The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Human Decency

The Christian state of Oklahoma's experimental killing of a black man has taken a little longer than usual; though it is as yet unclear whether the delay arose from the pioneering drug combination which was used or from private-sector levels of competence in administering it. A second execution, which might have served as a control, has been delayed until the matter can be investigated. The state supreme court had stayed both executions in order to consider the constitutional implications of administering secret drugs in lethal injections; but the governor, who seems to be an angel of mercy after the fashion of our own Chris Graybeing, decreed that the court had no authority in matters of experimental science, and a member of the state's House of Representatives threatened those who wanted to stay the executions with impeachment. The guinea pig was one Clayton Lockett who, although morally and racially suited to be a subject of human experimentation in a Christian state, does not appear to have had the intellectual advantages of at least one previous beneficiary of Oklahoma justice. Strangely enough, the prison authorities concealed much of Lockett's forty-three-minute test result from view, in spite of the fact that his victim's family were present and awaiting closure. If one did not know better, one might almost think they were ashamed of something.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Captive Market

No-one could justly accuse Chris Graybeing's Ministry for Profitable Incarceration of failing to think through the consequences of its actions. The coalition's assault on legal aid and its mugging of the lawyers will mean all the more merchandise for the correctively entrepreneurial; while the Graybeing doctrine that rehabilitation is a soft option means that the market in penitential warehousing is likely to remain sustainable for quite some time. Graybeing's favoured model is the gargantuan Oakwood, which is being run, loosely speaking, by G4S; it costs nearly a third less than a prison run by the hated public sector, possibly because G4S has dispensed with such inessentials as qualified staff and proper educational facilities. G4S has also managed to climb the league tables for incidents of self-harm at its facilities, leaving state-run prisons of comparable size far behind. Naturally, Graybeing wants more of the same; he plans to close the smaller jails which pamper prisoners with access to their families and contact with human warders, and replace them with outsized boxes monitored via closed-circuit television. It is hoped that such measures will save the taxpayer more than four hundred million pounds, which can be thrown at G4S and Serco to build yet bigger boxes when the merchandise obligingly continues to re-offend.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Precious Moments to Last Forever

Another geriatric waste disposal company has been caught mistreating the merchandise and, in laudable capitalist fashion, has decided to move into BBC Panorama's market by imposing surveillance on itself. The presence of visible CCTV cameras in inmates' rooms will be optional for the moment, and it is as yet unclear what arrangements will be made to ensure that the company marks its own homework as efficiently as the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club, the Murdoch-Rothermere press or Westminster's expenses-claiming community mark theirs. The chair of the Relatives and Residents Association stated that surveillance is "no substitute for good and kind care given by professionally trained staff who are well supported and supervised and well led"; clearly the poor woman has no idea of the country or the century she is living in. The Care Quality Commission has "serious reservations about the filming of intimate care procedures"; presumably because, given the levels of vetting and training in the geriatric waste business, the more intimate procedures could end up splattered all over YouTube without anyone's collecting a copyright fee.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Doubly Infallible

A canonisation times two,
And the most Jesuitic recorded:
The saint who birthed Vatican II,
And the saint who did most to abort it.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Legitimate Constitutional Questions

When it comes to small government, even right-wing Republicans have their limits, especially if they happen to be drawing their salary from the taxpayer. A Nevada rancher with the near-unimprovable name of Cliven Bundy has caused sincere offence to the likes of Senator Rand Paul with some indiscreet remarks about African Americans. Bundy's remarks are all the more indiscreet as he had previously endeared himself to the more right-wing elements of the right-wing part of the US political mainstream's various right wings; whether by illegally grazing his cattle on public land (how the West was won), by facing down the government bureaucrats who tried to stop him (individualism) or by maintaining a private army (patriotism and Mom's apple pie). “If I say Negro or black boy or slave, if those people cannot take those kind of words and not be offended," Bundy proclaimed, "then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet. We need to get over this prejudice stuff.” Bundy has also pontificated on whether black people might be "better off as slaves, picking cotton", although it is not clear whether he has considered the logical extension of that argument: that white people might be better off taking the Road to Serfdom.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Drunken Thatcher Fans Partly to Blame

The Cabinet Office has pledged urgent inquiries into the vandalism of the Wikipedia page on the Hillsborough disaster. Various edits of a more or less Kelvin McKenzie calibre were made from computers in Whitehall; and while it is of course reassuring to find that someone in the Government can cope with the internet, it is also arguable that their skills might benefit from a more constructive outlet. Among the departments involved were the Treasury, the Office of the Solicitor General, and the Department for Cultchah, Murdoch and England Crash Out. Despite the level of compassion and social competence on display, given the level of IT competence required it is not thought likely that the relevant ministers were personally responsible for the changes.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Laws Are For Little People

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is suing the eight official nuclear-armed countries and one rogue state through the International Court of Justice. The Marshall Islands include Bikini Atoll and Eniwetok, where almost seventy nuclear weapons were detonated between 1946 and 1958. Far from being grateful for this level of protection against Soviet expansionism and the Heathen Chinee, the Marshallese claim they have suffered environmental and health problems as a result. Even more bizarrely, they claim that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is binding on the United Kingdom and its allies merely because they happen to have signed it. Ironically enough, the Republic of the Marshall Islands owes its very discovery to a British explorer, before whose arrival the islands were known only to Spaniards and Micronesians and suchlike inconsequential persons. Captain Marshall himself called the archipelago Lord Mulgrove's Range, but it was re-named in a rare act of Imperial clemency; which makes the natives' present ingratitude all the more galling.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Terror Suspect Deported

Fury at "dragon-slayer" removal horror

A Palestinian male was deported today in a process described by the Home Office as "pleasingly efficient", despite claims by the United Kingdom Independence Party that the man should never have been allowed into the country.

The man, known only as G, is believed to be of mixed Anatolian and Levantine parentage. According to Home Office sources, he claimed to be a Christian and a professional soldier, and was seeking employment in the pest control industry.

Officials would not confirm or deny reports that G claimed to be able to destroy the dragon which some experts believe may have contributed to prolonging the recession in Britain's fair-maiden industry.

The dragon has eaten four hundred and seventeen fair maidens to date, besides several dozen ministerial special advisers who served as "digestion proxies" for Westminster's more unwilling virgins.

A spokesbeing for UKIP derided the suggestion that G, or any other "mercenary Middle Eastern animal cruelty enthusiasts" might be qualified to solve the country's dracological difficulties.

The party ran into controversy on the subject of the dragon last year, when one of its knights, Sir Godfrey of Chelsea, said that the beast would fly away within weeks if Britain's gay men were "conscripted for defloration duty."

Sir Godfrey was expelled from the party, and now writes a regular column for the Guardian.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Big Shots and Narrow Bores

A Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has been squealing about shotgun licences, for which the taxpayer provides an unwarranted subsidy. The police, who have to cover most of the cost of gun licences out of their own funds, are in favour of increasing users' fees, which have been frozen for thirteen years; Britain's Head Boy, as a fully-paid-up member of the Huntin', Shootin' and Jellyfish-Baitin' fraternity, has apparently blocked any action on the matter, having been alerted by his badger-busting Secretary for Sandbags, Owen Paterson. Remarkably enough, the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has taken only three and a half years to notice the problem, which has flopped into the public eye mere weeks before the local and European elections. It is possible that, like your correspondent, the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Home Office has received its polling card, and has thereby been reminded that the day is fast approaching when voters will be able to express their appreciation of Wee Nicky and his minions in an uncomfortably concrete and consequential fashion.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Unintended Consequences

Thousands of Britain-haters have responded with expectable psychopathic hostility to a public-spirited bit of investigative journalism by the Rothermere Stürmer on Sunday. Rather than waste time going after megalomaniac spooks or crooked politicians, the Stürmer on Sunday has decided to tackle the very core of the cancer eating away at British society; namely a Christian charity which runs food banks. Although Britain's Head Boy has had a bit of a simper on occasion about the contribution of food banks to the feudal system in general and to the Big Society thingy in particular, the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith has accused them of playing politics, while spokesbeings from Duncan Smith's Department for Workfare and Privation have faulted the Trussell Trust for "aggressive marketing" and for "misleading and emotionally manipulative publicity-seeking". That sort of thing is, of course, quite alien to the grown-up debate we need to have about whether strivers should pay for shirkers to live high on the hog and kill children, like Mick Philpott. Anyway, the Stürmer on Sunday sent one of its stormtroopers to a food bank, where he obtained three days' food under false pretences and where staff made no attempt to determine whether he was a deserving case or an asylum seeker. As a result, donations to the Trussell Trust have increased approximately sevenfold, which just goes to show how much hatred of British values there is out there. If you hate Britain too, the Trussell Trust's donations page is here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cosmic Horror and Economic Rationalism

The excellent J Sewell McEvoy, whose archive of too-little-knowns and too-soon-forgottens will amply reward your attention, has posted a review of my novella The Voivode. Besides being generous to the point of blasphemy, Mr McEvoy puts forward a reading of the book which had never even occurred to me. Not that I tend to think a great deal about the wider resonances of my fiction while I'm writing it; the nuts-and-bolts business of getting characters from here to there and keeping the prose more or less literate is usually more than enough, thank you very much. The possibility that I may accidentally have managed something extra is of course eminently pleasing, if a little unsettling; much like (I suppose) a parent waking up one day and discovering that their child has a life of its own.

The Voivode is available in paperback or as a PDF ebook; and an extract can be found here.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Freedom of Information

In the past, Goldman Sachs' favourite tax authority has mislaid personal information about child benefit scroungers and bank customers, and one must always be prepared to take advantage of marketable skills. Consequently, HMRC plc has decided to sell off the personal financial data of anyone who cannot afford to buy some confidentiality. The data would be "anonymised", like the medical records which the Government would like to share with third parties as soon as some way can be found of circumventing Whitehall's famous IT abilities, and which includes only postcodes, dates of birth, NHS numbers, ethnicity and gender. The tax information would be released wherever HMRC plc detects the possibility of a "public benefit"; a professor of security engineering has said that such data would also be "highly useful to credit rating agencies, advertisers, and retailers wanting to practise price discrimination", which certainly seems to fit the bill.

Friday, April 18, 2014

All Things Bright and Beautiful

(with apologies to Cecil Frances Alexander)

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small;
All things puce and gluteal,
The Lord God made them all.

Each flabby fop that flounders,
Each jellyfish that stings,
He made their glowing colours
And sundry other things.

The purple-headed Tory,
Abroad in foreign land,
Laughs off the locals' story
And wobbles down the strand.

He splashes in the shallows
Whence all but he have fled;
While sundry foreign fellows
Stand by and shake their head.

But more of God's creation
Is lurking in the sea;
Creatures of lower station,
Less polypous than he.

A jellyfish, at leisure,
Greets him in proper style;
The squeaks of his displeasure
Are heard for mile on mile.

God gave us eyes to see them,
And keyboards, that we might
Give praise to the Almighty,
Who sometimes gets things right.

Rev. Sorbus Malbarb

Thursday, April 17, 2014

For God and My Moral Compass

Two men in the Christian nation of Uganda are scheduled for trial next month; one is charged with "having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature", and the other with being a consenting adult. Uganda's president is an Anglican, and hence the sort of Christian whom the moral contortions of Rowan Williams and Justin Welby are designed to appease; in February he signed the latest anti-gay legislation, which imposes a fourteen-year prison term for first-time offenders against the order of nature and a life sentence for "aggravated homosexuality". Perhaps it will reassure some that the present suspects have not been charged under the new legislation but under the 1950 penal code, which also prescribes life imprisonment for homosexuality and which originated with the same civilising influence that hounded Alan Turing to death eight years before Uganda gained independence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Son of Tony

Prompted by the still, small voice of his personal Saviour, Lynton Crosby, Britain's Head Boy has had another Chocolate Egg Week bash at the religion thingy. Some six hundred church leaders have published a letter calling on all two and a half factions of the British Neoliberal Party to tackle the causes of food poverty, and the Caudillo of the Farage Falange has been blathering about Muscular Judaeo-Christianity; so Daveybloke had a bit of a simper about his moral code, which is just as flexible as the Church of England's and only slightly more ridiculous. He also pointed out that the destruction of state education and the welfare safety net leaves all the more room for the church to expand its interests: "I would like it to do more, not less, in terms of action to improve our society and the education of our children." It is as yet unclear whether the church's more worldly instincts will respond favourably to such subtle cajolery, or whether the continuing moral horror of equal marriage rights will cause the rift to widen.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Maintaining Good Relations with the Terror-Suspect Community

An anonymous, undated letter claims that a Muslim fifth column is indoctrinating British juvenile resources in Birmingham schools, as well as forcing out unco-operative teaching staff in a fashion more suited to a corporate boardroom than to an appropriately profitable learning emporium. The education secretary's response has been as considered and proportionate as one would expect from a retired Murdoch hack and sometime Bible signatory: once someone told him where Birmingham was, he dispatched the former head of the counter-terrorism unit at the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club to parachute in and sort things out. The local chief constable has already described the appointment as "desperately unfortunate", although it is still theoretically possible that the use of dawn raids, dum-dum bullets and water-cannon can be kept more or less to a minimum.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nicky Points the Finger

Nick Clegg has suddenly remembered the Chilcot report, which has been in development hell for the past five years. Clegg is doubtless nostalgic for a time when the words mendacious right-wing poodle conjured up the grinning sanctimony of the Reverend Blair's visage rather than the neutered vacuity of his own; but it seems that not everyone shares his belated enthusiasm for the truth. It is not clear who is holding things up; perhaps Prince Charles wrote a sensitive letter, or perhaps some of the finer points of questioning have not yet been bludgeoned a sufficient distance into the Hoon cranium to elicit a satisfactory answer. Of course, with the moral and political weight of Clegg behind the report's publication, we may have to wait no longer than it takes for the thirty-year rule to expire until we see a version which has been redacted to a proper condition for our sensitive gaze.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why Can't They Just Help Us Bomb People?

A UN rapporteur on violence against women has been prevented from inspecting the Yarl's Wood wog disposal centre, according to campaigners who may or may not be sexually involved with the more intimate members of the Metropolitan Police. Aside from their often being foreigners, UN rapporteurs have an unfortunate reputation with the Government thanks to Raquel Rolnik, who took it upon herself to criticise the Spare Room Subsidy Subtraction despite her lowly status as a Brazilian female. The present case is also female, but is South African, which is an improvement; she is even called Rashida Manjoo, which is a sufficiently British name to get her the culture ministry provided she displayed no objection to police assertiveness or fiscal apartheid. Still, it is quite possible that access to Yarl's Wood was prevented purely on safety grounds, in case the efficiency of the place was such that the lady never came out. Her visit coincided with another unexplained death and another ugly deportation at Yarl's Wood; by a happy coincidence, the Home Office arranged for her to visit a facility for men instead. For its own part, the Home Office claimed that Yarl's Wood had never been part of Manjoo's official itinerary, but that she "has met the Home Secretary", which is undoubtedly in most respects an equally sane and fragrant experience.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Think of it as an Investment, Chaps

Having spent four years kicking the proles, the Chancellor now seems to feel confident enough to address some of the actual causes of the late financial meltdown; or at least to make some sort of show at doing so. With all of thirteen months to the election, Osborne has suddenly discovered that tax-dodging by rich people is a Bad Thing; and, as might be expected, has found that the wogs are to blame. Various crown dependencies "have not done enough in the past to be transparent", but Osborne, the Cecil Rhodes of global finance, has booted them into line, and has even dashed off a statute making it a criminal offence to omit declaring offshore income. Apparently nobody had thought of it before; but there are, after all, even more poor people to kick now than there were in 2010, so we should all be jolly grateful that the Chancellor found the time. With a bit of luck, he might recover nearly as much from his chums as he has lost in selling off the Royal Mail or spent on defending executive bonuses against a cap.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Barbary Apes

A mean-spirited, inept hard-right government in a clapped-out colonial power with a bit of separatist trouble has been violating international law by annoying a mean-spirited, inept hard-right government in a clapped-out colonial power with a bit of separatist trouble. Mariano Rajoy's Spain, which is seeking to criminalise abortion and is suffering from rumblings in Catalonia, has mounted hundreds of unlawful incursions into the territory of one of Britain's various colonial rumps; much to the irritation of the Bullingdon Club, which has banned books for prisoners and is suffering from rumblings in Scotland. The Spanish ambassador has been repeatedly summoned to the Foreign Office to be cowed and abashed by the statesmanlike squeakings of Willem den Haag; only for Spanish government vessels to continue inexplicably upon their merry way, for all the world as if they were the Royal Navy and the territorial waters of Gibraltar were some far-flung Gulf of Woggery in need of some brisk peace-keeping.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holy Purple Drain Cleaners

Britain's Head Boy has been taking Assembly for Easter. Somebody rather tactlessly sang Ave Maria, thereby rubbing in the recent let-down of Big School by the Monitor for Paper, Paint and Games; and Daveybloke had a bit of a simper about Christian values, proclaiming that the Big Society thingy was invented by an Iron Age hellfire preacher. There is some merit to this argument: as is clear from the incident of the widow's mite, Jesus saw nothing wrong with allowing large institutions to accept token contributions from the rich while taking from the poor everything they could afford, even unto the uttermost farthing. Jesus raised no objection to slavery or cruelty to animals, much as fans of the Big Society thingy tend to be enthusiasts of workfare and badger-busting. In the parable of the workers in the vineyard, Jesus proclaimed that wage levels should be dictated by the whims of employers; and in his pledge to return within the lifetime of witnesses present in the first century Jesus, like the Big Society thingy, promised a good deal more than his creator was prepared to deliver.

Daveybloke burbled indignantly about the persecution of Christians, the Saviour's injunction to rejoice and be exceeding glad having apparently slipped his speech-writer's mind. Additionally, as befits a spiritual son of the famously sane Reverend Tony, Daveybloke proclaimed himself a "giant Dyno-Rod". Although he has some of the qualifications (notably garish fluorescent colouring and a preference for the company of turds), perhaps it might be advisable for someone at Big School to suggest that Britain's Head Boy learn how to deal with fuses before attempting more elaborate household tasks.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Now in Paperback

My essay in alternate-world film criticism is now available in paperback. Meanwhile, the pdf version has received a very kind review from the excellent Tim Stevens, whose compact and inventive thrillers are well worth your time.

Update The book has now also been reviewed by Chickyog, an emanation of Justin McKeating, whose delightful, grottily apocalyptic stories "Jasper and Ruby" and "Liability Limited" are available free but more than merit payment.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Chains of Foreign Oppression

The ghastly Euro-wogs have once more attempted to undermine British sovereignty, this time by abolishing the freedom of governments and their minions to spy on whomever they dashed well please. This latest diktat is a blow to the Home Office, which was plotting to collect and store data from everyone's internet and phone use and keep it for up to a year in case it came in handy. Nick Clegg apparently told the Home Secretary in 2012 that such a plan was "unworkable", and the Home Secretary seems understandably to have taken that as a declaration of support for the principle of the thing. One need only look at such Liberal Democrat favourites as student fees, the Health and Social Care Act, the bedroom tax and the assault on the welfare system to see that a measure need not be counted a failure merely because it happens to be unworkable with regard to its own declared aims or the realms of common sanity. A spokesbeing said that the Home Office is "considering the judgment and its implications carefully"; in Standard English, Theresa May's staff are busy working out how much the taxpayer can afford to front up in penalties when the Government is found to be breaking the law, while the lady herself gnaws at the padding on the walls of her office.

Monday, April 07, 2014

An Example to Us All

Miller fury horror at horror fury Miller

Britain's Head Boy has reiterated his support for his embattled Secretary for Sport, Media and Oh What A Lovely War, who is under increasing pressure for being as honest as she is intelligent.

Asked whether Maria Miller was still in post because she is a token female, the Prime Minister responded, "Maria Miller is in her job because she is doing a good job as culture secretary."

A spokesbeing later pointed out that, in a party which contains the likes of Esther McVey and Nadine Dorries, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to find another witless boor with fallopian tubes should the necessity arise.

"However, the Prime Minister is not convinced of the necessity," the spokesbeing said. "Maria Miller's intellectual and professional credentials are impeccable. Iain Duncan Smith is very fond of her, which should tell you all you need to know."

Miller's profiteering at the taxpayer's expense, and her perfunctory apology, have convinced many that her sense of entitlement has reached near-Bullingdon proportions, despite her lowly status as a state-educated female.

"Maria Miller's career, like those of Jeremy Hunt and IDS, has shown that in Cameron's Britain anyone can make it," the spokesbeing said, "even into posts which elitists and job-snobs might prefer to be left to the brightest and best."

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Good Neighbour Policy

The World Cop by the Grace of God has embarked upon another charm offensive in the Asia Pacific region. The American defence secretary is travelling around the region dispensing civilised words of wisdom to the quarrelsome tribes. "Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict," Chuck Hagel pointed out, for the benefit of folk who may not, as yet, have caught up with the later oeuvre of Steven Spielberg. "All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small," said Chuck Hagel, whose country's respect for its neighbours is a byword throughout Central America and the Caribbean. To demonstrate its respect for North Korea, the US has sent a couple of extra destroyers to Japan; this is also a gesture of esteem towards China, which has a continuing dispute with Japan over some local islands. The US has a mutual defence treaty with Japan and recognises Japan's administration of the islands, so naturally it takes no side in the argument except that of the general welfare.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Available Now

My latest is now available as a PDF ebook, and should be downloaded, perused and reviewed with all possible alacrity. I hope that a paperback version can follow soon. In the meantime I am, of course, available for interview.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Criminal Figures

The Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club has been accused of imposing a "culture of fear" on its less privileged members, including arbitrary and unrealistic quotas for arrests and searches. Shootings and taserings are still optional, it appears; although that may change if the London Haystack and Bernard Hogan-Howitzer get their way over adding water-cannons to the arsenal. A report by the Police Federation says that officers feel "almost continually under threat of being blamed and subsequently punished for failing to hit targets"; the Met of course denies that anything of the sort is happening, although it has not yet got around to accusing the Police Federation of being a terrorist or of throwing bottles at the management while they try to save a life. Given the seriousness of the accusation (essentially, that the Met treats its foot-soldiers with the same contempt as the Government bestows upon teachers, the unemployed and other social pariahs), this surely represents progress.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Airy Dismissal

Britain's Head Boy and the London Haystack have been bringing some much-needed perspective to the population's whimsical wish for clean air. As one would expect, the perspective they brought was that pollution, like poverty and wog-bombing, is nothing much to worry about; certainly not compared with the European Union, which has been trying for years to induce the British government to honour its environmental obligations. Smog is a naturally-occurring weather phenomenon, burbled Britain's Head Boy. The air is perfectly fine, blathered the London Haystack. Meanwhile, the Deputy Conservative doormat at the Department of Energy acknowledged the role of air pollution from transport and claimed to be suffering along with the proles; this seemed to him reason enough to go green, although it is not entirely clear how the coalition's idea of going green (viz. shale-fracking and sustainable uranium) is intended to help matters. Pollution, it appears, is due almost entirely to immigrant dust particles from Africa, although doubtless the last Labour government and the badgers come into it somewhere as well. Fortunately, the people affected are mostly those insignificant types who have no spare house in the country.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Had We But Known Beforehand

With all of thirteen months to go before the general election, the Deputy Conservatives' president has suddenly discovered that the bedroom tax is unfair and causes severe hardship for the disabled. The work and pensions select committee has reported that the tax is causing hardship to "those living in adapted accommodation, or who need an extra room as a result of their disability, and who are unlikely to be able to move house or enter work," and who are almost equally unlikely to vote Conservative or bankroll a Bullingdon or do anything much apart from watch daytime TV; and it seems there are those, even among the Deputy Conservatives, who consider this an undesirable outcome. It is tragic that nobody thought to warn the Deputy Conservatives of the possibility of such unfortunate consequences before they helped vote the bedroom tax through. Still, whatever can be achieved by bleating from the sidelines will surely be achieved as long as Tim Farron has something to say about it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Is it a Ban? Is it a Crime? No, it's an Operational Applicability Event

Leftist pressure groups and other obnoxiously literate types are now threatening the unfortunate Chris Graybeing with legal action over the ban on sending books, or indeed anything much, to people in prison. The campaign has now been joined by the notorious human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC, who has written a book or two himself and therefore hardly qualifies as a disinterested party. Robertson was tactless enough to point out Graybeing's lack of legal knowledge, which is as needlessly discriminatory as pointing out Michael Gove's lack of teaching knowledge or Jeremy C Hunt's lack of medical knowledge or Iain Duncan Smith's lack of knowledge.

Fortunately for Graybeing, he has Nick Clegg on his side: "the measures being proposed are not about banning books," Clegg proclaimed, "they are about making sure the security arrangements around packages delivered to prisoners are applied consistently across the prison estate," which just happens to involve placing arbitrary limits on prisoners' access to reading material. The "measures being proposed" have, in the reality-based community, been in operation since November; but that's Wee Nicky for you. Anyway, rather than merely agreeing with those who worry about the impact on rehabilitation, Clegg declared himself "a total fellow traveller": an interesting choice of words, since fellow traveller is a term mostly used by political witch-hunters to refer to those who sympathise with designated witches without actually buying the cat or riding the broomstick. Nick Clegg is not actually a member of the Conservative Party.