Friday, September 27, 2013

On the eve of the Conference I think we need to take this proposal seriously:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9034391/lets-make-a-deal/

The Conservatives only need to win another twenty seats!

"I hope you enjoyed my Tesco FINEST Paella you thieving little shit!"

A note has apparently appeared on the Guardian staff noticeboard today: "I hope you enjoyed my Tesco FINEST Paella you thieving little shit!"

The complainant presumably does not understand that we are living in a post-Miliband-speech world in which the principles of socialism are once more in vogue.

Therefore here are a few pointers Mr/Ms Complainant should bear in mind:

1  From each according to their means to each according to their needs - the person who took the paella obviously needed the paella so quit complaining.

2  All property is theft.  You cannot "own" a paella, it is the common property of the people.  You have no more right to that paella than anyone else.

3  The paella was unused at the time it was liberated - are you some kind of blood-sucking capitalist to sit on assets surplus to your actual requirement (and don't give me that guff about wanting it in the future as we cannot afford people accumulating extra paellas any more than we can afford people sitting on banks of land on the spurious grounds they might be needed in the future).

4  Your capitalised use of the word "FINEST" has been noted - what sort of bourgeois class enemy are you to consume "FINEST" food instead of the proletarian fare everyone else has to eat!  Engels would have you shot for this alone (were he still alive and working for the Guardian).

5  What sort of class traitor are you to shop at Tesco - an evil organisation that thrives on unpaid neo-slave work experience.

Back to basics socialism

In the aftermath of Ed Miliband's speech (paraphrase:  we are all socialists now) it is amusing to see the lefties goading each other on with ever more expressions of socialist zeal.

Here we have John McTernan telling us what we already know about immigration:  http://www.policy-network.net/pno_detail.aspx?ID=4474&title=The-left-has-to-get-politically-tough-on-labour-migration

Some quotes: 

"...seriously, who would listen to their voters? Particularly the lumpen mass with their half-formed thoughts and fully-formed prejudices. 

"...it is not a crisis if entry level jobs are taken by citizens from another EU country. Filling minimum wage jobs with migrant workers is progressive. Full stop.

"It used to hardly need saying, but apparently now it needs broadcasting – ethnic voters vote Labour. Let me repeat that. These new workers will vote out of preference for a centre-left party. Why, when the left is electorally in retreat across Europe, would we think it made sense to ban potentially loyal voters from even entering our country?"

Of course he expects the right to be outraged by this, but somehow his outrageousness falls a bit flat.

It is rather like when a party of schoolchildren are taken to the zoo and see the baboons showing off their bare pink bottoms.  It might be a shock first time round, but they soon learn to ignore it.  John McTernan and the rest of the neo-socialists are just political baboons saying Look at me!  Look at me!  I am so daring!

However hidden among all Mr McTernan's back-to-basics socialism are three words that indicate he is out of touch with the ordinary electorate.

He tells us:  "Politics is about leadership."

That might have been true thirty years ago.

It might even have been true up to about ten years ago.

It is not true now.

The Iraq war changed everything.  The electorate no longer wants political leadership.  The electorate has come to fear political leadership.

The electorate want a system where the politicians are brought under control (and dare I say it, do as they are told by the people who elect them).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This is a work of FICTION

My goodness, after Independent writer Owen Jones told us about the sociological insights to be gained from Downton Abbey, now the New Statesman is referring to the ropey soap opera as a seminal text relevant to gender studies:  http://www.newstatesman.com/business/2013/09/what-downton-abbey-can-teach-us-about-dying-without-will

This is a work of FICTION they are talking about!

A work of modern fiction written to entertain undemanding Sunday evening audiences.

It is written by Julian Fellowes who is a jobbing script-writer married to a former lady-in-waiting to HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

If by any chance Downton Abbey has anything serious to say about the Edwardian period it is entirely by accident.  The only historical information in the script will have come about because of Julian Fellowes' research.  Why do Owen Jones and the unnamed person who wrote the New Statesman piece choose to do their research second-hand through Julian Fellowes?

Are they too lazy to do research themselves?

Are they going to look at Barbara Cartland bodice-rippers to tell us about feminism in the Napoleonic age?  Or refer to 1970s episodes of Citizen Smith (available on YouTube) to explain pre-Blair socialism?  Or perhaps 'Allo 'Allo to explain the role of the Resistance in occupied France?

Owen Jones studied History at Oxford for heaven's sake.

As taxpayers we helped pay for his "glittering prizes" education.

And this is how he repays us.
This idea of giving all United Kingdom taxpayers an itemised receipt for the tax they have paid is excellent:  https://twitter.com/theresecoffey/status/383098375060873216

Presumably only taxpayers will get the receipt.

This could work to the Coalition's advantage in that the more detail given over where taxes are spent the more insistent will be the demands for unnecessary expenditure to be cut.

Bland boxes that just appropriate overall percentages spent on "Police" and "Highways" will be meaningless.

But itemised breakdowns will spur the cuts agenda.

Jim Pickard tells us "Labour has been convulsed with in-fighting..."

And now the anti-Ed Miliband backlash has created a backlash of it's own - this article on the Financial Times website by Jim Pickard tells us "Labour has been convulsed with in-fighting..."

This perpetual oscillation of assertion and condemnation involving high-command honchos, hectoring hacks and diesen heil'gen has-beens can be very bewildering to ordinary members of the public.  How much weight shall we give to Margaret Hodge; has Caroline Flint moved into her post-Blairite self-reinvention; what can we read into Tony Blair's refusal to comment?  It's like the apocryphal story where two work colleagues leaving their company set up e-mail redirects that pinged off each other in a ceaseless interaction until eventually the server crashed.

http://blogs.ft.com/westminster/2013/09/lord-mandelson-comments-prompt-backlash-from-labour-figures/

China and the supposed "golden age"

The Today programme this morning had an interesting discussion on China and the supposed "golden age" immediately after the 1949 revolution.

Both contributors to the discussion agreed that it was only a relative golden age (relative compared to the horrors that went before).

We still know far too little about current affairs in China.

Every week Dateline London discusses the Middle East.  Every single week.  You would think that the Middle East was the only region of the world that mattered.

I would prefer less focus on the Middle East and more awareness of China, India, Brazil and Russia - these are countries that are relevant to the United Kingdom.

"Listed" architects

On the Building Design website is an article on post-war listed buildings by Elizabeth Hopkirk illustrated by a photograph that shows twenty-four of the country's living "listed" architects (the buildings are listed, not the architects).  Only one of the architects is a woman.

Which makes me wonder if brutalist architecture would have taken such a hold in the United Kingdom if the architectural profession had been more gender balanced.

The article quotes Terry Farrell saying:  "“There was a lot of rubbish built in the 1950s. I worked for the LCC and there were far more mistakes made then because people were reinventing without testing. There were an awful lot of flaws — technical as well as social".

http://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/brutalism-was-a-freak-says-architecture-tsar/5061193.article
Nick Faith writes about a new research group to be set up by Policy Exchange:  http://www.conservativehome.com/thinktankcentral/2013/09/from-nickfaith82-why-policy_exchange-is-setting-up-a-black-and-ethnic-minority-unit.html  and also http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/advancedmodules/bme-research

Can I ask who is funding this new unit, who has set the criteria, and what are their motivations for doing so?

And is it a genuine attempt to understand this demographic sector or an exercise in gathering facts and stats to support a thesis that has already been written?

I do not understand why Policy Exchange is respected.  The organisation is associated (in varying ways) with idiot savants such as Danny Finkelstein, Nick Boles and Chris Yiu.  In many ways it is an indication of where things have gone wrong.

It's started...

Former Labour Deputy Prime Minister Peter Mandelson criticises Ed Miliband's speech:  http://news.sky.com/story/1146596/mandelson-criticises-miliband-energy-plan

We are living in a world where the Official Opposition has an Opposition.

Presumably Mr Mandelson will be asked to explain himself on Newsnight this evening.

And also:  http://news.sky.com/story/1146596/mandelson-criticises-miliband-energy-plan (on her Twitter site Diane Abbott MP, a Shadow Public Health Minister, referred to the Mandelson intervention as "The Blairites rattle their chains..." - which suggests that she visualises the Blairites as the ghost of Labour past).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why was Paul Mason doing a report from Athens on Channel 4 News this evening?

He is meant to be Culture correspondent.

Is he now a jack of all trades?

Is Channel 4 run on such a shoe-string that correspondents have to double up?

Is it like that episode of Fawlty Towers where Basil Fawlty appears to be doing all the different jobs in the hotel himself?

Is Paul Mason a Culture correspondent?  Is he a Foreign correspondent?  Does he know how to make a Waldorf salad?

It's started...

Since yesterday afternoon there has been an upbeat mood among lefties following Ed Miliband's great speech.

But now it's started... the Blairite backlash:  http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2013/09/25/milibands-speech-vacating-the-centre-ground/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Fringe meeting

At next week's Conservative Party conference look out for the British Future (sic) fringe meeting:

"At the Conservative conference we are co-hosting an event entitled ‘Future Majority: Can the Conservatives win in a changing Britain?’, with ConservativeHome. Speakers include Margot James MP, Stourbridge; Eric Ollerenshaw MP, Lancaster and Fleetwood; and Alok Sharma MP, Reading West. This event will be chaired by Ian Birrell."

Let us remind ourselves of the premise underlying this meeting:

1  There has been a tremendous influx of "vibrantly diverse" immigrants into the United Kingdom, especially under the last Labour government (whether this influx was legitimate or illegitimate we shall leave on one side for the time being).

2  There is nothing that can be done about this influx.

3  Vibrantly diverse communities vote Labour as they see the Labour Party as protecting the interests of vibrantly diverse people.

4  Vibrantly diverse people hold the balance of power in a significant number of marginal constituencies.

5  The Conservatives will have to wake up to this fact and "attract" vibrantly diverse voters or be consigned to increasing irrelevance as population changes and on-going immigration gives Labour a permanent majority (this has happened in America so the argument goes, and it is happening here).

This is of course a form of blackmail, and giving-in to blackmail is always wrong.  It is also a shameless parade of anti-democratic justification-after-the-event since the arrival of the vibrantly diverse influx was against the wishes of the majority who were not consulted in this re-engineering of the population.  And finally it is a bogus exercise in wish-fulfillment since the Tories can offer all the bribes they like to the vibrantly diverse people they will never vote for them (such is the level of hatred for "Tory scum" stirred up by Labour in the BME communities).

We are of course where we are.

It might be true that immigration has advanced to such a point that it has tipped the balance of power.

However I doubt it.

My thoughts:

Despite Labour's gerrymandering most immigrants are natural Conservatives, and often are not enamoured by the pro-immigration extremists on the left - it is possible that a proportion will vote for us anyway if we leave them alone (whereas overtly attempting to canvass their votes will invite jibes of "coconut" among the left's agitators in the BME communities).

The worst thing we could do is get into a bidding war with Labour over who can buy the BME communities since Labour has no reticence in splurging public money to buy block votes and this is an area where no Conservative would want to go.

The success of UKIP in Labour areas indicates that the Labour Party can potentially lose as many (or more) votes from the white working class as they gain from the BME influx, and by taking a hard line on immigration the Conservative Party can attract these disaffected voters.

In conclusion, it is true that the arrival of the BME influx presents problems for society, but this can best be countered by offering a policy of assimilation to new immigrants (complete assimilation so that new families effectively "disappear" into the population within one generation) as opposed to Labour's failed policy of multi-culturalism and pandering to minorities which has led to isolation, alienation and an inter-communal blame game.

http://www.britishfuture.org/events/
According to the Toronto Star the United Kingdom is expected to be a target for Somali Al Shabab terrorists:  http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/09/24/kenya_mall_attack_the_training_of_a_terrorist.html

In many ways, Somali terrorists are already operating in London - a disproportionate amount of "black on black" violence is initiated by Somalis.

The commanding heights of British industry

Labour MP John McDonnell has just said on his Twitter site:  "If the energy companies cartel pushes up prices before 2015 and try to undermine Labour's price cap, just bring them into public  ownership".

Is it not wonderful to see the Labour Party embracing socialism once again!

State confiscation of land.  State confiscation of corporate profits (and let us not forget that most utilities are effectively owned by pension funds, so a grab of profits will have a direct impact on pensions).  And now Labour stalwart John McDonnell is advocating a programme of nationalisation of the commanding heights of British industry!

Will Ed Miliband be wearing a donkey jacket at Remembrance Sunday next month one wonders.

In any case, if the energy companies were seriously interested in avoiding Labour's price cap all they have to do is lower prices before 2015 so it is no longer an election issue and the Tories get back in.

But sincerely, I am very glad Labour is moving to the left.

Ed Miliband

A good performance from Ed Miliband on the Today programme this morning.

His voice sounded hoarse, which added to the sense of gravitas (normally he seems to be swallowing his words, which always gives the impression that he is nervous and unsure about what he is saying).

"The cost of living crisis" seems to be the ground on which Labour is choosing to fight the next election.

This is a gamble, mainly because the average cost of living is definable in monetary terms and therefore easy to adjust (at least for twenty months or so) through taxes and subsidies.

I am surprised that no-one in the media seems to have picked up on Ed Miliband's statement that David Cameron brought in the "bedroom tax".  It was of course the last Labour government who brought in the "bedroom tax" for housing benefit tenants in the private sector - all the Coalition have done is made the requirement fair across tenants in both private and public housing.  Can someone please ask whether Labour is proposing to abolish the "bedroom tax" in both the private and public sectors? (and if for the private sector housing benefit tenants are they going to apologise for introducing it in the first place?).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bonnie Greer:  "Labour needs to stop treating diverse communities (all of us) like vote fodder".

Ms Greer, if you behave like vote fodder you deserve to be treated like vote fodder.

Labour will never respect you.

They will take your votes and then ignore you.

Even by your own terms of reference Labour is not friendly to the diverse communities (however you are defining that).

Of course, you will have to keep voting for them - you have nowhere else to go given your extreme views on immigration.

But don't kid yourself they respect you.

https://twitter.com/Bonn1eGreer

Something to hide

Channel 4 News tried to ask Gordon Brown about Damian McBride but the former Prime Minister just turned his back and walked away (they showed this on the programme this evening).

He is still paid public money as an MP and should answer questions when they are put to him.

This is an issue of legitimate concern.

Presumably the word has gone out to Labour MPs to ignore any questions on Damian McBride.

As a PR strategy this is misguided.

It just makes them look as if they have something to hide.

He called him David Miliband instead of Ed!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Rafael Behr (writer for the New Statesman) was on the PM programme on BBC Radio 4 early this evening giving us his thoughts on Ed Miliband's speech to the Labour Party conference.

And he called him David Miliband instead of Ed!

How we all laughed! 

If a hardened Labour activist, writing for the most committed Labour mainstream publication in the country gets the Labour leader's name wrong what hope is there for name recognition among the rest of the electorate?

And this is not just an isolated incident - it's happening again and again.

It would be tragic if it wasn't so funny.

Oh, how we all laughed and laughed...


Ed Balls in his speech yesterday seeming to renege on the HS2 project

Much has been made of Ed Balls in his speech yesterday seeming to renege on the HS2 project.

This now provides a window of opportunity for the Conservatives.

We can say that because cross-party consensus has broken down over this expensive long-term project (originally a Labour initiative) we are putting it on hold while Labour makes up its mind.

We can accuse them of dithering, we can accuse them of short-termism, we can accuse them of starting things they are not able to finish, we can accuse them of wasting money on all the initial preparation work, we say same old Labour all talk and no delivery, we can say same old Ed Balls wanting to spend the same money over and over again in a let's pretend game of faux fiscal responsibility.

It will allow us to placate the rebellious Tories in the shires along the HS2 route.

It will allow us to shoot another of Nigel Farage's foxes.

It will loosen up a big pot of money to spend in the pre-election period.

Indeed we can argue it would be irresponsible to go forward with the project and put taxpayers' money at risk when Labour is chopping and changing and saying they might cancel it if they get back into power.

Was Damian McBride a uniquely bad person

Defensive interview by Harriet Harman (Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport) on the Today programme this morning.  Defensive in a different way to Rachel Reeves - Ms Harman was more skilled at stepping sideways, more reasonable in refusing to answer, more sympathetic and helpful in tone while all the time stalling and stonewalling.  But when asked about HS2 she didn't say yes and she didn't say no; when asked about public versus private housebuilding she said on the one hand this but on the other hand that; and nothing (absolutely nothing at all) passed her lips on the subject of Damian McBride so that one wonders if she had told the interviewer she was not answering questions on such a divisive figure.

However the Daily Mail today does have quotes from the Damian McBride memoirs that mention Harriet Harman:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2430226/Damian-McBride-reveals-spread-poison-Harriet-Harman-bottler-David-Miliband.html

The question one is bound to ask is:  was Damian McBride a uniquely bad person, a rotten apple that somehow fell among the wholesome and sweetly aromatic political fruit that was the Labour offering to the public under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown?  Or did the Blair/Brown environment create the conditions in which such evil was able to flourish and if it hadn't been Mr McBride spreading the poison it would have been someone equally as bad?  Indeed, one speculates whether they were all at it - all of them fighting and hating and doing each other down, and Mr McBride just happened to be slightly better at it than all the rest.

There is a serious point to all this.

Damian McBride was not just having a go at Gordon's enemies in the rough and tumble of the political round.

He was undermining Ministers of the Crown, including Secretaries of State and the Prime Minister.

How could they have been doing their jobs properly if they had to fight off internal attacks from the likes of Damian McBride?  Did this inferno of in-fighting have any impact on the efficiency of the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown governments?  Did this screaming, screeching, hate-filled war between the factions directly contribute to the economic collapse the United Kingdom experienced in 2008? (Rachel Reeves said on Newsnight yesterday that the banks were not being monitored properly, and she was gracious enough to apologise for this).

Is it not the case that Damian McBride was guilty (by words from his own mouth) of sedition? (still an offence when Mr McBride was operating - it was not removed from the statute book until 2009).

In a less forgiving age Mr McBride would not be sitting shameless and defiant in a Newsnight studio.

He would have been carted off to Tower Hill and his head would be on the chopping block (perhaps one of the quality newspapers might ask Hilary Mantel to assess Damian McBride from the perspective of the political thugs of the early Tudor period - and I look forward to the London Dungeon including a McBride tableau among their torture scenes and disembowellings).

Monday, September 23, 2013

That Damian McBride is a bad man.

He has done many bad things, some of which are likely to come to the attention of the police.

Rachel Reeves looked very defensive on Channel 4 News this evening

Shadow Treasury Chief Secretary Rachel Reeves looked very defensive on Channel 4 News this evening.  Asked several times by Cathy Newman about key aspects of Labour's economic record she just repeated mantras like a devotee at a Labour themed ashram.  She was also very uncomfortable at being asked about the Damian McBride horrors.

Some of the McBride outrages were recreated by Paul Mason in what must have been his first report as Channel 4 News "cultural" correspondent.  We saw furniture violently thrown about, a good deal of kicking, a wastebin hurled across a room.  Was this the sort of treatment meted out to ordinary office staff who roused the ire of Gordon Brown? (and not relevant to McBride, but I have always wondered what happened to the hapless "Sue" who set up the Gordon Brown / Gillian Duffy interview - can you imagine the temper tantrum she would have had to face).

Damian McBride will be interviewed on Newsnight this evening and I would imagine everyone who has ever had to face an office bully will be watching.

The available jobs that David Lammy is referring to

"Politicians have to be honest about fact that large numbers of people in the UK don't want to do some of the jobs available" David Lammy has told the Labour conference.

We have just under two and a half million people on unemployment benefit.

The Job Centre Plus network needs to direct individuals on unemployment benefit to the available jobs that David Lammy is referring to.  If the individuals refuse to do the jobs the benefit(s) should be suspended or stopped altogether.  "No work, no food" as they used to say in socialist Russia.

This is also the answer to the "we need millions of Bulgarians" argument written about by Daniel Boffey in yesterday's Observer:  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/sep/21/bulgaria-uk-migrants-agriculture-benefit-tourism   

A titillating piece of nonsense

Totally bizarre review of a soap opera by Owen Jones, one of the left's supposed rising stars:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/review-downton-abbey-season-4-premiere--a-fascinating-insight-into-the-quiet-violence-of-the-class-system-8833120.html

Downton Abbey is an anachronistic work of fiction, written and produced by people who have no first-hand knowledge of the period in question.

It is a titillating piece of nonsense filled with errors, modernisms and highly fanciful scenarios.

For an Independent writer to take this rubbish seriously makes one wonder whether dumbing-down is adequate as a descriptor.

What next one wonders?

Steve Richards using Hollyoaks as a guide to the way we live now?

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown drawing sociological insights from the latest X-Factor?

When the Independent starts dropping its standards one fears for the future of the media.
"For a Prime Minister, his towel is surprisingly small" jeers Ed Balls in a return to macho politics.

Mr Balls ought to be advised that the Prime Minister has nothing to hide from the British people unlike the cover-ups, boastings and whopping exaggerations of the Labour party.
"If you push up housing demand without housing supply, prices go up and up and first time buyers struggle" Ed Balls tells the Labour Party conference.

Actually he should be honest enough to say if you push up immigration without housing supply, prices go up and up and first time buyers struggle.

The Labour Party DID abase itself

According to Len McCluskey "You should never ever try to appease the right wing media. To do so demeans you and our party".

The chutzpah of the left's collective amnesia is astonishing.

Does Len McCluskey not recall Tony Blair's co-opting of the Murdoch press?

Or Gordon Brown's courting of Paul Dacre and the Daily Mail?

This was when Unite was (and is) the Labour Party's chief source of finance.

Or perhaps Len McCluskey is being astonishingly candid with this statement.  Perhaps he is warning us from bitter experience that the Labour Party has abased itself in the past and should not do so in the future.  This would at least be honest of him.

For the Labour Party DID abase itself under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.  It abandoned every pretence of honesty and decency and legality to get itself into power and keep itself in power.  And then once in power dithered with indecision, not knowing what it wanted to do.

Experienced at what?

Steve Richards (Independent newspaper) said on the Today programme this morning that Ed Miliband was the most experienced Opposition leader of the post-war period.

Much as I like Ed Miliband I am bound to ask experienced at what?

Experienced at helping to run the country into the rocks financially?  Experienced at helping to spend all the money raised during the boomtime, and then helping to borrow even more?  Experienced at helping to promulgate a "no more boom and bust" policy that led to the biggest bust in history?  Experienced in helping to run a covert open door immigration policy that has shocked everyone who has considered the implications of what Labour has done?  Experienced at facilitating the unilateral signing of the Lisbon Treaty without the democratic endorsement of the referendum promised in the Labour manifesto?  Experienced at looking the other way and pretending not to notice while Damian McBride intimidated, persecuted and bullied colleagues in a farcical reprise of the career of Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria?

Ed Miliband is good news for the Labour party in terms of the intellectual reinvention of socialism, but this will not be ready for 2015.  To rush things now will risk the whole of the Miliband project falling into désuétude.  His value now is to make his party realise that they are at year zero and must forget all that went before in the diastrous Blair/Brown era.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A strange sort of autumn

Today has been hot.  Uncomfortably hot.  Made all the more uncomfortable because the central heating has been on.

It is a strange sort of autumn we are having.  The trees are still green.  It is as if summer is still here, but without the sun.


















Above:  the branches of the plum tree are pulled down by the ripe fruit.


















Above:  the young rowan tree is covered in berries.




















Above:  the apples trees are weighted down over the fence with their autumn bounty.















Above:  the horses look inquisitively as I walk along the lane.

The air is still but warm.

The sound of the summer songbirds has gone.

Nothing in all this peace and plenty indicates that winter is coming to meet us.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Perhaps I worry too much - the past week at work

Monday

A cup of coffee at my desk as I went over the Technology paper I am working on.  I have to admit that I am not very interested in science and technology and I find gadgets boring.  And yet "gadgets" are what young consumers apparently want - is it possible we can become a gadget-producing economy supplying China (where the market for gadgets is huge) with electronic distractions?

E-mail exchanges with friends, and far too much time spent idling on Amazon.  This sort of laziness was not possible when Vijay Singh was Director.  There simply wasn't the time.

Head Office contacted me asking if I wanted to go on a research "mission" but I turned it down as it would mean staying away over Sunday and Monday. 

Tuesday

I have been asked to write a section of a supplement, and have been struggling over it for a couple of weeks.  Today I tried writing the information as a fictional short story and it seemed to work.  I'm actually getting paid for this one, which is nice.  Over three thousand words.  I drank mineral water instead of coffee, skipped lunch and tried to ignore interruptions from 'phone calls and visitors.  Although I worked at great speed I was pleased with the final result.

Callum Smith, our Director, was in the office today but he just sat in the Director's suite without calling any meetings or issuing instructions.  Perhaps he is over-awed by his new role.  Tensions and bickering among some of the staff which he does nothing about.

I did some preparation for my visit to Head Office tomorrow, not wanting to be criticised for anything I have not thought through.  Perhaps I worry too much and brood over things that might go wrong.  Head Office is Darwinian in the way office politics is practised.

Wednesday

Usual difficulty over finding a parking place at the station car park.  I got on a slow train, and with delays it took nearly two hours to get to London.  I read briefing papers and then the Guardian.

At Head Office I met Kirsty W and Mary McF and we went over the PR for the conference event.  We were supposed to be just adding the finishing touches, but actually they have done hardly any work on the event.  I made careful notes as they are very adept at blaming others for things they have not done.

To Accounts on the third floor to collect papers to take back to the Institute.

Thursday

All the computers were down when I arrived at the office this morning, which meant that the whole morning was more or less wasted.

A new member of staff from Head Office was at the Institute as part of his induction.  He just talked and talked and talked, all endless self-important babble.  I found an excuse to go down to the Reading Room to get away from him.  
 
Friday

Hardly anyone in the office today, which made things very quiet.

Research on housing, which was boring.

An e-mail from Mary McF at Head Office full of weasel words about the conference event.  She is so lazy and ineffective.  And yet it is very difficult to catch her out.

Called into his office by Callum Smith for a confidential briefing ("Let me close the door before I tell you...").

Ed Miliband is racist






Is Labour student activist Tom King really saying that Ed Miliband is racist?

Or is this a textbook example of how the racist slur is used to close down debate?

On the eve of the Labour Party conference this sort of comment is unhelpful to the Labour leader.

Tom King is LGBTQ Officer at the School of Oriental and African Studies Student Union (University of London) and Wyre Forest Labour's Youth Officer.

https://twitter.com/tomilo
On the eve of the Labour Party conference this research was interesting:  http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2013/09/21/exclusive-uncut-poll-over-1-in-4-2010-lab-voters-have-been-lost-here%E2%80%99s-what-can-be-done-to-win-them-back/

"Out of Labour’s lost 2010 voters, almost 1 in 5 are now supporting the Conservatives (18%)."
On the eve of the Labour Party conference I switched on BBC News 24 at midday today.

Maxine Mawhinney told us we were going live to Brighton to see David Miliband's arrival - then hurriedly corrected herself and said Ed Miliband.

If one of the most experienced news readers in the world's most prestigious and well-informed news organisation is struggling over identifying the correct name of the Labour leader what hope is there for the ordinary electorate?

Friday, September 20, 2013

A village in Tibet

Corby council has adopted a village in Tibet and is encouraging other councils to do the same.

Does the BBC have a correspondent in Tibet?

We hardly see any reports from the area.

http://www.tibetsociety.com/content/view/422
If it is the case that Gordon Brown lied to the Leveson Inquiry when on oath he must be prosecuted for perjury.

There must be no fudging this issue.

Perjurers must go to gaol.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/10322367/I-destroyed-careers-of-Blairs-ministers-admits-former-Brown-aide-Damian-McBride.html

The Damian McBride revelations

The Today programme discussed the Damian McBride revelations this morning.

The deliberate subverting of elected parliamentarians and members of the then government is so serious that I think we must insist that the Labour party acts to put its house in order.

Can we have an assurance from the Labour leadership that everyone actively involved in Mr McBride's shenanigans will have the Labour whip removed and be ejected from the Labour party?

This must apply to everyone involved, including former Prime Ministers.

This is not just an historical matter - it is of direct relevance to the functioning of democracy.

The rotten apples must be thrown out.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fascinating preview of the Damian McBride book on Newsnight this evening.

Jon Snow approaches a child and asks...

I know Channel 4 News is supposed to be "daring" but I was shocked to see an item this evening filmed in a Stoke Newington school in which Jon Snow approaches a child and asks "Have you looked at porn on the internet?"

The child (Jamie), who only looked about twelve or thirteen, was so surprised to be asked such a thing that he could hardly speak and barely managed to stutter out a denial.

Is it acceptable for adults to ask young children about their sexual behaviour?  Is this not prurience bordering on corruption of a minor?  What if the child had blurted out "yes" - would he not be humiliated on national television before his fellow school-children, teachers and parents?

Am I alone in thinking adults have a duty to preserve the innocence of children?

Whatever we might think of Jon Snow, he is a person of some status.  Channel 4, for all its avant garde posing, is a national institution.  Will perverted adults use the excuse that because Jon Snow asked a young teenager about their sexual habits that they are entitled to do the same without falling foul of the law?

Jon Snow has form in this area.  On 11th December 2012 he asked two young girls about their sexual behaviour (http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/did-you-like-what-you-saw.html ).  One more incident like this and I think we will be justified in calling him a dirty old man.

http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/
I am disgusted by the badger cull and I want it to stop.

http://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/ruralpolicing/Badgers/item32988.html

Perhaps "Bidisha" will forgive me if I slightly rewrite her sentence

"Bidisha" (real name Bidisha Shonar Koli Mamata) uses a discussion about the Booker prize to promulgate her own views on immigration, identity and diversity (while at the same time hypocritically saying the discussion is not about immigration, identity and diversity).

She writes, with self-confessed "venom":  "Critics and snipers have a choice: embrace change or fear it; go with the future world or whinge at home in crabby insularity; welcome others with grace or ostracise them with bitterness; step up your game or get off the pitch; get with the programme or get left behind."

This is of course only a partial version of the choices on offer.

Perhaps "Bidisha" will forgive me if I slightly rewrite her sentence:

Critics and snipers have a choice: embrace change or fear it or insist that democracy and the rights of the majority are recognised; go with the future world or whinge at home in crabby insularity or insist that democracy and the rights of the majority are recognised; welcome others with grace or ostracise them with bitterness or insist that democracy and the rights of the majority are recognised; step up your game or get off the pitch or insist that democracy and the rights of the majority are recognised; get with the programme or get left behind or insist that democracy and the rights of the majority are recognised.

Not everyone is a fan of vibrant diversity.  This is a massive social change that has been imposed against the wishes of the majority in the United Kingdom.  It is a sad day when an established institution such as the Booker Prize falls prey to the diversity re-engineering of society against the wishes of the majority.

I am someone who reads a lot of books (a LOT of books).

But I will not be reading anything that wins the Booker prize or appears on the Shortlist.

I hope others will join me in this boycott (in any case it is much better to go to a good bookshop and choose for yourself rather than rely on the Booker gatekeepers to filter things into an approved diversity canon).

http://bidisha-online.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-man-booker-raised-and-transformed.html?spref=tw

Why is Emily Maitlis interviewing Usain Bolt for Newsnight?

Is the programme changing from news and current affairs to more of a Hello magazine celebrity format?

Why do you think socialism means a return to the Victorian era...



















"Why do you think socialism means a return to the Victorian era with ad hoc charity? Why such stupid, stupid comments?" asks Owen Jones on his Twitter page decorated with a sepia photograph of workers in flatcaps bearing placards from ninety years ago.

https://twitter.com/OwenJones84
Interesting and balanced article by Colin Kidd (discussing the work of Paul Collier) in the Guardian:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/19/exodus-immigration-paul-collier-review?CMP=twt_gu

Seldom has immigration been discussed in the Guardian in such a sane and reasonable way.
I am not particularly bothered about the cultural wearing of the niqab but thinking aloud I have the following questions:

Do driving test centres allow women to take the driving test wearing the niqab and if so, how do they identify that the person is who they say they are?

Do universities allow women to sit examinations wearing the niqab and if so, how do they identify that the person is who they say they are?

Do employment agencies (who are supposed to check that applicants have the right to work in the United Kingdom, usually by looking at the applicant's passport) allow applications by women wearing the niqab, and if so how do they identify that the person is who they say they are?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"Promoting diversity" in an on-going campaign

Head of the Home Civil Service Bob Kerslake writes that the Civil Service is "promoting diversity" in an on-going campaign:  http://my.civilservice.gov.uk/blog/2013/09/opportunities-for-all/

Look carefully beneath the bland reassuring words.

What he is proposing is that civil servants, including those who hold great administrative power, are being chosen on criteria other than merit ("visibly champion the success of under-represented elements of our workforce").

We know (because commentators such as Mehdi Hasan, Sunny Hundal and Sunder Katwala whoop and cheer about it) that BME people in the United Kingdom are, by a large majority, likely to vote Labour and favour quasi-socialist policies.  Are we happy about the entrenchment in the supposedly impartial Civil Service of a pro-Labour lobby?  Does this not undermine the credibility of the Civil Service?

We need more Civil Service senior managers with real delivery and operational experience rather than appointments made on the spurious grounds of "vibrant diversity".

Migrants are less likely to feel happy or experience enjoyment

Predictably rose-tinted view of north-north migration by pro-migration lobbyist (masquerading as a "researcher") Alex Glennie:  http://britishinfluence.org/point-view-costs-reducing-eu-migration-uk-must-weighed-benefits/

The article is a heavily-disguised frightener - if we curtail EU migration we will face all sort of dire consequences including acute labour shortages, vastly more dependents to support and higher taxes all round.

She gets round the difficulty of supplying evidence for her assertions by calling the piece a "Point Of View".

If Ms Glennie can find time from her view-spouting she might care to read the World Migration Report 2013 – Migrant Well-being and Development just published by the International Organization for Migration.

She would then see that "Migrants are less likely to feel happy or experience enjoyment, compared to the native-born" and that the consumerist model of society is leading to alienation and unhappiness, even when migrants see an economic improvement in their material condition.

This is of course so obvious that many commentators miss it.

Initially people in less developed parts of the world want to migrate to the west thinking that the better economic conditions will improve their life and opportunities.  Compared to their country of origin this is right - an unskilled worker in London will earn more than a professional worker in Bulgaria (assuming that the professional can find work in Bulgaria in the first place).  However once the migrant is in the United Kingdom he/she will immediately be surrounded by consumerist ideology and will experience feelings of inadequacy that cannot be satisfied on the low incomes that are available to migrants (and even if they improve their incomes only a tiny few will ever achieve the nirvana of materialist consumerist satisfaction).

Migration is a rotten way to solve the world's problems.  It damages the societies in destination countries, it damages the societies in countries of origin, it damages the migrants themselves.  It is also an extremely expensive and wasteful way of improving human happiness compared to the alternatives.

http://www.iom.int/cms/wmr2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I am watching the Scottish debate on Newsnight.
Canada and the First World War to be the theme for the 2014 Colonel Douglas H. Gunter History Awards:  http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/09/16/canada-and-the-first-world-war-to-be-the-theme-for-the-2014-colonel-douglas-h-gunter-history-awards/

What proportion of the current Canadian population is descended from a participant in the Great War?

I'm afraid all I know of Canada's participation in the conflict is Vimy Ridge and the Peace Tower in Ottawa (two members of my family died in the battle of Arras, and were younger than I am now).

It says a lot about the moribund state of the Labour Party that the most exciting event at their conference is likely to be the Fabian fringe meeting with Lord Ashcroft.

Society breakdown comes at a cost

One cannot help noticing that the three most horrific murders of small children by those supposed to be caring for them are from various "communities" within our (now officially defunct) multi-cultural society.

Victoria Climbie was from the African diaspora, Peter Connelly, judging by surname evidence, must be from the Irish diaspora and Daniel Pelka was from the recent Polish wave of migrants (lauded earlier today by Jonathan Portes as "helping to reduce deficits").

One hesitates to comment on such tragic cases.

But is it not obvious that the globalised movement of labour, in which individuals are treated as mere economic units of no intrinsic value, is going to result in casualties?

Society breakdown comes at a cost.

Four muslim-themed items was excessive

Yesterday's PM programme on BBC Radio 4 had no less than four muslim-themed stories yesterday - the muslim veil controversy, a sportswoman who performed a multi-sport wearing full muslim garb, the shooting of a muslim policewoman in Afghanistan, and a "postcard" from Syria.

Obviously some of these are genuine news stories, and the muslim veil controversy and perhaps one other muslim-themed story would have been legitimate.

But to have four muslim-themed items was excessive.  The muslim sports garb item went on for ages and was just drivel (the sportswoman was actually telling the interviewer "It's no big deal" and yet still it went on and on and on).  When the Syria "postcard" came on I was thinking:  enough of these muslim people, I don't want to hear any more about them, I'm sorry about the Syrians but my sympathy is all used up and now I just want them to go away.

I was driving home at the time and so I was effectively trapped in my car and there was no real alternative to Radio 4 unless I switched to a music channel.

Who was responsible for putting all these muslim-themed items on a state-financed radio station?

Are they working to some kind of agenda we are not aware of?

Ambushed on Channel 4 News

Naomi Campbell was ambushed on Channel 4 News.

In an interview that was ostensibly about diversity in the fashion industry the interviewer goaded her about her relationship with an African dictator, and even managed to insinuate the model was an angry black woman ("It's not about me being an angry black woman" she said indignantly).

Presumably Channel 4 wanted to provoke her into perhaps throwing her mobile phone at the interviewer and walking off.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The involvement of non-white "colonial" participants in the Great War is problematic

Operation Black Vote draws our attention to a new play at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham:  http://www.charlesthelastblacksoldier.djmrp.com/

Entitled The Last Black Soldier Of World War One!! the theme is the involvement of BME people in the Great War (a subject also referred to by the thinktank British Future in their paper on the commemoration of the Great War http://www.britishfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/BRF_Declaration-of-war-report_P2_Web-1.pdf ).

However the involvement of non-white "colonial" participants in the Great War is problematic for BME communities in the United Kingdom (and also the successor states in former imperial and colonial territories).

Let us leave on one side the possible fate of colonial subjects had Germany won the war (although the Herero experience in German South West Africa might indicate the likely course of events).

Let us also leave on one side the issue that the non-white participants in the Great War may not match the non-white people who subsequently came to the United Kingdom post-1945.

The main problem for those arguing that participation by "colonials" in the Great War somehow contributes towards the validity of the United Kingdom's current "vibrantly diverse population"  is the motivation of the colonial soldiers themselves.

There were no conscripts among non-white colonials during the Great War, they were all volunteers.

Therefore we must ask why they volunteered.

This broadly divides into two main reasons:  they were either mercenaries who saw the British armed forces as a source of secure employment; or they were sincere imperialists who believed in British imperialism and wanted to defend it.

The vague idea that the non-white participants were somehow simply doing the rest of us a favour by joining in the war does not stand up to serious scrutiny.

Both the Mercenary Narrative and the Imperialist Narrative cause problems for the BME communities in the United Kingdom in terms of legacy claims.

If they were mercenaries, then their contribution is obviously devalued.  One appreciates (a century later) their efforts but they knew what they were getting into and they were paid for what they did.  End of story.

If they were sincere imperialists, sincerely fighting for the British Empire, then this obviously undermines the narrative that colonial populations were enslaved and oppressed and are owed reparations by the British state and that BME people in the United Kingdom today are still oppressed and require affirmative action.  And if they were sincere imperialists then their imperialist motivation needs to be recognised and (dare I say it) celebrated.  We need a memorial to the BME imperialists - I would subscribe financially to this.

As Gary Younge is fond of saying:  time to own your own history
Synopsis of a special issue of Identities. Global Studies in Power and Culture entitled 'Ethnography, diversity, and urban change' co-edited by Mette Louise Berg, Ben Gidley, and Nando Sigona: http://nandosigona.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/the-diversity-turn/

It looks interesting, but I wonder how valid the conclusions are.

For instance, Nando Sigona refers to "a new arena for diversity, namely the provincial English city of Peterborough" as if that urban area was a haunt of ancient peace like Winchester or Salisbury instead of being a planned New Town with complex social problems (indeed, social problems that result from the original New Town planning).

I wonder if the authors of this section (Ben Rogaly and Kaveri Qureshi) bothered to talk to Stewart Jackson MP?
In an article for the Independent Owen Jones is highly critical of Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umuna:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/labours-plan-to-eject-squatters-wont-fix-britains-broken-housing-system-8817978.html

"Labour now have more detailed policies on kicking people out of homes than putting people into them" Mr Jones writes.

One week before the Labour party conference this is not good for the left.
Apparently Vince Cable IS now attending the Economy debate at the Liberal Democrat conference at Glasgow (he had been indulging in an Achilles-like sulk after a row with the leadership).

On the Today programme his leader Nick Clegg had told us "I don't run a boot camp", referring to Mr Cable's planned non-appearance.

I suppose this demonstrates the power of the Today programme.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ornamental ducks swam on the lakes

Sunday afternoon, and one of those days in the year when normally inaccessible places are open for a few hours.

I drove about thirty miles to a hilly part of the county, upwards on a narrow lane that went along a high ridge, although the thick trees either side masked the view.  Eventually I turned off into a private estate, over juddering cattle grids, ever upwards.  As I reached the summit the bucketing rain came to a stop although when I stepped out of my car the wind nearly blew me away.















Above:  The park is exquisite, although perhaps my photograph does not do it justice.  Eighteenth-century hall, ornamental lakes, fine trees.  It was made more romantic by the fierce, but mild, wind that was blowing.
















Above:  Behind me was the Palladian church, obviously built in such an impractical position to enhance the view from the hall.















Above:  inside the interior is more or less untouched.  Early eighteenth-century woodwork including these communion rails.  The nave filled with box pews.















Above:  beautiful plasterwork on the ceiling.




















Above:  the pulpit is this incredible towering construction.  Few seeing this could doubt the emphasis placed upon The Word.  Everything in the church was well kept.















Above:  hatchments were displayed on the gallery at the west end.  If you look closely at this coat of arms (you might need to click on the image to enlarge it) you can see that it includes heraldic ducks.  Ornamental ducks swam on the lakes below.















Above:  these cattle grazing peacefully belie the gale that was blowing - exhilarating but also alarming, and threatening at any moment to bring back the rain.

















Above:  I stopped to have a closer look at the house.  Supposedly 1720s.  Doric entrance but otherwise rather plain.  Flemish bond brickwork.  The park taken right up to the house, with no suggestion of a garden.  Brick pediment with a little stone.


All the Conservatives need to do in 2015 is get twenty more seats.

That's all they have to do.

Ian Jack on the commemoration of the First World War















Article in Saturday's Guardian by Ian Jack on the commemoration of the First World War:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/13/century-first-world-war-narratives?CMP=twt_gu

In the article he writes "the wonder is that an official narrative still exists".

Anyone who is in any doubt about this narrative simply has to look at the words carved on the Cenotaph - The Glorious Dead - honoured by the nation each November (and broadcast live on national television).

No amount of mischief-making contrarian history by the late Alan Clark, or miserablist hand-wringing by lefties afraid of the power of national sacrifice, or simple ignorance by younger generations failed by a dumbed-down education system is going to alter that fact.

The British dead of the Great War are glorious (and that includes three members of my own family).

In a way, I think that was what Ian Jack was also trying to say in his article although he seemed to feel obligated to provide a counter-point of anecdotes about Clydeside socialists.

We could have lost that war, but we didn't.  We won it because of the glorious dead.  That is the narrative, and that is what we are commemorating.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is it not amusing to see our enemies feting the Lord Ashcroft research in marginal seats.

Are they really so naive?

Perhaps they think Lord Ashcroft is doing them a favour, that it is all impartial, that they are being given the full story.

The muse came to me - the past week at work

Monday

The weather has become cold, and driving to work I noticed the pedestrians were all wearing coats.

Lots of people in the office today, so that there was a lot of noise.

All the day I worked on the Resource Pack which is to go out to supporters (we are giving it away free, although the unit cost is quite expensive). 

Gavin (assistant in the Reading Room) back from holiday, complaining about running out of money in the last couple of days and having to scrounge to get enough to eat (in Ibiza).

Tuesday

More work on the Resource Pack including briefing the designer (Joey). 

A request for marketing assistance from Peter Whitgift at our Birmingham office.  I found this interesting since rumours indicate that the Birmingham office is to be cut adrift from the Institute.  Or perhaps it is the Institute that is being cut adrift?

Wednesday

Everyone in the office seemed to be idle today.  Callum Smith (Director) is a poor leader.  Others seem to have noticed this, and there are hints that he may be replaced.

A meeting in the afternoon with Tim Watts (Innovation) to look at research on the impact of technology on society.

Then I had to write an article for a magazine very specialist and low circulation so that I had not given it priority until it was pointed out to me that Alec Nussbaum was on the Editorial Board.  The deadline was at 4pm and I began to think I had left things too late.  But as I worked the muse came to me and it was all done in time.

Thursday

All of the day spent on interviews.  It has been quite a while since I have done a full day of face to face research.  There is no substitute for this - it makes your arguments unassailable.

Friday

The morning spent dealing with amendments to the Resources Pack (it is a joint project with Head Office, so lots of people have to see the drafts and all of them want to put their mark on it).

Tensions between Finance and Admin that almost became an open row.
"Lost" clip from the horror film The Wicker Man:  http://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2013/sep/13/wicker-man-lost-clip-video

I think a lot of the creepiness of the film is due to the 1970s decor, clothes, hairstyles etc.

Whenever I see the '70s in film and photographs I shudder involuntarily.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I'm sorry to see that Melanie Phillips is leaving the Daily Mail.

An interesting and original writer capable of very profound analysis.

Even if you do not agree with her on a particular issue, she would always make you think.

The idea that MPs should use public money to employ their relatives absolutely stinks

The problem with MPs employing their relatives (as highlighted on the Today programme this morning) is that the recruitment process cannot be open and transparent.

As MPs are spending public money on these employees they must not employ their relatives.

Imagine an NHS surgeon who insisted on his/her operating team being relatives.  Who insisted that they were the best people for the job for no other reason than because he/she said so.  Imagine the anaesthetist on that team justifying her employment because she lives with the surgeon and so they they can adjust to the odd hours surgeons are required to work.

You would run a mile from such a surgeon!

Imagine a teacher who insisted that classroom assistants and relief staff were all relatives.  Imagine one of those classroom assistants telling us they didn't feel they had to justify their employment because they had been employed over thirty years ago and anyway they had to work somewhere.  Imagine the teacher justifying these employment relationships because they can talk about work in the evenings and on the commute to work.

Such a teacher would rightly get a boot up his/her backside.

The idea that MPs should use public money to employ their relatives absolutely stinks.

Where are the open and transparent recruitment processes?  Where are the annual appraisals?  Where are the regular audit surveys that assure us that public money is being expended in the best possible way?

The idea that MPs should use public money to employ their relatives absolutely stinks.

More job opportunities for women

The ending of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme is good news for feminism.

Of course the farmers and large-scale agri-business operations will complain.  Over the last decade they have had via agencies an endless supply of immigrant field workers who are compliant, undemanding and easily disposable.  From an employer's perspective what's not to like?

Now the farmers will have to recruit seasonal workers locally.  They will have to rebuild their networks, make sure the recruits are reasonably well cared for, even (shrieks from the farmers) pay them a bit more.  The result will be villages that are more socially cohesive, where more money is kept in the local economy, where there are more job opportunities for local people.

Not least more job opportunities for women, since seasonal agricultural work was traditionally taken up by women supplementing their household income with part-time and temporary seasonal jobs.  With the introduction of the agency system supplying cheapo immigrants these local jobs for women almost totally disappeared.  The impact on the rural economy has been devastating.

No doubt desk-bound townies will chunter on about these not being desirable jobs for women.  And as things stand they would be right - agency staff are treated appallingly.  But the work itself is quite pleasant - as a child in Norfolk I joined neighbours in picking carrots for two summers and completely enjoyed it (everyone was in the open air each day, everyone got to know everyone else, even ten-year-old children like myself could earn the going rate for each sack of carrots picked).

And the ending of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme will mean the relationship between employer and employee will have to change. 

At the moment, if a farmer does not like a bolshie immigrant field worker he/she can just say to the agency "I don't want that person back" and the worker simply disappears.  With local people that is less easy, even if they are recruited via the gang system.  If the farmer in Elm Tree Farm upsets one of the workers on his fields he will have to live with the consequences as that worker probably lives in the row of cottages in Elm Tree Lane and her husband drinks at The Elms pub and her kid sister works at the Elm Stores and Off-Licence. 

You can be a bad employer in the anonymity of the city.  You can be a bad employer when you are using cheapo throwaway immigrant labour.  You can't be a bad employer when everyone knows who you are and where you live, and your children go to the local school, and your wife uses the local hairdresser etc.

More:  http://news.migrationwatch.org.uk/

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The far land is ethereal and translucent

















Driving between appointments this afternoon I had to stop the car and look at the landscape.

It was an entrancing vision of subtle greys and browns.

The square shapes are straw stacks.

The far land is ethereal and translucent.

I have seldom seen the land look so beautiful.

Auto-renewal scam

Is it not the case that the "auto renewal" of car insurance is a mis-selling scandal?

Unsolicited insurance documents are sent to people with (often in small print) the message "you must tell us if you don't want this" and a ridiculously short window to respond.

The language used is bullying in tone, implying that you are somehow at fault of the law and will be reported to the police if you do not renew.

If by mischance you happen to go over the arbitrary deadline they have designated (in small print) for telling them you do not want the insurance you are charged a cancellation fee of up to £50.

It seems astonishing that the financial services industry (in this case the insurance companies) has not learned its lesson.

This auto-renewal scam needs to be stopped and the insurance companies ordered to pay compensation to those people it has duped into taking out expensive insurance that is not appropriate for their circumstances.

Perhaps Louise Ellman MP and the Transport Select Committee could look at this?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Raquel Rolnik
















Deposit left by a passing horse.

This reminded me of the witterings of United Nations "Investigator" Raquel Rolnik.
The mistake Suzanne Moore makes in this article about class for the Guardian is in assuming that "working-class" equates a "collective" ideology (ie lefty to Labour supporting).

The working-class has always contained a very substantial number of Tory voters.

The trade unions have always contained a very substantial number of Tory voters.

Mrs Thatcher's vast majorities in the 1980s would not have been possible without working class support.

Indeed, Margaret Thatcher is an example of a party being swept to power by the working class, exactly in the way that Suzanne Moore yearns for.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/11/what-happened-to-class-action

When William Came by Saki (HH Munro)
















I have just finished reading When William Came by Saki (HH Munro).

The novel was written in 1913 and predicts a war between the United Kingdom and Germany which the Germans win.  The prediction of a blitzkrieg subjugation of a great power in only a few weeks was astonishingly accurate, except that it happened to France in 1940 rather than to us in 1914.  The book deals with the aftermath of such an invasion and the choices faced by the population:  exile, resistance, or collaboration.

The book was written by Saki to warn of the military build-up in Germany and the necessity for the United Kingdom to prepare for it ("Beat your sword into a ploughshare if you like, but beat your enemy into smithereens first"). 

Sake is also concerned about the issues of degeneracy in the population ("the natural transition of the unathletic boy into the podgy unhealthy-looking man...") and effeminacy ("One gets tired of everything, said Plarsey with a fat little sigh of resignation, I can't tell you how tired I am of Rubenstein and one day I suppose I shall be tired of Mozart and violette de Parme and rosewood.  I never thought it possible that I could ever tire of jonquils, and now I simply won't have one in the house...")

The United Kingdom is jeered at as a nation of shopkeepers that is no longer a nation.

Foreigners are everywhere, and without a fight seem to have taken over the country.

A few pockets of resistance remain, and there is a vivid description of Torywood, a great country house where the old allegiances are still maintained.

HH Munro died fighting in the First World War, and it is interesting to speculate how he would have developed as a writer had he lived.  He believed in the cause he was fighting and he died for it.  We should respect his beliefs (and those of many thousands of other casualties who thought the same) and not trivialise their experience with rubbish interpretations of history such as Wipers Times and Chickens.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rape

Commenting on this article in the Guardian Bidisha tells us:  "Nearly quarter of men in Asia-Pacific admit to committing rape".

What happens to these people if they migrate to the United Kingdom?

Do they remain rapists, or do they become infused with liberal sensitivity and reform their ways?

Given that the 2011 census tells us there are over four million south Asians in the United Kingdom, and given that this survey indicates a quarter of them will have committed rape, is it possible that we have imported a million rapists into the country?

Who is responsible for this? (I mean who exactly - names of politicians and civil servants and facilitators).

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/10/asia-pacific-rape-survey?CMP=twt_gu
What a disappointing TUC conference this is proving to be.

Ed Miliband's speech so discrete it qualifies for a boring-snoring award from Newsnight.

There's been no booing.

And ASLEF have withdrawn their motion to expel (and presumably disembowel) the thinktank Progress.

Is no-one going to be denounced?

Are there to be no show-trials?

Have all the ice picks been banned by Health & Safety regulations?
When I read that Bidesha had welcomed the Booker Short List as "stunning" and "diverse" I'm afraid the thought went through my mind:  what politically correct crap is being served up to us now.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24029748

Monday, September 09, 2013


















So much rain the bucket is overflowing.

The clinging moss is refreshed.

The dry earth is doused freely.

The left-wing hierarchy of ologies

The Voice has this article on the experiences of the LGBT community in Jamaica, which includes oppression, attacks and murder:  http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/protesters-call-jamaica-improve-record-gay-rights

British Caribbean-heritage LGBT campaigners are calling on Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller to take action.

Have Diane Abbott MP and Lady Doreen Lawrence, both members of the British legislature, added their voices to this campaign?

Perhaps Independent journalist and gay rights campaigner Owen Jones can intervene with these two leading Jamaican-heritage women and persuade them to do something? 

He must know Ms Abbott and Lady Lawrence quite well as all three of them went to Venezuela together as official elections observers. 

Or perhaps these two women are not interested in the rights of their fellow Jamaican LGBT people?

In the left-wing hierarchy of ologies does race "liberation" trump sexual orientation "liberation"?

To paraphrase Enoch Powell, does the black heterosexual man have the whip hand over the Jamaican-heritage LGBT community?
This article in the Express by Patrick O'Flynn is alarming:  http://www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/patrick-o-flynn/427562/The-floodgates-are-back-open

The renegotiations with the EU will have to include the ending of the automatic right of entry to the United Kingdom.

Otherwise we must leave the EU.

Dr. David Wilkinson FRAS, Principal of St. John's College, University of Durham

Dr David Wilkinson FRAS, Principal of St. John's College, University of Durham used Thought for the Day on the Today programme to talk about the Lindisfarne Gospels as a symbol of identity based on diversity (Celtic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon art intertwined).

Cultural synthesis is one way of defining a national identity.

However British identity has always been defined primarily as relating to a society based upon democracy.

Take away democracy and British national identity becomes just a sham and a mish mash of tropes.

Therefore the challenge faced by the advocates of "vibrant diversity" is how do you square the "vibrantly diverse" national identity you champion with the fundamental British national identity of a society committed to democracy?

Because majority opinion has always opposed immigration (and opposed it by a big margin).

You can either have diversity or you can have democracy, but you can't have both (not while public opinion continues to be opposed to immigration).

Unless Dr Wilkinson you intend to join the large number of public figures telling lies on this subject.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sunflower harvest
















The annual sunflower harvest is underway in the county.  I found these towering but spindly examples on the edge of a field.  I think they had been left because the flowers were too small.
















Potted sunflowers decorating the church porch before morning service.  Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are an American plant, brought to England in the 16th century as part of the bounty (and booty) of the New World.  Basically they are giant daisies.
















Did you know William Blake wrote a poem about the sunflower? 

Modernist sensibility













The influence of hedonistic post-Great War modernist sensibility can be seen in the new video for Reconnected's Time of Our Lives, to be released in October.

No idea who the director is, but it was filmed in Ibiza.















Presumably at the same sub-Bauhaus villa that Lady Gaga used for her equally hedonistic video for Poker Face.

Obviously Pugin would tell you (if he were able to) that gothic is the only moral form of architecture.

Marina Warner in this week's Times Literary Supplement

















Review by Marina Warner in this week's Times Literary Supplement of Edith Hall's new book on the cultural history of Iphegenia in Tauris.

Like everything by Marina Warner, it is worth reading several times.