The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glowing Assets

The greenest government ever is supporting British industry in its usual fashion, by allowing foreign companies to poison us for profit. GE Hitachi wish to build a new reactor at Sellafield in order to use up some plutonium the Government has lying around. GE Hitachi refuse to say how much their proposal will cost or how much profit it will make before the taxpayer has to bail them out; but they did say that it will power three-quarters of a million homes while miraculously safetifying and convenientising the plutonium. A few uncharitable voices have claimed that GE Hitachi have given little evidence with which to prove their credibility, even though Daveybloke's cuddlies have provided still less evidence that there will be any necessity for GE Hitachi to do any such thing. On the other hand, Britain's plutonium stockpile costs £2000 million a year to maintain, which is such a bargain that some of Daveybloke's Cuddlies would like it reclassified as an asset instead of a liability. Perhaps they are thinking on wog-bombing lines, given the promising contacts made by Adam Werritty and his pet minister in the Middle East.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

George and the Dragon

Sir Osborne he arose this day,
And donned his suit and purple tie,
And toddled off into the fray,
To do, and let some others die.

A public dragon roamed the land
And roared that things were far too tough.
Sir Osborne took the thing in hand,
Because his chums weren't rich enough.

Sir Osborne's chums most sorely feared
The dragon and its dreadful fame.
They knew not why it had appeared,
But had some thoughts on who to blame.

Sir Osborne mounted Vince, his steed,
And galloped to confront the foe
With tales of European greed
And weddings, holidays, and snow.

The dragon struck, and struck again,
Our hero's plump besuited flanks.
Sir Osborne knew that it would fain
Have eaten all his piggy banks.

He stabbed it with the fiscal sword
Held firmly in his sweaty mitts;
He chopped away the golden hoard
Which it had claimed on benefits.

And then, when the collapse was near,
Sir Osborne took an untaxed breath;
And, showing not a hint of fear,
He smirked the beastly thing to death.

Me at Poetry-24
This Just In

Monday, November 28, 2011

Strength to Strength

The Chancellor's little orange doormat has been smacked down for saying that the carbon capture and storage budget might be used instead to slow the general decay of our infrastructure. CCS used to be seen as one of the low-carbon technologies in which Britain could be a pioneer; but the major fossil fuel companies decided not to bother with it, and state interference would have been contrary to the religious beliefs of the Conservatives and the expediency of the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, George the Progressively Regressive is readying concessions to enable British industry to get around what regulations there are. Doubtless the climate change problem, like all our other problems, will vanish like a cast-iron pledge once the deficit is down and employees can be sacked at will.

In Britain's usual spirit of friendly co-operation with the EU, the greenest government ever is also supporting Canada's efforts to undermine European penalties on pollution from tar sands. The process of extracting oil from tar sands is even more pollutive than conventional drilling, but Canada is a long way off so the Countryside Alliance is unlikely to mind very much. By coincidence, the Government has been having lots of friendly chats on the issue with some nice people from Shell and BP, and the little orange doormat for the Department for Transport has had a particularly persuasive time. Like the Canadian government, he argues for "tackling all highly polluting crudes equally", regardless of whether some pollute more highly than others. Truly, the greenest government ever is going from strength to strength.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And After All We've Done

With typical ingratitude, officials from developing countries have been complaining about the tactics used by the civilised world at climate change summits. A report by the World Development Movement includes various outpourings of hatred and envy from representatives of nations which have yet to develop a correct attitude towards enlightened values and market forces. Intransigent and backsliding elements have even criticised the Lower (now Upper) Miliband's attempts, as the representative of Gordon Brown's government, to persuade the lower orders to sign up to an accord that would be good for British business. Others have criticised the West for failing to adhere to procedure, as though the emergency of climate change were outweighed by the mere legalistic business of having a few brown people represented at this or that meeting. A diplomat from Tuvalu laid bare the inadequacies of the Third World's vision by saying: "Can I suggest that it looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future? Mr President, our future is not for sale". This is certainly not the sort of attitude that gets a country punching above its weight on the international stage.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Of Making Many Books

Michael Gove, who as a Conservative minister and former Murdoch Times leader-spouter knows all about moral and philosophical and literary thingummies, proposes to send every state school in England a copy of the Authorised Version by next Easter. Not only that, but these Bibles will be rather special: each will contain a two-line introduction which Michael Gove and his little men are even now struggling to compose. The idea is being touted (or, as the Guardian's psychic correspondent hath it, the idea is intended) as a means of helping pupils "access Britain's cultural heritage", in aid of which Michael Gove has done a lot of blathering about Austen, Dickens, Hardy, science, history, foreign languages and Gladstone, and has continued New Labour's policy of turning the state sector over to profiteers and the God squad.

The National Secular Society has irreverently suggested that copies of The Origin of Species be sent out as well (or, as the Guardian's psychic correspondent hath it, instead). The NSS points out that every school in England can most likely rustle up a Bible already when it needs one, or whether it needs one or not; which rather churlishly implies that a two-line introduction by Michael Gove may not make sufficient difference to be worth the effort involved.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tory Sex Scene

Warning. Honest pornographers and others of a comparatively sensitive disposition may require eyeball cleanser and/or mind-bleach after viewing this post.

They were usually too busy making money, so in general they left such dirty work to the voluntary sector. Still, it was the conference season; liaison was a buzz-word that year and we're human too the sales pitch; so they gave it a try in the hope of promotion.

Her eyes were a pair of passionate drawing-pin points protruding from a blushing mound of Blu-tack. Flesh responded eagerly to the force of gravity as artificial supports twanged and were jettisoned like so many cast-iron pledges. There were three minutes of squelching sounds, then at last he wobbled forth from his underpants.

"I only practise safe sex," she said, spreading the pulped remains of twenty million taxpayers over his throbbing accoutrement. The head glistened hot and fat and purple, and the glans didn't look too good either.

Chins collided and spread sensuously across other chins. Their tongues battled together as if trying to wrap themselves around the name of some wog athlete at the OBEs. It was like dissolving into a warm salty sea of reduced immigration, labour flexibilitisation, enhanced fiscal productivity, and war. It was like two Astute submarines running aground in the night.

Ruthlessly he penetrated her innermost gusset, while his rampant cummerbund pulsed with market forces. "You can't put it up there," she whispered. "That's where all my statistics come from." Yet those of her lips which paid service to God, country and family values thinned and pursed with the moist humidity of an Anglican blue-rinser. She became almost interested as she realised that they were being heterosexual and that Iain Duncan Smith would almost certainly approve.

The adhesive sound of his high-level lunchbox slapping against her buttocks reminded her of the tutting of Liberal Democrats in cabinet, and the thought drove her to new heights of spontaneous career management. Fish-grey fleshy wavelets stirred the sparse hairs on his paunch in time to the thrusting of his dynamic assistance package. His jowls quivered like fanatical porridge the moment before unsticking itself from the ceiling.

"Don't stain the power suit DON'T STAIN THE oh fuck it."

Her cry came too late. Eyes bulging like Secretaries of State, he discharged with the force of the UK Border Agency. Still, once he'd been spanked and then anally penetrated with a rolled-up Daily Mail, even he had to admit that he felt somehow cleansed.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Austerity in Arcadia

I am sure our hearts all bleed for Sir Philip Green, whose retail empire has suffered a decline in profits of nearly forty per cent. Green, whom Daveybloke commissioned last year to pontificate upon the inefficiency of those parts of the national economy not owned by Sir Philip Green, stuck loyally to the Government's line and blamed the weather: "The warmest October and November on record have made autumn trading much tougher," he said, announcing plans to do his bit of the private sector's role in the recovery by firing the staff from two hundred and fifty stores. We're all in this together, after all, and there are still limits on the number of tax havens one can marry, even should one be so exalted an instrument of wealth creation as Sir Philip Green.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Political Games

It appears that his no doubt onerous duties as Labour expenses claimant for Leicester East and chair of the Home Affairs select committee are not keeping Keith Vaz busy enough to prevent his straying into Liam Fox territory over the video game Modern Warfare 3. Fox, it will be remembered, did some huffing and puffing last year about a game in which players could opt to be the Taliban: "I am disgusted and angry," he blathered. "It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game." As the Guardian's most consistently sane commentator after Steve Bell pointed out, it was a bit difficult to see how a lot of little flashing pixels could be a legitimate cause for concern to a man who was, as we now know, the secretary of state for Adam Werritty's defence interests in a country that was at war. Vaz, who has approximately Dr Fox's scruples when it comes to killing real human beings, has not gone quite so far as to use the word un-British, but he has tabled a motion blathering about links between violent crime and violent video games, and calling on the British Board of Film Classification to do something about it. Vaz is particularly exercised about "the harrowing scenes in which a London Underground train is bombed by terrorists, bearing a remarkable resemblance to the tragic events of 7 July 2005", although the BBFC has already said that Modern Warfare 3 bears no resemblance to the said events. Evidently the perpetrators were influenced by a different game; perhaps even by a Great one.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Another Regrettable Occurrence

The Government is to regret officially, through the European Court of Human Rights, the death in police custody of Christopher Alder, who choked to death in the presence of five officers in Hull thirteen years ago. Alder was an ex-paratrooper and a decorated Falklands veteran, which makes the indiscretion slightly more embarrassing than the normal run of these things. He took eleven minutes to die, and afterwards "monkey-like noises were detected on the audio tape"; Alder was black, and no doubt it was all just a bit of harmless fun. The inquest jury gave a verdict of unlawful killing but the judge, as they do, threw out the manslaughter case and an internal disciplinary hearing decided, as they do, that no neglect of duty had occurred. Even the release of Alder's body to his family was botched somehow, and his sister still has questions about other injuries which the Government presumably hopes, on behalf of Humberside police, to leave unanswered for good. The Government has also agreed to pay the family £29,000 which, in the spirit of its proposed reforms for restricting litigation to the rich, will include legal costs; and the ECHR will be "invited" to forgive and forget.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Then Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill, Kill

An academy in Leeds has put up a mural showing Carol Ann Duffy's poem "Mrs Schofield's GCSE". Mrs Schofield was an exams invigilator who complained about another poem of Duffy's, "Education for Leisure", on the usual censor's grounds that depiction equals recommendation; in this case, of knife crime. "I think it is absolutely horrendous," squealed Schofield; "what sort of message is that to give to kids who are reading it as part of their GCSE syllabus?" As the poem bearing her name points out, with perhaps a little less pity than the poor clod deserves, there are a few unpleasant incidents in Shakespeare, too. Duffy even implies that poetry "pursues the human like the smitten moon/ above the weeping, laughing earth" and that we "make prayers of it", which could easily be taken as inducements to stalking and religious violence; fortunately, it appears that Leeds West Academy does not anticipate its new library being frequented by heads of the requisite thickness.

"Education for Leisure", the poem that caused the trouble (and drew two other complaints besides Schofield's) was written in the 1980s, and Schofield registered her objection in 2008. Since the Home Secretary and schools minister at that time were respectively the authoritarian dimwit Agent Smith and the tabloid-pandering bully Ed Balls, it is remarkable that Duffy isn't still under house arrest.

Me at Poetry-24
For Thine is the Corporation

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creaming Off

Now that the original Milk Snatcher has received the Hollywood treatment (however strange the casting of Meryl Streep rather than, say, Anthony Hopkins or Robert Englund), the spiritual dead-enders of the old bag's ignoble house are indulging in a bit of opportune fulmination about a PFI-style scam in the juvenile resource lacto-provision industry. The extra costs amount to ten million pounds a year, or about one-fortieth of the amount for which Daveybloke's Cuddlies have just stiffed the taxpayer with the sale of Northern Rock; presumably the Conservatives are annoyed because the scale of the robbery isn't big enough. "Taxpayers will be furious that on Labour's watch agents took over this scheme, charged vastly inflated prices and literally milked the taxpayer," spluttered a spokesbeing, evidently blissfully unaware of what happened on the Conservatives' watch to the country's railways, energy, water and health service. Amusingly enough, one proposal to end the abuse is "setting up a system of national suppliers to cut out the middlemen", which sounds suspiciously like the Government getting in the way of profiteering. Daveybloke has said that he "does not like" the idea of becoming Milk Snatcher: The Sequel; but surely even that would be preferable to interfering with market forces. It might even win him back the affections of some of those yapping little creatures on his party's quasi-UKIP wing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mixed Vegetables

Daveybloke's cuddly communities secretary and pro-Christian pusher of the Winterval myth, Eric Pickles, has issued a new emergency decree in the war on multiculturalism. It appears that there are far too many Indians in the Indian restaurant business, and Eric Pickles wants it stopped, and stopped now. Rather than letting market forces fight it out among themselves, he is setting up a college so that genuine British people can learn how to cook Indian food, thereby solving Britain's immigration crisis by enabling more chefs to be turned back at the border.

The idea is in due conformity with those of Pickles' comparatively brilliant colleague Iain Duncan Smith, who has rejected Gordon Brown's job-creation slogan "British jobs for British workers" in favour of "getting British workers ready for British jobs" because, as we all know, there are so many British vacancies out there, simply gasping to be filled. Speaking of vacancies, Pickles' scheme may also bask in the approval of Daveybloke's even more comparatively brilliant token Muslim, Baroness Warsi, who has argued for stronger links between the Muslim and Jewish communities, as recommended by the British National Party, and who has expressed a wish to "create a country where people were not embarrassed to say they believed in God or attended church" and where people like the Reverend Blair or Lord Carey of Blathering-in-the-Dotage can finally come out of their shells.

Pickles' college is part of an "integration strategy" which will also incorporate hoped-for bursts of tolerant, inclusive nationalism during the Tony Olympics and the celebrations of Mrs Windsor's sixty glorious years; an online integration forum where people who can't get along in real life can join together and bust bureaucracy; and an "initiative to establish common ground with Gypsy and Traveller communities" before kicking them off it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

News International Witch Hunt Horror

Lawyer warns British justice not to get ideas

News International has brought its moral force to bear on the phone hacking case by warning against a "witch hunt" by victims.

The newspaper group, whose passion for justice was perhaps most famously manifested in the Milly Dowler and Joanna Yeates cases, is facing more than sixty civil actions over the activities of a single rogue journalist with up to 28 different personalities.

Michael Silverleaf QC also warned the court that it risked being placed in contempt of News International by paralleling the Leveson inquiry just as James Murdoch's memory problems are being exposed to the merciless light of publicity.

News International has recently sought to regain public sympathy by hiring Rebekah Brooks a womb until February, after rectal polyps were deemed insufficiently cuddly to facilitate rehabilitation in the public eye.

In addition, the Government is trying to reform Britain's libel laws to enable future tabloids to escape similar actions from people with inappropriate levels of income.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Towards A Cuddlier Capitalism, If Nobody Minds Too Much

Labour's attempt to regain its coveted status as the electable wing of the Conservative Party received a boost today as the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband set out a five-point plan for doing as little as can be got away with. Claiming endorsement from both Bob Diamond and Rowan Williams (behold, the shark hath lain down with the sheepish), he called for finance and the real economy to re-think their relationship; for more empowerment of low-grade profiteers, as advised by Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring; and for vocational skills to be "encouraged" while unemployment is being enforced. He also made noises about "large concentrations of unaccountable private power that lead to higher prices, exploit consumers and lead to inefficiency", and put forth a charmingly Christian idea of helping the vulnerable: "Just as in our welfare state, we need to ensure a greater relationship between contribution and reward (sic), so too at the top." Presumably this means that in the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband's welfare state, the Pauline prohibition on eating by non-workers will be applied with ever-increasing rigour.

The political wing of Ed Balls also deftly used the Government's redistribution policy as a pre-emptive excuse for his own: "the next Labour government is likely to inherit a deficit that still needs to be reduced", so that "resources will have to be focused significantly on paying down that deficit". Lest any doubts remain as to where those resources will come from, Britain's leading liberal newspaper notes that "much of his analysis is shared by the team around the business secretary, Vince Cable", whose relaxed attitude to the filthy rich is almost as famous as his point-scoring attitude to pre-election pledges. Doubtless Cable's moral example accounts for Randy Burnham's pledge to repeal Twizzler Lansley's anti-NHS bill, which has provoked the Conservatives into a rare show of dislike for the idea of turning the clock back to the 1940s. The likelihood of the pledge being fulfilled should Labour get into office, with or without the Liberal Democrats as an excuse, is almost certainly underwhelming.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Les Daniels

Thomas Tessier notes the death of Les Daniels at the age of sixty-eight, and links to a New York Times obituary which expends most of its length on Daniels' work about the history of comic books and superheroes, dismissing in seventeen words his five superb novels about Don Sebastian de Villanueva.

Bizarrely, the Times refers to Sebastian as a "globe-trotting, time-traveling vampire", as though the poor devil were one of the Twilight brats caught up in a Fantastic Journey reboot; in fact, Sebastian is no more a time traveller than is the protagonist of Stephen King's The Dead Zone after he wakes from his five-year coma. Sebastian is destroyed at the end of each of the first three novels, but various relics are saved by unwary human beings, who then call him back for their own purposes. In The Silver Skull (1979), he is returned to life during the last days of the Aztec empire, and in Citizen Vampire (1981) he is reluctantly resurrected during the last days of the ancien régime; but in both cases it is the relics which have endured through time, not Sebastian who has travelled through it. The last two books, Yellow Fog (1988) and No Blood Spilled (1991), both take place in the mid-nineteenth century, and in this case Sebastian does find it convenient to move of his own volition from Victorian London to British India; but that is the only point at which he even approximates to globe-trotting, and the journey takes place between the two narratives.

Daniels' first novel, The Black Castle (1978), establishes the major theme of the series: the question as to whether vampire or humanity is the greater monster. Set in fifteenth-century Spain, it tells of inquisitor Diego de Villanueva, an ambitious and enthusiastic witch-hunter who is using his undead brother - a master of the black arts - as a means to knowledge of the Enemy. Intelligent, amoral and sardonic, Sebastian himself resembles Dr Van Helsing's admiring description of Dracula:

he was in life a most wonderful man. Soldier, statesman, and alchemist, which latter was the highest development of the science knowledge of his time, he had a mighty brain, a learning beyond compare, and a heart that knew no fear and no remorse.

Each of the Sebastian novels displays a commendable lack of King Stephen's Bloat, and all five are marked by scrupulous attention to period detail. The grisly and ludicrous machinations of the Inquisition in The Black Castle; the gory piety of the Aztecs pitted against the ruthless greed of the Spaniards in The Silver Skull; the decadent aristocrats, revolutionary bureaucrats and vengeful underlings in Citizen Vampire; the bullying sanctimony of Victorian London in Yellow Fog and the festering brutality of the Raj in No Blood Spilled are all convincingly rendered. There are occasional cameos by notable historical figures, including a chilly, wasted Torquemada and a sceptical but friendly Marquis de Sade; but Daniels applies his learning with a light touch and never degenerates into mere name-dropping. Citizen Vampire's discussions and demonstrations about Dr Guillotin's humane madame are as sharp, unsparing and mercilessly up-to-date as the lady herself.

Among his influences Daniels cited Robert Bloch, who used a distinctive, blackly humorous style in various genres and, like Daniels, was capable of combining two or more genres in a single work: all the Sebastian books are historical horror novels, but Yellow Fog also has elements of melodrama and the detective story. Another of Daniels' influences was John Dickson Carr, who sometimes used historical settings and was partial to a bit of blood and thunder, to say nothing of literary deconstruction, in many of his mystery novels. Daniels himself regarded his own work as "tragedy, in which evil consumes itself", as opposed to the melodrama common to most modern horror fiction, "in which customarily good guys meet bad guys and win in two out of three falls".

Although the first four novels can be read independently of one another, the last, No Blood Spilled, is a direct sequel to Yellow Fog; according to S T Joshi in Classics and Contemporaries, Daniels first stated and then denied that he had a trilogy in mind. Certainly No Blood Spilled ends on an inconclusive note, with the conflict between Sebastian and his latest pursuer, the delightful half-crazed cad Reginald Callender, still unresolved. The best book of the five is The Silver Skull, at least partly because of its setting (some years before writing it, Daniels wondered in print why the pre-Columbian civilisations had received so little attention from the horror genre) and its cosmic touches. The Black Castle, Citizen Vampire and Yellow Fog are not far behind, and No Blood Spilled is inferior only in comparison to its predecessors; compared to almost anything else in the subgenre, it ranks very high indeed. Taken together, Daniels' novels are among the most impressive achievements in twentieth-century horror fiction, and it is well worth your trouble to make Don Sebastian de Villanueva's acquaintance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Those chirpy cheeps, so bright and clear,
Which greet the morning and the night:-
The mating call: fuck me, my dear;
The warning call: fuck off or fight.

Caprimulgus Gleet

Monday, November 14, 2011

No Deserving Child Left Behind

The Department of Faith Schools and Fee-Payers is all of a Gove yet again, this time over the alleged impact of Daveybloke's cuddly cuts programme on the Sure Start children's centres. Labour claims that almost fifty centres have either closed or been marked for closure this year, and that budgets have been cut in eighty-three per cent of England's local authorities. A Government spokesbeing belched out the usual response that the cuts aren't really cuts at all, and that any problems which may just possibly occur are the fault of local councils failing to prioritise their proles correctly. Meanwhile Gove's tame tuition fee traitor, Sarah Teather, has been struggling to get clear answers from local authorities, while the local authorities have doubtless been struggling to get clear answers from Michael Gove. In any case, the issue is plain enough. Sure Start is "credited with reducing child poverty levels and creating community cohesion", which is about as clear an explanation as anyone could want as to why the Conservatives might be all gung-ho to get rid of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Circling Vultures

Circle Health is run by a former banker for the corporate tax dodgers Goldman Sachs, is backed by a couple of hedge-fund gamblers and has been making losses for the past seven years; all of which doubtless explains why Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition regards Circle Health as the ideal company to pioneer Twizzler Lansley's privatisation of the National Health Service by taking over the running of a debt-ridden hospital. After all, Circle's present losses are merely the result of its commercial vitality: in the Gordon Brown prose of a share prospectus published in the summer, "Circle's growth has placed, and its anticipated growth will continue to place, a strain on its managerial, administrative, operational, financial, information technology and other resources and could affect its ability to provide a consistent level of service to its patients". It is as yet unclear whether anyone has bothered to tell the Department of Health about this; we may hope that the Twizzler's moderating influences among the Liberal Democrats are noisier than the excessively discreet minions of the Murdoch spawn and Daveybloke's cat lady, but I doubt it somehow. A Circle spokesbeing shrugged the whole thing off as "a statement of the obvious", since a share prospectus has to account for every possible eventuality, including the vanishingly unlikely one that people who have donated nearly £800,000 to the Conservative Party might not put NHS patient care very high on their list of priorities. Doubtless the Twizzler, and his moderating influences among the Liberal Democrats, will be happy to lay down the law in their usual manner, so that it can be trampled in an appropriate and mutually advantageous fashion.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Simple Minds

One might hope, if one didn't know better at my age, that a year and a half in office would enable even the Bullingdon Club and its pet oiks to realise that government is rarely so simple a matter as the tabloids and other repositories of national wisdom would have us believe. Unemployment is not always a simple matter of the proles' lacking moral fibre; public health is not always a simple matter of letting the processed-food companies have their way; defence of the realm is not always a simple matter of bombing a few wogs; coping with social unrest is not always a simple matter of turning on the water cannon and easing our prisons' undercrowding. Even the time-honoured British sport of not quite being in Europe is not always a simple matter of giving school-assembly sermons and then diving for Washington's apron-strings when things get sticky, as both Angela Merkel and Nicolas de Racaille have recently had occasion to point out.

Alas, Daveybloke and his Cuddly Conservatives continue to take a disquietingly primary-school approach to the rather complicated mess in which their chums in the City have landed us. During a recent burble to business leaders in London, the Head Boy himself proclaimed, among such expectable pandering measures as permitting arbitrary dismissal of employees for the first two years and fining workers for bringing cases to employment tribunals, that "We've dealt with the flow of regulation by instituting a 'one-in-one-out' rule, so any Minister who wants to bring in a new regulation, has to get rid of an existing one first." Read that again, if you will: Daveybloke has got up before one of his favourite client groups and burbled that what matters to the Government, apart from the need to keep the rabble in their place, is not what the regulations say, or what effect the regulations have, or how the regulations are enforced, or whether the regulations originate in Westminster, in Brussels or in Magna Carta, but how many regulations there are. It's a pity the Bullingdon Club and its pet oiks are unable to apply this childlike logic to some other little local difficulties, like pensioners in fuel poverty, students in debt and families forced onto the breadline; simply put, we could do with fewer of those, too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Glorious Dead

Remember what they sacrificed for you,
To halt the depredations of the Hun.
Remember, for a minute or for two;
And then remember that the good guys won.

Remember that they gave up everything,
Enduring such as we can hardly tell;
They died for freedom, Empire, God and King,
And sundry hard-faced men did very well.

Remember, they were selfless, tough and bold;
Remember that they fought to end all war.
They gave their lives to do as they were told:
Be like them, so that we can have lots more.

Papaver Mugg

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheap, Safe and Clean

The French state energy company EDF has been fined for illegal spying on Greenpeace. French officialdom has taken a robust line with Greenpeace before, leading to the bombing of Rainbow Warrior by the secret service and the death of a photographer, Fernando Pereira, in 1985. Five years ago EDF hired a private detective agency run by a former member of the secret service; the agency hacked the computer of Greenpeace's campaigns director at the time and stole 1400 documents. As one would expect in such a paragon of Rupertian rectitude, EDF owns a large chunk of the nuclear industry in Britain and is a major sponsor of the Tony Olympics. At the trial, EDF used the Murdoch defence, claiming that everything was the work of a few over-zealous rotten apples and that nobody at the company knew anything about anything, and couldn't remember anyway. The court was unconvinced, and several of the company's minions have now been fined and given prison sentences slightly shorter than people can get in Britain for saying silly things on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Little Helpers

It looks as if Wee Nicky's moral compass has been doing the swirly thing again. In August the Independent reported that British banks are being left to regulate themselves when it comes to investing in the arms industry, and that RBS, of which the Government owns eighty-three per cent, has put more than a hundred million pounds of taxpayers' money into the likes of Lockheed Martin and in the dystopically-named Alliant Techsystems, which makes rocket motors for cluster bombs. Wee Nicky proclaimed at the time that he was "totally opposed to cluster bombs of any description", evidently in much the same sense as Wee Nicky is totally opposed to raising tuition fees, privatising the National Health Service, imprisoning children and illegally blowing up Arabs.

Today the Independent reports that Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition is backing the United States and its fellow global paragons - Russia, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea and the inevitable Israel - in an attempt to overturn the international ban on cluster bombs which for the past two years has been subjecting some nice people's profits to non-friendly fire and unhumanitarian detrimentisation. According to a spokesbeing for the Ministry of Wogs, Frogs and Huns, the aim is to bring "the world’s major suppliers, producers and users of cluster munitions under international regulation", by being very nearly as rigorous with them as Vincent Cable has been with the banks. Somehow or other, the report omits to state whether Wee Nicky's opposition to cluster bombs has managed to survive the past couple of months; and if so, how total it is these days.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The New Centurion

A committed Christian, who has so thoroughly absorbed the teachings of his Saviour as to ascend to the peerage through ordering people to kill other people on the whim of some jumped-up advertising men, has been preaching that the civilians need knocking into shape. "In past generations," proclaimed General Lord Dannatt, "it was often assumed that young men and women coming into the armed forces would have absorbed an understanding of the core values and standards of behaviour required by the military from their family or from within their wider community." Such an assumption cannot be made now: thanks to a society "where individualism dominates and the utility of armed force is openly debated", the good old gung-ho days when families were run like regiments are long past. "Given that much of our society is pretty unstructured these days, and given that the military has the unique opportunity to educate its own into the importance of a proper moral understanding," Dannatt continued, exercising commendable economy by placing two dubious premises in the same proposition, "then perhaps the military community may have a wider contribution that it can make to the nation." In Standard English, this appears to mean that if more people did as they were told we wouldn't have quite so much hoodie trouble. I may be doing General Lord Dannatt an injustice, but I doubt that he was referring to the unstructured depredations of the City of London.

Anyhow, Dannatt pontificated about the moral fibre of British troops in the usual Boys' Own terms: "they must be able to kill and show compassion at the same time; they must be loyal to their country, their regiment and their friends without compromising their own integrity." In many cases, no doubt, their integrity consists entirely of loyalty to country, regiment and friends; which can lead to difficulties if the friends get killed, the regiment is decimated by email and the country has no particular interest in education, employment or paying welfare benefits. Dannatt's solution to these merely terrestrial difficulties is to proselytise for a "spiritual dimension, beyond the rational and beyond the moral", which apparently comes in jolly useful for the military and might do wonders for the rest of us as well. Dannatt also made reference to the commander of the Drina corps of the Bosnian Serb army at the time of the Srebrenica massacre: "Had he refused orders from his superior, General Ratko Mladic … upwards of 8,000 people would still be alive. The risks of the morally correct line were obviously high, but on the day he failed the test." As head of the British army, Dannatt himself questioned the conduct of the Iraq adventure, but not to such an extent that upwards of a hundred thousand civilians are still alive. The risks of the morally correct line were obviously high; but when there's slaughtering to be done, particularly when one is beyond morality and reason, it is usually better to be the legionary than the lamb.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Untimely Vindication

Those staunch self-regulators at the Press Complaints Commission have administered a quick kick in the groin to the ever-hapless Gordon Brown; better yet, like all the most enjoyable kicks in the groin, it has been delivered under the guise of a soothing balm. Last July the Sunday Torygraph claimed that Brown, with his usual talent for calm strategic thinking, had threatened to "smash the tycoon's media empire" during a telephone conversation with Rupert Murdoch. Brown was not solicited for comment, and there was no indication that the story was based on the babblings of "confidential sources" and thus nearly as close to the realms of fact as an official New Labour press release. Hence, on the day when it emerged that the News of the World was hacking lawyers' telephones, presumably for blackmailing purposes, and on the day before James Murdoch is due another chance to deny everything he hasn't forgotten, the PCC has taken full advantage of its own opportunity and ruled that Gordon Brown's credentials as a Murdoch sycophant are intact and unassailable.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

We're Not Doing This Because We Believe In It, You Know

Daveybloke's regrettable Minister for Work and Pensions Withdrawal, Iain Duncan Smith, has overheard some seditious remarks in the Commons tea rooms and, like the good little swot he is, has gone straight to the Head Boy to tattle. It appears that Daveybloke's plot to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies, thereby depriving Labour of up to twenty seats and formally euthanising the Liberal Democrats, has caused yet further squeals of discontent from the Conservatives. Although about thirteen Conservative seats are expected to be sacrificed in the Great Daveymander, the Head Boy has given a cast-iron pledge that nobody who matters will lose out, and has broached the idea of kicking upstairs to the House of Donors anyone who cares to be so kicked. Nevertheless, the Commons tea rooms are frothing with disaffection from Conservative MPs who resent the Government throwing them out of their jobs and paying them off with promises, for all the world as if they were actual public servants. Still, at least we now know for certain that, counting his own, there are at least fourteen jobs in the country that Iain Duncan Smith would rather not see lost.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

A Political Solution

Our House of Common Criminals is past
All thought or care to halt the City's games;
And yet there's little sign someone may blast
That pile of smirking thieves into the Thames.
They've cut adrift many unworthy lives;
Six hundred fifty more will add no gloom.
Now that they've bust us with their chopping-knives,
Return, good master Fawkes, with a big boom.

Mobberly Grotcher

Friday, November 04, 2011


The dead German artist Martin Kippenberger, whose blasphemous frog caused the Vatican some discomfort three years ago, has now suffered retribution at the humble hands of an enthusiastic cleaning lady. Although cleaning staff were supposed to keep a distance of at least twenty centimetres, and although the work in question is helpfully titled "When it Starts Dripping from the Ceiling", the cleaner scrubbed away a painting of a dried rain puddle from beneath a Kippenberger installation in a Dortmund museum. As with much modern art, it is not entirely clear whether the object is any the worse for having been revised in this aleatoric fashion; but insurance adjusters are hard at work calculating how much of its $1.1 million market value has been wiped away.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Protection of Freedom

A "maverick Conservative peer", which in the present context could mean anything from somebody afflicted with occasional independence of mind, through a mediocrity who was once caught in bed with an Airedale, to an ultramontane birch-and-rope wog-bomber with Maastricht engraved on its heart, is pushing a bill to cleanse Britain's forced-entry laws of excessive Britishness. Baron Selsdon has managed to eliminate the more outdated provisions of the 1980 Bees Act, which entitles people to claim a share of the honey made from pollen taken in their own garden as long as they can follow the trespassing bee back to its hive; and despite being a member of the Conservative Party he appears more or less au fait with the outdatedness of the 1950 Distribution of German Enemy Property Order. Nevertheless, in keeping with the New Labour spirit of Daveybloke's cuddly modernisers, the Baron has taken care that his Protection of Freedom Bill does not unduly restrict the liberty of ministers to trample over civil rights whenever the mood takes them. An all-party constitutional committee thanked the Baron for his efforts, but noted optimistically that future governments may be less benign than the present one.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Junk, Food

A report by the Commons select committee on health contains a few uncomfortable questions for Twizzler Lansley to snigger at before he scrunches the document up, chucks it at Paul Burstow and galumphs his way happily onward. For one thing, the committee strokes its collective chin a bit over the Twizzler's idea of protecting frontline services, which seems mostly to involve demolishing frontline services; for another, the committee politely wonders from which of his all too numerous anal orifices the Twizzler has plucked the figure of four thousand million pounds which will supposedly be available for the improvement of public health once the present chaos sorts itself out and somebody or other is in charge again.

Additionally, the committee indulges in a certain scepticism at the Twizzler's brilliant solution to the country's ever-expanding obesity problem; namely inviting the fast food industry to participate in making policy. "Those with a financial interest must not be allowed to set the agenda," states the committee; it is not as yet clear whether Lord Ashcroft will give his gracious consent to be thus bound in his dealings with the Conservative Party, though I am sure Willem den Haag will get around to asking him one day. When it comes to the NHS, however, "people like McDonald's are the major players," squeaked a spokesbeing and Twizzler chum. "You can't just not talk to them"; and it would certainly be a bit uncivil to talk to them and then just ignore them, as the Government has been doing with such comparatively minor players as the British public and the British Medical Association.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Even the Treachery Isn't Reliable

Doubtless emboldened by the debate recently granted for the appeasement of Daveybloke's Little Englanders, a significant percentage of Wee Nicky's remaining dupes have registered a certain discontent via the time-honoured Liberal Democrat device of writing a letter to the Guardian. Apparently still labouring under the delusion that the Government has some sort of interest in reducing the deficit, as opposed to using the deficit as a pretext for the cuts programme which is an end in itself, the gang of ten failed parliamentary candidates and cast-aside committee members claims to "take seriously the policies on which we fought the last general election, in particular the belief that the Conservatives' economic proposals would have dire consequences". Should they deign to lift their muzzles from the trough, Wee Nicky and his City-cred spokesbeing, Vincent Cable, are expected to respond that the Liberal Democrats were raring to slash and burn just as much as the two parties now remaining; although in all fairness that was before the election, like certain pledges on tuition fees, VAT, the health service and other minor matters.