Saturday, 31 October 2015
Friday, 30 October 2015
Want to know how Jimmy Savile got away with his vile crimes for all of those years? Just take a look at the tale of Kids Company and Camila Batmanghelidjh. This is not to suggest that her activities were at all similar to those of Savile. But she used similar methods to him to get her way. She virtue signalled, those giving money to her charity virtue signalled. It was self reinforcing. If anyone asked awkward questions she said: 'but what about the children?' and that was that.
This is a parable of Britain today. It is why the Government was defeated on Tax Credits. It is why we are spending billions on foreign aid and pursuing an arbitrarily set target but at the same time cutting benefits in this country. This blog supports the cuts to benefits and thinks Tax Credits are an abomination that should be abolished altogether. But then the same is true, surely, of our blanket foreign aid budget. Foreign aid should be for emergencies or should be given as a way of supporting British foreign policy like the Chinese and Russians do. Simply saying we will spend a target amount of money on foreign aid to make us look good and then casting around for something to spend it on is a recipe for corruption and waste.
Kids Company was exactly the same. It had a flamboyant leader who knew what buttons to press to get money - lots and lots of money - and to ensure that when awkward questions were asked they were silenced or drowned out by lurid claims of the consequences of the money tap being turned to off. Finally the money tap was turned off, after one of our braver publications, The Spectator, published what many had known for years, and the only consequence was that a superannuated BBC arse has been exposed and drug dealers are indisposed. Oh and fewer expensive trainers have been sold.
And exactly the same sort of arguments were deployed this week about the removal of Tax Credits. It is a policy that is right. It is right because it does the opposite of what its supporters claim for it. It doesn't support people doing the right thing, it traps them in low paid jobs and subsidises employers paying low wages. If you are in receipt of Tax Credits you have no incentive to work extra hours or seek a better job. It is bad for workers and it is bad for the economy. It works against upward mobility. Yes there would have been initial pain, pain that could be incrementally relieved, but the removal of these benefits is vital not just to cut the costs of welfare but to create the sort of society we should all want. Our vast welfare bill is spent, not on people who are out of work or who can't work. It is spent for the most part on people who shouldn't need welfare at all and works against their and our better interests.
Our welfare system was originally intended as a safety net and has become a way of life. Reforming it is vital to make Britain's economy healthy and dynamic. Spraying around welfare money is doing the exact opposite of what its supporters claim for it. They may not be as flamboyantly dressed as Camila Batmanghelidjh, but their arguments and methods are the same.
Thursday, 29 October 2015
What on earth does David Cameron think he is doing? The man who was going to renegotiate a great deal for Britain which would convince us all to stay in the EU has now abandoned all pretence to be achieving anything at all. When the Cabinet was presented with his demands they are said to have responded with a simple 'meh.' Translated that means: is that it?
Now, such is the cosmetic nature of the much vaunted renegotiation that the PM has started his campaign to keep us in already. He headed to Reykjavik yesterday and presented accompanying journalists with a variation on the sort of tired arguments that the most arch of Euro enthusiasts always resort to. Translation: I was never really serious, I was forced into agreeing to this renegotiation and referendum. Now I am starting the argument to keep us in. Europe: feel free to shaft us.
That is the only way to respond to Dave's vacuous argument yesterday about the so called Norway option for Britain. Norway is a nation of 4 million people. Britain is a nation of 60 million and the fifth biggest economy on the planet. Britain is the go to destination for Europe's unemployed. It is the nation that is creating the bulk of our continent's jobs. It imports more from Europe than they import from us, but is a huge and vital trading partner.
Norway, it is true, is obliged to import laws from Europe. But that is a product of the fact that Norway's politicians are as beholden to the idea of the EU as our own political establishment are. They would take Norway into the EU if allowed to do so. Fortunately the people of Norway have more sense. But that hasn't prevented their politicians from getting them a very very bad deal. Presumably David Cameron is intent on spiting the people of this country in much the same way if we ignore his specious arguments.
We have heard the tired old arguments before. We will have to import our laws from Europe just the same. Why will we? We will have to obey rules for exporting our goods to Europe it is true. But then the same is true if we want to export goods to America or Japan or indeed China. Nobody is suggesting that we have to obey the diktats of the US Supreme Court in order to be allowed to sell America our cars or technology. Why then have we felt it necessary to prostrate ourselves to the ECJ in order to gain access to the European markets?
All that Euro sceptics want is the right to govern ourselves, decide our own laws, decide to whom we pay benefits, decide who we allow into our country to work. It is entirely reasonable that the EU should set rules and regulations for goods and services that are being imported. The same is true of any country. What we object to is all of the other European diktats that have nothing to do with trade, which have been added on for no other reason than their fanatical desire to turn the EU into the United States of Europe.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out a procedure of sorts for a nation to withdraw from the EU, mandates that a negotiation takes place. But there is no stipulation that we have to have the same arrangements as those of Norway, Switzerland or Iceland. Ours would be an unprecedented situation. Might they want to punish us for having the temerity to leave? Maybe so. But would they be under tremendous pressure from numerous vested interests to negotiate a free trade arrangement? Undoubtedly. After all the EU is negotiating such arrangements with large parts of the world. If Britain were to leave the EU but become a full member again of the WTO then we would become part of a club generally disposed to free trade anyway, but free trade without the paraphernalia of agricultural and fisheries provision, without a parliament, without a vast bureaucracy, without a court, without a presumption of ever closer union, of paying benefits to people who have never contributed towards them and without their ruinous currency.
It is a nonsense to suggest that we would end up like Norway. Indeed we might show Norway the way and make them demand a better deal for themselves.
But of course the only way we will ever be able to get such a deal for ourselves is if we have a prime minister who is prepared to bargain hard and who is prepared to walk away. David Cameron has shown with his panicked reaction yesterday that he has no intention of even trying.
Wednesday, 28 October 2015
It's been a week that has been dominated by the travails of George and the sudden conversion of Lib Dem and Labour supporters to crony unelected politics. It is of course hyperbole, to which this blog has unashamedly contributed, to suggest that the intervention of the Lords into the Tax Credits imbroglio is a constitutional crisis, but it nevertheless remains astounding that Lib Dems in particular are so intent on using their Lords numbers to cause such chaos. Yesterday they even narrowly missed causing trouble on the issue of how elections are run. Sometimes satire can only watch and shake its head in admiration. Since the election the Lords has defeated the Government 10 times.
Only a couple of weeks ago George Osborne was the heir apparent to Dave, for reasons many of us could not wholly understand. Now it seems that the field has been levelled once again. Boris is back in with a shout. Theresa can continue to be beastly about immigrants whilst showing the love to ethnic minorities who are being harassed by the police. Other leadership candidates are available. I might even stand myself, if of course I don't accept a peerage before my election to the House of Commons to ensure that their lordships are kept in check.
The preening of their lordships alone was good reason to flood the upper house with new members. Think back to those protesters at the Tory conference earlier this month and then just transplant their self righteousness to the red benches minus the spitting and you get a good idea of the spectacle this week. £4 billion of our money was at stake. The Lords, like Labour and the Lib Dems, feel no need to say how the money should be saved, indeed Labour, if they have a policy at all, say they wouldn't be saving it at all. They would probably call giving money in benefits investment. They did when they were in government after all.
Labour have had a better week this week, although the fact that this was because a bunch of nonentities in the Lords have been doing the running for them should not have gladdened their hearts. What will have gladdened Labour hearts is the news that Chauncey has decided that he does not need the vast office overlooking the Thames that was enjoyed by his predecessor. Instead it is to be used as a kind of sixth form common room type area for Labour's common room type politics. The cartoon of them all sitting around holding hands and discussing which one of them Chauncey is going to shag next almost draws itself. Sadly I lack the artistic talent.
Chauncey is feeling quite pleased with himself at the moment. He seems to think that he is doing well at PMQs at the moment, having delegated the task of thinking up questions to the entire British electorate. Oh and he is also pleased with his method of dealing with Tory hecklers who continue to ignore his stipulation that we are in an era of new and nice politics. He simply stops and stares at them. He's really quite keen on this. Having spent his entire political career talking to people who agree with him he needed a new approach. Its hardly likely to go down in the parliamentary annals though is it.
'Like being savaged by a dead sheep,' Denis Healey; 'He is a self made man and worships his creator,' John Bright; 'She probably thinks Sinai is the plural of Sinus,' Jonathan Aitken; 'The right honourable and learned gentleman has twice crossed the floor of the house, each time leaving behind a trail of slime,' David Lloyd George; Stare over your glasses desperately trying to think of something witty to say until they get bored and shut up, Jeremy Corbyn.
So what gems of political discourse had we to look forward to this week? What had Sharon from Hemel Hempstead sent in for him to ask? Could he not send out an appeal for witty rejoinders? After all this is the age of the internet, while he is pausing and waiting for Tory backbenchers to pipe down he could easily consult his phone for what Twitter advised him to say. Indeed when he attended a state dinner for the Chinese last week he ignored protocol and kept glancing at his phone. Perhaps he was asking for advice for what to say to the Queen.
The session got underway with a brief tribute to Michael Meacher who died last week having been a member of parliament for over 40 years. The PM made a glowing tribute and then so did Chauncey. Interestingly he read out a short message from Meacher's family, a paean to politicians and their principles. Chauncey read this out whilst wearing a red poppy. Just saying.
We then moved to Tax Credits. Interestingly Chauncey has abandoned his crowd sourcing of questions. We are moving closer and closer, after a thankfully brief flirtation with a new and kinder kind of politics, to the traditional model. Chauncey tried his approach of stopping and staring at his hecklers on the opposite benches but this time they merely laughed at him. His preparation for life as a teacher is going from strength to strength, except of course his substantial public pensions mean he won't need to work. As Martin Amis pointed out at the weekend, he isn't sufficiently educated for that career anyway. He just gets to legislate for us all instead.
So with Chauncey at last making his own questions this was a better test of his credentials. Turned out he could only think of one though. He asked it six times, although the same was often true of his predecessor. Will those on Tax Credits be worse off next year he asked. Dave said the proposals will be set out by the Chancellor next month, a hardly unreasonable response given that the initial proposals were only rejected about 40 hours ago.
And that was what we got then for the duration. Chauncey asked if the PM can guarantee that nobody will be worse off. Dave tried various forms of words to avoid making such a promise which is impossible even if you a party as cavalier with the nation's finances as Labour are. Just ask Gordon Brown.
Dave made the point that the measures passed the Commons 5 times, but were eventually rejected by the Lords. He further made the point that he had told the country at the election that there would be £12 billion in welfare cuts and that the country had backed this. Yet the unelected Lords had rejected this. He noted this with some surprise and no small amount of irony.
It was nearly normal service resumed today. Chauncey, who has been in parliament nearly as long as Michael Meacher had been, seemed perplexed that the PM was failing to answer his question. Dave, who was inevitably on the defensive in a difficult week for the Government, used various methodologies for refusing to do so. He even made an old style jibe about Chauncey relying on the unelected when he is unelectable. As Martin Amis pointed out in The Sunday Times, Chauncey has no noticeable sense of humour and so we can say with confidence that he will never respond. He did well enough on a subject that is awkward for the Tories, but it is an awkwardness that will fade. Indeed if Osborne is as clever as he thinks he is they may even turn it to their advantage. A surer footed opposition leader might have had Dave on the ropes. Instead he was on autopilot, albeit through some turbulence. Chauncey had perhaps his best outing, but then it was only his fourth.
You may be aware of a row that has emerged this last few days concerning Germaine Greer, fallen feminist. Why fallen? Because she refused to kowtow to the latest orthodoxies that that highly confused and nebulous movement has embraced. Of course, given that nebulousness, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what the state of opinion is within their ranks. Nobody really knows what feminism is for anymore. Maybe they should get a bloke in to sort them out. Perhaps I should have put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence. But I thought it might look a bit phallic.
Germaine has been no platformed by the University of Cardiff which she was coming to address on an entirely unrelated subject, but in our modern intolerant times, those who have opinions that are deemed by some unacceptable or offensive must not be heard. They must be ostracised.
Germaine Greer has fallen out with the sistas because the sistas have decided that it now falls within their incoherent remit to stand up for men. Germaine took the view that men who have decided that they should in fact be women, cannot in fact become women, anymore than I could decide tomorrow to become a chimpanzee owing to my fondness for bananas. Here nature most definitely trumps nurture. Or, more accurately, it trumps a feeling I might wake up having one day that really I think I ought to be wearing a dress and that this suddenly and mysteriously, presumably by a process of osmosis, makes me a woman. Actually, if we are being really honest, the reason that men suddenly decide that they are really women is because they develop a longing to be fucked. But nobody will say that.
Germaine Greer is not saying anything like that though. She is just of the opinion that, no matter the many advances and miracles of modern medical science, it has not reached the point when it can actually trump reality. Specifically it cannot change your chromosomes, change you from someone with both the X and Y chromosome to someone with two X chromosomes. Surgeons can do all kinds of clever things with your external genitalia and enable you to grow breasts, but they cannot change the fact that men tend to be larger and more muscular. They cannot change the fact that men have deeper voices on account of a larger larynx. They cannot change the fact that women have, in addition to a vagina, a uterus and ovaries. In short, no matter how much you may feel that you are really a woman, you're not. You can't be. Its impossible. Tough luck. But hey, that's life. Nature can be a bitch can't she. Irony intended.
But the sistas won't have this. They are furious with Germaine Greer for arguing this way. How dare she tell men that they cannot be women. How very patriarchal of her. Perhaps its because she's gone through the menopause. Or is it because she's older and become more, ahem, conservative? Anyway, they don't want to hear what she has to say. There have been furious protests about Dr Greer from the sistas in some of our right on universities.
Take this article in The Telegraph which takes issue with Dr Greer, in viciously intemperate tones for the sin of being of a different opinion. This seems to be the way of things now. If you disagree with a certain constituency on the left you will be vilified and fulminated against, called a bigot, or have aspersions cast on your sanity. Or, as in this article, they will simply imply that you are past it and thus unable to keep pace with the modern and oh so open minded zeitgeist.
The author of this fatuous piece of drivel, Kaite Welsh, asserts that the invitation extended to Germaine Greer was greeted with an outcry from students. Well, I don't know if this was necessarily the case. What tends to be the case in the age of internet and social media, is that some self righteous, self appointed tribune of the people sees that a speaker has been invited and starts a campaign to have them uninvited. And on university campuses too. Freedom of speech? An openness to honest debate? Not on your life.
Much of the feminist community, says Ms Welsh, cringe at her comments. Note that phrase 'much of'. That could be half a dozen people down the pub. And since nobody knows what feminism means anymore, its hard to see how it can really be called a community. Its like talking about the black community or the gay and lesbian community. Do they get together and have mass meetings at which they agree a party line and who or who not should be allowed to address them? Is this how you get to become one of those mysterious community leaders, you just write an article talking about a community and someone at the BBC makes you its leader and spokesman, sorry person?
And have a read of Ms Welsh's article if you can bear to. Did I imagine it or did the author really use the phrase: 'assigned the wrong gender at birth?' Assigned? By whom? Is there some authoritarian committee deciding these things that we haven't heard about? Do they work to quotas? No, sorry, that one can't be a woman, we have to keep it roughly 50/50. He'll just have to suffer in silence all his life, wishing he could wear dresses and panty hose and envying women their boobs and their time of the month.
Ms Welsh actually describes the notion of womanhood as being nebulous. Nebulous? Womanhood is being a woman. Its not feeling like a woman, or that you are in the wrong body. That is nebulous. As so often we are watching as words are redefined by those with a peculiar agenda.
Quite apart from anything else, transgender is a meaningless term because, as I pointed out here just last week, it seems to mean almost anything. Eddie Izzard, who used to just be a straight man who liked being a bit androgynous in his dress sense, is now calling himself transgender. It can mean anything to someone who wants to be a different sex to someone who likes wearing dresses to someone who has had the op and now considers themselves, in breach of medical science, to have been transformed. It is fast becoming a badge of honour.
What, says the author, does Greer have to say to people who have periods and breasts and can give birth but who aren't women. Well, I can't speak for Dr Greer, but might I suggest that if she did meet such a person she might say 'welcome to our planet?'
Feminism, judging from all of the angst that men who are really women are generating, is clearly confused and bored. Sure women still have problems, there is still a glass ceiling and sometimes men make inappropriate comments but they need more to campaign about. Of course there is real potential in making men attend compulsory classes to learn about consent and what part of a women's body can be touched without a signed affidavit, a lawyer and various sub clauses and caveats concerning hormonal balance, readiness to purchase shoes and the current position of the toilet seat.
But by and large feminism seems to have lost the plot. It is no longer sufficient to fight for womens' rights. It now has to fight for people who have decided, apropos of a mid-life crisis or some other affliction, that they are the wrong gender. Apparently the way they feel is more pertinent to the discussion than the fact that they have, you know, genitalia. Thus something like sex, as opposed to sexuality, that used to be considered more or less definitive, is now anything but.
What fascinating and exciting times we live in. I expect it is an example of my phallic mindset that makes me look down in the morning at my luxuriously thick chest hair, the growth of hair on my chin, not to mention my penis and makes me consider myself a man. How absurdly closed minded of me. How bigoted. Can I not get it into my head that sex is fluid, that these days people don't think that way, that this enlightened 21st century has at last put an end to 200, 000 years of history and evolution and seen the light?
In future doctors and midwives will be banned from looking between a baby's legs to determine gender. In future there will be a proscription on blue or pink bedrooms from birth. There will first be a period of years with very many classes to educate our newborns. Then, when they have had plenty of time to pause and reflect, meet surgeons and discuss their options, experiment with beards or moustaches as is a right as well as a rite of passage, wear a wide range of clothing and formed an androgynous pop group to sing about it all, only then will they decide. Then, when they reach middle age, of course they will be free to change their minds all over again. Maybe by then those clever surgeons will be able to reassign their gender reassignment. Its probably just like removing tattoos.
Tuesday, 27 October 2015
There are a number of competing issues with regard to last night's vote in the House of Lords which should concern us. I shall come shortly to the overriding one - the constitutional one.
There are two issues with regard to the policy of Tax Credits itself. Tax Credits are one of the last bastions of idiocy bequeathed in malign fashion by Gordon Brown. Perhaps, in a way, it is appropriate that they are causing so much trouble now to George Osborne, whose continual game playing and trap setting so often reminds us of the unlamented worst Chancellor of the Exchequer this country has seen in the last 50 years.
It is too early to say what legacy Osborne will have to boast of. His handling of Tax Credits does not suggest it will be one to boast of. This was an accident waiting to happen and one that could easily have been ameliorated. Too often the Chancellor is keen to favour short term tactical advantage over doing the right thing for the country and for taxpayers, benefit recipients or a combination of them. It is episodes like this that should remind us of how spectacularly unsuited Osborne is to aspire to the highest office he has somehow contrived to become the favourite for. If the Tories are ever so foolish to anoint him, they could easily make the prospect of prime minister Corbyn a reality.
Because the issue of Tax Credits and tax cuts should be a signature Conservative issue. Tax Credits are a nonsense and it is a comparatively easy argument to make that we should be moving from a system that subsidises employers and keeps the low paid low paid to one that rewards people doing the right thing and encourages them to work harder and to keep more of the rewards for doing so. It is a scandal that wages are so low in this country in some instances that they need topping up with benefits. Creating such a system has simply entrenched lower wages and entrenched poverty because it ensures that there is a disincentive to earn more. Ending that is something best accomplished through the tax system.
But Tax Credits, for all that they ought to be removed, cannot be removed at one remove. They ought to have been phased in. The need to balance the nation's books, much as we support him in that aspiration, is nothing like as urgent as Osborne now pretends. After all he has delayed it often enough these last five years.
But now we come to the elephant in the room. The House of Lords cannot be allowed to get away with what they perpetrated last night. For the first time in a generation we have a majority Tory Government. For the first time since the Labour reforms, the former inbuilt majority of the Tories, now replaced by one for Labour and the Lib Dems, parties that claim to be opposed in principle to the upper chamber, are wreaking havoc on the democratically elected Commons. That cannot and must not be allowed to stand.
The Government should, in the weeks between now and the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, find a way to ease the plight of people who are reliant on Tax Credits. But it should also reintroduce legislation, as part of a money bill, which insists on reforms to Tax Credits and without the delay of three years that one of the votes last night called for. If Labour and the Lib Dems refuse to back down then we will have a fully fledged constitutional crisis and the PM will have to do what he is entitled to do and flood the upper chamber with a hundred or more new peers to ensure that no further stymying of his agenda is possible.
I have joked in the past that I would be able and willing to step up as a peer under such circumstances. I renew that offer, but this time not in jest. I would be keen to do my country the great service of turning up and voting and without passing go or collecting my £300 in doing so. I would take particular pleasure as in doing so I would be bringing about the inevitable decline and long overdue death of this national embarrassment, this relic of our history that ought to make the has beens who serve in it as red faced as the famous leather benches on which they place their scandalously well remunerated backsides. I for one would be only too willing to vote for my own demise. The House of Lords should have been abolished years ago. If we cannot agree on what should replace it then why not do without an upper house at all. A bill to rid the country of a whole layer of politicians would hardly be unpopular.
Monday, 26 October 2015
More observant readers may have noticed that I have recently lost weight. I have achieved this by the simple expedient of eating less and exercising more, although chiefly it has been by eschewing all the things I like: potatoes, cake, biscuits, chocolate, alcohol.... you get the idea.
I have a pictorial record of my weight loss these last few months. But I won't inflict this on the world since it involves me in a state of undress. Like most people, when I gain weight I put it on around the middle of my body. This was what shocked me into dieting. It was not a pretty sight. Bloody humiliating in fact. I am now on the cusp of achieving what, according to that rather blunt instrument, the body mass index, is called a healthy weight. In more realistic terms I have lost about 3 stones and dropped two jeans sizes.
I only mention all of this because of the current calls for a sugar tax. This is a sign of our increasingly authoritarian times. Imagine what it would be like if the bossy zealots now in charge of the Labour Party were to gain power. Well, we don't have to. Its happening before our eyes. Unquestioning obedience and loyalty is demanded from MPs from a man who was a serial rebel. He of course stays blithely above the fray and pretends to be genial and accommodating. Behind the scenes however his minions are doing his dirty work. Deselection looms for disobliging and disobedient MPs.
What does this have to do with the sugar tax? Well this is the world we live in now, a world in which the new puritans demand we change our behaviour and do as we are told for the good of all. For the good of the great but struggling god of the NHS.
Yet what difference would a sugar tax make other than making simple if unhealthy pleasures a little more expensive? There is not a consumer in the country who does not know that eating sugary products is bad for you. But sometimes such guilty pleasures are what we need. Adding 10p to the price of them will not change behaviour. There is already a tax on such products anyway in the form of VAT. And surely the health zealots are not recommending tobacco style taxes. Its questionable even whether that works. What has worked and weaned us off tobacco has been scientific proof that it will kill you. Just last week a friend of my mum's dropped dead after a life of smoking furred up his arteries.
Sugar is not in that category and it is ludicrous to treat it as such. Everything is a poison if you consume enough of it. Even water will kill you if you drink too much. Moderation should be the message. Most people understand this. But as in all things it is a message that needs repeating over and over.
We are said to have an obesity epidemic. This is hyperbole. What we have is a modern phenomenon of eating too much of the wrong things and not getting enough exercise. We have gone from an industrial society where heavy manual labour was common, to a post industrial society where industry has mechanised if it still exists at all and where common domestic tasks have been automated for our convenience. Whereas once we burned off our calories with work and domesticity, we now have to do so by going for long walks in the country or joining a gym.
The health facts are that smoking has been reduced drastically, we are also drinking less alcohol. A sugar tax is just an example of bien pensant worrying over an issue that is isn't an issue. Yes obesity will end up costing the NHS money but so will us all living to advanced old age because we are so healthy our brains wear out first. Increasing senility is nature's way of telling us that medical science is doing such a great job that we are now creating new health problems for ourselves. The burden on the NHS has grown since its inception precisely because of its success.
Eating well is a lifestyle choice. We all know what we should and should not eat. Its just that few of us have the willpower to act on those choices. I recommend that we are all advised to use another facet of modern life to help in the battle against weight loss. Take your smart phone, set the camera to timer and take a picture of yourself with no clothes on. I was so shocked and disgusted by the result I went on a diet.
Sunday, 25 October 2015
Hearty congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, now entered the pantheon of legends of his sport. He is a triple World Champion.
It's been a peerless season for Lewis. Yes he is in the best car by far, but he has dominated from start to finish. Even when his teammate has out qualified him he has often managed to win. This season has looked like being his more or less from the start. There has been no nail biting conclusion to this season.
That is because Lewis Hamilton is now the driver we always knew he had the talent to be. He has matured, worked hard and is now one of the greats of his sport. There is absolutely no reason why, with the right equipment, he cannot now go on to be as dominant as Michael Schumacher once was. Sure it would be better for all concerned if he had a tougher fight for the championship next season, either from Nico Rosberg or maybe from Sebastian Vettel in a revitalised Ferrari, but Lewis Hamilton on this kind of form looks as though he can beat more or less anyone.
Congratulations Lewis. Triple World Champion.
So Joseph was in jail unjustly, but, if it was any consolation, it soon transpired that he was by no means alone in being slung into clink for the sin of offending the high and mighty of Egypt. He found himself there with the former butler and baker of the King of Egypt. Maybe there hd been some terrible catering balls up - spilling the soup perhaps.
Joseph, who was now the favourite of the captain of the guard of the prison was charged by him with serving these two men. Clearly this was a very odd prison, albeit a convenient one for the purposes of this far fetched story.
And both men had dreams. Now you might think that we all dream and that dreaming when you are in prison and down on your luck is hardly surprising. But these were superstitious times and much import was attributed to dreams. Both men had dreams the same night, which is seen as remarkable for some reason, it never having occurred to the authors that dreaming is a not really very miraculous consequence of falling asleep.
Anyway, the next morning Joseph went in to serve them and noted that they looked sad. He enquired why this was the case. Presumably they looked sadder than they would otherwise have been on account of being, you know, in prison. They both said that they had dreamt dreams (and remembered them) and that they lacked an interpreter of said dreams. I'm sure we can all empathise with that. How many times have we all woken up and wished, not for breakfast or even a pee, but someone to interpret our dreams.
Joseph, who was a bit of a sanctimonious crawler said: 'do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them I pray you.'
And so, instead of giving him a swift punch up the bracket for being a smug arse, or wondering out loud who he was to interpret dreams if they were for God, they told him their dreams.
The chief butler said that his dream was that he had a vine before him and the vine consisted of three branches and they budded and brought forth grapes. And the Pharaoh's cup was before him and he pressed the grapes into the cup and gave it to him to drink.
That's the trouble with dreams - they make little sense.
But Joseph interpreted this as meaning that the branch represented three days. Three days hence the butler would be freed from prison and restored to his former position serving the Pharaoh. When you do, said Joseph, think of me and show me kindness and mention me to the Pharaoh and get me out of this place because I don't deserve to be here any more than you do.
Then the baker told Joseph his dream. He had three baskets on his head and they were filled with various delicious treats he had made for the Pharaoh. But the birds ate the food out of the baskets before he got the food to the Pharaoh.
This, according to Joseph, meant that the baskets were once again three days. Once three days had elapsed he would be taken out of the jail and have his head cut off. Then his headless body would be hung from a tree for the birds to eat from.
Then, three days later, the butler was indeed restored to his position but the baker was indeed beheaded and strung up. But the butler did not mention any of this to the Pharaoh and Joseph stayed in prison.
Adele is back. The multi million selling artist with the accent that Americans have to have translated for them is back with her latest album. 25 is released in a couple of weeks.
This is the first single from it, appropriately called Hello. To my ears it sounds reassuringly familiar for those of us who loved her last album. 21. This hardly makes my tastes esoteric. It sold 30 million copies. Here's hoping her similar success this time around.
Saturday, 24 October 2015
Friday, 23 October 2015
Did you enjoy the self righteous, confected anger of the SNP over the new procedures for ensuring that English MPs are not outvoted with regard to English issues? I loved it. They really seem to think that this will be something that galvanises their voters and takes them to independence.
'How dare you' said the SNP's Pete Wishart. You can see his rant above. The Cybernats are calling it barnstorming. It wasn't barnstorming, it was a half hour tantrum by a party that thought it would be holding the balance of power and holding England to ransom had the election result turned out the way the polls had predicted. They would have tormented prime minister Wallace and extracted concession after concession. Fortunately the English electorate prevented this. Now the SNP is an irrelevance, which explains the Nats juvenile posturing since the election. They are a collection of highly remunerated, expenses laden gobshites with nothing much to do except do what Scots do best: complain about how unfair everything is.
And how dare we what? Give English voters the same rights as those in Scotland? The SNP, in previous parliaments, when there was only half a dozen of them, used to voluntarily deny themselves the vote on matters only concerning England. In other words they used to do voluntarily what is now being experimentally set out in parliamentary procedures.
What the SNP and some Labour MPs don't like is that, though this is a measure that is easily reversed, it would be politically difficult to do because there would be hell to pay with the constituency that represents the majority of this country in England. Scottish nationalist whingeing has finally pushed the English too far and now they are reaping the long delayed harvest. For Labour this is a disaster. The SNP are only complaining publicly. In reality they are delighted.
For Nicola Sturgeon, though she too will complain about it like her MPs, this is a problem. Because many Nats will use this entirely reasonable approach to the rights of the English as an excuse to have yet another referendum. But yes, bring it on. Have your referendum. If you really think that an arcane issue at Westminster that SNP MPs used to do voluntarily anyway is the issue to galvanise the Scots to commit national suicide then go for it. Give them their referendum. Have it next May.
You have to hand it to the people behind the Bond movies, they certainly know how to hype. Not that Spectre, the 24th film in the world's greatest film franchise needs hyping. It has as much expectation of it as a new phone from Apple, all the more so since Skyfall was so bloody good.
The first reviews are out and it looks like Sam Mendes and Daniel Craig have pulled it off again. Its out, here in the UK, on Monday.
Thursday, 22 October 2015
Has Britain, as Mark Carney claims, become richer and more open with our EU membership? Probably. One can't help noting the irony however that he made his remarks at the same time as the Government was engaged in a huge show of openness to China. That is Britain doing what it has always done: trading with the world, being pragmatic (some might say cynical) about who we trade with and closing our eyes to their infractions. Trade with the rest of the world now outweighs that of our trade with the EU. Given that that this is a likely continuing trend, its hard to see how increasing openness to the EU really helps the UK.
Those who want to keep us in the EU claim that it gives us greater clout. Except of course the opposite is the case. The rest of the EU, which generally feels more positive about its membership of a federalist organisation, tends to gang up on Britain time and time again. Thus, unless we change our mindset and accept that we are part of an organisation that wants to turn itself into a superstate, we are doomed to perpetually be outvoted and to be frustrated and angry. That is why we should leave or at best negotiate a semi detached relationship. It would be better overall if we were to simply leave, govern ourselves and treat the EU as a trading partner like any other. Its hard to understand why we should want to be part of a club that tries to bully us into accepting an approach we have long been hostile too.
And the evidence is on our side. You only have to look at recent events. The Euro, that great integrationist project we declined to join, has been a disaster that even the SNP and Lib Dems now accept we should not join. The continuing debacle of the refugee crisis has shown how integration and cooperation breaks down when push comes to shove. Both have caused misery and depredations catalogued in great detail in the media this summer. Democracy and accountability are shoved aside. National interests are suddenly paramount again. Once again British reservations have been entirely vindicated.
A less reported part of the Carney speech was an appeal to the EU to stop meddling in financial regulation issues that affect the UK. There's little chance of that of course. Meddling is what the EU does. It is one of the reasons, the many reasons, we ought to leave as soon as possible and benefit our world leading financial and legal companies.
But Britain's membership of the EU and the forthcoming referendum is about more than just economics. Its likely true that our membership of this trading club has been a fillip for the British economy. But its the other aspects of it that are troublesome. Why does membership of a free trade zone need so much other paraphernalia? A peripatetic parliament? A vast and expensive bureaucracy? A foreign office? Multiple presidents? Legislative powers? The ability to foist laws on nations against their will? A court to enforce all of this?
Britain would get by just fine if we were to leave the EU. In fact we would become an offshore powerhouse, a place for companies to come to where the regulations would be less onerous and taxes lower. Our leaving would likely cause a domino effect in time with other nations wondering if they too should leave. We could force the EU to change by the simple act of getting out. One thing is for certain though, it will never change until we leave. The renegotiating is pointless.
The BBC's Newsnight decided not to air a poll last night that showed those voting to leave within a percentage point of those wanting to remain in the EU. Funny that. But it shows it really is all to play for, despite our being ranged against much of the establishment.
Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Big Ben is in need of extensive repairs to the tune of £40 million, and that's not even to correct its tune, which is actually out of tune. Or at least the bong is. And that's the best bit. Apparently its a bit flat, owing to a crack. That is the least of the problems of the world's favourite clock though - that is except for viewers in Scotland obviously. The mechanism is in need of a complete overhaul before it entirely collapses. The same is true of the Palace of Westminster too. It needs billions rather than millions spending on it.
I only mention this because a) I felt it best to take another photograph of Big Ben (yes I know that's the name of the bell, but get a life) before they start messing about with it and b) there is a lot of controversy at the moment concerning cuts to tax credits. This blog is entirely supportive of what the government is trying to do to dismantle Gordon Brown's ludicrous scheme. If they want to support the working poor they should simply stop them paying any tax or national insurance. Tax credits are just a merry go round of money that achieve nothing except benefit dependency.
This week, perhaps in an effort to pay for the cuts and the much needed renovation of the Houses of Parliament, our ministers are obliged to behave like lickspittles to the visiting President of China. Chauncey even wore white tie and tails, although as ever he managed to make them look like he had borrowed them from his dad. His tie was crooked too. How does he manage this? Is it like a schoolboy rebellion? I'll wear the bloody thing but they won't fit properly and my tie will be crooked. That'll show 'em.
Anyway, the President and his glamorous wife are here talking trade and Britain is trying to become their besties. Maybe in time we will have a special relationship with them. I assume this won't involve dodgy dossiers taking us to war, but you never know. We are keen on having them invest in our nuclear generators (we can't have cheap gas or coal generation because greenies don't like it) and we also want them to help us build the white elephant that is HS2. Why not have them build us something useful like a new airport to replace Heathrow?
We should also stipulate that they build stuff with us using British made steel instead of dumping their own ludicrously cheap steel on us and putting thousands of people out of work. But that seems a forlorn hope.
There is breaking news this morning. Lip readers have analysed the conversation that Chauncey and Dave had together yesterday while attending the ceremonials for the visiting Chinese. Apparently Chauncey said to Dave: 'It was difficult because, erm, that's his ex wife who is, erm, apparently an ex prostitute.' Who can he possibly have been talking about? My money is on the Speaker. My lawyers tell me I can't say that. I don't care. It's satire.
To be fair, Chauncey is getting better at this. I wouldn't go so far as to say that practice is making perfect, he's a long way from that, but he is demonstrating that he is a man who has been practising now for 30 years. The House of Commons clearly holds no fears for him, something he demonstrated when he stopped and waited and stared at Tory backbenchers heckling him. 'Thank you' he said when they quietened down. There were some guffaws at his teacher like demeanour and approach. Perhaps that's why he wears that jacket. He looks a lot more like a teacher than a prime minister in waiting. Perhaps we should rename these sessions Educating Westminster.
This week Chauncey stuck as ever to matters domestic. The subject de jour is of course tax credits. For a while he even managed to make Dave look flustered but he stuck admirably to the government line. This is a government that looks as though it is not for turning. The changes to tax credits are part of a package, said Dave. He later pointed out to Angus Robertson and an SNP colleague that we have had decades of tax credits and they have increased in-work poverty. So surely a new approach is needed. Why do Lefties always think that their failed approach is worth persisting with?
Chauncey thought it quite strange that the PM seems to have changed his mind on tax credits having said that they would be untouched during the election campaign, to no less a figure than David Dimbleby. This was a good attack. You could tell because Dave changed the subject to the absence of Tom Watson from the vote that the government won. This is going to discomfit the government for a while, but then that is why they are getting this over with early in the parliament.
But then Chauncey changed the subject too. He moved on to steel, a subject that, it is alleged, so moved the shadow chancellor that he entirely changed his attitude to deficits and spending. No, me neither.
Chauncey gave the game away here. He thinks that the government should have an industrial strategy. He probably thinks we should have a quango or two and the sort of approach that worked so well during the 70s under Harold Wilson. You can't make companies come here, invest here and create jobs here. You especially can't do so if you threaten then with tax rises and ever more regulation. Labour don't seem to get that.
Dave pointed out that the steel market is difficult, but that the government is attempting to ameliorate the situation through various measures including procurement such as Crossrail, which has mostly been built using British made steel. He later pointed out how much steel production and employment had declined under Labour. Employment in the steel industry has increased under him he claimed, although whether he will be able to continue to make that claim in a few months time is open to question.
And then, finally, Chauncey asked a question about a United Nations investigation into disability rights in the UK. Chauncey seemed to think that this is a real scandal and something to be ashamed of. Dave adopted a note of scepticism about this. These United Nations investigations are usually a joke and tend to be written by the likes of the lady you see above - a possible future wife for Chauncey himself, she's just his type. They are almost always some hard left delusional figure who write highly selective drivel about countries like this that actually allow her to do so. They don't write about countries which have real problems on the issue they are supposedly investigating. This country is replete with disability laws and rights. But don't expect the report to say so. Its a lot like the UN itself. But then Lefties like Chauncey love the UN and set a lot of store by the farce that is international law.
There was a brief foray on nuclear weapons. Dave was asked about this and managed to get in a dig about Chauncey's juvenile stance on the issue. Today, he said, we are celebrating the release 30 years ago of Back to the Future. It's not surprising that many sitting behind the Labour leader, said the PM, wish he would get in his De Lorean, go back to 1985 and stay there. The new nice politics is dead.
But today's session was dominated by the tax credits issue. Many MPs, from Chauncey and Angus Robertson of the SNP plus most questioners on the opposition benches asked about it and Dave stoutly defended his measures. There will be continued pressure on the issue, not least from some of his own MPs. And the House of Lords, stuffed full of Lib Dem and Labour peers who are threatening to make trouble on this. Jacob Rees Mogg asked the PM about the potential for a constitutional crisis. Dave agreed and told the Lords to back off. There is talk that, if they don't, he may stuff the Lords full of new peers. I am on record as being able and willing to step up. Unlike Chauncey, I shall wear my robes straight and with pride.
Oh and on a final note, what is wrong with the Speaker? He has been bad tempered all week. Maybe my joke about him above wasn't so wide of the mark. He banned an entirely reasonable question from Tory MP Chris Philp about energy prices contributing to the crisis in British steel manufacturing. This blog and others have made the same point. It was entirely pertinent. Yet Bercow banned it for irrelevance and the PM wasn't allowed to answer. Except he did in a pointed reference to another question. The Speaker is rapidly losing the plot. Full video will be here later. Here's a shorter one in the meantime.
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
This blog has been warning for years now that our idiotic obsession with being green and pursuing the chimera of stopping climate change was exporting British jobs. So it is now proving with the slow death of our steel industry. The same has happened to aluminium producers.
All of this is happening, not because our industries are inefficient; they are quite the opposite. It is happening as a deliberate act of successive government policy. All so that politicians can grandstand on the world stage and tell their politician peers that they are leading the world in tackles ng climate change.
Except of course they are not. Even if you accept the highly speculative and increasingly shaky science of global warming by CO2, our cuts will have zero effect other than pricing ourselves out of markets.
And it is pointless to blame the Chinese. They are simply availing themselves of an opportunity given to them by our craven stupidity. We have created a gap in the market and they are pouring into it. Commodity prices in general have fallen. But thanks to our energy policies and obsession with renewable alternatives - alternatives that don't work - our industry is hobbled with higher costs. The metal industries are just the beginning. We used to be one of the world's leaders in such industry, but thanks to the green obsessives of the Left, and their mini-mes in the Conservative Party, we are hobbling ourselves for no gain. The Chinese and Indians are famously building dozens of new coal fired power stations.
For once I am with the interventionists. The government, which is already rowing back on green commitments, should do what others around the world do and subsidise industry in some form to compensate for our energy prices. Either that or abandon our meaningless and pointless commitment to reducing CO2.
Of course such action will likely be illegal under EU law. Yet another reason to vote to leave.
Monday, 19 October 2015
There was an article in yesterday's Sunday Times concerning my favourite comedian, Eddie Izzard. I should point out at this point, before I go any further, that I do wish that Eddie would get out of politics and indeed stop wittering on about Europe. But hey, he's funny. Not as funny as many other leading members of the Labour Party, who can be very very funny. What, Jeremy Corbyn? John McDonnell? They're serious? Oh!
Anyway, back to Eddie Izzard and that....even Diane Abbott?
Sorry, back to Eddie. The article, which was written to publicise his forthcoming shows in London next year at the Palace Theatre, was headlined 'This Lady's Not for Turning.' This had me confused. He's not a lady, I thought, but assumed it was a joke or pun. I also considered that it might in fact be some rather un PC reference to his famous transvestitism. I read on.
Then, not once, but twice, and separately, the author of the piece referred to him, not as a transvestite, but as transgender. And it seems that this was no mistake. Eddie himself now refers to himself as transgender. He didn't used to. He used to call himself what he is, a transvestite - a man who likes wearing women's clothing, putting on make up and so on. This new description is a recent development. For proof see the video below in which he tells a story about his stealing makeup.
And I'm sorry, but that, for want of a better phrase, is bollocks. It's bollocks because Eddie Izzard was born a man and he still has a penis and bollocks. That makes him still, there really is no getting away from this, a man. Transgender means someone who thinks, for whatever reason, that they were born in the wrong body and so they become a different sex, either by simply dressing up as such or having the operation. This clearly means a fairly big lifestyle choice. Eddie Izzard is not doing that. He is not gay, he likes women and has girlfriends. He goes through phases when he just dresses up in mens' clothing and puts on nothing more female than high heels and a bit of lippy, something that pop stars have been doing for decades and still pulling groupies. I still contend by the way that Eddie's greatest show was Definite Article (see the videos above and below) because of the bright red lipstick he was wearing. It accentuated his mouth and made the facial expressions he pulls all the funnier.
But this seems to be part of a wider trend. Also in the Sunday Times yesterday, and by the same writer, there was another article about how modern attitudes to sexuality are changing, especially amongst the young. Now I think that this is bollocks too. And this is not because I don't think that people nowadays are a lot more tolerant of homosexuality et al. But the article argued that nowadays young people are much more likely to consider themselves as bisexual or who eschew the whole notion of 'putting people into a category.' Tellingly, she chose to discuss this alleged rising trend in trendy Dalston, East London, a place I know well as I lived there for a couple of years. So I suspect that what is actually happening is that there is an element of peer pressure and the usual young person habit of conformity dressed up as being open minded. The media, in particular the BBC, seems to be on a permanent campaign to stop us pigeon holing ourselves. This is fine. But the fact is that we don't pigeon hole ourselves. We are pigeon holed by our genitalia and who we find attractive. I like girls. Just girls. Women if you prefer. Or am I being closed minded?
Are we more tolerant of homosexuality than we used to be? Well that's almost certainly true, although it should be noted that the BBC was airing bawdy jokes about it as far back as the 1960s. It made the likes of Kenneth Williams, Larry Grayson and John Inman into stars. But by and large, whatever the residents of Dalston may claim, and whatever is happening on university campuses across the country, men fancy women and women fancy men. Perhaps they are more open to a bit of experimentation. Perhaps they are willing to avail themselves of the delights of a gay bar without embarrassment. But I doubt very much we are becoming a nation of pansexuals; I doubt that sexual fluidity is flowing.
Should we be progressing to a world in which our sexuality doesn't matter? Of course we should. But here's the thing: I have never once enquired of anyone in any walk of life the nature of their sexuality. Have you? Does it crop up in conversation? If you're down the pub tomorrow and strike up a conversation with the bloke next to you at the bar, will you ask? Will you assume that if he can't talk convincingly about the Rugby World Cup that he is gay? If that's the case then I may have a new explanation for my lack of success with women.
No, for most people someone else's sexuality is their own business. We would no more dream of discussing it with our colleagues at work than we would discuss their bathroom routine. Our friends and family are often party to our sexual preferences of course, but that is because they are our friends and family. I have in my time worked in various places where there was a larger than normal representation of what the BBC would no doubt call the LGBT community, not least the BBC itself, but even there I didn't get together with gay colleagues and discuss such matters. We talked about work instead. And surely this is because, though sex is an important part of all of our lives, its not the be all and end all. We are about more than the people we sleep with, the amount or type of sex we have. Your sexuality only becomes an issue if you yourself choose to make it an issue. Be proudly and loudly gay if you want to be. Or don't. Why is it anyone else's business so long as you are not being forced to live a lie?
I am on record on this blog for expressing grave and profound doubts about the trendy new buzz surrounding the transgendered. I doubt very much that we are doing them any favours whatsoever by indulging their belief, which may well be absolutely sincere, that they are the wrong sex. Because they are not the wrong sex. They just think that they are. Nature is in full possession of the facts and it has given them either a penis or a vagina. No amount of hormone treatment and clever surgery is going to change this, except in a purely cosmetic way that they will almost certainly regret. It is idiotic and in fact immoral to pretend otherwise. It would be much kinder to simply tell them that life is not fair and that they should get on with it. If they have the op they will just look like a bloke in a dress, or a butch woman.
As for Eddie Izzard, well I still think he is very funny and talented. He is currently engaged in a forlorn attempt to get his comedy to translate, literally, into French. Perhaps he should re-learn English first. You are not transgender, Eddie. You're a bloke who likes dressing up and is a bit eccentric. It's a great British tradition. If it all goes wrong and you also fail to get elected to parliament you could always consider pantomime. You have an obvious future as an ugly transgendered brother.
Sunday, 18 October 2015
We return now to the tale of Joseph. By this time he was in Egypt and was doing well, comparatively speaking. This, we are told, was because God was on his side. Its interesting how God could be on his side a lot of the time and could see him doing well but then, when the story required, God was presumably looking the other way. As we shall see.
Joseph had become a successful steward in the house of Potiphar, one of the officers of the Pharaoh. Apparently Potiphar also saw that God was with Joseph and had made him successful. So Joseph was promoted within the household. God thus also blessed the whole house and made it successful and prosperous.
Unfortunately for Joseph however his master's wife had her eye on him and tried to seduce him. Why God didn't stop this happening is a mystery. Couldn't he have warned her off, killed her, or otherwise dissuaded or prevented this happening to his favourite?
Joseph had been left in sole charge of the house in his master's absence. While he was away though his treacherous wife tried to have her wicked way with Joseph. Joseph was made of sterner stuff though. He rejected her and said that it would be an act of great treachery on his part to betray his master this way. This of course just infuriated her.
Joseph went into the house one day when she was alone and nobody else was there and she again tried to get him to lie with her. He again refused. This time however she tore at his clothes, so keen was she to get her hands on him. When he had once again departed without succumbing to her charms, she saw that she had a piece of his clothing. She concocted a plan. Once again God did nothing to prevent this we should note.
She claimed that Joseph had tried to rape her and that she had fought him off, crying out loudly. Inevitably when this tall tale was told to Potiphar he of course instantly believed his wife and not Joseph, his former favourite who he knew was favoured by a God. Joseph was thrown into prison, again with no intervention by his God. Odd that.
Suddenly though God was back. Even though Joseph was now in prison he now made him the favourite of the master of the prison. Why not just prevent him going into prison in the first place? Anyway, Joseph was suddenly a very important man again, albeit an important man in prison.