Friday, May 31, 2013

Free movement is all very well, but...

"Sod the poor, go offshore!" says James Bloodworth (Editor of Left Foot Forward and writer at the Independent) satirically drawing attention to tax havens where the super-rich can hide their money and avoid paying tax.

However there is a much simpler way to avoid tax and may possibly indicate the way global society is moving.

All you have to do is buy four (modest) properties in different countries and move between them, spending a quarter of the year in each.  Most countries allow a three month "holiday" stay per year before they require a residence permit.  You then become a perpetual tourist, not registered to pay tax anywhere.

On Newsnight earlier this week the "afropolitan" author Taiye Selasi was interviewed by Gavin Esler.  Ms Selasi, discussing her vibrant and diverse diaspora heritage told us she has four homes all in different countries (two main homes and two "rooms" elsewhere).  I'm sorry if I sound suspicious but I immediately wondered whether she was on the perpetual tourist tax scam (I was disappointed Gavin Esler didn't ask her where she paid tax, although she would of course have indignantly replied that she paid all her taxes in full).

Free movement is all very well, but do we really want a world where the wealthy professionals just move around not paying tax anywhere? 

Perhaps one month should be the maximum for a holiday - anything more than this should require a visa.
The "Peoples' Assemblies" popping up in various cities (never rural areas) all seem to have a consistent appearance and attendance - is it possible they are mostly made up of the same people travelling around the country like some kind of lefty roadshow?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An article on Next Generation Labour about the focus of Labour's economic policy

Labour activist Tom King has published an article on Next Generation Labour about the focus of Labour's economic policy:

Abstracts of the article are in red with my commentary in blue:

It is becoming increasingly clear that by 2015, Tory austerity will have delivered a flatling economy for five years.

There are worse things than flatlining. We have achieved economic stability in a volatile world. And under a Conservative government there is widespread trust that all future economic growth will be from sensible investment, not unstable bubbles induced by splurging public money.

For Labour the challenge at the next election will be to deliver a positive agenda that rejects the failed and discredited Tory cuts

Are the cuts failed and discredited? Labour’s plans for spending cuts do not vary much from the Conservatives. And the markets like predictability – nothing would be more dangerous to interest rates than sudden lurches in policy.

Labour cannot allow the Tories to set the agenda for the next election.

And how are you going to stop us? I do not wish to sound rude, but how exactly is Labour going to set the economic agenda for post-2015? With Ed Balls and his me-too-but-I’ll-do-it-slightly-different posturing? With Rachel Reeves and the fiscal politics of Greggs bakery? With a newly resurgent Alastair Darling, ready to remind us of the good old days of the 2008 crash? It is not enough to just complain about the Tories – where are the new Labour faces and what exactly are the big Labour ideas on the economy?

A Labour plan for a growing economy could create no better contrast with Osborne’s jobless millions than to put full employment at the top of our 2015 agenda.

I completely agree with you Mr King. But I think you need to recognise that in a globalised world full employment must be a social objective, more than an economic one. I would like to see Labour to return to its core objective of democratic social control of the means of production, distribution and exchange Рnot mad nationalization schemes or recherch̩ nostalgia for trade unions but workable plans to bring democratic accountability into every facet of the economy with the aim of driving the economy forward through improved worker motivation.

Unfortunately Labour is not doing any of this planning - they seem to have lost their way and forgotten what they are here for.

George Eaton reports that UKIP membership is "surging" towards 30,000

In the New Statesman (21st May) George Eaton reports that UKIP membership is "surging" towards 30,000

Bizarrely he also refers to the Conservative Party membership total for 1953 (what possible relevance can that have to the situation in 2013?).

Commentators have fallen into a lazy sort of agreement that UKIP is doing to the Conservatives what the SDP did to Labour in the 1980s - with the implication that they will keep the Tories out of power, let Labour in through the middle, and will eventually fade into insignificance as all protest parties are fated to do.

I would suggest that this is a misreading of the situation.

The analogy is more with the Official Unionist Party and how it became eclipsed and replaced by the Democratic Unionist Party.

The SDP was an elite movement that achieved a modicum of popular support among the electorate but ultimately failed to take away much in the way of members from the Labour party.

The DUP was a populist party from the start and attracted members and activists away from the Official Unionists until all that was left was the elite.

And ultimately the DUP was so successful it took power.

That should be a sobering thought for those lefties currently delighting in the difficulties created for the Conservatives by the rise of UKIP.

Susie Symes

Is Susie Symes (who self-identifies as "Sherpa, scribe and spare hand for charities; especially @19pst Britain's first museum of immigration, a place of debate. Economist. Slow runner, fast thinker") really comparing herself with lefty eminence grise David Goodhart ("Director of think tank Demos and editor at large, Prospect Magazine. Post-liberal")?

Or is she just mischief making?

And since she has referred (in abbreviated form) to 19 Princelet Street, can I ask who has set the criteria for this museum, who is funding it, and why is it almost never open? 

Presumably if it is engaged in political activity it cannot have charitable status?

Isabel Hardman in the Spectator today writing on how Welfare reform hangs in the balance.

Very interesting and cogent article by Isabel Hardman in the Spectator today writing on how Welfare reform hangs in the balance.

The most extraordinary line of this revealing article tells us:  "The Spectator reported in September that Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood was letting it be known that he was ‘sceptical’ about Duncan Smith’s mission."

What on earth is the Cabinet Secretary up to?  We are led to believe he is just some kind of factotum who takes shorthand notes of Cabinet meetings and makes sure there are enough cups and teaspoons for the coffee break.  This line indicates he is a politician - a politician of such subtle power that a mere "let it be known" is enough to signal whether a policy will get through or be stymied.

The electorate believes that they elect a party to government; Cabinet ministers are then chosen from the elected MPs of the majority party (or Coalition); these Cabinet ministers head up departments and take decisions on departmental policies (with Cabinet agreement and after due public consultation) and then drive through those policies to ultimate fulfillment.

If this is not the case, if some other model of decision-making is in operation, then we need to know exactly what it is and how it is accountable to the electorate.

And I am also interested in the liaison meetings of senior British civil servants and their EU counterparts.  Who is watching what is going on at these meetings?  Who is deciding what gets discussed - and where are the minutes published?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski

It seems incredible that Gavin Esler should interview the Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on Newsnight on the subject of British membership of the European Union and yet fail to raise with him the Polish dumping of cheap labour in the United Kingdom.

Perhaps Gavin Esler is so out of touch he does not realise that millions of Poles "flocking" into the United Kingdom is the number one reason British people are dissatisfied with the EU and why the issue of unrestricted migration must be a top priority of renegotiation.

Is Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski not ashamed of representing a country that is apparently so awful that millions of people want to leave it?

Diane Abbott MP reviews the David Goodhart book The British Dream

On the Progress website Diane Abbott MP reviews the David Goodhart book The British Dream

Diane Abbott's statements are in red, my commentary is in blue:

The British Dream frequently portrays the immigrant as the taker. But there is strong evidence that migrants are net contributors to our country.

If immigration is so positive why not get democratic consent for it? It’s positive according to Ms Abbott. Therefore all that needs to happen is for Ms Abbott and her party to develop a pro-immigration policy, put it upfront in the Labour manifesto, and ask the electorate to vote for it.

many Caribbean people do well in the United States… Yet, migrants to Britain and migrants to the United States are very often brothers and sisters.

Diane Abbott overlooks the fact that the United States is a society which has broadly given democratic consent to inward migration. The United Kingdom has never given democratic consent to this (has never been formally asked, despite registering objections in every poll of opinion on the issue). Is there perhaps a connection to the acceptance of immigrants in the United States (there by democratic permission) and the rejection of immigrants in the United Kingdom (where immigration has occurred contrary to the will of the majority) ?

in a globalised world immigration is a fact of life

No it is not. Japan is an economy fully integrated into the globalised world and yet has retained control over migration. It is dishonest to say “immigration is a fact of life” as if it is just some kind of elemental force – it happens because a section of society can make money out of it.

It is worth pointing out that it is not immigration (as Goodhart insists) that causes low wages and job insecurity.

How would it be possible for wages to fall if the supply of labour was limited? As GPs have proved, if you restrict the supply of labour in a particular occupation the wages offered must rise (in the case of GPs to ridiculous levels). On the other hand nurses are in an occupation that has seen completely unrestricted inward flow of foreign migrants and their wages have become pitifully inadequate as a result.

He has clearly never read any EP Thompson.

Diane Abbott should ask Professor Starkey about EP Thompson.

So it is the job of progressives to make sure there is a firm but fair immigration system.

Absolutely Ms Abbott. Put it in your party’s manifesto with estimates of numbers and reasons why they should come here and ask the people to endorse it. Anything else is dishonest and self-defeating.

The cause and effect presented by Seumas Milne

Problematic article by Seumas Milne in today's Guardian  (I do buy the hard copy of the newspaper, it's just easier to refer to the link).

Seumas Milne is a literalist in his journalistic style and in many ways he is a fundamentalist journalist in the same way that other "callings" are fundamentalist.  He interprets things literally.  In other words, when he asks a question (even rhetorically) he accepts the first answer he is given.

Therefore when he says:  "The reason cited by the alleged Woolwich killers – the role of British troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror – has been mostly brushed aside as unseemly to discuss" we are supposed to accept that this is the real reason for the Woolwich atrocity and there is no need to look any deeper.

However, anyone involved in research will know that the first answer given is almost never the real reason for someone's behaviour.

In consumer behaviour customers will tell you all the time that they make rational purchasing decisions based on cost and suitability whereas in fact almost ALL their decisions are irrational and based on emotive reasons.

In international relations the pattern is the same.  The dictator of North Korea will tell us that he needs to fire missiles across unoccupied islands to repel American aggression, whereas in fact he is probably motivated by paranoia.  The female clown currently in charge of Argentina tells us that it is necessary for Argentine "integrity" that she reiterates her country's claim to the Falkland Islands whereas in fact she just wants to divert attention from the near-collapse of the Argentine economy.

Therefore I think we should be cautious about accepting at face value the cause and effect presented by Seumas Milne - that foreign policy in the Middle East is resulting in terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom.

There may be many reasons that motivated the behaviour of the Woolwich killers.

A Guardian journalist has indicated on Twitter that this is payback for imperialism, citing Amritsar 1919 as a contributory cause.

A Spectator columnist has told us this is just the way "black savages" behave.

My own view is that there is a serious (and probably irreconcilable) inter-generational problem between young BAME people and their parents and grandparents and this results in volatile behaviour.

But at this stage we do not know what motivated the Woolwich killers - we need to wait for more evidence to emerge.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Great Gatsby, the new film by Baz Luhrmann

Yesterday I went to see The Great Gatsby, the new film by Baz Luhrmann.

Comparisons with the 1974 film are inevitable, but Leonardo di Caprio is incomparably a better actor than Robert Redford (who was wooden, staid and looked far too old despite being the same age then as Leonardo di Caprio is now).

The party scenes are spectacular.  Disappointed by the architecture - both the Buchanan mansion and the Gatsby mansion looked insubstantial.  The lighting was possible a little too excessive.

All works of art convey an ideology, either consciously or unconsciously, competently or incompetently.

Scott Fitzgerald's ideological messages are deeply encoded in the text - and in this film the text has been interpreted by Baz Luhrmann and reinterpreted by Leonardo di Caprio, Toby Maguire, Carey Mulligan etc.

However I think we can discern the underlying ideology of the film as being the old-fashioned cult of respectability.  The Buchanans are constantly on the move because Tom Buchanan's behaviour risks their reputation for being respectable.  Tom Buchanan in turn condemns the Gatsby parties as not being respectable (despite the presence of Senators).  Nick Carraway tries to leave Myrtle's flat because he suspects it would not be respectable to remain.  Gatsby is ultimately doomed because he is trying to formally take another man's wife instead of just having an affair with her (divorce was not respectable in the 1920s).  No-one attends the Gatsby funeral because of his fall from respectability.

Fitzgerald seems to be saying that without respectability society disintegrates.

I'd like to see the film again.

And when it is available on DVD I'd like to watch it with the sound off (and differently music playing).

Ask a question at PMQs

Yet another MP (this time Chi Onwurah - previously Chris Bryant has done the same) has been picked to ask a question at PMQs and goes on Twitter to canvass opinion on what she should say.

Are we employing as members of Parliament people who are incapable of thinking for themselves?

Are we employing as members of Parliament people who have no causes or campaigns close to their heart and when presented with an opportunity to speak at Prime Minister's Questions go onto social media to ask what to do (instead of perhaps consulting their constituents)?

Why do we not dispense with Chi Onwurah entirely, saving ourselves £60k pa, and have her parliamentary contributions completely decided by social media and delivered in the Commons via Wolfgang von Kempelen's Speaking Machine?

At this rate it can only be a matter of time before MPs start auctioning their questions on E-bay.

Excluded from the Hay literary festival

The author David Goodhart (and Director of the think tank Demos) has been excluded from the Hay literary festival in circumstances that seem highly unusual.

Lord Adonis (a minister in the last Labour government) has said:  "How about some free speech at the Hay Festival? Extraordinary that David Goodhart told his views on migration unacceptable for debate."

David Goodhart has spoken about books at every Hay festival for the last fifteen years.  He has recently written a book critical of unrestricted immigration.  The book has been seriously reviewed in all the mainstream media. 

Prima facie this seems to be yet another example of how discussion about immigration policy (one of the most fundamental aspects of social change) is closed down.

It can only be a matter of time before David Goodhart is called a "racist" (as Lord Glasman was recently when he attempted to discuss immigration policy) and shouted down whenever he tries to speak.

The sponsors of the Hay festival should ask themselves whether they can go on funding an organisation that suppresses free speech.  The sponsors include the British Council, BBC Radio 3 and the Department of Energy & Climate Change.  It is inconceivable that public money should be spent subsidising an organisation that behaves in this way. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Article by Gus O'Donnell and Jonathan Portes in today's Times

What are we to make of the article about immigration by Gus O'Donnell and Jonathan Portes in today's Times?

Let us leave on one side the fact that it only mentions positive (as they see them) aspects of immigration, and thus can be dismissed as propaganda.

Let us also disregard the lack of sensitivity in putting out such an article only a few days after the Woolwich atrocity.

What interests me is the absence of any acknowledgement that post-war immigration lacks democratic consent, and has always lacked democratic consent.

Of course, many policies are slipped through by governments and civil servants (or by civil servants acting alone) that do not have democratic consent.

But post-war immigration has been so overwhelmingly opposed by the majority (in all decades since 1945), and has resulted in such fundamental social change (unwanted social change), that it is impossible to ignore the issue without conceding that democracy in the United Kingdom is a sham - and such a concession must have very serious consequences for everybody.

How is it possible for public opinion (in every single test) to be opposed to a policy and yet it keeps on happening?

A clue is provided at the end of the article.

Gus O'Donnell was Cabinet Secretary 2005-2011.  Jonathan Portes was Chief Economist at the Cabinet Office from 2008 and like Gus O'Donnell had been a career civil servant.  I suggest that if you want to know why the doors to the United Kingdom were opened wide under the 1997-2010 government you should address your questions to these two people.

The Cabinet Office is a highly secretive department that does not seem to answer to anyone except themselves.  They appear to have their own policies which they implement whatever government happens to be in power.  This is laughed off as a Yes Minister type jape, but it has deadly serious implications for everyone in the United Kingdom.

We need to know who appoints the Cabinet Office personnel and what they are up to on a day to day basis.  The Cabinet Secretary is what is known as a "high flyer".  All the Cabinet Office civil servants are high flyers. 

It is inconceivable that these high flyers would choose to immure themselves in what we are told is just a secretariat.

Are we expected to believe that these people just lay out the notepads and pencils on the Cabinet table and take the coats of ministers as they arrive?  Is it not the case that they act as a pseudo-government, pursuing their own policy objectives whatever party wins at a general election?  Is this not why immigration keeps happening despite all the people saying no?

I am a Conservative.  I have always supported the Conservative party and regard the rise of UKIP with dismay.  But one consolation of a UKIP government (if it ever comes about) is that Gus O'Donnell and Jonathan Portes are likely to be put on trial for exceeding their authority.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chav hate from Nesrine Malik on Sky News Press Preview, snootily telling us that dangerous dogs are a class issue and are associated with social housing.

Inane comments from Kathy Lette.

Truncated pillar

It took an hour and a half to drive to the village.  When I saw the church tower I was reminded of the theory that the northern arc of villages in the country was protected by "fortress churches" built to provide emergency refuge.  The double-arched windows in the top section of the tower are Saxon (although restored).

The main object of interest in the village is this truncated pillar in the churchyard.  It is the stub of a Saxon preaching cross where local people would gather for services in the days before the church was built (7th century).  The church is dedicated to St Chad so this cross could mark one of the stopping points of the missionary saint in his circuits around the county.

It is sobering to consider that when St Chad began his mission the country was largely pagan and worshipped false gods - exactly the situation we face today.  Within a generation the whole population (very largely) was converted.  Is the Anglican church capable of producing a new St Chad, a new St Augustine, a new Venerable Bede?

Richard Milne talking about the skills shortage

Article in the Financial Times by Richard Milne talking about the skills shortage facing companies.

How is it possible to have so many young people unemployed and yet have skills shortages?

Richard Milne, with what can only be called complacent insouciance, says:  "...problems around youth unemployment, demographics and the education system all mean that engineers could be increasingly difficult to find in the future..."

What are these problems Mr Milne?

We pay £99 billion a year on education in the United Kingdom.

How does that result in skills shortages?

Can you please do a little bit extra research Mr Milne and tell us where in the education chain things are going wrong.

Lazy teachers and lecturers?  Snobby civil servants funding arts courses and not engineering?  Teaching unions resistent to change?  Lack of planning by politicians?  Poor facilities?  Demotivated young people?

Where exactly is the problem?  Who is failing to get this right?  Let's have some names.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Full moon tonight.

Creamy white moonlight falling on the creamy white flowers of the great chestnut tree.

Cool breeze.


I wanted to prevaricate - the past week at work


Because I had worked in Birmingham all weekend I woke this morning after only five hours sleep and feeling tired before the day had properly started.

I gave myself an easy job to last the whole morning - proof-reading and editing a new publication.  Also I wrote up some of the interviews from Saturday.  I did all this in the Reading Room downstairs, sitting at the corner desk facing the wall so that no-one could see I had my eyes closed and was almost asleep.

In the afternoon a meeting to discuss people with disabilities.  There were only two items that concerned me - the marketing plan and the thousand-company survey.  After these items had been covered I was able to leave the meeting.


Meetings in London today.  Queues at the ticket office meant I missed the 9.08 train and had coffee and biscuits while I waited for the 9.26.  I read the Guardian and the Times on the train.

At Head Office my first meeting was with Kathy W and Mary McF in Media Relations.  They seemed much more amenable and co-operative compared to our last meeting.  Perhaps the success of the Conference has changed relations for the better between the Institute and Head Office.

Then a meeting with Anne H in Publications - we discussed joint literature for the Head Office conference this autumn.

The whole of the afternoon spent discussing the Institute's websites, which are being paid for by Head Office (hence the meeting in the Finance Department).  I am so glad I am no longer responsible for the various databases.  Marcia Walsh (Deputy Director of the Institute) was also at this meeting, and everything we asked for was agreed.

Leaving Head Office at 4.30 I went to a Victorian church that I often visit (a Victorian rebuild on a medieval site).  Familiar stained glass window of the Virgin Mary with St Bartholomew and St Guthlac.  I walked along the nave and turned right and went down some steps and sat on the stone bench for a while thinking:  I'm still here.


Enormous amount of copy needs to be written before the end of the week.

There was no option but to get on with it.

I wanted to prevaricate and waste time, but I didn't dare.


Immediately I arrived at the office I wrote my report for the management meeting, giving it to Vijay Singh to read out as I missed the meeting to continue writing copy.

Since the conference and the announcement of his resignation Vijay Singh has become increasingly confrontational with almost everyone.

The copy gradually under control.  The first draft done, I refined it and refined it again.  And I finally see how I can fit all the arguments together.


I worked downstairs in the Reading Room until the battery on my laptop ran out.  Gary brought me cups of black coffee (they had no milk downstairs).  Since Librarian Stan W left they have been  ignoring the ban on drinks in the library.

Because it is a bank holiday weekend the office closed at 4pm and I drove home through the fresh early evening air.
If the Bercows are bankrupted by the fines and expenses they will have to pay presumably the Speaker will have to resign as an MP?

I hope there will not be any backstairs dealings to get him off the hook.

How are the mighty fallen.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mystery hill

Friday afternoon an odd atmosphere in the office - expectation, anticipation, almost expiation.

The May Bank Holiday weather disappointing, or rather reassuringly consistent in the way it disappoints.

On the drive home I turned off into the little lane that gives a view of the mystery hill.

Cold for May, dark grey clouds massing in the distance.

But where I stood there was bright sunshine, entirely without heat.

And the combination of sunlight and cold air seemed to aid my eyesight so that I could see clearly through the veil of haze that usually occludes the view.

I'm not sure what it is that I am seeing.

All I know is that I can see.
Armin van Buuren  - This Is What It Feels Like.

I am listening to this all the time.

The video is directed by Svenno Koemans
So Sally Bercow has lost.

Is a loser in more ways than one.

How are the mighty fallen.

Millions of pushy people

Heather Rolfe, Researcher at NIESR interested in migration and equality and diversity in employment and education (NIESR is the The National Institute of Economic and Social Research), said yesterday "New immigration figures show 10% drop in student applications - are we closing the doors on the 'brightest and best'? "

The folly of allowing unrestricted immigration of unskilled workers has been clearly established, and thank goodness something is at last being done to stop it (and I want it raised in the EU renegotiations that are planned).  

However, I take issue with Heather Rolfe's implied assumption that "closing the door" on the brightest and best is something to be regretted.  

"The brightest and best" is an innocuous phrase, positive and encouraging in tone.  

But is it not also the case that the brightest and best tend to be the pushiest and most extrovert?   

To uproot yourself and go to another country (perhaps the other side of the world) and gain entry to that country and rights to settle and then establish an income - does this not take very considerable reserves of tenacity and determination and go-getting drive?  

What is the impact on British society of allowing entry to millions of pushy people?  

One Yasmin Alibhai-Brown might be OK.  But half a million Yasmin Alibhai-Browns, all in their various ways feisty and outspoken and determined to push through change?  Doesn't that start to get a little unbalanced?  

And given the independent stand-on-your-own-two-feet character of most immigrants what impact is that going to have on attitudes to welfare and the outlook for the less pushy (the shy, the hesitant, the weak)?  Is there any correlation between the influx of millions of pushy people and the increasingly intolerant attitudes of society towards welfare and fairness?  Heather Rolfe says she is interested in "migration and equality and diversity" - I hope she is looking at the inward migration of all these extroverts and the impact they are having on social attitudes.  

I am a naturally shy person.  I know we need "go getters" but in my opinion a little goes a long way.  Personally I would like to drop the "brightest and best" influx and concentrate on making our extremely expensive education system produce some home-grown go-getters.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Don't think I will watch Question Time this evening.

After yesterday I am not sure I could stomach the inevitable self-important pontificating.

An exchange between Phillip Blond and Aditya Chakrabortty... look at what happened at Amritsar in 1919 if you want to understand Woolwich in 2013.

Yesterday, for obvious reasons, Twitter seemed to experience a rapid, uncoordinated and jerking St Vitus Dance of expressions in which a compulsive need to say something was combined with a dysarthric inability to say anything sensible.

However, amongst all the dross were a few interesting threads.

In particular I was intrigued by an exchange between Phillip Blond (head of the thinktank ResPublica and with 12,179 Twitter followers) and Aditya Chakrabortty (Guardian journalist with 13,721 Twitter followers).

I have laid out the conversation below (Twitter is bitty, so apologies if I have missed out any comments).  Phillip Blond came across (to me) as an unworldly academic musing aloud in a virtual Senior Common Room.  Aditya Chakrabortty was more jittery, as if bursting to say something yet not quite trusting himself to say what was most appropriate (perhaps on that evening he most wanted to be inappropriate?).

Phillip Blond

Britain became the most important modern nation because we never believed in race as the principal of political identification

Aditya Chakrabortty

Philip, this is utter balls. Read your imperial history.

Phillip Blond

one might argue the take over of the British East India Company by the British state was an act of imperial care

Aditya Chakrabortty

The murderous suppression of the Mau Mau: Churchill's class instinct twitching again.

Phillip Blond

not everything evil is racism and nor does racism cover every evil

Aditya Chakrabortty

I've never accused the Wests of being racist. But try dealing with the points raised. Start with a few highlights. Amritsar.

Phillip Blond

Amristar was an insane officer ordering a mass shooting he was probably racist as well but that does not mean a state policy

Phillip Blond ‏

imperialism can also secure rights and operate against racism - Empire is a paradoxical inheritance

“Renatus84” (a random American butting in - there were several of these interlopers, none of them adding anything helpful - note the over-familiar way in which he addresses Phillip Blond by his first name)

You know why loads of foreigners have a love-hate relationship with Britain, Phillip? Shit like this.

Phillip Blond

being abusive will not convince I am saying the idea that Britain's imperial legacy is simply racist is infantile

Aditya Chakrabortty

let me end here: Ashis Nandy's great Intimate Enemy talks of how the british empire, and its view of inferior races left the british with a sense of racism that they are still struggling with (and perhaps still applying to Britons). Night.

The above is a very truncated version of what was being said.  There were many points and sub-points that I have not included.  I have provided Twitter addresses at the end of this post in case you want to do any further reading.

So in synopsis:  in reaction to the events of yesterday Phillip Blond began making comments about the inclusivity of British society and arguing (perhaps unwisely on that evening and in that forum) that the British historical record largely supported his view.  Aditya Chakrabortty challenged him on this thesis, telling him to "read your imperial history".  The Amritsar episode of 1919 is referred to, and the behaviour of General Dyer is discussed.

So let us do what Aditya Chakrabortty advises and deal with the points raised.  Specifically the Amritsar episode of 1919.  How does that relate to what happened in Woolwich yesterday?

One interpretation is that General Dyer was a bloodthirsty British imperialist and murderer, a white Christian who killed brown Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus to secure the on-going British hegemony over India.

But Reginald Dyer was also a third generation Indian (born in India, to Indian-born parents) who lived his life in a cultural bubble, made no attempt to integrate with the mainstream community around him, and in a moment of crisis turned his weapons on his fellow Indians.

And although General Dyer was undoubtedly "British" so were the people he killed - indeed a quarter of the world's population in 1919 were subjects of the British Crown.  Geographically General Dyer's family came from southern Ireland.  If reparations are to be paid for the behaviour of General Dyer presumably the application should be sent to the successor government in Dublin since they would have assumed responsibility for the behaviour of the Irish quota of imperialists.

Aditya Chakrabortty, in his final contribution of the evening, said (quoting an author he admires):  "the british empire, and its view of inferior races left the british with a sense of racism that they are still struggling with (and perhaps still applying to Britons)".

The implication of this line is inescapable in the context of yesterday's events in Woolwich.  The killing of a British person in Woolwich yesterday was payback for British imperialism.  Look at what happened at Amritsar in 1919 if you want to understand Woolwich in 2013.

But I think we should say to Aditya Chakrabortty "read your imperial history" - the Woolwich killer resembles General Dyer far more closely than you are admitting.

Hospital Accident & Emergency departments are being overwhelmed

The Today programme this morning discussed whether Hospital Accident & Emergency departments are being overwhelmed as a result of GPs not providing adequate out-of-hours cover for their patients.

This was strenuously denied by a representative of the GPs interviewed on the programme (and also by a GP interviewed on Radio 4's PM programme yesterday evening).

It would be helpful if someone could clarify:  are Hospital Accident & Emergency departments being overwhelmed during the hours GP surgeries are open, or are they being overwhelmed in the "out-of-hours" period when GP surgeries are closed?

If it is the latter then it is reasonable to assume the GPs have some explaining to do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

I want back all the extra tax I've paid

The more I think about the changes to the institution of marriage the more outrageous I think it is that I, as a single person, am paying higher rates of various taxes than individuals who have obtained what can now only really be described as a state fornication licence.

And the state fornication licence does not really have any validity as unlicensed fornications will go on as before.

The special status of "marriage" has entirely evaporated.

I was reasonably happy to pay higher rates of various taxes on the grounds that married couples deserved a tax break because marriage was one of the fundamental building blocks of society.

Now it is just a legal contract between two people why on earth can't they pay the same taxes as the rest of us?

Why should two gay people pay a lower rate of inheritance tax than say a hard-working single person looking after an elderly parent?  Or two sisters who live in the same house?  Or even a householder with a long-term tenant living in the spare bedroom?

The whole thing falls apart.

And it can only be a matter of time before this tax scam is challenged in the courts.

I want back all the extra tax I've paid throughout my working life for no other reason than because I was single.


In her article in the Guardian about gay marriage Zoe Williams attempts to define the Conservative attitude to marriage:  Marriage must be man plus woman plus consummation. It must be exclusive. By its own terms, it must be lifelong.

She overlooks that in sacramental marriage two people become, in the eyes of the Church, one person.  This is legally recognised in law, which is why tax and inheritance laws are different for married couples as distinct from unmarried individuals.  You might argue that this is outmoded and needs to be swept away in the pursuit of modernity and equality - and perhaps replaced by a universal civil partnership.

But it is silly to say that gay people need to be anachronistically slotted into a pre-medieval model of social organisation that almost none of them (and virtually none of the wider campaigners) actually believe in.

It's a position entirely without integrity.

Afghan interpreters

Although I do not envy the position the Afghan interpreters are in.

And 600 individuals is not very many (unless they are bringing extended family clans with them in which case we can expect this number to grow significantly).

But I do find unsettling the idea that British citizenship is being given away as part of an employment compensation package, as if it were some kind of pension entitlement or redundancy payment.

Next time (next invasion of a Muslim country) let's make it very clear in the interpreter job description that they take the jobs at their own risk.
Impressive performance by the Prime Minister on the Today programme this morning.

Interviewer James Naughtie was not able to lay any blows on him.

The Prime Minister had an ability of projecting his authority over the interview without raising his voice or talking in a rush as if desperate to force his views through.
Irritating performance from Evan Davis on the Today programme this morning - the sniggering; the bored flat tone of voice he uses when he says "That's fascinating" or "That's really interesting"; the way he sneaks in his own views when discussing economic issues.

Can someone in the government please take up a metaphorical flail

Discussion on Newsnight yesterday about the NHS.

One of the guests (who all seemed to be an NHS "type") blithely told us there was a shortage of doctors.


These people have huge salaries compared to the rest of the population.

These people have almost complete job security.

We have a high level of unemployment in the United Kingdom.

So why is there a shortage of doctors? (why is there a shortage of any professionals).

It cannot be because the unemployed are better off on benefits and welfare - the salaries of doctors are massive.

So it must be due to the incompetence and failure of the education system - all of it from pre-school to post-graduate teaching hospitals.

At some point in this education and development process something is going seriously wrong.

Can someone in the government please take up a metaphorical flail and work their way through the education professions until we identify where the problem lies and beat out the chaff and chuck it into the metaphorical fire.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013



When I feel dispirited, and there are setbacks, and things are not going well.

I will look at the land.

And I think:  this land is worth fighting for.

This is what the forces opposed to us will never understand.

This attachment to the land.

Marriage is a sacrament

I think many people on the left are misrepresenting Tory misgivings over "gay marriage".

I am not married, and cannot see any circumstances under which I would get married, but I am still concerned about marriage as an institution.

Marriage is the foundation of family life.

And the sanctity of family life is the foundation of Conservative philosophy.

Therefore anything which damages the institution of marriage represents a threat to the Conservative ideal of society.

And therefore the eagerness with which the left wants to "reform" and "widen" and "make more fair" an institution they do not really care about.

It's just another way of wrecking society and making its institutions unworkable so that they can be replaced by socialist alternatives.

In the eyes of the left marriage is just a bourgeois convention - destroy it and the middle class hold on society will crumble.

In the eyes of the right (and many others) marriage is a sacrament - it cannot ultimately be destroyed (due to its intrinsic nature) but if we allow it to be temporarily eclipsed a great deal of damage will be done to the Christian society that most Conservatives subscribe to.

Whether one is individually "gay" or "straight" or "bi" is irrelevant to the wider issues involved in this argument.

Lies get you further?

I do not regard Janan Ganesh as a Conservative. I have no idea whether he is an actual Conservative party member or not. But to me he just seems like a libertarian liberal who has wandered into the right-wing camp because there is nowhere else for pro-business people to go.

That is why I do not take his comments seriously.

In particular this article:

My comments are in blue.

“The prime minister’s estrangement from his party… really set in with his failure to win in 2010”.
David Cameron actually told us (“us” – not sure if that includes Mr Ganesh) when he first became leader that it would take two election attempts to get a Conservative victory, so in that respect his strategy is still on course.

“This original sin…”
I don’t wish to be pedantic, but original sin does not mean an error that cannot subsequently be put right, but represents the condition we are all born into and which can only be redeemed by accepting Jesus Christ as our saviour – perhaps Janan Ganesh is getting his metaphors wrong here.

“Mr Cameron has never openly addressed the question of why he fell short in 2010…”
It was the expenses scandal.

“This was compounded by his foolish participation in televised debates that he flunked”
And in which the Liberal Democrat leader lied and lied and lied in performances that would have shamed Dr Goebbels.

“The party’s strategic core (Mr Cameron and George Osborne, then shadow chancellor, plus the now departed advisers Steve Hilton and Andy Coulson) were having crisis meetings as early as January”
Er, almost all meetings at the highest level of politics have to be crisis meetings – if it’s not a crisis then the politicians are complacent.

“Mr Cameron erred by not touting the issue of immigration”
Perhaps we can recall 2005 and the “racist racist racist” defamation the left threw at the Conservative party – Mr Cameron deftly avoided walking into that trap in 2010 although the signs are that the left were waiting for him to do so.

“The real reason for the Tories’ failure had more to do with the economic insecurity that nagged at voters when shown blueprints for austerity”

Possibly, but I am not sure the majority of voters looked very closely at these blueprints.

“The Conservatives did not fail because they were seen as high-minded metropolitans, but because they were too redolent of the same old Tories”.
I completely disagree with this – Mr Janesh you do not know what you are talking about.

“They had changed too little, not too much”
Changing Conservatism is a contradiction in terms – the Tories (like all parties) need to be true to their core beliefs.

“The modernisers have never understood that the truth only gets you so far”
And lies get you further? – that might work for the Lib Dems and Blair’s New Labour but sooner or later liars are found out and damned by the electorate.

Power gained through lies is not worth having Mr Ganesh.

The inward flow

Writing in today's Guardian Aditya Chakrabortty tells us:

"In 1923 the richest 1% of Britons took almost a quarter – 23.3% – of all income received. After the second world war came a long period of greater fairness so that by 1979 that proportion had dropped to only 6%. Then came Thatcher and Blair and soaraway inequality. By 2006, the year before the crash, we weren't quite at a Gatsby-esque divide, but we were heading that way: the top 1% of Britons were taking 15% of all income received in the country. This cash is then turned into houses, shares and other assets so that now the top 1% hold over 50% of all Britain's marketable wealth."

To read this you would think that "Thatcher and Blair" had deliberately conspired to do down the working classes and bolster the wealth of "the rich".

Let us leave on one side the complete lack of any motive provided by Aditya Chakrabortty (why would Thatcher and Blair want to do this?).

There is another reading to this history, and one that Aditya Chakrabortty will not find congenial.

Since the beginning of industrialisation in the 18th century the old relationship between the classes (a sort of remnant of agriculture-based bastard feudalism) was replaced by contracts in which the working class sold their services to the property and factory owners for the highest price they could get.  The following two hundred years saw the working class consolidate their position, marginal increment by marginal increment, and with many setbacks along the way.  This culminated in what we might call the great patriotic war of 1939-1945 in which the whole of British society (all classes) came together in a titanic struggle that was intended, in the words of Vera Lynn, to result in a "lovely day tomorrow" in which the inter-class respect of the war years would continue.

And in the 1950s, when working men and women were relatively scarce and could command good wages and benefits, there was a golden age for the working class (for all classes really, but the middle and upper classes had enjoyed golden ages previously - what was totally new was the working class golden age). 

What happened to this golden age?

The inward flow of cheap labour, already running high by Aditya Chakrabortty's arbitrary date of 1969 and becoming a veritable flood in the decades afterwards (and an uncontrolled deluge after 2005), completely undermined all the gains of the last two hundred and fifty years.

The result has been the British working class reduced to a new level of serfdom.

Stop the inward flow of labour and wages must rise and wealth will therefore be more fairly distributed as the higher wages are paid for by the globalised capital owners out of the stonking profits they are currently making.

Only the Conservative party is committed to reducing the inward flow of foreign labour.

The left is ideologically committed to "immigration" as they see it as a source of new votes.

The Prime Minister

It is flattering to get an e-mail from the Prime Minister.

Word analysis reveals the subliminal message:  our party must stay together.
Which I think we can all agree on.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Who exactly decides

There is a huge amount of obfuscation about how the civil service works and the informal networks they operate.

I do not wish to be called a loon (swivel-eyed or otherwise), but there are enough unsettling anecdotes to indicate that the Cabinet Office operates like a government within the government.

Which is possibly why all governments (except for the period 1979 to 1990) drift away from their party programmes and start doing things their supporters do not understand.

Who exactly decides which civil servants work in the Cabinet Office? (they are all high-flyers).

And in this context Jon Trickett's statistic is of concern:


The chorus:

"Our hearts go boom boom, boom boom boom..."

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Working this weekend, and after a long and tiring drive back from the Midlands I arrived home to find Big Smokie has come back.

Where does he go I wonder?

I know he has things to do, places to visit, small furry creatures to hunt.

And I know he is just a stray who lives in our lean-to shed.

But I do worry about him.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cold day, with a little rain.

This is the river.

Cool air, green fields, flat land.

Friday, May 17, 2013

UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Edinburgh yesterday

The aggression shown to UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Edinburgh yesterday should concern everyone who subscribes to civilised democratic discourse.

Of course Scottish Tories have long known there is an extremely unpleasant, abusive and expectorating minority who will scream down and intimidate anyone they identify as a Conservative.  And generally Tories in Scotland have learned to live with this.  They are Tories, so no-one cares whether they are intimidated or not.

But isn't this what happened in Ireland?

In the 1918 general election a majority of the Irish electorate (53.1%) voted for parties that wanted to remain in the United Kingdom.  That's a lot of unionists (small "u").  A decade later, after the orgiastic explosion of republican violence in the Irish civil war, there were almost no people in southern Ireland who were willing to assert they were unionists - they had all been burned out, forced to flee, or intimidated into silence.

Is Scotland going to go the same way?

Yes, Mr Farage and his UKIP can veer towards the clowny-fruitcakey side of politics.

But we owe them our support in this matter.

"For some reason the British media has never talked about the excesses of Scottish nationalism and how deeply unpleasant they can be" Mr Farage said.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth claiming Biblical endorsement for the European Union

It was unusual to hear Lord Harries of Pentregarth claiming Biblical endorsement for the European Union in Thought For The Day on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

Presumably he is unaware of what the scriptures have to say about the arrogance and pride that led to the construction of the Tower of Babel and how polyglot constructions of this kind have been specifically prohibited as being antithetical to how humanity should develop.

Writer and journalist Agnes Poirier appears to be intrigued by Lord Harries and his quasi-religious argument in favour of the EU.  Does she not know her own history and how Joan of Arc (a canonised saint in the Roman Catholic church) claimed to be divinely ordered to restore the French kingdom rather than see it absorbed into a western European union?  Or perhaps she thinks Joan of Arc was just a mad witch.

Unlike the former bishop Lord Harries I have not had any training in divinity.

I cannot tell you whether the EU is divinely endorsed or not.

But I do know that the scriptures advise us "by their works ye shall know them".  If you are unsure whether an organisation is good or evil look at what they do.  Unfortunately the behaviour of the European Union and its servants does not bear scrutiny - corrupt, dishonest, undemocratic, bullying, wasteful, avaricious.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lack of black people at the BAFTA awards

Puzzled by actor and comedian Lenny Henry's diatribe in the Daily Telegraph about the lack of black people at the BAFTA awards:

According to the 2011 Census the black population of the United Kingdom is 2%.

That means only two people in every hundred are black.

As there are only thirty or so BAFTA awards inevitably there are going to be years when no black people are going to feature.

Statistically it could not be otherwise.

Unless Lenny Henry wants positive discrimination, which would mean awards going to actors who can't really act and comedians who are not really funny.

The triumph (as he puts it) of Tory Euroscepticism

Interesting article by Steve Richards about the triumph (as he puts it) of Tory Euroscepticism:

However he overlooks that fact that Conservatives (many of them, but not of course all) urged expansion of the EU as a covert way of destroying through imperial over-reach the hated organisation.

And the strategy may yet prove fatal to the power bloc (the killer blow would be admission of Turkey, but even without the anatolian option the old Franco-German axis has gone - hopefully for good).

It is not enough for the United Kingdom to be free of the Euro-hydra as we would still be menaced by the formation of a continental super-state.

British policy over the next twenty to thirty years must be (in part) to leave Europe, divide Europe and keep the balance of power in Europe (not necessarily in that order).

Irish ethnicity

Marc Scully (Social Psychologist & Research Associate on the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain project at the University of Leicester) referring to the 2011 Census tells us:  "There's a substantial figure of 65,498 people who self-report as having Irish ethnicity but English identity. There's something to mull over".

Why should that be worth mulling over?

The historical record clearly demonstrates that many Irish people become more English than the English.

What the examples demonstrate is the redundant nature of "Irish ethnicity" (which surely cannot exist in any scientific sense) and the artificiality of the political divide between southern Ireland and the rest of the British Isles.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Assessment of the United Kingdom economy

The young urban male demographic needs less social engineering

Diane Abbott MP is to make a speech on "masculinity" tomorrow:

Presumably she is basing her speech on knowledge of men in her Hackney North & Stoke Newington constituency.

There are three areas she needs to cover:

The way in which poor social housing has made ordinary family life impossible and trapped many individuals in cramped modernist-brutalist apartments on concrete canyon estates where they feel the stress of a lifestyle so alienating that their response is often depression and / or aggression (in the same way that caged animals become neurotic).

The development of the teaching profession into a velvet ghetto so that teenage boys now associate education with being controlled by women authority figures - some will adapt well to this, most will rebel (and we should remember that it is natural for young people to rebel against authority and seek to define themselves as different from the prevailing authority culture).

The insidious influence of hip hop culture with its narrative of recreational violence, homophobia, and contempt for women.  Professor David Starkey famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) told Emily Maitlis on Newsnight "the whites have gone black".  By this he meant that the attitudes of hip hop culture (attitudes often copied from American prototypes) have become too influential among young people in urban areas.

Above:  various lefties discussing the Diane Abbott speech in advance on Twitter.  I am afraid the left is once again demonstrating its irrelevance.  A "Feminism for Men" event is hardly likely to be attended by the individuals identified by Diane Abbott as exhibiting "machismo and heartlessness". 

The young urban male demographic needs less social engineering, not more.

The Tory party is "yet again tearing itself apart over Europe"

What are we to make of all the commentators, mostly left-wing, rushing forward to tell us that David Cameron is the new John Major and that the Tory party is "yet again tearing itself apart over Europe"?

Melissa Kite in the Guardian:

Richard Morris in the New Statesman:

Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror:

I thought at first these were self-deluded people, misreading the situation because they oh-so-desperately want the John Major years to come back (they were happy days for Labour).

And then it occurred to me that this was just politicking - no serious comparison was being made with John Major it was simply the usual yakety-yak of columnists who need something to say to fill the yawning column chasm each week.

But there seems to be no let-up in the number of leftie journalists wanting to make the David Cameron / John Major connection.

Which leads me to conclude that these people don't really know what they are talking about.  They appear to know nothing about the John Major years.  They appear to know less than nothing about the current Tory party and its members.

John Major and his Cabinet were loathed and despised by their own party not because of their stance on Europe but because of what they did to Margaret Thatcher ("treachery with a smile on its face").  Rebellion over Europe was a symptom of that hatred (and hatred is not too strong a word) not a cause.  By the time the 1997 election arrived many party members were content to see the Conservative party defeated not because they wanted a Blair government but because they wanted revenge on the Thatchercides.

This is clearly not the case now.  David Cameron is a Eurosceptic as are the vast majority of the parliamentary party, paid party employees and voluntary party activists.  There is no "civil war" over Europe, only a disagreement over the pace, timing and degree of Eurosceptic policy - how far and how fast we move towards the exit.

Indeed, it is notable that the only pro-Europeans being wheeled out are from the 1990s - where are the current government ministers (or even backbenchers) who are fervently making the case in favour of the EU as it is?

There are no pro-EU apologists speaking out.  Not because they are afraid to speak out (as Isobel Hardman seems to suggest).  But because they don't exist in any significant numbers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One suspects that the credibility of Matthew Parris to talk about the Conservative Party long ago evaporated.

What is he basing his current opinions on?

On his contacts from the 1980s?

Article by Carly Chynoweth "Getting to know multicultural London"

This article is entirely positive in tone.

There are absolutely no negatives contained in this piece of writing.

There is no acknowledgment that what has happened to my home town was entirely against the wishes of the people who lived there.

The article is also outside The Times paywall, which suggests that this was not written to make money, but has been written to propagate a particular viewpoint.

Who has authorised this freebie on behalf of multicultural ideology? 

Vapid worthless propaganda - rather like its host newspaper.

The behaviour of Dr Kermit Gosnell

I am disgusted by the behaviour of Dr Kermit Gosnell but not surprised.

"All life is sacred" is a position that protects everyone.

As soon as you move away from that position no-one (absolutely no-one) is protected as the issue just becomes one of relative morality - and if it is relative then clever rhetorically-trained "experts" can move the argument in whatever way they wish.

If life is not sacred then humans are just animals.  Therefore there is no real difference between snipping the spinal cord five minutes before birth or five minutes after birth.  It's just an irrational dividing line right?

And if life is not sacred what is the point of all those cripples on life-support machines cluttering up the place.  They would be better off dead.  Most of them want to die anyway since by the standards of materialist consumerism their "quality of life" is more or less zero.

And if life is not sacred we may as well get rid of the mentally ill since we can't be bothered to look after them properly.

And if life is not sacred we should allow "society" to get rid of all the oddballs and weirdos who don't fit in - let's have a regular cull to clear out all the ones we don't like.

And if life is not sacred we might as well eradicate all those who are surplus to requirements in the new globalised economy, since we can't afford to carry any freeloaders.

And if life is not sacred we would be justified in shooting all those whose pig-iron production has not reached the allocated target this year.

And so on.

You can see what sort of society this is going to lead to (perhaps has already led to).

Monday, May 13, 2013

People seem glad to see Nadine Dorries back in the fold.

"If you want to understand Nadine Dorries you have to understand Aspley Guise.  David Madel never got on with those people and he suffered for it.  Nadine Dorries understands them perfectly."
"I would love Labour to go into the next election pro-Europe, pro-immigration and arguing we should borrow more.  That would be my dream scenario.  And it might just possibly happen" (chortle).

Panorama (Jobs for the Boys)

On the whole a sad and dispiriting Panorama (Jobs for the Boys) this evening on the issue of young BME unemployment.

But no explanation of why unemployment for this demographic is so high - why do these people send out dozens (in some cases hundreds) of applications and still get nowhere.

Post-war BME immigration happened (and is still happening) against the wishes of the majority.

The political elite, in allowing this illicit demographic change to happen, rejected the collective majority view of society.

Therefore is it surprising that society has rejected the results of immigration policy?

There surely can be no resolution of these problems until we tackle the underlying immorality of post-war immigration.

One can sympathise with the plight of the young BME people placed in this situation, but was it not inevitable that this would happen.

We either live in a democracy or we don't.

You cannot ignore the wishes of the majority, over many decades, and then pretend there is not going to be problems.

This programme did not even begin to address the real reasons these people are unemployed. 
On the whole I would prefer British Prime Ministers to stay at home.

We employ ambassadors to handle foreign relations.

Plus there is always the telephone and e-mail.

Civil servants of all departments owe their loyalty to the Prime Minister

You might be under the impression that Cabinet Ministers control the departments they are heading up.

Actually the civil servants of all departments owe their loyalty to the Prime Minister, who is Minister for the Civil Service.

No-one will tell you this.

You either know or you don't.

And forget about civil servants being impartial, they are highly political.

Mystery blossom

Walking along an unfrequented lane that leads nowhere I saw this mystery blossom on the side of the road.

I thought at first this was lime blossom as the leaves of the tree are serrated, but they are oval-shaped, not heart-shaped like a lime tree.

A variety of quince perhaps?
Nigel Farage's suggestion that there could be a Conservative - UKIP pact for the next election but only if David Cameron is replaced is not credible.

He overlooks how much patronage a Prime Minister in office has - there is not likely to be any successful rebellion this side of a general election.

In any case, many Conservative members like David Cameron (including myself).

Therefore Nigel Farage should get over himself - he is in no position to make demands.

"Sloth, low skills and a culture of easy gratification."

When you have worked in market research for a number of years you get to spot the kind of people who project their views onto the whole of the country.

For example:

"If I don't want to buy Malaysian cars then no-one will want to buy them".


"If I am  unwilling to donate blood then no-one is going to be willing to donate blood".

Therefore when "Boris" tells us he can identify an issue with "sloth, low skills and a culture of easy gratification" I think he is mostly thinking about himself, and in his colossal vanity projecting those attributes onto the rest of society.

When you meet people like this all you can do is turn your back on them and walk away as quickly as possible (before they bore you to death with their opinions on every subject under the sun).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Apple blossom

Out of all the various blossoms of spring (blackthorn blossom, hawthorn blossom, chestnut blossom etc) I think my favourite is the pink-blushed apple blossom.

This roadside apple tree was so impossibly remote that it cannot have been planted deliberately.

It might be worth going back in the autumn to see what the apples are like - some fabulous rediscoveries have been made of long-forgotten apple varieties surviving in the hedgerows.

14th century graffiti

Part of my expedition yesterday was to see some 14th century graffiti that has come to light in a church in the county.  This is a poor photograph but the scratchings you can see are of three knights carrying shields.  They are on the wall near a chancel window.  Over the years the graffiti had been whitewashed over and obscured.  Recently the window had been replaced and during the short time it was open to the elements the whitewash turned to powder and fell off, revealing the engravings.  They are delicately delineated. 

The graffiti is an indication of the importance of martial imagery during the high middle ages.

An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

Have just finished reading An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro.

A very thought-provoking novel full of ideas.

I liked the idea of a school of art concerned with capturing the "floating world" - the indefinable moods and atmospheres of the evening.

Also the issue of how to remain loyal to your ideals when the rest of society has taken a different direction.

Delicate obliquity of the way even members of families spoke to each other.

The most important part of the book is towards the end, when Masuji Ono and Matsuda are discussing the role of art:
Masuji Ono, the main character in the book, produced the influential "China Crisis" posters:

China Crisis was a 1980s band, formed before Ishiguro wrote his novel.

But possibly they were both inspired by a common source?