Thursday, 29 April 2010

The One That Is Really Quite Sad. . .

Now the initial Schadenfreude has worn off, I’m going to admit to being a little bit saddened at yesterday’s events with Brown.

I’m not saddened because he has shown himself to have scant regard for anyone else’s opinions, or because he has revealed, once again, his bullying blaming nature, or that this shambolic, graceless spectre has brought the name of our once great country and its highest office into disrepute, for the umpteenth time. This is all old news.

Whilst watching the news reports last night, a few seconds of footage I had not seen previously really stuck with me. It was the footage of poor old Gillian Duffy’s reaction as she was played Brown’s comments as he was driven away. There was a proud woman who looked like she’d been kicked in the stomach, I have little doubt that had she not had a TV camera in her face, she would have shed a tear.

It’s very easy to be a worldly cynic sat behind a keyboard throwing bricks at the politicians, and on the odd occasion when a blogger scores a hit, there is much rejoicing, and rightly so. The politicians are used to this, being the attacker and the attacked is their stock in trade. Mrs. Duffy’s position is entirely different.

I don’t want to sound patronising about Mrs. Duffy, nor do I wish to make assumptions about her and her character, but this is what I saw when I looked at her. I saw a long time, loyal supporter of the party. A supporter who over the course of her life has seen the party she supports change beyond recognition, a supporter who was given the opportunity to raise genuine concerns over the policies and performance of HER party.

Before the comments were made it was obvious Brown did not want to talk to her. In part he displayed an insincerity which did him no credit at all, ‘Working with children is SO important, isn’t it?’ Yes, Gordon, I think she knows that. However, despite some remaining concerns the pair shook hands, and as far as she was concerned, the deal was done. The media handlers must have been shouting ‘Win!’ The story would have been that Brown was fronted up by a supporter with concerns and won them round, job’s a good-un.

Of course Brown wasn’t aware his comments were being broadcast, and of course pretty much every other politician has got into their car after being leapt upon in such a fashion and made uncharitable comments about the MOP who has accosted them. But, and it’s a big but here, how many of them would have had the lack of self awareness to realise that the situation went well, that they’d re-assured their support, had scored a goal in the right net, not in their own? How many of them having realised the win would have then lambasted the MOP as they drove off? The comments would have been along the lines of ‘that went well’, ‘we’ve got a vote there’, ‘that’ll look good on the news this evening.’ Only Brown could see a disaster in the victory, in the same way that only Brown sees a victory in the defeat. No other leader of a political party would have so mis-judged that situation.

Furthermore, no other political leader would have been caught so off-guard by a TV camera in a radio studio, and no other leader would have dragged the world’s media and half the town around to the poor woman’s house.

This is not some politician, spin doctor or campaigner, nor is this woman some attention hungry celebrity or media whore, and she found herself under siege for the whole day and night because of some ridiculous comment that need never have been made. Of course Brown thought what he said, like some paranoid and corrupt dictator, he sees plots and smears everywhere, because that is the way he does business. It’s been his MO for the last decade, to have people dismissed with the old nazi-racist-bigot line if they disagree with, or it would seem even question, his decisions.

His ridiculous smile after the almost hour long apology only served to compound the crime, heaping insincerity upon insult, injury and blame.

I suspect that Mrs. Duffy was brought up by her Labour supporting parents to treat people in positions of authority with respect, and to accord people like MPs all the deference that these MPs believed they were due. I suspect that to her, the Prime Minister is someone she would have had a great deal of respect and admiration for. One can only imagine how the adrenaline was roaring through her veins as she spoke with and pressed the flesh of the man she had been brought up to venerate.

It must have made the hurt and distress of hearing his totally unwarranted comments even worse.

I would hope Brown does feel mortified about his performance yesterday, but I doubt his regret is really about Gillian Duffy’s feelings being hurt, it is the fact that he was caught out.

This isn’t about party allegiance, ideology or policy, it is about an individual displaying his contempt for his own supporters, his dismissal of anything which isn’t his idea, and why he is not fit to hold any office.

And Mrs. Duffy, irrespective of her political allegiances did not ask to have the world’s media camped out on her doorstep and did not deserve to have her pride trampled under foot. She deserved a good deal better than what she got, and she stands as an example of millions of British who find themselves bewildered and hurt at the treatment which has been meted out to them by this Prime Monster and his cabal.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The One That Wants To Know How Anyone Could Be So Stupid. . .

You thought I was talking about this, didn't you?

I'll just leave it at this.


It doesn't matter Gordon, there's always someone who drops a bigger bollock, you just have to know where to look.

Ah, here we go . . .

A lost sailor has had to be rescued after running out of fuel circling a small island when he thought he was sailing around the UK coast.

The Sheerness lifeboat and the Thames Coastguard assisted the man who ran aground off the Elmley Marshes on the Isle of Sheppey on 19 April.

With only a road map for directions, he set off on the river Medway, from Gillingham, and headed for Southampton.

But the RNLI said the man had "ended up travelling round the Isle of Sheppey".

Probably a local, not for nothing is it known around the Garden of England as 'Six Toe Island'.

There you go Gordon, what do you think of his efforts?

Yes, my sentiments exactly.

The One That Is Disgusted. . .

No long polemic. None of my usual poor analysis.

If you want to watch it, go over to Constantly Furious' place.

I'm talking about Labour's party election broadcast last night.

Yes, that's the one, the one that suggests if you don't vote Labour, you'll die of cancer. It's the leaflets and cards. Again.

I don't believe that Brown is not behind it. He's proved he'll do anything to get power, so it follows logically that he will do anything to hold on to it.

What makes me most angry is that even after pulling a stunt like this, people will still vote for them. Although I'm not sure if that says more about the Tories and Lib Dems, or more about the electorate.

Still a week to go. There's probably more to come. Are they going to accuse Clegg of being a nonce, perhaps?

Monday, 26 April 2010

The One That Has Been Having Fun . . .

. . . with this little beauty from Mousebreaker.

It's very satisfying launching exploding balls at Nick Clegg, molotov cocktails at David Cameron, hand grenades at Mandleson and bowling balls at Gordon Brown.

The vision of an Ann Widdecombe 'boss' sweeping towards you across the screen in a blue ballgown is a little unsettling though.

The One That Agrees With Nick. . .

There, I’ve said it. Still, I suppose with all the stuff that’s being thrown around by these arseclowns at the moment that some of it had to hit the target. Clegg’s done just that.

Just not perhaps in the way he wanted.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has told the BBC it would be "potty" for Labour to keep the keys to No 10 if it secured only the third best vote share at the election.

Speaking of the possibility that Labour could trail in terms of popular support and yet still win the most seats, Clegg told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show: "It is just preposterous, the idea that if a party comes third in the number of votes, it still has somehow the right to carry on squatting in No 10.

He is of course quite right. A system can hardly claim to be representative when a party securing a third of the votes does not take a third of the seats. The Noble Lord Tebbit touched upon this in his blog yesterday, but I’m afraid to decry PR as something ‘like that which brought Hitler to power in the 1930s’ is like considering taking the ferry to Calais for the day and then abandoning the idea because the boat is similar to the Titanic.

Understandably Clegg is right behind PR, he has the most to gain. Cameron has made it quite clear that he’s not interested, as he has the most to lose. Brown will hitch his wagon to anything which gives him an advantage before dropping it when it isn’t quite so helpful, so Labour interest in PR currently will be around zero.

Make no bones about it, if we were having this election under a PR system then there would be many, many more Lib Dem MPs and a few BNP, UKIP and Green ones as well. Just as the election of two BNP MEP’s to the European ‘Parliament’ did not herald the despatch of Einsatzgruppen to Lancashire, a handful or fewer of BNP MPs would not make any real difference, beyond making it easier for these people to get seats.

It’s an often used argument against PR that the BNP would get seats, well here’s a newsflash, they may under the first past the post system as well. BNP MPs would not be a symptom of the failure of the electoral system, nor of the failure of the electorate to vote in the ‘right way’. It is a failure of the established parties to do the job in a satisfactory manner. It is clear that the current system does not properly represent the views of the electorate, nor does it make the MPs particularly happy, as evidenced by Cameron’s repeated browbeating of the public as the spectre of a hung parliament becomes ever more corporeal. Sorry Dave, threatening us with the nasty man or trying to bully us into voting for you to shoehorn our wishes into this inflexible and unrepresentative system ain’t going to work.

Things have to change. One commentator on the radio this morning expressed the opinion that this particular genie is almost certain to escape the bottle in the next fortnight and once it is out, it will not go back in.

Having waffled away about that, you’d expect me to be all in favour of PR. I’m not. I certainly believe that it is a better system than the one we have at present, but I think there is a better system, one that is more realistic and one that is more in tune with the political climate of the day.

Firstly, I think the big thing in favour of the current system is that on polling day, you and I will go out and will vote for our own MP, or at least the person we want to be our MP the most. Having a named individual from the get go, with no ifs, buts or maybes is a good thing. We know that whoever polls the most votes in Felching-in-the-Woods will go on to be the representative for that constituency. A named individual you can petition, protest against and go to for help. That connection between the MP and the constituency, assuming the MP is a good constituency MP is very important.

It all falls apart when people talk about voting for Brown, Cameron or Clegg. You’re not voting for them unless you happen to be living in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Witney or Sheffield Hallam, and even then, you’re still voting for your constituency MP, not the Prime Minister.

So when Cameron bangs on about ‘It means putting the people in charge, I believe you should be in Number 10 because people have voted for you’ he’s talking a load of old arsegravy. We have no choice in the Prime Minister at all, and that would not change under PR. It would merely mean the membership of whichever party happened to finish top of the tree would be able to put the person they most want into Number 10. Our wishes count for very little.

The advent of the televised debates makes it perfectly clear that we have been drawn inexorably to the age of presidential style elections here in the UK, so let’s take that ball and run with it, shall we?

I propose a directly elected team of a Prime Minister, Chancellor, Home Sec, Justice Sec and Foreign Sec, all on the same ticket with the PM choosing his deputy PM from the other four, to be elected on a fixed term of four years or until two thirds of the House decide that that is quite enough, thank-you. None of these team of five would hold constituency seats and would be elected purely as the executive team. I’ve always thought it unfair that those living in a constituency with a back-bench MP have a good deal more access to their MP than someone who holds high office.

Neither is it fair that we have absolutely no say in the holders of the other big jobs. They make decisions, or at least implement policy, that have a real bearing on each of our lives and can be chopped and changed without our consent. That’s not good enough.

It would also be (slightly less) unfair that those teams who do not get elected will have no constituencies to go to. Well, tough.

This way we can keep the first past the post system as the number of seats held would not decide on who sat in Number 10, it would be a straight vote for the individual to represent your views in Parliament. I would suggest this also ran on a fixed four year term (allowing for resignations, recall from the constituency, death, etc.) running at a two year stagger from the executive team.

Under this model an unpopular executive would not have it all their own way if this mechanism is used by the electorate to give them a bloody nose. This could well be used as an argument against the model, especially as I’ve talked up the opportunity for the MPs to be closer to their constituents. I would say this; someone’s vote is theirs to do with as they please. You can’t start picking and choosing systems because of what you believe people should think their vote is for. That isn’t your decision to make.

Politicians would also complain that by using this model, the turnout for the constituency elections would go through the floor, it would turn the constituency MPs into an irrelevance. My response would be to point out that the style of government in the last 50 years or so has already done that, and it is your job to get people to the polling station, to motivate them, inspire them, to give them something to vote for. It could see a real change in the sort of person who decides to stand for office.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

The One That Is Blah Blah Blah . . .

The idea of a hung parliament really is scaring Labour and the Tories now. So much so that Gordon Brown has decided to do something about it.

Gordon Brown will become a more visible presence and meet more ordinary voters as he seeks to "up the tempo" of Labour's general election campaign.

Yep. That'll do it. Get Gordon out more, that'll solve the problem once and for all, the Tories will waltz into a majority then.

Mr Brown will be prepared to meet more ordinary voters rather than party supporters, following the criticisms from rank-and-file members, Iain Watson says.

He will also take more questions and answers on Labour Party policy from undecided voters in various locations around country.

What? A party leader, speaking to the electorate? Instead of talking to their own party members? About policy? Well, that's all well and good, but I can see a problem with that, what if Joe Soap stands up and says something like 'That's all well and good Mr. Brown, but with the greatest respect I disagree with your policy and feel that I am most likely to vote for someone else'? How will the goons resist the urge to bundle him to the ground, stamp repeatedly on his head and dump his body in the canal whilst the spin doctors brief against the poor sod and decry him as a BNP supporter?

The Tories are going to do something about this as well. This can never happen again.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are set to announce policies on electoral reform.

I've not gone into too much detail, but I believe that the Tories have cast their gaze over to Europe and have decided to follow the lead set in Switzerland by UEFA. Seats picked up from Labour will now count double.

Is that not it? Oh well, who cares?

Their policy would force a new prime minister without a mandate to hold a general election.

What? Like you've done since Brown took over?

He will also outline plans to select parliamentary candidates through postal primaries.

And that counts as reform does it? Give me strength.

Now, I'm no lover of the Lib Dems, but one thing this election campaign is demonstrating is the rotten system of first past the post. Sky News have been showing off their graphic design department's work this morning. Their poll of polls shows Labour and Lib Dem with an equal share of the vote and yet Labour being returned with more than a hundred seats over the Lib Dems. How that is an advert for democracy, I'll never know. I'd rather the Lib Dems didn't get anywhere near the levers of power, but if the population vote for them, I'll just have to accept it. To have a system which is so heavily weighted in favour of the Tories and Labour is a bloody disgrace, and this needs to change, preferably before the next general election.

Despite all this madness, there is an island of sanity and pure clarity. Suprisingly, it comes from the Mail. Unsurprisingly it comes from a bunch of children. A section of society that in my experience are the most adept at looking at bullshit and calling it just that. The whole article is a delight, the highlights are shamelessly stolen and reproduced here:

NIAMH: It’s a group of people who are all trying to be your friend.

SAM: I know their names and what their parties are called, but it’s hard to tell them apart because they all look quite alike.

JAMES HOPKINS: [. . .] I can see Gordon Brown being a good drummer. I can see him randomly banging drums with the faces of the other leaders on the front.

SAM: I just don’t know. I watched the programme (the debate) last night and I found it very hard to understand, because they all gave random answers to the same question. They only talked about what they think is interesting, which is quite rude really.

JAMES HOPKINS: I think they should have to do lie detector tests, like on the Jeremy Kyle show.

ABBY: I don’t know their names, but I do think it’s a bit strange that the politicians are taking their wives to work with them. My dad wouldn’t take my mum to work with him, and she wouldn’t want to go even if he asked her because she’s got her own job to do.

Certainly more incisive political commentators than I'll ever be.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The One That Is Drowning In A Sea Of Paper. . .

I’m slightly confused. In the papers and on TV and radio there’s talk of an election in the offing. Well, if there is, they’re doing a bloody good job of hiding it in the constituency in which I live.

A fortnight to go until the big day (Oh, Jesus, is it really a fortnight? It’s been going on for 4 years) and there’s precious little to indicate there’s anything going on down here.

I appear to be drowning in a sea of paper candidates, and even then the paper is in short supply. We have the usual suspects standing here, Con, Lib, Lab, UKIP, Green and then the very earnest Monetary Reform Party.

Visits received? Nil.

Literature received? Three. One from the Tories showing the sitting MP in a very unusual and contrived pose, comb-over plastered down on to his pate and a pair of very fetching cords. I live in Canterbury, quite a rural constituency, so the Tory seems to have gone for country gent gone to town for the day. Which as far as I can make out is a fairly accurate representation.

One from UKIP trotting out what you’d expect, promoting the fact that their man is a local businessman who does something in Whitstable. And one from the aforementioned Monetary Reform Party, who seems to be a one woman band.

Of the Greens, Labour and Lib-Dems, nothing. Silence. That’s just bloody lazy, the Royal Mail will deliver leaflets free of charge for you. Nobody seems to care about winning this seat. Why is that? Let’s look at the numbers shall we?

2005 General Election.

1st - Conservative – Julian Brazier – 21,113 votes, taking 44.4% of the turnout. +2.9%
2nd – Labour – Alex Hilton – 13,642 votes, taking 28.7% of the turnout. -8.2%
3rd – Lib Dems – Jenny Barnard-Langston – 10,059 votes, taking 21.1% of the turnout. +3.3%
4th – Green – Geoffrey Meaden – 1,521 votes, taking 3.2% of the turnout. +1.2%
5th – UKIP – John Moore – 926 votes, taking 1.9% of the turnout. +0.1%
6th – Legalise Cannabis – Rocky van der Benderskum (Where is he this year? Best name in history.) – 326 votes, taking 0.7% of the turnout. +0.7

Turnout: 66.1%

So of a constituency of 72,000 people, 21,113 of them, less than a third, actually voted for the bloke that won. What led to almost 40% of the electorate staying at home? 24,000 people could have turned this from a ‘safe’ Conservative seat into something completely different.

No doubt UKIP, the party towards whom I am most sympathetic from the choices on offer, were very disappointed with their share of the pie. I would expect them to have a significant improvement this time round. I would also expect the Tory share of the vote to go up, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that the turnout will go down in Canterbury. Not least because the candidates are so hopelessly anonymous.

If I were UKIP, I’d be looking at the lists from 2005, at those who didn’t vote, I’d be bombarding them with material and doing radical things like knocking on their doors and talking to them. But none of the parties really seem interested.

Those 24,000 people who stayed at home could have had a huge say in the way the seat went. Many would have been Tories who knew the result was a foregone conclusion. A few would have been Labour and Lib Dem supporters who knew the same. The majority would have been the don’t knows and don’t cares.

I would never support the idea of compulsory voting, it is your vote and you should be free to do whatever you wish with it. I do not hold with the opinion that those who stay at home have no right to voice an opinion. Why should you turn out to vote when those who are standing don’t really seem that bothered if you vote for them or not?

However I do believe that a vote is the most fantastic thing. There are people living in Myanmar, Saudi, China, a whole host of countries around the world who would look upon a vote that is largely fair as thing of wonder. What really annoys me is the message from the established parties and media that a vote for anyone other than the big 3 (and even including the Lib Dems in that is a stretch) is a wasted one. Don’t believe them. What they are telling you is that your opinion does not count, it is irrelevant. That’s a bloody insult to your intelligence and your worth. The only wasted vote is the one that isn’t used. Even a spoiled ballot is worth something.

24,000 people wasting their votes. Replicated in every seat across the country, indeed I believe the turnout in Canterbury was well above the national average in 2005. What those hundreds of thousands of people could achieve.

Well, I will not be wasting my vote. I’ll not be wasting it on a party that can’t be bothered to campaign for it. You just sit there, expecting me to file through like a good little drone and vote for you when you can’t be arsed to do anything for it? You can’t even be bothered to knock on front door and at least make the pretence that you care about my opinion and support? Well, fuck you.

Speaking with a friend of mine last night, he revealed that he voted BNP in the Europeans last year. I was surprised to hear that, aware of his views of their policies. He explained to me that he did it because they were the only ones who had the decency to knock on his door and actually ask for his vote.

Well, I’m going to cut Anne Belsey of the Monetary Reform Party some slack. I suspect her support network is almost nil, I don’t expect her to knock on my door, there’s only one of her. There’s hundreds of the other fuckers, and if they can’t be bothered with me, then why the hell should I be bothered with them?

Chalk up one for the Monetary Reform Party. I’m betting Ms. Belsey has conviction and genuine belief in what she espouses. That’ll do for me, I’ll vote for the person who believes in something beyond the established parties’ belief in their God given right to my vote.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The One That Thinks He's Playing The Long Game. . .

So perhaps Brown's 'I agree with Nick' mantra hasn't had quite the effect that he thought it would.

It would seem that in the (likely) event of a hung parliament that Clegg has no intention of doing business with Gordon. Assuming that is, that Clegg is telling the truth, never a given when you consider the big three.

Clegg has good reason to distance himself from Brown and Labour. He may be flying high in the polls at the moment, but you can be sure that support will melt away pretty smartish if the media continue to show graphics of the number of Tory seats expected on May 7th against those of Labour when combined with the Lib Dems. Few floating voters are going to vote Lib Dem if they think that vote is going to default to Labour.

So what is a poor Lib Dem boy to do? What is obvious is that the Lib Dems really want power, a prospect that I find slightly more scary than another five years of Labour, to be honest. Many Lib Dems would be bouncing around with anticipation at the idea of one of their's being Home Sec in a coalition, but it's not the same as actually having power. It's like being sat in the front of the car with your dad when he lets you change gear. You're sort of contributing, but your dad still has control of the throttle, brake, clutch and the steering. It's exciting for a little while, but you really want to drive.

In a coalition, the chances of Vince getting the keys to number 11 are slim to none. Blinky Balls bagsied that role a long time ago. Lib Dem Foreign Sec? Unlikely. Home Sec? That's a poisoned chalice, you can bet that Nick would be thrown that particular bone, and it would eventually cause him to choke.

Brown would make grand promises of involvement and electoral reform and this and that, but none of it would come to pass and the Lib Dems would be left looking rather silly and marginalised. When the coalition came apart at the seams (and it would) you can bet that the blame would be dumped squarely in front of the Lib Dem's door. Then there would be the inevitable scrapping between Labour's traditionalists and their Social Democrats, and the scrapping between the Lib Dem's Social Democrats and the traditional Liberals, oh Jeez that would be messy.

If Clegg went in to a coalition with Labour he'd be damaged beyond repair and the Lib Dems wouldn't be much better, endangering their chances of ever picking up a comparitive share of the percentage of the vote they seem to this time, again. The Lib Dems have now only really started to recover from the Jeremy Thorpe affair and a stint as a junior partner in a coalition could set them back another thirty years. Is it really worth five minutes in the sun for that?

This still remains a good election to lose, and I believe a hung parliament really is the best option for the country, and I say this honestly with the best interests of all three main parties in mind. It's best for Labour (if they finish 2nd) because they can then have the civil war that party desperately needs to decide what they are, and where they want to go. It's best for the Conservatives (if they finish 2nd) as they can then dispense with Cameron who simply cannot connect with the public and, if I read the situation right, is at best dischordant with the views of the party membership. It's best for the Lib Dems (if they stay out of any coalition) as they can then use this as a platform for the next election and not be damaged by a collapsing coalition, although their civil war is moving up the agenda as well.

The problem with both Labour and the Lib Dems is that they both have a large section of Social Democrats who are at odds with the rest of their respective parties. This could lead to some very interesting rows, bust-ups, power struggles and general arseing about in the next few years, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a party, like ooooooh, perhaps the SDP emerging from the wreckage of Labour and Lib Dem civil wars. There's also a high probability of a night of the long knives in the Tory party between the top table and the membership, I fully expect Boris to be at the helm before long.

I just get the impression that everyone is on their best behaviour, but struggling to keep it together, like an alcoholic parent at a school play. Win, lose or draw, the fall out from this election could prove to be spectacular, I'm looking forward to fireworks after the election more than I'm looking forward to polling day itself.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The One That Is Wondering Who Will Be First . . .

How entertaining this volcano story is proving to be. I'll bet the politicians are furious, the cameras should be following them about. We should be seeing them knocking on doors, kissing babies (why the hell do they persist in doing that? If it were my baby, I'd be demanding to see their CRB check results and then screaming 'paedo' at the top of my voice when they didn't have it. Well, if it's good enough for us), and glad handing lines of employees who have all been warned to be on their best behaviour.

Traditional campaigning is an odd dance. The usual activities have no bearing on policy or performance, is anyone going to see Cameron spending ten minutes at a childrens' day care centre reading a story about a fluffy bunny and think 'he's the man for me, Tory all the way'?

Still, this is their time, how are we proles supposed to file obediently into the polling stations if we're not seeing them on TV every minute of every day? Instead what do we see on Sky News? Some bloke outside the terminal building in Calais explaining how there are long queues to check in as foot passengers. What a bloody cheek. They must be livid that something has come along and removed them from the lead story.

This volcano has been a blessed relief and the pictures it has spawned have been much more entertaining than the footage I'm currently watching of Brown stood in front of the production line at the mini plant in Oxford, gurning his way through some bollocks as he flashes his 'and now I'm going to eat you' smile.

What was also revealing was the footage from Barajas airport in Madrid as some poor local bloke was getting a huge amount grief from Brits about the lack of flights. It won't take long for this Dunkirk Spirit to disappear. The cries of something must be done are getting louder. During the war we had a steely resolve, now we've become pampered, entitled little children. There was some silly bat complaining that you've told us nothing, we don't know what's going on, look at my legs, they're all swollen.

A gammy leg? Well sit down then. What do you expect some twenty year old Spanish bloke to do about it? Look, I'll put it simply. Volcano go bang. Bang make ash. Ash go over Britain. Ash dangerous for aeroplanes. Aeroplanes stay on ground. Inspite of the fact that we're told our activities can change the climate of a whole planet, we are as yet unable to stop a volcano erupting. Perhaps some sort of carbon fibre and asbestos plug? You could put it in place with a fleet of helicopters. It wouldn't work, but it'd be a cracking show.

As people get more and more exasperated by the disruption the demands will increase for something to be done. I think back to the recent floods where those who had not taken out insurance were demanding to know who was going to cover their losses.

It's out of anyone's control. But it is election time. I'm wondering who the first party leader to start talking tough over this will be. I'm thinking it's going to be Brown. How long before vague calls for action from the Icelandic government start, how long before a demand for some sort of compensation issues forth from the opportunistic mouths?

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The One That Is Asking 'For Whom?'. . .

I've been thinking back to my school days again. When I was doing my GCSE's one of the options I took was meeja studies. I believe the other options in that particular area of the list was dance, agriculture and something equally mindless. One of the modules on the course was a very simplistic overview of how advertising works, and it is something that has stuck with me over the last twenty odd years.

Adverts tend to fall into a number of categories, and one of the most popular is the use of fear. Your chopping board contains more bacteria than your toilet seat. You won't die in an NHS hospital if you buy private medical insurance from us. Your brickwork won't fall apart if you treat it with our chemical. That sort of thing.

What we are seeing now is the most ferocious advertising campaign we'll see for five years. It's all being paid for through your taxes (see the huge tax benefits the big parties can derive from your donations) and licence fee. You are paying for this campaign on your own senses. Neat trick, huh?

So looking back to the lessons I had about advertising, what conclusion can I draw from this?

David Cameron has warned of the dangers of a hung parliament and said only a "decisive" Conservative government would "get the job done".

Hmmm. You see when PharmaCo advertise Klapaway as the only treatment you can buy that won't have the ladies running for the hills next time you get a dose, are they doing it because they really, really care about your venereal health or are they doing it because they really, really want you to buy their product?

The answer is obvious.

So when Cameron says:

A hung parliament would be a bunch of politicians haggling, not deciding.

They would be fighting for their own interests, not fighting for your interests. They would not be making long-term decisions for the country's future, they would be making short-term decisions for their own future.

Are we supposed to believe that he really cares for us or do we suppose that he's trying to make us scared of a hung parliament?

Why should we be scared of a hung parliament? Where is the difference in a hung parliament where politicians would be fighting for their own interests and making short-term decisions for their own future and the majority parliaments where for, as long as I've been alive, politicians have been fighting for their own interests and making short-term decisions for their own future?

It doesn't seem any more scary to me than what we've experienced thus far. Let's face it, the decisions that have been made when there has been no haggling have hardly been excellent, have they? Labour have had a huge majority for the last 13 years, the economic decisions have been poor. At best. Yes, David, I can see you putting your hand up, but your record isn't exactly glowing, is it? ERM ring any bells? Oh? That was the fault of the EU was it? Would this be the same EU you've refused to let us have any say over?

No, when Dave says a hung parliament is dangerous, he means it's dangerous for him. A hung parliament means he's toast if he can't command a minority government or put together a coalition. Given how hard Gordon was tonguing Ned Clark's (or whatever his name is) arsehole on Thursday, I don't fancy Dave's chances of managing the latter.

What is even more dangerous for the Tories is if the Limp Dims have got such a significant bounce from the debate, and continue over the next two, that their share of the vote goes up so much that you can't put a fag paper between the three. They'll be demanding PR then and could hold the balance of power so firmly that any partnering party would have to give in. You wouldn't like that, would you? I've no love for the Limp Dims, but I'm all for PR, mainly because it is more representative than this 'representative democracy'.

No Dave, it ain't dangerous for us, and all the time you bleat on about it, the more you reveal how scared you are, and with good reason, any Tory who can't despatch this hated government and despised PM isn't worth a wet paper bag.

Your turn to be afraid, it doesn't work on me any more.

Post Script

Oh yes, I've just seen ITV's rehash of The Prisoner, and it's rubbish.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The One That Is Looking Through The Cracks. . .

The usual preface when I start writing about finance: I am no economist. It is highly likely I’ve misunderstood some painfully dull yet hugely important item of detail in this little bunfight. If that is so, then I apologise.

Anyhow, a couple of interesting articles yesterday and today in the Torygraph.

The first details Greece’s efforts to deal with their profligacy of the last decade, and could easily be held up as a mirror to what is going on here. The second is about an attempt by some German academics to stop a shed load of their money heading east to prop up this land of retirement at 61 with a national pension pegged at 95% of earnings.

The first article raises an interesting conundrum:

One option would be to follow the example of Britain, which managed to erode much of its debt by allowing the pound to fall by a quarter. If the powers-that-be in Frankfurt were persuaded to allow the entire euro to fall enough, thus driving up inflation in Germany, they could avoid both Greek default and the break-up of the currency. This would right the balance between the two countries (in Germany prices are too low, in Greece they are too high, and producers too uncompetitive). The problem, again, is the scale: the euro would have to more than halve in value and Germans would have to accept inflation of around 14 per cent for five years to make the adjustment. Not something politically feasible given the country’s history of hyperinflation.

A point occurs to me, aren’t there about two dozen other countries using the Euro beyond Greece and Germany? What do they think about this idea of allowing the value of the currency to fall by up to 50%?

And here is the problem with the EU in general and the Euro in particular, what might suit urbanised and industrial northern Europe is certainly not what is wanted in rural agrarian southern Europe.

What if these German professors manage to get the plug pulled on the Greeks? What if the Portuguese who also seem to be teetering on the brink finally slip into the abyss? What then? The economic weaknesses of two small peripheral economies could drag down the economies in Italy, France, Netherlands and Germany. Millions upon millions of people with savings and pensions wiped out, because of the inefficiencies, and certainly in the case of the Greeks, corruption of one constituent part of the grand project.

Many would argue that is a good case in support of centralised cross-continental economic policy, but heaven knows it is hard enough to deal with the geo-financial inequalities in the UK, let alone those spread over a whole continent.

I can only imagine what the fallout of the collapse of the Euro would be. One thing is for certain, it would be huge blow to the EU project, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the empire builders are determined to create a single pan-continental nation in their own image, we have a flag, an anthem (of sorts), a parliament (of sorts), a President (supposedly) and a currency. If the currency were to wink out of existence then it would make it very hard to continue to persuade people that a single nation is possible and sustainable.

Secondly, such a collapse would most likely lead to a number of the current member states questioning why they are in the project. The public of France, Germany and Italy are quite rightly going to ask why their financial wellbeing has been wiped out by this country that has brought nothing to the party. Unlike in the UK where we just mumble and write letters to The Mail (and blogs), the French and the Italians especially would be out on the streets, demanding change and bringing their countries to a grinding halt until they get the changes they want. The politicians would have no option but to give in. The smaller, less economically secure nations are likely to look at the big players and wonder what the point is if they don’t come to their aid, rather than looking out for themselves.

Those countries not in the Eurozone are well out of it, as it is possible we could be spared the worst, should the worst happen.

One thing is beyond doubt, empires always fall. They always have, they always will. It is only human arrogance and hubris which declares thousand year reichs and the like. They all fall. Whether it is because the empire crumbles because the military muscle isn’t there to keep the regions in line or defended (Romans, Soviet Union) or because it is politically and/or financially impossible to keep it running (British, Soviet Union), they all fall. The EU will be no different, and in my opinion will come to an end sooner rather than later. One can’t help the feeling that critical mass was reached some time ago and that the chain reaction is now well in motion, the result of that is certain.


I’ll take this opportunity to add my voice to the myriad of those expressing their sadness at the revision of the Devil’s Kitchen. I’m not surprised that Brillo took the tack he did, it’s par for the course when a small party gets shoved into the spotlight, it’s normally little more than a freak show where the worldly wise can roll their eyes at the nutter.

The fact that Chris was attacked over his blog, rather than his policy I think speaks volumes about the latter rather than the former. In an election where no-one knows who they want to win, but everyone wants them all to lose, I feel it is important to take the opportunity now to show you are really, properly, different to everyone else. DK’s blog was a fine outlet for that, and it was reading him and Leg-Iron that motivated me to do this blogging lark for myself.

My advice, for what it is worth, should you ever read this Chris, is dare to be different. Show how angry we are. Show we’re not afraid to use the occasional naughty word. Show that we attack people and policy because it is the right thing to do, not the expected thing to do. Attack without mercy and without fear of reprisal. Show that people can look as long and as hard at us as they wish, for we believe in what we say, we do not say what we think people wish to believe.

Polarise opinion, stand out. If people do not agree with us, then that’s fine. The trick is to persuade more people to agree with us than disagree. If we can’t, well, that’s democracy. I’d hate for us and for you to become conformist.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The One That Is Asking Can You Please Stop It? . . .

I've been driving around all over the place for work today. I can't stand commercial radio as it's all the same four shite songs interspersed with adverts of toe curlingly bad quality. I can't stand Radio 1 as it's like commercial radio but without the adverts, that tool Evans is on Radio 2, Radio 3 is so ridiculously worthy and Radio 4 is as dull as ditchwater. So given I didn't have the foresight to bring my CD's with me that leaves Radio 5. And it's been getting right on my wick today.

Two stories it's been leading with all day have driven me to the edge.

Firstly, they've been reporting this story about a report about the number of children being admitted to hospital with preventable diseases such as tooth decay and obesity. Sigh. Well, you remove any meaningful cooking lessons from school for a generation and what did you think was going to happen? All this citzenship guff started creeping in during my last couple of years at school, and that was under the last Tory administration. Indeed I'm certain I did a project in the 5th year (early 90's) in these extra-curricular yet timetabled lessons called 'Challenge' (God help us) about global warming and how we'd all be bollock deep in glacial melt water by the time 2000 came around. Nothing changes.

Anyhow, I digress. These lessons were at the expense of other lessons about how to cook and child development, and PE and useful stuff. This is what happens when you stop teaching and start indoctrinating. Good isn't it?

So, when I arrived home this afternoon, I was not in the slightest bit surprised to see what the subject of tonight's Panorama is.

From obesity to alcohol misuse, from rotting baby teeth to hearing problems caused by passive smoking - Britain's largest children's hospital is treating younger and younger children for health problems which are ultimately preventable. Many are the result of kids' lifestyles and are, according to the experts, causing them unnecessary suffering.
BBC Breakfast News and 5 Live have form in this area. Look, arsewipes, it's perfectly simple, if you are going to do news and current affairs programming, at the least I would expect the news to be reported. I do not expect you to make a programme and then build your news coverage around it. At best this is ethically questionable. I'd complain to them about it, but it would make no difference. The sooner this bunch of leeches lose their public funding the better. Let's see how much takeup you get on subscription for pretend news, Eastenders, the promotion of Lloyd-Webber's latest show and celebrities clearing out their lofts and heading off to the bootfairs.

The second story that has annoyed me is this constant whining from CEOP about Facebook not having a panic button. CEOP, which is like an elephant's graveyard for retired senior coppers even went over to DC to demand, Demand, a panic button on Facebook.

You can already log complaints of inappropriate conduct and content with Facebook, but it doesn't go to CEOP. You see, an American corporation who generate a huge amount of revenue off the back of advertising on their site have no vested interest in making sure that their users are safe, that their users' parents are satisfied it is safe, and in making sure that their sponsors are happy to be associated with a safe product.

Any parent who allows their kids uninhibited access to the 'net is just plain lazy and naive or neglectful, and it is not the place of a corporation to take over parenting duties for them.

Who the hell do CEOP think they are? How would we react if an American 'law enforcement' agency came over to London and started brow beating our corporations over how they do business?

Oh. . .

One final point in this ridiculous story. Isn't it strange how CEOP start stamping their feet and shreiking about how awful this is, and how they are absolutely the only people who can sort this out just as it seems likely that a Labour government is going lose office and herald a round of significant cuts in the public sector?

It would be cynical of me to draw any connection and to point out that CEOP's record thus far is not entirely glorious.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The One That Will Promise You Anything. . .

Unlike my sodium chloride ridden gastropod friend, I haven't read the Labour manifesto. To be honest I have no intention of reading any of them.

No doubt the Labour storybook promises that every day will be the first day of spring, and everyone will have a pet unicorn, freed from the unicorn traps which the eeeeeeevil tories leave lying around the enchanted woodland (enchanted by Harriet's diversity pixies) and sugar-free jelly and non-fat ice cream every day.

It probably doesn't say that to be fair, but it may as well given that by Labour's own admission nothing contained within a manifesto is to be taken as a promise or an undertaking to do anything.

Yet once again, Labour seem determined to push the self-destruct button, holding a press conference that was, to be frank, a bizarre event which would probably have had Stalin thinking 'steady on'. The attacks on Robinson and Boulton were really quite extraordinary, accusing the press of being unfair for having the temerity to question Brown's policies, and even the decision to hold a launch on NHS property, (or as near as makes no difference) is no way to endear yourself to two of the most powerful political reporters/editors in the media.

Having baying supporters on the balcony and round the press pack was a concerted attempt to intimidate the hacks, who were heckled for not standing whilst addressing the Dear Leader. It's almost amazing they didn't have a supply of rocks to rain down on the traitors from the media.

The electorate aren't stupid. They'll see this as a desperate attempt to eradicate any dissent, it is merely another example of Labour's mania to control absolutely everything they can. As far as the polls go, it doesn't really matter. When you convert Labour's advantage from bums on seats into the number of voters, the merest swing away from them will leave them out of a job. The public may not know what they want, but they know exactly what they don't want.

The media is a different matter. The print media will always be partisan. Even The Sun. The only reason they supported Blair was because it was obvious which way the wind was blowing in '97. Murdoch doesn't want to be seen supporting a loser. It wasn't The Sun wot won it, and it won't be this time.

The broadcast media are a different matter. They are, by and large, impartial in their reporting. Yes, the accusation of bias is easy to lay at the door of the BBC, and is more accurate than not in my opinion, but the Beeb are turncoats by neccessity. They'll cozy up to the Tories quick enough should they win. It doesn't pay to piss off the people holding your purse strings, another good argument against the licence fee in my book. It really doesn't pay to piss off the broadcast lot. They are quite smart and are very adept at subtly using suggestion in this most insidious of mediums, start throwing accusations of bias, question their professionalism and you really will get them angry. Not everyone is as devious and opportunistic as Labour, but if they turn against you, you can't very well stamp your little foot and complain, only the party activists will get angry, to everyone else you'll be a whining little pussy.

Only a week in to procedings and Labour have demonstrated that there is no depth to which they won't stoop to to get an advantage. First there was Lord Adonis' ridiculous article in the Indie about the futility of voting Lib Dem, the only outcome from that is likely to be the Limp Dim supporters turning out to support the blues in any seat where it is a two way race between Labour and Tory. Not very smart. Like I said, people don't know what they want, but they do know what they don't want. The people that want a Tory government are dwarved by those who do not want a Labour one. Pulling stunts like that will not help you at all.

Then there was the odious stunt of the cancer postcards sent out by Labour (superbly dealt with by Constantly Furious), effectively telling people that if the Tories were in power, they'd be dead. They even decided to send them to people who were dead. Nice. Labour blithely dismissed any accusations of an abuse of the DPA, but do they really, honestly expect us to believe that?

I'm now waiting for Labour to break a local story down here about a Tory councillor in Whitstable being remanded on child abuse and pornography charges. Don't think they won't, and don't think they won't try to make you think it is representative of the party as a whole. These are, after all, the nasty Conservatives. No dirty trick will be below them.

The collective blood pressure is sure to rise over the news that the 3 Labour MPs in court over the expenses have applied for, and been given Legal Aid. Do you mean to tell me that there were no skeletons in the cupboard over that could have been held over these three with the threat of release should they have applied? Perhaps they are just as keen to destroy the party as those who advise Brown?

We are going to have a really, nasty, negative and spiteful campaign, certainly from Labour, and the Tories and Lib Dems (to a lesser extent to give the Lib Dems their due) are more than likely to follow suit. Here in lies the eternal problem of 'voter disengagement'. The political class live in their own village. They are very important people and are used to having people jump when they shout. They really do have no concept of us outside the village, and how unattractive a negative campaign is.

The problem for Labour is that evidence thus far suggests that Labour's cynicism will regularly overstep the line and will be a litany of own goals. This has all the signs of being one of the most disastrous campaigns in history for Labour, and the Tories don't have the star quality to finish them off.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

The One That Is Struggling. . .

I don't know how many posts I've tried to write this week. They've all been abandoned half way through. I get the feeling this one may suffer the same fate.

It feels similar to a fifteenth birthday, this election. You've been looking forward to it for ages but when the big day arrives you realise that you're too old for jelly, ice-cream and pass the parcel, but not old enough for a responsibly imbibed half pint of weak bitter shandy in a smoke and discrimination free licensed environment.

A week in to the 'vote for me, the other people are really nasty' process and I'm starting to lose the will to live. Every post I've drafted has been so obvious that it doesn't need saying and can't be said in any more than ten words, or have turned into polemics that would take an hour to read. It's like the Eurovision song contest, GET ON WITH IT, I don't care about the shitty songs, let's get to the shamlessly partisan voting, shall we?

I've written about the NI row, and binned it. Why is cutting a shit load of inefficient no-nothing civil servants and not taking more of my money a bad thing? I'd have thought it was obvious. Labour have expanded the civil service to gargatuan levels, it was big enough when Major sat in the big chair. We don't need them all, and I say that as one of them.

I've written about and scrapped an item on the frankly bizarre situation of a government of any colour deciding that they are going to inflate the price of fuel, tobacco and alcohol. Two or three times a year. And people just grumble. Why? What input do the government have on the production of this stuff? Would people wear it if it was applied to other aspects of consumer goods? A 3p increase on the duty on trousers and teddy bears? And then, and then, they make a big fucking show about it because they deign to spread it over the course of a year in smaller increases. Yeah, cheers. £1.20 a litre of petrol. And they bang on about not wanting to harm the recovery? Give me strength.

I was going to write this morning about Caroline Lucas' appearance on Andrew Marr's show this morning, where she made a great virtue of the Green's plan to steal even more of our money than Labour and piss even more of it up the wall. Ye gods. What more is there to say?

I was also going to write about the balls up in the organ donor register, and how this displays that presumed consent is a very bad thing. I don't care personally, when I'm dead you can do what you like to my body. If anyone needs a part of it, they're welcome to it, I'm happy to help. Indeed once they've stripped out the spare parts I'm tempted to leave what is left to medical research. It'd certainly save on the costs of a funeral. No-one has the right to presume anything over someone's most personal possession. Presumed consent is only a step or two removed from you ceasing to belong to you, and you belonging to the state. It must be resisted at every turn.

Some people believe their body must be complete at the point of disposal, and that's fine and dandy, it's their body and continues to be so after their death. As far as I'm concerned, it's just a shell, but it's MY shell.

Again, what more can I say?

Yes, just like a teenage birthday. You still have those childlike expectations that the day is going to be like a dream. What you want is a PS3 with a copy of 'Stealing cars, shooting cops and running over prostitutes 4' and a house party with booze, fags and slutty girls. What you actually get is double geography, a nagging at lunch because you had chips and a jumper of questionable sartorial taste. Let's get it over with, shall we?

Perhaps this is my eternal curse. I'll get all keyed up once every five years, only to realise that the anticipation, the hope, is more satisfying than the actual event. Or maybe, I'll be pleasantly surprised and the Church of the Militant Elvis will be swept into power on the back of an era-defining landslide.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The One That Might Have Been Wrong. . .

Now the priest has his body bowed over the death bed of this rotten parliament and is giving the last rites I've been asking myself what the single most important issue surrounding this election is.

For some it will be immigration, for others it will be education, or Europe, or the expenses scandal, or the erosion of civil liberties in the face of an ever more pervasive state. Without doubt these are all hugely important issues, but I think the stand out one for most people will be the economy. It really does all come down to the bottom line, and it was ever thus in the dying days of a Labour administration.

Normally most people will look to the Tories to effect some kind of rescue, and to give the Tories their due, normally they are not afraid to take the action, however unpopular, to remedy the situation. Thatcher is an easy hate figure and is a demonic visage conjured up with alarming regularity by Labour. But she couldn't have been all bad, she did after all win all those elections.

The big difference this time round is that the Tories do not have anyone who embodies her traits. Cameron is as close to being like Thatcher as I am to being like Barbara Cartland. The electorate look at the Tories and do not see any radical difference between Cameron and Blair.

What is beyond doubt is that Brown is despised. A more unpopular leader in the history of this country I struggle to think of. Perhaps King John? I don't know. But it is painfully obvious that the public just have not taken to Cameron. It could be him as a person, it could be his policies, but I think it really boils down to people having no faith that he will be much better than Brown.

I do have faith that Cameron would be better than Brown. But that is akin to selecting death by stoning over death by crucifixion. I'd rather not have either, but if I absolutely have to have one, then let's go with the rocks, eh?

The Lib Dems of course have a complete non-entity at the helm, I'm not convinced even his wife can remember his name. We can discount them getting any serious gains in this election.

Or can we?

I've been very harsh on the Lib Dems. And with good reason. They are neither Liberal nor Democratic and are wrong, wrong, wrong on pretty much every subject you care to name. And they simper. If it is one thing I cannot stand, it is simpering. Wossisname's pep-talk to the troops on Sky News this morning was cringe inducing. He has all the charisma of an over laundered vest.

But the Lib Dems have a significant ace in the hole.

Let's look at the right hand men, shall we? If the election is to be all about the economy, then the guys who have designs on being the Chancellor come May 7th are going to play a huge part in this election.

Darling is done, spent. He and Brown have overseen a disastrous spell in charge of the bank account. Even if you don't trust the Tories, only a madman would consider that Labour have done a good job with the finances.

Osborne, just doesn't have that zing. Labour will play very strongly on the toff angle. It's lazy but I think they're punches that will connect, and to be honest, there is a slight hint of truth about it. Osborne just doesn't seem like the normal bloke on the street. He's another Tory character that it is difficult to warm to. He doesn't inspire confidence, and I think what people expect to hear from the Tories, what they want to hear is that the Tories would stop taking so much of your cash, and stop spending so much of your cash. We ain't going to hear that from this lot. Not this time.

And so we finish with Vince Cable. I don't think he's got a great deal to offer, although it's hard to tell. The Lib Dems specialise in 'blue sky thinking', trotting out plans and policies they know will never come to pass, and so it doesn't really matter, it doesn't have to add up. But, and here's the big but, Vince Cable has a certain cache, he is widely respected by the media and the public. He looks like the sort of person who has a shovel purse. He manages to be avuncular and parsimonius at the same time, the sort of chap who, when his grandson asks him for 50p for sweets, would open his shovel purse, examine the contents, ruffle the youngster's hair and then give him 30p. In short, he projects the sort of image you'd want a Chancellor of the Exchequer to have and his credibility is far, far ahead of Darling and Osborne. I expect him to be very busy indeed over the next month, and the Lib Dems, if they've any sense will give him a lot of airtime flying solo, rather than just standing behind, errrrm, no, his name's gone, that bloke that leads the Lib Dems, his shoulder.

They won't win. They won't even come close. But with a late and well planned attack with Vince at the front, they could actually make some impressive gains as the economy forces its way up the agenda. Quite who will suffer the most damage as a result of this is anyone's guess.

I really think we're in for a very interesting time indeed.

Monday, 5 April 2010

The One That Is Thinking About A Bicycle Race. . .

Well, I've been reading and catching up. I've come to the following conclusion:

When I was a kid, I heard a story (probably apocryphal) about a bicycle race at a village fair/fete/carnival in the inter war years. I'm a little sketchy on the details. In essence the story was about a farcical race between the menfolk of the village. There were prizes for first, second and third places, and the second prize of a canteen of cutlery was more attractive (to the wives of the men at least) than whatever it was that was on offer to the victor. As a result the field jockeyed for position right up until the conclusion of the race where everyone did their level best to be second. It was a race where no-one wanted, or perhaps more properly no-one dared, to win.

This to me seems exactly what is going on with the current election campaign.

It is most likely that Gordon will go and see Herself at some point this week and ask for this rotten parliament to be put out of its misery. We will then be without a government. To me this is a thoroughly desirable state of affairs and I see no reason to rush and hold an election after parliament is dissolved.

Everyone is expecting a dirty campaign, but the evidence of the past few days suggests that it will instead be a parade of politicians of all hues taking it in turns to blow their own feet off with ever more powerful firearms. Somewhere around May 4th we may actually see someone launch a tactical nuke against their own foot.

I'm not going to link to many of these stories as they've been covered ad infinitum in places linked to on here, but it really is a most startling display of stupid, wrong and hubristic soundbites and stunts. It really does make me wonder if it is on purpose, because surely no-one can be that stupid, can they? If they can, it doesn't bode well for May 7th.

In no particular order, we have the Labour party who decided that it was a good idea to compare stand-for-nothing, bland as American cheese, plastic man Cameron to Gene Hunt. No, you see, the whole idea of launching poster campaigns featuring your opponents is to make them look bad. Why on earth would you portray them as as cool, entertaining, decisive and admired a character as exists in popular culture today? The reason Ashes to Ashes and Life on Mars have been so successful is that the main character is the complete antithesis of the double-speak spouting faceless and charismaless figures we have now. What were you thinking?

Then Mandleson launches a frankly amazing attack on the head of Barclays for his salary and/or bonuses. This is a bank which has remained stable and taken not one penny of public money. In other words, Labour attack one of the few successful financial companies this country has for their very success. What? Still, at least he didn't say something along the lines of 'he's taken 63 million pounds not by building business or adding value or creating long-term economic strength, he has done so by dealmaking and shuffling paper around.'

Oh hang on, that's exactly what he said. Tell me, my noble Lord, how did you make your cash? Hmmmm?

Fuck me.

The BNP, threatening to have a break through election, have now decided that the best way to cement 5th place in the polls is by threatening to kill each other. That's either a PR masterstroke or their levels of swivel eyed lunacy is beyond what I'd thought possible.

Then there's Chris Grayling, shadow Home Sec. He saw fit to get involved in the spat that blew up ages ago about some Christian couple who didn't want two gay men staying in their B&B. For what it's worth, I quite agree with him. It's their bloody house, it's their choice. The fact it marks them up as arseholes is neither here nor there. But really, why is he getting involved in this? It is this sort of thing which is none of government's business whatsoever. Keep your nose out. Private business, which means none of your's. And really Chris, what did you think was going to happen? Of course the Righteous were going to point their fingers and scream and stamp their feet. Witch! Witch! Burrrrrrrrrn him! You'd have been much better keeping your mouth shut there, old chap. Still at least he sort of pointed out the obvious when he revealed 'secret' Labour plans to get shot of front line immigration staff.

Well, colour me surprised. Firstly, the irony of Labour effectively promoting their open door policy as a tool of social engineering coupled with an explosion in the number of staff paid from public funds to errrrm, not control the people coming in. I wrote about the PCS strike recently, and how the compo package for those shown the door had been cut. Of course jobs were next. Really, Tories, if this is a secret to you, you can't have been paying much attention, can you?

Obviously Cameron isn't trusted because as far as I can make out, he isn't being let out to speak, or he's being very clever in realising people just don't really get him and so it is better to let others do the talking.

People like Johnson Beharry who talked about wanting to knock Gordon Brown out. Well, join the queue old chap. The thing being he actually had the chance to do so. If he'd done that, he'd have been odds on favourite to win every election going. Especially leader of the Labour party.

The Limp-Dims have also been strangely quiet. This is a good strategy. Not because it will win them any more votes or seats, it's just best all round if they say nothing. Everything they say is ridiculous, and it seems that they'll be perpetually happy with their 35 to 40 seats, no real power, no real responsibility but their own carriage on the gravy train. Result.

Apparently, a hung parliament would be disastrous for the UK. Really? As opposed to the current situation which is Panglossian in its brilliance. The politicians are being very coy. The truth is, this is an election that anyone with any designs of a long term future would do well to not win. Cameron and Brown will have personal disasters if they lose, but neither can afford to win. If we're lucky, we'll see a cull at the top tables of the Big 2 when the dust settles, and we'll see the parties turn to people like Carswell and Field who are well positioned in hiding behind the barn as the shit starts to fly.

A little bit of destruction is good for the soul, and those who stand to be destroyed deserve it completely.

My prediction? Boris to jump into the first half-way safe Tory seat that comes up at by-election. Whatever the result on May 6th, we're going to see a bigger change in the Tories post-election than we will in Labour, unless the polls are hopelessly wrong and the Tories are heading for a big majority, which I doubt.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The One That Is Back. . .

I've had a very nice holiday indeed and will be back up to speed once I've had some time to catch up with what's been going on for the last couple of weeks. I was visiting the USA, so I'm well out of the loop. To say that news coverage over there is parochial is something of an understatement.

Barely a mention of the bombing on the Moscow underground, and when it was covered it was in the context of the New York authorities being very concerned about the ramifications for their transit system. Of course, because the Chechen rebels are really active on the east coast of the US, aren't they? It's obviously not only us that keep the fear well fed and exercised.

It's been a few years since I've visited the US, and I was both taken aback and delighted in equal measure by what I saw there. As I was in a warm climate I saw something that I thought was excellent, unfortunately its scope for use in the UK is limited, but what a great idea.

Run a bar and worried about the smoking ban? Here's an idea. Get around the legislation about enclosed areas being smoke free by designing a building where the sides can be removed completely. This is what one 'ale house' on the street where I was staying did. This place was huge, must have sat about 600 people. Barring the wall which contained the kitchen and toilets, the whole thing was open, but with a proper roof. It was packed. All day. Every day. People were queuing up on the street to get 'in'. It was like the world's biggest gazebo. At the end of the night, the roller security shutters came down. A great idea. I'm not sure if it would satisfy the legal requirements in the UK, but I would hope so, as the Righteous would have an anuerism about it.

Anyhow, based on my experiences, I've drawn up a handy list of advice for both the US and the UK, let's see how much abuse it generates.

Advice for Americans:

- It is not required to shout all the time. I'm standing right next to you and can hear you perfectly well.

- The mobile telephone is a very handy modern communication tool, however it is not vital for survival. It is possible to spend time not using the device. Actually tying this up with the above, if you hold the mobile phone to your ear, as it is designed to be used, rather than holding it at arm's length, you will not need to shout down it and then scream 'WHAT?' down it because you didn't get the speaker to your ear before the person on the end of the line responded. Perhaps they may fry your brain, but then if you don't use it all the fucking time, it won't matter. Besides, in your case, your brain being fried will make no appreciable difference. Spotted on my travels: A man continuing a telephone call whilst stood at the urinal and heard another man whilst sat in a toilet cubicle. A group of four people out to dinner together, all talking and/or typing on their mobiles incessantly through the course of their meal. There was no discourse around the table. I'd have fucked off and left them with the tab if I'd been with the rude bastards. Really, it is possible to be incommunicado for a couple of minutes. Not even the President is that important.

- Whilst on the subject of restaurants (and shops), basic courtesy is the mark of a man (or woman). The correct phrase to use is 'may I/could I have' before the item you require, followed by a please. It is also good manners to say 'thank-you' when it is delivered. 'I need' is not correct. Especially not you, madam. You need that large sized cola like I need to repeatedly slam my testicles in the drawer of a heavy oak dresser. Really.

- The motorcar really is a wonder of the modern age. It has transformed our cities and our societies. The car is not a panacea, nor is it the devil incarnate. It has its good points as well as its bad. So, American motor manufacturers. Why not try building something that actually acts like a car? Every car I have ever hired in the US has been like driving a motorised sofa or wardrobe, utterly feeble. Glass houses coming from the UK, I know, but really, if you build decent cars, your motor industry might not be on its arse.

- When you ask someone a question, be it directions or a question about an item, or about the country where the person you are speaking to lives; actually listen to what the person is telling you. Asking the question and then ignoring the other person does not make the knowledge magically enter your mind.

Advice for the British:

- Look at those American shop workers and waiting staff. That is called customer service. When you request an ingredient listed on the menu be left out of your dish, the correct response is 'no problem'. When the customer approaches the checkout the correct greeting is 'good morning' or at least 'sorry about the wait', it is not 'yeah?'. Similarly when the transaction is completed, it is customary to thank the customer and bid them a good day/afternoon/evening.

- When using an airline for a trans-atlantic flight, you will find seating is allocated. That number and letter on your boarding pass refers to your row and seat number. No-one is going to sit in it. There is one seat for everyone on the flight. The practice of boarding in a series of blocks is to avoid the crush and rush that happens when idiots like you rush the gate all at once. It is a fairly common practice that makes sense, and is a rule that applies to all passengers, not to most passengers except you and the sixty others who also think it doesn't apply to them. Kudos on the return flight however to the British chap who took his waddling land-whale (or should that be sky-whale) of a wife by the hand and led her to the gate when the disabled passengers had boarded as the call went out for passengers with 'outsized' items. That gave me a bloody good laugh.

- On a related point, it is not possible to leave the aircraft before the doors have opened. You're going to have to wait for your luggage once you clear immigration anyhow. Really, you won't get there any quicker. Secondly, it is not a bloody disgrace that you have to show your passport to get back into your own country. How is the nice immigration officer to know you are British unless her or she sees your British passport? Are they to take it on trust? Because I can see a real flaw in that plan.

- Socks and sandals. Don't. Really, don't. Why would you wear a pair of sandals and then put socks on as well? I would have thought the whole point of sandals is that your feet are kept cool and exposed to the air. It looks stupid.

- Sunblock. Do. Really, do. Having skin the colour of a Ferrari F1 car isn't a good look. The look of the skin as it peels is even less attractive. Besides, it makes we want to run up and give you a hearty slap. See the locals? They use sunblock, and wear a hat, and a shirt. That way they don't end up as one big lump of skin cancer. Nothing says British tourist like lobster colouring and socks and sandals.

So, a lovely break, with temperatures in the mid 20's, sunny weather, good food and a great laugh. What did I see when I came home? Having cleared immigration, got my bags and been through customs, I walked onto the concourse of the airport to see a PCSO with a very thick Nigerian accent giving a hard time to a taxi driver who was waiting to pick up his booked fare (he had one of those little boards with someone's name written on it) because he didn't have his passport. According to the PCSO, it is an offence to be in an airport without a passport. When the taxi driver asked the PCSO where his passport was if that was the case, he was threatened with arrest.

Welcome to the UK.