Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gullible idiots

On Tuesday evening I watched an interview with Tony Benn on the Parliament channel.

It was the usual self-justifying statements you would expect from Tony Benn.

But he did say one interesting thing:  that Tony Blair was not leader of the Labour party but instead set up his own party called New Labour.

You might think this is just another Labour party member trying to pretend the Blair administration was nothing to do with them.

But there is enough in the statement, if you think about it, to suggest that the United Kingdom experienced a coup in the mid-1990s.

But whatever way you consider it, the ordinary Labour members look like gullible idiots.

And apropos what I have just written, David Green on a website called LabourList asks why people vote Tory:  http://labourlist.org/2013/02/why-would-a-good-person-have-voted-conservative-the-question-labour-needs-to-answer/

When even an eminence grise of the Labour Party is saying New Labour was so alien it constituted an entirely separate party you have to wonder who is going to step forward and take responsibility for what happened 1997 to 2010.

Update:  Martin Kettle in today's Guardian urges Labour supporters not to overlook all the good things that Tony Blair did, which are in danger of being forgotten with all the focus on him being a war criminal (presumably the supporters of Mussolini still say we should overlook the Duce's war crimes because he made the trains run on time):  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/28/iraq-must-not-blind-us-to-blair

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Voice-over

Max Beesley probably provides the most reassuring male voice-over in television advertising.

I keep trying to analyse why.

It's not accent (as Joanna Lumley proves in the female category).

It's a complex, beguiling, subtle voice that combines a suppressed lyrical element with the force of authority.

It is the sort of voice that people follow.

John Simm is second, but second by a long margin.

The ubiquitous Stephen Fry voice-over has a contradictory effect - it is an attractive voice but is "like the sweetest honey, loathsome in its own deliciousness".

Ancestral guilt

Fascinating item on the Today programme (BBC Radio 4) this morning about the ending of slavery in the 1830s (British territories - slavery ended much later elsewhere in the world and still exists today in some places).

University College London has compiled a database of slave owners at the time of abolition http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/ .

I was surprised (very surprised) that this amounts to only 3,000 individuals.

The number is surprising because a myth has grown up, promulgated by commentators such as Gary Younge, that British national wealth was founded on the slave trade and that the national economy today is largely buoyant (in so far as it can be said to be buoyant) because of the legacy of the slave trade.

To hear these people talk you would think every family in the country were slave owners in the 18th and early 19th century.

The UCL data tells us plainly that only 3,000 people were slave owners - a tiny proportion of the total population.

I do not need to enter my own family name in the data base - I know who my ancestors were as far back as the 1750s and they did not own slaves or any other property.  Like most people in the country I come from a long line of paupers.  Our poverty goes all the way back to the Dark Ages. 

It has long been a cliche of historians that up until the death of Queen Victoria only four hundred families in England owned all of the wealth.  Well thanks to UCL we know which of those families owned slaves.  So now the West Indian claque that goes on about "reparations" know exactly who to go after and they can stop the offensive suggestion that the rest of us owe them anything or that the post-war unrestricted West Indian immigration we have experienced is just "payback" for slavery.







Of course Diane Abbott MP is gleefully jumping on this bandwagon (but is it not the case that due to the incidence of violent rape between slave owners and slaves the majority of West Indians are descended from both sides? - if such a thing as ancestral guilt exists, presumably the current West Indians represent both the oppressors and the oppressed).







Charlie Beckett, Director of the think tank Polis and Head of Media at the London School of Economics, indicates that he might be descended from one of the 3,000 slave owners - it would be interesting to trace how many of our current "establishment" (public school educated, Oxbridge educated, and enjoying comfortable quasi-sinecure positions) are from the UCL database and whether we still have an hereditary elite firmly occupying all the positions of power in the areas of politics, media and economics.


















And on the subject of the "ancestral guilt" scam, here we see Damian McBride (former adviser to Gordon Brown) trying to tell us that the Highland "clearances" were a variation of ethnic cleansing.  All over the United Kingdom the common land was enclosed and the common people (mostly subsistence farmers) given the choice of moving away or starving.  This happened in England as well as in Scotland (my mothers' ancestors were cleared off the land in Hampshire and my fathers' ancestors were cleared off the land in south Yorkshire) and the Clearance Acts were passed by Scottish MPs as well as English MPs.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hannah Fearn should not jump to instant analysis







Is Hannah Fearn justified in referring to abuse of women (associated with the groping liberals scandal currently in the media) and extrapolating from that the assertion that we "live in a patriarchy" citing as supporting evidence the comments on a website? (website comments are highly unreliable).

Hannah Fearn should be advised that men get groped too - by women and by other men.

Personally I have been groped in a crowded pub (women); in my early twenties I was repeatedly "leaned on" by a dirty old man when commuting to St Pancras (despite changing my usual seat frequently); in the past couple of years I have received unsolicited "office cuddles" from both men and women.

In a previous job when reporting to a woman of power I was asked to accompany her to a "ball" and had to feign illness to escape the assignment.

At no time have I encouraged any of this attention.

Presumably as women gain more prominence in the workplace (which is a good thing) the incidence of abuse by powerful confident women will increase.

Replacing an abusive patriarchy with an abusive matriarchy is not the solution, and therefore Hannah Fearn should not jump to instant analysis and solutions.

Freedom must not stink (as Gandhi once said).

Perhaps Owen Jones is just genuflecting







Owen Jones, in his latest piece for the Independent, re-uses the phrase "swivel-eyed" - a favourite expression of his to apparently describe someone who provokes the disfavour of Owen Jones.  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/as-tory-austerity-inflicts-misery-on-millions-labour-should-articulate-their-alternative-to-osbornomics-8508690.html

But what does "swivel-eyed" mean?  Is it some form of astigmatism? (in which case is Owen Jones mocking the disabled?).  Are swivel-eyed Thatcherites any different from swivel-eyed Bennites (Tony Benn certainly has a manic stare) or indeed swivel-eyed Blairites (Tony Blair's astigmatism is routinely ridiculed by the cartoonist Steve Bell)?

I am not an expert on evolution, and Brian Cox bores me to tears, but I thought the trilobite eye was a good thing?  It enabled creatures to see in several directions at once.  Predators could be spotted more easily.

But perhaps the Owen Jones article is not really about Thatcherites, nor indeed stalk-eyed people (if such individuals exist).  Perhaps Owen Jones is just genuflecting to the household gods of Labour mythology before he addresses his real target - Ed Balls and the complete lack of economic coherence in the Shadow Cabinet.  At least the Coalition has an economic policy that is distinct and integrated, whereas the Ed Balls position seems to be "me too, but I would do it slightly differently".

It is a theme echoed by Sunny Hundal in this article for a website called Liberal Conspiracy http://liberalconspiracy.org/2013/02/26/the-strange-death-of-labour-realists-who-predicted-osborne-would-reign-supreme/

Monday, February 25, 2013

Roman Aftanazy's Dziejow rezydencji na dawnych kresach Rzeczypospolitej

If I could commission a television documentary (perhaps 5 or 6 programmes) it would be based on Roman Aftanazy's Dziejow rezydencji na dawnych kresach Rzeczypospolitej - an examination of the photographs, and also film and interviews from the various locations (and what remains are left there).

Diane Abbott rushes to condemn



















Ever eager to put the boot in when it is a target she does not like, Diane Abbott rushes to condemn the Roman Catholic (former) Cardinal O'Brien.

Is Diane Abbott now going to condemn Jamaican society, which has been described as "the most homophobic in the world" ?

Or is it a case of white Scottish homophobes bad; black Jamaican homophobes good?

"Special relationship"






Above:  John Kerry's remarks as reported on the Irish Times website.

I wish John Kerry had not used the phrase "special relationship" when visiting London - it is a patronising and outmoded expression.

Also, speaking personally, I am not all that sure I want to have a special relationship with the Obama administration.  Individual Americans I like (mostly), and generally I am well disposed towards America as a country.  But the American government I am not so sure about.

"Working relationship" maybe.  Or "realistic relationship".  But it ceased to be special some time ago.

Anyway Obama administration, I thought there were all those Asian countries you were buddying up to? ("Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye..." etc).

David Miliband MP interviewed by Times columnist David Aaronovitch
















Yesterday evening I went to see David Miliband MP interviewed by Times columnist David Aaronovitch in the Guardian building (Kings Place).  The event was meant to discuss left-wing historian Tony Judt, but after a few half-hearted preliminaries the discussion turned to an examination of David Miliband's political views.  Obviously in such a venue and with such a left-wing speaker (the audience all laughed when a weak quip was made about David Cameron) I felt rather out of place.

For such a large auditorium the interview was surprisingly intimate, even allowing for my position right at the back of the gallery.  In many ways it was like a play - with David Miliband in a deep leather club armchair, David Aaronovitch at right angles perched on a sofa, one of those Pinter plays with just two characters and one stage set and yet the whole of modern history, politics and ideas passes through the ether in the space of an hour.  Both David Miliband and David Aaronovitch talked with such coherent polished ease that the dialogue could have been rehearsed.

David Miliband:  "Ideas matter in politics, family, the public realm... the power of insight is important and you can tell when that is true intellect...  the abnormality of my parents' younger life, the horror and the trauma, made them want to provide security..."

David Aaronovitch quoted David Miliband quoting Tony Judt:  "the left needs to find a voice."

David Miliband:  "Ill fares the land - Judt argued for defensive social democracy, he felt we did not have sufficient pride in the achievements of twentieth-century social democracy... my take is that that's not enough otherwise the left will end up hunkering down and never advancing... people need more than a minimal safety net..."

Discussing migration:  "Two hundred million people are on the move...  the world will never be less open and less mobile than it is today... we need a politics that can cope with an inter-dependent world... I don't think the deep trends are negative ones... we are living through the biggest, fastest transfer of economic power from west to east so it's not surprising that you have more defensive politics around...  Economics, intra-Europe migration was far greater than expected, also there is a residue of the asylum versus migration issue..."

David Aaronovitch pointed out that no party is giving a prospectus on the open world.

David Miliband:  "In a sense all three of them are (by the way the assumption that the Libs are dead is wrong) - all three parties are saying they understand the world is changing... there's a protection aspect, there's an empowerment aspect, and there is a desire for more belonging... with vast numbers of voters it is not surprising that there is this dissonance..."

Discussing China:  "There are more opportunities than there are threats... the transformation of that country is extraordinary... China will be a global superpower but with a low per capita income... the danger is not that China will be over-assertive but that they will not take up their global responsibilities..."

Discussing the EU:  "Of course we should stay in the EU... regional dependence is not made redundant by the global megatrends... the referendum is a moment of peril..."

Discussing the Middle East:  "We need a twenty-three state solution (involving all the Arab world) not a two-state solution..."

Later he pointed out that the Iran nuclear issue was more about Iranian hostility to Saudi Arabia than Iranian hostility to Israel.

Note added two days later:  I have been thinking and thinking about the David Miliband interview.  There was something about it that bothered me, although for many hours I struggled to identify what this was.  And then I realised that in all the important topics that were discussed David Miliband did not once refer to individual personal freedom (and David Aaronovitch did not ask him about it).  And yet individual personal freedom is fundamental to any discussion of immigration (it keeps happening to the United Kingdom without the consent of the individuals who already live here); to China (no longer a vast slave state, but the Chinese way is not one we should relish); to the EU (the Treaties that affect every single aspect of our lives have been signed by the elite without any democratic endorsement).  The "megatrends" described with such eloquence by David Miliband have a direct impact upon the individual personal freedom of us all.  So it is strange that he did not address the issue (apart from one vague reference to "empowerment").  

Perhaps David Miliband is not all that committed to individual personal freedom?  Or perhaps he thought the concept is so fundamental that it didn't need to be spelled out, and only a duffer would even think he was not committed to it?  Even so, the omission was problematic.

How clean the cold is

















Have just got home after a long and often difficult day in London.

When I set out the sun was shining, although the temperature was below freezing, and must have been sub-zero for the whole weekend as the sleet that fell on Friday was still on the ploughed north field, looking like foam on the wave-like furrows of earth.

How clean the cold is, how refreshing, but you cannot stand more than a few minutes outside.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Plastic" English people







The repellent Damian McBride, former adviser to Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, endorses the concept of "plastic" English people.

Look for yourself https://twitter.com/DPMcBride

Friday, February 22, 2013

The British triple AAA rating has been downgraded

And so the British triple AAA rating has been downgraded.

Does that not demonstrate how foolish we were to integrate our economy so closely with the EU.

As the Americans say:  if you hang out with the turkeys you are never going to fly with the eagles.

It is time for some humility from the pro-EU apologists.

I am informed that the AAA rating is not actually "lost" until two of the three agencies downgrade a country.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Indian apology would bring "closure"

Given that the British Prime Minister has apologised for the Indian people killed in the Amritsar massacre, does the Indian Prime Minister now intend to apologise for the three British people killed in the days before the massacre?

The two occurrences are inter-related, so an Indian apology would bring "closure" to the whole incident.

Or were the British people just fair game?

He announced in Vilnius earlier this week that the United Kingdom would not leave the European Union

John Bercow misused the position of Speaker of the House of Commons when he announced in Vilnius earlier this week that the United Kingdom would not leave the European Union.

Who gave him authority to say this?  Was he speaking for the Government?  Was he speaking for the Labour Party?

He and his wife have ceausescuised the office of Speaker (a ghastly husband and wife team who have manipulated their way into power, shamelessly exploit their position for all it is worth, and represent no-one but themselves - having zero political mandate for their arbitrary and knowingly-sensationalist statements).

*innocent face* indeed - both husband and wife are political whores (I mean that in a metaphorical sense).

http://www.15min.lt/en/article/world/house-of-commons-speaker-john-bercow-in-vilnius-britain-to-remain-in-eu-529-309095

Tibetan flags

















Tibetan flags unfurled at Leicester Square.

I am so shocked by the latest self-immolations in Tibet that I feel motivated to do something - there question is, what can be done?

https://www.facebook.com/TibetSociety
I have to say I like Maria Hutchings - honest and forthright and not a peddler of weasel words (like so many politicians).

Also has stamina and has worked tirelessly in good times and bad.

Also is local and truly represents the people.

Tony Blair was not an aberration

Owen Jones, in an article for the Independent, tells us that: the Tories really love Blair not because of his undoubted political skills, but because they think he was "one of us".

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/owen-jones-its-time-to-demolish-the-myth-about-tony-blair-7808282.html

Sorry to disabuse Mr Jones of his comfortable consolation that Tony Blair was never really a socialist, but I think if he bothered to do some research he would find that the Tories really love Blair because he fucked up the Labour Party (so that it now has no principles, no programme worthy of the name, and no prospect of ever making a distinctive contribution to society other than a me-too EU-friendly corporatism).

And forgive me for asking the question, but was this the same Blair-led Labour Party that Owen Jones cheered on and campaigned for in 1997, 2001, 2005?

Tony Blair was not an aberration - can I refer Owen Jones to the spectacle of Prime Minister Gordon Brown standing with Margaret Thatcher on the steps of Downing Street and proclaiming he was the heir to Thatcher?

Tony Blair destroyed Old Labour when he created New Labour - the irony is that New Labour did not survive it's creator and is now like Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The bubble of achievement in London







Really bizarre and dishonest extrapolation by Sundar Katwala about a Newsnight report this evening on the differential achievement between schools in London and schools outside London.

The commentary did not say that BME people were successful per se - in fact Sir Michael Wilshaw (Chief Inspector of Schools) who was interviewed specifically said there was no genetic difference between children of different ethnic groups.

The difference is accounted for because of the different standards of teaching.

Which I think we knew all along - lazy teachers in a dumbed down education system and enjoying  a unionised security of tenure produce poor results.

The bubble of achievement in London was caused because the Labour government threw money at schools in London.

Given the preponderance of BME people in London it also follows that the Labour government disproportionately favoured and funded BME children to the detriment of non-BME children in the United Kingdom.

Presumably, according to the Doreen Lawrence formula, that amounts to institutional racism.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mk25 

We have coal to last 200 years

I never thought I would agree with anything in The Red Book, but I find myself endorsing the proposal by Ian Lavery MP to develop clean coal technology to make the United Kingdom self-sufficient in energy:

http://www.labourleft.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/74185392-The-Red-Book.pdf (starts page 183).

We have coal to last 200 years (at present rates of energy use).

And before anyone starts, it was Heseltine who closed the mines under the Major government - all Margaret Thatcher did was to face down the blackmail that resulted from the closed shop in the NUM.

A homophobic ditty







Michael Crick (Channnel 4 News) should also be aware that film exists (for I have seen it) from 1981 of the unofficial-Labour candidate (who was pushed to one side so that Peter Tatchell could stand) singing a homophobic ditty over a loudspeaker on top of the unofficial-Labour open-top campaign 'bus as it trundles through downtown Bermondsey - the BBC will have this. 

I believe the unofficial-Labour candidate was a former Labour MP and presumably is still a member of the Labour party.

Daniel Trilling (NewStatesman assistant editor)







Myth 5 - that Daniel Trilling (New Statesman assistant editor) knows what he is talking about.

The whole of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom until 1922 and all of the Irish population was British until that date, therefore the "heritage" he is talking about was indeed "white British" (to use his words).  This was not a synthetic description - republicanism had very little support until after the Irish civil war.  If the Irish he talks about were so opposed to being described as British why did such vast numbers of them volunteer for the British Army in the First World War?

I am afraid Daniel Trilling has made himself look foolish here.

https://twitter.com/trillingual

Self-immolations in eastern Tibet

Two more self-immolations in eastern Tibet in protest against Chinese colonial rule - Rinchen aged seventeen and Sonam Dargye aged eighteen.

However well-disposed one might be towards China, this cannot continue without the Peoples' Republic of China becoming a pariah state.

What do they want Tibet for anyway?

Update - even hours after hearing this news I still feel shocked.  How terrible and bleak must life be for two teenagers to destroy themselves.  "The past is gone and there is no future".

Justin Timberlake is performing tonight in Kentish Town
















Can it really be possible that Justin Timberlake is performing tonight in Kentish Town?

In Kentish Town??? 

The place of my birth (Weedington Road - actually born at home). 

What on earth will he think of it? (although I have not been there for over ten years - it is probably all gentrified now, with lots of bogus shallow people living yuppified lifestyles).

http://www.kentishtowner.co.uk/2013/02/20/top-5-hangouts-for-justin-timberlake-in-kentish-town/

A report by BBC News Home Editor Mark Easton about the migration of "white" people
















Above:  part of the post-Today discussion on Twitter with such luminaries as David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen and Irtaza Hussain giving us their opinion.

A discussion on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning following a report by BBC News Home Editor Mark Easton about the migration of "white" people from inner London, resulting in the "indigenous" population of the capital becoming a minority for the first time (according to the 2011 Census).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21511904

After the Mark Easton report there was a studio "discussion" (sorry for all these inverted commas, language has become so oblique we really need new words for these concepts) between Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield and Oona King, Labour politician and former Head of Diversity at Channel 4.

Not surprisingly, they all agreed with each other that what has happened is entirely beneficial and that we are living in the best of all possible societies.

This may be true, this may be a pack of lies.

It is impossible to tell.

The reason it is impossible to tell is because under equalities legislation any organisation that is in receipt of public money is legally obliged to promote a positive view of diversity.  This is a legal obligation - the organisation could be prosecuted if it did not promote a positive view, and individuals dismissed from their jobs (and no doubt branded "racists" and thus become unemployable in the public sector).  So although the discussion was interesting, and Mark Easton's report was well-presented, we must reject it all as fundamentally unsound and tainted.

I am sure Mark Easton is a journalist of the highest possible integrity.  I am sure Danny Dorling is scrupulously accurate in his academic work.  But it would be expecting too much to ask them to put their heads above the "racist racist racist" parapet - and thus we must assume they have self-censored their work.

Oona King is, of course, a Labour politician and so obviously has a partisan view (which she was honest enough to declare during the programme).  Indeed, one of the aspects I would like to look at in the Census research is the way in which voting patterns have followed migration patterns.  Is there any correlation between the arrival of overseas migrants in wards and constituencies and the subsequent election of Labour Councillors and MPs?

One thought does occur to me - if the arrival of overseas migrants into London and their ascendacy to majority status is such a positive and beneficial process (as evidenced by the agreement-fest on the Today programme this morning) why do we need equalities legislation and heads of diversity and all the rest of the equalities panoply?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013







Someone needs to explain to Toby Perkins MP that if Tanya Smith was genuinely contemptuous of the Tories she would totally ignore them.

The fact that she is getting agitated suggests she is worried.

To paraphrase Norman Lamont: if it's not hurting Tanya Smith it's not working (Tanya Smith is a Labour supporter).

Cheltenham & Gloucester fixed rate mortgages





















Really like this ad for Cheltenham & Gloucester fixed rate mortgages.

There is nothing tricksy or show-off about this.  It is a simple idea beautifully executed.  Lovely muted colours.

The ad is basically selling "peace of mind".  We see the home-owner hugging a mug of coffee and smiling as she directly looks at the headline.  A beatific light bathes her in warmth and happiness.

Everything about this is lovely.

No idea who does their advertising - I suppose I could look it up, but I am in a rush.

Social housing - 5

  • Does the Labour Party deny that the transfer of social housing to Housing Associations was a covert exercise in privatisation?
  • The boards of Housing Associations are too often made up of time-serving placemen.
  • Was the transfer of social housing stock to Housing Associations a requirement of "convergence" of social housing across the EU? (in which case socialists such as Owen Jones need to stop wittering on about more council housing as it is not going to happen while we are in the EU).
  • The transfer of social housing to Housing Associations has dissipated democratic control over a fundamental aspect of the welfare state, and yet no-one seems to be protesting about this.
  • Personally I would like to see government subsidy of local authority social housing programmes - collateral for these subsidised loans would be the housing stock itself (which would appear on the Treasury balance sheet as an asset).
  • By directly intervening in the provision of housing a Conservative government can socially-engineer the strengthening of family units (architecture is influential in moulding the mentalité of demographic groups - there is strong reason to believe that if you put people in a middle class environment they will start to behave in a middle class way).

I spend £6 per week on chocolate




















Lent is not just about "giving things up".  You are supposed to do something positive with the time or money you save.  Charity can be translated as love.

I have worked out that I spend £6 per week on chocolate, therefore that is the weekly amount I will be donating to Global Care's Lent Appeal.

Alastair Campbell "piling into" the Hilary Mantel / Duchess of Cambridge imbroglio


















And here we see Alastair Campbell "piling into" the Hilary Mantel / Duchess of Cambridge imbroglio scandal nexus, thus confirming his new position at the fag end of media interaction (commenting about comments about comments about comments).

Of course, Alastair Campbell chooses not to tell us that the Prime Minister was simply responding to a question he was asked.  David Cameron could have adopted a stuffy Macmillan-like response and waved the question away as "not serious dear boy"; or he could have given the usual evasive politician's answer of "I have not seen the document you refer to"; but instead he just answered honestly and said what I would guess 90% of the general population would say.  What is notable is that Ed Miliband seems to be so insignificant that no-one has yet asked him what he thinks.

It was, after all, a reasonably major item on the Today programme this morning.

The reasons Tony Blair joined in the invasion of Iraq

Very interesting article by Steve Richards on the Independent website about the reasons Tony Blair joined in the invasion of Iraq ten years ago http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-10-years-on-so-you-think-you-know-why-blair-went-to-war-8500265.html

Several times Steve Richards mentions the axis of interest between Blair, Bush and Murdoch.

Which makes me ask:  was the 2005 election win (largely delivered by Murdoch) a reward to Blair for joining in the Iraq war?

Which in turn makes me wonder what News International got out of the deal.

Hilary Mantel is using the Duchess of Cambridge

The New Statesman, in a article by Sarah Ditum, has waded into the controversy over comments in a lecture by Booker Prizewinner Hilary Mantel about the Duchess of Cambridge http://www.newstatesman.com/cultural-capital/2013/02/hilary-mantels-precise-unkind-words-have-been-twisted-venomous-attack-kate.

This is an interesting media food-chain.  Hilary Mantel is using the Duchess of Cambridge to get attention, the Daily Mail is using Hilary Mantel, Sarah Ditum is using the Daily Mail.  Big fleas have little fleas which in turn have tiny fleas all gorging themselves on the blood to be sucked from the institution of royalty.

Hilary Mantel is of course a Booker prizewinner, and therefore must be listened to respectfully.  But she is also a "best-selling author" (that hateful damning phrase that dogged JB Priestley and destroyed his serious reputation) and must choose whether to become a "celebrity" or retire back into a secluded life.  There is a problem to being Hilary Mantel. 







New Statesman writer Helen Lewis joins in the discussion about Hilary Mantel via a series of posts on her Twitter microblog.  Note that in this example she conceeds that Hilary Mantel was being rude (which of course allows others licence to be rude about Hilary Mantel).  However it is her assertion that the monarchy is "an institution that treats women badly" that is incredible.

The British monarchy has, for the past 100 years, delivered a female head of state for 60% of that time.  Perhaps Helen Lewis could remind us how many female heads of state there have been in France over the last century.  Or in Germany.  Or perhaps she could use her Twitter site to list the American female heads of state since the foundation of that republic.  Or maybe use one of her New Statesman columns to talk about all the Russian and Chinese and Brazilian and Japanese female heads of state that have been overlooked by the media in the last hundred years.  Out of all the major nations of the world I can only think of Indira Ghandi in India - and she was not actually head of state and in any case emerged from arguably a quasi-imperial Nehruesque informal monarchy.

It is possible that Helen Lewis means that women are "treated badly" in the Royal Family in a direct tangible sense, but this does not square with the left's incessant carping about how over-privileged royalty is in the United Kingdom.  They can't have it both ways.  Otherwise they (the left) will be accused of muddled thinking.

https://twitter.com/helenlewis

Monday, February 18, 2013

The organisation of immigrant communities into bloc votes for the Labour Party

A post today on the Ethnic Politics website (the on-line Centre for Ethnicity in Politics) tells us that "all ethnic minority groups show more interest in politics than those from white backgrounds" (excepting Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage people who have presumably become disillusioned by the Iraq war).

http://www.ethnicpolitics.org/2013/02/18/ethnic-minority-interest-in-politics-a-data-roundup/

This is a statement of the bleeding obvious.

In a Newsnight discussion last year one of the participants (from the West Indies) said:  "The first thing we were told when we arrived was vote Labour".

The organisation of immigrant communities into bloc votes for the Labour Party has been an extremely successful technique, and one that has undoubtedly delivered marginal seats (both wards and constituencies) into the hands of Labour candidates.

Evidence from the last American presidential election indicates that this strategy can bring about a permanent left-wing majority in any democracy where migration is unrestricted and uncontrolled.

The organisation of immigrant communities into Labour-voting blocs is not without drawbacks, including psychological implications for the immigrant communities themselves (psychologically eternally under siege, displaying a paranoid resentment of perceived ubiquitous "racism", reminded constantly through the implications of equalities legislation that they are "other" - indeed their "otherness" becomes their principle identity that they are unable to break free from).

The effects of the migrant bloc votes on the functioning of democracy is of course so obvious that it hardly needs pointing out.

To paraphrase Dr Johnson:  the effects of immigration are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.

The Sunne In Splendour
















Apropos the discovery (or perhaps rediscovery to be more accurate) of the grave of Richard III, here is a carving on a font I photographed Sunday afternoon.

As you can see, it is the Sunne In Splendour, which was the badge of Richard III.  It is encircled by a chain of office which feature roses (the Yorkist white rose presumably).  Did Richard III order the installation of this font?

Perhaps he should be buried here.

John Major








Fuck off John Major.  You were useless 1991-97 and you are useless now.  Treachery with a smile on its face.

How I wish we had lost in '92 and been spared you and Hesletine and David Mellor and all the rest of that ghastly creep show (not to mention the 13 subsequent years of Blair and Brown, for there would have been no Blair peak without the Major plummet).

Knight of the Garter my arse.

Order of the boot is what you deserve.

"Bastards" indeed - it takes one to know one.

http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2013/02/18/future-of-nissan-in-north-east-at-risk-if-uk-leaves-europe-61634-32827518/  (John Major using scare tactics over Nissan investment in the United Kingdom - if Nissan were to pull out their place would be taken by another manufacturer eager to sell into what is the world's fifth largest market - and any dislocation in the north east can be paid for by a tariff on the import of Nissan cars).

The Iraq war has "put young people off" politics





















I have been following the argument (mostly among left-wing commentators) that the failure of the mass demonstrations ten years ago against the Iraq war has "put young people off" politics.

Desk research produced today by Nottingham University is supposed to demonstrate:  "It is clear that the events of 2003 had virtually no effect on the perceived political effectiveness of young people" http://nottspolitics.org/2013/02/18/the-invasion-of-iraq-did-many-things-putting-young-people-off-politics-wasnt-one-of-them/

In a misleading paragraph the researcher Stuart Fox writes:  "In 2001, according to the British Election Survey just under 20% of 18–24 year olds reported having some feeling of political efficacy. By 2010, this figure had risen to 22%. The Audit of Political Engagement data shows that in 2003, 39% of young people reported some sense of political efficacy. This figure fluctuated slightly in the following 8 years, and was a slightly higher 41% by 2011."

The problem with this comparison is that the young people in 2001 are not the same young people in 2010.  All sorts of reasons could have influenced the attitudes of the 2010 young people.  Forgive me for a mischievous suggestion, but the 2001 young people could have been informed and equipped with the critical ability to see through government propaganda; whereas until the end of the Labour government in 2010 young people would have been educated in a dumbed-down environment where everything is morally relative, exam results are on an eternally upward curve, and the teaching profession is legally obliged to present positive views of extremely controversial government policies - therefore young people in 2010 had been conditioned to believe they were living in the best of all possible worlds (until they find out they are not).

Therefore we must assert that in his piece Mr Fox has failed to factor in the dumbing down of state education and the corruption of academic knowledge to support political objectives.

Mr Fox does later goes on to track the attitudes of the 2001 young people as they grow older, but this is not relevant to the charge made by Owen Jones in the Independent that the Iraq war de-radicalised young people (however Owen Jones must stop saying that the vote in the House of Commons about the war was "only passed due to the addition of Tory votes" - the Tory votes were cast on the basis of lies told by the Labour government and in any case the House of Commons vote did not affect the decision to go to war which had already been taken by the Labour Cabinet).

Sunday, February 17, 2013
















Winter landscape.

Cold today, but dry and sunny. 

The snowdrops aready out along the lane.

A highly tendentious and politicised topic such as immigration















Article in today's Observer by Dr Nicola Sheldon (who appears to be the kind of sneering history academic satirised by Malcom Bradbury in The History Man).

Who decided that such a highly tendentious and politicised topic such as immigration is going to be "taught" in state schools as part of the National Curriculum?

Who is going to be writing this "history" and what are they going to say?

How on earth can an impartial view of this subject be presented? (it can't - equalities legislation insists that a positive view of diversity must be presented by all organisations receiving state funding, therefore only one-sided propaganda can be disseminated).

One of the most distressing aspects of the left's ascendancy in state education has been the corruption of academic knowledge and the vitiation of young minds.

This is something that needs watching.

Rugby player Ben Youngs

Interview by Michael Aylwin in the Observer today with rugby player Ben Youngs:

"You get such a feeling of everyone being in it together, which is a great feeling."

"The biggest thing is game understanding and knowing what I want to do and how to execute things."

"You have to make mistakes to understand what you want to do next time."

In the accompanying photograph (by Graham Hughes) Youngs is shown at an oblique angle to the camera, which looks upwards at him.  Back slightly arched and head tilted upwards to look at the tossed rugby ball (and also what seems to be the source of the light).  Ovals dominate the composition - oval ball, oval face, oval eyes within the face. 

David Cameron is to appear in a One Direction video

















In a very astute move David Cameron is to appear in a One Direction video.

Given we are two years away from a general election, will this lead to a rush of voter registrations from 16 and 17 year old girls who will be able to vote in 2015?

Do not underestimate the fanatical devotion of One Directioners.

It also allows the government to make lots of No Direction jibes about the Opposition Front Bench.
My Sky Viewing Card broke this morning, so I am without television.

Therefore I missed what must have been the most civilised discussion of the week between Maurice Glasman and Phillip Blond on Murnaghan.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I long to have complete control - the past week at work

Monday

As soon as I arrived at the office I found myself in a meeting with Campaign Manager Callum Smith discussing a marketing plan for an initiative he has got funding for.  The meeting was rather inconclusive and I felt Callum Smith was not a very decisive person.  He seems incapable of taking a decision.

From that meeting I went into an analysis meeting to discuss the exhibition last week.  As we had already analysed the exhibition on Friday this was a very repetitive and circular discussion.  I emerged from it with a profound sense of deja vu.

Forty minutes for lunch.

Then into a very long meeting to discuss the new website(s).  This meeting had no real coherence but just consisted of the Institute's Director Vijay Singh firing out questions at random and constructing hypothetical (and improbable) scenarios.  I long to have complete control of this project, as I feel the collective decision-making is not working.

At 4 o'clock I was back at my desk having spent virtually the whole day in meetings.  Before I forgot everything I wrote up from my notes all the tasks I have been given.  New requests are arriving almost faster than I can record them, and I feel as if I am being swamped.

Tuesday

I wish I could clear the formless heap of paper that squats on my desk reproaching me when I arrive each morning.

Vijay Singh complaining to me about mistakes in a mailshot that was going out.  When I pointed out that the admin team did not report to me and I had no control over them he became tetchy, saying I must have seen what was going wrong.  By the end of the day enough progress with the mailshot had been achieved for the criticism to be abated.

Late morning the ghastly Anne Boswell-Urquat (Media Relations at Head Office) arrived to review our PR strategy.  The usual bluster and bluff as we tried to make ourselves sound interesting.  Horrid little sandwich lunch in Vijay Singh's office.

In the afternoon I liaised with Marcia Walsh (Deputy Director) about an official complaint we are to make to Alec Nussbaum about Head Office interfering in the new website(s).

Wednesday

The mailshot in full swing, which made my corner of the open-plan office look busy.  Office manager Gladys Y told me it was ridiculous that we do mailshots in-house rather than using a mailing company (actually we do it in-house because the information is so sensitive).  John Johnson (IT) came to talk to the admin team about his forthcoming wedding, but Gladys Y chased him away saying that he was "distracting the girls".

All of today I worked on the Powerpoint presentation for the Institute's AGM in April.  Vijay Singh is beginning to panic about this presentation, and fussed over every slide so that I wanted to tell him to do the thing himself.  I worked until 6.30 and was very late getting home.

Thursday

Another meeting with Marcia Walsh to discuss the new website(s).  Vijay Singh wants them ready to launch at the AGM on 14th April.  "It will be a trial in more ways than one" I said.

St Valentine's day, and one of the staff was complaining of being stood-up for lunch.  On impulse I asked that person to have lunch with me.  And to my surprise that person said yes.

Friday

I caught the 8.17 train to London for a meeting at Head Office with David L to discuss the exhibitions programme.  It took quite a while to go through everything, so many details need to be addressed.  We went down to the basement to look at Head Office's exhibition paraphernalia.

David L very gossipy and I asked him innocently why so many people are leaving (knowing the answer - that they can't get on with Alec Nussbaum).

Leaving Head Office I went eastwards, and via the Docklands Light Railway arrived at Canary Wharf.  Brief lunch in Pret a Manger.  Then a confidential meeting high up in the tower, stupendous views in all directions. 

After this meeting I was free to go home, arriving back at 4pm.

A North Atlantic free trade area

Very interested in the Financial Times article by Joshua Chaffin and James Politi about a possible trade arrangement between Europe and North America (I am assuming that Canada will be included).


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/23f35c94-75da-11e2-b702-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2L5x4hUrM

Notwithstanding all the issues that will cause problems (not least GM food), a North Atlantic free trade area would be an ideal environment for the United Kingdom having loosened (or cut entirely) control from the European Union.

The food chain has become corrupted and adulterated

I'm afraid I am rather cynical about all the protestations of astonishment that the food chain has become corrupted and adulterated.

Fox News warned about "pink slime" back in March 2012:  http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/report-by-rick-folbaum-on-fox-news.html

The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told us back in December 2012 that GM ingredients had entered the food chain and yet were not being listed on labels:  http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/highly-controversial-policy.html

The industrialisation of food production has been both mad and cruel.

We need to see heavy prison sentences both for fraud and negligence where labelling is concerned.

We also need to have legal restrictions on the length of the food supply chains:  http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/farm-shops.html

Friday, February 15, 2013

He tells us it would be good to "turn the tables"





Since 1st February Guardian writer Gary Younge has been featuring a "white history month" through the posts on his Twitter microblog https://twitter.com/garyyounge




In a justification for "white history month" (written in 2007 - this is not a new idea) he tells us that such a month would offer "white people" options and role models.

What role models therefore might "white people" seek to emulate?






Immodestly Gary Younge refers us to an article he wrote in 2002 http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/sep/30/race.politics

In a potted history of British imperialism (breathtaking in its ambition if rather inadequate in its delivery) he tells us it would be good to "turn the tables".  He attacks Winston Churchill's historical record and mentions Ghandi as the antithesis of Churchill.  So how can we learn from Ghandi's example?

For "white people" (to use this clumsy and ignorant descriptor) in the United Kingdom one of the most pressing issues is immigration.  Since the Second World War foreign migrants have been arriving here against the wishes of the majority of the population.  In every test of opinion the ordinary people have said they want immigration to stop and yet it keeps happening.

If Ghandi were able to advise us, how would he help us with the issue of unwanted immigration?

Surely he would advocate the use of peaceful non co-operation.

This might mean national and local civil servants not processing applications related to people from immigrant communities (perhaps putting the applications at the bottom of the pile, or losing the files, or tipping a cup of coffee over them).  For human resources staff it might mean interviewing people from immigrant communities but never actually appointing any of them.  For taxi-drivers it might mean not stopping for people who appear to be from immigrant communities.  For hoteliers and restaurant staff it might mean not having any vacancies when people from immigrant communities enquire.  For retail personnel it might entail never actually noticing that someone from an immigrant community wants advice or assistance or wants to pay for something.  For members of the general population it might mean walking past individuals from immigrant communities who want to ask directions; or leaving the room whenever an immigrant person enters; or ostentatiously washing ones hands after greeting someone from an immigrant community.

To do any of these things would, of course, be unconscionable.

But if Gary Younge wants us to learn from Ghandi I suppose that's what we will have to get used to.

The other striking name Gary Younge mentions in his sweeping damnation of the British is the South African Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela and his colleagues in the ANC were faced with unrestricted white immigration into South Africa.  The majority population opposed this immigration, indeed had always opposed it, and yet it kept happening against their will.  How then did Nelson Mandela and the ANC react?

Perhaps it is better that we do not ask that question.

Perhaps we should just conclude that Gary Younge is an idiot, and that his "white history month" is silly even by his own standards of silliness (which are considerable).

Justin Timberlake video for Suit and Tie















Justin Timberlake appears to be smoking in his video for Suit and Tie (directed by David Fincher and released yesterday http://www.youtube.com/user/justintimberlakeVEVO).

This is not a judgemental comment, it just struck me as unusual.

The video seems to reprise 1940s Broadway with anachronistic inclusion of modern technology - expertly filmed and acted.

Justin Timberlake has a weak mouth, which is ironic for someone who has built his career on singing.

He is a popular and influential personality in early 21st century trans-Atlantic culture.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Someone as grossly over-privileged as Laura Sandys

I thought that the whole purpose of Central Office controlling the Candidate's List was to get more ordinary people into the House of Commons.

So how does someone as grossly over-privileged as Laura Sandys become a Member of Parliament?  She is obviously only there because of who her father was.  Can we please have a ban on politicians' sprogs (all parties) getting an easy ride into positions of power.

Otherwise we are going to end up with a hereditary ruling caste (or do we have that already?).

These people concern me more than I can express.

Clarification added 15th February:  I have nothing against the children from wealthy privileged backgrounds going on to have brilliant careers - one would expect this given the exceptional quality of education they have received.  What is not really acceptable is for the children of MPs to go on to become MPs themselves.  Would we tolerate this happening in any other part of the public sector? (for instance the daughter of a very senior NHS administrator going on to become, at an absurdly early age, a very senior NHS administrator herself in the same institution as her father).  

St Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday.

I had to stay late an hour to work on a Powerpoint presentation (which has been fussed over so much over the last few days that I am now sick of people coming to me with amendments).  Therefore I was not able to go to the Ash Wednesday evening service.  I passed the church on my way home, lots of cars outside and the lights on, and I felt concerned that I was not there.

So now we are in Lent.

It is a time of year when I feel safe.

But paradoxically today is also St Valentine's Day - flowers could be allowed but surely not chocolates.



















Asda have devoted their latest in-store magazine to the ritual day.  Do C2 shoppers have an affinity with the third-century Anglican saint and martyr? Obviously Asda thinks it can make money out of it (and they are no fools).
















Lunchtime in Costa.  I think they put the hearts on all the time, not just for today.  And I have only just realised we were drinking hot chocolate, so I've failed at the first hurdle.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

They should be condemning Jamaican society, right?

Caroline D'Angelo from the Pulitzer Center tells us that Jamaica is the most homophobic place on earth.

And yet leading figures from the Jamaican community in London such as Diane Abbott MP or Doreen Lawrence, or gay rights campaigner Owen Jones are silent on the subject.

Surely they should be condemning Jamaican society, right?

They (the three of them) went all the way to Venezuela to support human rights.

Yet somehow they have a blind spot when it comes to Jamaica.

Let's have some consistency on the left please.

http://pulitzercenter.org/blog/jamaica-gay-homophobia-kickstarter-HIV-violence-court-human-rights


IPPR The Condition of Britain

"IPPR The Condition of Britain:  In many neighbourhoods, there is significant concern about the pace of change.  Sometimes this is about the churn in population, including the impact of new arrivals, but
it also extends to concerns about the influence of big business on our high streets and a sense of powerlessness about decisions that af fect our local communities."

The above is a quote from an IPPR initiative The Condition of Britain which is apparently the basis of a Jon Cruddas speech due to be delivered tomorrow.

"Churn in population"?  That's one way of describing the most fundamental (and democratically illegitimate) social change we have experienced in this country in the last 15 years.  I'm afraid if they are going to use such weaselly euphemisms we cannot expect much in the way of intellectual honesty from either IPPR or Jon Cruddas.

http://www.ippr.org/publication/55/10325/the-condition-of-britain

Laurie Anderson

Absorbing article by Jason Farago in the Guardian today about performance artist Laurie Anderson: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/feb/13/laurie-anderson-landfall?CMP=twt_gu

It includes the surprising information that the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law by Barack Obama (American President) has effectively made the USA a police state.

















I have a Laurie Anderson LP which must be the 1981 original, although I cannot play it (I have no record player apart from an ancient one that belonged to my parents and has not worked since the 1990s).

But I like the LP as an object - perhaps I like it more as an object than as a medium for musical art.

It is a reminder that the 1980s, beautiful ethereal romantic decade, once existed (and thus has the potential to exist again if you subscribe to the theory of Derwent Miall as expounded in The Strange Case of Vincent Hume).

I'm not sure what Laurie Anderson would think about my objectivisation.

"Majority believe UK has a housing crisis but nearly half don't want new local homes"









The 24dash website (for social housing news) reports an Ipsos Mori poll just published revealing that "majority believe UK has a housing crisis but nearly half don't want new local homes".

This is of course a veiled attack on "nimbyism", which is itself an oblique attack upon rural Conservatives.

It is surprising that 24dash can talk about a housing crisis and not refer to the rising population crisis.

If there are three million more people in the country since 1997 due to inward migration there are also three million more people being housed, using water, driving on the roads etc.

But if you point this out you will be called a racist (which is the standard technique the left uses to shut down a conversation).

"majority believe UK has a housing crisis but nearly half don't want new local homes".


The "Kurdish genocide"

The House of Commons is to discuss the "Kurdish genocide" on Thursday 28th February in a debate triggered by an e-petition (which means the subject will be discussed but the politicians will feel free to ignore it afterwards).

While they are discussing the Turkish genocide of the Kurds perhaps they could also address the Kurdish role in the Turkish genocide of the Armenians.

This will help the MPs avoid any "Kurds are good, Turks are bad" value judgements.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gerrymandered elections have no validity

Driving home this evening I listened to the PM programme on Radio 4 which had an item by Sima Kotecha looking at voting behaviour among BME communities.  Not surprisingly, the interviewees all said the Conservative party was "racist".  This is because of negative campaigning by the Labour party which encourages large-scale immigration, tells immigrants that they are "victims", and encourages them to vote Labour as their only protection against the "racist" Conservatives.

This is of course a gerrymandering racket, one that has been going on for several decades and is reaching an acute point where the votes allocated to BME immigrants are deciding the outcome in marginal parliamentary constituencies.

It is difficult to see what can be done about it.

Certainly for the Conservatives it would be self-defeating to try to out-bid Labour in buying the votes of BME communities.

All we can do is to assert that what is happening is an injustice, record what is happening as carefully and fully as possible (with names wherever practicable), and to seek to have the injustice corrected at some point in the future.

We must also bear in mind that gerrymandered elections have no validity; laws passed by governments elected by gerrymandered elections have no validity; and that it is morally acceptable to ignore legislation resulting from such a flawed electoral process.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01qj9l5 













Above:  here you can see the "racist" slur against the Conservatives in the form of a vandalised poster from the 2005 general election campaign - this was not an isolated incident but was very widespread and is still being promulgated today (Bonnie Greer recently reproduced an almost identical image on her Twitter site).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Social care for the elderly

I think the debate over social care for the elderly is rather too utilitarian and overlooks the psychological importance of allowing elderly people to retain ownership of their homes.  Even when they are ill and dying many elderly people in social care cling to the belief that "I'll be going home tomorrow".  If there is no longer any home to go to that psychological stimulus to carry on living is removed.

Of course, we live in a society that does not value the elderly - at best they are tolerated.

On the Today programme this morning Dot Gibson from the National Pensioners Convention said that the Labour Party had "put on the agenda for discussion" a national care service paid for by general taxation.  The Labour Party is lying to Dot Gibson.  Under EU competition directives it is not possible for the state to set up a national care service.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014yc9f 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon
















Have just finished reading Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon.

Although there is a lot about fox-hunting in the book, and a great deal about the First World War, the novel is basically a love-story (albeit a heavily encoded love-story, unrequited and with numerous manifestations of the focus of attention).

"...he asked me to stand up in the stirrups... "Yes that's a beautiful seat" he remarked serenely.

"...we were doing our gas-drill on the fringe of the forest, with its dark cypresses among the leafless oaks and beeches, and a faint golden light over all."

"...what a young Galahad he looked (a Galahad who had got his school colours for cricket)."

Sergio Ramos interviewed by Sid Lowe

In today's Observer Sergio Ramos interviewed by Sid Lowe:

Ramos has a tattoo, in English and borrowed from Nelson Mandela, that declares him the owner of an "unconquerable soul, master of my own destiny".

We really did unite a country and with all their problems people needed that. That imposes responsibility on you – we're conscious of our social power, what we represent...

Ultimately, what matters is your own demands. A coach can encourage you with praise or criticism but you have to want to.

...the values, the history. What they have always represented, the philosophy they transmit, the ideals they inculcated...

Privatise all state schools in the United Kingdom





















Article in the Independent hinting at a plan to privatise all state schools in the United Kingdom.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/secret-memo-shows-michael-goves-plan-for-privatisation-of-academies-8488552.html

However I think that Jane Herrick (or whoever wrote the headline) makes a mistake in saying it is "Michael Gove's plan".

The more you look at EU policy and directives on competition you realise that no state control or ownership can be permitted in the long run - schools, post office, health services etc all must eventually be opened up to competition with no state involvement.

Presumably civil servants are working on privatisation of every facet of state-owned assets (no matter how crazy), and whatever change there might be in government the long-term policy remains the same.

Timing might differ, and different governments allowed to present the policy in their own way, but the long-term aim remains the same.

I have few resources to investigate this, but I wish someone would look into it.

Tightening up the labelling on processed food

On Sunday Politics earlier today Owen Patterson (Environment Secretary) said that the horsemeat scandal was an issue of labelling.

While he is (finally) getting round to tightening up the labelling on processed food can we please also have GM ingredients clearly listed and identified as GM.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Nothing notable happened - the past week at work

Monday

Somehow the morning just trickled away.  Lots of urgent e-mails from Head Office, but I tended to put off dealing with them.  Very conscious that the Institute's AGM is only about eight weeks away and will decide all our futures.

In the afternoon the usual Management meeting and a lecture that we were not doing enough.

Tuesday

By train to Birmingham and when I arrived at New Street I walked the rest of the way to the Institute's small sub-office.  Bitterly cold day so that I regretted not getting a taxi.  Along Bristol Steet then a side turning and a low block of offices.

The Institute's office was on the top (second) floor of the building and was a long open-plan room with 1970s decor.  Peter Whitgift introduced me to everyone, seven staff.  We then had a meeting that lasted about two hours, discussing the Birmingham office's participation in the AGM ("We're sparking ideas off each other" said Peter Whitgift excitedly).

Afterwards I sat at a vacant desk and typed up my notes into a definite plan.

Leaving the office at 3.30 I walked back into the city centre and went into the Art Gallery (sturdy classical nudity, some stunning landscapes, an obsession with death).

At New Street I had some hot chocolate at Costa, and then into a bookshop where I spent £35 without really noticing what I was doing.

Wednesday

Apart from a debriefing meeting with Director Vijay Singh nothing notable happened today.

Thursday

Most of the day spent preparing literature for tomorrow, and it occurred to me that I was doing exactly the same thing one year ago!

Friday

Sense of deja vu as I travelled to a west Midlands city for a specialist exhibition.  Development Manager Tim Watts drove the car, Telephone Surveys Manager Abi Reed also with us.  We arrived at 11.15.

One circuit of the exhibition and I had seen everything.  Our stand was small, but always seemed busy (it was "manned" by Abi's team).  There was nowhere to sit down and I grew weary from all the standing.

Fish and chips for lunch.

Vijay Singh was there, and in the afternoon we all went upstairs to a gallery that was mostly empty to have an impromptu meeting about the exhibition and what we had got out of it.

Leaving at 3pm, I slept most of the journey back.

Friday, February 08, 2013

EU competition directives are driving this "opening up" of state monopolies





















Article by Robert Merrick for the Northern Echo about privatisation fears for the fire service in Cleveland (there was a similar article in the Daily Mirror).

Am I right in thinking that EU competition directives are driving this "opening up" of state monopolies to the market?

That there is no choice but to comply.

And that Conservatives and Labour are keeping quiet because they were complicit in the EU legislation?

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10217754.Claims_that_shake_up_at_Cleveland_Fire_Brigade_paves_way_for_privatisation/?ref=rss&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

A connection between importing personnel from the third world and the emergence of third world standards in our hospitals?






In an article for The Nation published on 6th February journalist Gary Younge tells us "A 2010 World Bank report showed that almost three-quarters of the nurses trained in the English-speaking Caribbean head off to work in the United States, Britain and Canada..."

Er, are these the same nurses who are mentioned in the Francis report? - to quote the Independent:  Francis paints a bleak picture of harassed, uncaring nursing staff who had lost the sight of their fundamental obligation to care. Nurses and healthcare assistants didn’t bother to help feeding patients who were unable to do so on their own, water was left out of reach while persistent requests for help were ignored.  Medicines were prescribed but not given, patients were discharged without being fit to go home, while those left behind were often left unwashed and unfed. “The most basic standards of care were not observed and fundamental rights to dignity were not respected,” he said.

Is there perhaps a connection between importing personnel from the third world and the emergence of third world standards in our hospitals?

http://www.thenation.com/article/172704/immigration-not-domestic-issue# 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Expertise and advice






Chuka Umunna MP, Shadow Business Secretary, discusses the Labour Party's attitude to small businesses in an article for City AM http://www.cityam.com/forum/why-labour-the-natural-party-small-business-and-entrepreneurs


He stresses "access to networks from which to draw expertise and advice" - but I wonder if he is aware that this is often being provided by small businesses themselves.  For instance, I have a full time job but I also provide marketing advice for three other clients who could not justify directly employing a specialist.  I suppose in a way I have one-and-a-quarter jobs since the extra hours add up to about ten per week (many other professionals are doing the same, and this expansion of the jobs market is not likely to turn up on any of the OBS stats).

One thing Chuka Umunna could do is to make the tax process more responsive to people who have income from several "jobs" - at the moment it is ridiculously complex, obscure and inflexible.