even slightly. He involved himself peripherally because he considered the Sinn Fein apologists as his friends. He was just a backbench MP from London. It had nothing to do with him. If anything his comments would have fanned the flames. Fortunately he was so inconsequential that his words made no difference.

What he was saying, and is effectively still saying, is that the various IRA murderers made a contribution to the peace process and that killing and maiming created peace. How does 'honouring' this violence make peace more likely? Once again the people who claim to want peace are giving out a message to the contrary.

Furthermore his claim of contributing to that peace process, which is already risible, has the other problem that the occasion when he made those remarks was 5 years after the Good Friday Agreement was made. So his contribution to it was nil. His remarks were made to a Republican audience five years after the peace talks had come to fruition. He told that audience that the terrorists should be honoured because they killed and maimed their way to peace. That's his idea of talking peace. Once again, like Corbyn, he only spoke to one side. It's so much cant and hypocrisy from a man now propelled into a position of power he does not deserve and which he should never have got near.

Northern Ireland is a democratic part of this country. Yes there were problems there caused by the behaviour of the so called loyalists. That had to be sorted out and has been sorted out. And it is a perfectly respectable political goal to be a republican and to want a united Ireland. Many of us on the mainland have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view, although it is not something the people of Ireland, who would have to be consulted on the matter, have shown much concern about in recent years. But it is simply unacceptable and disgusting to have sympathy for the bombers and the murderers of the IRA. Their campaign of violence was unnecessary and counterproductive.

Let us not forget that British troops were originally sent in to protect the Catholic population. There was violence on both sides of the divide. It is a predominantly a religious divide, a one not unknown in some parts of the mainland but which the rest of us struggle to understand or sympathise with. In the end the IRA transcended its original supposed purpose and simply became a mafia like organisation out to control and use violence to achieve that control. It was just a protection racket with political pretensions. Sympathising with it and glorifying its murderers ought to have you drummed out of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn has just made the man who did the glorifying the second most important man in his party.

Note the words that McDonnell used last night. After trying to justify his words by connecting them spuriously to the peace process he then said:  'If I gave offence, and I clearly have, then from the bottom of my heart I apologise.'

'If I gave offence' is politician code for I don't regret what I said, don't think its wrong, but I'm going to give a non apology apology to try and quieten down the fuss. We don't accept your apology Mr McDonnell because we don't think you mean it. We think you still believe every word and that you and your pal have a perverse and disgusting attitude to people who cause death and mayhem to try and get their way. You are a disgrace and should be drummed out of your current high office and the Labour Party.

Unravelling: The Cult of Corbyn



It will take a while for the cult of Corbyn to unravel. As I pointed out on Monday, belief in him is more like religious belief - and one of the more unhinged religious beliefs - than politics. People believe in the politics that Corbyn espouses and so they believe in him. The fact that he is clearly not up to the job and is struggling already is immaterial.

The cult of Corbyn reminds me of the Life of Brian. People desperate for their Messiah latching on to anyone, however ill qualified and unsuitable, because he says what they want to hear. Its just more narcissism and virtue signalling. Its why the unravelling is inevitable.

Take Corbyn's entrance at the TUC this week when he was accompanied by the tune Hey Big Spender. I used the same tune for a short video I made earlier this year about Wallace. I meant it as a joke. I suppose so did they. But it had serious intent.

The left and the unions are four square behind Corbyn because he will spend more. That is his firm position. They like him for it. He set out a position that there should be no limits on benefits, that austerity is unnecessary, that we should be spending or investing more. And yes we should be investing more. There is much that needs investment. But that isn't what Corbyn is talking about when he speaks of investment. He really means spending. Giving people more and more money in benefits because you think it makes you caring, because you are virtue signalling is not an investment. It is pouring money away and entrenching poverty.

And it is this attitude to spending that means we have not invested enough. Our burgeoning welfare bill will bankrupt the country if it is not tackled. But worse than that it does not do what the likes of Corbyn popularly imagine it does. It entrenches poverty and traps people. It becomes a way of life. There were reports this week that there are people on benefits deliberately ensuring that they do not get jobs by turning up in poor clothing and failing the interview. If only we could have made the same judgement on the poorly clothed and surly new Labour leader on his first days this week.

Jeremy Corbyn is typical of the hard left. He is part of a privileged elite that takes a patriarchal, patronising attitude towards the working man and the poor. Corbyn himself, like that old fraud Tony Benn, comes from a privileged and wealthy background. He has never worked in a proper job. He went straight from school and started work for a union. To him it was like living the dream. His politics obsession, his burning desire to work in politics, agitating for causes was that dream. He is every bit as peculiar and other worldly as his predecessor as Labour leader. More so really because he has spent his entire career protesting, criticising, carping. Now suddenly he has to compromise and come up with actual policies. No wonder he and his colleagues are struggling to find a common line.

You can see the absurd other worldliness of the man in some of the clips above. They are clips he is never going to get away from. Indeed such is his other wordly nature that he has been adding new clips, new soundbites, new hostages to fortune in the past week.

His view of the world is out of date. Marxism is a prescription for the world's ills that is out of date by decades. The working class is no longer in need of the Corbyn's of this world to patronisingly defend them. We have universal healthcare, education for all, access to university education for all. We live in a country in which the son of an immigrant bus driver has become the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills - and he is a Tory. That is something that the likes of Corbyn no doubt struggle with. But it is a nice example of how the world has changed. Marxism is irrelevant to the world we live.

So there really isn't any need for the juvenile antics and immature behaviour of the leader of Labour. Yes we have an unelected head of state. In an ideal world I would like it replaced. But it cannot be argued that the monarchy does not have the support of the vast majority of the British people. Therefore it is perfectly legitimate. Therefore the mature politician has to accept this and live with it. And not behave like an oik in doing so.

Instead Corbyn has shown that he was happier as a serial protester. He doesn't really like this country and much that it stands for and the entirety of its history.

It has been a bad week, worthy of Wallace himself, for Corbyn. Wallace never got over the first impression of him in the aftermath of his leadership win. Corbyn's start has been much much worse. The first polling shows that his reception by the public is sceptical verging on hostile. For a man who says he is bringing us a new, more honest type of politics that cannot be good.


World History

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Thursday, 17 September 2015

Peanuts


A Year On From The Scottish Referendum - Still No Honesty From The SNP


To precisely nobody's surprise, Nicola Sturgeon has begun the process of arguing for the need for a second referendum. The once in a generation event has become something else. The bad losers of the SNP are trying to redefine it to suit their needs.

Now of course the word generation is not an exact period of years. This is to their advantage. But both Sturgeon and Salmond are on record as having used that word during the referendum campaign that they then went on to lose. We can say with certainty that, had they won said vote, even by only one vote, they would now be arguing that the matter was settled - and forever, not for a mere generation.

Under normal circumstances the word generation is taken to mean something like at least 20 and up to 30 years. That was what most English speakers would have assumed was meant. Indeed both Salmond Sturgeon knew this when they said it. But they only said it as a tactic to try and win. Then they lost.

The lesson that the more pragmatic Nicola Sturgeon took from that referendum is that she should only call one if and when she can be certain of winning. That moment is not now. Nor is it likely to be soon. The Scottish people don't want a referendum and would likely vote against independence if they had the chance. They would likely vote in higher numbers to punish the SNP for their obsession and inability to accept the last result. Nicola Sturgeon knows this. She knows she cannot call for another referendum unless something happens to give her the excuse. Their great hope is the forthcoming UK wide referendum on Europe.

Sturgeon has to keep up some kind of talk of another referendum to keep her party happy. The SNP's entire raison d'ĂȘtre is independence. It is why they are proving so lousy at governing.

Note also that, though they keep whining about the supposed betrayal of the government about its failure to fulfil the vow of more powers to Scotland - a vow that has largely been kept - they have stopped talking about full fiscal autonomy. Why? Because if they had it they would be in deficit and would have to make swingeing cuts. They might even have to abandon one of their signature and most idiotic policies - free tuition fees. The collapse in oil revenues means that, just as was predicted during the referendum, Scotland would struggle on its own. It certainly would not be the land of oil and honey the SNP popularly imagine.

They lost their referendum chiefly because they lost the economic argument. That economic argument is now even more starkly against them than it was a year ago.

The SNP should enjoy their current success while they can. This is the high water mark. Its likely that they will win next year's election in Scotland too. But from there it will all be down hill. The people of Scotland are going to start to notice that the SNP have been in government now for getting on for ten years. That's about a third of a generation. Yet not only is Scotland not noticeably a fairer and more equitable place than England. Its NHS and schools are functioning worse despite extra funding and its policy of free tuition fees is an expensive noose around the SNP's neck which has not done what they promised. Scottish educational establishments are starting to suffer by comparison with those in England.

And, though it is open to her to do so, Nicola Sturgeon will not promise another referendum in her manifesto. She will shield herself with caveats. David Cameron has already said that there will be no referendum in this parliament. The matter is settled. But perhaps he should say that if the SNP put a commitment in their manifesto for another referendum and win by a convincing margin they will get their referendum. But they must hold it within 3 months. No long and tedious campaign. A short sharp campaign to settle the matter for 30 years. Not only would that end the whining, it would end the SNP.


European Refugee Crisis: The Perils of Virtue Signalling



Remember when Angela Merkel was the colossus of European politics? Remember when she was the personification of calm authority and competence? It's all gone now, or at least dissipating, all thanks to the lady falling prey to political grandstanding and vanity. She virtue signalled and now her country and Europe is paying the price in chaos.

For years some of us have been warning a reluctant country and indeed a reluctant continent that the only way to counter rising immigration is to get tough on the Australian model. This is not to say that immigration should be stopped altogether, just that it should be controlled. And, what is more to the point, we should stop the current broken system being abused by queue jumpers and criminals. People who come here illegally or who make perilous journeys across the Med in order to claim asylum are abusing the system. They should be turned around, sent back and to the back of the queue.

By taking such a tough approach, whilst not shutting the door on immigration nor closing our hearts to genuine refugees we would remove the current incentives to dangerous and illegal behaviour. The camps in Calais should be closed down and those already in safe France told that they should claim there. People heading to Europe from safe, if not particularly comfortable refugee camps on the borders of Syria should be told to turn back. If you continue your present journey you will not be accommodated.

Instead Europe's leaders, and Angela Merkel in particular, chose to engage in moral panic and to virtue signal. An entirely predictable tidal wave of refugees on a scale too great to be coped with had submerged half of eastern Europe and even Germany itself. It was bad enough when there was an implicit deal that anyone making the journey to Europe would be accommodated and given the equivalent of a lottery win for endangering themselves and others. Once Merkel made a fatuous explicit promise then what did she think would happen?  Thousands are pouring through the gaps, walking up the railway lines, picketing the railway stations.

The worst part is that Merkel's grandstanding is affecting the rest of Europe. Countries bordering Germany or which are merely en route have had to cope with the consequence of her folly too. Indeed Germany has now closed its borders and so countries like Hungary and Austria are having to cope with thousands of people they cannot possibly process or accommodate. They should send Germany the bill.

Britain has taken a more pragmatic approach all along. David Cameron, albeit with a small wobble when he promised to accept 20,000 refugees, has said that where we do refugees, particularly children, they should come from the camps set up by the UN around Syria.

But it is those camps that are where Syrian refugees should largely be accommodated if for no other reason than there are so many of them. The money being spent on Merkel's self serving grandstanding would be better spent keeping Syrians out of harms way and improving the facilities of those camps. There are 4 million currently residing in those camps and the number of Syrian displaced is even higher. They cannot be accommodated elsewhere and neither should they be. Syria will have to be rebuilt when peace finally comes. It will do nobody any good if this diaspora continues and the wealthiest, brightest and most youthful are attracted to rapacious predator nations like Germany in need of fresh blood.

Merkel's pledge was a foolish one. The chaos it has engendered was inevitable and all too predictable.

World History

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Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Peanuts


PMQs Review 16th September 2015 - The Straight Talking, Honest Politics Edition


Straight Talking, Honest Politics. That is what we are to have apparently in the great new dawn that began on Saturday. It lasted roughly 30 hours, that's the length of time Jeremy and his friend John will be demanding at the party conference in true socialist style. The first one to stop clapping, crying 'my hands, my hands' is a sissy. And to be sent for re-education. Or worse.

You will be aware by now of course of the various calamities that have befallen Labour this week. No, we've moved on from Corbyn actually being elected. We're talking about the consequences.

First Corbyn decided to make his friend John McDonnell his Chancellor. Actually there are some, including this blogger, who feel he had no choice in the matter. Jezza, for all of his avuncular, hippyish charm is not the brightest. He probably felt he needed John by his side, feeding him lines and witty repartee and threatening people. Answering awkward questions. That sort of thing. So what if the man is a nasty, spiteful, vengeful, angry, violent, bigoted, hate filled, terrorist-loving class warrior? Jezza needs him. Jez we can they were saying at the weekend. Except of course Jez can't really. He's a bit dim. He is the living embodiment of the Peter Sellers character Chauncey Gardiner. He needs a John McDonnell at his side. It was that or Diane Abbott, another grammar school alumni who must be a terrible disappointment to that great educational tradition.



John, sorry, Jezza spent the weekend trying to assemble a Cabinet. Now generally speaking on such occasions ministers and potential ministers wait expectantly and hopefully by their telephones, or at least, in the mobile age, ensure they have them switched on and the signal is strong. Of course if and when John, sorry, Jezza get power they will nationalise the phones anyway and soon have them working like they did under the GPO. They did better manhole covers then. Jezza knows. He is a manhole cover aficionado. No, really.

Anyway this was one reshuffle in which potential ministers were actively avoiding their ringing phones. Nobody wanted to serve. Finding a full Shadow Cabinet proved to be something of a challenge. Yet despite this, John, sorry, Jezza still could not find a senior job for a woman. They did however find a role for Lucy Powell, former election guru of Wallace. Lucy claimed just a few weeks ago she had never actually spoken to Jezza. It amuses me to think that the first conversation they had was when he was offering her the job she accepted.

Now there are no women in senior positions. This was a something of a difficulty for the new leader, John, sorry, Jezza. But then they came up, thanks to their being straight talking, honest politicians, with not one, but two great pieces of spin to explain this. First, the great offices of state is an old fashioned notion. Of course. But to make up for it they have given Angela Eagle the non job of First Secretary of State. So that's okay then. No contradiction there. It did however give us the first great viral moment of John, sorry, Jezza's leadership - the sight of Jezza walking along Whitehall being pursued by a Sky News journalist asking impertinent questions. Because he is a straight talking, honest politician, Jezza ignored the questions and walked on in sullen, sulking silence. He had to talk to John so that they could concoct those pieces of spin.

All in all, filling John, sorry, Jezza's first Shadow Cabinet did not go smoothly. Sky journalist, Darren McCaffrey, stood outside the office while it was going on and reported that there was much pleading and negotiating going on with various people who took issue with John, sorry, Jezza's policies. Given John, sorry, Jezza's ideas on our armed forces, finding someone to shadow Defence proved troublesome with various assurances asked for by various offerees. The Sky journalist did not hear everything going on behind the door and so it is entirely possible that all kinds of inducements from Jezza's allotment were offered. Maybe some of the women were offered the chance to become the 4th Mrs Corbyn.

Jezza did make a statement after all of this to say that his Shadow Cabinet is 'a bit of an achievement if I may say so'. Indeed it is, although in the past actually finding enough people to fill said Shadow Cabinet has not been seen as something to boast of.

To date John and Jezza, being straight talking and honest politicians, have turned down half a dozen interviews with the nation's leading news programmes. Would they even turn up to PMQs or attend an event in Islington instead? Such an event kept Jezza away from the Marr couch at the weekend. Both he and John have failed also to be interviewed by Today on Radio 4. Its probably because they are so honest and straight talking and waiting to talk to The One Show first.

Anyway, enough fun. To the serious business of the straight talking, honest John, sorry, Jezza and his first outing at PMQs. He did ask John if he would do it and indeed has asked his ministers if they will take turns. Such confidence.

You would think that, after 30 years on the back benches hoping to be called to ask a question and fulminating angrily about the Tories, Corbyn would have a few dozen questions stored up. But no. He has contracted out his questions to the public. Perhaps he's hoping for a job with Radio 5 Live or LBC as a phone-in presenter. Or of course he could ask his friends at Russia's RT for a job when it all goes wrong.

The problem for Dave was how on Earth does he play this? Should he engage in Punch and Judy politics? Should he bring out Flashman again?


First question of the day came from Tory Gordon Henderson who paid tribute to the Battle of Britain pilots thus reminding us of yesterday. The PM joined in with the tribute but resisted the temptation to mention the debacle.

Then we got to the main event.

Now to be fair, Jezza looked presentable, at least by his recent standards - which is to say he was wearing a tie and his top button was done up - and seemed to be quite calm about his debut in the bear pit. This might have been helped by the fact that the bear pit was distinctly un pit-like today. It was quiet, restrained, decorous. It was as if Hattie was still there.

And then Jezza started talking. Now given that it is questions to the prime minister it was a little surprising that he started a kind of acceptance speech which wound on as tediously and repetitively as the one he gave on Saturday. But then he moved on to the new style PMQs he wants to bring in. Now of course we have heard this before, not least from the present incumbent when he was still in the seat now occupied by Corbyn. But we shall see.

Corbyn is indeed intent on asking questions from the public and proceeded to do so. He asked a question from Marie about the housing shortage.

Dave gave a polite and considered response after welcoming Jezza to his new position. He held out the hope that they would be able to work together on various issues, perhaps thinking about future votes on Syria, which should set the cat amongst the pigeons.


And he answered the question. Indeed he proceeded to answer all six questions in a considered way. This was all rather refreshing. But it did look like a television presenter asking the PM questions. Corbyn made very few counter points, he just asked questions with hardly any come back. It just allowed Cameron to make his points and to look, well, prime ministerial. He was extremely well briefed and got in various lines about Conservative policies and approaches in contrast to the Labour line. He will be hoping that this new style lasts. It made him look great.

The mask did slip a little when Angus Robertson asked yet another question about the supposed betrayal of the government on giving Scotland new powers. Dave's first answer was in the old style, which Robertson pointed out. But the PM's second attempt was more considered. Can the SNP give a single example of powers that were promised and not delivered he asked. Since Robertson had no more questions we didn't find out. But we know it is a subject he will return to. The SNP can talk about nothing else.

There were other questions from backbenchers along the lines of defence, nuclear weapons and so on as you might expect this week.

But the most electric question of the day was from the DUP's Nigel Dodds who asked about the appointment of a Shadow Chancellor who has praised the murderers of the IRA. The house became the loudest it had been all day in approbation. The prime minister was impressive in his response. He spoke of Airey Neave and Iain Gow, former Tory MPs murdered by the IRA and whom he had known to some extent. He condemned those who praised the IRA and told them they should be ashamed of themselves.

So, to be scrupulously fair, this was a competent first outing from Jeremy Corbyn. There was no disaster. But the fact was his new style of PMQs may suit him because it means he doesn't have to think on his feet or make witty comebacks. That may well be the real reason he chose to rewrite the rules. Yet it all suited Dave down to the ground - he adapted superbly. This new way will never last.