Monday, December 31, 2012

The last thing you need on New Year's Eve is for a dog to go missing.

I found him in the end after calling for half an hour and walking about a mile along the muddy lane, feeble torchlight in the pitch darkness.

Although the house is isolated, fireworks seem to echo around the house even if they are let off three or four miles away.  Rockets have been exploding every ten minutes or so since about 7pm, and I think it was the noise that made him run off when I took the dogs in the garden (I didn't see him run off, I was too concerned with the little dog).  Anyway, I am keeping them in now until well past midnight, no matter how urgently they ask to go out.


New Year resolutions for 2013 are easy - exactly the same as for 2012, only more so.

Not going anywhere tonight.  My brother is going out, but I would rather stay at home.  New Year's Eve is always an anti-climax.

One noticeable and notable aspect of 2012 is that I no longer care about alcohol.  I used to be able to drink a bottle of wine or spirits in one go, but now I will just have half a glass and leave the rest.  Not sure I even like alcohol much anymore.

That's a good thing isn't it?

The People's Republic of China

I keep puzzling over what the Chinese Amabassador meant when he said on Newsnight a week ago that the relationship between China and the United Kingdom was "Pride and Prejudice" when he wanted it to be "Sense and Sensibility".

I know both novels by Jane Austen, and have read Pride & Prejudice more than once (by which I mean I have read it in full twice and read sections of it so frequently as to approximate to several rereadings, plus watched the TV dramatisation, but not yet seen the Keira Knightley film version).

By using this analogy is he implying that the People's Republic of China is secretly in love with the United Kingdom? Is the EU meant to be George Wickham?  Is the USA meant to be Caroline Bingley?

He is an ambassador after all.

His words need to be taken seriously.

outta london for good

Since Bonnie Greer has started the game of wishing people "outta london" can I perhaps join in by wishing Bonnie Greer outta london for good?

And how does such an intellectual pygmy and mean-spirited misogynist get to be a Trustee of the British Museum? (rhetorical question, as I think we all know why she got put there).

A wonderful difference to my health

Looking back over 2012, there have been many (mostly small) personal discoveries and innovations that have made my life better.

Nescafe Gold Crema coffee powder for instance.  Or Kiwi Express Shine shoe polish pads.  Or (a discovery made in the last couple of weeks) Christmas tree lights that run off small batteries rather than mains electricity (having three badly-behaved cats in the house, there is at least one incident per Christmas when they pull the tree over, risking the Sitting Room going up in flames if faulty electrics come into contact with soft furnishings).

However the greatest discovery of 2012 has to be camomile tea.  For years I have suffered with poor sleep, lying awake in the dark for hours and then having to get up and go to work feeling exhausted.  Now I simply drink a cup of camomile tea and I immediately fall asleep.  So intense is this effect that I often wake up with my head on the pillow in the same place as when I lay down.  No more occasions in the night when I wake suddenly.  And I have so many dreams now.

So thank you Twinings tea company - this has made a wonderful difference to my health and happiness.

The 1970s culture of workshy laziness

Personally I am uncomfortable with New Year's Day being a holiday.  Apparently it only dates from 1975.  To my mind it exemplifies the 1970s culture of workshy laziness to start a new year with a day of idleness.

The bigger dog made a lunge at him...

An "incident" with the dogs and the postman earlier.  Both dogs started barking and so I went out into the garden with them and by the time I walked round the corner of the house they had the postman at bay.  He usually comes at 10.30 (the incident was at 9.30).

The bigger dog made a lunge at him, and although he was not bitten he could have been.

He was not at all happy, and although I apologised several times he went off considerably disgruntled.

Possibly I might get a lockable mailbox attached to the side gate to the lane so the postman does not have to come into the garden.

We have had the bigger dog for nearly a year now.  He belonged to a neighbour, but they could not handle him (he's had several owners).  If we hadn't taken him in he would have been put down.

But he is a handful.  He wants to play all the time, and when he is not playing he is eating.  He chases all the cats (we have four including a yard car who lives in a shed) and we have had to develop complicated procedures to keep them all apart.

"I could be a knight of the realm if I wanted to..."

It does seem to me that individuals who decline honours and then tell everyone they have done so are seeking to get the best of both worlds (I am thinking of Danny Boyle).

Is it not hypocritical to tell everyone you have been offered an honour, thus effectively publicly acknowledging the honour, and then say you do not intend to "accept" it?

Danny Boyle is telling everyone very publicly (since he must have known how it would be reported) "I could be a knight of the realm if I wanted to, it's just that I'm too cool for all that".

Danny Boyle is, of course, from an Irish republican background.


I have noticed that Twitter tends to reveal when people get up in the mornings - not a fool-proof guide, as it actually just tells you when they start tweeting.

But assuming most dedicated users of Twitter tweet throughout their waking day, it is surprising how many people on the left do not seem to get up before 10am.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Krept & Konan - I PLAY DIRTY

Swagged up from early, more clothes than Woolworths, you heard me
So let me state this, I've always got new jerseys
I like my girls naked, I get threesomes, that's great shit
One girl, on her knee-yo, then I showed her Matrix

I know feds still want me in a cell
We're the cool kids, tell a boy get a phone

You don't want me to get serious, cause you're gonna need an ambulance

Understanding the B demographic 11

The demographic has no communal allegiance, and when asked to choose will consistently affirm that personal interest is more important than community advantage.

Body language is an area that could be studied - "attitude".

Personal ethics, and a sense of self-awareness, are not provided within a family or school context but are absorbed from popular culture (advertising, music videos, fashion etc).

In its celebration of "self first", in its cult of individual expression, and in its obsession with materialist goods the demographic can be described as archetypal Thatcherite (although they are unconscious of this fact).

The demographic defines itself almost entirely in capitalist terms, ironic given their exclusion from participation in capitalism.

The demographic has an odd attitude towards privacy and their lifestyles seem entirely designed for the public sphere to the point that they become someone else when not in public (perhaps I am expressing this badly - I mean that they cease to be the same person, perhaps even suffer a negation of personality, when not in their peer group).

The young B demographic is:  male, age groups 18-25 and 26-34 (and possibly 35-44 but this is to be confirmed); socio-economic groups C2, D, E; geographic location urban, particularly inner city.

National Insurance

Tom Watson MP draws attention to papers released under the thirty-year-rule which discuss the possibility, as far back as 1982, of scrapping National Insurance and replacing it with compulsory private insurance.

Tom Watson MP wants people to believe this was an ideological conspiracy to dismantle the welfare state.

However he glosses over the fact that National Insurance WAS a scheme of compulsory insurance, the insurance "company" being provided by the state.

This proved to be unworkable for three reasons:

1  Politicians were not prepared to put up NI rates when the cost of providing welfare went up - they have consistently failed to explain to the electorate what was happening with the cost of welfare.

2  Politicians (especially Labour governments) could not resist using NI money as yet another pot of money they could use to bribe sections of the electorate, especially by allowing millions of incomers to benefit from welfare insurance they had not paid for.

3  By turning NI into yet another variation of income tax the Labour government of 1975 destroyed the national consensus that the welfare state belonged to everyone equally (everyone paid equally, everyone benefited equally).

It would have been better to have implemented the 1982 proposal.  Not because private insurance is better than state insurance.  But because private insurance cannot be raided so easily by greedy politicians wanting a convenient war chest to fight the next election.

If I had the time I would write a book about the way the Labour party has destroyed the British welfare system by using communal assets to buy votes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A racist stereotype

Large article in today's Guardian in which Aida Edemariam interviews poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

Benjamin Zephaniah describes how he has moved to the Lincolnshire countryside and openly talks about being "the only black in the village" (a self-evident truth to anyone who has been to Lincolnshire, or indeed any other rural county).

Black people do not live or work in the English countryside ("black" meaning African or West Indian heritage). There is of course at least one "Black Farmer" and you can buy his sausages in Sainsburys.  But statistically black people do not register outside of urban areas.

Which makes the current television commercial by all the more interesting

This advertisement, entitled Farmyard, shows a large cast of animated farmhands with approximately a third of them portrayed as black.  A "large woman of color" seems to be part of the branding, and we might perhaps disregard the animated ethnic cleansing as a clumsy attempt by their ad agency to be "diverse" and "socially aware" and all the other buzz words that will appear as tick boxes on the campaign briefing document.  But there is more...

If you look carefully at the animated dancing farmhands you will see that the genital bulges at the crotches of the black farmhands are enormous, whereas the crotches of the white farmhands are so slight as to make them seem emasculated.

It is of course a racist stereotype that black men have enormous genitals - a stereotype related to the black experience of slavery.

So it seems odd that in seeking to challenge the "hideously white" stereotype of the English countryside should in the process promulgate one of the most insidious (and demeaning) racial stereotypes of black men. are shooting themselves in the foot, it seems to me.

The ruritanian titles

Above: the Milton Keynes News announces that Greg Rutherford is now an MBE (Greg Rutherford has appeared on Newsnight in the past).

Tanya Gold in the Guardian today dismisses the honours system as "postcard pomp".

The ruritanian titles have misled her into regarding the process as "an expression of, and a means to uphold, royal power".  She is woefully ignorant in this respect - royalty have almost no role in deciding who gets what (except for a few specific honours).  What is actually happening is the co-option of new establishment figures into the old establishment, including the silencing or buying-off (relatively) of some anti-establishment figures.

We need to understand how this happens, as these people are going to "pop up" in the future (look at the career of Lord Coe for instance). 

People love telling you about their lives - the past week trying to do some work at home

Monday, Thursday & Friday

Although I have been on holiday this week I intended to use some of the time to catch up with work projects. 

In particular, there are three areas in which I have lots of raw interviews that need to be written up and interpreted and then the interpretations put into reports.  These reports will then be discussed internally and, if all goes well, used to formulate campaign plans.  Therefore it is essential the raw data is presented properly as mistakes at this stage may well result in a flawed campaign.

The difficulty is that most raw data is repetitive.  Out of the hundred or so interviews I have done so far, the variations between them are tiny.  Yet it is the variations that give you the insights.  That is why it is important to do two hundred interviews rather than just two, even if you suspect they will all basically say the same thing.  It is only by noticing the small variations that you can see the bigger picture.  I hope this does not sound too obscure!

Usually I start with sending out a questionnaire.  Remember that you cannot just work with the people who return their questionnaires, you need to chase up an equal number of those who don't return them, as otherwise you are going to get bias creeping in.  Then I book in personal interviews (usually at a suburban hotel near where they live, although I also go and see people at their homes).  I always try to do interviews myself even though I have a budget to use a researcher.  Meeting people personally allows you to go back to them (usually by 'phone) and ask supplementary questions.  You always have to ask the important questions (the ones you want serious answers to) several times in different words so that you can assess whether they are telling the truth.

In my experience people love telling you about their lives, even the most taciturn and obstructive subjects will eventually open up (and then you can't stop them!).  The key is to be genuinely interested in what they are saying and not try to steer them in a particular direction.  You also have to have an instinct for knowing what they really want to talk about.

Anyway, I meant to get a lot of this typed up.

But actually I have hardly got anything done.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I like Christmas, but this endless holiday is beginning to get me down.

Indulgence must have a stop.

Shocked by the murder of a church organist in Sheffield on Christmas Eve.

Understanding the B demographic 10

One of the most striking characteristics of the demographic is that almost all of them are worse-off than their parents - possibly this contributes to the inter-generational hostility.

On the whole the demographic does not seem to have any regional variations - in this sense they have developed a pan-British identity.

Atheism is not a part of their weltanschauung - these are people who still seem to have a nominal Christian affiliation, although the interpretation may be unorthodox and tend towards a vague spirituality.

Frequent references to the experiences they face in everyday life, this reality being expressed as harsher and more intractable than the semi-mythical "struggles" faced by older generations.

The demographic repeatedly defines itself by reference to music, music video and fashion.

Mention of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is met with derision.

The young B demographic is:  male, age groups 18-25 and 26-34 (and possibly 35-44 but this is to be confirmed); socio-economic groups C2, D, E; geographic location urban, particularly inner city.

It would destroy all faith in idealism

Owen Jones, writer for the Independent newspaper, attacks welfare as a "subsidy for employers and landlords" but omits to mention that it is also used as a subsidy for the Labour Party, supplementing the incomes of party activists who chose to pursue the dilettante existence of extremely poorly-paid left-wing politics to the alternative of finding a full-time job.

Of course, it would destroy all faith in idealism to find out that Owen Jones himself was claiming housing benefit.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Danny" Blanchflower is exaggerating to enhance his own self-importance

"Danny" Blanchflower needs to make up his mind.

Either the United Kingdom is closely connected to the EU so that we "must" remain members because we have nowhere else to go, OR the United Kingdom is closely connected to the US so that if their economy goes down ours goes down with it.

Both assertions can't be true.

Indeed, it is possible that neither assertion is true.

It is possible that "Danny" Blanchflower is exaggerating to enhance his own self-importance, to get people to read his (boring) articles, and to try to convince us that he knows what he is talking about.

Endless blackmail from ASLEF

ASLEF were on strike yesterday, with more one-day strikes planned for 2013.

In case anyone on the left should be sympathetic to the ASLEF cause they should be aware that ASLEF is one of the most abusive of British trade unions - abusive to a succession of governments; abusive to passengers using transport systems; especially abusive to their so-called "brothers" in the National Union of Railwaymen.

The relationship of ASLEF towards to NUR can be compared to that of the Spartan Perioikoi to their Helot neighbours.  Arrogant, bullying, selfish, exploitative, patronising, greedy.  ASLEF is a dreadful trade union, and an example of how a small well-organised group can further the interests of their members at the expense of other industrial workers - the national strikes throughout the 1960s and 1970s were followed by measurable migration of business, especially freight, onto the roads.

In theory I would like to see more freight travel by rail.  In theory I would like to see the railways renationalised.  In practice I know that it would just result in endless blackmail from ASLEF.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Welcome to my readers in the United Arab Emirates.

I think you must be the first UAE visitors to this blog.

Not sure what you are looking for, but if I can help in any way e-mail me on

Top of the Pops

I thought Top of the Pops had gone for good, but it popped up on Christmas Day with presenter Reggie Yates in a jacket that appeared too tight, left hand permanently in his pocket, continually sucking in his mouth and introducing Carly Rae Jepson, Conor Maynard and Paloma Faith.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Prime Minister's Christmas message

Very cheered by the Prime Minister's Christmas message, which seems to be a rebuke to all the claims of secularism being circulated by Nick Cohen and others.

I will remember Mr and Mrs Cameron in my prayers at Midnight Holy Communion this evening.

Just the essentials

Last shopping before the holiday - just the essentials (more gin, more mince pies, a bottle of sink unblocker).

In a shop window display the teddies, the snowmen and the soft felt hippos look ready to relax until the sales start on Boxing Day.

To avoid accusations of being anti-social I will try to avoid going near a computer over the next couple of days (although I will make an exception if the Metropolitan Police think Christmas is a good time to bury bad news - they have form on doing this).

Is this a cash flow issue

Some anecdotal evidence that private sector employers are delaying payment of December salaries until after the Christmas break, whereas in previous years most employees got paid before the holiday began.

No idea what happens in the public sector.

Is this a cash flow issue for the private sector related to the banks not lending?

The Labour government deliberately corrupted the police

Michael Meacher MP blustering away about police corruption:

What he overlooks is that the Labour government deliberately corrupted the police with the public sector equality duty.  Although at first sight this may seem to be a benevolent piece of legislation it has had the deleterious effect of requiring public sector organisations to promote political and ideological concepts that are ancillary to their core activities.  Having taught the police that ideals are politically malleable, is it any wonder that sections of the police develop their own political programmes?

We cannot have political corruption of the police and therefore the public sector equality duty must be repealed.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Perhaps they had already worked out what they would write up

In all the coverage of the "plodgate" incident involving Andrew Mitchell, no-one seems to have an answer to the question: why did the police refuse to open the gates for Andrew Mitchell on that particular evening when they had opened the gates on all previous occasions?

Can someone please tell me the answer to that question.

Were the police trying to provoke Andrew Mitchell?  Perhaps they had already worked out what they would write up in their police log.  Perhaps they even had arranged an impartial "onlooker" to witness the exchange.

Open fire at the hotel where we had lunch.

Excessive heat to a distance of about ten feet, then no heat at all.

Wonderful smell of a wood fire.

Genesis Elijah - Battle Cry UK

Genesis Elijah performing Battle Cry UK in the stairwell of a multi-storey car park (the sort of brutalist architecture favoured by Rowan Moore).

It’s unfair to compare me with all these clowns,
I trap them in the circus tent before I torch it down…

Warring me is suicide and I ain’t trying to talk you down,
Please jump, I’ll be waiting at the bottom,
Put your body in a body bag, weighted at the bottom,
Throw it in the Thames, have you sailing to the bottom,
Or leave it in your place until the neighbours smell the rotten…

Straight to the point, never talk sideways,
Might answer with a blade ‘cos I don’t talk primate…

You’re staring at the bullet through the barrel of a rifle,
Poking at the trigger son, you’re bound to get an eyeful…

In high school took out pupils like Stevie’s eyeballs,
Nothing for me to fight through,
When I’m done they’ll cover this kid’s face with a blanket…

Fuck what you write fool, nigga you talk shit,
I just laugh how you dissing each other you’re all shit…

I’ll take your head off your shoulders,
And post it to your missus B…

Even the most optimistic reading of these words must conclude that there is a lot of violent imagery here.  To whom is this violence directed?  It appears to be towards others within the demographic.

Understanding the B demographic 9

A number of youthful (although no longer exactly young) activists claim to represent the demographic particularly with regard to relations with the police, but I could find no evidence of support for these activists; generally the opinion is that the activists represent only themselves and are interested in only themselves.

Nevertheless, an impressive array of cultural commentators have written about the demographic including musicians, journalists, "cultural curators" and academics - I am not looking at any of this work, but if you get time you might want to do some further desk research.

The inter-generational chasm that separates the demographic from older generations seems to be, in part, focused on differing attitudes towards illegal substances.

Although a bourgeoisie has developed within the minority community, there does not seem to be any class-based conflict - the minority bourgeoisie is very close to the minority underclass and children of the minority bourgeoisie are often found in the demographic.

The demographic is often obsessed with materialist culture, and aims to acquire significant amounts of money quickly (the mundane route of working for money is rejected as a blind alley that will not deliver quickly enough, if it ever delivers at all).

Possibly the hostility the demographic shows towards the opposite sex may be related to the high divorce rates in the older generations - this is just a hunch, but you might want to pursue the idea.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


The only word that can describe today is soggy.

Everytime I go out to my car my shoes get covered in mud (I park it in a shed in the farmyard).

A profound sense of melancholy has overcome me.

I am going to a party this evening, although I do not feel in the mood.

But in the words of Huxley's Mrs Aldwinkle, perhaps tonight the really important thing will be said.

A great deal of satisfaction - the past week at work


Entirely wasted day looking at six possible venues in London for the Institute's AGM.  These were suggestions by Alec Nussbaum at head office.  Privately the Institute's Director, Vijay Singh, has already decided the AGM will be held over two days at a country hotel in the west midlands, but we do not want Alec Nussbaum to know this until the last minute, hence my day in London.

I also went to the British Museum but it was so crowded I came away without looking at anything.


My desk so covered with Christmas cards there is hardly room to work.

I wrote a report on the six venues I visited yesterday, rejecting all of them, but hinting that we might go with the Great Eastern room at the Andaz Hotel if we can't find anything better (this is just a ruse to keep Alec Nussbaum quiet).

During the morning a meeting with Vijay Singh, Telephone Surveys Manager Abi Reed and Acting Deputy Director Marcia Walsh.  Vijay Singh announced that Lois Cooper, who has cancer, will not be returning to the company and that Marcia Walsh was confirmed as Deputy Director.  A formal letter is to be sent to Lois Cooper thanking her for all she has done for the Institute over the ten years she has been with the organisation.

The meeting itself was acrimonious, with Vijay Singh attacking each of us in turn.  He is under a lot of pressure from head office to get results (related to our campaigns).  Our softly-softly approach may be dropped in favour of a harder and more overt strategy.

When I returned to my desk after the meeting I received a telephone call from Abi Reed in her room downstairs - "I'm asking myself whether I want to go on working here" she told me.

No time for lunch because of a deadline to get an article drafted.

Then I worked my way through a mass of other e-mails, most of them rubbish (but rubbish that had to be responded to politely).


Vijay Singh out, which was rather a relief.

I allocated the day to completing the annual report, but in the end this didn't get done.  Where did all the time go?  Frittered away on distractions and interruptions. 

Lunchtime more Christmas shopping.  I despise the giant Tesco, but it does come in useful.  £102 spent today, £120 spent yesterday, and still I am not finished.

In the afternoon a meeting with Abi Reed.  She was still depressed after yesterday's meeting ("I've applied for two jobs").  Our mutual enemy Marcia Walsh has made a terrible mistake with the end of year accounts, which caused us a great deal of satisfaction.


Marcia Walsh has marked her elevation to Deputy Director by moving into Lois Cooper's corner office.  She has also had screens put up around Accounts.  Katie (silly vacuous person) thinks she might get Marcia Walsh's job of Finance manager, but she has no chance.

It was imperative that I got the first draft of the annual report finished, and I just managed to do this by 11am when I went into a meeting with Vijay Singh to discuss the report.  The meeting went well and he hardly changed anything.  I was told not to leave a copy on my computer but to delete everything and just carry the draft around on a memory stick (more stress, as I am now worrying about the stick getting damaged).

More shopping at lunchtime.

In the afternoon I went down to the Reading Room to ask Gary to find some articles for me.  He later brought them up to my desk.  Despite his laddish reputation he is always very grave and courteous towards me.

In the evening the office party, held at a local hotel.  All the drinks were free, but because I was driving I just had orange juice.  As well as the permanent staff there were several volunteers present, which made things livelier. 


We only worked in the morning.  A bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne arrived, a gift from a printer we use - I put it in the office raffle.  At 1 o'clock everyone gathered upstairs for mince pies and chocolates.

And then we were done for the year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Talk in the New York Times that Ben Affleck might stand for election to the American Senate (their upper house).

And I realised that although I know who Ben Affleck is, and can recognise his photograph, I have never seen any of his acting work.

Is that my fault or his?
Newsnight finished this evening (and for the year) with the words of Christina Rossetti, one of the greatest of all English poets.
The Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming quoted Jane Austen on Newsnight this evening.

Tinie Tempah - Pass Out

Tinie Tempah - Pass Out

Attitudes to women:

I chirpse her just for fun, I never ever call her phone
I leave her in the club, I never ever walk her home

Obviously "leave her in the club" might have a double meaning.

Understanding the B demographic 8

The demographic feels crushed by their parents and grandparents.  It seems the older generations have initiated this intergenerational repression.  And yet the older generations regard the younger generations with considerable feelings of admiration (but cannot express this admiration and cannot accept their rejection of the community's "teachings").

The community has its "heroes" but these are rejected by the younger generations who venerate anti-heroes.

These anti-heroes are celebrated in music fused with a crude but inventive style of poetry.

Violence permeates almost all creative expression - the generation sees itself as "doomed".

An almost impenetrable underculture has developed, shielding the demographic from observation by external commentators, especially their parents.

Ethnicity, although important, is not fundamental to their weltanschauung - which is formed by a complex attitude towards their parents, an abusive (there is no other word for it) relationship with the opposite sex, a debilitating experience of long-term unemployment, and an apathetic fatalism towards mainstream culture which they feel has rejected them.
Finished work at 3pm.

I am now at home.

Amos Oz's new book Jews and Words

Interesting extract from Amos Oz's new book Jews and Words, published in the latest Kings Place magazine.  I think it must have been reprinted from somewhere else, as the date of publication quoted has already passed.  It has some interesting things to say about identity.

A textline is more important than a bloodline - that texts are essential to continuity.

Identity can transcend physical monuments, family ties and genetic markers.

The greatest value a culture provides to world civilisation is measured in its literature.

Continuity in a culture consists of intergenerational conversations.

There seems to be a "primary duty" in almost all cultures to pass on a patrofilial memory.

Teaching is essential to the survival of a culture.

Illiteracy is the greatest disgrace imaginable.

Narratives are key to the continuity of identity.

Written texts safeguard the ancient narratives.

Bookish cultures generate both teachers and students.

A culture that gets the process of teaching right can seldom fail.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The snuffing out of life

Can anything be more depressing at Christmas time than to read Zoe Williams enthusing over the snuffing out of life in her article on abortion in today's Guardian

"Rejoice" indeed.

I would hesitate to describe anyone as evil, but certainly Zoe Williams comes very close.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The United Kingdom is not Afghanistan

Is it not alarming that the Mitchell police-lies scandal should involve a member of the Diplomatic Protection Squad?

These are police who are tasked with the most sensitive security assignments - providing protection to embassies, high commissions, visiting heads of state, the government, Royal Palaces and the Royal Family.

Recruits to this force should be incorruptible.

Therefore the suggestion that at least one of these police officers is corrupt and a liar is alarming.

The United Kingdom is not Afghanistan where security personnel turn upon the people they are supposed to be protecting.

Have the police timed this to happen over Christmas?

I am slightly concerned that news analysis programmes (Newsnight, Daily Politics, Question Time etc) are going to be off-air over the Christmas break, exactly when the Mitchell defamation, police corruption and possible police conspiracy are coming to light.

Sorry to sound so suspicious, but have the police timed this to happen over Christmas? (they are of course in charge of the investigation and can choose when to make announcements).

And in any case I think the week-long holiday is excessive and most people would welcome a couple of normal days between Christmas and New Year.
In an article for the New Statesman Kevin Meagher shows that there are still people of integrity on the Left of British politics:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A warning

Is Bonnie Greer so enraged now that she knows it was all a pack of lies?

I hope Tom Watson MP is not running scared about the apology he owes Andrew Mitchell.

It would seem that the only bad judgement now in evidence is the bad judgement of John Prescott in talking about subjects he knows nothing about and doesn't really understand.

Presumably Zoe Williams will now have to explain to "the kids" that she was wrong and jumped to conclusions based on her own unpleasant prejudices.

An eye for an eye Mr Muir - or does this rough justice not apply to you? 

No doubt Caitlin Moran will be amending her t-shirt to read "100% idiot".

But enough of all this.  Every left-wing commentator rushed to put the boot in over Andrew Mitchell.  We should be grateful to Twitter for revealing their true nature - bullying, prejudiced, ready to repeat any old lies so long as it furthers their political programme. 

This is what these people are like.

This is why they must never get back into power.

We have had no end of a warning (to quote WSC).

We cannot have corrupt police

I am currently watching Channel 4 News and Michael Crick's report about how the police fabricated evidence against Andrew Mitchell MP.

We cannot have corrupt police.

Heads must roll, and at the highest level (because the highest level sets the tone of the culture that the rest of the police will follow).

Also a lot of people are going to have a lot of apologising to do - starting with the Police Federation. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Headquarters of the South Place Ethical Society

I went to check the Conway Hall just off Red Lion Square as a possible venue for the Institute's AGM.

Almost immediately I struck it from the shortlist. 

Hard chairs, lack of catering possibilities, heating not particularly effective.

Above all a cheerless dreary atmosphere, utterly lifeless.  Headquarters of the South Place Ethical Society.  I felt as if the earnest atheist sterility of secularism filled the hall like a heavy inert gas - not exactly poisonous but will kill you if you don't get out of there fast.

But it could have been me.  Other people might love it as a venue.  I just felt it didn't work.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Subliminal and unconscious affiliation

Unusually splenetic article by Nick Cohen in today's Observer

He calls our Head of State "grumpy"; describes Anglican bishops as "demented", and accuses Church of England schools of "indoctrination" (presumably the NUT, whose members he is insulting, will be lodging a complaint).

But beneath the bilious invective he is attempting a serious point.  The 2011 Census tells us only 59% of the United Kingdom population self-identify as Christian.  And Nick Cohen argues that most of these are not real Christians anyway.

Let us leave on one side the claim he makes that Church of England attendances are falling (falling in the same way that all community activities are falling and for the same reason - people work such long hours and are so time-poor they are too tired to go to church at the weekends).

Let us also leave on one side the National Secular Society Mr Cohen refers to (an organisation that has a laughably tiny membership of 7,000).

The main point we should take issue with is his assertion that the 59% of the population who call themselves Christian are not really Christian.

Nick Cohen does not seem to have done any research for his article otherwise he would know that self-assertion is all that is required to be a Christian (the 11th article of the 39 Articles that Establish the Church of England).  Obedience to a church hierarchy is not required, we had a Reformation to decide that point.  Certainly there is no list of prohibited foodstuffs nor obligation to pray so many times a day facing in a certain direction.

Not only is Nick Cohen wrong in his central point that self-identifying Christians are not real Christians.  I also think he underestimates the way in which Christian culture permeates every aspect of British life, in ways both thinking and unthinking.  As soon as you start to look for examples you fall over them.

For instance, following the tragic shooting incident at a school in America on Friday there was a plethora of comments on Twitter.

Among these comments was a Twitter conversation between Independent writer Owen Jones and Guardian writer Sunny Hundal:

Above:  you might need to click on the image to enlarge it - remember that the timeline reads upwards.

Sunny Hundal self-identifies as a Sikh.  Owen Jones self-identifies as an atheist, and as the child of Militant activists was presumably brought up in an atheist household.  In this discussion, shortly after the American tragedy was reported, Sunny Hundal is arguing that it provides a good opportunity to further a political objective, namely gun control in America (why a British writer should be interfering in American internal affairs is another matter).  Owen Jones is considerably upset by this politicking, describing it as abhorrent.  Responding, Sunny Hundal is less squeamish.  Why this disparity of attitudes on the Left?

It is presumably cultural.

Sunny Hundal writes from a leftie perspective that must be reflecting the Sikh cultural ambiance in which he was raised.

Owen Jones on the other hand was not raised in a Christian family and yet approaches the deaths of the American children with an unthinking cultural sensitivity which insists on a period of decency and respect for the bereaved families and the souls of the dead.  He twice calls out the name of the Messiah ("Jesus" and "Christ") during the discussion.  This subliminal and unconscious affiliation with Christian conventions can only have come from the mainstream British culture that Nick Cohen insists is now so thoroughly secular (I don't wish to exaggerate but in its way this Twitter exchange reminded me of the struggle in Newman's Dream of Gerontius).

If even hard-left self-identifying atheists are unthinking "cultural Anglicans" one must conclude that Nick Cohen has lost whatever battle he was fighting. 

An act of rebellion - the past week at work


The whole of today given over to planning the Institute's AGM, which will decide whether we continue as an independent organisation or become merged with Head Office.  Because the merger will mean physical relocation back to London most (perhaps all) of the current staff are unenthusiastic.  However Alec Nussbaum at Head Office is already behaving as if it is a done deal, and to resist the Nussbaum proposals the Institute's Director Vijay Singh will have to get the Institute's members to vote against Head Office, which would be an act of rebellion they may be temperamentally unwilling to make.

A working group has been formed to manage the AGM.  This consists of Vijay Singh, Acting Deputy Director Marcia Walsh, Surveys Manager Abi Reed and myself.  Outside of this group nothing about the AGM is to be revealed (which is why I am writing it up here, for my London readers to see, so that they can...).

The Institute's membership list is in a terrible state, and we have lost touch with many of them over the years (the 1990s) when the Institute was moribund.  Because of this we have to put off the date of the AGM to give us more time to contact them.  Abi Reed was tasked with doing this.  I was not aware that the Institute was in fact a limited company, not a charity, and therefore even when members have died, their voting rights will probably be transferable.  First estimates are that at least a third of the membership has died, and perhaps another third is so elderly it is unlikely they will attend in person.  Long discussion about whether we would get away with a postal vote (Vijay Singh has asked a firm of solicitors to assess the Constitution).

The new date for the AGM is to be Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April, with the actual vote on the Sunday afternoon.  Vijay Singh has chosen the 14th April because the date is the birthday of the Institute's founder, who died over thirty years ago ("It's the ninety-ninth anniversary of his birth, shame it's not the hundredth, but it is the best we can do").  The whole of the Saturday and the Sunday morning is to consist of sessions revisiting the original vision of Sir RB in founding the Institute, with the aim of enthusing the members into a "yes, carry on" vote on the Sunday afternoon.

I went through the papers on my desk sorting out items I needed to deal with urgently.  Then I spent the rest of the time drafting the Annual Report, leaving a gap for the financial section which Vijay Singh is working on.  First time for many years that the Institute has published an annual report - I went down to the Reading Room on the ground floor to look at the past examples, and they seemed to stop in 1993 with an odd one in 2000.

All the day appraisals were being held, and mine is due tomorrow.  I am not apprehensive about it, and I am not doing any preparation.  Unsure whether to ask for a pay rise - the answer will be no, but it might serve as a marker for next year.

More work on the Annual Report, and also on a supplement for the Birmingham office.

I have decided not to go out at lunchtimes while the weather is so bitterly cold (it has not been above freezing for several days).

At three o'clock I went into my appraisal with Vijay Singh, which lasted two hours.  It went well, with no negatives.  I raised the issue of a salary increase and was told this should not be discussed at an appraisal (which I knew he would say).

At the end of the appraisal we talked about the AGM.  Opinion from the solicitor is that voting rights die with the member.  However where there are vacancies in the membership (the Constitution allows for 150 members) new members can join so long as they pay the subscription. 


To Head Office in London for a training course.  The rest of the attendees were mostly female, rather intense.  Given the sensitivity of the relationship between the Institute and Head Office I decided not to say a great deal.

Most of the training was not particularly useful and just repeated information that I already knew.

The lunch was just sandwiches, without any drinks.

In the afternoon JS gave a presentation, rather vapid.


It is an effort to get up at 5am, especially in this cold weather.  I managed to catch the 8.01 train, and was in London by 9 and at Head Office by 9.45.  Second day of the training course.

During the morning session I was handed a note ostentatiously marked Urgent and when I went out into the corridor it was Danielle from Publications who wanted me to go for a coffee, correcting guessing that I would be fed up with the training ("I went on that course last week").  We left the building and went to Starbucks on the grounds that it would probably be empty as a result of the boycott.  We were there about an hour, and I got the impression she was trying to get information out of me.

Back into the training, and it was so dreary I marked down the session in the evaluation sheet that was handed out at the end.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Jones sociological treatise is constantly on hand

Question Time last night was followed by This Week.

It was an interesting programme, although the most interesting (probably) part - Mehdi Hasan's report on the 2011 Census - was nixed due to a power cut (of course, it goes without saying that multiculturalism has failed).

In the rest of This Week Andrew Neil referred to Independent journalist Owen Jones as "hard left", which must have provoked guffaws of laughter among the ultra-left guardians of ideological purity.

The Owen Jones report purported to have been filmed at his flat in London, although we were shown an apartment of such stupendous untidiness that it is doubtful it actually exists outside the temporary confections of the BBC props department.  The prevalence of 1970s brown throughout chez Jones also pointed to the fact that this interior was constructed to illustrate an affinity with the lifestyle choices of Arthur Scargill (now a fashion icon according to Newsnight).  However it was the shelves of books that most caught my eye.

Books do furnish a room as X Trapnel once advised.

I have tried enlarging screen shots of the bookshelves but cannot make out any of the titles except for the Owen Jones opus magnum Chavs, which appeared in both of the bookshelves we were shown.

Was this the same book, moved about? (surely the BBC would not attempt product placement, especially not after Andy Burnham's statement on 11th March 2009).

Or are we supposed to believe that in the households of the hard left the Jones sociological treatise is constantly on hand for reference (in the same way as in the homes of the devout the Bible is constantly near, although in the homes of the very devout the Bible is known by heart).

This does not mean the primacy of a secular insititution over a religious institution

Above:  an official image of the monarchy and a symbolic image of the Anglican state religion are combined on the current 2nd class Royal Mail stamp - Monarch and Church literally stamped upon one of the major institutions of state communication (and private commerce).

Writer Will Self was mistaken when he said on Question Time last night that the government controls the Anglican church.  He seemed very confused about what Establishment means.  Although a prima facie observation of the political settlement in the United Kingdom might lead one to conclude that the Government is all-powerful, this is not actually the case.

The Government gets its power and authority from the Crown, not from the people.  The Crown gets its power and authority from God as mediated by the Anglican Church and confirmed in the sacrament of Coronation and Annointing (and also Acclamation and Election - "election" in this sense meaning chosen by God).  You might argue that the Crown is supreme Governor of the Church of England, but this does not mean the primacy of a secular insititution over a religious institution but rather that the monarchy is part of the Church and the Church is part of the monarchy - they are so intertwined that one cannot unravel them.

Of course Wilf Self would no doubt dismiss all this with a slew of strong language, and indicate that the people could sweep this nonsense away in a weekend.

I would not be so sure.

Personally I think in any clash today between Crown and State the people would rally to the monarch, the royalists would win and it would be the revolutionaries who were decapitated in Whitehall.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The pursuit of celebrity wife Sally Berkow for £50k compensation

Sunny Hundal (and many others) are questioning the pursuit of celebrity wife Sally Berkow for £50k compensation following her libel against Lord McAlpine (falsely insinuating he was involved in the most disgusting criminal acts).

In the Guardian Roy Greenslade asks for Ms Berkow's punishment to be "proportionate"

For proportionality to be brought into the equation one has to make a judgement on Sally Berkow's motives in making her false accusation.

Was this just an example of stupid impetuosity by someone well-known for her babbling incontinence on social media?

Was this a genuine error by a long-standing campaigner for justice in the area that was under speculation?

Or was this a deliberate attempt to smear the Conservative party, irrespective of the damage done to Lord McAlpine, and in the process gain an advantage for her own party (she is a member of the Labour party and campaigns for that party).

My view is that she knew exactly what she was doing and in a premeditated action libelled Lord McAlpine hoping that enough mud would stick to damage the Conservative party at the next election.  Therefore one has to ask if someone had employed a "black arts" PR agency to carry out negative campaigning of this kind, what would they charge?  Considerably more than £50,000.

Sally Bercow needs to be advised that she is getting off lightly.

Prospect article by David Goodhart, director of Demos

Very perceptive and considered Prospect article by David Goodhart, director of Demos and Prospect’s editor at large

You can test some of the issues by simply asking a group of people (customers, friends, work colleagues) how many BME friends they have.  You will get the (perhaps pavlovian) answer "loads".  But when you drill down with more nuanced questions you find these are not really friends at all - especially they never visit each other's homes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

On Newsnight the huge rise in immigrants was discussed

The 2011 Census figures were published yesterday showing a massive rise in immigration over the last ten years to the alarm of some commentators and the delight of others.

On Newsnight the huge rise in immigrants was discussed by a panel that included AC Grayling, Bonnie Greer, Douglas Murray and someone from the LSE.

The unbalanced nature of the panel, with only Douglas Murray critical of immigration, caused some surprise, with comments such as this one by journalist James Robinson.  However public bodies such as the BBC have a statutory obligation to positively promote the benefits of "diversity" and therefore on the topic of immigration the BBC cannot be impartial.  If they had attempted to be impartial they would have been breaking the law.

In the Newsnight discussion Bonnie Greer made a series of provocative remarks delivered in that bland somnambulant style of hers, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for democracy to be set aside, for politicians to lie to the electorate, and for millions of foreigners to be given entry to the United Kingdom against the will of the majority.

"This is not going to be reversed" Bonnie Greer told us firmly.

Perhaps she is right.

But the historical record does allow for other outcomes.

The English (Anglo-Irish) migrants to southern Ireland reached 15% of the population but were reduced to 3% of the population due to the activities of the IRA.

The French (pieds-noir) migrants to Algeria reached 15% of the population but were reduced to effectively zero due to the activities of Jabhet Al-Tahrir Al-Watani or Front de Libération Nationale.

The "white" (English, Dutch, French etc) migration to South Africa reached 20% of the population in 1960 but has since fallen to less than 9% (and is still falling) mainly due to the activities of the ANC in the period 1961 to 1994 and the subsequent ANC political ascendancy.

Therefore there seems to be a point, when foreign migration reaches the 15% to 20% mark, when further migration provokes insurgency.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wretch 32 - 'Black and White'

But i remember being eight
Thinking how do i get a chain?
Now i gave mine away
Because the goals got to change
Or you get caught offside in the crossfire

The reason i never had a heart
Is because i never had a chance
Playing monopoly thinking will i
Ever get a yard?

Now i want to see my people
Evolve sho

You know you’re your own man
When you’re giving advice to your
Old man

I just wanna be heard

Understanding the B demographic 7

There are strong indications that the latest male generation of the demographic is distinct from all previous generations:

  1. They have been excessively influenced by the criminal justice system.
  2. Their experience of unemployment has been deeper and more profound than previous generations.
  3. Attitudes towards women have changed from an old-fashioned patriarchal sexism to a contemptuous animosity.
  4. A questioning about their identity - with some evidence of a quest to develop a new identity, often expressed as being on a personal journey.
  5. A rejection of education, politics and activism.
  6. A creative awakening of music and creative lifestyles.
The young B demographic is:  male, age groups 18-25 and 26-34 (and possibly 35-44 but this is to be confirmed); socio-economic groups C2, D, E; geographic location urban, particularly inner city.

"Did you like what you saw..."

Seldom can there have been a more cringingly ponderous interview than Jon Snow on Channel 4 News this evening talking to three "kids" (including two girls who cannot have been aged more than 15) about their sexual habits, carrying out the inquiry in the style of an ancient Edwardian great uncle who could have been invented by HH Munro.

"Did you like what you saw..."


"Why are marriages in church the red line?"

"Why are marriages in church the red line?" asks Mark Ferguson on the LabourList website (actually he asks Why is marriages in church the red line?)

Mr Ferguson seems unaware of the eschatological implications of allowing the State to decide the sacraments of the Church - for many (perhaps most) Anglicans this will be a warning sign.

Of course, you either believe this or you don't.

And do the West Indian constituents of Diane Abbott, particularly those God-fearing West Indian ladies she used to refer to on This Week, know what side she is taking over the gay marriages issue, and how "brilliantly" she is undermining opposition to the gay marriage laws?

Did no-one think to check Maria Miller's record on expenses?

Is everyone in the House of Commons so mired in greed and tainted by the expenses scandal that the Prime Minister is not able to form a Cabinet that does not include dodgy expenses claimants?

Did no-one think to check Maria Miller's record on expenses?

Or were they hoping it would all blow over and be forgotten.

£90,000 of taxpayers money!  Is she going to pay this back?  Difficult to see how she can carry on as a minister - it's an open goal to UK Uncut.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rascals - Fire Blaze

And nah it won't change and no you cannot relate
Cah my world's different, a new day a new wave

"Rascals against the world" - signifies alienation but also the defiant elan of a closed community.


Drinking up whatever's in my cup
And we live it up cause it feels right
Rip him up if he's spitting tough
And we'll hit him up cause we kill guys
Physically or mentally



We running London town
We'll raise the underground
Nah fool you ain't f*cking with a Rascal

Hooded youths with baseball bats running through smoke - perhaps a reference to the riots of 2011 which was a momentous time for the demographic and one of the few occasions when it was able to intrude into the consciousness of the mainstream culture.

Understanding the B demographic 6

The demographic is aggrieved with the obsessive way the older generations focus their attention on equality rights - a struggle they regard as irrelevant when compared to the more acute issues in their lives.

The demographic is aware they possess a cultural power, particularly through music (and also to a lesser extent film and poetry), but is uncertain how to use that power.

The demographic resents the automatic association made between their generation and anti-social behaviour.

Immense frustration at the inability to break free from the constraints of poverty.

Although the demographic has achieved a certain degree of solidarity, this feeling of brotherhood is based on a celebration of negative attributes (anti-education, derogatory towards woman, celebratory of criminal lifestyles) that most of them privately admit they do not subscribe to.

The demographic is openly contemptuous of community leaders and community workers who try to influence their behaviour.

The young B demographic is:  male, age groups 18-25 and 26-34 (and possibly 35-44 but this is to be confirmed); socio-economic groups C2, D, E; geographic location urban, particularly inner city.

King Edward VII Hospital hoax tragedy

I hesitate to add anything to the tsunami of comment that has followed the King Edward VII Hospital hoax tragedy.

And there is surely nothing more trite and self-publicising than the comment of celebrity wife Sally Bercow who sends out her "heart" (whatever that is worth) to both the victim AND her tormentors in this sad case.

But I do feel I need to question Ms Bercow's assertion that the "Aussi DJs... could never have foreseen this tragedy".  Hoaxes of this kind are essentially examples of cruelty - a cruel and vicious sense of humour.  It is the nature of cruelty that it must be ever more extreme to satisfy its audience.

Therefore it was only a matter of time before hoaxes of this kind (which began in a harmless enough form back in the 1960s) eventually began to target hospitals and destroy nurses.

Is there not enough cruelty in the world without Aussi DJs adding to it? 

Arrest of political activist Luke Bozier

I am uneasy about the apparent hounding and subsequent arrest of political activist Luke Bozier.

Obviously if there has been any wrong-doing the police must investigate.

But there is also the sense that this has been a political assassination.

Who has carried out the assassination, and what is their motive?

And also there is considerable disquiet over the way Louise Mensh has precipitously dropped her former business colleague (and presumably her friend) despite the fact that people are innocent until a court has proven guilt - has this woman no sense of loyalty (perhaps we already know the answer to that question).

Highly controversial policy

I'm not at all happy about the unilateral decision to introduce genetically modified food into the United Kingdom.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says that people are already "unwittingly" eating GM food, and that therefore the the status of the food needs to be legitimised.

Mr Peterson seems to think that simply because he and his government colleagues have been incompetent over the policing of food safety he is then justified in assuming he has agreement in going ahead with this highly controversial policy.

"You know what this reminds me of, the end of Major's government when they knew they were going to lose and they were just pushing through policies willy-nilly 'cos they could not be sure when they would be back in power again". 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

It would have been easy to topple down into the torrent

It was a mistake to have gone out this afternoon.  The cold penetrating.  The lanes covered with mud.

I stopped to take a picture of this 18th century bridge, the shallow arch praised by Pevsner.  The river lower than last week, and the water almost clear (immediately after the rain it had turned a thick brown colour).  The grassy slope was steep and the grass wet, and in my weak state it would have been easy to topple down into the torrent.

The documents were all neatly laid out, there was a flask of hot tea or coffee (it was impossible to tell which, just that it was black and hot), and a key with a note on how to lock up.

I only stayed about half-an-hour before deciding that if I didn't go home I would collapse.

The journey back was difficult - aching all over and feeling sick.  As soon as I got home I fell asleep for three hours.  Now I feel simultaneously very hungry and also unable to face any food.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Living On A Prayer - the past week at work


Most of today I spent working on the planned relaunch of the Institute's website.  It was last renewed in 2008, so is due an update.  Vijay Singh (the Institute's director) wants it to have more "interactivity" without saying what exactly he is thinking of - I'm not a mind-reader.

Also a meeting with Peter Whitgift from the Institute's small Birmingham office.


To London for Alec Nussbaum's Mid-point Assessment meeting.  All the departments were represented, held at a hotel, not Head Office.  As we went into the darkened seminar room deafening music was playing - Bon Jovi's Living On A Prayer (part of the Nussbaum attempt to be "modern" despite the disapproving grimaces of the attendees, or perhaps he was relishing the disapproving grimaces).  

On the train up to London Vijay Singh gave me a lecture on social media security - I am confident there can be no lapse, even this blog is published through a third party and has been from the start (the other Andrew).


Bitterly cold day, and because of the stone floors the downstairs rooms of the house did not become warm, no matter how much heating was put on.

Even driving to work I was assailed by urgent terse e-mails from Head Office about how to handle any media enquiries.  Events today are making everyone feel tense.  I went out at midday to get away from it all.

My appraisal is next week - I hope it goes well.


I coped with various supposedly urgent tasks.  

Most of the day I spent arranging for the Institute's back catalogue of publications to be accessed via the new website.  Long debate on whether we will charge for these - we need the money, but also the whole point of the reports is to disseminate ideas as widely as possible.  Katie from accounts helped me with this, which was unusual as she is usually the least helpful person in the building.  

In the afternoon I began drafting another report - this is the sort of work I do best.

Morning off work to attend a doctor's appointment (actually I just saw the nurse).  Everything seems to be alright - the aftermath of the pneumonia.  I still feel unsteady at times, and I seem to be able to induce this giddiness just by thinking I am about to fall (I have tried this).

I am so weary of being ill.

I was out of the surgery by 10, and thought I would go home and have an early lunch and then go on to work.  But once I was back in the house I became distracted and it was 1pm when I set off.  Arriving at the office no-one seemed to have noticed my absence this morning.