Sunday, June 30, 2013

There was a magnificent tea

Over to the west of the county the landscape was bounded by woods.  I had the air conditioning on in my car, but when I stopped to take this photograph the heat and humidity was almost overwhelming.  The recent rain had made the vegetation very lush.

The church has a complex architectural history and seems to have been taken apart and put back together in the 14th century and then again in a restoration by the great Sir Ninian Comper.

A Templar church, the nave contains this great arch now truncated and filled in.  It must once have led to a chapel - probably a guild chapel used by the Templars to raise funds and recruits for the crusades.  The vastness of this arch is an indication of the size and importance of the former chapel (now entirely gone - the current door leads into a vestry put in by Sir Ninian Comper).

Normally the sedelia (the seats in the chancel for the priests officiating at Communion) are limited to three.  But here, as you can see there is an extra fourth seat.  Was this for the Templar commander?

Traces of medieval wall paintings in the chancel and nave.  Originally the colours would have been bright.  I think I prefer these muted subtle colours.

This early gothic arch was previously elsewhere in the church and moved to this location by Sir Ninian Comper to decorate the new vestry he put in.

"That's the crown used for our May Queen each year - my daughter has been crowned with it."

There was a magnificent tea laid on for visitors.

Secured by heavy old chains and padlocks this ancient box has been in the church as long as anyone can remember.

"When I was a girl I was fascinated about what might be inside it.  The key was lost and no-one had ever seen the box opened.  Then about thirty years ago the key was found and the box opened and what a disappointment - there was nothing in it at all!"

Oxford University's "Migration Observatory"

Migration Watch is one of the best thinktanks working in the area of public policy.  Sober and measured in their announcements, they are possibly the most reliable source of information about migration issues.  As you can see, they do not waste money on glossy presentations but simply allow the text to speak for itself.

Alarming news that Oxford University's "Migration Observatory" is receiving tainted funding which undermines any claim to be neutral.  It you trace the money back you will find that much of it comes from an immense splurge of funding released by the previous Labour government that is still swilling around the area of "diversity awareness".  And now seems to be corrupting academic study at Oxford University.

Minimalism is inposed on society

Very seldom do I listen to The Archers on Radio 4, and then only by chance.

But this morning as I was driving to get the newspaper I had the radio on for a few minutes.

A character called Clary was talking to a character called Christine about flower arranging.

Clary (working class accent, fiery way of expressing herself) wanted an arrangement that was large and extravagant.

Christine (refined Received Pronunciation, calm temperament) advised a minimalist approach.

Clary, after a little thought, concluded that the minimalist version was superior.

Obviously this is just a radio soap opera.  The scripts will, to a certain extent, be churned out.  It is presumably a drama that is not intended to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless I am concerned about this exchange (which is all of the programme I heard).

First because the floral representation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not just limited to Madonna Lilies but includes many other flowers including roses, irises and periwinkles, therefore "Clary's" desire for a more ebullient arrangement was the more accurate.

Second because I detected an element of chavism in the way the snooty "Christine" spoke down to uneducated working-class "Clary" - the hierarchy implicit in this characterisation is distasteful.

Third, and most serious, I strongly object to the ideology of modernism and minimalism being slipped into radio dramas unchallenged as if it is some kind of orthodoxy.  Minimalism is inposed on society almost always against the wishes of the majority.  It is a profoundly political and controversial movement and almost everywhere it has been applied (particularly in housing) it has caused anxiety and unhappiness.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I wondered if she wanted the job herself - the past week at work


Temp Wilma (middle-aged, Welsh, capable) returned from holiday today to help with the massive mailshot the Admin Section are doing - twelve thousand booklets and letters into twelve thousand envelopes, having to do everything themselves because it is too sensitive to give to a mailing house.

"You were destined to do the mailshot" I told her (she had been trying to avoid it).

And at last the publication was delivered, although this was an anti-climax.

But mostly a boring day working on the two websites.


It was the day of the Management Meeting,  and as I was only due to go into the meeting at midday I spent the morning thinking up items I could talk about.

Lunchtime and I visited the local mall.  Then I returned to my desk and had a cup of tea. Then into the meeting.

First I talked about marketing, but in a very nebulous and non-specific way.  Then we discussed what we would do at the Conference in late September.  And at the end of the meeting the publication was discussed - there is a major error in the first section, but happily I was not responsible for that.


Immediately I arrived at the Institute this morning I wrote an errata for the publication and the Admin team printed out twelve thousand copies (four to a page) on the office printer, cutting them up by hand.

Open tensions leading to raised voices between Abi Reed (Surveys Manager) and Gladys Y (Office Manager) - I was quietly pleased to see two trouble-makers troubling each other.

Impromptu meeting to consider whether the Institute can get involved in the Citizen's Advice Bureaux conference in mid-June.

All around the office are signs of the great mailshot taking place.  I am staying well out of it.  Especially as Gladys Y (over-weight, obnoxious, belligerent) is becoming increasingly stressed by it all.

At the end of the working day a discussion with Marcia Walsh about what will happen when Vijay Singh finally leaves.  It seems unlikely that Alec Nussbaum will continue to manage the Institute directly.  Marcia Walsh seemed to think that she might have a chance of becoming Director (I annoyed her by saying I was probably the senior person in the Institute after Vijay Singh - not strictly true, but I didn't want Marcia Walsh to think she would just walk into the role).


Another management meeting lasting most of the day.  A sandwich lunch was brought in.  I asked how the new Director would be selected, but there was no real answer.

In the afternoon I drafted the text for three new leaflets.  But mostly I am up to date with all of my projects.  It was nice to sit quietly with a cup of tea and think creatively.

Heavy rain, so torrential that almost everyone on our floor went over to the windows to look out in awe.


Storage of the publication is becoming an issue and there have been complaints from users of the Reading Room (where they are being stored in towering heaps of boxes, blocking all movement and access). 

In the afternoon a meeting with Marcia Walsh and Abi Reed to discuss updating pages on the websites.  Abi Reed was sarcastic about the salary for the new co-ordinator of the Reading Room.  I wondered if she wanted the job herself.

Later sat at my desk and did nothing, and I was completely happy for a while.

Tangier Twilight by JV Stevenson

Have just finished reading Tangier Twilight by JV Stevenson.

It's a look at the British ex-pat community in Tangier in Morocco, almost all of whom are elderly or very elderly.  I thought at first it was a travel book, but I now think it must be highly fictionalised, although perhaps based on real people.  The narrator is unreliable, and says almost nothing about himself (what was he doing in Morocco?  why did he seek out the company of such elderly people?).

The writing is excellent - beautiful descriptive passages alternating with scenes of subtle comedy.  There is no plot as such, it is a forensic and anthropological look at the ex-pats in Morocco (barely able to fund their lifestyle; nostalgic for the past; falling ill and dying).  There is a sense of Whicker Island in the book.

"The sub-tropical garden and the view of Tangier alone destroyed the illusion of being somewhere in Sussex..."

"...I considered my priorities - everyone has priorities, the things they can't do without.  Mine were: servants..."

"As we stood sipping our drinks I found myself almost trembling with anticipation at the thought of seeing again a group of people I knew hardly at all yet retained so strong an impression of."
Douglas Hurd attacks Michael Gove as "backward-looking" in tomorrow's Observer.

But we should not forget that Douglas Hurd was part of the Major government - the second most incompetent government we have had in post-war times (the most incompetent being Callaghan's, the third most incompetent being Brown's).

It's not as if Douglas Hurd is speaking as a "grandee" looking back on his glittering career.

There was no glittering career under Major, only ignominy and failure.

Douglas Hurd is not a has-been, he's a never-was.

A bit more silence please Mr Hurd.

Friday, June 28, 2013

On the Today programme this morning there was an item about the Glastonbury music festival, and someone mentioned that the festival didn't happen last year and the area was used to grow wheat.

I am not sure I would like to eat bread made from wheat grown on those fields.

Can you imagine the excrement and organic detritus that has gone into that land over the years.  I know it's all supposed to rot down, but even so.  I would not like to eat anything from that land.
Watching Newsnight, there has just been a discussion on "the crisis of masculinity" and issues around "how masculinity has been constructed".

This debate was initiated by Diane Abbott MP some weeks ago.

Following the Diane Abbott speech I have been doing some research in this area and will write up a precis of my notes.

Son of Marcus Garvey is to pay a visit

The son of Marcus Garvey is to pay a visit to the United Kingdom

Gary Younge (Guardian) is of the opinion that there should be a "white history month" (his actual term) in which white people learn from black historical figures.

No doubt he will be keen for British politicians to adopt the ideology of Marcus Garvey.

Nadhim Zahawi MP wants an amnesty for illegal immigrants

If Nadhim Zahawi MP wants an amnesty for illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom he needs to ask for the idea to go into the Conservative election manifesto so the electorate can decide whether this is a good idea or not.

This goes for any other political party thinking this is a good wheeze.

Personally I think it is entirely repugnant to grant an amnesty for law breakers.

What next?

An amnesty for tax evaders?

An amnesty for people caught groping on the tube?

An amnesty for shop-lifters?

Part of the British way of life is respect for the rule of law - does Nadhim Zahawi have trouble understanding this?

“People living in the country without legal permission” indeed! 

If you accept that then why not:  “People evading taxes without legal permission?”  Or “People touching up women on the tube without legal permission”?  Or “People taking goods from shops without legal permission”?

You can see how ridiculous this is.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Kevin Maguire

What is the point of Kevin Maguire?

His column today in the New Statesman (weighter than the Daily Mirror) is just tittle-tattle.

It might be true.

He might have made most of it up.

Whatever (as rude teenagers say).

All of it is worthless.

Thank you Mr Maguire for wasting five minutes of my life.


The proposals for the redevelopment of the Deptford Station area in Lewisham are hideous:,4,25,1848,1851&showImages=detail&imageID=3588

Do the architects (Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners) think Deptford is in Florida?

The arrogance of these people is unbelivable.
I found a hedgehog in the garden last night.

The first one I have seen in the garden for over ten years.

It's a hopeful sign.

Misogyny in British politics

On the Today programme this morning Evan Davies asked Alastair Campbell about the Julia Gillard downfall, discussing the role that misogyny might have played.

Evan Davies then asked Alastair Campbell whether there were any examples of misogyny in British politics.  Alastair Campbell sidestepped the question.  Presumably they were both trying to avoid mentioning the lefties (including well-known figures in the Labour Party) cheering Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead up the charts at the time of Margaret Thatcher's funeral.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CityAM says that almost unnoticed yesterday the United Kingdom issued the longest dated government bond since 1937 - expiring in 55 years (2068).

And gold fell below £800 per oz this morning.
"Hatred in politics" is how Channel 4 News is introducing an item on the Julia Gillard ousting (I'm watching the repeat on Channel 4 + 1, having only just got home).


Did you know that the Aussi House of Commons has green leather benches the same as Westminster?

An Australian political correspondent called Hamish Macdonald (no tie) has just been talking about "a fair shake of the sauce bottle" which is an Australian euphemism for equality policies.

Reds under the bed

This report of "entryism" in the Falkirk West Constituency Labour Party is disturbing:

Entryism is becoming the left's preferred tactic in seeking to change the United Kingdom.

Not just in the Labour Party but in broadcasting, charities, institutions etc.

Is this, one wonders, a haphazard move by people who realise they cannot get their ideas adopted by the mainstream Labour Party and so in their various ways decide to carve out individual paths for themselves?

Or is this socialism-by-other-means an organised subversion co-ordinated by people whose identity we do not yet know?

Or am I just seeing reds under the bed again?

The children who grew up under New Labour became nauseated

Very interesting article by John Harris in today's Guardian about how young people are increasingly turning to the Conservatives:

This is an area I have been considering, and I think that issues of identity might be influencing political allegiance, and that this might be a cyclical phenomenon.

As part of growing up young people must create an identity separate from their parents - if they do not do this they do not grow up properly.

Historically we saw a massive surge of support by young people in the 1980s to the Conservatives led by Margaret Thatcher.  As a reaction, we saw a massive surge by the next generation away from the Conservatives to New Labour.  As the children who grew up under New Labour became nauseated and disgusted by "Dad's politics" they are, twenty years after the emergence of Tony Blair as Labour leader, turning to the Conservatives once again.

This is of course a simplification, and there will be many exceptions, but identity issues are playing a bigger role than many people suspect.

As an aside, John Harris mentions many "young" lefties who are not supporting the Conservatives ("the columnist and author Owen Jones, the left-feminist Laurie Penny, the people who have clustered around such brilliantly trailblazing groups as UK Feminista, People and Planet and UK Uncut").  I recall a few months ago a Twitter conversation in which many "youngish" lefties, including Owen Jones and Zoe Williams and other writers, were boasting about their socialist ancestors in what can only be described as a mild form of ancestor worship.  Is it possible that these people have not succeeded in establishing an identity distinct from their parents?

As another aside, at the time of Margaret Thatcher's funeral John Harris wrote an article in the Guardian about how music and the arts led a rebellion against the Thatcherite ascendancy.  However he illustrates his article with examples (the Jam, the Specials, Martin Amis) that represent 1970s culture that was still hanging around in the 1980s and beyond.  Cultural figures generated within the 1980s were much less radical and more concerned with frivolous aspects of life (Club Tropicana) - and in part this was because Margaret Thatcher created an environment in which people felt secure and so able to relax and enjoy themselves (even though this security might have been more perceptual than actual).

Trenton Oldfield on Newsnight yesterday

After seeing Boat Race saboteur Trenton Oldfield on Newsnight yesterday I am glad this smug arrogant Aussi interloper is going to get booted out of the United Kingdom.

And I hope we ban deportees from every coming back.

Let Trenton Oldfield smash up his own country.  He can do all the protesting he likes in Australia.  He can campaign for "equality" for his Aussi compatriots who will no doubt respond appropriately to his supercilious lectures.

The Boat Race is a tradition that has become an institution.  Not a very important institution, but an institution nevertheless with rules, structures, ceremonies etc.  The Trenton Oldfield incident appears to be yet another example of lefties (and a foreign lefty in this case) smashing up British institutions to bring about covertly the social change they cannot get accepted democratically by the electorate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dan Hodges has written a very clever and perceptive article on the Telegraph website:

I have read it twice and will read it again.

"It is not about economics. It is not even about politics. It is about straightforward logic."

Perhaps they are genuinely happy with a dictatorial big state

Referring to a ComRes survey John Rentoul (Independent) tells us "Germans: just not that bothered about online privacy (42% "concerned" vs 68% UK and EU average)"

Are these the same Germans we are supposed to be "pooling" our sovereignty with in an ever-closer European Union?

Perhaps they are genuinely happy with a dictatorial big state that watches its citizens.  They only really adopted democracy in 1945.  And then not through choice - it was imposed on them.

How they live their lives is up to them I suppose.

But forgive me if I say that I don't want an ever-closer union with the Germans.

Update:  Andrew Hawkins from ComRes says "global survey... finds S Koreans most concerned, Japanese least so re online privacy".

Is there possibly something in the history of these two closely connected countries that might explain this divergence in opinion?  Japan in the early part of the twentieth-century created a formidable surveillance state that propelled their nation into a world power.  South Korea was on the receiving end of that power and presumably is not keen on repeating the experience.

London is full to bursting, as Karen Buck could ascertain for herself

“London's population declined 1939-1990s. Now at 1961 level, still below 1939 peak" says Labour MP Karen Buck, referring us to the Census figures

That's alright then.

No need for Labour's much-vaunted build more homes policy - at least not in the London area.

Also Owen Jones (Independent) can stop whinging about rents being too high.

The population of London is at 1961 levels.  According to the Census figures there has been a vast exodus of the population resulting (one supposes) in many properties lying vacant.  The huge glut of empty properties can only result in falling rents as landlords struggle to entice tenants to take up their leases.

Except of course that this is not happening.

London is full to bursting, as Karen Buck could ascertain for herself just by taking a walk through the inner suburbs.

It is possible that many properties are indeed lying empty, but surely not to the scale suggested by the fall in population recorded by the Census figures.

It is possible that properties have been destroyed on a massive scale and not replaced, but this is not what empirical observation tells us.

It is possible that the Census figures are wrong, that the unrecorded population of London is vastly higher in numbers than any of us have hitherto suspected, and that we urgently need an enquiry into how many people are in the London area illegally.

Update:  Ed Conway (Economics Editor of Sky News) says:  "Between 2005 & 2013 the cost of renting in London rose 11%. Compared with 8.4% nationwide and 5.2% in the North East." 

How is this possible if the population of London has fallen so dramatically?  A falling population means less prospective tenants which must lead to landlords lowering rents to fill their properties.  This is obviously not happening, so one must conclude that the population is not at 1961 levels. 

Therefore Karen Buck is misleading us.  The Census must (on this evidence) be wrong.  Rents are driven up by demand, and strong demand must mean more people.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A society built on an injustice cannot endure

The Theos report on multi-culturalism must be one of the most dishonest publications ever produced, full of jargon about diversity but empty of any real meaning.

For instance, the contents tell us there is a section on page 16 entitled "multicultural malaise, democratic deficit"

Scroll down to page 16 and the heading is indeed "multicultural malaise, democratic deficit"

But the content of that section does not talk of democratic deficit at all.  The word democracy is not mentioned once.  Instead the authors rabbit on about the "withering of the public square".

"Even a cursory glance at the current debate suggests that the credibility of multiculturalism has been deeply undermined by its inability to achieve a sense of shared identity and purpose" the report tells us.

This is not true.

The credibility of multiculturalism has been deeply undermined by its complete lack of any democratic endorsement.  Indeed the whole of post-war immigration lacks any democratic endorsement.  Therefore the insistence of the Theos thinktank that a multicultural society is valid can only be regarded as unjust.

History tells us that a society built on an injustice cannot endure.

Post-war immigration could of course receive democratic endorsement at any time - by means of a retrospective referendum for instance.  The fact that none of the apologists for post-war immigration seek such a referendum speaks volumes.  Is it possible that they think they would lose such a test of public opinion?
I'm looking forward to the new series Who Were the Greeks on BBC2 this Thursday.

What does the Cabinet Office do that is so essential?

Looking at the graphic that accompanied the Observer story about "Osborne's spending cuts" it would appear that in percentage terms the Cabinet Office is the least affected government department.


What does the Cabinet Office do that is so essential?

The electronic version of the story (but does not include the graphic):


Suddenly I am getting visitors to this blog from Iran.

Previously for several years there were no visitors but since the recent Iranian election there has been a stady trickle.

Perhaps social media prohibitions in Iran have been relaxed recently?

Why they should look at this blog is anybody's guess.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steam threshing

After lunch a drive of ten miles to see the steam threshing fair.

This event was held in a large grass field where various steam-powered farming machines were operating.  Also brightly painted steam engines, traction engines and a variety of huge steam-powered fairground organs belting out a succession of tunes (Lambeth Walk, Maybe It's Because I'm a Londoner, Burlington Bertie).

A row of vintage motor cars (not the sort of of highly-polished exhibits one sees in collections, these were tatty and falling to pieces and looked as if they has just been wheeled out of someone's barn where they had been kept for the last eighty years).

Around the field were tents and marquees and stalls - refreshments; rare livestock (goats, ponies, poultry); rural crafts.  Displays of what can only be called old junk.  A table heaped with mouldy old books including Britain's Glorious Navy published in 1940.

In an area scattered with rusty old farm tools (billhooks, riddles, buckets) I found some horse brasses with ancient designs and symbols. 

A stall selling a succulent plant that is supposed to ward off lightning if grown on a roof (a ridiculous superstition).
Sensuous morning walking the dog.

Rain spattered for a few minutes, the sun shone for a few minutes, the clouds scurried across the sky and the cycle of rain and sun began again.

All the time a strong warm wind from the south-west blew.

The birds sang, the church bells rang, the air was full of the warm wet smell of the growing crops.

Peoples' Assembly

On Sunday Politics earlier today Janan Ganesh (Financial Times) described the Peoples' Assembly as "innocuous".

All that effort, all that organisation, and to be dismissed as bland, whimsical and unoffending.

On the other hand Lee Jasper (former adviser to Ken Livingstone) denounces the Peoples' Assembly as institutionally racist:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

I am sensitive about any criticisms - the past week at work


When I got to my desk this morning I intended to be focused on the deadlines I have to meet this week.

Some very rude e-mails from Head Office which I just passed on to Alec Nussbaum, not wanting to get involved in any feuds.

The heat and humidity today (and all this week) almost unbearable even with the fan full on.  I finished an article for a magazine.  Then I calculated how much time off in lieu I was due from working late on the publication - it came to thirty-four hours.


More writing this morning.  And I reduced down to about ten the e-mails I need to answer (seriously answer).  Also I began to think about technology and modern life.

In the afternoon a new problem developed over the publication.  The agency is reneging on its agreement to store them until required, which places us in a difficult position (they will have to go in the reading room, which is already full to bursting).  Frantic hunt for confirmation that the agency had agreed to store them - which thankfully I found, and so no-one can blame me for this.

Lots of catching up to do with the exhibitions programme, which I have neglected recently.


Such a drama has developed at Head Office, and quite interesting from a political point of view.  The prevailing atmosphere is one of apprehension apparently.  As if change is about to occur.

Tim G from the agency called in to explain why he cannot store the publications as arranged.  I kept out of the meeting, suspecting it would be tedious.  Later I learned that Alec Nussbaum had negotiated a reduction in our bill for the job.


A day off work as part of the compensation for all the extra hours I have worked recently.


All of the day I felt a little on-edge about the imminent arrival of the publication.  It is such a high-profile project that I am sensitive about any criticisms.  All around me the Admin section were making preparations for the mailshot (we do these in house because of confidentiality).

Late afternoon I got the news that delivery of the publication had been delayed until Monday.

Billy from the telephone surveys section left today.  I went downstairs to see her presented with a card and small gift.  Temp Emma also left.

I stayed slightly late to reply to the e-mail from Mary McF at Head Office's Media department.  My reply was long and widely copied.  I hope I have turned the tables on her.

When I arrived home the church bells were ringing (they have a practice on Friday evenings).

Review by Diarmaid MacCulloch of Roger Scruton's new book Our Church

Rubbishy review by Diarmaid MacCulloch of Roger Scruton's new book Our Church.

Diarmaid MacCulloch writes 1,174 words in his "review", except that it is not a review of the Scruton book at all.  Diarmaid MacCulloch makes it clear it does not like the book, but he does not tell us why.  He says he could tell us if he wanted to - but he is an Oxbridge academic and so presumably cannot be arsed.

What he does instead is write 932 words of his own views on Anglicanism, entirely unrelated to Roger Scruton's thesis.  Probably too much port in the Fellows Library, combined with an insistent deadline, led to Diarmaid MacCulloch pushing the book aside after just reading the introduction and thinking he could get away with reproducing some of his lecture notes and pinging it off to Kings Place.  One cannot blame Oxford professors for behaving arrogantly, it's part of their job description, but we can blame the Guardian for accepting this rubbish and serving it up in a newspaper they expect people to pay for.

The last three paragraphs are more relevant to the book, in a damning-with-faint-praise sort of way.  But the whole review is so poor that one learns nothing about Roger Scruton's arguments.  To say one feels short-changed is an understatement.

Diarmaid MacCulloch is Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford which is perhaps yet another indication of how bogus scholarship is in the Oxbridge hegemony.

Summer Drinks Reception for CWF

Friday, June 21, 2013

Jim Murphy (Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Defence) tells us:  "Maybe now the Westminster village and his cheerleaders can see through Boris' bluster. He may one day be Tory leader but will never be PM."

Mr Murphy should be advised that the Conservative Party has never been led by a vulgarian.
"Thatcher Day" as a bank holiday might be a non-starter (in any case I think she would prefer a day encouraging harder more productive work rather than a day of leisure).

But I do think we could revive Primrose Day as a day to celebrate Conservative Prime Ministers.

Perhaps combined with a garden party at Hughenden.

Paragraph 18 of Mr Jasper's article

Interesting article by Lee Jasper on his objections to the Order of the British Empire

He raises many valid points, but misses the central point of the British Empire.  Empires (whether British, or Zulu, or Chinese) are not benevolent mutual organisations.  They are empires, and designed to maintain imperium over the subject peoples (if it is any consolation to Lee Jasper, my ancestors suffered from this imperium - their common land was taken away and they were reduced to servitude and destitution in the industrial cities).

But I am much more interested in paragraph 18 of Mr Jasper's article:

Are you not also a settler Mr Jasper?  How is your status here any different from the settlers who went to Africa, Ireland, the Caribbean etc?  Or do you think two wrongs make a right?

IPPR proposals for civil service reform

Patrick Wintour has written an excellent precis of the IPPR proposals for civil service reform. I have added my thoughts in blue. Obviously my criticisms are directed at the IPPR report not at Patrick Wintour.

The prime minister should be given the power to appoint the most senior civil servants who run Whitehall departments, a government-commissioned report has recommended.

We do not need more Prime Ministerial power. A formal proposal of this kind will destroy party political system and move towards a presidential system. It is incredible that a constitutional move of this kind should be finessed without very wide consultation, a constitutional commission and a referendum.

The IPPR thinktank also recommends providing ministers with a larger "extended office" that would be made up of mixture of political advisers and non-partisan outside experts, as well as career civil servants.

The executive is too powerful as it is. We have effectively slipped, over the past forty years, into government by the executive rubber-stamped by Parliament. This is not democratic and certainly not what the ordinary people want (elected dictators can all too easily mutate into unelected ones).

The report ordered by the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, suggests there is cross-party frustration at aspects of civil service accountability. Maude gave the report a strong welcome, and it is likely at the very least to be the basis for the next stage of his reform agenda.

Accountability across the board is the issue – civil servants accountable to ministers; ministers accountable to Parliament; MPs accountable to their constituency associations and the electorate. More powers of recall, impeachment and prosecution for misconduct in public office. And is it so unreasonable to ask for members of the House of Lords to be at least partly accountable – perhaps to the territorial communities they nominate in their titles.

In a proposal that would change the Whitehall accountability structure, the prime minister would appoint the senior permanent secretary posts on four-year terms, drawing on a list prepared by the civil service commission and reflecting the views of the relevant secretary of state. At present the appointment is made by the civil service commission, and the prime minister has a veto.

Hmm, this seems to be a slight of hand. The Prime Minister is already Minister for the Civil Service. A big problem with the present system is that civil servants owe their loyalty to the Prime Minister not to the departmental minister they are supposed to serve (as the scriptures advise us: a man cannot serve two masters).

The report also suggests the head of the civil service should be made a full-time post, and be responsible for line-managing and holding permanent secretaries accountable for their performance. The current civil service chief, Sir Bob Kerslake, is also a departmental permanent secretary.

These are weasel words (the report is weaselly, not Patrick Wintour). Is the Head of the Civil Service going to behave any differently than from the Cabinet Secretary? These people are too powerful and also highly political individuals – they are permanent politicians rather than permanent civil servants (which is why we see the same old policies whatever the change in government).

The report also proposes that senior officials responsible for the delivery of government programmes should be directly accountable to relevant departmental select committees in parliament in their own right, and not just as spokespeople for their ministers. At present many civil servants hide behind the doctrine of ministerial accountability to refuse to answer questions in a straightforward way.

No, this is the wrong way to go about things. We want a system where Parliament decides policies and the civil servants carry them out. Not just accepting that the executive is running the country and Parliament is merely a pompous pontificating rubber stamp.

In another groundbreaking suggestion it proposes civil servants should second officials to opposition parties ahead of elections in order to help them with policy development. At present civil servants a few months out from an election merely have a conversation with the opposition to familiarise themselves with its thinking, but not to give very specific advice.

No. I don’t want this. This is too close to creating a permanent elite that carries on in power despite elections that chucks parties out.

The recommendations, which are based on a study of leading international civil service systems, including countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, will be scrutinised to see if they undermine the political independence of the civil service.

The civil service is not independent – it is highly political and often pursues “department” policies whatever the changes in government.

The direct prime ministerial appointment of Whitehall permanent secretaries may be seen as liable to undermine the authority of the head of the civil service. The proposals may also prompt claims that civil servants will feel accountable to politicians and not to their internal leadership.

Weasel words. Civil servants already owe their loyalty to the Minister for the Civil Service (who is always the Prime Minister). If there is a clash between a minister and his/her civil servants the civil servants often go directly to the Cabinet Secretary who raises it with the Prime Minister to get the department minister over-ruled – this must stop.

But many politicians argue that in practice senior civil servants quit if it is seen their face does not fit with a new political regime, and it is better for both sides to have a more explicit relationship in which civil servants are more directly accountable to their elected political masters.

They need to be directly accountable to their department ministers who need to be directly accountable to Parliament (which needs to be MUCH more accountable to the electorate on an on-going basis).

Reforms have been made to the appointment of permanent secretaries in recent months to give the elected secretary of state greater input, but these proposed reforms by handing responsibility to the prime minister go substantially further.

Secretaries of State are not elected they are appointed by the Prime Minister. I would like to see them selected by the parties. That would also re-engage the party system, as party members would have real influence.

The former home office minister, Nick Herbert, said: "This report itself shows the benefits of reform – going outside the civil service for policy advice has produced suggestions for more effective government that simply wouldn't have come from within.

Policy advice must come from Parliament not from “outside”.

"These ideas are a welcome step forward but we need to go further to create proper accountability and bring in external expertise. The risk isn't politicisation – it's today's suboptimal administration that doesn't answer to anyone."

Accountability must be to the people through their directly elected representatives in Parliament.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sam Bowman and Gavin Barwell MP are wrong

On the Adam Smith website Sam Bowman tells us "The starting point in any discussion about restricting immigration should be that restrictions make us poorer".

Sam Bowman, and Gavin Barwell MP whom he quotes, are of course wrong.

The starting point in any policy, especially a policy that results in overwhelming and comprehensive social change, must be the democratic will of the people.

How is it possible for the United Kingdom to call itself a democracy when a policy that the majority of the population has ALWAYS opposed keeps happening?

It's not possible.

Democracy becomes a sham.

The people become angry and volatile and start to dream about pulling down the elite and replacing them with a more amenable system.

If immigration has so many benefits all Sam Bowman and Gavin Barwell have to do is put it in a manifesto and ask people to vote for it.  Up front and open.  Knock on doors with your charts and statistics and convince people to give it a yes.

Otherwise we might as well be living in a dictatorship. 

And that is not what anybody wants.

The Girl Guides Oath

The changing of the Girl Guides Oath with its dropping of religious and national affiliation and its new commitment to “communities” seems to be an adoption by that institution of the discredited ideology of multi-culturalism (an ideology that damages social cohesiveness and has been officially dropped by the government).

As a taxpayer I do not want my money going to fund organisations that are covertly adopting political positions, and I want the Department for Education to look hard at the funding it gives to Girlguiding UK.

And there is also a need to look at the “entryism” of lefties into the charity and not-for-profit sector. If you look at the people Gill Slocombe follows on Twitter (her “official” Twitter as Chief Guide) they include Labour MPs and Liberal Democrat MPs, but no Conservative MPs (at 20th June 2013). Institutions such as the Girl Guides (and Save The Children etc) are supposed to be serving young people in the United Kingdom, not acting as a front for Labour sympathisers operating a socialism-by-other-means policy.

Trying to soften people up for the introduction of GM modified foods

Owen Patterson was all over the place in his interview with the Today programme this morning.

He was trying to soften people up for the introduction of GM modified foods (Frankenstein Foods as they are popularly known).

His main argument (in so far as I could follow it) was that the United Kingdom population should be eating these foods because it will help feed the starving in the third world. 


If the third world wants this technology why don't they go ahead and develop it?  Why are we involved?  In any case there is no shortage of food in the world there is only a problem with food distribution.

I do not want this stuff unlabelled on the shelves in British supermarkets.

Mad Cow Disease was a warning that we should not trust bland assurances from "experts" that unnatural food is safe to eat.

And I think we need to be looking very closely at the behaviour of the civil servants in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and using freedom of information requests to see what sort of conversations are going on between civil servants and the companies that are active in the area of GM modified food.

Otherwise we may be seeing civil servants retiring from their posts (with gold plated pensions) and "popping up" on the boards of GM companies - as a reward for helping to get GM food into the United Kingdom food chain.

Update:  Kevin Maguire (Daily Mirror) has just pointed out on his Twitter site: "Horror fact of the day: 6 Walmart heirs together possess same wealth as bottom 42% of Americans (George Packer's The Unwinding in Guardian)".  We want more small scale food production and retailing in the United Kingdom, not the sort of giant farms and giant supermakets that we see elsewhere.  And I would like to see the whole of the British Isles adopt organic farming as a USP we can sell to the rest of the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bias against the eastern half of the country

"Fantastic news that Leicester has been short listed for City of Culture 2017. Much deserved!" whoops Keith Vaz MP.

And what about Kings Lynn?

Is Kings Lynn not among the most civilised and cultured places in the country, and with an annual arts festival that goes back to the 1950s?

I know it is not a "city" in the strict meaning of the term, but the City of Culture award seems to be just aimed at grimy urban dumps (with obligatory "vibrant diversity").

And if not Kings Lynn, then perhaps Norwich or Lincoln or Bury St Edmunds.

People talk about the north-south divide, but there is a very real bias against the eastern half of the country.

The Afghan war has been a fiasco

Was it not nauseating to see former Labour Secretary of State for Defence John Reid on Newsnight yesterday assuming the mantle of wise elder statesman when he was the lying toad who in January 2006 ordered British troops into Helmand in the second phase of the Afghan war, telling us "We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot".

Why is this deceiver and dissembler parking his backside on the red leather benches of the House of Lords when he should be publicly disgraced (and ideally put on trial)?

There is no avoiding the fact that the second phase of the Afghan war has been a fiasco.

And is this not an appropriate time to distance ourselves from future American foreign policy?

Not a drastic change, but a realisation that we no longer look at the world in the same way (indeed neither of us are the same people we were in 1941) and in the future we will probably require different alliances rather than NATO.

In St Nicholas church in Lincoln, in the north aisle, there is a monument to all the British soldiers who died on the North West Frontier of India in the 1920s.  It is a memorial entirely forgotten, as are the soldiers named on it.  One person in the church at the time of my visit actually referred to the people named on the tablet with a degree of contempt.

Is this not what is going to happen to all the British casualties of the war in Afghanistan?

In cahoots together

In the New Statesman James Bloodworth argues that trade unions deliver to their members what he calls a higher "premium" (as if it were some kind of dividend) than non-unionised workers:

Unfortunately he uses out of date research (2008, when the world was completely different) written by highly partisan and left-wing authors.

Therefore one is bound to say that his arguments are negated.

Is the New Statesman some kind of propaganda rag that it prints ropey articles like this?

Anyone who has been a member of a closed shop trade union (which I assume is the system James Bloodworth is so nostalgic for) will know that they are little better than protection rackets working to benefit the bosses and the trade union officials (especially local shop stewards) in cahoots together against the ordinary workers.

The "protection" they gave workers in the 1960s and 1970s was the same kind of protection Al Capone used to offer.

Update added:  Patrick Butler (Guardian Journalist, social policy editor and Head of Society, Health and Education at the Guardian) tells us "Senior civil servants' base salary has dropped by 17.4% in past three years, says national audit office" - so much for the civil service unions then!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


In the preamble to the G8 summit in Fermanagh the American President (Barack Obama) visited a local school and gave the children a serious talk on how they should live in peace with each other.

Perhaps the British Prime Minister, on a future visit to America, should attend Sandy Hook school or Columbine school or similar and give the American children an equally patronising talk on how they should live in peace with each other.

Our own private gulag

This article in The Times made me wonder whether it would be feasible to set up a giant American-style super prison on West Falkland Island.  There is more than enough space there (the island is the size of Yorkshire), and no problems with planning approval.  The convicts can eat fish and grow potatos and the facility would contribute to the Islands' economy.

We can then put all our long-term prisoners there and forget about them.

It would be our own private gulag.

Bit far for the social workers to travel, so the inmates would be short on molly-coddling.

But for a "tough on crime and tough on the criminals" policy it would hard for the left to outflank us.

We could also perhaps have a welcome-reception-and-processing facility on the island to handle all asylum applicants, following the system currently under consideration by the Labor government in Australia:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sundar Katwala has written a piece for the Conservative Home website

Sundar Katwala, Director of British Future (a pressure group), has written a 1,500 piece for the Conservative Home website:

I have read the article carefully and have added my comments in blue below:

Talk to backbench MPs across the party divide and a common theme emerges: a pessimism shared across the red and blue tribes.

Several questions arise: are these backbench MPs telling the truth to Mr Katwala or are we seeing an ingenious double-bluff designed to poison wells and muddy waters? (Mr Katwala can hardly claim to be a disinterested spectator). Did Mr Katwala choose his MPs on a scientific basis or might he have inadvertently stumbled upon forty or fifty members of the lower chamber who are naturally prone to pessimism?  Or is it possible that we are seeing a superstitious dread of predicting victory lest the hubris that overcame Neil Kinnock (“We’re aw’right!” shouted while punching the air) should lead to humiliating downfall?

The mainstream party leaders struggle to find any attractive explanation of the offer they can make to voters.

All the evidence shows that the electorate accepts the arguments of austerity and (like 1939 to 1945) is prepared to go into the storm and through the storm.

There is a further, perhaps underestimated, factor: that politics is struggling to adapt to a changing electorate.

Absolutely right. This is the single most important thing Sundar Katwala has said. The vast majority of the electorate is white working class and yet their representation at Westminster is virtually non-existent.

The 36.1% won by the Conservatives at the 2010 general election was not quite the lowest ‘winning’ score at a post-1945 election.

The 2010 election was warped by the expenses scandal so is not a reliable guide to the future.


The Conservatives received a wake-up call about the dangers of getting on the wrong side of demographic change from the experience of their U.S Republican cousins last year.

This is all irrelevant. The United Kingdom is not the United States. The system, the issues and the people are entirely different.

The success of the Canadian Conservatives in breaking the liberal dominance of minority votes, and of Boris Johnson winning twice in London, offer counterpoints to the Republican nightmare.

I doubt whether we can learn anything from Boris Johnson.

The Conservatives won 16% of non-white votes in 2010, compared to 36% of white voters.

The Conservatives got 16% of non-white votes because Conservatism as a political philosophy is satisfying and attractive across all classes and all ethnic groups. All the Conservatives have to do is be their authentic selves. Break up the multi-cultural ghettos that Labour constructed as a vast exercise in collective bribery and gerrymandering, and the 16% will rise.

...given that Britain under 18 is considerably more diverse than the current electorate, it will become increasingly unlikely at each election there will be a future Conservative majority government without making considerable progress among ethnic minority voters.

Children define themselves by rebelling against their parents. How else can we explain the enthusiasm with which young people in the 1980s returned Margaret Thatcher? We have yet to see the full force of this generational disgust as the nausea engendered by the years 1997 to 2010 plays itself out as a rejection of Mum and Dad’s socialism-lite.

...voters are disadvantaged if one party believes they could be taken for granted, and the others that they are out-of-reach...

This is very confused reasoning. The vast majority of voters are indeed disadvantaged because the Westminster and Whitehall elite does not represent them. For instance in every test of public opinion the majority wants gross migration to stop and yet it keeps happening.


Parties might need to articulate both the scope and limits of faith in politics more explicitly, though a British aversion to US-style culture wars continues to unite most believers and non-believers.

This section does not make any sense. The fuzzy use of the word “faith” is meaningless. We have an Established Church in England and the 39 Articles are part of the law – no Conservative government is going to change this for short term electoral gain.


UKIP was the fifth most popular party among the under-24s, with 7%, but the first choice of the over-65s on 33%.

It’s too early to assess UKIP properly. UKIP could well break through in northern areas, taking votes from Labour and delivering seats to a new Coalition. We need to see what happens to UKIP post the Euro elections.

...younger voters are strikingly more socially liberal, and less collectivist, being more relaxed about gay marriage, diversity and immigration, and more sceptical about state welfare provision and taxation too.

The demographic trend is for the baby-boomers to keep voting, this will not stop until the 1945-1965 “boom” dies away – not until 2040 or 2050 (depending on how long medical science keeps them alive and able to totter to the polling stations). People get more Conservative as they get older. Older people vote.

The challenge for major parties in building a winning electoral coalition will be to address majority anxieties that most people feel at a time of fast and unsettling change...

Yes indeed Mr Katwala. Address the anxieties that most people feel. The parties (all of them) need to return to conviction politics.

...the major parties will have to, instead of making impossible promises, seek majority consent for things they could actually do.

“Seek majority consent” - I am astonished that this even needs to be said. It shows you how far we are from a genuine democracy. And what do we do about the legacy policies that did not have majority consent – are we just supposed to accept that nothing can be done?


What makes gauging these balances more difficult, especially in a hung Parliament, is that each party’s internal debate lacks voices to speak up for the parts of the country, and the electorate, that the party does not represent...

Both parties have neglected recruitment – which is all that is necessary to turn this situation around. Unfortunately both the Labour and Conservative parties have become stuffed with lazy la-di-da professional politicians who think canvassing is beneath them (qv the Bradford by-election). I would argue that NO seats in the country are safe – they can all be turned round if there is the will to win.

Winning amidst change

The Conservative tradition may be dispositionally reluctant to accelerate change, yet it has shown a talent for adapting to it.
“Dispositionally reluctant to accelerate change” - my goodness Mr Katwala, resisting sudden change is the whole ethos of Conservatism. It is popular because of this resistance, not in spite of it. A Conservative party that was not conservative would be like a Labour party that was not socialist (ie vapid, ineffectual and good for nothing).

That the Conservatives were the dominant electoral force across the twentieth century, after the mass enfranchisement in 1918, would have surprised Lord Salisbury... The Conservatives proved clear net beneficiaries of the enfranchisement of women too, winning greater support among women than men from 1918 until the late 1990s.

The Conservative offering to the electorate distils down to “safety and security”. Both women and those on limited means (pensioners, people killing themselves to buy a house, those just managing to keep their heads above a sea of debt) value safety and security. Labour however are risk takers – let’s splurge public money around the economy and see what happens; let’s open wide the migration door and see what vibrant diversity will deliver; let’s put all the children into comprehensive schools and see if it makes society more equal etc etc.

...the experience of dispossession of the Scottish Unionists, from being the only party to ever win a majority of both Scottish votes and seats in the 1950s, to being marginalised by Labour and then the Scottish nationalists within a couple of generations, shows too the stark, kaleidoscope-shifting political effects of social change when parties fail to respond or adapt.

The SNP are going to lose their referendum, and presumably that is going to lead to an erosion of SNP support (no-one likes being associated with losers). At which point Scottish politics has the potential for change. The Scottish Conservatives can build on this.

The central lesson from history is that there is no political determinism in demographic change.

The central lesson from history is that there is no central lesson from history – past performance is no guarantee of future growth (as the financiers will advise you).

Demographic change shifts the social and political context in which leaders make decisions – but it is how parties respond that makes the decisive difference. Facing short-term pressures to hunker down and secure their base, at least, each side of the political spectrum currently finds it easier to articulate the barriers than the opportunities. The real questions may be less whether to modernise or not, but about the range of different paths that attempts to build broader support might take.

I’m afraid this paragraph is just waffle.

Nobody in 2013 can guess which party might show the political imagination to craft a future majority. That leaves the future of British politics unusually up for grabs.

This one is waffle too. Obviously the future is up for grabs, in the same way that it always is. The Conservative Party fights on, it fights to win.

Unwittingly displaying his own bigotry

Why, one wonders, does Hugh Muir illustrate his column on bigotry with an example from the Irish Republic showing citizens of the Irish Republic being unpleasant to a citizen of the United States?

Perhaps he thinks the Republic of Ireland is part of the United Kingdom?

Perhaps he thinks all white people look the same and so no-one is going to notice that they are completely different nations with completely different societies and cultures?

It is ironic to see a writer pontificating on bigotry while at the same time unwittingly displaying his own bigotry.

And why was this not picked up by the Guardian's fact checkers?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

G8 summit

Earlier today I watched the (always excellent) Sunday Politics on BBC1.

The programme included a discussion about the G8 summit to be held in Northern Ireland.

So far I have not heard anyone remark on the PR coup by the Prime Minister in holding this conference in British Ireland. 

The great leaders of the world are coming to meet the British Prime Minister in Fermanagh.  In Fermanagh in the former IRA badlands.  Fermanagh that once elected hunger-striker Bobby Sands as a Member of Parliament.

This is what triumphalism looks like.

If Edith Wharton were alive today she would say that David Cameron knows how to teach people a lesson.

Pre-emptive - the past week at work


All weekend I had been thinking about the pre-emptive strike the Institute made late on Friday.  I went in early this morning thinking that there might be enquiries to answer.  Alex Nussbaum was also in early, sitting in Vijay Singh's office.

Mid-morning Gary (assistant in the Reading Room downstairs) brought me a copy of the Sunday Telegraph dated 3rd of September 2000, predicting immigration of 100,000 per year.

More proof-reading, but not on the scale of last week.

When I arrived this morning the proofs were on my desk just as I had left them yesterday.  I have become afraid to look at them again in case I see more things that need amending.  Eventually I decided it would have to go as it is.

Alec Nussbaum called a meeting to discuss the pre-emptive strike.  Initial reports are confused.  Only over the longer term will we find out if it has been successful.


Server problems all day effectively disabled the Institute - and everyone is wondering whether a retaliatory strike has been made against us!


With so many people away today the offices were quiet.  It was nice not to have any pressing deadlines.  I used the day to clear the backlog of e-mails that has built up.

The absolutely final proofs arrived and I just looked over them briefly before giving the OK.


Lunchtime I went to a small shopping mall and as I did not have time for lunch I sat in the carpark, in my car, to eat an apple.  But a piece of apple got stuck in my throat so that I began choking.  I stumbled out of my car, but there was no-one about who could help me. 

Eventually, after a lot of coughing, the piece of apple cleared.  I felt very shocked and my throat was extremely sore.  I went back into the shopping mall and bought a milkshake to ease my throat.

Later at my desk I felt glad to be alive after the choking incident.

Later still a terrible depression came over me, which I couldn't really understand.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Video for Millionaires by The Script

The video for Millionaires by The Script seems to have been filmed in social housing in Thamesmead Estate south London - the Southmere tower blocks appear at the start of the video (these are the high rise flats that appear in the dystopian film A Clockwork Orange):

The video was directed by Paul Banks and has a theme of transmutation.  Thus a Haribo ring becomes a real ring, a dandelion becomes a rose, cups of tea become glasses of wine.  In the Birchwood Tavern the pub band becomes The Script (although arguably The Script has yet to make the transition from a pub band - their oeuvre is over-sentimental pomp rock in the style of U2).

But the video is worth watching.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Did Daniel Trilling just make his statement up?

What evidence does Daniel Trilling have for saying "trade union membership on average results in higher wages"?

The evidence I have seen shows that on average wages for unionised personnel are slightly lower than those for non-unionised personnel in comparable occupations (and this becomes even more marked when adjusting for the generally higher salaries in the public sector).

Private sector non-unionised salaries are higher than private sector unionised salaries.

Public sector non-unionised salaries are higher than public sector unionised salaries.

Did Daniel Trilling just make his statement up?

Syria is the new Spanish Civil War

Is the conflict in Syria coming to resemble the Spanish Civil War?

If the conflict is a war waged by proxy can someone explain what the Russians are hoping to gain, and also what the western powers are hoping to gain? (military bases? help yourself to free oil? a blocking move in a geopolitical game of chess?).

Especially as the winner is just going to inherit a ruin filled with corpses.

And if Syria is the new Spanish Civil War who will be the new George Orwell who writes about it (Homage to Qusair perhaps).

The "youth" edition of Question Time last night

I watched a little of the "youth" edition of Question Time last night.

The youthful Edinburgh audience was almost totally white - I saw one person who looked mixed-race but otherwise it was monocultural.

And yet the lefty commentary on Twitter was strangely silent on this fact.

When Question Time was broadcast from Lincoln recently the audience was also completely white, and there was no end to sneering and jeering among the right-on Twitter commentariat.  It was as if everything anybody said was invalidated because the audience was not "vibrant" or "diverse".  Why the double standards I wonder?

Is it because the left is over-reliant on Scottish constituencies to ensure a Labour government, and so cannot risk offending the Scottish white working class?

Is it because the left has declared war on the English rural shires, and vibrant diversity is one of the weapons they are using to destroy community cohesiveness and shut down any debate on social change (because anyone who questions vibrant diversity must be a racist)?

Is it because the SNP's often-asserted claims that Scotland is a vibrantly diverse community is in fact a sham, and that covert silencing of non-"Scottish" voices has been under way for some time (as claimed by Nigel Farage on his recent fact-finding mission to an Edinburgh pub)?

And why, I wonder, was there no attempt by Jonathan Portes and his former civil servant colleagues to rub the face of Alex Salmond in a specially-prepared Caledonian version of vibrant diversity?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"Vote Labour for more migration"

Very interesting expose of Migration Matters and the way it tries to manipulate opinion:

Lies upon lies upon lies from Barbabra Roche it would seem.

If migration is such a good thing why doesn't Labour put it upfront in their manifesto, right at the top of their policy list?

They could have big posters around the country saying "Vote Labour for more migration".

It's all good according to Barbara Roche.

So all they have to do is make it the centre of their election campaign and they will coast their way into power in 2015.

Does it make them feel big to shoot up little kittens?

This is one of the most shocking stories I have heard:

It's on a par with the American police shooting five Bengal tigers who escaped from a zoo last year.

Why are they so trigger-happy?

Does it make them feel big to shoot up little kittens?

Is there not something psychologically wrong with a person who could do this?  Does it not call into question the standards of behaviour that Police Chief Freeman sets for his police department?  Is it not the case that the position of Police Chief Freeman is now untenable, and he should consider tendering his resignation?

More on the story plus pictures of the kittens:

Not me guv

Suzanne Moore (and many many other writers) protests about her articles "I don't write the headlines. I don't choose the pics."

But every writer has the opportunity of saying to the publication:  don't use my work unless you allow me editorial control over the headline and pictures.  I do not want you compromising my work by placing it in a false context just because you think you can sell more if you present things in a lurid way.  If you don't agree to this give me my work back, I will return any money I owe you, and I will go elsewhere.

If this is not the course they take then they have absolutely no right to say to readers "not me guv, I didn't choose the headline".

You accepted the money that was raised by attaching a "sexy" headline (using the word "sexy" in its Alastair Campbell sense).

Therefore you must accept at least partial responsibility for what that headline says.
On the whole I like Theresa May

For the last twenty years the Home Office has been led by bungling incompetents - until the arrival of Theresa May.

Even when the department is battered and rocked she manages to steady things.

And, unusually for a politician, no overt displays of arrogance (no-one says about Theresa May "the ego has landed").

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Zoe Williams' article in the Guardian: What's holding Britain down isn't benefits. It's low pay

Incoherent arguments used in Zoe Williams' article in the Guardian: What's holding Britain down isn't benefits. It's low pay

Assuming we accept her argument that wages should be arbitrarily raised ("The minimum wage is not enough to live on") why on earth should collective bargaining stop at some equilibrium where income matches consumption?

Once the mechanism of collective bargaining starts to work what is to stop it exceeding the point where income matches consumption?

If wages are to be decided by unionised collective bargaining and not the market why can't all workers have the same salary as Zoe Williams?  Or Ed Miliband?  Or the noble Lord Prescott?

You can start to see how fuzzy this sort of economics is.

"The solutions to this will be large and manifold" sounds like the economics of Fred Scuttle and the Benny Hill team.

However there is a germ of truth in the piece.

Close off the import of cheap labour and the value of labour must rise.  MUST rise.  Even the most idle and unskilled potential workers will become valuable as labour becomes scarce.

That will be a real form of "collective" bargaining - in that the collective should be the entire labour force within the United Kingdom.  The nation state can protect workers against global capital.  All it needs is the courage to act.

The little dog doesn't understand where the sunshine has gone.

She feels cold.

The bigger dog has already gone back in the house to sleep on the sofa.

No different morally

Am I the only person who felt uncomfortable yesterday at the way prominent commentators attacked the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 for interviewing the EDL leader Tommy Robinson?

Daniel Trilling: (scroll down to 11th June).

Mehdi Hasan:

Sundar Katwala:

Leaving on one side the fact that I don't like to see the BBC kicked by political commentators.

And also leaving on one side the fact that Mr Robinson has recently been the target of a murder attempt the organisers of which have just been convicted in court - and so like many other murder targets he is a legitimate subject to be interviewed by the BBC.

I am more interested in the pontificating by Mr Trilling, Mr Hasan and Mr Katwala on the subject of violence.

Of course, all violence must be condemned in all circumstances.

Whatever the problems we face as a society, violence cannot be the answer.

But there is more than one form of violence.

And unrestricted overwhelming immigration (the kind defended and espoused by all of these gentlemen) is also profoundly violent.  Of course it is a different, more subtle kind of violence than the EDL kind - it takes the form of passive social violence, insidious psychological violence, overt political violence, personal abusive violence, exclusionary possessive violence, revisionary deleting violence etc.  But it is violence nonetheless, and the people who experience it feel very real pain (pain that is all the more debilitating because the people experiencing it are often inarticulate and poorly educated and so cannot express what is happening to them).

Therefore on the subject of violence Mr Trilling, Mr Hasan and Mr Katwala (and Mr Hodges, Ms Laurie Penny, Mr Oliver et al) are no different morally to Mr Robinson.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Jonathan Portes reviews David Goodhart's book The British Dream

On the London Review of Books website former senior civil servant Jonathan Portes reviews David Goodhart's book The British Dream

It's a very long review.  Jonathan Portes writes screeds and screeds about the Goodhart magnam opus.  Nearly four thousand words.

The length is presumably to try to convince people that he has examined the book seriously and weighed its arguments one by one.

But he rather gives himself away in the penultimate sentence when he says:  "...that doesn’t stop The British Dream being an exercise in scapegoating."

The four thousand words of verbosity was just padding to support Jonathan Portes's intention to call David Goodhart a racist ("scapegoating" is just a polite word for racism).

And is this not predictable?

Anyone who criticises immigration must per se be a racist (in the eyes of the left).

I hope the London Review of Books has not paid him for this junk.

The one and a quarter million people Denis MacShane refers to

"1.4 million Brits live in other EU countries and 435.000 retired - all with same right as local nationals" says Denis MacShane MP.

This is a rather bogus argument to defend unrestricted migration into the United Kingdom.

The one and a quarter million people Denis MacShane refers to have left.

One wishes them well.

Good luck to them in fact.

But they have left.

Unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the United Kingdom are seeing a catastrophic drop in their wages due to undercutting by migrants who are willing to work for next to nothing.

What possible compensation can it be for such workers that one and a quarter million wealthy pensioners and corporate executives are doing very well for themselves elsewhere in the EU?

These people have left, and any obligation we had towards them left at the same time.

It is time for Helen Bradley

The Today programme this morning reported that the Hayward Gallery is putting on an exhibition of outsider art.

And there is the Lowry exhibition on at the Tate Gallery.

So perhaps it is time for Helen Bradley to finally be recognised? 

She was an outsider, despised by a snobby art establishment. 

Or is her work too recherche and nostalgic to be endured by the critics?

Tax codes are the best way to tackle the issue

Interesting proposal from Bonnie Greer that immigrants should be taxed at different rates.

I have long thought that tax codes are the best way to tackle the issue of economic migration.

All tax-payers born outside the United Kingdom should go onto a tax code that removes the incentive they might have to leave their place of origin.

If you insist on coming to the United Kingdom your income after tax will be broadly no different from what it might have been before you made the journey (based on the "price of a can of Coke" measure beloved by economists).

Not just Tier One immigrants, but all economic migrants.

And since Bonnie Greer has raised the issue of tax, would it be impertinent to ask whether she is paying taxes in the United Kingdom?  Sorry to sound suspicious, but so many "citizens of the world" have become perpetual tourists with homes in more than one country.  So long as you can raise the credit to buy the properties (minimum of four I believe) then you just spend three months at each home and pay tax nowhere - for people not tied to a particular place of work this is an increasingly popular option.