30 November 2009

Democracy/mob rule

Sorry I've been a little quiet lately - nets been playing up for one, and I've been busy, kind of lost my impetus to write, hopefully I'll get it back soon

One thing that interested me though, was the Swiss vote to ban minarets (or muslim towers)

There's been a fair bit of praise in the blogosphere for 'democracy' - the right to stop islamification and what-not, and of course the issue of sovereignty

Now if a country does want to stop islamification by such measures, and even if that includes extreme measures such as repatriation, then that's their choice, I'm all for sovereignty

But I personally do not see how Switzerland can call itself a liberal democracy (or direct democracy) if it's going to attack one religion over all others, this is against the idea of freedom of religion, simple as that

That is my issue, it's nothing to do with Islam per se, could've been Jewish or Hindu temples for all I care, but I just can't see how you can say you believe in freedom of conscience and tolerance and then pick on one religion because you dislike it

Many people dislike Islam, fair enough - but to ban certain aspects of it? Some have said that non-muslim practices aren't welcome in the Middle East so why should we be accommodating, but that really doesn't matter to me - the fact is we are the liberals with a long history of freedom, we shouldn't be engaging in a tit-for-tat battle with religious dictatorships any more than we should deny Chinese immigrants economic rights for coming from a communist country

I honestly couldn't marry this with Britain - we have allowed all religions to exist here for several centuries and the principle remains, simple fear of a certain religion is hardly a rational reason to deny a certain group the right to practice their religion

What I see this as coming down to is the age old question of when democracy becomes rule of the mob

I ask - would it be right to ban gays simply because a 60% majority disagreed with their practices? Or how about if 60% wanted to ban free speech (e.g. through the BNP, blasphemous literature etc)? Any minority viewpoint could be crushed in this system, that's why we have fundamental, inalienable rights

25 November 2009

He kissed a boy!...Get the shotgun

Some bloke called Adam Lambert, who may or may not have won American Idol, I really don't care, has caused outrage in the US after kissing *a man* on stage

Shock horror!

Pity it's only 1500 complaints - I was sure there would be more prudes in the US, the Mail could whip up those numbers easily - the yanks got half a million for a nipple!!

Of course women would be fine - hardly a show goes by without a lesbian kiss these days (Heroes, Stargate Universe) - seriously, it's not shocking anymore, if it ever was

The queen is dead, long live...this bloke

I really did try to avoid blogging about this, but alas, I can't anymore, I just really hate monarchism

And I really shouldn't be blogging about anything Peter Hitchens' blogs because I find him to be a bigot who just hides behind a veneer of respectability and politeness, I used to think he was a reasonable exponent of the hard-right who could actually articulate a decent argument, but alas, I was naive

To be blunt, it's the sheer arrogance of belief that the monarchy has authority that gets my goat

We can't abuse the supreme leader of the commonwealth or her husband because...she didn't ask for it?

While I can accept that there's little need to personally attack them, because it is the institution that's wrong, Hitchens is way off the mark by avoiding the real issue and sinking to the same personal level by saying we should leave the 'little old lady' alone, because effectively she has 'behaved herself'

No arguments here, in my view if it wasn't for her behaviour we would've got rid of it by now - but defending the position of monarch by saying she's a nice person is hardly a valid argument

He defends the Queen's extravagant lifestyle by saying she eats out of tupperware, while Air Force One costs however many millions

...your point? For one, I couldn't really care less how much a democracy pays for its elected officials to conduct state business, hardly a fair comparison is it?

Secondly, it's grossly misleading - I have no idea if the queen does eat out of plastic boxes, but I do know that she has breakfast cooked for her and actually brought up to her on a special tray (in the archive somewhere) - ironically, I pinched that story out of the very same paper Hitchens writes for, and considering his previous decision of conscience to quit the Express because the owner owned some porn outlets it's surprising he puts up with an employed that happily lampoons his cherished monarchy

The queen extravagant? Never!

She may not play it up like a footballer, but she is funded by millions of state funds every year, as well as having a vast personal fortune, while most state-dependent people get a few thousand a year and aren't supposed to have savings or income (and while we're quibbling - who has the more opulent palace? The White House is minuscule as a residence of a head of state)

So that's that one dealt with

"They pretend she is powerful, when the seat of absolute power in this country is Downing Street."

I don't think she's remotely powerful, in fact that's why there are barely any committed republicans (and I'm not) any more - why fight something so pointless? Setting up a false argument - check

"They seem to think that a republic is automatically more free than a monarchy. Tripe.
North Korea is a republic and East Germany and apartheid South Africa were republics. Yet of the seven longest-lasting law-governed free nations in the world, five are constitutional monarchies."

Very true - but neither is it true that a monarchy is automatically more free than a republic, only fair that you should balance that out with a few African kings, the failed constitutional monarchies of France and Germany etc.. Hardly seems fair to only mention North Korea and East Germany when republics are working pretty well in say...the US, Switzerland, France, unified Germany etc, and not give appropriate counter-arguments

And if anything North Korea is a monarchy more than a republic - it's now had two hereditary leaders who are unelected and worshipped like demi-gods, it may be communist and republican in name but I don't see much distinction between an absolute monarchy and a dictatorship, the only distinction a monarchy seems to have is that we deem it to be one

Where exactly is the sound logical argument in this? It seems to imply that all constitutional monarchies are perfect, and republics are for the most part going to result in communist dictatorships - tell that to the yanks, or the Swiss for that matter

The argument that other republics have failed so we can't do it is pathetic frankly, it's baseless, it doesn't even make sense! West Germany was a thriving democracy (still is), so is South Korea...it's a ridiculous comment, and of course why choose the seven oldest nations? Why not six, eight, or ten? Seems a rather odd number to pick, and I'm not even going to delve into the specifics of that one, if he wants to assert that a republic has a 2/7 chance of success then let him...

Here's my ridiculous correlations -

Of the UN security council, only one is a constitutional monarchy, two are republics, and the other two...well, they're not monarchies

Of the G8, four are republics, three are constitutional monarchies - woohoo!! Any more random number arguments?

And here's the kicker

Republicans are ignorant, stupid, thoughtless and malign - and it is time they were subjected to the mockery they mete out to the blameless couple in Buckingham Palace.

Yes, some nice infantile abuse, which 'Mr' Hitchens so denigrates week-in week-out

Let's not forget he titled this to 'Mr. Clever Dick' referring to Ben Elton, now if I'm not allowed to use 'paranoid' unless I have a psychology degree then he can't use 'clever' unless he's some sort of intelligence monitor, or 'dick' unless he's a practitioner of medicine who could properly identify such an appendage, or indeed if Mr. Elton's name involves a 'Richard' somewhere

I do find that comments such as those really take the edge off the anger he causes - maybe it's deliberately done so that we can just dismiss him as a nut and won't properly scrutinise him (and in truth it's more the ridiculous comments beneath it that pushed me into a monarchy blog)

Here is the follow-up comment (selected parts)

But the main point is that the monarch is like the King on a chessboard, his or her main power exercised by occupying a square that politicians would otherwise occupy, and in a damaging way.

Not a bad argument, the one I am most used to however, and one that has been dealt with in a much fairer way than in Britain

For starters - he's already admitted the monarch has no power, and that she shouldn't intervene even in the few cases where she has - in a realistic sense, she cannot do anything in modern Britain - if she won't do anything about Brown or the EU then she's already a lame duck who just reads out a speech, there is no power to exercise

So if we need this figure solely to prevent say, a certain Blair getting it, why do we need to have a hereditary figure, who as it is pointed out, is forced into it for a life of imprisonment? There are much fairer ways of doing it - randomly select someone who wants to do it, they are after all, only a figurehead who occupies the square

I hear the next argument coming - what about authority? 

Then there is the need for a personal figure to whom the armed forces, the Church, the civil service and the judiciary should be able to owe non-partisan loyalty. Where the head of government and the head of state are combined, his servants (see especially the Nixon episode) are in effect above the law in actions they take on his orders, and have no alternative loyalty to which they can appeal.

Well, I ask - why is there authority already? Why does a person, or a family even, who have no discernible talents, intelligence or right to be there, save from a deal done nearly four hundred years ago with a German, have any authority over us? We do not accept hereditary privilege anywhere in our daily lives, why is it so important here? The Queen does have an air of respect about her, but that's based on her long-service, for me at least - will people really swear an oath to Charles, or William, who we all can see have no different authority to any of us? When Elizabeth was crowned people actually respected that stuff - now, these people are a silly joke to most of us, either that or people really are that stupid (sorry, he started it) - I mean does Hitchens actually think future-king William, over thirty years his junior, has authority over him? It's easy using the queen herself as a defence, it gets a bit trickier when you look ahead, knowing the people behind the crown

My point rather, is that if the armed forces, civil service and judiciary need a non-partisan personal figure to owe loyalty to what makes Charles any different to any other 60-year-old? What he is effectively saying is that people need the royal family for legitimacy, that they are special and no-one else could do it - people wouldn't respect a randomly selected person

but of course would respect a randomly selected womb...

It's probably the most important point here - if it's actually true then there's a case, but personally I'd like to take the risk - there's a hundred different republics full of people to observe, and quite frankly if we do need this strange ritual of legitimacy then people are quite stupid, and most stupid people I know do not care for the royals - would the army collapse if soldiers couldn't respect the constitution unless it was based on hereditary privilege? It says quite a lot about a person if they need to have a hereditary monarch to respect their own law, but if that is the case then I am willing to go back to Bagehot's view that we do in fact need them - but like I say, based on the evidence I'm up for the risk

The Americans handle it quite well - Hitchens does point out Nixon and partisanship, but again there's no reason to have a figure with any power, or even elect them - and you might as well pick on George IV being obstinate if you're going to pick on one very rare case where the commander-in-chief compromised loyalty - what the argument effectively boils down to is ensuring that the head of state is a complete dud

Why not just make a document like the Bill of Rights? It's probably what kept the yanks in line, as it's principles are more revered than any president - like I said, it's about respect for the constitution of your country - seriously, just stick a document that says 'free speech' and what-not outside parliament, get everyone to swear an oath to uphold it, job done, keep Parliamentary sovereignty and the Prime Minister (and I'm not going to go into this here - but considering the PM has more real power than an American president and conducts all foreign business as well, does the oath really make a difference?)

Most Republican arguments are puerile and ignorant recitations of false points - cost, luxury, authority. Those who object to inheritance as a way of choosing an essentially powerless person (who would be hugely powerful if elected) should be asked if they object to inheritance in all cases (such as property from their parents).

Ooh, pulling out the reasoned argument here - puerile? Perhaps he does not see a difference between wealth and political power - it is true that who you are born to certainly affects your position in life...but is that really a defence of the cosseted position of the royals and the lords? It's lying down and taking a massive slap of inequality in the face (that's a wishy-washy liberal term, like you know, gay rights)

Basically, say a boy is born fit and strong (hereditary advantage), so he will be football captain at school versus the same boy being born to be football captain regardless of ability - same result, eh? So what's the difference? It is of course an ethical question, certainly not governed by pure logic (and how can a man of such faith ask for pure utilitarian logic anyway?) but I wonder what most people think of such a situation, personally I'd take out the blatant unfairness for a bit more subtle social unfairness

And again - false arguments, why does an elected position have to be powerful? Check out Germany, I'm sure he's been there, and who said it has to be an elected position?

I might add that any serious constitution is restrained by tradition and hierarchy from wild demagogic and short-term acts, and needs an embodiment of the rule of law and the national religion. Elected politicians cannot provide this.
Bit spurious - especially religion, considering Britain is fairly unique in its 'national religion' - not even the commonwealth (or Wales!) has an established church, and as for tradition - Scandinavian countries have removed religions and reduced monarchs (Sweden) without much problem, France remains a stable country despite regular constitutional upheaval, Australia's constitution is barely a century old - that was a fairly 'demagogic' constitutional change, and yet there they are

Are we seriously saying that removing one part of the constitution would doom us and completely negate our long standing rule-of-law? The Germans seemed to take quite well to the new arrangement after the war, they failed first time round obviously - but are we really going to compare Britain with the end of imperial Germany? Are we saying that the US doesn't count because it produced a modified version of our own constitution so long ago - you know, you''ll never change anything if you think everything old works and can't be changed, we have been slowly reforming this country for three centuries - why should we stop now?

A few years ago, we were being told by republicans that the Speaker could take over the role of head of state. Does anyone argue this now?
A good deal of the discussion is about not being diverted by conventional wisdom - as over the Houseof Lords which - precisely because it is not elected - is much the more independent and questioning of the two chambers of Parliament.  

 Another false argument at the top there

The Lords, as I have said, is the better chamber, far better than the sycophants and weasels that inhabit the Commons, but...go ahead and look at the 'best' lords, the ones who actually do things like block bills, then look up a few hereditary peers - see who actually attends, because there are 700 lords and yet most votes come down to around a total of 300... more often than not it's the appointed life peers that are doing the best work, and remember the remaining 'hereditaries' were elected to remain there in the first place, so they've already been whittled down

That is not an argument for hereditary peers, it's an argument for an unelected upper chamber, somewhat different

"My point about North Korea and East Germany (or Iran and China) is that a Republican constitution is not an automatic guarantor of liberty in itself, and should not be offered as such. It is an invitation to knee-jerk fashionable republicans to go back to first principles and think about what they are saying.
Few of them have. Those that have are generally radical and atheistical socialists who grasp that a constitutional monarchy is a major obstacle to their aims."

Already dealt with that, why exactly should I have to 'think about what I'm saying' because of a couple of bad examples, when he refuses to do the same? It's diversion

Then of course, the finale - I'm a radical socialist! With the exception of one recent post which was in jest, do I sound like a bloody socialist? What a lovely smear 

So remember, when Peter Hitchens calls you rude for calling him a raving mad, right-wing tosspot - ignore him, because he'll just call you names too (and he'll probably have started it...)

phew how long was that?? To anyone who read this - my apologies  

....Next I'm off to argue with Martin off B-BBC, but the important thing is I enjoyed it

22 November 2009

That's 182 *kilograms*

For some reason the BBC have decided to describe the bomb found in Belfast as 400lb

This I am afraid, is jibberish to me - I know it's heavy, but I have no point of reference for pounds except knowing that babies weigh about seven of them

Forgive me for sounding like an anti-Peter Hitchens-type fogey, but seriously, every person educated in the past forty years has learnt metric to the point where imperial measures are pretty much dead to the under-50s - at least provide a conversion

Did they let the oldest guy in the office run copy or something?

Can you blame them?

I rarely defend politicians, particularly Messrs Brown and Cameron, and I hardly condone using armistice day as a photo-op

(Slightly more moderate article from the BBC here)

But I am in reflective mood, and when I think about it - it's hardly their fault is it?

They do it because they know we want it - Brown is a clumsy fool and always comes off insincere when he talks to real people, Cameron is a smarmy PR man, but they both play the game, our game

But much like how football's lax rules allow the Henrys, Maradonas and Ronaldos to get away with it while we watch, so too does the political game allow Brown and Cameron to perform these stunts

In reality I want a thoughtful, rational government that doesn't resort to appealing to the lowest common denominator - but if that happened what would we get? They'd be ripped to shreds, they'd be seen as ditherers, weak, boring and so on - because image is king

And we ask for it, we let the media peddle their stories - had Brown and Cameron not showed some heartfelt compassion they would've been seen as ingrates, this time they misjudged it, but for the most part people want them to do completely pointless gesture politics, such as visiting flood victims... or talking to Mumsnet

What the hell can Brown do about floods? Nothing could've prevented a month of rain within a day, this was basically a morale booster - and faced with the choice between our two unelected leaders, I'd prefer the unused, neutral one was put to some use (and while I remember, Peter Hitchens really shows his true colours in this week's column)

But we want our leaders to be 'human', to show compassion - and that ultimately is going to come down to who is the best actor (or not in Brown's case)

I doubt that Brown could ever be an effective leader, but who knows, either way we get useless politicians who can't make a decision for fear of the media and its various agendas, and this is only compounded by the fact that the nature of the game drives away the best sort of people for the job

So I don't blame Brown and Cameron for being shameless media manipulators - we get the politicians we deserve

19 November 2009

I'm not turning into a socialist am I?

The Times Money Central has a list of the top ten millionaires on the Tory front bench (out of a staggering 19)

Is it wrong to feel a slight bit worried about being run by millionaires?

I have no objection to people earning this amount of money, or indeed inheriting it, but it's the influence of money on power that I have a problem with - nineteen millionaires, it's about two thirds of the shadow cabinet, and includes all the big guns - is it not somewhat unrepresentative to have a country run by people in the top 0-point-something percentile?

Equality aside, it's more the fact that it's clear that we are still being run by money and the landowning classes, people like Hague and Philip Hammond were successful in business, but most, like Cameron, Osbourne and Strathclyde (a surviving hereditary peer, great) are merely 'from money' - how does this serve the people?

Fortunately Labour lost their working credibility decades ago so I have no need to consider them, and this certainly isn't a tory-specific problem, but it really is galling to see how we are still being run by the landed interests, as it were

I feel very strangely socialist writing this, but I don't want to be run by a bunch of privileged politicos who've never done a days work in their lives


A.N Wilson, the Mail's most sensible (non-MP) commentator, says we really should stop being offended so much, in the Daily Mail

Anyone seeing any irony here?


The Mail also have a comedic list of funny exam answers - but they just can't help getting a kick in at today's 'dumbed down' questions, it must therefore be a proven fact, of course (because they're still not dumbed down enough!!)

Some things: firstly, it's belittling each successive generation's efforts, so if I say I'm smart and probably have more qualifications than them, and used to write silly things in either R.E. exams or questions I had the foggiest in (who didn't?) they can say everything is 'dumbed down' and I'm stupid too

and secondly, can you answer these questions:

'What did Gandhi and Genghis Khan have in common?' (aside from unusual names, of course)

'What is the highest frequency noise that a human can register?'

Some seriously useful questions there, good old standardised testing - and one day I'll find a use for algebra...

And I do wonder if smarty-pants writers at the Mail know what a nitrate is

Looks like a chicken again

Seriously, he does!

Clegg looks sad....awww, bet he hates the whole thing

18 November 2009


...shoot me when I start sounding like an old fogey like Dominic Lawson

Here's a summary of what he says: 'comedy I like: good, comedy I don't like: evil'

I did post a comment, but knowing the Indie's hideous posting system I thought I'd leave something for posterity here

It's the same old routine - 'everyone is out to shock these days', 'nothing is pleasant like Morecambe and Wise, or Dad's Army, or intelligent like Monty Python' etc etc

Save for Michael McIntyre - who talks about everyday life, without swearing, and he's openly posh! I must admit I like McIntyre, not many men can do a 15 minute skit on how great their hair is, but that doesn't mean I disparage everything else - Lawson admits he doesn't actually watch comedy (and so is presumably informed by the Mail and the ridiculous 'Sachsgate') he knows of Little Britain and that's about it - he even foolishly describes Mock the Week as a show unsuitable for him (his kids clearly know he's a bore), apparently not realising that's the very show that launched McIntyre (on television at least)

It may feature the controversial-because-we-say-he-is Frankie Boyle, who does like to swear, but most of the comedians are quite moderate such as Russell Howard, McIntyre, Dara O'Briain and Andy Parsons - Boyle was very funny though

That's MY OPINION, of course - the difference is I don't complain about the stuff I don't like, I just don't watch it, I don't claim that 'mainstream' non-sweary comedy should be taken off the air for not being edgy enough and that all should be provided with what Lawson comically refers to as 'alternative comedy' (setting up a false dichotomy as well, eh?)

So it's hypocrisy - railing against people forcing certain types of comedy on us....by wanting to force certain types of comedy on us, but it's also based on complete myth

This is called 'fogeyism', Dominic - when you grow old new generations come in with new ideas and values that you can't get your head around, exactly like I'm sure your daddy did in the 1980s - it is at this point, when I'm old, and young people start changing society and I want to restrict their ideas with some silly ideas about my ways 'being better', that you should shoot me

Who knows, I may not become such a person, not being as privileged or true-blooded conservative as Dominic, but I will grow old, I hope

It is also based on ignorance - the idea that someone who is deliberately shielded from such 'alternative comedy' should bemoan it is rather ridiculous, Daily Mail ridiculous, he doesn't even know what he's criticising - as I've said, Mock the Week is hardly edgy and is generally quite mild

All Lawson can think of is Little Britain, Jonathan Ross (not even a comedian), and presumably Jimmy Carr

Completely ignoring the long-running Have I got news for you (which I'm sure he's been on), or a decent sketch show like Armstrong and Miller, or even the recent Harry Enfield show (though I didn't find it that great), there's also family sitcoms like Gavin and Stacey, Outnumbered or even the rubbish My Family

So what if Little Britain is in it for shock value? Some people like it...some people like Big Brother - i's called 'taste' (or lack of) - as much as I'd love to ban stupid people from voting, I know it's wrong

Then of course Lawson completely misses other comedians in his assumption that all comedians are vulgar for the sake of it, having not seen them, this isn't surprising...

Such as Peter Kay - he may not be posh and southern, but he's just as soft and family-friendly as McIntyre, and he's been around since, what - 2000?

There's also Jack Dee, who's given people like McIntyre a national audience on his Live at the Apollo show, as well as the family-friendly, somewhat intelligent Lead Balloon sitcom

Go back to the nineties and the Vicar of Dibley was the most successful of the more recent things  Dawn French has done, most of which is now family-friendly, unlike her older stuff (yes that's right, Dom - the older French and Saunders stuff was more vulgar)

Other shows that Dominic might have missed in his younger days might be the popular the Young Ones? That was really offensive to some, and yet on at the same time as the delightfully witty Yes, Minister and Blackadder

Or what about Benny Hill? Love thy Neighbour (1972)? Til Death Us Do Part (1965)? (Both satirical, and a point missed in both by millions) - or Jim Davidson jokes? Dave Allen was supposedly offensive...need I go on?

Even the much hailed Monty Python had its critics - surprisingly enough from the older generations, I know we may think that all people loved Python, because now it's hard to find an older person who doesn't like it, but back then it's strange surrealism had its critics (remember it had frontal nudity...in its opening sequence...), it was like all good comedies, for the young - surely anybody who loves Python while badmouthing modern comedy as offensive sees the rather delicious irony? The Life of Brian was completely uncontroversial of course - does Dominic want that blasphemous filth removed from existence?

He has become the very thing that shows like Python existed to mock - I admit the intellectualism of Python is hard to find nowadays, but let's face it, it's always been comedy for the more educated classes, but the best comedy always is - the Thick Of It is genius, but not as popular as Little Britain once was, and it never will be

I do miss Mary Whitehouse....

*As a side-note, it must be great being Lawson's kids, whenever they get annoyed with his 'dad' views they can just go to his column to see the flak he gets

Fight the gloom

You know something? It can get pretty depressing reading the various stories about this government, and indeed depressing when I think about the future policy-less Tory government and Parliament full of nodding dogs, oh and the increasing power of the EU

It all feels rather hopeless, like I'm looking into a pit of despair - I'm still young, but it feels that there is little I can do - few are willing to protest, and without money or contacts we are restricted to the fairly small world of blogging - the media try a bit but what do they really achieve? Even the MP expenses scandal has resulted in a few slaps on wrists, if such public outrage can't change our political landscape, what can?

No it is very depressing, particularly reading stories at Old Holborn or Dick Puddlecote about our liberties, or Dan1979 about the creeping EU - never mind the right-wing tabloids - some of it may be sensationalist bull but this government IS destroying civil liberties, any quick look at recent legislation and the documented actions of the state will tell you that, however you want to view it, even as well-intentioned perhaps - but it is happening

I can write my blog, I can scream and shout, I can beg, plead and even cry, but short of procuring rocket launchers I will have little impact on these politicians

Except, there is a way, there is a way of damaging the human spirit of those who who wish to control us

Laugh at them

Laugh your bloody head off, the truly British form of protest

Without respect they have no legitimacy

They are only human, and they are as weak as us mere plebs

Wednesday Randomness

I notice that Archie Norman is to be the next person to take over the doomed-ITV network

He is known for building up Asda from near bankruptcy before its sale to American giant Wal-mart in 1999, as well as heading retail giant Kingfisher before that, and for being the only FTSE 100 chairman to have ever sat in the Commons (apparently)

I couldn't help remembering Rod Liddle's recent article about how these top directorship jobs always go to the same people, who are often seemingly about as bright as an EU-standard light-bulb and proceed to run companies into the ground - he was referring to Terry Burns specifically, and clearly Norman is very successful in business - but I couldn't help thinking why appoint someone who's been successful in retail in a publicly-owned media company? He did excellent work building up retail chains - but isn't that somewhat different to increasing profitability for a television channel that's on its knees?

What skill set does he bring? There's only a track record of success in retail - if you are good at leading a company in one field does that naturally mean you can lead any company? Is it just a success thing, you either got it or you don't?

Because to me, all I see is ITV saying about a champion swimmer 'ooh he's good, let's have him', when they're in a rowing competition

I'm not out to disparage the man, I'm just struggling to work out why being the very successful head of a retail giant means you can run a TV network - is he just smart enough to make profit out of anything?

From what I've seen of top executives, if you actually are bright, and not just some rich bastard, you can usually make anything work, Terry Leahy would be comparable as chief executive for example - but it still strikes me as odd to not go for a successful media man (although I admit they're running out of them)


Secondly, why is a fairly obscure story about an Australian independent senator's challenge to Scientology the most read (international) story on BBC? It's only in the sidebar, and yet it's above Obama and all the rest

I only pick up on this because I happen to be there, and it's just Nick Xenophon saying things - it's not the government attacking it, or throwing it out

The power of Scientology eh?...

16 November 2009


Nick Robinson has finally written an entertaining blog, [almost] satirising the Labour party

Here's my favourite bit:

The quitters' view

• We've had a good run... I wonder if there are any directorships I could take on?  

13 November 2009

Can't always win

Guido helpfully told everybody that William Hill were offering 1/2 on Labour winning Glasgow East - 50% profit, lucky bastard

I was of course, asleep! Bloody time difference

but I like money...

Edit: Sorry, that's Glasgow North East (that goes for you too, Guido)

Labour did in fact win by over 8,000 votes, but with a reduced turnout of 33%

In other news, politicians are still scum:

"Tonight people have had their say. They have backed Gordon Brown in his efforts to secure our economic recovery, they have sent a resounding 'No' to Alex Salmond and his treatment of our great city and a resounding 'No' to David Cameron."

I know they have to say something, but really? At the general election are the remaining Labour MPs going to say, in their safe seats, that the people have shown their support for Gordon Brown, because that's what this is - in six months Willie Bain is going to go through exactly the same process, wil he think it's a victory for Gordon then?

This was a safe seat, held by Labour for over seventy years - why do you think the speaker had it in the first place?

You want the real truth about this result -

Labour vote down - >2000
Labour majority down - c.2000
Turnout down - 8000
SNP vote down - c.1000
BNP vote up - 100

Labour claiming any sort of victory (particularly national) for 'winning' one of their safest seats is just offensive

12 November 2009

MPs clearly have never worked in the real world

MPs and peers were today engaged in a clash over 'reply to all' emails

An email from Tory Mark Pritchard was sent to everyone in Parliament apparently, and responses were sent 'to all' - meaning that everyone received a constant stream of rubbish emails they didn't want

Lib Dem Greg Mulholland replied with the following


Bad e-mail etiquette perhaps, but have these people never worked in an office? Get in the real world boys, where people your age actually have to learn how to use emails, and put up with nonsense thread emails every day

But this stupidity gets worse, Pritchard got a dig in at the softie Liberals (who oppose his ideas):

"I am not surprised by Liberal Democrats treating cyber-security so lightly...It is also clear that some Liberal Democrat politicians need training in answering e-mails correctly without sending the same reply to every Tom, Dick and Harry."

This from a man who actually sent a Parliamentary email to about 1300 people and got them all 'replying to all' - really security conscious, Mark

I will be researching this cyber-security plan of his to see if the Lib Dems really are treating it lightly, but initial evidence would point to this being tosh, as:

The Wrekin MP said his new All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyber-Security had attracted support from senior MPs including Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs committee, [and] former cyber security minister Tom Watson

Right...serious issue then

11 November 2009

Swearing = 'Assault'?

Apparently, if you feel threatened by me swearing in my own home, you can complain to the police, who will then arrest me, have to release me because they have no evidence, and then issue me a fixed-penalty notice for abusive behaviour

In effect, swearing at someone is an on-the-spot fine

Now, f*** off

(It shames me to say that I live in that council district)

10 November 2009

Still Alive! I think...

I have finally risen from my bed, thankyou to those who expressed concern (and don't worry spidie I wouldn't go near any hastily-manufactured vaccines), I was sick a bit longer than I anticipated - a mild case of food poisoning which seemingly led into other issues, nothing major, but it was 'unpleasant' and I shall leave it at that

Think I'll be keeping blogging light for today, I'm still slightly malnourished - some things I noticed at the weekend

Is it just me or do both Cameron and Brown look ridiculous? Brown is obviously trying to look solemn and is pulling a fierce frown, for fear of disrespecting the dead (you were never going to get out of that one, Gordie) while Cameron looks like a plucked chicken

Now, I know I should not be judging on looks, but they do have some relevance and Cameron looks like such a wannabe to me, he just looks weak

Conclusion: based on looks, Clegg all the way...

Secondly I noticed this over at Nick Robinson and you know when your net drops out and the site doesn't load very well, all the scripting fails or something and the banners and pictures don't load (or not, maybe it's me)

Well here's what we normally see

and here's what I saw yesterday

Can you read that?

Is someone at the BBC being silly with their descriptions, or are they just being very literal? Either way struck me as an odd thing to put there

06 November 2009

Off Sick

I don't know what's happened but I'm ill - I think it's just a bug, but I'm in no condition to blog

Hopefully be back soon

05 November 2009

A Parliament of liars, by liars, for liars

Denis MacShane's ridiculous article in the Indie has to be given some prominence


I seriously can't believe the Indie would allow such partisan rubbish on it's pages - they may be extreme on climate change and some leftie stuff but this is really Mirror territory and won't go down well with anyone with a shred of intelligence

Once again, the issue of renting has been ignored:

If Labour MPs have to stay in boarding houses while Tory MPs retire to their Notting Hill homes, so be it.

The report is deeply misogynist with its demand that women MPs of all ages who live within a 60-minute train journey from London should leave the Commons after late-night votes to travel home to arrive at one in the morning to unstaffed, unlit stations on a cold night in November. 

Firstly, the demand is on all MPs, so isn't it a bit misogynist to imply women are weak? I'd rather meet Cameron than Widdecombe down a dark alley

If that means David Cameron's and Nick Clegg's employees cease putting out partisan press releases attacking Gordon Brown I suppose I should welcome Kelly.

Poor, innocent Gordon! One word: McBride

thanks to the stupidity and cupidity of some MPs who abused the allowances and expenses system, we are well on our way to achieving this.

Like people who claimed over 18 grand a year to run an office out of their own garage for eight years? That's his 'office running costs' - so rent, heating, electricity, despite owning the property himself he still managed to rack up costs of £18,000 (smack bang in the middle of the table), oh and he claimed every last penny of the ACA

In the 19th and much of the 20th century, the Commons met only six months a year. Now we expect our MPs to do a five-day week and be in their constituencies most weekends, and constituents want instant replies to their emails 365 days a year.

2008-09 session: 128 days = Six *working* months, the shortest session since 1979-80

For five years, an MP is accountable to his or her constituents and to no one else. Whips may bully. The ambitious may toe the line. But there are plenty of MPs who can plough their own furrows and speak their own minds.

Speak...never vote

And you weren't given your seat by the party at all? And you would stand a chance without your little red rosette? Most MPs (except perhaps, this year) face absolutely no challenge from their constituents, who will never eject their favoured party

Have a read...If you have a strong stomach

Blow it up...?

There's a reasonably interesting article in the Mail today about whether we really should just blow Parliament up, it being the 5th November and all

I can agree with a fair bit of it but this stuck out

"And to ensure we have a political class with a record of achievement - in other words, people who have had real jobs and real lives, rather than overgrown teenagers plucked straight from Oxford to work as special advisers before being parachuted into safe seats - I would raise the age threshold from 18 to 35"

I don't think it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it always surprises me how the older generations view parliament as 'too young' - Peter Hitchens calls the Tory front bench 'teenage' - average age: 51, with two MPs under 40

'Incredibly unrepresentative' I hear some jowly old man roar, while I do have time for the 'experience' line I have always found it interesting that some people bemoan the representation of a whole generation of adults, particularly when there are at present *two* MPs under 30 - the world's going to hell in a hand cart!

Here's a handy table, lifted from Iain Dale

They have obviously aged since 2005, leaving only one of those three currently under 30, and Chloe Smith (27) entered through a by-election

So we shall take a conservative guess at 45 current members being under the holy age of 35, despite it being obvious after four years that it is more likely that only about 20 are currently 'under-age'

That's 7% to represent...wait for it...

About 18% of the population who are [young] adults, according to the 2001 census

Meanwhile, the youthful number of MPs has clearly shrunk since the 97 election, from a whole ten!

And those in their fifties has only swollen - 249 MPs [or 39%] represent about 12% of the country - yes we definitely need more 'wise owls'

Meanwhile those over 40, at the last election represented 84% of MPs, despite only making up about half the population - so we really need to keep those young 'lickspittles' out of politics don't we? With all their fake mortgages and student children to pay off?

Of course I don't really support proportionate representation across the ages, but I see no problem with having young MPs, when they already face massive hurdles - it's just fogeyism from the older generations, who are incredibly over-represented anyway (and who also think 40 is 'young')

The reason I bring it up is that Dominic Sandbrook thinks that the older generations don't get their own MPs and that we need more 'grey hairs' in there - so he doesn't want special representation for 'slack-jawed twentysomethings', as no-one else gets such treatment, but then advocates the very same thing for older people, who already have far more of their own kind in parliament - little confusing and hypocritical? (again, I stress, if this is satire, it's not very good)

I also bring it up because politicians are so keen on ethnic minorities and women yet ignore an even bigger disparity - age, which is very important to society (and one look at the Youth Parliament should quash any feelings that they would be any worse)

Remember, Remember

Yes folks, it is that historic day and it is probably the most poignant November 5th we've had in some time

Our politicians have not only been exposed as thieves, but many have revealed their contempt for us and showed us their arrogance and own sense of privilege, while we suffer under an unelected prime minister with no mandate, who has lied repeatedly and is supported by a bunch of spineless apparatchiks 

And we're still waiting on an election we should've had at least 6 months ago...

And so I must draw your attention to Old Holborn's stroll in Westminster - where as many Guy Fawkes as possible will descend upon our parliamentarians and expose the fascist nature of the metropolitan police and their new 'terrorism' laws at the same time

Full details at Old Holborn's, remember -

The police have no right to say 'papers please', nor do you have to show your face (you are a muslim in a burqa), or give your name or address if you don't want (do not take ID)

You are only walking with a mask on, not protesting, you ARE allowed in the public gallery of Parliament without a ticket, or ID

PCSO's cannot arrest you, or search you

The only thing that can happen is a search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act - itself a travesty, but that is all they can do, and they won't find anything - just take cash and a camera, they are helpless to stop you, ensure that it is a *police officer* not a jumped up mini-Hitler

Everybody should film it or take pictures, you will be in a public place and they cannot stop you recording, they can physically try but they have no right to say 'stop filming' (even though they will), and they cannot confiscate cameras unless they arrest you on suspicion of sigh..'terrorism'

I wish good luck to all that are going, the police will undoubtedly be monitoring, as they did last year - but they can't do a thing, so I look forward to seeing the films of them trying to bully people in the next few days - the police shouldn't even be there by rights, although I guess an army of Guido Fawkes wandering around could warrant some public safety concerns, but either way, they should be polite and have no right to stop you once they have checked you are unarmed

I am afraid I can only attend in spirit - but I will hopefully be back to be able to cast my vote when the time eventually comes

OH says all are welcome, so the more, the better

Massage, Ms Harman?

Harriet Harman's office has been told to stop using that ridiculous 22.9% pay gap figure

But what I wanted tp pick up on was this:

The Government's equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the ONS report was 'important' but insisted it should also have compared the pay of full-time men with part-time women - which gives a 39.9 per cent pay gap in men's favour.

Now the logic of including this escapes me - it's clearly designed to simply maximise the gap - is it fair to compare part-time jobs with full-time ones? Considering men earn even less part-time surely it reflects the gap between full and part-time, not gender?

But I thought I'd work out the alternative

Full-time men vs part-time women = 39.9% gap
Full-time women vs part-time men = 33.5% gap [in favour of women]

Surely Harriet should be using both?

Unless she just has an agenda...

04 November 2009

Please Go

I received an e-mail in response to the please go petition I, and more than 70,000 other people signed

Here it is

What has that got to do with a request for a resignation?

I knew he would never go because of it, but he can at least respond to it properly - we already feel shut out because he wasn't even elected and the party we elected have completely changed tack since the election (not that I voted for them, but I do respect democracy, and manifesto pledges)

Just feels like a dictator telling us all to bugger off and leave him alone - but he has no right to do that job

...and they spelt 'focused' wrong

Cameron's shameless, amid other things

Am I going to say David Cameron 'reneged' or 'betrayed' eurosceptics?

Nope - as Hague says:

'now that the treaty is going to become European law and is going to enter into force, that means that a referendum can no longer prevent the creation of the President of the European Council...'

The referendum was about the treaty, it was always said in the 'cast-iron' guarantee that if the treaty had been ratified then they couldn't do anything, there is no 'U-turn' or reneging here, I believe it is in fact, worse than that

Maybe they have honestly been scuppered by the final ratification, or, as I theorise, this was the plan all along, promising a referendum in the Sun, of all places, to get the backing of the eurosceptic majority in this country two years ago - while knowing full well they would never have to go through with such a dangerous idea

Now time will tell how this pans out - he will suffer an initial backlash for seemingly 'betraying' people, but what he will be betting on is having made enough anti-EU noise to keep the support of the voters, while not actually having to do anything but make a few vague sentiments about 'repatriating powers' - clever, huh?

Cameron just wants power, anyone who actually bought that he had any intention of giving us a referendum on the treaty was being played for a fool


Maybe people WANT a new TV

Apparently the digital switchover in the North-West, which will affect 7.2 million people, may cause 'chaos' as TVs are needlessly thrown away

I remember talking about this back in 2007, when a YouGov survey revealed that 57% of people believed that the government had provided 'insuffiecient or no information' about the switchover, and 83% did not know when the switch would be in their region (survey at YouGov archives, Society - 2007)

Neither do I in fact...but does it really matter, because in 2007 '80% of adults [had] digital television in their home'

So while a majority don't have a clue about how and when (like me), they are already completely covered and already watch digital - surely all that matters is that they have digital

The fear is that people will throw away a perfectly good tv when they could just buy a set-top box

In the past year in Cumbria, 50,000 TVs wee recycled - 'This represents an increase of nearly 70 per cent compared to same period last year.' (so that's an extra 20,500 TVs), in the south west they had an increase of just under 40,000 TVs - so we can say 60,000 extra TVs were recycled

Of the ones in Cumbria, 30,000 could have been converted - so that's at least ten thousand TVs that would have been recycled anyway, curiously the Mail do not report how many could have been saved in the South-West

So we have 20,000 'wasted' TVs reported - is that a bad amount? Does that indicate that people are confused, after adverts every five minutes saying 'all you need is a set-top box' for what, five years?

I happened to throw away a convertible (?) TV last year, it even had a digi-box on it, the reason I got rid of it? - because it was crap and we got a new LCD, it was damaged and of no use to anyone, but this would've been counted as a TV that could have received digital and was 'needlessly thrown away' - plug it in and you would throw it away too

And when the switchover happens, would you not expect a few people to think, 'time to update the TV' - maybe they don't actually want a box on their old TV and decided to get a new one - I can't honestly believe little old ladies haven't had it drilled into their skulls that they don't need a new TV, I've never met anyone who thought they need a new one - but I know plenty who bought a new one - a little upswing in dumping TVs is surely expected

It could also be explained by the chucking of bedroom tvs - I have a little old sony, I have no intention of upgrading it - would you seriously go out and get 3 or 4 boxes for every tv in the house? No, I'd just buy a new one, it's 200 quid either way - I'm not surprised if a few of those get chucked out (mine isn't btw, it can be put to other use)

I can't find good figures for the populations of the TV regions, but you can assume there are at least 1 million households in the South-West and Cumbria combined, so that's 60,000 extra TVs thrown away - 6% of households threw away more TVs than the previous year, at a ridiculously conservative guess, and assuming they were all compatible (and how many TVs are there in the regions, let alone houses)

Is that such a catastrophe?

The Mail really do need to stop trying so hard

More BBC controversy - they attacked the Queen!! (again!!1!1!!)

Miranda Hart, on HIGNFY, described the Queen and the DoE as 'that Greek twit and his Kraut wife'

ooh, nasty racist jibe there - which in fairness it is, stinks of hypocrisy after they pulled that silly Hobnob joke doesn't it?

Only, the Mail left something out until a bit further down the story (after the outrage comments...)

At a Buckingham Palace event in honour of Indian president Pratibha Patil, Philip said to businessman Atul Patel: 'There's a lot of your family here tonight.'
Miss Hart joked: 'There is no place for racism in the modern world and the sooner that Greek twit and his Kraut wife realise it, the better.'

Now, does that not make a teeny bit more sense? It's satire - I am not foolish enough to believe the writers at the Mail actually think it's offensive in any way, but if anyone actually found that offensive they need a humour-rectomy

It's not actually racist, so it doesn't become an inconsistent piece of handling or 'double standards', as the Mail conclude, once again they wilfully mislead their readers in their attacks on the Beeb

There are of course some that feel that the Queen is out-of-bounds for humour - fortunately most people are not annoying royalists

...only Rebecca Adlington is granted such status

Do you decide on your own salary?

Sir Stuart Bell and his ilk are convinced they should have a vote on cuts to their salary and expenses, if the reforms outlined in the Kelly report, are 'too draconian'

This is a very simple, and pertinent, point: why exactly should the MPs set their own salary, expenses and resettlement package?

They are not self-employed...

Edit: 'Decide on'? Fail...

02 November 2009

Riot, please, just riot!

I can't take this any more, I was going to write about the Youth Parliament last week, but I've seen Hattie's latest comments and entered a world of despair

But Miss Harman yesterday suggested that the report could be shelved if it goes too far.
She said a final decision would rest with the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), whose members will be vetted by MPs before being appointed.
Miss Harman said Ipsa will have to be sure that MPs ‘can both be in their constituency as well as in Westminster’.
She added: ‘No one wants to get back to a situation where MPs were sent to Westminster and then they said to their constituents “see you again in five years”.

I wasn't aware that had changed...

MPs are furious at the prospect of having to sell their second homes and move into rented accommodation. Some warn it will make it impossible for all but the wealthiest MPs to have their families with them in London.

Really? Have these people never rented before? You can rent whole houses you know

The Prime Minister is expected to tell him that the new expenses system must not be so harsh that politics ‘becomes the preserve of the independently wealthy and that ordinary people with families must always be able to become MPs’.

Gold star for Gordon, that's the original reason for introducing MP salaries over a century ago - I'd love to know how 65k plus fiddled expenses is anywhere near what 'ordinary people' support their families with

What exactly would the preserve of the wealthy be? You can still own a house, funded by your big salary, then rent a second house for work on expenses (I really don't get their issue with renting - they do realise they won't have to pay for it, right?), claim travel expenses that few commuters would get, and an office for work - what's the problem? What is so disabling in that scenario - I'd do it, and so would a lot of ordinary people I know - do I need to break out the graph that shows where ordinary people are and where MPs are (top 9%), and the list of Labour MPs who are millionaires or professional politicians?

These people really are just living in a bubble

...pop it