The Curmudgeon


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fury at German Windmill Threat

Huhne Hun horror

Germany's parliament has stolen the deckchairs on the beach of UK leadership in energy reform by voting to shut down the country's nuclear plants by 2022.

Despite being the fourth largest industrial nation after China, the US and the Britain of the 1922 Committee's alternative planet, Germany also plans to double the proportion of energy from renewables to at least 35%.

The Reichstag vote will further reinforce perceptions in the British Conservative party that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is too left-wing to be worthy of their company.

Conservative MEPs left the mainstream right-wing bloc in the European parliament two years ago in order to form a grand alliance with the likes of Latvia's Fatherland and Freedom Party.

The coalition's latest move towards being the greenest government ever is a U-turn on a promise to provide a network of charging points for electric cars.

Britain's energy secretary is a Liberal Democrat.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tragic Misconceptions

Given that students and academics have misunderstood the purpose of raising tuition fees (everybody pays less!), and medical professionals have misunderstood the purpose of Twizzler Lansley's anti-NHS bill (modernisation not privatisation!), and legal professionals have misunderstood the purpose of cutting legal aid (it'll help the little folk!), it is perhaps understandable that the Governor of the Bank of England should misunderstand the state of the economy. Like many economic illiterates, Mervyn King gave voice to the conspiracy theory which claims that people spend less if you take their money away, and that this tends to have a slightly depressive effect on the economy as a whole. The economy has, according to some, been stagnant for six or eight months; and is, according to others, "struggling to recover in the face of restrictions on bank lending, severe public spending cuts and low consumer confidence". On the positive side, there's been a royal wedding and we've started another war.

The Treasury has thus far refrained from comment, since the corpse of the business secretary was too busy wagging the bare, blackened bones of its finger at tomorrow's strikers, and the Chancellor was too busy using Danny Alexander more or less in accordance with the more embarrassing terms of the coalition agreement.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How Even More Pleasant to Know Mr Dacre

How pleasant to know Mr Dacre
Whose Mail rings out press freedom's call!
I swear on the bones of my Maker,
He really should not die at all.

At libellous blogging and jesting
He'll make sure you're free not to laugh.
His minions' speed is arresting:
Not more than a year and a half.

It takes an old-fashioned muck-raker
To keep the Press honest and fine -
So who better than Mr Dacre
To keep Mr Dacre in line?

He's as fine and clean-living a Tory
As ever said word that was true -
I'm sticking to that as my story,
Because I don't want him to sue.

How pleasant to know Mr Dacre,
His liberties' champion so brave!
Should he ever report to his Maker,
I'm sure I won't shit on his grave.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dissent Among the Schoolmen

Forty-three senior academics have threatened to resign as peer reviewers for the Arts and Humanities Research Council because of the Government's attempt to tie funding to certain theological studies. The AHRC has produced a strategy document proclaiming that money to the value of up to a hundred university courses at £9000 apiece could be awarded to projects devoted to Daveybloke's Big Society thingy. The thingy, of course, possesses several Godlike attributes, notably those of ineffable mystery, leaving the poor to the mercy of the rich, and the fact that the Church of England doesn't quite believe in it. The peer reviewers are annoyed because they hold the unhelpfully reductionistic belief that the thingy is no more than a "Tory party slogan".

When asked about the issue, the Minister for University Fees was out mending a puncture on his bicycle, but he has directed his minions to deny everything; he has also published an article in the Murdoch Journal of Higher Education warning of the "hazards" of adopting "political slogans" for research purposes. It is not entirely clear whether the Minister regards Daveybloke's Big Society thingy as a slogan, although it is fairly certain that he regards universities as having more to do with profit than with politics.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Last Resorts

After Francis Maude's dismal performance last week, during which he rebuked the unions for harming their members when the Government can harm them so much more efficiently, Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition has been forced to the desperate measure of loosening the gag on Michael Gove. Ironically enough, Gove seems to have taken his cue from Francis Maude: "if schools aren't open on Thursday there will be massive inconvenience for working parents, in particular single parents, who will have to rearrange childcare at very short notice," he twittered. As a cabinet colleague of Daveybloke, who wanted to offer petty bribes to make couples stay together, and of Iain Duncan Smith, who views welfare benefits as an instrument of jihad for the sanctity of marriage, Gove knows whereof he speaks when it comes to inconveniencing single parents.

Gove also worried "that taking industrial action, being on the picket line, being involved in this sort of militancy will actually mean that the respect in which teachers should be held is taken back a little bit", since the public, who gave the party of Michael Gove such a thumping majority at the last election, will clearly fail to sympathise with people who withdraw their labour just because their pensions are being plundered. Gove twittered further that "you don't see hospital consultants going on strike and I don't believe teachers and headteachers should"; apparently the pay scales and working conditions for teachers and hospital consultants are somehow meaningfully comparable, although unfortunately it seems that Gove was not permitted to dig himself any deeper on the issue.

For the Opposition, the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair said he was in favour of strong trade unions provided they did as they were told, and the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband said that "strikes must always be the very last resort"; for best results, presumably, one should wait until after one's job has been taken away.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Inspiring Example

We all know by now, because the Conservative Party has told us, that the cuts are nothing to be afraid of when properly done, and that front-line services are not being adversely affected and that any problems are the result of inefficiency or political malice in the relevant local authorities. For example, a militant Trotskyite council has forged an unholy alliance with the unmutual chavs of Oxfordshire to bring one of Daveybloke's favourite bits of his Big Society thingy to the verge of closure. A youth centre called Base 33, which Daveybloke has personally endorsed by going into Head Boy mode and handing out certificates of merit to people as long as they work there for free, has had its council funding cut and has also suffered a significant drop in donations from Oxfordshire's notoriously underprivileged citizens. As a result, it is unable to pay its rent, wages and electricity bills for this month, which means trouble as paid workers are typically uncomprehending of Daveybloke's Big Society thingy while landlords and utility profiteers are, of course, exempt. Base 33 is in Daveybloke's own constituency, so the Conservative Party has been "getting involved to ensure its survival"; though whether this involves sending Eric Pickles around to comfort the hoodies of Witney, or simply throwing some of Lord Ashcroft's cash at them, is as yet unclear.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stand By Your Man

The Department for Infantine Resource Conservation has decided to show a bit of solidarity with Ed Balls over the sacking of Sharon Shoesmith, the former Director of Children's Services in Haringey. The Government "thinks that it was right in principle for Sharon Shoesmith to be removed from her post"; which should come as no surprise. The Government thinks it is right in principle for virtually all public employees to be removed from their posts. However, Shoesmith is a special case. She was Director of Children's Services when a seventeen-month-old child was battered to death despite over sixty visits from social workers, doctors and the police. Since the police are always blameless and doctors have the BMA behind them, Shoesmith was duly made the object of press attention after the usual restrained and fair-minded Murdoch-Dacre fashion; Ed Balls, who was then the education secretary, saw the chance for a favourable mention on Page 3 and jumped on Shoesmith with both of his hobnailed testicles. Haringey took the hint and fired her, but Shoesmith fought the decision. The judges ruled quaintly that summary dismissal after trial by tabloid and with no opportunity to put her own case was somehow "procedurally unfair", and that Shoesmith was entitled to her full salary and pension up to the present day; which characteristic combination of fiscal prudence and concern for justice doubtless explains why Ed Balls is now the shadow chancellor.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Informational Efficientisation, Reductivity Coordinatification

The Government has confirmed that the Central Office of Information is to be scrapped and replaced by a team of about twenty staff, under the leadership of the brilliant Francis Maude, who will "complement existing communications teams". Possibly Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition believes the maladroitness evident in the prison-sentencing puerility, the forest-flogging fiasco and the Twizzler Lansley train crash has all been the fault of the four hundred civil servants who are to be sacked; but, being Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition, it is just as likely that they believe sacking people is a good and virtuous activity in itself, provided it is done with sufficient pointlessness and brutality.

The idea of dispensing with the COI was originally proposed in March, but the proposer made the unfortunate gaffe of recommending that something else be put in its place. Since the COI's function is "government marketing and advertising activity", or public information as it was known before we were de-Stalinised, one might have thought that it would not be entirely inimical to the Weltanschauung of a Blairite public-relations mannequin like Daveybloke; but it seems that a more pragmatic view has prevailed. Doubtless Jeremy C Hunt, the Secretary for Sky Gold, Fox News and Sky Sport, was on hand to remind the waverers that the Government already has a dedicated marketing and advertising facility, at least for its loonier policies, in the shape of about nine-tenths of the British press.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Our Glorious Heritage

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, has taken the opportunity for a bit of rah-rah to please the back-benchers by shrugging off a query by one of his orangey pets about returning the Elgin Marbles. The marbles were chipped off the Parthenon in Athens by an eighteenth-century syphilitic and shipped off to Britain under a permit of dubious legality; the pretext was that this would preserve them from damage in the Greek war of independence against the Ottoman menace, much as Daveybloke and his chums might bomb the occasional city to prevent civilian casualties. It is certainly understandable that this robbery of the underdog by the empire for which we should stop apologising might appeal to the Conservative Party, even if the material gains amount to nothing more than a few bits of foreign sculpture. For the benefit of any tabloids in the vicinity, Daveybloke took the opportunity to plunge into the vernacular, stating that he had no intention of allowing Britain to "lose its marbles", at least until somebody offers a reasonable price.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Media Management

Triumph for Big Society as personal intervention saves local news

The Prime Minister has intervened to stop a BBC plot to axe local news services in his Witnit constituency.

He wrote to the director general, Mark Thompson, to express his displeasure at the way the Government's efficiency-savings agenda had been misinterpreted as somehow involving cuts that might affect someone other than the little people.

By a remarkable coincidence, the famously independent Thompson had already decided not to proceed with the savings, blaming "some of my colleagues" for daring to propose such a retrograde step.

The Prime Minister's intervention may have been prompted by yesterday's visit to Wapping, where he reassured Rupert Murdoch about the Government's intention to rubber-stamp the takeover of BSkyB.

Although the Prime Minister avoided being seen making "informal contact" with Murdoch's orifices, he was almost certainly appraised of News Corporation's requirements as regards a hacker's charter and the ongoing Lansley-style reform of the BBC.

Jeremy C Hunt, the Secretary for Cultchah, Meedjah and Giggs, while nearly as ferociously independent as Thompson, has indicated that he might be inclined to fall in with Murdoch's wishes, despite all the dinners News Corporation has bought him.

The leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband, was present "to provide political balance" by agreeing with all the Government's plans but saying they go too far and too fast and warning that protest would be counter-productive.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I travelled all the world because she promised me to wait;
But I returned, alas! to find I'd come back all too late.
A rival had cut in and taught her many nasty ways,
Including how to brown her teeth and overflow her stays;
And, thus by circumstances forced, I made all haste to dump
My dear, whom Time had called on and released the inner frump.

Queebo Mullinghast

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garbage In, Garbage Out

The Government's attempt to simplify the welfare system so far that even Iain Duncan Smith can understand it has suffered a bit of a setback. The introduction of the "universal credit" requires an IT system which will keep track of how much each claimant is earning in work and how much of their benefits the state can thereby claw back; but the Government's consultants have told it that the timetable is unrealistic. Duncan Smith wants to introduce the universal credit by late 2013, so that voters will have eighteen months to forget the associated cock-ups before the next election; but a report commissioned by his Department for Work and Pensions Withdrawal says that "while many [IT suppliers] felt that from a technology perspective the timescales appeared achievable, this came with heavy caveats". Some of these, such as the possibility that Duncan Smith may have risked saying the thing that was not with his claim that nobody will be worse off, will hardly be matters of concern for Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition; but others included the need for the new system to tie up with those run by HM Revenue and Customs; the fact that the precise specifications will not be clear until Parliament approves the bill; and, inevitably, the Thatcher factor ("there are no alternatives being prototyped"). A spokesbeing for Duncan Smith responded with, "Universal credit is on track and on time to secure a welfare state fit for the 21st century"; or, in Standard English, la la la la la la la.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

As Above, So Below

Political events here on the mainland are being reflected in one of the colonies. The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, has managed to achieve the worst poll ratings for a major federal party in almost forty years. "We've got a plan which we are working through to deliver, which we did not have at the start of my prime ministership," Gillard told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, in what was either an uncanny echo or an ill-advised parroting of the line being taken by Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition about being Strong and Having A Plan.

Gillard has attained this laudable near-Britishness by combining the more endearing attributes of our own Liberal Democrat party and our former excuse for a prime minister, Gordon Brown. Gillard overthrew her predecessor, as Brown occasionally dreamed of doing; and once the coup was complete Gillard appointed her predecessor as foreign secretary. Brown, of course, did much the same thing, placing Tony Blair at the Foreign Office in the humane, truthful and morally courageous shape of David Miliband. And, like the Liberal Democrats, Gillard made a promise when out of office which she promptly broke upon gaining office; although, unlike Wee Nicky and his fellow stooges, Gillard does not have the excuse of being worried that the local Bullingdon Club will kick her out of bed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Falklands 2.0 Reboot

What would the sainted Thatcher say? In response to a does-my-right-honourable-master-not-agree by one of his little men, Daveybloke has had a bit of a burble about the Falkland Islands. Daveybloke's little man was urging him to make clear to the Americans that Britain would not negotiate with Argies, who in the Conservative scheme of things rank somewhat lower than trade union representatives and only slightly higher than Liberal Democrats. "I would say this," burbled Daveybloke; "as long as the Falkland Islands want to be sovereign British territory, they should remain sovereign British territory - full stop, end of story." No doubt that is why Daveybloke's government has scrapped the islands' defences, in reverent emulation of his spiritual grandmother's invitation to her friends in the junta.

The Argentine president, Cristina Kirchner, has had the gall to state that Daveybloke's attitude is somehow arrogant, and that his comments were an "expression of mediocrity and almost of stupidity". Almost? Kirchner's penchant for Latin understatement prevented her from adding more forensic detail, such as pompous (that Blairy-fairy "I would say this") and posturing (Daveybloke tells the Americans what Britain will and will not do); but she did venture the unspeakable home truth that Britain "continues to be a crude colonial power in decline". After this, and with a domestic summer of discontent ahead, surely it must be war. One can virtually hear the onanistic squelch of Liam Fox's sweaty little palms being rubbed together.

Meanwhile, at least one Falkland Islander has decided not to be sovereign British territory, and has defected to the enemy. A certain James Peck, whose father was killed in the 1982 war, chose the twenty-ninth anniversary of Britain's glorious victory to take Argentine citizenship. Presumably the Sun and its ilk will be happy to recommend appropriate forfeits.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh How We Laughed

One of the few sights more depressing than that of Daveybloke attempting to imitate a human being is, of course, the sight of Daveybloke's orange muffler attempting to imitate Daveybloke attempting to imitate a human being; and journalists queueing for a handout at the Westminster trough have duly been edified by the spectacle of a floundering middle-aged blandness trying to be intentionally funny. Wee Nicky warmed up with a delightful pun about the Liberal Democrat spokesbeing for sustainable uranium, Chris Huhne: "I don't know any politician better at getting his points across." The word points, you see, referred both to political news management (the modern-day equivalent for the old "democratic debate") and to the penalty points on Huhne's driving license. What a scream it must have been. As the journalists, according to their dispositions, grunted with mirth or explained the joke to their Murdoch-oriented colleagues or reached for the Prozac, Wee Nicky made another joke, this one playing on the ambiguity of the term left-winger as it applies to Ryan Giggs and, of all people, the leader of the Labour party. Apparently Wee Nicky believes that the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband is some sort of leftist. The evidence for this idea escapes me; but then, compared to Wee Nicky and his poor-bashing, banker-petting, wog-bombing chums, Ken Clarke could probably pass for a leftist after little more than a bang on the head and a minor self-interest bypass.

Wee Nicky did find time, amid his coruscating display of wit, for a few moments of But Seriously Folks. He said that he did not relish having to make the Conservatives' cuts; or, in Standard English, having to stand on the sidelines making faces while the Conservatives made what cuts they pleased. Wee Nicky also gave another of his famous displays of principle by stating that he had no overriding objection to sending his children to a school where they will be indoctrinated with ideas Wee Nicky believes to be false.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Voice of Reason

Despite the fact that negotiations with the Government are still going nowhere, the civil service union has voted to join teachers in a strike on the thirtieth of this month, resulting in such disruption to the Minister for Administrative Ministeriality, Francis Maude, that he appears to have become a convert to the cause of proportional representation. The turnout for the strike ballot was just over thirty per cent, sixty-one per cent of whom voted in favour of strikes, and eighty-three and a half per cent of whom voted in favour of other industrial action. "What today's ballot result shows is that, among PCS members, there is extremely limited support for the kind of strike action their leaders want," gibbered Maude, whose party has a mandate to govern because it failed to win the last general election under its own preferred system. "There was a very low turnout for this ballot, and less than 20% of their members are supporting this unnecessary industrial action," gibbered Maude; well, if the Conservatives start gaining thumping majorities on New Labour-sized turnouts once Nick Clegg helps Daveybloke's little gerrymander thingy through Parliament, no doubt Francis Maude will be a prominent voice of dissent. "Public sector pensions will remain among the very best, providing a guaranteed pension level for all employees," gibbered Maude. "Today, very few private sector employers still offer guaranteed pension levels", perhaps for the same reason that boardroom bonuses are so low these days.

I wonder when Daveybloke will attempt his first reshuffle. With Hague, Fox and Gove off playing with the fairies; Osborne, Pickles and Clegg radioactive; Clarke, Huhne and May embarrassed; Spelman, Hunt and Lansley better nailed under the floorboards; Cable one of the walking dead; and Maude one of the barking mad, the Government is rapidly running out of presentational resources. Since neither of them seems to have much to do at the moment, perhaps one of the Milibands would be willing to oblige.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lie Back and Think of the Children

The Government is worried because the cost of paying for teachers' pensions is forecast to double to about ten thousand million pounds in the next ten years, and the Government is not interested in paying that kind of money to support a lot of non-bankers who did nothing more than provide an education for people who weren't at private schools. Accordingly, the former Labour apparatchik Honest John Hutton has recommended that public sector workers should be compelled to work longer for less; and, given that there is so much clear blue water between Labour and the Conservatives nowadays, Daveybloke's Cuddlies have decided that the Hutton treatment is just the thing.

However, since the present Secretary for Education labours under the handicap of being Michael Gove, it has fallen to the Minister of Ministerial Administration, Francis Maude, to register the Government's moral indignation at the teachers' vote to strike. Maude struck a charmingly comic note by accusing union leaders of acting in their own interest rather than those of members or the public; Government ministers, of course, act in their own interests only insofar as such interests are compatible with the requirements of Rupert Murdoch, Lord Ashcroft and various gamblers in the City. Maude also raised the problem of demarcation, condemning the unions for asking their members to sacrifice a day's pay at a time when the Government is so busy reducing their salaries and destroying their job security; which is almost enough to make one wonder if Michael Gove, even despite being Michael Gove, might not have done better after all.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Got Legs

I have not seen The Human Centipede (First Sequence) and don't intend to; from what I have read it's a fairly orthodox - which is to say, worthless - chunk of torture-porn whose originality starts and ends with its inventively disgusting premise. I have little doubt that The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) is about as good as lumpenpostmodern sequels to worthless films generally are; and the whole artificial anthropoid arthropod would have remained comfortably beneath my notice had it not been for the audio-visual police at the British Board of Film Classification. The BBFC has refused the Full Sequence a DVD release on the grounds that having certain sounds and images emanate from a screen in front of a viewer is potentially dangerous to that viewer; although the evidence of increased social ills in countries where, say, Grotesque or the complete A Serbian Film are available appears as elusive as the evidence that many of our own citizens have been endangered by the uncut Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist or Salò.

From what has been revealed of the plot (rather more than necessary, according to the distributor's complaints), it appears that the Human Centipede sequel depicts a man who sees the first film and is driven to emulate and surpass: a premise with which one would imagine our moral guardians might sympathise. Perhaps some of the more impressionable among them found it a bit too close to home? In any case, the distributors are almost certainly correct in their assertion that "through their chosen course of action, the BBFC have ensured that the awareness of this film is now greater than it would otherwise have been"; and there can be little doubt that the market in bootleg copies will have received a welcome - perhaps even a hundredfold - shot in the trochanter. The forthcoming American remake, in which the victims are separated, the bad guys splurged and the girls swept off their very own legs by Uzi-toting surgically-inclined maverick cops, will unquestionably be passed without demur from the Hollywood rectum to the consumer's maw.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Inflation Finds Work For Idle Consumers

The Secretary for Sustainable Uranium, Chris Huhne, has made a rather pitiful attempt to pose as a friend of the ordinary energy consumer. In the face of double-figure price increases by Scottish Power, Huhne adopted the line of a parent urging his child to stand up to the school bully and try for a broken neck instead of just a bruise or two. "Consumers don't have to take price increases lying down," he said. "If an energy company hits you with a price increase, you can hit them back where it hurts - by shopping around and voting with your feet", when you're not busy devoting every waking minute to the job-search and the local voluntary organisation of fire-fighting librarians, of course.

Since we live in a market economy, Scottish Power naturally has competitors, all of whom plan to hit Scottish Power where it hurts by raising their prices in line with Scottish Power's. The Government is vaguely worried that this might be seen as not playing the game of corporate cut and thrust entirely to the hilt; indeed, from certain angles it looks startlingly like co-operation for mutual benefit, as in Daveybloke's Big Society thingy. However, George the Progressively Regressive has finally discovered that putting prices up can have an effect on inflation and has evidently sent Danny Alexander with a note ordering Huhne to make some sort of show at being concerned. "Right now, only one in five people switch suppliers. I want to see more switching, more competition and more companies in the market," Huhne lectured. Aside from consumers not being professional enough, "the big six only have a few minnows snapping at them, who are kept artificially small. By scrapping red tape for small players they can become serious challengers and help keep bills down"; whereupon they will be taken over by their larger competitors, their tariffs adjusted in line with market forces, and the rest digested down to their brand names.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Carrying the Cross

For anyone still in need of a clue, the corpse of the Secretary for Corporate Pandering has clarified the Government's position on care for the vulnerable. There is, the lich slobbered, "no way we can bail out" Southern Cross, the largest care home operator in the country, which is on the brink of bankruptcy as a result of gambling on the property market by its foreign owners. Southern Cross' difficulties have emerged in spite of an evidently laudable degree of fiscal responsibility in such minor matters as recruiting, training, paying and supervising staff, so that the company can still afford to pay its lawyers, accountants and, inevitably, bankers to the tune of half a million a week. That, of course, is what the care home business is all about, and it may possibly go some way towards explaining why the maggots' leavings are reluctant to expose the taxpayer to such materialistic temptations. Instead, the suppurating pile of dead flesh said: "I have asked my officials to look carefully at the business models of companies that provide public services and ensure they are stable and the sector regulators responsible for them are able to act responsibly"; which, translated into Oldspeak, presumably means that it has placed the remains of its fingers in the remains of its ears and ordered its minions to find a scapegoat.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Hearts sink as PM renews credentials as posturing little twit

After weeks of weather and cricket, Britain was plunged into further depression today as the Prime Minister made one of his periodic attempts to pose as a likeable human being.

Speaking on ITV's This Morning, in the middle of an economic crisis, a war or two and several major policy blunders, the PM gave an update on the behaviour of the Downing Street cat.

The cat was rescued from a life of luxury on benefits at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home four months ago after rats were spotted approaching 10 Downing Street without security guards or chauffeured transport.

There have also been breathless reports of mice in the Prime Minister's humble garret, possibly as a result of letting the working classes in to carry out a refit.

"I actually took a picture of one in my flat on my mobile phone, because it was looking at me," the Prime Minister imparted with a chuckle, while the Samaritans were placed on crisis alert.

The cat has finally gained the approval of the Conservative leader by attacking and destroying some creatures smaller and weaker than itself. As a result of this show of efficiency, it is thought that next year's Budget will provide for the animal to be broken up and privatised.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Of Games and Flames

Even in a London with a twit-pendant haystack as mayor, not everything goes wrong all of the time. The torch which must next year bear the flame to the Reverend Tony's Blanched Sporty Pachyderm has emerged as a glorious icon of both the promises of New Labour and the achievements of its spiritual heirs.

To begin with, the concept is shot through with the icky po-faced symbolism beloved of politicians, popular-but-serious creative types and other second-level purveyors of the advertiser's trade. The torch's design is meant as a reflection of the ideals of the Olympic movement: its triangular form relates to the "faster, higher, stronger" Olympic motto; to the fact that the 2012 Olympics will be the third held in London; to the three ostensible founding principles of the modern Games (sport, education and culture); to the gold, silver and bronze medals; to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, the three main countries in which Britain has been bombing wogs in the name of world peace; to the real founding principles of the modern Games (profit, propaganda and pharmaceuticals); and so on and so forth. The torch also has eight thousand holes in it, because it will be carried by eight thousand runners over eight thousand miles at a rate of eight thousand commentator-hours per mile according to the national saccharine index.

Secondly, the torch represents a bonfire of the promises. "The Olympic torch is a universal symbol of the Games," said the chairbeing of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012; "and a low-carbon torch would have been an unequivocal demonstration of London's commitment to a truly sustainable Games." In 2007, EDF promised a low-carbon torch; they've been working on it for four years and have failed to meet the deadline, which is certainly an unequivocal demonstration of something or other. Indeed, a better symbol of the modern Conservative Party's (which is to say, the Reverend Tony's) characteristic mix of light-green rhetoric and true-blue imbecility can hardly be imagined. As if the point were not clear enough, a pledge to generate a fifth of the Blanched Pachyderm's energy from a local wind turbine has been abandoned, and at least ninety-one per cent of the energy on site will be from non-renewables. It is just possible that Sarah Palin will not be agitating for a US boycott of the Pachyderm.

Finally, and most artistically, the object itself is tacky in the extreme. While not quite attaining the level of the 2012 logo, which was randomly chopped into shape with the overgrown fingernails of some advertising executive's half-blind basement-bound progeny, the torch is a great, glittering monument to Blairite good taste: a gilded hybrid of truncheon and cheese-grater which needs only a leopardskin-patterned comfort handle and a luminous, rose-blue We Heart Human Rights motto to pass as an authentic work by the author of New Labour, A Journey and Daveybloke. When the eight thousand runners have done their duty, the torches they have carried will not be presented to them as a gratuity, let alone with an apology, but will be available for them to buy; which is perhaps most symbolic of all.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Healthy Increase

Despite the superb ineptitude of just about everything to do with Twizzler Lansley's anti-NHS bill, Daveybloke the Cuddly Conservative still seems to believe he can make some sort of a show of caring what happens to the little folk when they can't afford private health care. Yesterday he had a bit of a burble about waiting times: "I refuse to go back to the days when people had to wait for hours on end to be seen in A&E, or months and months to have surgery done. So let me be absolutely clear: we won't." As might be expected, it now emerges that, to be absolutely clear, we are. The number of people waiting more than six weeks for diagnostic tests has tripled, and the number of people waiting more than three months has gone up sevenfold. The number of patients waiting beyond the target time in accident and emergency departments has gone up by fifty per cent. This has all happened within the space of a year, which by a remarkable coincidence is about as long as Daveybloke and his chums have been in office. A spokesbeing for the Department of Health Twizzlerisation said (I paraphrase somewhat) that everything was more or less satisfactory, which was why the NHS needed reforming, and that the growing demand on the NHS justified the Government's cuts.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Nearly Beyond Price

Who could fail, on reading this, to feel pride in our island's culture? A man paid £5,000 for the privilege of clearing out an American woman's Mayfair flat, and discovered two embroideries which he displayed at his Bermondsey warehouse and which he was prepared to let go for £400. The sale did not go through and the finder took the embroideries to an expert, who identified them as being probably mediaeval and therefore possibly worth millions. All this occurred nearly a decade and a half ago; it is still not known what the embroideries look like or where they came from; and the only reason we are hearing about it now is because of a court case between the finder and the expert over whether the latter should be paid for his efforts. Makes you proud.

Me at Poetry-24
What a Blinder

Monday, June 06, 2011

Chinese Attack Britain's Transport System

Chinks of hope for Network Rail

China has forced Potters Bar killers Network Rail to buck the trend of Britain's economic recovery by taking on new staff.

Network Rail has been paying millions of pounds in compensation to train companies for delays caused by theft of copper cables from its railways.

The train companies have been passing on the compensation to their customers after the usual fashion of train companies.

The price of copper has tripled in under three years because of the insidious Heathen Chinee and their fiendish construction boom, which has forced financial speculators to drive the price up further.

Theft of copper from railway lines has accordingly become one of Britain's few growth industries, along with arms sales and locking up children.

Despite being forced to employ people from the vicinity of Sheffield and other chav-holes, executives at Network Rail were optimistic about the ultimate effect of the measures.

"It won't affect my bonus," said safetification focus group chairbeing Rodney Dollop, "and it's nice to have some foreigners to blame instead of grovelling all the time."

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A Matter of Historical Truth

The sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has been preaching the wonders of overpopulation and the sanctity of connubial hatred in Croatia. Almost all of the country's population is officially Catholic, but some unfortunate leftover laws from the Communist régime and a few more newfangled ones mean that abortion is still permitted and homosexual couples are not given the Uganda treatment. The sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has been urging that Europe's Christian blip be publicised "as a matter of historical truth", which appears to have prompted at least one of his henchmen to go off the deep end. Monsignor Valter Zupan, a bishop with special responsibilities for "family issues", bravely asserted that "Children have the right to publicly state that a 'father' and a 'mother' gave them life"; it is not clear who would deny the children this, even among the evil secularists and gay-rights groups. The Monsignor added that the Church had the right to demand the reversal of the abortion law; by which he presumably meant, as the pious often do, that the Church has the right to be obeyed without question. Most learnedly of all, he proclaimed that Europe had been "founded on deeply Christian values about marriage between man and woman"; evidently the Treaties of Rome were more sexually explicit than has generally been realised, unless the Monsignor was referring to the deeply Christian values of the Middle Ages, which also included slavery, misogyny, torture and anti-semitism. Anyway, today these deeply Christian values are being threatened by "different types of living together which don't have any foundation in European culture". It is true that, during Christianity's heyday in Europe, toleration for Jews was among the many grievous faults of the Muslims; but the infidel Press has deplorably failed to quote the Monsignor's clarification of how he imagines the rights of divorce and cohabitation came to infect the continent.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Care Home Horror Fury

Ministers move to rectify BBC's attack on market forces

Downing Street has demanded a full report into the Castlebeck care home abuse scandal so that appropriate measures can be taken against the BBC.

The Department for Health Twizzlerisation at first insisted that the issue was purely a matter for the regulator, the local authorities and the NHS, all of whose teeth the Chancellor has had melted down to provide security for the banking sector.

However, the Government is thought to be deeply worried at the way in which the BBC Panorama programme was allowed to interfere with the workings of a private company.

"The questions will be about how can these stories of abuse arise," said a spokesbeing.

"The Government has made considerable progress in removing the dead hand of investigative journalism from the swan-like neck of the market, but there is still a long way to go."

There is also concern at the fact that a whistleblower was not only allowed to contact Panorama, but apparently suffered no financial penalties and has not yet been outed and vilified in the popular Press.

The Department for Health Twizzlerisation said last night that it was ensuring, through discussions with landlords, banks, Southern Cross and other trustworthy and compassionate people, that no-one would find themselves out on the street until the story had been properly forgotten.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Communications Masterminds

An advertisement video for Vodafone has irritated Egyptians by claiming credit for the ouster of the Mubarak régime. "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution," runs the tagline. "We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are." Evidently our little brown brothers are becoming more Westernised all the time: they don't know anything at all until the phone company reminds them. To add insult to insult, the video features an actor who denounced the protests and is a close associate of Mubarak's family.

Vodafone has been accused of passing information to the régime about opposition activists (a charge it has both confirmed and denied), and reacted to the Egyptian uprising by imposing a communications blackout and allowing its network to be used by the régime for broadcasting propaganda. Nevertheless, the company has disassociated itself from the video with all the alacrity of a mainstream representative of the white working class disowning the British National Party: "The company does not have any connection to this video and had no prior knowledge of its production or posting on the internet," said the chief executive of Vodafone Egypt. The video was produced by JWT, an international marketing firm which Vodafone hired to "mastermind its communications strategy" (run an advertising campaign, in Oldspeak) despite JWT's apparent inability to comprehend the distinction between "not intended for public display" and "available on a public website".

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Will We Ever Get it Privatised?

The Minister for Health Profiteering, Twizzler Lansley, has proclaimed a brief retrenchment in the war on the NHS. "We will never privatise our NHS," the originator of the bill to privatise the NHS complained to the Daily Torygraph, possibly not in green ink. The Twizzler reminded readers that the service will face a financial crisis if governments continue to make the right choice between protecting public health and bailing out banks. The Twizzler trotted out the usual guff about the likes of the Bullingdon Club, Eric Pickles and Nick Clegg holding dear such values as "a comprehensive health service, available to all, free at the point of use and based on need and not the ability to pay", and said that sticking with the status quo is "not an option". Since the status quo consists of lots of taxpayers' money being funnelled off to private contractors in return for decades of crippling debt under the PFI scam, this is no more than the truth; presumably, therefore, it was not what the Twizzler meant.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association has raised objections to the idea of performance-related bonuses for GPs. Of course, the performances to which the bonuses would be related have nothing to do with raising standards of public health or anything silly like that; the bonuses would be linked to the financial showing of the GPs' consortium, thus providing yet another incentive to keep on providing the comprehensive health service, available to all, free at the point of use and based on need and not the ability to pay, which the Twizzler, the Bullingdon Club and the rest of the Conservative Party value so very, very dearly.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Too Little, Too Late and Too Brown

The executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change made a remarkable gaffe today, stating that global warming should be limited to half a degree below the target which the world is already on schedule to miss. Christiana Figueres claimed that she had the support of some small islands, Africans and so forth which are likely to disappear when sea levels rise and resources become more profitable. Hence, her remarks are "likely to cause consternation", and even more likely to cause a good bit of smirking and sniggering, among the more advanced economies, including the one now prospering under its greenest government ever. Not only is Figueres putting the interests of some little brown people above those of hard-working shareholders and their children; if she isn't careful she could be seen as giving credence to the findings of mere scientists, rather than market forces or Sarah Palin.