The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fire Sale Soon

Possibly in order to distract attention from the Tessie in Wonderland trip that is the Psychoactive Substances Act, or perhaps because she has some slightly eccentric ideas about the best way to appear less silly than Michael Gove, the Home Secretary has gone off on one about the fire and rescue services. Though held in great affection by the communities they serve, it appears that parts of the fire and rescue services allow a toxic and corrosive culture of bullying and harassment combined with a lack of accountability. They are, in other words, quite unlike either the Conservative Party or those upstanding people at G4S, with whom the Home Secretary has virtually no marital connection whatever; and the solution, as might be expected, is to implement a radical and ambitious programme of reform (demolition and privatisation, in Standard English). The general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union expressed cautious agreement about the need for fairness and accountability, but was impolite enough to point out that it was the Conservative administration of 2010 which, with its little yellow enablers, removed the diversity targets that were then in place. He also showed mild surprise at the Home Secretary's claim that the size of the workforce had been unchanged for ten years, given the hobnailed efficientisation measures in which her own government has been indulging over the past six. It is as yet far from clear how far this pedantic attitude will help when it comes to constructive collaboration with the legal genius behind the migrant cat story and the Psychoactive Substances Act.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Not Quite Managerial Material

It seems that even the humblest employees at the fine and law-abiding firm of G4S are not immune to the management's work ethic. G4S, it will be remembered, is the firm which provided such brilliant security at the London Olympics that the army had to be called in to plug the gaps; and which then, having been duly rewarded with various lucrative contracts for tagging offenders, demonstrated its gratitude by charging the taxpayer for keeping track of people who were confined, deceased or otherwise reasonably slow-moving. Thanks to this glowing record, and hardly at all because Mad Tessie May's husband is a major shareholder, the company remains the Home Office's first choice whenever the former party of law and order decides to outsource more law and order; and some call-handling staff at Lincolnshire police have allegedly taken a rather enterprising approach to the 999 industry. Since G4S do not yet have control of the courts, the five employees are innocent until proven guilty; but they are under investigation by both G4S and its business rivals in the police for making bogus calls in order to massage their performance figures. It is suspected that they did so without even ensuring that they were on a performance-related bonus scheme; which has very naturally resulted in their suspension for fiscal ineptitude.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Our Boys, Our Values, Our Chums

It may surprise some that the Ministry for Wogs, Frogs and Huns, now in the charge of a suitful of stale air, still makes any pretence of being concerned over human rights abuses. In fact, last year the department designated thirty countries as sources of humanitarian concern; fortunately for British values, the concern runs about as deep as a speech by Philip Hammond. British armed forces are involved in training personnel in sixteen of the thirty countries, including some which are recent beneficiaries of democratisation by wog-bombing, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya; and a few, such as Bahrain, China and Saudi Arabia, where enlightened and benevolent rulers have ensured that the process of democratisation is advancing at a pace congenial to the Bullingdon Club. For example, British commandos are training Bahraini soldiers in the use of sniper rifles despite (or, in Oldspeak, because of) the alleged use of such specialist troops to pacify some uppity proles who made a bit of noise five years ago.

Her Majesty's Government has also announced that it will be working more closely with Oman, whose qualifications for the privilege, as listed by Amnesty International, include the use of "mock execution, beating, hooding, solitary confinement, subjection to extremes of temperature and to constant noise, abuse and humiliation" and "a culture of arbitrary arrest and detention in secret institutions". Doubtless thanks to the British values on display, the blustering blimp at the Ministry for Wog-Bombing has personally proclaimed Oman our pal.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Push Her Out

Purveyors of family values, such as a Conservative member of the Commons select committee on health, are calling for the head of Cathy Warwick, the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives. Warwick has proclaimed that, far from concerning themselves solely with the breeding of little Britons, midwives should also aid and abet those perverse females who fail to see their uterus as public property. The RCM is supporting a campaign to change the 24-week limit on abortion, and Warwick is chair of the board of trustees for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, which is the country's biggest provider of pregnancy terminations. The Conservative member Andrew Percy has claimed that there is a conflict of interest, presumably in the same sense as with builders who take down walls, doctors who prevent disease, and members of anti-NHS parties who sit on health committees.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Punching Above Our Weight on the International Stage

Just because the Government has grudgingly agreed to resettle twenty thousand Syrians over four years or until an appropriate lynch mob can be whipped up, that doesn't mean the party of Zac Goldsmith has gone soft on foreigners; oh, dear me no. Once their claims are granted, refugees unlucky enough to be here already are given four weeks to find accommodation and an income before being made homeless. In order to protect the taxpayer further, the Government also withdraws its munificent handout of £5 a day; loans are available, but the Government takes longer to process the applications than it does to kick people onto the streets. Naturally, the Conservatives are deeply concerned that refugees should integrate themselves into civilised society until a pretext can be found for returning them to the wog-bombing zone; doubtless this explains why a government-funded service to aid integration was abolished by the Conservatives and their little yellow enablers - aptly enough, during the very same year as the glorious and freedomising wog-bombing of Libya.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Pouring Oil on Ruffled Feathers

Britain's Head Boy is preparing himself for a diplomatic encounter which might prove a trifle awkward, not least because it will involve a larger, louder, fatter and stupider version of Boris Johnson. There are rumours that Donald Trump intends dropping in on his golf course in Scotland, which would naturally be a matter of concern for the Conservatives as golf courses are among the few parts of Scotland they care about. The Head Boy has described Trump's anti-Muslim blather as "divisive, stupid and wrong", and indeed it stands in ignoble contrast to the Head Boy's own recent backing of Zac Goldsmith's mayoral campaign right down the sewer; to say nothing of his Middle East policy of wog-bombing and concentration camps, his dismissal of the resulting Calais refugees as "a bunch of migrants" and his let-'em-drown policy in the Mediterranean.

Still, despite such displays of bleeding-heart metropolitan liberalism, the Head Boy probably has little to fear from an encounter with the blustering purple thing that dangles from Trump's hairdo. After all, Britain's Head Boy is the chap who used his dead child to lend credence to all the sweet nothings he was burbling about the NHS, and then turned the NHS over to Twizzler Lansley and Jeremy C Hunt. Britain's Head Boy is the chap who hugged huskies and then signed over half the country to shale frackers while letting illegal polluters poison forty thousand people a year. Britain's Head Boy is the chap who claims to lead the Conservative Party and to believe in Europe, while risking a British exit in order to humour some baboons on his back-benches. Britain's Head Boy is, in short, not the sort of chap to balk when it looks as if his immediate interests might be served by a bit of the old fast and slimy. Whether Trump's hairdo or its dangler will have the subtlety to appreciate the manoeuvre is another question.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Brain Cells

Among the jolly legislative treats lined up for the Head Boy's home stretch is the biggest overhaul of prisons since the nineteenth century; although it remains an open question whether the system is to be dragged into the twenty-first century or allowed to slide back to the eighteenth. The bill is the work of Michael Gove, the jabbering homunculus who thought that the best way to reform the education system was to antagonise everyone in it except Michael Gove and to put out a special edition of the Bible signed by himself. Among Gove's proposals for prison reform is a programme whereby our massively overcrowded prisons will stand more or less empty for most of the week and then become massively overcrowded at the weekends, to the ineffable moral improvement of the inmates. Presumably Gove (who, as we know, has trouble with figures), thinks that this is the way to ensure that the average number of inmates becomes better than average.

Meanwhile Gove's predecessor, the well-known public intellectual Chris Graybeing, has denied that overcrowding is at record levels, and blames everything on "legal highs", a category which in the Graybeing pharmacopoeia includes such moral hazards as books, telephone calls and exercise. Graybeing expressed his hearty approval of the bill, which seems a reasonable indication of just how far the Gove approach will go in ameliorating the problems Graybeing himself exacerbated with such hobnail-brained enthusiasm. Fortunately, Gove also intends to give "greater autonomy" to governors, so that they can take more of the blame when things go wrong.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Offended Nose

One of the nice things about being a racist is how inoffensive it makes you. No matter how racist the racist yap of a particular racist may be, that particular racist is always the injured party and almost never means to cause offence. The strutting Caudillo of the Farage Falange, for example, does not formulate his own racist yap (perish the thought), but gets it directly from Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring, or possibly from some underling circa 2009 and/or 1998; or perhaps he makes it up as he goes along. The Caudillo accused Labour of rubbing his nose in diversity; and, being the straight-talking populist that he is, did not allow himself to be diverted from his nasofrottal victimhood by the fact that he was sitting next to a black woman. Better yet, the lady was one of that presumably dwindling band who still think the Farage Falange's anti-EU case amounts to anything more than purple-visaged, gaiter-thwhacking, cummerbund-busting, nigger-nobbling wogs-outery. Just to underline the point, Andrea Leadsom, a token filly from the Bullingdon Club's Ministry for Frackers and Chinese Uranium, started babbling about immigrants coming over here and overwhelming those precious public services which the Conservatives and their Farage Falange frères et semblables are so dedicated to preserving. Leadsom later "clarified" (claimed, in Standard English) that she did not intend to cause offence, and cited the bones of her body to prove it; which certainly ought to settle the matter.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Gas the Plebs

Hitler was, of course, a socialist who, along with his well-known proto-Brusselous loathing of healthily assertive nationalism, was also fanatically opposed to proper control of public information. Certainly no sensible, straight-talking populist could object to the non-publication of a report on air pollution; particularly a report which found that the most dangerous pollution is being concentrated in exactly those districts which contain the most expendable citizens. Only the most depraved levels of ultra-Islamazoid fanaticism, stratospherically boosted with Stalinist fervour and poisonously pumped with patricianophobic polpottery, can explain Sadiq Khan's Mussolinian fervour in dragging the unfortunate document into the glare of unwelcome publicity. Has he no sense of responsibility?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Night Manager

Susanne Bier 2015

There was once a time when John le Carré and the BBC were a potent combination. The two George Smiley serials featuring Alec Guinness are masterpieces of acting, exposition and moral seediness, pulling no punches either with the Nineteen Eighty-Four beetle-man who is their ostensible hero, or with the pain and peril of those relative innocents who are ground up in his machinations. Susanne Bier's The Night Manager dispenses with such outmoded complexities, serving up a simple-minded melodrama in which an evil arms dealer, operating with the connivance of the British government, is brought down by a rainbow alliance of plucky little underdogs.

The acting is unimpeachable. Hugh Laurie is very good as Richard Onslow Roper, who comes across as Edward Fox's Jackal self-promoted from the death-factory floor; Tom Hollander amuses playing Leonard to Roper's Vandamm; and Olivia Colman is excellent as the spymaster Angela Burr, despite a script which feels the need to establish her as a breeder so we can be properly certain of her moral compass. It is amusing to see (however briefly) Burr's husband given the unloved, dutiful, long-suffering but conveniently unseen character more usually reserved for the action hero's wife.

Otherwise, we're back in the fifties. Colman delivers (very well) a monologue about the consequences of chemical warfare, thus establishing the conventional one-to-one relationship of personal trauma and present motivation. A female expendable commits suicide after a single scene, thus motivating a useful pawn without any unnecessary unpleasantness. An Arab whore serves as the Night Manager's motivation by getting her head bashed in; an Aryan-American whore, by contrast, makes due sacrifice on the hero's behalf and gains appropriate redemption complete with family values.

Also on the debit side are an intrusive musical score, which seems determined to hand-hold our mood through every single non-dialogue moment on the soundtrack; and the patronising use of captions to tell us where we are, even when the photography, action and dialogue make it perfectly clear. In these as in other respects, The Night Manager as a whole better befits the smug crudities of mainstream Hollywood than the man who once wrote The Looking-Glass War and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.