The Curmudgeon


Monday, March 31, 2014

Insufficient Interrogative Enhancification

A report by US senators has concluded that enhanced interrogation techniques such as semi-drowning and sleep deprivation yielded no significant information in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. This conclusion is "hotly disputed" because the perpetrators of those techniques disagree with it; much as a report denying Allah's approval of suicide bombings might be hotly disputed by the al-Qaida recruiters whose holy calling the War on the Abstract Noun did so much to facilitate. It is as yet unclear how fulsomely the senators have acknowledged the restraining moral influence of MI5, MI6 and the Reverend Blair on the CIA interrogators; the Reverend Blair will no doubt be only too happy to provide his own acknowledgment at a suitable time. Meanwhile, the remaining residents of Guantánamo Bay can live in hope that, given another decade or so, another report may one day cast doubts on the effectiveness of kidnapping and detention without trial.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Coming Soon

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Crossed Out

A painting has been banned by Transport for London, supposedly because it fails to comply with their advertising policy. In a bizarre sort of way this makes sense, as the painting is not an advertisement and thereby automatically disqualifies itself from exhibition by a firm which increasingly wishes to get out of the public transport business in favour of selling commuter eyeballs to corporate propagandists. (At this moment, appropriately enough considering the picture's subject matter, Angel tube station has been turned into a giant walk-in Bacardi advert.) The painting depicts a modern judgement of Christ carried out by a TV-style panel, and was intended as part of a charity exhibition. Transport for London's advertising policy contains a clause which forbids causing "widespread or serious offence to members of the public", and another which forbids inciting people to break the law. Among the images which comply with Transport for London's advertising policy is a poster for the film Calvary, which incorporates the line, "Killing a priest on a Sunday. That'll be a good one."

Friday, March 28, 2014

This New Hitler Supersedes All Previous New Hitlers for the Moment

North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations has, rather carelessly, opened his country to charges of blasphemous libel by attempting to justify North Korean crimes using rhetoric from the Coalition of the Willing. Japan, the EU, the United States and South Korea have brought a resolution calling for the last remaining full member of the Axis of Evil to be investigated and chastised for crimes against humanity; as is customary in such cases, the crimes in question have already been likened to Nazi-era atrocities, much like selected crimes of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi, and include "systematic torture, starvation and killings." Besides omitting the Nazi crime for which those tried at Nuremberg were hanged and for which the Reverend Blair regularly nominates himself to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, namely international aggression, North Korea has committed the indiscretion of visiting these lesser atrocities mainly on North Koreans, and has now blotted its copy-book irreparably by telling the international community to mind its own business.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The War on Crime

Amnesty International's annual survey on capital punishment shows an increase in executions, even when the thousands thought to have taken place in China are excluded. Saudi Arabia executed at least seventy-nine people, including three juveniles; although, as with China, no doubt things would have been a jolly sight worse without the humanitarian finger-wagging of the Bullingdon Club. The United States executed thirty-nine, gaining it a place in this exalted moral league table between the hereditary theocracy of Saudi Arabia and the former failed state of Somalia. After China and Iran, the most enthusiastic killer state was Iraq, which executed almost thirty per cent more people in 2013 than in 2012, many on "vague charges related to anti-terrorism laws." Evidently the Reverend Blair's civilising mission has not been entirely in vain.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mere Legality

The right of Chris Graybeing to rule without harassment from left-wing pressure groups is being subverted through the use of judicial reviews. Graybeing is worried about the courts being used as a political tool, often no doubt by people who have read too many books, in order to delay or challenge "a legitimate decision taken by the government and endorsed by parliament" or, in Standard English, rubber-stamped by a few hundred braying oafs at the behest of the party whips. Among the reforms Graybeing wishes to introduce is a clause allowing courts to refuse cases if it seems "highly likely that the outcome for the applicant would not have been substantially different if the conduct complained of had not occurred" or, in Standard English, allowing judges to dismiss cases without the inconvenience of a hearing. In a similar spirit, Graybeing also plans to abolish the Human Rights Act, on the grounds that human rights are relevant in places like North Korea and Africa and places where Britain deports people, rather than on the mainland itself.

"It is ironic that Grayling should be throwing a party for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta when he seeks daily to undermine its most lasting legacy," smirked a flunkey from the party of Jack Straw, Charles Clarke and David Blunkett. As with his ban on sending books to prisoners, Graybeing has achieved the remarkable feat of concocting policies so cretinous, authoritarian and mean-spirited that even the Labour Party can make a show of disagreeing with them for now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Offender Management

Our criminals we must remove
From society's delicate sight;
And any small chance to improve
Is a privilege and not a right.

There's little point giving the bums
Much chance at rehabilitation
When you and your corporate chums
Might profit from incarceration.

Just bang 'em up, then let 'em rot,
Keep 'em uneducated and bored;
Privatise, then repeat till you've got
All the taxpayer-mugs can afford.

When crooks on the outside are free
To treat the confined ones this way,
How wondrous it is, then, to see
How civilised we are today.

Warden Slaphead

Monday, March 24, 2014

Watchdog Affectionately Gumming Fat Cats, Report Finds

Fury at energy horror

Britain's non-accountable energy cartel is a cartel of energy companies which is not accountable to the public, according to figures published today by the Department for Energy, Climate Change and the Bleeding Obvious.

In other shock news, the energy watchdog, Ofgum, whose mouldering gingival resources successive governments have consistently refused to equip, was revealed as a toothless yapper with the guarding abilities of a senile chihuahua.

The energy cartel consists of six companies which control ninety-nine per cent of the market. This is called competition.

Whenever one company raises its prices, thereby demonstrating how much can be got away with in the present fiscal year, the others quickly follow suit so that consumers will not become confused. This is called transparency.

The figures precede the publication of a preliminary review which is expected to recommend a further review which the energy cartel can dismiss with a light laugh.

Labour's energy spokesbeing, Caroline Flint, claims that Labour would break up the companies, end their secret deals, make tariuffs simpler and fairer, and freeze energy bills until 2017. This is called not being in office.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Just War

The Fallen of the First World War
Must never be remembered more,
Should funding come with moral curse
Because the EU holds the purse.

The Jerries started it, we know,
For Michael Gove has told us so;
In Europe now they largely bulk,
Despite our long decades of sulk.

On Empire sunset's long since bled,
Less public than our glorious dead;
Yet still Britannia rules the foam
Which Europhobes produce at home.

We'll manage with our native stash:
No money, but a lot of Cash.
'Tis duty and it must be done,
In case the wogs forget who won.

Willie Wayver

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Helping Those in Need

The Government's work programme has helped millions into stable employment, provided one uses the Duncan Smith/Esther McVey calculus and counts forty-eight thousand in three years as "millions" and six months' employment as "stable". Under the work programme, the Government pays contractors to chivvy people into work whether it's there or not, and then pays a bonus to the contractor if a suitable period elapses before the positive outcome is inevitably overcome by the urge to live it up on beer, bingo and food banks. Self-evidently, this is a more efficient system than mere investment in social housing, green crap or (which the sainted Thatcher forfend) infrastructure; as is clear from the fact that benefits were withdrawn from skivers and shirkers more than 240,000 times in the single year to October 2013. Precise figures are not as yet available from the notoriously precise Duncan Smith database; but given profits from a quarter of a million sanctions, there must surely be enough to pay the contractors' bonuses and set aside a little something for the bankers' hungry children, as well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Nothing's Gone Wrong, and it's Someone Else's Fault

The Deputy Conservatives' flagship policy of breaking their pledge on tuition fees seems to be working about as well as one would expect. Thanks to the Osborne economic miracle, with its abundance of unemployed graduates and its stick-without-carrot approach to the young, the tripling of fees has produced a budgetary black hole of such magnitude as to be detectable even by the likes of Liam Byrne and David Willetts. Naturally, like all aspects of the Osborne economic miracle which are criticised by the ignorant and backsliding, the problem is mainly due to macro-economic circumstances (viz. foreigners), the growth of graduate earnings (viz. job-snobs who refuse to stack shelves), bad weather, the last Labour government, unauthorised badger activity and so forth. On the bright side, of course, the policy was never really intended to save money in the first place, but to establish the master-poodle relationship between Britain's Head Boy and his little orange fag, and to help ensure a prole-free learning environment for hard-working families.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

In Memoriam: Lucius Shepard

Who better than he could delineate
The lands and lives where sleeping dragons wait?
He and his stories moved, his visions born,
Among the lazy, paralysed and worn;
To body forth his poetry and power,
Griaule, thou shouldst awaken at this hour.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Making Up, Doing Over, Saving Self

Rah rah! Budget day once again!
I'm the One among Dave's little men!
I'll lean on the rudder;
My dewlap will shudder -
I may even smirk now and then!

I bought this position to keep;
If I lose it next year I shall weep
But still there's a need
To sow trouble's seed
Where proles and Ed Bollocks can reap!

It is time, perhaps, for us to start
Pretending that we have a heart.
We'll get back to the mean
After twenty-fifteen,
When the country once more falls apart!

Today is my big fat huzzah!
I'm the chap with the chins! I'm the star!
What a wonderful drug
Is my great fiscal smug!
It's Budget day once more, rah rah!

Gideon Fatwick

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Numbers Game

The Ministry for Profitable Incarceration has been reprimanded for taking a Duncan Smith approach to statistics in its efforts to justify Chris Graybeing's mugging of the legal aid system. The UK Statistics Authority complains that Graybeing's little men have given misleading information about the earnings of barristers, have not bothered their little heads about extraneous items like VAT and disbursements (a truly Duncan Smith approach, of course, would not even know what "disbursement" meant), and have used mean and median measures without deigning to explain the reasoning behind such use. A spokesbeing was duly extruded to dismiss the issue with a casual wave of the tongue; apparently everything is available on the Government's website, and the Ministry is well aware that barristers' fees are not the same as their earnings, despite having conflated the two wherever convenient. "Whether the mean or median figure gives the best representation of typical fee income is open to statistical interpretation," the spokesbeing said; which apparently explains why the Ministry for Profitable Incarceration did not care to be too explicit about its own interpretation. It's enough to make one wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, this is the same government which promised no chaotic, top-down reorganisations of the National Health Service, and we all know how well that ended.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Proles Are Still Too Spoiled

An incident in Nigeria offers an inspiring preview of the future towards which the British political class is guiding its own human resources. The parallels between Britain and Nigeria are self-evident, of course: Nigeria is Africa's second-largest economy, while Britain is the World Cop's second-largest best chum; Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, while Britain's lax immigration policy has virtually emptied eastern Europe. Most importantly, in Nigeria oil wealth has enriched elites while failing to create employment, while in Britain efficiency savings have enriched elites while failing to create employment. The Nigerian government has launched a recruitment drive for its own immigration services, in which half a million people were invited to apply for less than five thousand jobs and several died in the stampede. The brilliant Iain Duncan Smith and his disciples must be oozing with envious admiration; self-evidently, it is only the laziness and lethargy of the natives which prevents Universal Jobmatch yielding similar results in Britain. Still, as more green crap is ditched and our climate moves ever closer to the tropical, we may yet hope that appropriate levels of corruption, malnutrition and other incentivisations will become ever more readily available.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Those Who Work Hard and Want to Get On

Although the Minister for Health and News Corporation has decreed that a one per cent pay rise is more than NHS staff deserve, the Government by no means wishes to imply that we're all in it together. Jeremy C Hunt, of course, is very much the man to know about the usefulness of special advisers, since he kept his last job by sacking one of his own. It seems that some of the rest have been claiming danger money: Britain's Head Boy's favourite fag, Ed Llewellyn, recently received a twelve per cent increase to his beggarly hundred and twenty-five thousand a year, while an adviser to the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith has graciously accepted a thirty-six per cent pay rise which Duncan Smith, with his famous mathematical genius, probably thinks is a cut. Several others have taken above-inflation pay increases in return for dealing with the likes of Theresa May on a regular basis. Still, before the politics of envy take complete hold, proles would do well to note that, according to a spokesbeing for the Cabinet Office, pay increases have to be approved by a special committee chaired by the Chancellor's spad Danny Alexander.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Strange Idea

A man whose mother was assassinated by "loyalist paramilitaries" (pro-British terrorists, in Standard English) has called for a general amnesty for everyone involved in the Irish Troubles. Jude Whyte believes his family was subject to a whispering campaign by public-spirited persons in the Ulster Defence Regiment, who doubtless thought that vigilance was the price of freedom and that the innocent had nothing to fear. Whyte's mother Peggy comforted a bomber who was fatally injured when his weapon went off prematurely outside her home; this was clearly not good enough, and a year later the Ulster Volunteer Force tried again with more success. Whyte believes that the present de facto amnesty for police and soldiers should be extended to all participants and that a non-adversarial approach should be taken so that the truth can come out. Some people have the strangest ideas about how and why governments operate.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Force of Excess

A Kiddie of the thin blue line
Faced grown-ups with a vile design.
Because, like terrorists, they meant
To influence the Government,
He sprayed CS gas in their face
To keep them in their rightful place.
The Head Boy said, "Police, of course,
Should be no Service, but a Force!"
And, following his noble feat,
The Kiddie stayed upon the beat.
So dutifully would he dash
To make good whack, and have a bash!
A suspect woman, very rude,
He punched to keep her well subdued.
No-one was shot or later died,
Therefore the boy in blue was tried;
And law and order were returned
With values strengthened, lessons learned:
Mostly, one should not wrongly rub
The Firearms and Headbangers' Club.

Hogan Hydro-Howitzer

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Targeted Incentivisation Offsetting

When it comes to ditching the green crap, it appears that the faith-based community in Westminster is having some little trouble deciding which fib constitutes the orthodoxy of the moment. As a result of the watering down by the greenest government ever of the Energy Company Obligation, Ed Davey (not to be confused with Ed or Davey), the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Ministry of Fracking, has proclaimed that "we believe that more ECO measures will help more households". However, according to the Government's own calculations, 440,000 fewer households will receive help to reduce their long-term energy costs, which makes for a discrepancy too large to be missed even by a Blairette vacuity like Caroline Flint. Meanwhile, according to a spokesbeing from the Department for Exacerbating Climate Catastrophe, the Government made an announcement in December about effectively targeting ranges of measures so that the neediest households (viz. those members of the energy cartel who want to work hard and get on) benefit most. One of Ed Davey's Real Conservative minders was even prepared to give an estimate of the number of lucky households; it was 930,000, which is self-evidently the sort of expansive statistic that needs to be plucked from a capacious Conservative rectum rather than one of those narrow, squiddly little yellow things.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Yours Sincerely, Disgusted of SW1

There are a few people whose privacy the Government still cares about; notably one of Britain's Head Boy's more eccentric relatives. It seems that even in a hard-working immigrant family like the Greek branch of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, an able-bodied person may have too much time on their hands. The Prince of Wales has used some of his leisure to send letters to government officials; but the attorney general will not allow the letters to be made public because the British constitution could never function properly if the hereditary super-rich were not permitted to lobby ministers in secret. Besides, the Prince of Wales may one day be king, and any suspicion that his political neutrality was compromised would undermine his ability to sit in chairs, wear archaic metal hats and drone out the year's prospectus for the governing wing of the British Neoliberal Party.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Little Surprise

Since the Department of Workfare and Privation has always denied that food banks are a substitute for the benefits system, it should come as no surprise that the Department of Workfare and Privation is using food banks as a substitute for benefits payments. Since the Department of Workfare and Privation has always claimed that job centres do not refer people to food banks and do not issue vouchers, it should come as no surprise that the Department of Workfare and Privation has drawn up guidelines for signposting people instead of referring them and for issuing slips instead of vouchers. Since the coalition denies any connection between food bank use and the filleting of social security, it should come as no surprise that the said guidelines list benefit reforms, payment delays, and refused or inadequate advances as reasons for the referrals that aren't referrals and the issue of vouchers that aren't vouchers. What is a little surprising is that the Department of Workfare and Privation should be collecting information on how many people are being not-referred, since the Department of Workfare and Privation is headed by that well-known numeracy sceptic, the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith.

Monday, March 10, 2014

To Help Us Assess Your Claim, Please Tell Us Your Sign

Twenty-four local authorities in England are using or considering a fraud detection software so clueless that not even the faith-based community at Westminster believes in it. The Department for Workfare and Privation threw out Voice Risk Analysis in 2010; but when it comes to kicking the work-shy, councils are free to use whatever methods they see fit. Voice Risk Analysis is free of the merely scientific basis that underpins such inconveniences as climate change; and, like the faith-based community at Westminster, it makes no time-wasting distinctions between honest claimants and scrounging fraudsters. Additionally, Voice Risk Analysis provides councils with a handy excuse to throw public money at private profiteers, regardless of whether anything useful, or even harmless, is actually being provided; this no doubt explains why the councils have not encouraged their benefits departments to meet the refusal targets by consulting a horoscope or dissecting a rooster or two.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Birthday

Ten years ago this day, doubtless for the least charitable of reasons, I started a weblog. The first entry was a story written some time previously; and at fairly long intervals for the next three months I continued to post bits and pieces of short fiction whose composition dated from years before the blogosphere was even a glimmer in a geek's eye. Presumably this assuaged my lust for publication, even if it didn't necessarily gain me a readership.

An ill-mannered intervention by real life caused me to stop for a while; and it was not until October that I posted the first entry written specifically for the internet, thereby becoming an Actual Blogger, rather than merely a Person With A Blog. I have kept on posting through changes, updates, ISP flame-outs and the whims of British Telecom, for going on 3,400 entries; and here, it appears, we are.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

We Employ Only the Best and Most Fully Authorised Wogs

When one is prime minister, of course, one cannot spend all one's time chillaxing, tweeting and flushing Nick Clegg's head down the toilet. There are also family values to be thought of; hence, in late 2010, Britain's Head Boy's favourite heifer somehow got herself named as the employer of a Decent Immigrant, which had no effect at all upon the said immigrant's application for certified Britishness. The immigrant in question is a charity case who is helping the British economy by looking after Daveybloke's children while Daveybloke and the little woman pursue more important matters. Her immigrancy, if not her decency, has come to the fore as a result of James Brokenshire's recent burble about wealthy metropolitan elites who refuse to take on honest British proles as their servants; a burble for which Brokenshire now doubtless basks in his dear leader's full and enthusiastic support. According to the chief psychic at Britain's leading liberal newspaper, the publicity has angered Downing Street because the nanny is regarded with great affection over her sensitivity towards the Camerons' disabled son Ivan. Given that Ivan's father seems to have thought of him primarily as fodder for a sordid propaganda campaign, it is to be hoped that the nanny is not relying on the family's affection overmuch.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Hard-Working Asians

A Malaysian couple have been sentenced to death for over-incentivising their domestic staff. Their Indonesian maid died of deliberate starvation in June 2011, having apparently lacked the initiative to get on her bike and look for something better. An estimated four hundred thousand Indonesian women work as maids in Malaysia, and about half of them are illegal immigrants; so there is a fifty-fifty chance that the maid in this case was expendable. Nevertheless, it is as yet unclear whether her employers intend seeking asylum in the United Kingdom.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Britain's Workers Need Witch-Hunts, Not Mere Evidence

A study which found that there is little evidence of British workers being deprived of their jobs by immigrants actually vindicates Conservative claims of the exact opposite and is in any case backward-looking and not really worth much attention. Such is the claim of James Brokenshire, the nasty little replacement for the nasty little Home Office flunkey Mark Harper, who resigned when it was discovered he was unwittingly harbouring an unauthorised wog among his servants. Brokenshire, who facially resembles a younger and even less distinguished version of the race-baiting New Labour cockroach Phil Woolas, looks unlikely to find the dead man's shoes much of a squeeze, intellectually speaking. Much like the badger-busting Owen Paterson fumbling with anthropogenic climate change, where the unanimous opinion of a mere ninety-five per cent of the experts does not constitute a certainty, Brokenshire has ruled that "little evidence in favour" means "cannot be ruled out", and that "cannot be ruled out" constitutes ample grounds for the witch-hunt to continue. Doubtless it was this resounding endorsement of coalition policy in the report which motivated the National Liberal British Workers' Party to delay sneaking it out until today.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Pennies From Heaven

Acolytes of the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair have been giving forth loud hosannas at their master's infinite generosity. Now that the Milibeing has freed Labour plc from its main source of funds, his reverence has decided to step in and perhaps purchase a controlling interest; although it is as yet unconfirmed whether he will spend more in staff and resources than he invested in helping Gordon Brown lose the 2010 election. However that may be, Tony's earthly representatives were keen to assure those of us on the material plane that Tony's ascetic lifestyle remains unblemished: it seems that his reverence's non-spiritual wealth amounts to less than seventy-five million. It was pointed out that his reverence has major financial commitments, which he obviously could not sustain if he were rolling in filthy lucre; and that over the past six years his reverence has contributed ten million to charity, presumably in order to avoid being turfed out onto the street with the bankers, the outsourcing profiteers and all the other victims of excess taxation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

No Disruptive Top-Down Reforms

Another foreigner with a funny name has joined the hue and cry against Britain's deserving poor. Philippe Lamberts, a Euro-wog who conspired in the drafting of legislation to restrict bankers' bonuses, has called for the EU to sue the British government over its connivance in allowing the City to sidestep the rules. The EU restrictions limit bonuses to a mere hundred per cent of salary with or without the shareholders' approval, or twice that if the shareholders agree; so executives are being administered their financial bloat in share awards in order that they may be spared the cuisine of their local food banks. RBS, which is largely owned by the British taxpayer, has paid out more than five hundred million in bonuses; partly because recent losses have been restricted to fourteen times that much, but mostly because the British taxpayer is a mug. Meanwhile, the governor of the Bank of England has written a letter promising a bit more talk; which obviously will improve matters no end.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Antipodean Allegory

An allegory of the British Conservative Party has played itself out at a Queensland lake, where two species of deadly reptile were caught on camera in a vicious death-struggle. One of the combatants was a crocodile: a confirmed Old Tory, legendary for its hypocritical displays of compassion but also known for being intelligent enough to refrain from devouring the birds that clean its teeth. Its opponent was a less than usually vocal representative of the Bullingdon Club. Some canoeists and a woman with a camera were fortunately on hand to embody the bemused public and press as they witnessed the snake embrace and then strangle its thick-skinned but relatively undersized rival. Having devoured the crocodile, the snake partly took on the shape of its prey; but this was certainly a temporary effect, which will dissipate as the legless strangler's natural form asserts itself. The snake is now likely to remain torpid for a while before attempting to swallow anything more; which is, of course, where any resemblance to the Bullingdon Club ends.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Censored With Mother

Penguin Books has ordered the destruction of a parody Ladybird book. Miriam Elia, an artist and comedian, combined collages from old Ladybirds with her own work to produce We Go to the Gallery, in which Mummy introduces Peter and Jane to the formal and philosophical rigours of modern art. Penguin Books has told Elia that the book breaches their copyright and have given her a month to cover her publishing costs, after which all remaining copies will have to be destroyed. Despite our continuing adherence to the capitalist delusion, it is difficult to imagine the mystical glamour which Wagner claimed for the Gesamtkunstwerk ever being accorded to the sorry practical jokes of a Koons or a Hirst; accordingly, this time at least, Penguin's urge to pulp does not appear to have been motivated by a need for religious pandering. We progress, do we not?

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Willing Providers

Medical records will not be openly sold for commercial gain until after the 2015 election, unless the Government's intentions are pre-empted through chicanery or incompetence. There is, of course, a wide and convenient range of ministers for chicanery and incompetence; and the one who also happens to be the Minister for Health and News Corporation has given a rock-solid pledge that patient confidentiality will be respected for as long as the Government's chums in the private sector deem it expedient. It is not as yet clear whether Jeremy C Hunt's pledge is rock-solid in the same sense as the one about cutting the deficit and not the NHS; or whether Jeremy C Hunt's pledge is rock-solid in the same sense as all those others from 2010 which were recently consigned to the dark net; or whether Jeremy C Hunt's pledge is rock-solid in the sense that it rests upon some credible guarantee, such as the ritual sacrifice of a spad on the altar of Rupert Murdoch. Doubtless the matter will be cleared up soon enough. In the meantime, we have the assurance of the Minister for Health and News Corporation, and we all know by now what that is worth.