The Curmudgeon


Friday, May 31, 2013

Working Hard and Getting On

Three years ago, when he was still posturing as a one-nation Milibeing-lite, Daveybloke described lobbying as "the next big scandal waiting to happen". Naturally, he has since done nothing about it; and naturally, another of his more emotional party colleagues has leapt into the breach with his hob-nailed feet in his mouth. Patrick Mercer, a right-wing ex-military rent-a-mouth with the intellectual distinction of Liam Werritty, the charm of Iain Duncan Smith and the memory of James Murdoch, has resigned from the party in the face of allegations by the hated BBC's Panorama. Allegedly, he has been taking money in return for "consultancy advice", which in present-day political discourse appears to be a euphemism for selling national policy to the highest bidder. That kind of thing is all very well when it has been approved by the Cabinet, especially since the days of the Reverend Tony; but it seems to be an area where even the Conservative Party doubts the virtue of private enterprise.

Mercer, in fact, has been an embarrassment for some time. In opposition, in the midst of the Conservatives' brief and whimsical No Longer Nasty phase, he was fired from the front bench for racism; and he apparently described Daveybloke to the People tabloid, with more accuracy than charity, as "an arse" and a "despicable creature without any real redeeming features". Mercer later claimed that he either had or had not made all the remarks attributed to him, but wasn't clear which; and he accused the tabloid of having obtained in an underhanded fashion whatever remarks he did or did not make. He has approached the present case in similar fashion, taking legal advice to find out if Panorama's allegations are true enough to be troublesome, and resigning the party whip in near-record time just in case someone comes up with a reasonable offer.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

That Good News Just Keeps On Coming

Although proper structural investment is forbidden because we are British, the Government has no objection to an occasional flutter within the bounds of theological correctitude. Our present woes, it seems, have nothing whatever to do with people having no money, but only with their not having enough places in which to spend it. Accordingly, the Government has been throwing money at a television presenter to opportunify the vitalisation of various telegenic towns. Several of the towns have apparently been afraid to spend much of the money in case it rains and the Osborne economic miracle suffers another setback; others have spent it all on pig costumes to appeal to local families by reminding them of the Bullingdon Club. One council did manage to provide a team with a catchy acronym, appropriately reminiscent of old-fashioned mafia stereotypes; but on the whole the initiative has delivered in much the same style as the deficit reduction plan, the greenest government ever and the NHS being safe in their hands, and has yielded a healthy increase in empty shopping outlets.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Troop Transports

It would no doubt be uncharitable of me to regard this tawdry bit of dog-whistling as a direct response to the murder of a soldier in Woolwich; but charity has never been among my more conspicuous virtues. While Daveybloke's mad old cat lady tries to thrash out a snooper's coalition with Labour, the shadow transport secretary has been paying tribute to the dead in her own special way, by suggesting that veterans of the armed forces should receive concessionary rail travel. Rail companies made more than three hundred million in profit during 2011-12, and spending too much of it on improving services for everyone would obviously be grossly irresponsible, though not quite so irresponsible as involving British personnel in the dirty wars of a foreign power. Still, it is certainly refreshing to see the Milibeing's foot soldiers pandering to the Daily Mail set, rather than doing anything silly like dredging up alternatives, rather than minor modifications, to the present neoliberal theology.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

If Any Man Will Sue Thee at the Law

The Grand Chamber of the European court of human rights has rejected the appeals of three Christians whose employers had the temerity to insist that they do their jobs. One, a local authority registrar, was disciplined for refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies; another, a relationship counsellor, was sacked for discriminating against same-sex couples. The third, a geriatrics nurse, refused to remove a crucifix, presumably on the grounds that the outer appearance is more important than the inner soul; treacherously enough, her employers went on paying her but moved her to other duties in which the wearing of such trinkets did not conflict with hygiene and safety rules. The three martyrs' appeals were turned down in January, at the same time as a British Airways check-in attendant won her own case and "partly overshadowed" the others, thanks to an opportunistic bit of Euro-bashing from Daveybloke and the barrage of objective reporting which the judgement elicited at the time. Now that the Grand Chamber has booted them out, their cases are effectively over pending Britain's opt-out from the law on human rights. It is to be hoped that the three will now be given the opportunity to rejoice and be exceeding glad, in accordance with their Saviour's instructions.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nuclear Menace

Former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has called upon a prominent rogue state to relinquish its weapons of mass destruction. The rogue state in question has a long history of military aggression, which recent leaders have unanimously praised as a glorious heritage. Since 1979 the rogue state has been undergoing a revolution resulting in the setting up of a corrupt one-party state and harsh measures against outsiders who are perceived to be a threat to the prevailing theology. The roll call of such outsiders includes, so far: illegal immigrants; legal immigrants; Muslims; the unemployed; the homeless; the chronically ill; the rogue state's major trading partners; and poor people with too many bedrooms. The rogue state is also planning to adopt discredited education methods from a period of its history marked by open racism and colonial wars.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Leading From the Sidelines

It appears that the Euro-wogs are once more out of step with the mainland; this time on the issue of renewable energy. The greenest government ever, and world leader on renewables by the grace of Owen Paterson, has decided that EU targets are not quite good enough; partly because they annoy the back-bench baboons who have been causing the Bullingdon Club so much trouble recently, but mostly because they might interfere with George Osborne's grand plan to shale-frack the country into a new and prosperous Age of Methane. Accordingly, Ed Davey (not to be confused with Ed or Davey), the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Department for Energising Climate Change, has taken a leaf out of Osborne's blotted little copy-book and simply pushed back the goal-posts another ten years. It is, of course, by virtue of such decisive and realistic actions that the UK has retained its present moral advantage over the foreigners and fuzzy-wuzzies.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Evening, All

The Ilford chapter of the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club has taken on social cleansing duties with all the Club's usual enthusiasm, by ambushing homeless people and confiscating their food and shelter. "The public rely on police to reduce the negative impact of rough sleepers," proclaimed the relevant chief inspector; the public these days, of course, is an exclusive and rapidly shrinking circle of privilege, which certainly cannot afford to include persons outside the housing market. Hence the necessity for the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club to "assist [the verb is really rather charming, is it not?] in the removal of temporary structures, tents, and bedding from public spaces and other inappropriate locations"; which is to say, any locations, the idea of homeless persons having a place being self-evidently absurd unless it happens to be the kind of place one must be kept in.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Corporate Penetration

G4S, that paragon of efficiency and corporate sensitivity, has been awarded a three-year contract to run two sexual assault referral centres in the West Midlands. Such centres have hitherto provided mere medical examinations and counselling for victims of rape and sexual assault; but we all have to move with the times, and from now on they will doubtless progress towards a more streamlined and fiscally modernised service profile. Given G4S' prior record and their employment of Lord Reid, who enjoys the enviable distinction of being a slightly cruder and stupider New Labour home secretary than either Charles Clarke or David Blunkett, it cannot be long before the company starts paying the wealthier local personalities to go out and commit sexual assaults in order that the relevant targets may be properly met. G4S' managing director for forensic and medical sales responded to the predictable outcry of feminazi frustration with the claim that the company had been working in the area since 2005 and had developed substantial expertise. Of course, G4S had quite a bit of experience and expertise in security work before the Olympics; and I am sure we all recall what came of that.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Snoop Group

In the wake of the murder at Woolwich, and Daveybloke's subsequent refusal of knee-jerk reactions, a couple of New Labour jerks have reacted on his behalf. Lord Reid of G4S and Lord West of QinetiQ both overcame their commercial interests so far as to offer an objective view of the matter, and both advised in favour of reviving the snoopers' charter. The Deputy Conservative control-order fan Lord Carlile joined the chorus for democracy, proclaiming that "We mustn't rush to judgement" before giving the Government the benefit of his opinion that the police and security services must have "the tools they need that will enable them to prevent this kind of attack taking place". I'm sure nobody had thought of that. Jack Straw, never one to use a blade where a bludgeon will do, called the murder an act of "stone-age savagery", but does not appear to have been invited to make an ethical comparison with his own government's hobbies of kidnap, torture and international aggression. Despite Daveybloke's present reservations, it is perfectly possible that he will lend all these médiocrités grises a sympathetic ear; he is, after all, the bloke who promised no chaotic top-down reorganisations of the NHS, and he does have Nick Clegg for a partner.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Intellectual Suicide

Militant feminists have staged a fake suicide at Notre Dame, mocking and mangling the example of Dominique Venner, the right-wing historian who shot himself to death at the altar yesterday. Venner left a note proclaiming, "I believe it is necessary to sacrifice myself to break the lethargy that oppresses us. I offer what remains of my life in an act of protest", apparently at the immense danger posed to French and European culture by the institution of marriage. Marine Le Pen tweeted her respect, which doubtless made it all worth while. It is a pity that Femen have chosen to parody the gesture in such an undignified manner, which might well deter some of those who hold Venner's opinions from following his useful example.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Through Good Times And Bad

Rah rah; it's two thousand and five!
The Conservative Party's alive!
I'm the nice chap from Sales
Who'll keep us on the rails,
And stop us from taking a dive!

Whoopee; it's two thousand and ten!
Our snouts in the trough once again!
As a salesman I'm sold,
And now into the cold
Will go Cleggy and his little men!

It's twenty-thirteen; such a bore,
With the proles coming back to the fore.
Why do you blame me?
Why can you not see?
I'm a salesman, that's all, nothing more!

Davey Fitztony

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Taxation With Our Representation

Some representatives of Britain's most harassed and disadvantaged citizens have informed Daveybloke that enough is enough. The president of the Confabulation of Business Interests, Roger Carr, flanked by some of the country's most down-at-heel kleptocrats, has dropped in for a bit of a chat about why Daveybloke needs to stop urging them to mend their ways. "It is only in recent times that tax has become an issue on the public agenda," whined Carr earlier in the day at the Oxford Business School. As a result of that nonsense about all being in it together, we suffer "businesses that the general public know and believe they understand; businesses with a brand that become a perfect political football, the facts difficult to digest; public passions easy to inflame" and, it would appear, CBI presidents who can't string a proper sentence together. It is all very bad, no doubt; Carr even complained that the issue of tax avoidance "cannot be about morality", which shows a remarkable lack of appreciation for Daveybloke's continuing and strenuous efforts to ensure that it remains a matter of little else. Carr and his chums really ought to be grateful that Daveybloke has kept at bay such inconveniences as legislation, bailiffs, fines, the public interest and so forth; but gratitude has no place in today's market. "There are no absolutes," proclaimed Carr, quoting one of James Herbert's better novels; so if anyone would care to shoplift at Tesco or defraud the Prudential, now you know it makes sense.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Men of Honour

Egad! Referendum eftsoons,
And yet, through the next many moons,
My Eton-white arse
Will roast in this farce
Cooked up by some swivel-eyed loons!

O how can my Party be free
To buck up and follow poor me?
I must be incisive
And quick and decisive -
I'll shove Jerry Hunt on TV!

Poor Jerry's not such a bright lad,
But he is no back-stabbing cad.
And he's been through it all
And he knows how to stall,
And waffle, and sack the right spad!

Davey Fitztony

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Pale Green

The greenest government ever has provided yet another eloquent demonstration of how much it cares about all that husky-hugging nonsense. Over the next few years we can expect increasingly severe and unpredictable effects, including floods, droughts, heatwaves, storms and, if the likes of Cuadrilla continue to get their way, earthquakes, explosions and mass water poisonings. None of these little inconveniences is likely to interfere with the Osborne economic miracle or the profits of the Bullingdon Club's oily little chums; so the Chancellor has refused to adopt any environmental targets beyond 2020, when it will all be someone else's problem.

The response of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has also been more or less what one would expect: it has cut by eighty-four per cent the team of officials charged with working out how to cope with climate change. As usual, the slashing and burning is purely a matter of restructuring: a Defra spokesbeing droned out the standard communiqué that the cuts have taken place because Defra has overfulfilled its three-year plan and embedded the team's expertise in every aspect of its being. Hence, another and larger team will be necessary to dig Defra out of whatever hole it has got itself into by 2017; fortunately, this will be after the next general election and therefore quite possibly the fault of the next Labour administration.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Scrotum At Bay

Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain's new official opposition by grace of the journalistic classes, has received a tumultuous welcome from some fascist scum north of the border. As with so many other issues, Scottish fascism appears to be a rather anaemic and half-hearted affair: the unfortunate statesman was shouted at and pointed at, for all the world like a wog out of place, and was eventually booted out of a taxi in which he sought political asylum. The fascist scum were apparently under the impression that Farage is a racist and a homophobe, just because racists and homophobes keep popping up in his party's membership. The fascist scum apparently wished to make known their traditional fascist dislike of racism and homophobia; so Farage himself diagnosed the fracas as "a kind of anti-English thing", on the grounds that the fascist scum also registered a dislike of the Union Jack, which is of course the English flag. Farage has called on the fiend Salmond to distance himself from the fascist scum, and at Westminster it is believed that a cross-party agreement is being drafted on the back of various envelopes for emergency legislation defining the act of shouting at Nigel Farage as a hate crime.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Operation Chastise

Berlin has rather tactlessly chosen the anniversary of 617 Squadron's famous victory to indicate a certain lack of willingness to join the Daveyblokey-cokey over EU police and counter-terrorism powers. The Government wants to opt out of a hundred and thirty-six laws and then opt back in to the ones that will not interfere unduly with the creation of the neoliberal police state. The opt-out seems to have been the easy part, as Britain now has to renegotiate the opt-ins with the European Commission and the twenty-six lesser nations which compose the Brusso-Strasbourgian evil empire. There are already complaints from senior officials that they have no idea what the mainland wants to renegotiate; which must be one of the few things which the Eurocrats have in common with Daveybloke and his mad old cat lady. The Eurocrats also say that the Home Office has not been in contact with them for more than six months, although it is not entirely clear whether this is viewed as a matter of concern or quiet relief. Presumably, contact with the Foreign Office is out of the question on the grounds that Willem den Haag is too busy name-dropping Angelina Jolie and waiting for Shaker Aamer to die. In any case, no doubt Daveybloke and his famous diplomatic talents will soon be called upon to veto the uppity Euro-wogs and remind certain people exactly who won the war.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


When an embattled and incompetent minister (viz. a minister) wishes to avoid being heckled, kettled and tasered by a hostile audience, the usual course of action nowadays is to make a headline-grabbing, endorphin-squirting policy announcement and then allow lesser mortals to worry about little things like legality and implementation. For her annual comedy turn at the Police Federation, Daveybloke's mad old cat lady has done just that, proclaiming that the lives of police officers are worth more than those of other people and that the police, rather than liberty, law or civilisation, represent the "fundamental basis of our society". Most, if not all, Home Secretaries over the past couple of decades have been police-state enthusiasts of one stripe or another; but it is still comparatively rare for the tendency to be pronounced aloud, although the pleonastic redundancy of the redundant pleonasm has a nostalgic whiff of New Labour. Daveybloke's mad old cat lady wants people who kill police officers to be sentenced in the same way as terrorists, serial murderers and other symptoms of the welfare state; which means they must die in prison assuming the victim's professional colleagues have not exercised their inalienable prerogative and pre-empted the matter on the streets or in police custody before any trial, or indeed any crime, has taken place.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Never Send A Salesman to Do A Statesman's Job

Since it is nominally the prime minister's job to govern in the interests of the whole country, Daveybloke has been all of a tizzy trying to govern in the interests of his own shrinking faction of the Conservative Party. Daveybloke is on a trip to the USA at the moment, whereby he presumably hoped to add a certain statesmanlike glow to his natural maroon-rubber sheen; unfortunately, Daveybloke's heroic abstention from wog jokes in the presence of Barack Obama has been overshadowed by the antics of a few dozen back-bench baboons and a couple of treacherous toadies in the Cabinet. Accordingly, in a fit of near-absolute non-panic Daveybloke has ordered the solicitor general locked in a room with a biro and the back of an envelope, and the solicitor general has scribbled out a 500-word bill to keep the apes on-side, providing for a referendum on British independence from Brussels by December 2017. The government, should there be one by that time, will be under no obligation to leave the EU if a majority vote in favour of doing so; which is certainly in line with the Conservative Party's idea of democracy. The measure has worked about as well as Daveybloke's UKIP-lite measures usually work: the amendment which it was intended to undercut will go ahead anyway, the baboons will do as they please, and it will all be the fault of the Liberal Democrats.

Monday, May 13, 2013

13 May 1787

It was nearly the hour of closing at the Gallows and Glockenspiel. "Thirteenth of May, seventeen eighty-seven. Nearly closing time," announced Hooligan Motts; but the small and noisy gathering of fashionable ladies and gentlemen at the better end of the bar paid little or no attention. They had been there some considerable time, the men in pastel cutaways and luminous knee-socks, the ladies in frilled chemises and pouty drapings. Among the ladies, some had shawls and some had parasols, and some of the men carried walking-sticks; but despite the heat of debate nobody resorted to weapons, though Granny Forbus would happily have told them how.

"Bit of a barney there," said Melon Head Myrtle to one of the gentlemen, who had detached himself in order to visit the bar for a final tankard of Wobley's Thurrock.
"Barney?" said the gentleman, whose waistcoat and matching complexion resembled a massacre at a beetroot emporium. "I think we left Barney at the docks. He was in a most melancholy state."
"The docks?" said Melon Head Myrtle. "Did he miss his boat, then?"
"Not at all, not at all," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat. "We all went there to watch the fleet leave. Rather a stirring sight, though not quite so salutary as a good public hanging. That's what disappointed Barney, I think."
"The fleet?" said Melon Head Myrtle. "Is there a war on?"
"Not at all, not at all," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat. "It was the convict fleet, transporting eight hundred felons to New Holland."
"New Holland?" said Melon Head Myrtle.
"A most dreadful business," said one of the ladies, who had approached in time to catch the last few words and clearly did not care for the haul. "Do you know," the lady continued, looking down her nose at Melon Head Myrtle, "it's taken them nearly a whole year to prepare these ships, and not so much as the paltry spectacle of a flogging to offer at the end of it. It makes you wonder what entertainment in this country is coming to."
"You speak of entertainment," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat; "what of the country's morals, its society, its fabric of law and order?"
"New Holland?" said Melon Head Myrtle.
"'Tis a land far to the south," said the lady; "so far to the south, apparently, that it is on the other side of the world; which makes it all the more incomprehensible that the British taxpayer should be put to the expense of transporting criminals there."
"To say nothing," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat, "of the country's morals, its society, its fabric of law and order. Do you know," he confided to the lady, "methinks that may be the reason why Barney stayed behind. He's always had a thing for law and order, ever since he stabbed that washer-woman."
"Stayed behind?" Pointing her nose elsewhere, the lady rested a lorgnette upon it and scanned the gathering for sign or spoor of Barney. "More likely he was left behind. His litter is so slow, what with his being such a substantial gent these days; it needs a lick of paint and a change of lackeys."
"This lady was asking after him," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat, indicating Melon Head Myrtle. "Were you not, madam?"
"Not at all, dearie," said Melon Head Myrtle. "I was just wondering what you were all arguing about."
"We were discussing the country's morals," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat, "and its society and its fabric of law and order, and the question as to whether the said fabric has now suffered an irreparable rent."
"I shouldn't think so, myself," Melon Head Myrtle reassured him; "not if you're sending all your criminals off to live on the other side of the world."
"That is precisely the point," said the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat. "What possible deterrent value can there be in a luxury cruise? Time was when a man could be hanged for cutting down a tree or raiding a rabbit warren; now it appears that such derelictions are to be punished by turning the malefactors into immigrants. It is even said that so much food and clothing has been packed onto those ships that the voyage may be survived by almost the entire cargo. Now where, I ask you, is the justice in that? Where is the morality? Where is the all-important punitive element?"
"It sounds to me, dearie," said Melon Head Myrtle, "like it's the natives of New Holland who'll be getting the punitive element, what with all those woodcutters and rabbit-raiders being foisted on them. There won't be a tree or a bunny safe in the place."
"Indeed, the felons will be immigrants, with all the cultural and economic advancement that implies," agreed the lady with the lorgnette; "though why the natives of New Holland should be permitted to benefit from the largesse of the British taxpayer I cannot in conscience imagine."
"Indeed, for the British taxpayer 'tis always a cruel, hard world," agreed the gentleman in the massacre waistcoat.
"Closing time," agreed Hooligan Motts.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It Isn't a Disaster, It's an Opportunity

Well, here's a thing: having blamed the Osborne economic miracle variously upon the last Labour administration, the weather, the Olympics, the Royal Family and some other, slightly less wealthy scroungers, the Government has now been informed that recession is rather a rah-rah thing after all. Lord Young, a blithering hold-over from the Thatcher era who has been kept in bacillus-like isolation in a Downing Street office since a previous gaffe in 2010, has decided that plunging workers into poverty means nothing but good for the dynamic entrepreneur. The TUC has registered a certain discontent at his remarks, so a spokesbeing accused the TUC of taking a Duncan Smith approach to the facts: "Lord Young doesn't say a recession is a good time, he says it can be a good time to start a business." As a matter of fact, Young's 2010 gaffe was precisely to say that the so-called recession meant times had never been better; he resigned on that occasion, but was sneaked back into office after eleven months. "World-renowned firms such as GE, Microsoft and Disney all started during a recession," babbled Young on the present occasion; the poor old duffer probably believes that all three firms are British and owe their existence to Mrs Thatcher. In a year or two he will no doubt start wondering aloud why the old bag receives no credit as co-inventor of Excel and executive producer of Bambi.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Royal Ass

Queen in speech horror amendment fury vote

The Prime Minister could take the unprecedented step of voting against his own government's Queen's speech, a spokesbeing has confirmed.

The Queen's speech, a parliamentary ceremony in which a benefits-claiming relative of David Cameron read out various threats against the poor, serves many democratic purposes.

However, the Bullingdon Club's spring-term essay this year appears to have failed in its overriding function of appeasing the Conservative Party's pro-UKIP wing.

Accordingly, Cameron is considering supporting an amendment condemning his own policy-makers for not being fervent enough about getting out of Europe.

A spokesbeing insisted that the Prime Minister's commitment to a referendum on abolishing the Continent had always been clear, and that he was constantly looking for ways to make it clearer than his commitment to press regulation, the NHS or keeping the planet habitable.

If voting for the amendment keeps his backbenchers quiet for a day or two, it is thought the Prime Minister may decide to vote against the Queen's Speech for not advocating the naming and shaming of social security recipients or summary execution for immigrants.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Efficiency Savings

Daveybloke's senior policy adviser on greenwashing has resigned; unsurprisingly given the general state of the Bullingdon Club's grip on reality, nobody seems to know whether he has resigned because the greenest government ever is insufficiently radical in its green agenda or because it is insufficiently zealous in its consideration for the likes of BP and Cuadrilla. Ben Moxham is the latest in a series of advisers to quit the Department for Energising Climate Change; he is a former aide to Lord Browne, who is a former BP chief executive and a partner in a venture capital firm which backs the frackers, so obviously it is difficult to judge where Moxham's priorities might lie. Ed Davey (not to be confused with Ed or Davey) recently tried to sneak in someone from the Committee on Climate Change in order to make some sort of show about being concerned with the issue; but the Bullingdon Club vetoed the appointment, though whether for reasons of fossil-fuel incorrectness or routine humiliation of the department's Deputy Conservative doormat is as yet unclear.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Falsus in Uno...

Some disobliging people at the UK Statistics Authority have re-ignited the burning question of whether Iain Duncan Smith is a liar or an imbecile or, if both, in what precise proportions. Last month Duncan Smith claimed that he had transformed eight thousand scroungers into strivers by capping their benefits, and backed up his statement with some ad hoc (mendacious, in standard Latin) statistics. The chair of the UK Statistics Authority has responded to an official complaint by the TUC with the assertion that Duncan Smith's claim was unsupported by official statistics and that the figures used by Duncan Smith had been explicitly marked as "not intended to show the additional numbers entering work as a direct result of the contact". Of course, Duncan Smith is far too brilliant for that sort of thing to matter, and duly extruded a spokesbeing to proclaim that people are telling him all the time what a salutary effect the cap is having. Meanwhile, no doubt this latest display of bureaucratic inefficiency has resulted in the UK Statistics Authority being marked for corrective privatisation at the earliest opportunity.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Witches' Brew

The greenest government ever has reaffirmed its commitment to localism by allowing the fracking company Cuadrilla to drill at Balcombe in Sussex, despite the objections of residents. Cuadrilla claim that the drilling will be purely exploratory and that no actual fracking will take place; it is true that their last venture of note involved outstaying their planning permission and a degree of concern for the environment worthy of BP or Shell, but that was in Lancashire and the locals were only northerners. In this case, Cuadrilla have promised to discuss their plans with residents and allow visitors onto the site, much as their chums in the Government will sometimes promise a "consultation" to while away the time between making a policy decision and ramming it down the public's throat. Cuadrilla are even "working on a scheme for community benefits" beside which, presumably, the occasional earthquake or bath-time methane geyser will pale into insignificance. So far, nevertheless, the noises from Balcombe residents have not been positive: "This is how they burn witches I guess," blubbered one non-governmental PR spokesbeing after a fractious encounter last year. "I can think of dozens of oil companies who wouldn't put themselves through this in a million years and maybe they have it right." It is certainly disgraceful that innocent oil companies should have to suffer the sort of lynch-mob treatment which enlightened democracies generally reserve for immigrants, the unemployed and other offenders.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Anne Frank, Pornographer

A mother in the Christian state of Michigan has registered objections to students reading the diary of Anne Frank, which has been issued in a version that restores material expurgated by the girl's father from the original edition. The mother, whose daughter is in the seventh grade and aged presumably about twelve or thirteen, took exception to passages in which the diarist documents her physical self-explorations. The mother pronounced these passages "pornographic"; personally I think they are a bit clinical to merit that label, but of course tastes can vary in such matters. The mother is concerned because her daughter found the passages "uncomfortable", and it is a self-evident truth that books should not make their readers uncomfortable; certainly not while the said readers are themselves experiencing the serene moral and psychological restfulness of puberty. The mother also believes that books should not give out information that it is "really the parents' job" to dispense. None of this means that the mother is trying to ban books, of course; she is only trying to get other people to ban one book from the school which her daughter attends.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Another Little Sweetheart

It appears that a private secretary to Osborne's flunkey David Gauke may have committed an indiscretion which could enhance his expendability somewhat. When a whistleblower exposed Dave Hartnett's taxpayer-funded gift to Goldman Sachs, HM Revenue and Customs did what any responsible public service would do: they went to the Press. An HMRC executive emailed Gauke's private secretary with the idea of briefing a tame Financial Times hack, and the metaflunkey duly wrote back proclaiming a positive response from on high. In doing so, of course, he has set himself up for a fate similar to that of Adam Smith, the special adviser used, in lieu of an actual human shield, by Jeremy C Hunt to protect himself against allegations of being a flunkey of Rupert Murdoch. Those allegations, it will be remembered, were duly shown to be entirely false, as demonstrated by Hunt's continuing employment in a cabinet run by Loldave and the Leveson-bashers. It is not as yet clear whether Treasury officials have petitioned the Department of Health for a loan of the sword that Smith fell on.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Hard Sell

The latest spasm from the Minister of Justice and Heterosexual Hostelry, Chris Graybeing, is apparently giving rise to one or two concerns. The Government claims (or believes, as the Observer's psychic correspondent hath it) that re-offending rates will be reduced if the probation service is largely flogged off to the private sector, leaving the state to deal only with the most difficult and tabloid-unsympathetic cases. Precedents are not lacking: we all know how delays and fatal accidents were reduced by privatising the railways, how bills and profiteering have been reduced by privatising the utilities, and how security at the Olympics was enhanced by handing it over to G4S, one of the candidates for running the new Probation PLC.

As might be expected, there are rumblings of discontent from the relevant trade union, which predicts that staff will be reluctant to exchange their gold-plated pensions and company cars for leaner, meaner contracts with the likes of G4S or Serco. The union says (or claims, as the Observer's nuanced correspondent hath it) that there will be thousands of attempts to despoil Graybeing's bargain basement, leading to "legal and bureaucratic tangles for months on end". Doubtless Graybeing will have the simple answer that befits his refined and subtle intellect: he'll follow the example of his brilliant colleague, Iain Duncan Smith, and push through a law making everything all right. Nevertheless, there remains a militant hard core within the Ministry of Tough which is expressing concern about the way offenders with mental health problems will be treated. Seventy per cent of probation service customers have complex mental health problems, and it is not at all clear how the companies will be able to assess them profitably. Going by past form, Graybeing's answer will most likely be that in the unlikely event of difficulties arising the taxpayer will intervene to buy the stormtroopers bigger coshes.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Where It's Due

These Kippers are a silly bunch.
Nazis and other nasties fill
Their ranks; they lack all trace of skill,
And look completely out to lunch.

They're there so proles can make a fuss:
Not deep but loud, and mainly meant
To show their common discontent
With corporation chaps like us.

They want to fight the nation's vice,
Send migrants back on leaky boats,
And now they're getting lots of votes -
Good Lord! They're really rather nice!

Davey Fitzanthony

Friday, May 03, 2013

Not Another Mid-Staffs

The Minister for Health and News Corporation, Jeremy C Hunt, has had nothing to say about the failures of BMI Healthcare in its Mount Alvernia hospital. He had nothing at all to say about whether the failures at Mount Alvernia represented failures in private healthcare as a whole; he had nothing at all to say about whether dozens or hundreds of Mount Alvernias might be conducting bare-hands surgery all over the country; he had nothing at all to say about a culture of callousness and inefficiency in the private sector, despite the glittering examples of Network Rail, G4S, ATOS Healthcare, Serco, Southern Cross and so many others. However, as time and opportunity allows, the Minister for Health and News Corporation may possibly get around to blaming the NHS for encouraging the abuses at Mount Alvernia by referring patients there at all.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

A Real Little Sweetheart

It appears that new depths of humiliation await even the abject former head of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and future director at Goldman Sachs, Dave Hartnett. Goldman Sachs, you see, had been involved in tax avoidance and had promised not to do it again; but had HMRC been so impolite as to treat Goldman Sachs according to the laws that are meant for the little people, Goldman Sachs might have withdrawn the pledge. Therefore, Dave Hartnett decided that Goldman Sachs should be allowed to dodge its taxes in return for having promised not to dodge its taxes. An email suggests that the taxpayer's twenty-million-pound gift, which Hartnett presented to Goldman Sachs in conscious defiance of HMRC's own guidelines, HMRC's internal review board and HMRC's legal advice, was mainly intended to avoid "major embarrassment to the chancellor of the exchequer", who had just finished coaxing his chums in the banking sector to try and look as if they were being regulated for a bit. In fairness, this all took place before last year's budget or the Olympic booing episode; in other, words, at a time when breaking the law to spare Osborne's blushes was an act of more or less ordinary sycophancy, without the all-pervasive overtones of bowel-rippling panic and existential futility which it would have in the present day.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Payouts of Evil

The supreme court continues to demonstrate its lack of a fiscally viable moral compass with a ruling that prisoners are entitled to compensation if their parole board hearings are delayed. So far, there have been payouts to eighty-nine offenders, totalling slightly less than an average severance package for one of the banking sector's leading thieves and incompetents, mainly as a result of New Labour's introduction of indeterminate sentencing in 2005. Labour shunted the responsibility for determining release dates onto the parole board; but, the parole board being a mere public service rather than a funnel to guide taxpayers' money towards private corporations, no extra resources were made available to deal with the extra workload.

The supreme court's persistence in clinging to the outmoded idea that offenders have rights and ministers have responsibilities naturally brought forth squeals of indignation from Chris Graybeing's Ministry of Tough. An underbeing called Jeremy was duly extruded, proclaiming the virtues of tougher sentencing, more jail time, tough licensing conditions and the withdrawal of legal aid from anyone likely to need it.