Sunday, 31 January 2010

The One That Can Only Applaud. . .

You've got to hand it to them, the Labour party doesn't know when it's beaten. Normally that is a phrase which is trotted out to describe a plucky underdog, unbowed in the face of a superior opponent and overwhelming odds, what it really means is that the underdog refuses to lay down and die, that they will not accept the inevitable until the fat lady is finishing her final aria. I'm using it to illustrate the fact that the Labour party simply do not understand that the game is over.

There's no soccer metaphor to explain it, but there is an American football one, they are 21-13 down, it is the 4th quarter, they've no time outs left, the opposition have possession of the ball on the Labour 1 yard line, there's 15 seconds left on the game clock and 20 left on the play clock. It is over.

The second string quarterback is in the game and has thrown numerous interceptions, has fumbled the ball a couple of times and has been sacked by the onrushing defensive line throughout the fourth quarter. The home support are booing him and the opposing support are loving every minute of his discomfort. Since taking over from the starting quarterback, the running backs aren't talking to him, the wide receivers don't understand his increasingly bizarre play calling and the defense just fold under the pressure of the opposition's predicatable and plodding running game. This is a career ending game.

He doesn't see it that way, despite being two scores down with 15 seconds left, he still believes the match is there to be won, and even if he doesn't win this match, he'll be back to win the next one.

Gordon Brown is making secret plans to stay on as Labour leader after the general election even if his party is defeated.

The prime minister has told close colleagues that he will refuse to quit unless the Conservatives win a significant majority.

Well, surely any majority which gives the Tories power is significant? He really is barking.

“Gordon has said he believes his enemies in the party are too divided among themselves to force him out,” said a senior Labour source.

“He thinks that if the May election is indecisive and if there is any prospect of a second election, Labour should not be plunged immediately into a messy leadership contest.”

They'll be dancing with joy at Tory party HQ.

But he's not the only one, Miliband Minority has an agenda to push, and he'll push it, no matter what.

The climate secretary, Ed Miliband, last night warned of the danger of a public backlash against the science of global warming in the face of continuing claims that experts have manipulated data.

In an exclusive interview with the Observer, Miliband spoke out for the first time about last month's revelations that climate scientists had withheld and covered up information and the apology made by the influential UN climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which admitted it had exaggerated claims about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

The perceived failure of global talks on combating climate change in Copenhagen last month has also been blamed for undermining public support. But in the government's first high-level recognition of the growing pressure on public opinion, Miliband declared a "battle" against the "siren voices" who denied global warming was real or caused by humans, or that there was a need to cut carbon emissions to tackle it.
It has become a religion, you must be faithful under this new theocracy and pay your tithes. The unbelievers will be punished, those who seek evidence will be visited by the inquisition for their lack of faith.

And it isn't as if the evidence hasn't received another body blow that further undermines its credibility.

The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.

The IPCC's remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

Still they refuse to re-examine their position, they are helplessly plotted on a course to collide with the cliffs, believing that if they shout loud enough, the cliffs will move aside.

They look more and more like the Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail as each day passes. If they don't change, they'll be doomed to complete eradication. If the Tories don't learn from Labour's mistakes (which they won't) and believe that getting elected is the start of the game, not the end, then they'll be doomed too.

Good, I like a bit of doom.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The One That Is Disgusted. . .

I was going to write about Kent police admitting that their actions at the Kingsnorth climate demo were illegal. I've not much time for the ecomentalists, but they were treated in a shocking fashion that sets worrying trends for demonstrations of any ilk in the future. Will anyone be held to account? Doubt it.

I could have mentioned the suspension of the issue of student visas in northern India, Nepal and Bangladesh, but to be honest, that's like barring the windows on your house when your front door is painted blue with gold stars and hanging off its hinges.

What I am writing about connects to a posting I made the other day about Togo's withdrawal from the African Cup of Nations; the final of which is to be played tomorrow evening.

As previously stated, football is a game I love, and I have been dipping in and out of the tournament. It has been an odd affair, some superb football, quite the worst pitches I can remember seeing in a major tournament in years, some terrible refereeing and some equally poor lapses in discipline from the players coupled with crowds that some English 4th division clubs (I still work in old money) would be disappointed with.

African football is a riddle, and it is easy to be patronising about it. For many the zenith will be the memories of Cameroon's incredibly entertaining squad making the quarter-finals at Italia '90 before a couple of poor defending decisions allowed England to eliminate them. They were certainly a very popular side; the tournament began in Milan with them causing a huge upset by defeating the defending champions Argentina, although their tackling was brutal, including what amounted to an assault by Benjamin Massing on Claudio Caniggia. He got a standing ovation for it, and his second yellow of the match.

The European press were cooing about them, talking about their positive, attacking and care-free football. What they really meant was tactical naivety and them being an entertaining sideshow, as long as they didn't really hurt the established nations. It was almost as if they were the warm up act for the real footballers. African football was fun, but it was disorganised and should know its place.

Twenty years on, and things have changed a great deal. Those Cameroon players of 1990 were journeymen, in the main earning their living on the fringes of France's first and second divisions. No African had really, really made the grade, Eusebio being the exception who had left Mozambique as a youngster for Lisbon and represented Portugal. Now African players are amongst the leading stars of the leading clubs. It is hard to imagine Barcelona's recent success without Samuel Eto'o (now at Inter Milan), or Chelsea without Didier Drogba, Jon Obi Mikel, Michael Essien. These are accomplished professionals at the top of their game and the envy of other clubs and other professionals around the world.

And yet, something seems to happen when the Cup of Nations rolls around every two years, there's always one or two events which gives the tournament an element of farce. A little switch goes off which seems to make those involved think, 'Ahhh yes, Zaire vs Brazil 1974, that's what we need more of.'

It's a shame, because African football deserves better than that. But is it any wonder that this clowning, this reverting to stereotype happens when the African games is run by the biggest clowns of all?

At the time of the attack on the Togolese bus my immediate reaction is that they were right to pull out of the tournament, that the tournament should have been pulled and that it was madness to host it in Angola in the first place. To be honest, the fact that the tournament happens every two years devalues the tournament (as it does with the Copa America, where many of the European based players stay at home) as does the fact that it is held in the middle of the season, taking the players away from the clubs that pay them an awful lot of money to do their job.

However, the game's governing body, CAF have acted in a very shoddy manner by announcing that Togo will be banned from the next two tournaments as a result of withdrawing from the ACN because their bus was attacked by some nutter with a machine gun, resulting in fatalities.

It leaves me almost speechless, it is amazing that having been put in very serious danger and paying for it with their own blood, that they are then punished. Togo's government (more of which in a moment) are understandably pretty bloody un-chuffed and are talking about legal action. The European clubs will be delighted, it means they'll not lose so many players at the busiest time of the year, watch the value of Togolese players sky-rocket if this ban sticks.

And here's the rub, from the early days of players in England travelling in third class whilst the directors sat in the first class carriages on the trains to games, to now when the administrators feel that their decisions, their tournaments and their incomes are more important than the players and supporters and their safety; football, not just in Africa, is in danger of eating itself.

FIFA will probably not be happy with CAF's actions. What they will be less happy with will be Togo's government getting involved, FIFA hate this. Any intereference from the government in the national federation of any country means instant suspension, getting FIFA to abide by any court decision is very difficult, even the international court of arbitration for sport. They view their grip on the game as absolute, they will tolerate no dissent, but football is too important for that. Battles between the EU and FIFA/UEFA have been avoided thus far, but it is inevitable.

The next big one will be the issue of TV rights, and clubs, rather than leagues, owning the rights to sell coverage. It is a foregone conclusion. The clubs will win, it is them after all that people want to watch, not a committee of old men in blazers. The relationships between companies like Adidas and Nike (the latter pretty much own the Brazilian national team, whilst the former are so closely integrated into FIFA as to be almost symbiotic, Sepp Blatter is an Adidas man through and through), the confederations and clubs is an interesting one, but when push comes to shove, clubs pay the players and people watch the clubs.

When the TV debate is won by the clubs, then football as we know it will be dead within ten years. The administrators can't see it. The club shareholders don't care. The fans won't realise until too late. Competition and player development will die as the clubs who cannot sell their rights, or generate sufficient income from the sales will die out. With that so will the sport, except in one country - the USA.

The American Major League Soccer has very shrewdly followed the plan set out by the most succesful sporting franchise model in existence - the NFL. American football follows some very anti-American practices to ensure its business is sound, its advertising revenue is strong, its TV packages equitable and most importantly that its league is competitive and fair. The Superbowl is next weekend, at the start of the season, no-one knew who would be going to Miami, it could have been any one of the 32 teams, and the same will hold true next season (except the Cleveland Browns, who are always, always terrible, I don't know how they do it).

When football collapses, the MLS/NFL model and the Americans will take over the football world. It'll be a huge shock, but will probably be for the better.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The One That Wants To Time Travel . . .

What a country has been built over the last thirteen years. When I think back to those first few months of the Labour administration in 1997, I think of the hope that coursed through the veins of the British public, the great and good (and Oasis) queuing up to shake the hand of Blair.

Good God, how did he do it? How did he get them to file into his house like star-struck teenage autograph hunters? Say what you like about Blair, but man, his PR was good in those days.

In 1997 it was going to be different this time. The old remnants of a divided, corrupt and arrogant Conservative party had been swept away, replaced by a shining new Labour party, shorn of the old hateful, envious, nationalising mania of the past; waiting to carry us in to this glorious new Jerusalem to the sounds of masses cheering, screaming guitars and hip dance music.

Truth be told, the Tories really haven’t changed over this last decade, they dress in a more modern fashion, they’ve learned how to present and have dulled that edge which many found so objectionable, but the PR transformation is nowhere near that of Labour in the mid 90’s.

We now look at a Labour government which is just as divided as the Tories ever were under Major, and as far as my memory serves me are more corrupt and light years ahead in the arrogance stakes. That those Tories had to be kicked out in 1997 is without doubt. That a good many people called warnings from the sidelines is well remembered. Did anyone, even New Labour’s most venomous critics, expect what we have now?

The vista of British society and community is as devastated, as unrecognisable as the Haitian capital. If you had shown a picture of today’s Britain to everyone’s thirteen years younger selves in 1997, what would their response have been?

How would they have reacted to see legions losing their lives to infections in hospital? They would have heard of nothing like it since the charnel houses of the Peninsular campaign.

How would they have responded to being told that they would have no choice but to be electronically stripped searched before heading off on their holidays?

How would they have accepted the notion of a government that declared a legally questionable war, especially when the threat to our security was almost nil?

What would they have said upon hearing about real suspicion falling on the government following the death of one of its prime experts in suspicious circumstances, especially when they then decided to bury the records for 70 years, after having him thoroughly smeared and discredited?

How would they have felt upon learning that they would face a good chance of arrest, or at least questioning, for taking pictures of famous landmarks, and being suspected of terrorism by a politicised police force?

What would they have thought about the pandering to the professionally offended, or at least those who quake in their boots at the prospect, to the extent that jobs cannot be advertised with a request for reliable and hard working people?

How would they come to terms with a government that illegally imprisons people in their own houses, freezing their assets and allowing them £10 a week to live, because it is suspected they may be involved in terrorism, whilst the convicted are released early and an increasing underclass can claim the monthly average wage in handouts and are penalised even if they do want to work?

How could they have understood that in a democracy, you would have had to apply for permission from the authorities to hold a demonstration outside parliament?

How would they have stared with incompetence when they learned that they had been lied to over getting a say in the signing away of our sovereignty?

How could they deal with the fact that the lowest earners had seen their tax burden sky-rocket whilst the country attracted more debt than had ever been conceivable?

The list could go on, when you look over this government’s achievements you see nothing but failure, deceit, vanity, hubris and the almost complete humiliation of those who elected them.

It will be different this time, there will be no cheering crowds, no film and pop stars waiting patiently in line to be seen pressing the flesh, no glorious new Jerusalem; there will be the knowledge that there will be no change, and a flinty look in the eye of the electorate waiting for the Tories to show themselves to be as feckless, reckless and thoughtless as Labour, and for an opportunity to remove them from power as soon as possible.

Let’s see how the ‘others’ column does over the next five years. Democracy is not dead in Britain, it is just being born.

Update:

A very interesting item over at Captain Ranty's place, not a million miles removed from my ramblings.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The One That Thinks They Are Pathetic. . .

I’m finding this hard to understand. This whole Northern Ireland thing, at the risk of making understatement of the 21st Century, is a bit daft, isn’t it?

The crux of the matter seems to be that a large minority despise their counterparts because they say their prayers differently, one side also don’t like the other very much because they like to wear silly clothes and walk about in an odd fashion because they won a battle over three hundred years ago. I wonder if the Germans would get so huffy if we did the same to them?

‘Zo? You von? Und? Vere are your factories? Vot you did to Coventry vas vorse zan vot ve did to it, at least ve rebuilt Dresden not qvite zo bad, and zat vas ven dey vas Ossies, Commies! Und ve can still go to the pub you know and haf ein smoke.’

And yet still people get upset about the parades. Then the parading lot get the hump because people chuck stones at them whilst they do their 300 year old ‘Loooossseeerrrr!’ routine.

How odd.

It also seems to be that one lot really, really, really want to belong to the Republic of Ireland and one lot want to belong to the UK. You’re all fooling yourselves. It doesn’t bloody matter, it’s akin to Siamese twins arguing over whether they’re going to have their steak with pepper or béarnaise sauce whilst walking into a vegan restaurant.

Oh? You didn’t notice? Whilst you were poking fun at the others because they wear bowler hats, aprons and sashes over their Glasgow Rangers football shirts, or deriding the others because their priest walks around with his handbag on fire and the congregation all wear Glasgow Celtic football jerseys (what is this pre-occupation with Scottish football in Ulster? They’ve a perfectly good league of their own), the government of the UK signed away its independence without so much as a by-your-leave, whilst the electorate in the Republic did it themselves for five minute’s peace. It doesn’t matter, you’re just a constituent part of the EU now, you may as well be a region of Portugal for all the bloody difference it makes.

But still we have the DUP complaining that the Unionist community must have confidence before police and justice is transferred from Westminster, and Sinn Féin moaning about the Parades Commission. So what happens? Like an irrelevant student council at a school, come a disagreement they go running to teacher.

You do realise that the rest of the UK looks at Ulster and laughs, don’t you? You’re nuts, totally hat stand, barking at the moon, batshit mental. The Republic must look over its northern border and think ‘we’re well out of that.’ I’d want nothing to do with them if I were in their shoes.

Yet, bizarrely, we invite the Taoiseach along. Lord knows why, I suppose it keeps the Nationalists happy, but it’s akin to a section of Buffalo and the north of New York state deciding they want to join Canada and Obama inviting Stephen Harper along to try and keep a lid on the mess (I’ve been to Buffalo, the Canadians wouldn’t want it, they’ve far too much sense).

So we have the wonderful image of Brown and Cowen sat together in the back of a car on the way to or from Hillsborough together, looking like the European area final of the World’s Ugliest Man Competition. Jesus, I wouldn’t trust those two to run a sweet shop, put them together and any agreement is likely to be in spite of them, not because of them.

The situation in Northern Ireland isn’t their fault. Well, it is, because they continually come running when Stormont call up and say they’ve had another row, so they reinforce the behaviour, like a parent with an attention demanding child. The politicians in Stormont are also to blame, because they’re so obsessed with taking offence because someone was speaking Irish in the chamber (speaking Irish? In Ireland? Whatever next?), or arguing about some Dutch bloke in a flamboyant hat on a horse, three hundred bastarding years ago, that they don’t leave enough time for important things like running the country.

My opinion? Brown and Cowen should get together and say ‘We’re sick of the bloody sight of you, you’re own your own.’ Then they can argue about parades, language and religion until they’re blue in the face. They can then see the schools breaking down, burglars and muggers not being caught and rubbish piling high in the streets. If you give them the luxury of being able to spend time over their pathetic little squabbles, they’ll use it. Stop running the bloody country for them. They want a parliament? Fine, then get on with it, don’t be going to Dublin and London every five minutes with your complaints of what the nasty man said.

However, there is one group more to blame than the politicians in Westminster, Dublin and Stormont. Not the nutters and paramilitaries on each side. No. It is the electorate. Just as the Palestinians and Israelis repeatedly vote in people who want nothing more to have a big scrap with the other side, the people of Ulster consistently do the same. Again, that’s fine, it’s your vote, cast it where you wish. However you must deal with the consequences. If you vote for someone who wants a scrap, and you get a scrap, then don’t be surprised. You voted for it. Neither should you be surprised when everyone else turns round and points this out whilst sitting back and watching it unfold.

If you really do want change, peace and some degree of normality in Northern Ireland, then stop voting for these arseclowns who will do their level best to ensure that this arseclownery continues. You’re being played like a cheap violin, because if one morning you wake up and realise that this ridiculous in-fighting (and it is in-fighting, you really aren’t that different) is a waste of time, money and life, then those politicians will be totally irrelevant, useless, obsolete.

Don’t look to them to make that change, they’ve no interest in it happening. You have to look to yourselves, no-one else will do it for you.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The One That Is Distracted. . .

I've been temporarily overtaken by events, so will be focusing attention elsewhere for the next couple of days. Normal service will be resumed soon.

One tiny point, I'm delighted to see we have the prospect of a Libertarian candidate in my fair city of Canterbury. Bloody brilliant. Welcome aboard, Alex Ellis Roswell.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The One That Is Saying 'Burqa, burqa, burqa' . . .

Yes, I’m still banging on about this burqa thing.

I don’t want to start a flame war over at Trixie’s place, but as you’ll see from the comments I’ve attempted to explain why I think the UKIP policy is wrong.

Her response to my comment is succinct to say the least: ‘You know what? When one of your mates is blown to shit by a group of fanatical muslims you just hate them.’

I really don’t see the connection between suicide bombers and the burqa. It’s like trying to connect fanatical Christians killing abortion doctors and a nun’s habit. The logic is flawed, the London bombers claimed to be devout Muslims, some women who claim to be devout Muslims wear the burqa, therefore the burqa is representative of suicide bombers.

If what Trixy is really trying to say is that ‘the burqa should be banned because I hate fundamentalist Islam’ then that is what she should say. I don’t much care for fundamentalist Islam either. Granted none of my friends have been blown up by them, but that doesn’t alter my dislike. I’d say the same for fundamentalist Christians, Jews and anyone else who seeks to destroy and kill in the name of their beliefs. It seems obvious that Trixy lost someone she cares about in an attack, and for that she has my sympathy, but it doesn’t alter the fact that banning an item of clothing is just plain wrong and unproductive.

What would the ramifications be of banning the burqa? Would it send all the Muslims ‘home?’ No. Would it serve to send the nutters over the edge into real fruit loop territory and the pissed off into the nutter camp? Probably. What is certain is that you’d see fewer Muslim women on the streets. These women would not just sigh and discard their burqa in favour of a permitted item of clothing? No. They’d be even more isolated and alienated because they’d never leave the house. This isn’t going to help assimilation, it’s going to set it back. It would imprison some Muslim women, not liberate them.

An easy response is to say, ‘well, they chose to wear it, they can just as easily choose not to if they want to leave the house.’ But why the hell should they? What business is it of anyone’s what someone else chooses to wear?

As I said in the comments over at Trixy’s; I was considering voting for UKIP at the next election, but things like this which demonstrate a mania for control in line with Labour, Tories and the LimpDims gives me real cause for concern. If they want to regulate what people are allowed to wear then what else is going to be regulated before and after it?

Trixy herself says that women wearing the burqa ‘make themselves unapproachable and many people find them intimidating.’ Well, suppose they don’t want to be approached? I would maintain that being left alone if you want to be is fine and dandy. As for people finding them intimidating, so what? Why do they find them intimidating? Is it down a specific incident they have encountered personally, or is it down to the fear of ignorance? Would they feel intimidated by a bishop in full garb? A skinhead in braces, tight jeans and cherry reds? A cyclist wearing a face-mask? A man wearing a football shirt? A woman in full punk regalia? An officer in police uniform? Should all these be banned because many people could find them intimidating? Is the problem with the image you are projecting or with your perception of the person you are looking at?


Trixy continues; ‘I don't agree with the excessive amount of CCTV cameras. . .’, I am imagining because she feels it is wrong to watch and track people when they are going about their lawful business. ‘. . . but I also don't agree with fundamentalist muslims dressing up in Burkhas and veils knowing that they can't be recognised’ Does this mean that Old Holborn should be banned from wearing his V mask on Novermber 5th? Or is it OK as he’s not a suicide bomber or a Muslim? (I’ve met OH on a few occasions, I don’t know if he is Muslim or not, I’m guessing not, but I’ve never asked, it’s none of my business and I couldn’t care less anyway)

Again, if Trixy is saying ‘the burqa should be banned because I hate fundamentalist Islam’, then where do we draw the line? Do we also ban men wearing traditional Muslim garb? Will that make terrorism more difficult? Or did the 7/7 bombers dress in a Western fashion to avoid drawing attention to themselves? How about banning Mosques? Banning the practice of Islam in the home? The deportation of Muslims from the UK? How about the Jews, should we do that too? Are people intimidated by Hassidic Jews and their dress? What about Blacks? Many people get very nervy when they see a black person, just look at the gun crime stats, should we be afraid of them? Catholics as well, the Irish have been blowing things up for years.

Or is this just lashing out at something because it has harmed you? Is it acceptable then to punish one whole section of society for an injury caused by a very small part of that section? I would suggest that in any other discussion, Trixy would say that it is not acceptable.

I’m not accusing Trixy of being a racist, that’s a ridiculous argument, and it’s a lazy one as well, it’s just one step from Godwin’s Law. I’m just trying to illustrate a point that once this particular box is opened, you can justify the control and restraint of any group in society with great ease.

Banning things which cause no injury or harm to anyone or their property is a bad thing, it restricts liberty, it does not extend it. Banning things because they are a symbol of something you don’t like or that is different from you is very bad and will more often than not end in tears.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The One That Is Saying 'Oh Great, What Do I Do Now?'. . .

So UKIP are considering calling for the banning of the burqa.

Classy.

I don't particularly care for the burqa, I think it alienates the wearer from the rest of the world, but hey, if people want to wear one, then that's their choice. This is the whole point of Libertarianism, isn't it? Do as you will, save harming others? Well people wearing burqas do me no harm at all, so go for it.

This intended ban is lazy, achieves nothing and just demonstrates that UKIP are just like the Tories, LimpDims, Labour, Greens and the BNP. It's not about reflecting peoples' views, it's about changing peoples' views and behaviour to suit their ideals. It is still 'Vote for us and do as you're told.'

Well, fuck that for a game of soldiers, not with my consent, you won't.

I'm not anticipating an LPUK candidate in my constituency for the next GE, indeed my feelings are that until we build some sort of foundation at the town/city/borough and county council level, we're in danger of building castles on sand. We have to play a very long game indeed. Even so, UKIP were amongst the front runners for my vote, just because the EU question is one that I believe is central to our future as a country. Well, not after that little stunt, fuck you, UKIP. I'll vote for the indie or spoil my paper. Again.

I would hope that if we do get into a position where our press releases and policies are given mainstream media coverage, that we as a party would refrain from this sort of rubbish, that we would stick to our principles rather than rubbing our hands with glee at the prospect of pushing the buttons.

Bang goes the argument that UKIP aren't some swivel eyed racist party. From where I'm sitting we have the collectivist racists of the BNP and the capitalist racists of UKIP. I'll back capitalist over collectivist any day of the week, but factor in racism, and you can fuck right off.

What a bunch of knob-jockeys.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

The One That Is Off To The Re-Education Camp . . .

Bloody hell, but Labour are a mess. A news story has come out this morning which has got my mind pinging off in a hundred different directions.

Not only have Labour abolished boom and bust (well, the boom bit, certainly), not only have Labour swept away the spectre of child poverty (and how does that work if the child is living with poverty stricken adults? Do the adults not matter?), they have now announced that they've done away with racism.

Being black or Asian in the UK no longer means you will be automatically disadvantaged, Communities Secretary John Denham will say in a speech later.

Mr Denham says the problems of white working class areas must be tackled.

Or to put it in other words;

We've started an election campaign months in advance of the actual date, in the hope that you're all thoroughly sick of it, and come the big day and stay at home, because the more of you that turn out, the bigger the pile of shit we'll find ourselves in come the count. And don't vote BNP, there's no point, we've done away with racism.

A number of things occur to me about this.

Firstly; I will be expecting huge broadsides at the Tories, but occasional bow chasers fired off to send out a subliminal message about the BNP. Defeat to the Tories is all but assured, despite Cameron's best efforts to turn people away from them himself, but what really scares Labour is the BNP. They are petrified of them.

Secondly; If Labour have abolished racism and we have (I'm assuming) also done away with sexism and homophobia, what is Harriet Harman for? Or is this an early shot in the battle for people to take over in a clusterfuck of a leadership election, assuming Brown actually stands down after the election? Are we seeing camps trying to undermine rivals' power bases?

Thirdly; It is typical of Labour hubris to declare that it is they who have sorted this out. They don't realise that society evolves at its own pace, all the legislation in the world makes no difference. As far as they are concerned, it is all down to them and the all powerful state. They have declared it does not exist. Therefore, if you do not believe that, or think you see evidence that it still does, you are in the wrong. This is how re-education camps get set up.

You'll always get individuals who for whatever reason will hate all, some or one of the groups that is different to them, but as a whole British society hasn't had a real racism problem you may find elsewhere for a long, long time. Indeed I would submit that Britain is one of, if not the best, place in the world for race relations. It isn't perfect, but it never will be, nor will anywhere else, however it is testament to the basic decency of the British that racism is not a huge problem in this country. It is not testament to politicians, they can no more legislate to prevent racism than they can to legislate to prevent snowfall. They can legislate to prosecute racism, but that will not stop racists being racist, indeed they will merely see it as an attack on their freedom of expression and what they perceive to be their perfectly legitimate values and will fight against it.

Finally; This isn't all that Labour have done away with. They've also done away with habeas corpus, trial by jury, freedom of association and a whole raft of other things that I would submit are fairly important.

Just in case that anyone thinks I'm being unduly biased against Labour, I will state that I have absolutely no confidence that an incoming Conservative government will change any of this. This is a toybox that they cannot wait to start to playing with.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The One That Wonders How They Can Be So Wrong, So Often . . .

It is a source of constant amazement to me how this government just gets things wrong, time and time and time again. It defies belief that beyond handing control of interest rates to the Bank of England (a subject I know very little about, I am no economist), almost every single thing this government has done has been wrong.

Blair was always banging on about how his biggest acheivements were the minimum wage and the Human Rights Act, an item of legislation that is impossible to view without seeing it sat as a part of the European Convention on Human Rights. Yet the remarkable thing is, the entire history of this government is punctuated by them fighting, appealing and losing against challenges brought under this act.

As has been reported widly in the media and blogosphere today, the EuroCourt has ruled that powers of stop and search are illegal under human rights legislation. Apparently, the powers were 'not sufficiently circumscribed' and 'adequate legal safeguards against abuse' were not in place.

This speaks volumes to me. My initial reaction is that to stop someone who is walking down the street just because you want to know what they are up to is just wrong. To do it under the pretence of preventing terrorism is even more wrong. It is objectionable, it is using the flimsiest of excuses, preying on public fears in a most cynical fashion and is against all the traditions of British liberties.

The ruling from Europe seems to be not on those grounds, but on the grounds that the legislation these powers are exercised under is not sufficiently robust. It's almost an invitation to find a better excuse to do it.

Not that it is going to make a big difference anyway. Just as the government were told they couldn't record people's most personal data on a whim, they've decided they'll keep on doing it, they're hardly likely to stop this nice little tool to keep people in their place are they? Just as they blow the paedophile and rapist dog whistle with DNA, they'll continue to blow the terrorism whistle about stop and search. As Old Holborn has pointed out today, the Met stopped 200,000 people under these anti-terror powers in 2008, and yet not one of these people have been charged.

Terrorism is a useful stick to beat people with, it's difficult to object or argue with powers used against people declared as being or supporting terrorists. I certainly find people like that objectionable.

The other day I blogged about Islam4UK and what was going to happen about the proposed march in Wootton-Bassett. The answer now is not a lot, beyond me briefly attracting a semi-literate troll. Having had their five minutes in the limelight, Islam4UK announced that they were scrapping the plans.

It troubled me how many people were screaming for this march to be banned. I did not and would never support the message these people were trying to put across, but we nominally live in a country where we have the right to expres our opinion. And that's the thing about free speech, it means you occasionally have to hear things you don't much care for, it also means that people have the right to demonstrate against free speech. Well, be careful what you wish for, you may just get it.

Al Jolson, or whatever the Home Sec is called has announced that Islam4UK will become a proscribed organisation. I'm not aware of any terrorist attacks carried out by them, I'm not aware of any plots by Islam4UK being uncovered, nor any court cases relating to any activities in preparation of terror attacks. I am aware of them being insulting, objectionable and general fuckwits. But is that grounds to ban them and to chuck any members inside for 10 years?

Many people will greet news of this order with a single word; 'good'. But I'm not so sure. The Home Office say that they are a branch of al-Ghurabaa, who I understand were Omar Bakri Mohammed's lot. I can't say that they are or they aren't, it is just that I cannot accept any information from government at face value. They've lied to us so much, cried wolf so many times, that anything they say is received by me with immense scepticism.

What is for sure is that Omar Bakri Mohammed and Anjem Choudary are two people that I would be happy to see suffer massive and fatal heart attacks tomorrow, but there's this nagging feeling that every time this power is used, every time it is nodded through in the House, makes the next group's demonisation easier. Quite rightly, few people will shed a tear at the removal of Islam4UK from the scene (at least until they re-brand), but it brings us one step closer to a perfectly legitimate group you or I may belong to being banned under the accusation of terror, just because it is politically expedient to do so. These people have a list, and they will get as far down it as they can, will remove as many people that aren't them as possible before someone with real clout says, 'hang on a minute'. By that point it may be too late.

Two final points. Firstly, I wonder if the English Defence League are on that list? I'm betting they are. They don't play nicely and won't do as they are told, just like Islam4UK. Secondly, this is the real sign of this government's dog days, when they begin to turn on their pets.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

The One That Wishes They'd Make Sensible Decisions . . .

I try to avoid writing about sport, especially football. I love the game, but realise there are many more important things going on. Sport in general and football specifically are little islands of calm for me, something I can plug into and just watch without continually deconstructing and wondering about hidden agenda.

I will say that as I've got older, my love for football has diminished. That doesn't mean I don't still love football, but we've now got past that intense first stage of the relationship where you now realise your beloved's imperfections and bad habits. I'm still helplessly in love though.

However, to stretch the metaphor to breaking point, football and I would have had a massive barney this weekend, one of us would have been sleeping on the sofa.

I'm talking of course about the events surrounding the national team of Togo in the lead up to the African Cup of Nations. I was speechless at the time when the Confederation of African Football announced that Angola were to host the tournament. Even by African standards, Angola is a disaster, mentioned in the same breath as Somalia and Eritrea.

What on Earth were the CAF thinking when they awarded the tournament to this very definition of a failed state? Not only was the situation of a team bus being attacked forseeable, it was probably a given. For the tournament to be awarded with the promise of matches taking part in Cabinda is even more ridiculous. Cabinda, an 'exclave' seperated from the rest of the country by a corridor of D.R. Congo (formerly Zaire) jutting out into the Atlantic is very rich in oil and almost completely lawless.

It's not often you'll hear me agreeing with politicians on here, but the Prime Minister of Togo, Gilbert Fossoun is spot on when he demands the team return home from Angola as a result of this attack. Without doubt, professional footballers are spolit bunch, individuals often act in a fashion which portrays the profession in a very poor light, but no-one going to play football in a major tournament should be put in the situation where they are being peppered with bullets.

Part of the problem as I see it is that whilst Africa's golden children have grown up and gone to study at the great European footballing universities, the game's administrators on the continent are naive and foolish at best and grasping and corrupt at worst. One wonders how much cash changed hands in the process to select Angola as the host nation. The African players have grown up but the African game hasn't. A more unsuitable choice than Angola to host a major tournament it is hard to imagine, beyond Somalia and Eritrea. And it isn't as if the CAF don't have form in this area, the play-off between deadly rivals Egypt and Algeria for the last remaining African slot at the World Cup this summer, a match that was always only ever going to be explosive, was held in Sudan.

Yes, that Sudan, big place, lots of people very keen on killing people because of their religion, ethnicity or politics, Darfur and all that. With two of Islam's biggest footballing powers set to face off, they sent them to a country riven with religious violence. Nice one. It could have ended very, very badly indeed, it didn't, but one has to wonder what the supporters of these teams had going through their heads as they boarded planes and busses to the country. What are the supporters of all the other teams thinking as they sit in or en-route to Angola now? If they attack a team bus, offing a few foreign supporters won't even make the 'in brief' sections of the media.

The only conclusion I can draw is that nobody could be that stupid, so it can only be avarice and corruption. It gives me no pleasure to say it, but alongside road-race cycling and boxing, no sport is more corrupt than global football, we have bizarre decisions like this, investigations into huge match fixing ring in Eastern Europe, no doubt fuelled by shady bookies in the far-east and a litany of other examples.

Football is in danger of eating itself through its greedy business partners and amateurish administrators and it damn near breaks my heart.

Another sport which I am very fond of is the American version of football, it is superbly run with robust rules that are enforced with complete impartiality, albeit rarely, because people understand they are in a very privileged situation and don't want to do anything to attract the attention of the game's administrators who really do act 'for the good of the game' (that is FIFA's slogan). I take solace from the fact that Major League Soccer, the USA's initially much derided FIFA recognised national championship is run along the same robust yet egalitarian lines as grid-iron and is enjoying something of a golden period at present. Should global football collapse, as it may, make no mistake, Corporate America is ready and waiting with a tried and tested business and sporting model, and it would be no bad thing.

To read a damning document on the corruption and venality of football, I heartily recommend 'Foul!' by Andrew Jennings. It's quite an eye opener.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

The One That Can Scarcely Believe It. . .

Warning to children: This post contains bad language. You might have been told swearing is not big or clever. Swearing if done with style and creativity is very big, and very clever. It will upset adults, so make sure you do it, with style and creativity, as much as possible. Go to BBC I-Player and look for Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick Of It' - that's swearing with style and creativity. It really will upset the adults, but hey, fuck 'em.

Well, I'm writing this having got back in from an aborted attempt to get to work this morning. I only have to drive 20 miles, but the minor roads I have to use were completely untreated and bloody dangerous. Sod it, my work isn't important enough to risk having an accident.

The point being, not a rant against the failure of the powers that be to treat the roads, again, but that it is cold. Very cold.

When I was a boy, I'd always be getting grief from my grandmother for not 'wrapping up warm', I would apparently catch my death of cold. No right thinking person would send a child out in these conditions without a coat. Certainly no-one with responsibility for the care of a child. Or so you'd think.

Children at a secondary school in Kent had their coats confiscated in freezing conditions because they were not wearing regulation uniform.

Oh, please tell me you're having a laugh.

Students at Aylesford School Sports College who were not wearing the school coat were told to hand their own in and to collect them at the end of the day.

Right, yes, of course. And what drove them to take these coats (which of course the school don't own)?

Head teacher Doug Lawson said: "We sent a reminder letter out which outlined our expectations with our uniform."

Sounds to me like Doug Lawson is a prize cunt.

"The uniform was decided upon after lengthy consultations with students and parents, the parents' views being of particular importance. "

Doesn't he sound like a politician? Lenghty consultations? Parents' views?

And at what point did a parent give the view that if a child wasn't wearing a presrcibed coat then it should be relieved of what it was wearing instead?

You can't take pictures of your school play - it's for the safety of the children.

You can't have prizes at sports day - it's for the good of the childrens' self-esteem.

You can't discipline unruly children - it's because of their human rights.

You can't wear that coat - it's against MY totally arbitrary rules. Obey me.

Well, you know what, Doug Lawson of Aylesford School Sports College? Fuck you in the ear with a snowball wrapped around a bit of flint. Any person who deprives a child of a coat in sub-zero temperatures is not fit to look after children. I'd be making allegations of abuse.

Your expectations with your uniform? Do you put your wife in detention if she doesn't meet your expectations relating to oral sex?

Twat.

I live in Kent and given the weather round my way, I would imagine the school is closed today. Perhaps some kids from Aylesford School Sports College have been quite entertained with their school and Doug Lawson being in the news. Perhaps they've Googled to see what they can find. Perhaps they've found this.

If they have:

Kids; when your school re-opens, tell Mr. Doug Lawson he is an authoritarian fuckwit, more concerned with your unquestioning obedience to his senseless rules than your not being fecking freezing.

Get used to senseless rules, it'll be no better when you leave school. Get used to doing what you're told, get used to being pushed around. Get used to being penalised for trying to do your best whilst those who can't be arsed or cause trouble get the rewards.

Get on-line to i-tunes or some other online musical outlet and download Rage Against The Machine's eponymous album (ask your English teacher if you don't what eponymous means, or even better, find out for yourself), the Christmas number one is on that album. Use the anger on that album, it was written for people your age. It came out when I was your age.

Use your brain when you rebel, but make sure you rebel. Question everything. Ask yourself, why am I being told this? Realise that an education can be political as well as academic.

1+1=2 - that is an academic education.

You should feel guilty because British people who died over 200 years ago were involved in the slave trade - that is a political education.

Slavery is bad. It means you have to do as you are told and follow stupid rules, or you are punished, probably worse than having your coat taken off you on a cold day. But it isn't your fault that all this went on and was banned about 190 years before you were born, is it?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The One That Wants The PM To Stop The Snow. . .

Heavy snowfall is going to be very bad, and the Prime Minister needs to do something to stop it, now.

Except we all know there's nothing he can do to stop the white stuff falling from the sky. It's coming and there's bugger all we can do about it.

Why would I state the obvious like this? Simple, because Frank Field and the 'Balanced Migration Group' seem to think that the major parties can stop or cap immigration at 70 million.

Former minister Frank Field is among those arguing current immigration rates, unless restricted, will impact on public services and quality of life.

The Balanced Migration Group said the BNP continued to exploit the issue.

Labour says its points-based migration system is working but the Tories want an annual cap on incoming workers.

Well, you can introduce as many points based systems as you like, but still you ignore the elephant in the room.

I don't need to point out what it is to you, except to say that we can restrict Sri Lankan doctors, Australian working holiday makers and Indian software engineers as much as we like. But all the time the population of twenty odd countries can decide on a whim to come and move over here, tinkering about on the edge is like seeing if removing the teaspoons will stop you repeatedly and violently slamming your fingers in the cutlery drawer.

It is madness to come up with solutions that won't sort the issue, and then to make a big fuss about dreaming up these solutions, when everyone can see what the answer is. The problem being that those we pay to come up with the solutions will not consider the simplest and only effective one. They won't even discuss it. They won't even acknowledge its existence.

I'm off to my garden to institute a points based system for the snowflakes that want to land there.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The One That Wants You To Stop Watching "Celebrity" Big Brother. . .

. . . for just thirty seconds and read this.

My friends,

We are broke. Our country—whatever it may once have been—is now laden with debt. And this isn't "the government's debt": it is our debt.


The government has no money but what it takes—what it extorts—from us.

We have gone beyond consensus politics: if a man were to come to your door, with a gun, and demand half of everything that you earned—on pain of severe punishment, on pain of the total ruination of your life—would you not protest?

For a moment, lay aside those dutiful thoughts of those starving millions beyond your gate, and think, instead, of those within your own household—within your own family: would you not rather protect them first?

Of course you would: they are your kith and kin and you would expect—would you not?—that everyone, like you, would defend theirs against you were you the one holding the gun.

The government has now utterly removed from you the means of protecting yourself and your family against the man with the gun: indeed, you dare not defend yourself because you fear that it is you, not the mugger, who would end up in the dock.

For the government is the man with the gun, demanding tithes from you: the government is here, at your door. But not randomly.

No.

The government has gone out and bought itself nice things—plasma TVs, second homes, duckhouses, moats. And jobs, and votes. All of those things that you could not afford—because it has been here before: at your door, with a gun.

Five years ago, it was here—threatening you with prison if you did not pay up—for the sake of all of those children who were not yours. You paid, because you had no option.

Four years ago, it was here—threatening you with prison if you did not pay up—for the sake of all of those unhealthy who were not yours. You paid, because you had no option.

Three years ago, it was here—threatening you with prison if you did not pay up—for the sake of all of those uneducated who were not yours. You paid, because you had no option.

Two years ago, it was here—threatening you with prison if you did not pay up—for the sake of all of those feckless bankers who were not yours. You paid, because you had no option.

One year ago, it was here—threatening you with prison if you did not pay up—for the sake of all of those MPs who had no duck-houses or second homes or moats. You paid, because you had no option.

And now the government has spent everything that you had to give, and more, on its pet projects—on buying its second homes, on buying its duckhouses, on buying its votes—and none of it benefited you and yours. Not even by one iota.

The government didn't care that you couldn't afford to give any more: it didn't care that you had no money.

The government didn't care that you had lost your job: the government didn't care that all of those thousands of pounds it took in National Insurance payments translated into a few hundred when you were in need.

And now, when you are getting back on your feet—back in a job that is not as good as the one the government destroyed, back struggling to look after your family on the pittance you are paid, back paying off your debts—the government, too, is back: it's back with the gun.

The government is back—demanding half of what you broke your back to earn—because it has more grand schemes, more votes to buy, more trinkets to deliver to its favoured ones.

Will you so willingly hand over the sweat of your brow? Will you so willingly condemn you and yours to penury? Will you capitulate again?

Or will you fight?

Join us—and help us to stop the extortion.

Join us—and understand that providing for you and yours is not a sin.

Join us—and realise that a society that pulls together is a society that stays together.

Join us—and help us fight for a future in which people help each other voluntarily, because it is right and fitting to do so.

Join us—and help to build a future in which men, women and children take back their work, their birthrights, their dignity and their compassion from a government that cares nothing for you.

Join us.

Because—whether the government is Tory, Labour or LibDem—soon you will have nothing left to lose.


Right go back to watching Wotsername from that TV show, and Him from that boy band eating some toast.

Monday, 4 January 2010

The One That Supports Freedom Of Speech. . .

It sounds like a pretty obvious statement to make, but sometimes it is not an easy belief to hold.

It is being widely reported that Islam4UK are planning to hold a symbolic march through Wootton Bassett, with a load of empty coffins representing the Muslim dead in Afghanistan.

Regardless of your opinions on our continued presence in Afghanistan, given the relationship with Wootton Bassett and the families of soldiers who have been killed in action, it is hard to view this choice of venue for a march as insensitive at best.

The outcome is entirely predictable, the EDL will turn up, one of their lunatic fringe, or one of the Islam4UK nutters, will throw the first stone or bottle and then. . . well, I don't need to draw a picture.

Anjem Choudary, a detestable little shit if ever there was one, is hoping that the predictable happens. He'll be able to scream racism and discrimination, many of the left will agree as they view extremist 'right wing' groups as being more objectionable than extreme Islamist groups.

Facebook is alive with people sending out exhortations for this parade to be banned. I bet the political class are delighted that Facebook is being used in this fashion, it keeps political discourse safely out of the way, it makes people think their opinions are being listened to. Much like the blogosphere, I suppose, the difference being I know the political class don't give a damn about my opinion, still, at least people are talking politics.

The BBC are reporting that Alan Johnson would ban this parade if it were up to him.

Errrm.

Well, you do hold nominal charge of the police, Alan. If it isn't up to you, who has the job? It's unusual to see any politician, especially a Labour one, so hesitant to ban something. It seems to be their sport of choice.

Anyhow, I do not support the idea of a ban. Is it because Islam4UK are likely to get a hiding? No, I wouldn't lose any sleep if they did, although I'd rather it didn't happen. It is the police's job to ensure this sort of thing doesn't get out of hand. That being said, I wouldn't envy the poor sods stuck in the middle. Equally predictably, the old bill would be likely to feel the collars of the EDL, or any group perceived as being linked to them before Islam4UK.

Why? Well, the argument, and a very strong one it is, would be that EDL or whoever, would be preventing Islam4UK from participating in lawful protest. If it all kicks off, then the police would have to go wading in to whichever groups causes the most incitement, or throws the first missile. Again, being stuck in the middle, with the adrenaline coursing through the veins, that would be a very difficult call to make.

It's a tough call, and one I'm glad I don't have to make. Ban the march and you run the risk of alienating more of the wavering young Muslim youth. Pen in and restrict the EDL, or been seen to police in favour of Islam4UK and you might as well hand out BNP membership cards in a buy one get seventeen free deal. Let it get out of hand and a town which is known for its dignity will never be the same again, and the situation will be replicated time and time again.

I suppose the easy solution is to ban the march on public safety grounds. The problem is, that can look like an excuse for banning it on grounds of political squeamishness. Once you start banning protests because the subject matter is politically unacceptable to the powers that be of the day, it becomes a very, very slippery slope.

I normally like to finish with a conclusion, a statement that said 'If I were in charge. . .'

I can't do that today, and I'm bloody glad I'm not in charge.

Friday, 1 January 2010

The One That Is Gazing Into His Crystal Ball . . .

Predictions seem to be in fashion at the moment. Can’t think why. Anyhow, here’s a list of ten predictions, some serious, some hopeful (I’ll leave you to decide which are which) for the coming year:

1 – Labour to be effectively wiped off the map across the country in the election, by PC in Wales, SNP in Scotland and pretty much anyone in England. Only a few pockets remain in the north of England and inner cities. A very slim Tory majority, and yet bizarrely, given the collapse of Labour, no significant increase for the Lib Dems.

2 – BNP to take one or two seats.

3 – Huge numbers of sitting MPs from all parties lose their seats in light of on-going court cases as peers and former MPs who are attempting to drag as many of their former colleagues down into the shit as they can. This, coupled with the number of MPs who decided not to contest the election leads to one of the youngest and most inexperienced parliaments in history. A bigger class of lobby fodder leads to even more disconnect from the public.

4 – The most cynical, hurtful and dirty campaign ever seen erupts between the vultures for Gordon’s old job of party leader. Even more damage as the mainmast is ripped out of a ship already holed below the waterline.

5 – Cameron’s repeated inaction over Lisbon/EU question causes Parliamentary rift in the party with a number of MPs and large number of members jumping to UKIP.

6 – Dave’s lifespan as PM to be no longer than 12 months following an election. Boris tries to get nomination for first safe Tory seat that comes up for by-election, perhaps even leaning on a sympathetic or vulnerable dinosaur to take the Chiltern Hundreds.

7 – Lack of progress in party leads to split of Liberal faction from Lib Dems, remaining faction attract a number of Social Democrat members from Labour party as ‘Old Labour’ retakes ground in the party in a move that is heralded as ‘SDP II – This time it’s laughable.’

8 – Extended and bitter protest against fuel prices as (deferred) duty increases compound high prices at refinery gates. First view of life in the Climate Change legislation era.

9 – Gordon Brown found dead or admitted to psychiatric hospital following complete breakdown as he struggles to come to terms with his ejection from office and very slim majority over SNP in his seat.

10 – England get to the quarter finals of the World Cup only to go out on penalties, having led for 75 minutes of the match. England get beaten 4-0 in the Ashes series in Australia (oh, hang on, that’s going into 2011. . .)