Friday, 30 March 2012

Men with Beards Win Bradford West By-Election

The figures from the Bradford West by-election make it very clear that the voters there believe in one thing: the human race must be ruled by MEN WITH BEARDS.
That is without a doubt their highest priority.
Those who watch Big Brother may remember the edifying sight of Mr George Galloway crawling around on the floor pretending to be a cat and slurping milk out of a saucer held in a girl's lap. No better explanation of his political beliefs has ever been broadcast.
George Galloway used to denounce Saddam Hussein in the House of Commons when the Conservative government supported supplying Iraq with arms: then when America attacked it, he had a change of heart, and went to Iraq to make chummy speeches face to face with the dictator. An investigation into his "Mariam" appeal concluded that he had not properly discharged his duty of care as a trustee of a charity.
He has been exposed as a liar countless times, for instance here in this U-tube clip speaking to Christopher Hitchens:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOxrMJd8qxA&feature=share

Galloway is opposed to "Zionism" and makes a lot of inflammatory speeches on the subject. He is opposed to seven million Jewish people living in Israel, yet has no objection to 53 million Muslims living in Europe.*
The Respect manifesto claims to be environmentalist and also pro-trades-unions, brushing aside the problem that environmental policies such as CO2 reduction are destroying jobs all over Europe and exporting them to the Far East as rapidly as possible. Galloway wants to side with the miners then wave a green flag and shut down the coal-mines as well. His Respect party is in favour of EU membership yet opposed to the free-market capitalism of the EU itself. The people who vote for him blame Conservative policy for privatizing the Health Service and Royal Mail, closing their eyes to the fact that it is EU policy and the Labour government was compelled to do the same.
Respect touts for the votes of the Islamic fundamentalists, yet also seeks to embrace homosexual extremists and militants, with the result that most of their conferences are fraught by clamourous shouts of "homophobia!" on one side and "Islamophobia!" on the other. He openly defends the fundamentalist regime in Iran and has made himself ridiculous by denying that the law there demands the execution of homosexuals. Galloway voted to ban fox-hunting, on the grounds that it is "cruel to animals", yet he is in favour of permitting Halal butchers who are cruel to a far greater number and for no good reason.
Galloway, who was brought up Roman Catholic, still opposes abortion, yet his party policy is to support "choice". Galloway claims to be a strict life-long tee-totaller (another way of appealing to the muslim vote) and yet I personally know people who have seen him with a pint in his hand not so very long ago.
In short, Respect is a total mess. It is an opportunistic bundle of contradictions and nonsense for the politically illiterate.
But there is one winning factor in this and it came up trumps. George, Galloway, unlike David Cameron, Ed Milliband or Nick Clegg, has got a beard. Islam loves beards. One beard is worth ten thousand votes.

*(a figure that excludes Turkey)
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Mad Majority

One of the policy points on our list for local election candidates here in Oxford is privacy. UKIP is of course opposed to the Labour City Council's policy, announced last November. of recording all conversation on public transport. Buses, coaches and even taxis will all have to conform. Those taxi-drivers who resist have been told that they will not be given a licence to drive a taxi at all.
Of course we're against it! We're the party of common sense. And freedom.
So far I haven't found any voters who like the policy, but they are scared to vote against the old established parties. One man told me on the doorstep today that if he got into a taxi, he would tell the driver to switch the recording machine off. I pointed out that this would be illegal, and the taxi had to obey the law. He said, "If he wanted my business, he would have to turn it off."
In effect he was saying that he would vote for a bad law, in the hope of being able to defy it.
Why vote for a law you hate and don't want to obey? Wouldn't it be better to make laws that people agree with and then keep them? He responded only with a sullen shrug.
The sad fact is that many people are scared to vote against the established parties of power. They have a deep-seated attitude of deference to the "powers that be" and see old political parties as being entitled to wield authority - they are the lords and we are the peasants. New political parties are seen with disapproval and suspicion. Facts and reason have little impact on this sort of prejudice.
I've heard enough in my life about the "lunatic fringe", the tiny extremist parties, the "weirdos" and now I think it's time to laugh at the mad majority.
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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Ooh-la-la! It's Raimond Blanc

Cookery in this country has become a spectator sport. No-one does it anymore, they just watch it on television.
There seems to be almost nothing on TV most days except cookery programmes. Master-chef misery with Michel Roux, the Hairy Bikers being prole, Countrywise Kitchen, and most recently Raimond Blanc, the Very Hungry Frenchman, slavering his way around France with a mixture of pride, nostalgia and sheer greed. In every vineyard, every dairy, every bakery, every fishmarket, he rolls his eyes, smacks his lips and exclaims "Ooooh-la-la!" before selecting ingredients for one of his five-course banquets. It's a pity he tarts up the traditional recipes so much. Bouillabaisse with star-anise, fennel and chilli sounds pretty awful. And what a waste of raspberries to squash them into a flat sheet, bake them dry and then cut out circles that look just like a slice of salami - on top of your pudding!
Lorraine Pascale, Nigel Slater, Rick Stein, The Saturday Cookshow, and of course dear Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (international hero since he took on the EU Fisheries policy) ...there is even an entire Cookery channel. Meanwhile, take a look at what is on the shelves of the local supermarket. Thousands and thousands of little plastic boxes, tubs and frozen cardboard packets, containing ready-cooked meals. Carrots are sold ready-chopped, cheese is sold ready-grated, people buy pre-cooked omelettes and pancakes to warm up and I have even seen plastic containers of ready-cooked porridge. It is truly sad and pathetic. Also the price of £1 per tub is outrageous.
In short, we have never cooked less. Cookery has become something everybody watches and talks about, and fewer and fewer people do. We have become a nation of voyeuristic culinary eunuchs. In the rare moments when there is no celebrity chef show on the box, they are probably showing Come Dine With Me, a formula reality-tv-show whose success is completely inexplicable. What is so entertaining about watching four incompatible people thrown together, giving bad dinners, being appallingly rude and bitchy to each other, and making utterly dense remarks? One thing revealed by the show is how many British women are either anorexic or have a deeply neurotic attitude to food. One woman this week had a horror of lamb, and could not bear to hear it talked about. Time after time we hear women complain that there was too much food - as if they were required to eat all of it. Another woman, faced with a massive pasta and meat course, demanded bread to be served with it. Her host had to go and get her some from the kitchen.
This week one man served, as his starter, a full English breakfast. Yes, as the starter to a three-course dinner. Bizarre. A full English breakfast with fried eggs, bacon and kidneys before a main course of roast lamb. And he seemed to imagine he was a foodie. It's one thing to be carried away by the fashion for serving cheese as, or in, a starter (a fashion I deplore) but a full English breakfast...? Another contestant left nearly all of his roast lamb because it was slightly pink. And said that he really couldn't bear fish in any shape or form. He served his main course in what looked like dog's bowls. No wonder the French think we are mad.

Affluent modern Britain is full of people who don't know how to plan a meal, don't know how to cook, and certainly don't know how to give other people a good time. They can't even be civil for two hours before diving for the door. This is a sad state of affairs and I call it the collapse and downfall of civilisation.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Bust of a Bad Job

It seems that, despite 30 years of feminist equality, 47,000 British women have nothing better to do than to get plastic surgery on their tits. They have also been so rash as to get it done by a dodgy French company called Pip who put non-medical grade silicon in the implants. Now they are starting to split, and the results may even get toxic.
Well, that surely is the responsibility of the horrid private company that did all these unnecessary operations in the first place. They must be held legally responsible for the mess they have created. Every business operates under legal control: you can't do private surgery and then shrug off responsibility for the outcome. Every customer should have a piece of paper guaranteeing that if something goes wrong, PIP and Co will yank out whatever they shoved in, and pay you compensation too.
If there is no piece of paper, then somebody should take the company to court and get a test case ruling. The NHS should be spending its money on essential operations, not undoing the bungling of unscrupulous profiteering vanity-surgeons.
Have you ever seen one of these implants? They look like a 1980s shoulder-pad, and they are sewn into the breast tissue like an extra bit of stuffing into a cushion.
It is truly pathetic that after so much legislation to ensure that women have equal rights, equal pay, equal education and equal opportunities, so many of us still regard ourselves as sex-objects. We are prepared to go to horrible lengths to make our bodies conform to someone's rigid notion of what is correct. Slicing open your delicate female parts like lumps of boiled ham is too disgusting to contemplate and no sane person would undergo it unless they already had some tumour to remove. In today's society, people will do anything to seek the perfect body, as if that's the be-all and end-all of human existence. Those who are not starving themselves are worrying about having too-small breasts. Tormented by vanity and insecurity - these are not happy women. They have got their priorities all wrong.
One of our local hospitals, the Nuffield Orthopaedic, has launched an appeal for money, and every day charities that care for cancer patients beg us for funds. This is shameful and if our NHS survives in any form the Coalition's dreaded health reform bill, it should be doing something better than clear up the mess caused by unethical vanity surgery.
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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Homelessness in Britain up by 14%

Homelessness in Britain is up by 14%.
Funny isn't it, since millions of us have actually moved abroad in the last generation. And those who can't afford rents can claim housing benefit. Yet homelessness continues to rise.
Andrew Smith says that the answer is to build more "affordable homes". But that will never work so long as we have a completely open-border no-limits policy on immigration. For every million houses you build, two or three million people can walk in from all over the world and claim them. There are a billion citizens of the EU who all have a perfect right to come here and only one million UK citizens who have homes in other EU countries. Most of them don't work - they are retired people. Your Gran and Grandad in Spain make up a lot of that million. If Andrew Smith means local councils building council houses, the fact is that they simply haven't got the money.
The Conservative government thinks that the answer is to make squatting a criminal offence. At the moment it is only a civil matter. Home-owners have to take the squatters to the local county court and get them evicted. If it becomes a criminal offence, they will be able to just send the police in. What would be the result of that? More people sleeping on the streets? More people crowded into tiny substandard homes? The Libdems in the coalition have got no solutions at all to offer.
There are always plans to build more new towns in the South of the country - but this over-crowding has led to a chronic shortage of water. We cannot all live in the same place. The more people who live in England, the more food will have to be imported using aeroplanes and heavy lorries. Yet the government and EU policy is to penalize and tax these forms of transport, for their CO2 emissions. We face a dilemma here - if we want to reduce reliance on petrol-powered transport we cannot ALSO squash more inhabitants into the South of England.
We need a coherent policy, not one that goes round in circles.
Yes, I think more homes should be built - but built in Poland or Slovenia. Build them in Nigeria or wherever else they are needed. Let British companies get contracts to build homes all over the world and make the people who are benefitting from those projects find the money.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Six More British Soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Six more British soldiers killed in Afghanistan by a home-made bomb, planted by the Taliban we thought we had extirpated, and driven out of the country. The total number of British troops killed there is well over four hundred. There are hundreds more maimed and crippled for life. Meanwhile our armed forces are so weak that we cannot defend our own country.
From time to time the UK government makes feeble boasts about how the war has destroyed all the Al-Qaeda training camps and brought democracy to this previously barbaric land. You'd have to be naive to believe that.
If you asked Voltaire to explain the War on Terror, he would say, "It is very simple. We cannot tolerate them bombing our people over here, so we have to send our people to be bombed over there instead. N'est-ce pas?"
The whole invasion of Afghanistan has achieved nothing. The 7/7 terrorists were home-grown, and you can train terrorists anywhere. If somebody wants to train as a pilot and fly straight into a tall building, the invasion of Afghanistan will do nothing to deter them - it may even inflame their aggression. And after all that pointless violence, the Taliban are still there, and will take over whenever the foreign troops leave. Women will not be equal, Sunnis and Shias will continue to massacre each other and elections will be a farce.
Wouldn't it be a better idea to govern our own country rather than kid ourselves we can rule Afghanistan? We cannot even deport Abu Qatada because of unelected EU judges!
Coalition spokesmen keep using the argument that we must "finish the job" to make sure the lives of the fallen were not wasted. Such an argument could trap us in a pointless war forever.
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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Poetry

If language is the tree, then poetry is the flower.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Chic to be British - in China

Gok Wan in China ... weird. I suppose the BBC is desperate to find something new to put him in. His fashion programmes had become monotonous, and his ghastly series about self-conscious adolescents was calculated to make all their problems of body-obsession, self-obsession and food-obsession worse.
So they sent Gok off to China to find his father's roots, and marvel over the Tiger economy that produces more and more of all the things we buy and use. It was not nearly so entertaining as Paul Merton in China, but it had its moments. The most remarkable thing he found was a city in China called Thames Town where all the buildings are exact replicas of ones in England. Its streets are lined with mock-Tudor stockbroker houses, or if you go round another corner, chunks of Belgravia, a Gothic church, red telephone boxes, and black taxis. The city is a really popular place to live. China's rich business class buys each new property even before it is finished, and newly-weds favour it as a place to go and have their wedding photographs taken. What would Mao-Tse-Tung have said if he had seen young Chinese couples, the men in Western suits, the women in long white gowns and veils, posing outside a replica of a British pub?
Were all his efforts wasted?
It is decidedly odd that, while the UK sinks in a morass of self-loathing and self-destruction, the Chinese adore us and are building an idealized copy, with no ugly bits, just all the things tourists come to see in England. It is like huge film set, waiting for some Inspector Morse to come along and solve a murder mystery.
Maybe we should all move in there?
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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Clegg Attacks the Family

You might think it was impossible for our deputy Prime Minister Mr Nicholas Clegg esquire to do anything to make himself more unpopular than he is. After backing out of his cast-iron pledge to offer us a referendum on EU membership, and backing out of his much-fanfared election pledge to abolish university tuition fees, Mr Clegg then gave his full and public support to the series of EU bail-outs that mean we are pouring billions of pounds into foreign coffers while making swingeing cuts in basic services here.
After admitting in public that he was an atheist, he decided to send his own dear children to a Catholic school, to avoid the comprehensive system (which his party is determined to enforce on everybody else).
Mr Clegg then turned his mind to how he could make life worse for the British family. How about abolishing Child Benefit? Until now this has always been non-means tested. If you have a child, you get it paid into your bank account automatically until they are eighteen. It's now about £20 per week, adding up to a thousand pounds per child per year. Simple, straightforward and for most people very useful. Clegg came up with the idea of stopping payments to all families with a higher-rate tax-payer, that is anybody earning £43,000 p.a. or more. Clegg persuaded Cameron to snatch that money away and pay it in interest to the bankers who lent a fortune to the Greek government.
Cameron being a weak sort of bloke went along with it and announced it, before realizing that it would cause an outcry. A family with three children and one wage-earner paid £43,750 p.a. will suddenly lose three thousand pounds per year, about 7% of their disposable income after tax. It will really make a difference to their standard of living. £43,000 is not that much for four or five people to live on. Not when you consider that the first £10,000 probably goes on their mortgage, the next £5,000 on household bills such as council tax, and a couple of thousand pounds on the ever-mounting costs of commuting to work.
Meanwhile, a family with two wage-earners each getting £42,000 per year will keep their child benefit. How fair is that? They have a disposable income of around £65,000 yet they will still be getting help from the state. They can also pick up generous subsidies from the state to help pay for professional child care!! In short, the whole scheme is going to penalize families with a stay-at-home mother. To care for your own child is now going to be an expensive luxury and (the way we are going) may soon be regarded as a crime.
The Conservatives have tried tinkering with Clegg's bright idea to make it less obviously unfair. They have suggested raising the threshhold to £50,000 or having a salary band in which child benefit is gradually phased out rather than suddenly cut off. They have suggested all sorts of things that are complicated to administer and will cost almost as much money than the clawback of benefit saves in the first place. The beauty of a non-means-tested benefit is that it is cheap to run. Minimum bureacracy. No arguing about who is eligible and who isn't.
What this scheme reveals is that Clegg is a clumsy, ignorant meddler. He really does not understand how the tax system works or how an average family manages its budget. Born into a rich banking family and given a leg-up into banking by his dear parents, he went from there straight into a gilt-edged eurocrat career where the expenses allowance was greater than most ordinary people's earnings. He is now said to be worth about ten million and he has an index-linked pension from Brussels. Every time he opens his mouth, he reveals his abysmal ignorance.

There is no doubt that the Libdems view the family as an institution with distrust. They simply cannot understand the argument that a higher rate tax payer may be MORE entitled to claim something back from the system - because they are putting more in! The non-earners get free housing (exempt from council tax), free prescriptions, and an income from the state. Why are the middle classes not entitled to anything at all? The only kind of family that Libdems are keen to encourage is a same-sex union or an arranged marriage for the purpose of passport fraud.
There really is no reason why the sqeezed middle class should be eager to vote for Mr Clegg at any future election. But for the time being he can settle back in the seat of the ministerial limousine and head off to Chevening, his deputy PM's 115-room mansion, for five years of very comfortable living.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Is Workfare a Dirty Word?

Shortly after they were evicted from their camp outside St Paul's Cathedral, one of the "Occupy" protestors boasted that it was thanks to their movement that workfare in Britain was now "a dirty word".
It was tantamount to an admission that the behaviour of the young woman who made the original complaint about being required to do work experience in Poundland while on the dole was not a spontaneous event. Somebody, somewhere, was orchestrating it. Poundland, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Superdrug, Argos and Waterstones have all now backed out of the scheme after being accused of exploiting young people and profiting from unpaid labour.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/now-poundland-snubs-workfare-programme-7440154.html

If this is a "success" on the part of the anti-capitalist campaigners it is a very poor one, that does no good for anybody. Unemployment in the UK is at a 17-year high. It is officially 2.67 million and the way these statistics go, that is probably an under-estimate. It does not include all the people working part-time who want full-time jobs. According to the BBC, "the number of 16 to 24-year-olds without a job rose 22,000 to 1.04m, taking the unemployment rate to 22.2%."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10604117

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance is 1.6 million, and there are another million claiming disability benefit. In short, we have a vast pool of jobless people. many of of who have never had any job at all.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/unemployment-and-employment-statistics

Now while I don't believe for a moment that the workfare scheme will solve all our problems in this respect, I do think it is reasonable for those getting money from the state to have to get out of bed and go and do something. To call it slavery is absurd. Since when did slaves get money? Just because they are not paid by the companies employing them does not mean that they are unpaid. Slaves [and there have been cases of genuine slavery found in this country even recently] are usually locked up in cellars or sheds and cannot run away, or leave the country. They can be beaten, abused and raped. To call workfare slavery is just melodramatic.

Last month a Pakistani couple in Britain was revealed to have been keeping a deaf girl as a slave in their house for ten years. She was beaten, raped and made to sleep in the cellar. The Ashars of Eccles in Manchester had trafficked the girl into this country deliberately to exploit her. That is what slavery means. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2098871/Deaf-girl-10-trafficked-UK-kept-sex-slave-cellar-elderly-couple-10-YEARS.html

The fact is that too many of our 16-to-24 year olds have had a very soft life. They are so soft you could spread them on toast. They have never done anything at all for themselves or others. They never had to help with any housework in their homes. They don't know how to cook a meal or knit a jumper. They have never washed a plate or a shirt because everything is done by machine. They have never sat an exam because all their dumbed-down qualifications were gained by course-work. They have never walked anywhere, as there have always been cars to take them wherever they choose. They don't really know what work means.
A typical young graduate appeared on TV saying that he did a degree in computer game-programming and is now seeking a job in that field. In other words, he wants to spend his whole life playing games and expects to be paid for it. But what if nobody will pay him a salary to do that? Shouldn't he have to adjust to the fact that work is doing what somebody else wants and needs?
A charming young man I know personally has been on benefits for a long time. He got into university, to study a science subject, then dropped out after a few weeks because he felt it was "just not for him". Since then he has drifted and done nothing but occasional casual work. He was offered an apprenticeship in a company that provides carers for old people. I thought he was very well suited to this type of work, but again after a few weeks he gave it up, saying that it was "not for him". He found fault with the way the system worked, giving him only twenty minutes with each old person. The fact is that work means doing something that needs to be done, not something you fancy. I think there are an awful lot of similar cases and nice though he is, he is part of a generation that expects to be permanently on holiday.
The work placement scheme is for many of these young dreamers a chance to find out what work actually means, and it is also a chance to get a reference from an employer and something to put on their c.v. Stacking shelves in Poundland may be boring but it proves that you can turn up, be punctual and reliable and do what somebody else tells you to do. For those who come from a family where nobody works, this is an opportunity to find out what having a job is like.
The Oxford Star and other local newspapers has huge whole-page advertisements every week for care workers, from companies that provide training. So why are young people not taking those vacancies?
I doubt if the companies who take on youngsters will gain much from "exploiting" them. They will have to be supervised and frankly, many of them won't be much good. If the criticism is that Tesco's can afford to pay people, then the answer is to extend the workfare scheme to small and medium-sized businesses which do not make vast profits.

The attitudes of the anti-capitalist protestors are not representative of the majority of people in the UK. In a recent poll. 80% of people said that it's fair for people claiming benefits to have to do something for society in return.
http://www.moneyweek.com/blog/workfare-a-step-in-the-right-direction-20800

And what's more, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), out of the 34,000 young people who have taken advantage of the scheme, half have managed to get some work and come off benefits as a result. Employers respected them more for having shown they were capable of doing what needed to be done.
http://thecareercafe.co.uk/blog/?p=1198

These young people are not being expected to go down mines - as Bevan's boys did in World War II. They are only being asked to make an effort to contribute in a small way to their community.
The International Declaration of Human Rights says, in article 4, that "no one shall be held in slavery". But it also says in article 29, that "Everyone has duties to the community". Surely doing some kind of useful task is a reasonable way for young people to fulfil that important duty.
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