And, as always, dammit, he puts it more elegantly than I did two posts down!
And nowhere is that illustrated better than in the sickly, emaciated condition of what was once the toast of Big Money everywhere - emerging markets! As Jeremy Warner points out in an excellent article in The Telegraph today, around 25-30 years ago:
From Unilever to GlaxoSmithKline, investment plans were turned on their heads. On a hitherto unprecedented scale, capital poured into Brazil, Russia, India, China – the Bric countries – and just about any other developing economy worthy of the name. Low-growth home economies were neglected as all eyes turned East. The corporate charge was followed by an even bigger shift in portfolio investment; everyone wanted a share of the promised riches of the developing world.
I would add the likes of BP who were amongst the first to get their foot in the Russian door in an effort to exploit their natural resources. I can honestly say that at the time I thought it was foolhardy simply because Russia, like many of the other emerging markets, is a kleptocracy with no rule of law and anyone doing business there needs their bumps felt! But at the time Western economies were written off as being past their 'sell by' date and the money-men like a herd of sheep followed the rule of the day - 'go East, young man, go East!'.
However, in effect, Warner reminds us of the saying which is my title to this post:
The idea that China and others could cram into 20 years what it took the advanced economies of the West 150 years to achieve was always fanciful. As the economist George Magnus points out, there are no precedents for populous countries sustaining double-digit growth for more than a 10-year period, yet such fantastical assumptions became the basis for many predictions about China and others.
The reality is that almost everywhere, emerging markets are bumping up against the so-called “middle income trap”, the idea that the first stage of development – where markets open themselves up to global trade, put in place basic infrastructure and adopt Western technologies and systems – is relatively easy, but can only be done once. Eventually, wages start to rise, eroding competitiveness in export markets.
The Chinses, in particular, are bumping up against this rock-hard ceiling and efforts to go upwards and onwards are exceedingly difficult especially if you do not have the legal structures to support it:
The next stage, where nations ascend the value chain beyond commodity manufacturing, is more difficult, as China, with a dramatically slowing growth rate, is now discovering. To achieve advanced economy status you need top-class universal education and training, deep and liquid capital markets, properly functioning tax systems, trusted institutions, exceptional levels of innovation and entrepreneurship, and last but not least, rule of law and rock-solid protection of property rights. You need to know, in the words of Lloyd Blankfein, chairman of Goldman Sachs, that you can sue your own government and expect to get a fair hearing. These are not the characteristics of many emerging markets. [My emphasis]
"Sue your own government", in China, or Russia? Well, you could die trying! Anyway, now the tide turns and the money and the investment is flowing back west, to the good ol' US of A and even to this, Her Maj's 'septic Isle'!
Oh, alright then, let me make my heading somewhat more accurate - 'in which my vague, uninformed gut-feelings concerning Russia are explained with wise and logical reasoning by Sir Anthony Brenton, our former ambassador to Russia'. He does so in today's Telegraph and it is worth reading. I should add quickly, that perusing his 'Wiki' entry indicates that in other areas Sir Anthony is a bit of a prat but on this subject of Western/Russian relations he is spot on.
Let's be honest, Russia is a corrupt kleptocracy run by sundry thugs, murderers and drunks but, and this is important, it was ever thus from Peter the Great onwards. It is, if you like, the Russian way! The Russian people have stoicism way beyond anything most other peoples possess. This is both a vice and a virtue. Yes, it allowed them to soldier on as, half-starved and led by idiots, they finally stemmed the on-rush of German tanks just short of Moscow, but it also means they lack the will to raise complaints and insist on a form of government that will truly put the people's needs first.
'Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks' is a phrase attributed to three of the greatest statesmen Europe ever produced - Talleyrand, Metternich and Churchill - so it is worth keeping in mind. I have already expressed my suspicions concerning the activites of the Euro/NATO fanatics whose only shared characteristics are their stupidity and arrogance. Anyone with half a brain would know how sensitive Russia is - and rightly so - to the territories that border with it, particularly those with a large number of ethnic Russians in the population. It was madness for the West to stick its nose into Ukrainian affairs. This demonstrated yet again the overweening ambition of the Euro-fanatics and it should be a lesson to us on the western edge of Europe, as it has been to the Russians on the eastern fringe, that the Berlin/Brussels axis is a potential enemy!
Today, Russia has juddered to an economic halt and is set to slide downhill along with the price of oil. They have been given a shove downhill by Western economic and financial sanctions. In the last 24 hours, two of the biggest strategic fools in the world, Obama and Cameron, have boasted of the effects of their sanctions and insisted that they will continue with more of the same. Guess how that plays with the Russian people - and what a boon it is to 'Vlad the Impaler' as he appeals for popular patriotic support.
As 'my new best friend', Sir Anthony Brenton suggests, now is not the time to pile on with more sanctions thus souring relations even more but to work on some subtle and gradual moves to offer Russia a co-operative way out of their difficulties. Yes, there must be a quid pro quo with these discussions but Sir Anthony thinks that 'Vlad', provided he can save some face, might well be tempted by offers of some relief. It would certainly play better with the Russian people who might, just might, begin to realise that they can be a partner with the western powers to everyone's benefit.
In the meantime, 'B'rack 'n' Dave', just shut the fuck up!
Yes, that's you, Michael Fallon MP, and it is no excuse for you to say that every Secretary of State for Defence since Lord Carrington have also been total tits!
If I harboured any doubts concerning my somewhat trenchant view expressed in the post below to the effect that "there is no doubt in my mind that our ruling classes, civilian, military and political are rotten and cowardly and stupid to the core" then his interview on Radio4 this morning crushed them completely. The man is so stupid he actually succeeds in making 'Dim Dave' look rather bright by comparison.
He was being interviewed on the news that he intends to allow women to fight with the infantry. This is a subject I touched upon in my first 'Looneyrama' post a few days ago. Preceding him on the programme was a very shrewd lady who had served for several years with one of the support services units - a signals squadron, I believe. She made clear that the women in her unit were incapable of lifting and carrying the heavy equipment but given that they were a rear echelon formation there was no immediate pressure and the men did the heavy lifting whilst the women did the other tasks.
But as a sceptical John Humphries kept reminding him, there was no such luxury in the frontline where everyone had, literally as well as metaphorically, to 'pull their own weight'. The lady officer had pointed to the experience of a female US Marine who was fanatical in her belief that women could do anything a man could do and was then reduced to a physical wreck by her efforts. All of this was brushed aside by useless 'Fattie' Fallon MP, a man whose stupidity began early in life when he led his fellow University students in a pro-Europe movement!
It was obvious under Humphries' interrogation that he intends to bully the army into lowering the physical standards for infantry selection and training in order to ensure that women can join. May we expect a bevy of resignations from the generals in our high command? Don't hold your breath, they couldn't care less about the 'Toms', all they want is their Knighthoods and Lordships!
Apologies for the somewhat erratic service here at D&N over recent days. Not just "events, dear boy, events" but hectic, time-consuming and tiring events. However, I am planning a calm(-ish) day today and an equally calm(-ish) weekend and I have several matters I wish to unleash on the world - so 'stick around, you ain't seen nuttin' yet!'
I do not pretend to have any detailed or specialist knowledge on the Afghan campaign. However, it became very clear, very quickly, that the whole thing was an A1 cluster-fuck of the first order! When Defence Minister Dr. Reid (doctor of what, exactly?) opined that British troops would be in and out without firing a shot, I feared the worst. And so it turned out. However, in my general reading over the years two names kept recurring - Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (pronounced 'Cooper-Coles') who was British ambassador in Kabul 2007-2009, and Brig. (ret'd) Ed Butler, formerly commander of 22 SAS and then, in 2005/6 commanded 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand. These two men were the ones I saw on Monday giving evidence to the Commons Select Committee enquiring into the whole Afghanistan farrago. From several of the books and articles I have read elsewhere they stand out as critics, not just of the how the campaign was fought but whether, given our resources, we should ever have fought it at all. Both paid the price for "telling truth to power" because Butler retired as a brigadier when, with his incredible service record, he had been tipped as a probable army chief, and Cowper-Coles took early retirement from the Foreign Office in 2010.
Before the Committee both these men told it the way it was, that is, the senior army brass were simply clueless but, under pressure from their advisors with a keen eye on future budgets, they simply kept repeating the mantra - "Crack on, chaps!" The top civil servants in the MoD and the FO were told of the impossibilities but just refused to pass it on to their political masters. The politicians, of course, blundered on in a fairyland of false hopes and cruel deceptions. By way of comparison to today's gutless weasels, Cowper-Coles pointed to one of the very greatest Chiefs of Staff this country has ever been lucky enough to have, Field Marshal Viscount Alanbrooke, who used to tell Winston Churchill - yes, Churchill, the greatest statesman of his age! - almost on a weekly basis, "No, Sir, you cannot do that because it will not work!" with the very definite threat that if his advice was ignored he would resign. Compare that to the likes of Baron Richards of Hurstmonceaux, formerly Gen. Richards and our CGS in 2010, who complained bitterly about the campaign after he had retired with his Lorship safely in the bag! No sign of him resigning and taking early retirement like Butler did!
There is no doubt in my mind that our ruling classes, civilian, military and political are rotten and cowardly and stupid to the core. There are some very hard conclusions to be drawn from that and I will lay them before you later.
Please be aware that - again! - I am out for most of the day tomorrow so I may not post anything until tomorrow night - if I have any energy left!
Sorry, sorry, sorry but yesterday was one of those days! A fairly major shopping expedition was required in the morning and as I was feeling a bit 'crook' I was knackered by the time I got back. So I slumped in my armchair, as you do when you're a chap and you lack all that 'keep on going' that the ladies have, and was slowly driven mad by my ex-best-mate Rupe's news service which simply switched from atrocity to atrocity non-stop. I tried some others but the BBC was the same as Sky. The only slight amusement came from RT, Vlad's pet TV station. I waited and waited for them to report on the overnight news that Vlad had panicked and raised interest rates to 17.5% and that the rouble was sinking even faster than a barrel of oil! But no, it was all bad news from the west that it concentrated on until finally, just as I was about to click off, they announced a story from Mother Russia. At last, I thought, they are going to try and tell the whole truth. But no, up came a braggodocio story of a huge military exercise up near the Baltic - that'll teach those swaggering bullies in, er, Estonia and Latvia! - involving 10, 000 troops and an airborne brigade. I think in future I'll stick to 'North Korea News'!
Anyway, in desperation I clicked over to the 'Parliament live' channel - and that was more or less where my day was finished! I am not, I think, an overly emotional type but after watching the Commons Defence Committee hearings into the whole Afghanistan disaster I was seriously upset, by which I mean that I was spitting with fury and very close to tears. If I had tried to write about it yesterday it would have been even more of an incoherent rant than my usual blog posts. Suffice to say that if a very senior general, civil servant or politican of the 2005+ era had been within reach I would have killed him and done my time with a clear and contented conscience. I have calmed down a bit since yesterday and I hope to write about this a little later today.
ADDITIONAL: Yet more 'sorries'! Another totally unexpected journey is required of me today, all the way to 'downtown' Taunton - such fun! I should be back about teatime and perhaps on the boring-snoring journey I will be able to compose the diatribe I have festering in me before the 'Memsahib' marches me off to a drinks party at six o'clock.
By the way, I am cancelling Christmas next year!
For the benefit of perhaps my puzzled American readers let me give you the full lyric:
Oh, The grand old Duke of York,
He had ten thousand men;
He marched them up to the top of the hill,
And he marched them down again.
And when they were up, they were up,
And when they were down, they were down,
And when they were only half-way up,
They were neither up nor down.
I think that is a fair summary of the, er, strategy of the US Commander-in-Chief. Troops in, troops out, troops up, troops down - er, but only for training purposes, you understand, even if all that training carried out at vast expense and risk over the past ten years proved to be totally useless when the Iraqi army threw down (or more likely sold!) its American arms and ran at the first sight of a nasty ISIS fighter who shouted 'Boo!' at them.
To be fair, I think the Yanks caught the 'Grand Old Duke of York' syndrome from us because we're at it, too. Today we hear that 'Dim Dave' is sending hundreds of British troops to Iraq to carry out yet more training. Quite why any Iraqi soldier would pay the slightest heed to a British army that performed so miserably during Iraq II beats me. I also heard the other day that despite being technically broke, 'Dim Dave' is paying a small fortune to build a Royal Navy base at Bahrein. Now I speak as one of the last, er, 'defenders' of Bahrein having spent nearly a year living in a tent at the end of runway #2 at the airport. It's true that my service was, er, less than distinguished - although, darlings, my tan at the end of it was superb! - and that the greatest enemy I faced were the sodding microbes that regularly gave me a dose of 'Delhi belly', but still, 'I did my bit'! Needless to say, shortly after I left, HMG withdrew from the Persian Gulf so all my efforts were in vain!
Now, determined to hang on for grim life to American coat-tails, they are set on spending a few billion quid to go back - just as they are reducing army numbers, RAF aircraft and the Royal navy, in desperation, is seriously considering refloating HMS Victory:
To be accurate, I gather that a great deal of this retraining exercise is aimed at the Peshmerga, the military wing of the Kurdish people. I know nothing about the Peshmerga but I am prepared to bet the deeds of the house that they are a bunch of hairy rapscallions who, when it suits them, will turn their our weapons on us. When it happens, 'the Grand Old Duke of York' in Washington will be 'pained, I tell you, pained' - well, actually he won't because he will have retired to the nearest golf course by then!
I am, slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that all our leaders, 'over there' and 'over here', are living on Planet Zog and smoking dope!
I have numbered the heading to this post because I am going to try and collect the daftest daft things our leaders can, and do, dream up from the bottom of their brains which, of course, reside in their bottoms! I fear that I could be into triple figures by Christmas so I will try to discriminate and only bring you the best of their worst. However, do feel free to e-mail me if you accidentaly tread in an example of some authoritarian excreta whose stupidity is worthy of record. Anyway, here are two examples from our very own Westminster ninnies.
It has been decided that women will now be allowed to serve as infantrymen. Even more stupid, the British army will follow the lead of the Canadians and Americans in making no special provision for seperating barrackrooms. Needless to say, our utterly useless generals, concentrating as they always do on their future pensions and their chances of a Lordship, have caved in to this stupidity without a murmur. The only good thing I can see in this preposterous idea is that the 'Toms' will save some money in the local pubs by not having to spend in their efforts to 'booze 'n' boff' the local tarts when they have 'hot 'n' cold running bimbos' available back in their barracks. Of course, some young 'Toms' who would otherwise have served with a clean record will now face years in the nick for rape because, 'er, well, like, 'I'd 'ad a few pints, I was 'orny and it was there, know wot I mean?' It will also be amusing (not!) to hear the re-action of the two men in a three man mortar team (or whatever the equivalent is these days) when their girlie can't actually carry the base-plate up to the top of the mountain ridge. I think our MPs deserve a dose of EIT!
My second exhibit in the Looneyrama gallery also comes from our political dimwits who are suddenly all in favour of giving votes to 16 and 17 year old children. Needless to say, if there are to be changes to the voting age they should have agreed to raise it to at least 21, or, and I know this is a minority view, to 75! Yesterday there was a staged performance with some 'kiddie-winkies' asking questions of some frumpy woman who is, I gather, the Minister for Education. Needless to say, the 'kiddie-winkies' chosen to appear were all frightfully 'naice' and middle-class and obviously from some rather super schools that their parents had probably cheated the system in order to get them in. None of them looked or sounded like the rough 'n' ready 'Herberts' and 'Herbetts' who slouch out of most secondary 'skools' these days. But,as always, the Labour party are quick to see the chance of introducing a new range of political dummies on whom they can rely for an unthinking vote.
ADDITIONAL: Forgetful old fart that I am, I meant to include this looney story which was mentioned on either Rupe's News or the BBC this morning. Apparently it came from a research exercise that proved men were dumber than women. One of the examples, and I do hope it is true, was a terrorist who posted a letter bomb but failed to put enough stamps on it so it was returned to him. He opened it - end of!
As my older readers, and my archive checker, 'JK', will confirm, I have long maintained that it will probably be Italy that acts as a catalyst for the final disintegration of the euro. However, as Peter Oborne tells us in The Telegraph, they may need a little help from their friends like Greece. Even so, the end is not only nigh but absolutely and definitely inevitable!
It [Marxist theory] elegantly explains why European Monetary Union was destined to fail. The state socialists and former communists who invented the euro never got to grips with this aspect of Marxist thought. Only Conservatives with an intelligent appreciation of economics and history – an enlightened congregation that included Margaret Thatcher, Oliver Letwin, Peter Lilley, Tim Congdon, John Redwood, Nicholas Ridley and Alan Walters – grasped that the EMU would collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, and that it was folly to construct a single currency before the political conditions were in place.
Meanwhile the European elite who advocated the euro (British representatives included Michael Heseltine, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, Ken Clarke, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, at the time only a cadet member of the European political class, so perhaps the chief secretary can be forgiven) ignored all warnings. Indeed, Lord Mandelson is still advocating British membership!
The fact that it is the philosophy of Karl Marx which spells out the errors in the euro currency phantasy is simply too, too, delicious! Peter Oborne lays on the lash with real feeling:
It is impossible to exaggerate the arrogance, the bone-headed stupidity and above all the brutality and callousness of these Europhiles. Their demented attempt to impose a new economic model on an unworkable political structure has already caused untold suffering. At the heart of their project is an audacious attempt to prove the primacy of politics over economics. Bear in mind that it is an experiment for which the European elite personally do not have to pay a price.
Even so, it has amazed me that the people of Europe, particularly 'the Meds', have been so docile for so long:
The Italian economy is moribund, social cohesion has vanished and Italians are starting to turn venomously on immigrants. The Greek economy has shrunk by 30 per cent, and one quarter of the population is out of work. Youth unemployment in Spain stands at an unspeakable 50 per cent.
We are talking about tens of millions of ruined lives, and busted dreams. This reality has already brought about a convulsion in Europe. Entirely new political parties have emerged, from the far-Left and far-Right, brought into existence by a common scream of despair against a broken system.
The fact that many of them are turning to extremists parties of the Right and Left is very worrying - we have been here before! Oborne predicts that the break-up is not far off and that when it occurs the likes of Greece, Italy and Spain will depart but, more interestingly, he suggests that France will swallow its (not inconsiderable) pride and join together with Belgium and a few others to form a new country under German leadership - what I have been calling for years the New Frankish Empire! Here's the Old Frankish Empire:
I bow to Peter Oborne's very much more superior knowledge but I'm not sure the French would go for yet another surrender to Germany. In my opinion, they are more likely to try and form a coalition of 'the Meds' - led by them, of course! Anyway, the end of the euro is fast approaching and the soner the better. If it begins before next May then 'Dave' and the Tories will be a shoo-in!
Before I begin I should make clear that my hard-hearted title does not refer to situations in which the hostages are held in territory controlled by us, for example, the Iranian embassy seige in London in 1980. In those circumstances there is a compelling political imperative to carry out a rescue operation because no government could allow such an affront to its authority. However, even then the well-being of the hostages is secondary to killing all the perpetrators and regaining command of home territory.
However, when it comes to hostages held prisoner in lands controlled by our enemies then the political imperative changes. Most hostages in foreign lands are there because they chose to place themselves in areas where such an outcome was a reasonable threat. They do so for a variety of reasons, some because they allowed their humanitarian instincts to overcome their commonsense, others because of their desire to pick up a scoop story for the media, and some because they are stupid enough to sail their yachts anywhere near the East African coast!
As always - well, it should be always but often I wonder - the political rules the operational. By 'political', of course, I mean national strategic interest. Needless to say, most politicians when using the word 'political' mean what's good or bad in it for them! Thus, President Obama, no doubt encouraged by his very top 'brass' who, as always, were eager for kudos in the media and thus leverage for increased military budgets, was equally eager for a 'happy-clappy' Christmas story that would help burnish his rust-eaten credentials as a president. And so, a week ago the order was given to attempt the rescue of two hostages held in Syria.
Big Fail! Both hostages were murdered and the only good news was that the team managed to get in and out without casualties, and that a dozen or so Islamist fighters were killed. So the question must be asked, why risk the lives of your own servicemen on missions which are doomed to failure before you even begin? After this fiasco I heard an interview with an old CIA hand who had operated in the Middle East for years and who had been involved in trying to plan similar rescue missions. In effect, he said they were all a complete waste of time and effort because the chances of success were minimal. He sounded like a man who knew where-of he spoke!
However, there might be occasions in which hostages might actually be useful as a catalyst for operations. Of course, they would be, so to speak, 'operations which dare not speak their name'! Where hostages are gathered means that some enemy forces are also gathered, as guards, if nothing else, and if they are of sufficient size and importance, and even more so if some senior commanders are also present as well, then they might constitute a target worth attacking. Whether or not the hostages are actually rescued - probably not! - is of very low priority. The important thing is that their presence demands the presence of enemy fighters as guards who then may be worth attacking and killing. Apart from anything else, if such attacks were kept up it might make the job of being a hostage guard very unpopular!
Meanwhile, please will our leaders just give up on chasing the cheap headlines! Ah, take that as a 'no', shall I?
Of course, there is only one piece of news of any importance at the moment and that is the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, aka, Will 'n' Kate, are attempting the impossible by trying to raise the social standards of 'Noo Yawk'! Yes, I know, a Herculean task but, dammit, they're British so I know they will try their best.
However, I have only just found out that my Arkie e-pal, 'JK', has via the, er, 'good offices' of Barney Magroo - who somehow managed to get the contract for supplying the booze fine wines to the royal reception - aquired a much sought after invitation to this event. The people of Arkansas will be watching JK's behaviour in the presence of the royal couple with some anxiety because the honour of 'Arkieland' rests on his ability to curtsy properly! This might sound easy but after several shots of Magroo's Finest Grand Cru - brought to full maturity in the cellar for at least two hours! - even standing upright is tricky to master, let alone putting one leg behind the other and then bending the other knee.
Then, of course, there is the ritual of greeting the royal couple. I must remind 'JK' that throwing an arm around both of these young people and hollerin' at Will, "Yeeeeeeeeeeee-haw, ain't she got the finest pair of tits north of Little Rock!" is unlikely to get you an invitation for Christmas at Buck House!
I jest, of course, because everything I read of graceful Southern manners makes the behaviour of the average Brit look downright gruntish. So, 'Noo Yawk' - and 'Arkieland' - enjoy!
I can only raise a glass of good cheer to agree with Andrew B. Wilson's article in The American Spectator today entitled "Thanks, Hirohito, We Needed That". This day in 1941 the Japanese leadership, as mad and perverse in their way as the Kaiser's Germany in 1914, made a calamitous decision born out of fear, arrogance and a total, unthinking belief in the 'wisdom of experts', in this case, military experts. They launched their attack on Pearl Harbour which was a total failure despite the apparent destruction wrought upon the American fleet - because they missed the carriers!
Naval officers round the world simply could not agree on the debate between the relative values of the carrier versus the battleship - and this despite the battle of Taranto almost exactly a year before when the British launched the first ever naval air attack on the Italian fleet and destroyed it! All doubts were settled six months after Pearl Harbour at the battle of Midway in which American naval airpower sank four out of six Japanese carriers. It was not just the loss of the ships and planes that hurt the Japanese but the irreplaceable loss of hundreds of highly experienced aircrews.
I was only 21/2 at the time of the Japanese attack but I'll swear I felt and remember the huge sigh of relief that swept across Britain when we realised that, at last, we were not alone.
My title, of course, comes with an IRONY ALERT!
I have had six goes at typing $18 trillion but after the first seven noughts I get confused and then my eyesight isn't good enough to count them all and I just know if I am one nought out 'JK' will be on me in a shot! Anyway, my American friends, this is just to tell you that $18 trillion is what you owe and come the day Barney Magroo's, er, 'family' who left the liquor business decades ago and moved into high finance will demand ever bigger and bigger interest rates in case you rat them out! Although, of course, you can't rat them out because your entire country would look like Detroit times a hundred!
As it happens, Zero Hedge features an article explaining some of the Big Lies the pols tell you about your national debt, for example, the last time that an American government actually decreased the debt was back in Eisenhower's day! Since then the pols have spent and borrowed and spent some more and then borrowed some more - and you suckers voted for them!
Alas, speaking of suckers, I don't know why I bother straining my eyes across the Atlantic when there are several million of them on this Island here. Our National Debt just topped £4 trillion. Yesterday we had to endure the sight and sound of sundry lying liars telling us that they were going to build zillion-pound tunnels under Stonehenge, motorways to here, there and everywhere, Dave's high speed trainset is still going ahead and ... and ... well, I can't go on, I might begin to weep!
And before you Brits leap in here to damn this, that or the other politician, just ask yourself what chance any British political party would stand at the election if it advocated privatising, say, just half of the National Health Service so that people would have to pay for many of its services? Yeeeeeeees, quite!
Grim and depressing though it is, I have been reading Ruth Dudley Edwards fairly regularly since (to use a typical piece of 'Oirish' mendacity) 'the troubles' began in Ulster. To be honest myself, ever since Tony Blair poured bullshit over the whole sorry tragedy in an effort to smother the damn thing out of existence, I have gone along with the farrago that give or take the odd murder here or there, as you do in Ireland and Ulster, things have more or less settled down. Wrong again!
Northern Ireland's 15 years of devolution have left it frozen in loathing and distrust
That is the headline to Ms. Dudley Edwards' piece in The Telegraph today which sums up the situation exactly. The dangers are not alleviated by our own two leading parties holding their noses and sucking up to yesterday's murderers:
The Tories are wooing the DUP, who could have ten seats after the next election, so although the proprieties must be observed, in practice, where politically possible, what the DUP want, the DUP will get. Labour, meanwhile, are being seduced by Sinn Fein, who are friendly with the trades unions and hope for six seats next time. If the bribe was big enough, they could be persuaded to take their seats.
More and more I incline to the view that we, the English, should just rid ourselves of all those whingeing bloody Celts, over the sea and over our borders, and just get on on with looking after ourselves.
This reproduction lark is quite amazing. No matter how carefully various 'elders and betters' try to arrange matters the result is the equivalent of throwing a pair of dice! Take Prince Charles, for example, not the brightest light inside 'Buck House' and I suspect he is the sort of man who is often defined as 'meaning well', and we all know what a menace they can be! His coupling with Princess Diana was not so much a marriage as a bit of royal breeding with the prize bull eventually choosing a suitable heifer from the herd of upper-class 'gals' then available. Not the least of her attractions from the Palace point of view was that she was too young and immature to have any history! Mind you, to Charles' surprise, I think, she soon developed and became both very tough and very fragile.
Anyway, the result of this odd couple's coupling has been two Royal Princes who, against all the odds, seem as near perfect for their roles as it is possible to be. William seems a quietly intelligent young man who is at home in this ghastly modern world whilst managing to retain the best virtues of the old English gentry. He had the very good sense to marry the daughter of sturdy middle-class parents who started their own business and built it up to be a very prosperous, going concern. Kate seems to have her very elegant feet firmly on the ground which is exactly where her prince also stands.
Harry, of course, is straight from Central Casting for the role of second son. He is up for anything, most of it good, like fighting in Afghanistan or trecking across Antarctica with wounded servicemen, and some of it exceedinlgy naughty like rave parties in Las Vegas - the lucky sod! But through it all you sense a serious young man, perhaps not quite as serious as his brother, but aware of his larger responsibilities. I hope he continues to enjoy his life and amuse us as he does it. As children, both these young men suffered the trauma of losing a young and beautiful mother. Perhaps it served to remind them that their life is not totally frivolous.
I really don't know what is going to happen to my country in the first half of this century. At the moment the centrifugal forces are at work and many of the ties and relationships which once seemed unbreakable, are gradualy weakening and disintegrating. Of course, our Royal family can do nothing to stop it but at least by conducting themselves responsibly they may perhaps add a foot to the brake. The role of these two young men could be critical.
Well, it's no good me scribbling about American matters, all my American pals are lying in bed today groaning with a combination of hangovers and over-eating indigestion following yesterday's celebrations. Thus, I will concentrate on Dave's long-awaited 'Big Speech' in which he told us through the pursed and determined lips of his little mouth that when it comes to immigration, er, 'he gets it'! Welcome to the club, Dave, and how long has it taken you to, er, 'get it'? I would suggest sometime during the past few months when UKIP surged and, 'like a hanging in the morning', your mind was suddenly and wonderfully concentrated. Forgive me, Dave, if the frequent tilting up of your chin during the speech, probably in compliance to your body-language coach, failed to convince me utterly!
There are two huge problems hanging over the entire exercise you propose. First, and I confess my lack of expertise, I would suggest that much of what you propose concerning the rules and regs for European immigrants will be anathema to quite a large slice of EU nations - not to all but to quite a number. Thus, since you have been fairly detailed (honest?) in telling us your aims, any watering down will be seen as a 'Big Fail'! At that point, the Apocalyptic Question arises! Carefully, you specify that in the event of the negotiations breaking down you said, "I will rule nothing out'" Oh, Dave baby, what a little tease you are! Actually, being as I am, something of an admirer of real-politik, I think those words were well chosen. Of course, it confirms my belief that you are not to be trusted further than I can piss into a gale but, heh!, we all knew that anyway.
So now, 'Kippers', it's over to you! You have six months to achieve two aims. First, to put the electoral fear of God (or perhaps that should read 'fear of the voters!) into all those shaky Tory seats. Dave has been shifted as far as he will go prior to voting day but the more Tory MPs you can pressure into moving to his Right the better. But, dammit, you have yet another and perhaps even more important duty to carry out for your country - get very, very busy in all those working-class Labour seats! Your motto is simple - 'Anyone - Anything - But Ed!' The Brussels apparatchiks will be watching this next election very, very carefully and they will hope that the Tories fail - 'Juncker the Drunker' has already placed his champagne in the chiller-cabinet! So go to it, 'Kippers', keep Dave in and keep Ed out!
ADDITIONAL: Guido has an interesting report based on one of Lord Ashcroft's privately commissioned polls. Ashcroft's polls need to be handled with care because he detests the current Tory leadership. However, this one is concerned with 'Milipede's own seat in Doncaster North where it is possible, if UKIP and Tory voters stick together in tactical voting, that 'Ed the Fratricide' will lose his seat - oh dear, what a pity, never mind! Similarly, the 'Kleggeron' has only a 3% lead in his constituency of Sheffield Hallam. Do it, 'Kippers' and urge your local Tories to help!
Not much time this morning except to sound the alarm bells. This is the headline in The Telegraph:
Scientists say Britain will experience three times as many heatwaves as it does now by 2100
You have been warned and as this emanates from the, er, 'distinguished' Royal Society you have no excuse for failing to rush out NOW and buy up all the Long Johns, woollen underwear, sweaters, snow boots and fur coats you can lay hands on! Alas, the latter-day Royal Society is about as scientific as Meg the Magic Medium!
Yet more larceny on my part as I shamelessly steal this witty cartoon which illustrates a bitter article by Roger L. Simon at PJMedia. The news is that the 'wily oriental gentlemen' who command in Iran continue to run circles around the likes of John Kerry and the Obama sycophants (oh, alright then, the Obama suck-ups!) who staff the State Department these days. Yet another extension is about to be granted to the Iranians as they drag out the so-called negotiations on their nuclear activities for yet another extension - six months? six years? 'til hell freezes over? or until the earth resembles hell as it dissolves into the white heat of a nuclear wasteland?
It seems to me that in the order of priorities it is Israel that has the greatest threat to face from a nuclear-armed Iran although given that it has the ability to return with interest anything that Iran might hurl at it gives it a modicum of security. Actually, it is the Sunni Saudis who might find themselves under the most immediate threat from the Shia Iranians particularly as both of them arm their various mercenary satraps to fight - and slaughter - on their behalfs.
The next group who should be feeling distinctly uneasy are the Europeans. As Simon emphasises, the Iranians are pursuing with vigor a programme to develop an ICBM ability - like him, I wonder why and who is it that they might point them towards? The one nation which in its (hopefully!) superior sense of total security is America, and that might be why Obama and his useless glove-puppet, Kerry, are so relaxed about these pointless talks.
For me, the bellwether on exactly how serious, or not, the Iranian programme is developing, is Israel. It has far and away the best intelligence service and I think that if push comes to extreme shove, they will act. In the meantime we will have to put up with the Obama/Kerry pantomime despite it being as funny as an open grave! One thing is absolutely certain, we must do whatever it takes to maintain our nuclear submarine force. I don't care if they run down the army and the airforce so long as those subs and their deadly missiles are available. If the Americans hold back on providing us with all the necessary data we should 'go it alone' despite the huge costs involved.
Now then, you 'Kippers', I did make myself perfectly clear in my pre-by-election orders that you were to achieve a minimum 8% lead over the Tories at Rochester & Strood. You only just made 7% which, frankly, the Monster Raving Loonie Party would have achieved in its heyday! The result is a collective sigh of relief from 'Dim Dave' and his OE cabal because they reckon that from now on it's all downhill for you 'Kippers' who have been consigned to that over-crowded mortuary of protest movements that lived, breathed for two seconds and then died! You certainly haven't frightened Dave into committing to a harder line on Europe, so I'm afraid that you are hereby dismissed without a character!
Even so, it's an ill wind that fails to gently swing the 'Cleggeron' as he dangles by the neck at the end of his political rope, next to the 'corpse' of the 'Milipede' which has been hanging there for some time! The 'il-Lib-non-Dem' vote was reduced from just over 16% to under 1% - or to be exact, just 349 votes. Oh dear, what a pity, never mind! Of course, to an old sadist like me the pleasure of watching not one but two detestable politicians slowly decomposing is simply exquisite.
From now on until the election in May it's Dave's to lose. I know it's against his personal grain but he needs to indicate a more stringent attitude to Europe even if, and he probably will, he rats us out at the end. Anyway, cheerio, you 'Kippers', don't think it hasn't been fun and we shall miss 'our Nige'!
'Now look, I'm the leader of the Labour party, it's mine, all mine, and I intend to keep it forever, so there; and I want to be the leader of Britain, too, so you can all stop being nasty to me because I deserve to be the leader of Britain because I'm me, as in me, me, me, and if anyone tries to stop me I shall get my new best friend Len McClunky to find out where you live and bash you up and if anyone says anything nasty about me again "I'll thcream and thcream 'till I'm thick", so there!
It is increasingly obvious following the omni-shambles over the European Arrest Warrant that 'Dim Dave' and his OE cabal still don't get it! Of course, their view of Europe is limited to rather nice villas in Tuscany, or delightful holidays in the Dordogne - so handy for topping up one's cellar with the latest claret vintage! Only something really and truly savage will finally convince them that the people are revolting - and I do the jokes round here! Therefore, I am calling on the people of Rochester and Strood to put the Tories to the sword a week tomorrow at their by-election. I am looking for a minimum of an 18% margin in favour of UKIP. Only a catastrophe of that magnitude will convince Dave et al that he will need to announce at least one or two big policy shifts in respect of Europe that will convince us, the voters, that he is now ready to walk away from Europe and support 'BREXIT' if he fails to get what he wants. It is just possible that a sufficiently big hit in Rochester might just frighten enough Tory MPs into a political assassination attempt. The only problem with that is that any likely successor will probably be yet another second-rater.
Now, it's no good all you mouth-foaming 'Kippers' writing in and telling me that come the general election we must all vote for UKIP because the cruel fact is that your lot couldn't run a town council let alone a country! You must be satisfied with your part in the play, that is, 'First Murderer' who enters stage right in scene one, stabs the King but fails to kill him and who is then put to death at the subsequent trial in scene two. You get a few lines so just be satisfied with that!
I think everyone has been moved by the simple but brilliant idea of filling the moat at the Tower of London with 888,246 ceramic poppies, each standing for the life of one man killed during WWI. At this one hundreth anniversary it added an extra dimension of feeling which seems to have reverberated throughout the land.
On the subject of another day, another war, I was contacted a few days ago by a relative of the late John Bufton RAF who had served during the war flying Hampden bombers. Back in 2002 I had directed a production of Terence Rattigan's masterpiece, Flare Path, and in a blogpost in 2006 entitled Read it and weep! I reproduced a letter from young John Bufton which I had discovered in Max Hasting's excellent book Bomber Command. On this 'day of days' I thought it appropriate to reproduce the letter again:
At last, a spot of time to sit back and answer your last two letters! I can hardly read one of them 'cos I was reading it in the bath after a hard day's work on Friday and I was so tired that it fell in the water and got badly smudged!
I wonder if you were very disappointed at getting my telegram and letter about the weekend? I was mad having to send them, but there was no way out. Maybe we'll have better luck next weekend. Trouble with us here is that weekends are precisely the same as any other time now.
Poor Jenny, I'm so sorry you were upset by my last letter. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so blunt in what I wrote, but I only wanted to put things to you as fairly as I could. You've got such wonderful faith, dear, in my chances and I mustn't upset you by being pessimistic - I've rarely felt happier and more set on a job in my life, and my chances are as good as anyone else's. But I'm not ass enough to assume I'm going to be OK and everyone else will be unlucky, as it's a sheer gamble in the game, but damn good fun whilst it lasts.
Way back, Jen, my idea of the future was pretty idealistic. We've talked about it so often in peace time, and were agreed on what we wanted out of life, and it was a grand outlook. But now it seems such a myth! Like one of those dreams that can't possibly come true. We'll get married and be awfully happy - I know you'll do everything to make it seem what we both want - but there'll be a cloud over it all for both of us, dear, a cloud we can't hope to brush aside. For you, it will be the realization that you've given everything in your life to give me fleeting happiness, and that in accepting I'm condemning you to great unhappiness ahead, when you could have been almost as happy elsewhere, otherwise, with a future both safe and bright.
If the chances were very good, I wouldn't dream of writing like this, but I'm no dreamer, Jen, and the facts are that immediately ahead is the winter, with all the danger that filthy weather invariably brings to flying (your pullover will help immensely there!). Despite this, our bombers are bound to become even more active than they have been in the summer months, and we'll hit harder and wider and more often than ever before. We're the only active force operating against Germany and as it's the only way of striking directly we'll be exploited more and more, especially as the force grows. The RAF, fighters and bombers combined, will undoubtedly win this war in time, but the end isn't nearly in sight yet, and before it's all over the losses will be enormous. I wonder how many people ever wonder what the average flyer's outlook on life is in these times? In most cases it's vastly different from what it was a few months ago. It's almost entirely fatalistic. There seems no point in making plans about the future. The present is all that matters, and in this day-to-day existence there are three things that occupy one's energies most of all:
(1) Intensive attention to one's machine and equipment, ready for the next trip, so that nothing is left to chance.
(2) Getting enough sleep and exercise.
(3) Getting a "social glow" in the Saracen's Head and keeping mentally fresh.
Doesn't sound very ambitious, but I'll bet anything that 95% of the RAF take these as their guiding principles, because only by doing so can they have the most chance of hitting the target and getting back OK ...
Why am I writing all this, Jen? Well, it's the answer to what you asked in your letter: you say 'Do I really want to marry you?' Yes, darling, 'course I do, and we'll go through with it in that spell of leave that may come through when I've done enough trips to qualify. But I don't feel much of a man taking you up on such a bad bargain, lovely tho' it'll be for me. In the meantime, darling, you'll make me easier in mind if you'll promise this - until we're married, if I should be unlucky enough to go up as 'missing', don't wait too long ... if I could only be sure, Jen, that your future would be assured I'd be content, whatever happens.
If anything happens to me, I'll want you to go and have a perm, do up the face, put the hat on and carry on - it'll take a lot of guts but I know you'll tackle it in the right way. And remember that I'd be wanting you to get happily married as soon as you could. And don't worry for me these nights more than you can help. It may buck you to know that I'm bung full of confidence in my own ability, but if I'm unlucky, well I'm prepared for anything. Over the last three months I've got used to the idea of sudden accidents - they've happened so often to friends and acquaintances that the idea doesn't startle one much now. Realizing fully what one is up against helps one along a lot. I'm not really windy about anything now. Anyway, there's too much to do to get windy. I'm longing to see you again, jenny, and we must make it soon! Keep writing, and when you come up, wear your hat, please, and the smile that cheers me up!"
John Bufton never married Jenny, he was killed a month after that letter.
Dammit, my procrastination has done me down - again. I have been meaning to write something about our Home Secretary, Theresa May, whose department remains what is has been for decades - unfit for purpose. I have never met the lady, nor have I studied her political career in any detail, but just looking at her off and on tells you all you need to know concerning her potential for stupidity.
Any late, middle-age lady choosing to wear a ridiculous clown outfit like that is obviously not given to introspection. Her recent habit of wearing 4" leopard-skin high heels like an escapee from East Enders also failed to impress me with even the possibility that she might have more than three brain cells. Thus, I was poised to launch a less than gallant assault on this ridiculous woman but somehow I couldn't summon the energy.
However, yesterday in the Commons she excelled herself in the 'Dumb 'n' Dumber' stakes. The house was due to debate whether or not to accept various European directives, one of which was the dreaded European Arrest Warrant (EAW). For the benefit of my foreign readers this measure means that a court in, say, that land of liberty, Bulgaria, might decide on the slightest of evidence that 'Joe Bloggs' is guilty of something, well anything, really, and he will be sent into one of their ghastly prisons where it might take years for the case to come to court. No British court will be allowed to peruse the evidence! Mrs. May, and 'Dim Dave', had promised that this particular item would be debated and there was a mob of Tory MPs ready and waiting with their brickbats. But then, this stupid woman tried to pull a fast one by saying that the House was free to discuss the whole European bill but would not be able to vote on just the EAW. Cue: general shlock-horror in which she succeeded in 1) upsetting most of her own party, 2) provided a heaven sent opportinity for Labour to take advantage, 3) making even Bercow the pygmy look good, 4) forcing 'Dim Dave' to return hotfoot in his white tie and tails from the Lord Mayor's banquet in order to vote, and finally, 5) driving the last nail into the coffin of the Tory party's hopeless effort to win the Rochester by-election.
I have it on good authority that Nigel sank three pints in quick succession last night!
Ed decomposes before our very eyes: I thought medieval executions were a thing of the past which is a pity really because they were rather skilful operations. I think they began by hanging the victim but just short of death they cut him down and eviscerated him, again, without actually killing him. Then, finally, they chopped off head, arms and legs which were despatched to various parts of the City of London pour encouragez les autres! This morning, as he peruses the headlines, Ed Miliband must feel he has started on the evisceration process. Well, no doubt when he 'assassinated' his brother he shrugged off charges of cruelty by saying something like, well, politics is a tough business. Now, he is finding out just how tough it can be! At least David left the stage with honour intact but Ed's exit will be to a chorus of laughs, jibes and sneers. Who will remember him in five years time?
But at least Ed is useful for Dave: As we all enjoy the sight of Ed Miliband staggering backwards and forwards across the political stage dying the death of a thousand cuts I bet Dave 'n' George are cracking up with laughter. For them the timing is perfect. All the hacks are busy chasing anyone and everyone in the Labour party for yet another anonymous quote telling us that Ed's a prat and none of them are looking hard at that very dodgy boast from Dave 'n' George that they succeeded - "at a stroke" - in cutting in half the EU demand for more money.
The best news from the American election - SCOTUS is safe: As regular readers will be aware,my main worry over the midterm elections was that the Republicans would fail to hold a Senate majority which would allow Obama to ram a Left-wing loony on to the bench of the Supreme Court. I think 'over here', and to an extent 'over there' too, people forget the longterm effects of a Supreme Court which leans either Left or Right. The Justices are appointed for life and the influence of their decisions will last for decades. Now, if a vacancy occurs, Obama has a snowball in hell's chance of slipping one of his cronies onto the bench. If you're American that's worth a toast tonight!
Miss Red muses and amuses: Normally, of course, were I to come across something witty and amusing I would nick it on the spot and publish it here. However, this little collection is the property of Miss Red, a frequent visitor to these columns and the sort of American lady I imagine who exudes an air of quiet, genteel sweetness right up to the minute she whips out a Colt .45 and says something like, "Make my day, punk!" So, on this occasion I will eschew larceny and merely bid you all to pop over and enjoy a small selection of Miss Red's humour: http://missredmuses.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/photos-i-like.html
OUCH!!! Michael Peck (no, me neither) of The National Interest has listed his five worst American generals. The first, from the War of Independence, or 'the impertinent mutiny' as I prefer to think of it, is easy because he was a former British army officer and therefore useless by inclination and training! The second is from the civil war (heh, see what happens when thieves and mutineers fall out!) about which I know very little. The third is the poor bastard who was in command at the Kasserine Pass in North Africa leading an ill-trained, badly equipped army of American amateurs against the most skillful troops in WWII. Ah well, timing, as in sex and drumming . . . and at least they proved to be very fast learners! I was glad to see MacArthur in at #4, the man's incompetence was only exceeded by his vanity and stupidity. Pres. Truman's words should be his epitaph:
I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
For some reason, Mr. Peck lets Gen. Patton off the list but includes Gen. Tommy Franks who commanded in Iraq 2003. At this point, in fairness, I am tempted to produce a British list but, alas, I might not live long enought to finish it!
Well, Vlad, you wanted it, now you have it - and good luck! 'SoD' points me to a recent piece in Speigel pointing out the dire state of Eastern Ukraine and the eye-watering amounts of Russian dosh it is going to take to keep it going. You might call the area a basket-case but this particular basket has no handles, the bottom is falling out of it and there is absolutely bugger all inside. Good luck with that one, Vlad!
No more rumbles
Sometimes, just sometimes, I am tempted to believe there is a god! Ed's political fratricide against his brother David was, even by Westminster's gutter behavior, a despicable act but, unusually in this sad, old world of ours, he has reaped the reward it deserves. The well-informed Labour insider, Dan Hodges, quotes a deadly phrase at the beginning of his commentary in The Telegraph: "And then there were none." This sums up the situation following the departure of Ed's last possible supporter, the New Statesman magazine which was one of his first and principal supporters. Now he is more or less alone and Hodges draws a cruel historical parallel:
So this morning Miliband is indeed reduced to standing over his map, shuffling around imaginary divisions. The progressive majority. The squeezed middle. The jilted generation. Surely they will come to his aid?
“Where is Balls? Where is Burnham? Where is Murphy?” he asks. And deep in the bunker, his small band of advisers look nervously at one another, and then at the floor.
Ed Miliband is being left to face his destiny. Alone.
To paraphrase dear Oscar, such a darling boy, 'One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Ed without dissolving into tears...of laughter." Even so, it is crucial that Ed keeps going to the election, he is Dave's best and last hope!
Have Atlantic politics ever been so fascinating? 'Over there' we await the results of the mid-term elections with fingers, toes, legs and everything crossed in the hope and expectation that the Dems will be slaughtered. Of course, life being life, and politics being politics, it probably won't be as drastic as that but even so one expects 'the cousins' to get a grip and smack this insidious socialism right where it hurts most - in the Senate! With both houses of Congress under Republican control there can only be one single aim for the Republican leadership, and that is to do whatever it takes to ensure a Republican presidency in 2016.
Obama and his apparatchiks have already demonstrated over and over that they hold the law of the land in contempt, particularly when it comes to Presidential privilege. It is essential that the Republican Congress prepares itself for a raft of Presidential diktats which, if they are constantly opposed, will allow the Dems to paint them as mere obstructionists. Thus, it is vital the the GOP comes prepared with its own detailed and thought-through raft of measures which will force Obama to use his Presidential veto. Thus, will the biter be bit! Alas, whether the Republicans can get their act together sufficiently to agree on a series of broad political measures likely to appeal to ordinary voters as opposed to the mega-rich tycoons who pour their money in and expect some return, time alone will tell.
On top of that, of course, starting in January next year, the Republican party must begin the process - dread thought! - of choosing a Presidential candidate. All I can hope and pray for is that they keep the process open and fair - but above all - short! Fat chance, I fear. It will probably drag on and on with the US media cocking their legs all over each and every Republican candidate whilst 'St. HillBilly' is allowed to continue walking on water. I still cling belatedly to one improbable dream, that 'HillBilly' (or just Billy!) stumbles and falls in a scandalous septic tank, at which point, enter stage Left, 'Fauxcahontas' Warren, a woman who positively oozes ambition from every orifice and who is the absolute darling of the 'Marxist Tendency' in the Democrat party.
Meanwhile, 'over here', everything is bubbling nicely. The only problem for a nerd like me is that I haven't a clue what's really going on. As you regulars will know, I have a less than an exalted opinion of 'Dim Dave's' intelligence but a tiny part of me wonders if he can really be as thick as he appears. My gut feeling is that Dave is, by nature, a middle-of-the-road man, or, if you prefer, a man without a single conviction in his body. Fair enough, we've had a few like that and anyway conviction politicians are only as good as their convictions! His entire premiership has been plagued by Europe, a subject about which I suspect he knows little and cares even less. However, what he does care about very much indeed is being pronounced Prime Minister next May. Sometimes, I suspect, he must totter down to his office in No.10 in the morning and groan at the latest embarrassment inflicted on him by those damned Berlin-Brussels apparatchiks. Thus, as Nigel Farage uses his rugby scrum skills to push Dave ever closer to the line, so the Eurocrats are busy building a wall - a Berlin wall, perhaps? - around him to keep him immobile.
All this makes Dave look a bit feeble and inept but perhaps, just perhaps, he might be 'boxing clever'. If he can provoke 'Junker the Drunker' and the 'Kaiserin', to say nothing of 'Presidente Lurve-rat', to up the ante and start laying into the Brits with some real 'rubber truncheons' - they're awfully good at that sort of thing, you know, 'just over there' - he can then stick his chin up in the air, purse his little lips and announce to the British people that, alas, despite all his couageous efforts there will not be peace in our time - until we come out. Timing is all, perhaps early in the New Year would be best and will give him time to nick back the Union flag from Nigel and wrap it around himself.
Well, a man may dream, may he not?
Have I mentioned before - yes, alright, let me finish, and I know I sometimes often repeat myself but you try sitting here day after day churning out this bilge these highly polished commentaries and see how far you go before you repeat yourself! - now, where was I? Oh yes, I may have mentioned before that I once played 'Claudius: King of Denmark'. Of course, usually the play is referred to as 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' and, alas, the ignorant and unwary never stop going on and on and on about that milksop nephew of mine. Of course, in reality the play is all about Claudius, a bit of a moustache-twirling cad with a way with the ladies, er, particularly his brother's missus! True to form, his pestilential nephew never stops making trouble (cut his lines, I suggested!), well, what else do you expect from bloody teenagers, so Claudius hatches a 'cunning plot' to send his nephew off to England where his allies will, taps side of nose and winks - know what to do! Claudius has a rather good little speech which night after night I enjoyed spitting out:
Do it, England,
For like the hectic, in my blood he rages
And thou must cure me.
So, as finally I get to the point of all this verbiage - and by the by, in case you're wondering, as I know you are, I was, of course, utterly brilliant in the role, the 'Memsahib' told me so! - I have, in view of the Kaiserin's recent effort to kick Dave in the shins with her Rosa Klebb jackboots, altered the nationality of the country concerned to Germany.
According to Spiegel, the 'Kaiserin' has let it be known that she thinks Cameron is being pushed over a bright red line in his panic to limit the number of EU immigrants into Britain. Free movement of labour is one of the the four pillars that support the entire European edifice and any effort to tamper with this is something, to quote a phrase, 'up with which she will not put!'
It is now obvious, although of course, that does not mean 'Dim Dave' and his Old Etonian bag-carriers have seen it, that the Berlin-Brussels axis is intending to play extremely hard-ball against any and all efforts by the UK to renegotiate their arrangements. They rammed 'Juncker the Drunker' down Dave's throat, they hit us with a £1.7bn bill for increased contributions with just a few day's notice and now the 'Kaiserin' has warned him not to rock the boat - or else!
On the whole these things taken as individual acts barely impinge on the average Brit going about his business but when they are repeated, week after week after week, then even the unpolitical begin to take notice. Dave keeps repeating the mantra that his 'boss' is the British people although I doubt he takes it seriously. Well, at the Clacton by-election the 'boss' made his feelings plain and it will be re-enforced with perhaps even greater rage at the Rochester by-election. too. Wake up, Dave, and smell the coffee!
Yes, indeed, shame on me because just for a brief moment I thought my e-pal, JK, had sent me a link containing a real howler. It came from the War on the Rocks site and it's heading was:
The World War I You Remember Began 100 Years Ago at Ypres
Hang on a minute, I thought, the war started in August not late October. Oh dear, my bad because I failed to read that title carefully enough. The first three months of the war were definitely not the WWI we all remember. During those first few months it was a war of movement and, to a certain extent, a war of manouvre. It was only when the Germans lost their nerve and their belief in the invincibility of the Schlieffen Plan that they drew back and then the trench digging race to the Channel began. After that it became the 'slug-fest' we all know about. Thus the stage was set for the first battle of Ypres - there were to be two more! On realising that the Schlieffen Plan had failed, Falkenhayn was alone in the High Command in recommending a diplomatic settlement. Also, according to his Wiki entry, later on when Falkenhayn took part in the war in Palestine he was instrumental in stopping any mistreatment of the Jews.
So, thanks, JK, an excellent link.
This week's 'Speccie' is excellent and I make no apologies for ransacking its columns today for material to 'rumble' over. Hopefully, some of you tightwads will be prepared to take out a subscription - it's as cheap as chips - and thereby help keep the world's best - and oldest - weekly magazine going.
Taki's fury at 'Fury': I don't mind a good war film so long as it remains in the realms of a jolly, spiffing adventure but ever since that opening half hour in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan there has been a tendency for directors to sink towards what I can only call 'war porn'. I gather from the reviews that Fury, starring Brad Pitt, is just that. The sub-title to Taki's review says it all: There's enough blood on the screen in Brad Pitt's new blockbuster to turn Dracula to masturbation. To say that Taki is not amused is the understatement of the year but after corruscating everyone connected to the film he turns his fire on us, the contemporary audience;
All I’d like to know is where has all the talent gone? And as always I will answer my own question: movies today reflect what the audience wants to see, and the audiences are imbeciles and uneducated fools and that’s why Fury will be a hit, so help me God.
Ouch, that hurt!
More Rembrandt: Yes, I know I keep banging on about the Rembrandt exhibition at the National Gallery but if you find yourself in London in the next three months or so, instead of wasting your time and money watching 'Fury', pop in and enjoy artistry of the very highest order. Martin Gayford provides not just a 'rave review' but a fascinating analysis of Rembrandt's artistry and technical skills.
Shrewd advice for 'Green Kippers': By "Green Kippers" I mean those increasing numbers of people who think that the 'old politics' is dead and that they, and they alone, are the 'new wave' who will sweep away all the ambiguities and complexities of modern government. Toby Young reflects on the hard lessons he learned as a leader of the Free Schools Movement. It all seemed so simple and straightforward 'back in the day' but reality soon kicked him in the shins:
As a general rule, you can’t bring about system-wide improvements just by being determined and having the right motives. If someone is standing in your way, it’s not realistic to expect them to bend to your will. You have to sit down with them, work out what their concerns are and see what you can do to address them. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you have to make a deal — and that can take a bloody long time, particularly if lawyers are involved.
To the angry outsider, this probably sounds like a rationalisation. One of the most common complaints about political leaders is that they lack conviction. The deals they make are invariably ‘sleazy’ or ‘shoddy’ because they involve sacrificing their principles, something they’re willing to do because their primary interest is to remain in power. But what these critics fail to appreciate is that politicians wouldn’t be able to do much in office if they weren’t willing to compromise. Politics is the art of the possible and what looks like cynicism to outsiders is often just realism to insiders.
He confirms my long-held suspicion that were the Greens or UKIP to form a substantial part of the next government the 'Sir Humphries' will have 'em tied in knots before they've even warmed the seat of their ministerial chairs! Politics is a vastly more difficult and sophisticated business than the average 'Green Kipper' realises.
Peregrine Worsthorne met eight American presidents: And he provides vignettes of all of them from Herbert Hoover to George Bush Snr. See, that's the sort of thing you get from The Speccie - so sign up now! Here's one of them:
One morning I was sitting in the dining car having breakfast when Eisenhower came strolling through and stopped to have a chat with the famous CBS correspondent, Eric Sevareid, whom I was by chance sitting next to. Out of politeness Sevareid introduced me. ‘This is Peregrine Worsthorne, General, the new Times man.’ Clearly finding my name a bit of a mouthful, the general asked me to spell it out, which I did, jumping up to add something I had learnt a very few days previously: that the first baby from Mayflower to be born on American soil, and therefore the first American citizen to be born, was also christened Peregrine. Another long pause. Then came the reply: ‘Well, sonny, that name sure didn’t catch on.’
Perhaps the most interesting historical note is that, 'back in the day', in fact, 'way back in the day', a meeting with the president was almost a given if you were the Washington correspondent of The London Times. Somehow, I don't think anyone told Obama!
Honestly, you just can't rely on the Royal Mail anymore! It was always quite obvious that dear George and his darling wife, Amal, would have invited me to their post-wedding bash at Marlow, not least because we are both world class actors - sorry, did you say something, darling? - but also because the Marlow area was once one of my old stomping grounds.
But, dammit, the invite never arrived which meant that the money I spent having my dinner suit cleaned and pressed for the first time since its last outing circa 1978 was completely wasted. Honestly, they should privatise Royal Mail - oh - er, I gather they have been privatised! Anyway, I'm sure dear George will soon arrange for me to fly to California in his private jet particularly if he tells dear Amal that I have a packet of Greek marbles I can bring with me!
"The Hard Problem" - Tom Stoppard: At long last Stoppard has forsaken Hollywood and returned to his roots, the English theatre. In January his first play since the brilliant 'Rock and Roll' opens at the Royal National Theatre. It is called 'The Hard Problem' and in this brief rumble there is no way I can summarise what that is - but I know a man who can - try Dan Haycock's site. The problems of consciousness are tricky beyond belief but you can always rely on Stoppard to dance wittily around the most complicated of ideas and produce a play that will entertain and move as well as teach. Needless to say, all seats are sold mostly because, I suspect, the bloody-bloody ticket agencies hoover them up. However, it will be shown in cinemas from April 16th - do not miss!
The 'donkeys' of WWI were brighter than this lot: I have just watched the first of the two BBC programmes on the total cluster-fuck that was the British army mission to Afghanistan. I really don't think I can bear to watch the second episode next week, my blood pressure might explode! The level of stupidity, moral cowardice and blind, preening pride within the high command of the British army is sickening to see.
No more rumbles tonight
I think 'Juncker the Drunker' must have sobered up because his timing was terrific. Just as 'Dim Dave' arrives at the Brussels meeting an 'EU debt collecter' slaps an invoice for nearly £2bil into his hand and demands payment by the first of December! If you have ever wondered what 'gob smacked' looks like, here it is:
So there goes the Rochester by-election, perhaps by an even bigger margin than the Clacton one. And, next week, here comes a massive Tory backbench revolt on signing up to the European arrest warrant bill. Followed by, perhaps, even more Tory MPs defecting to UKIP. And perhaps, just perhaps, in their fear and loathing, Tory MPs will consider Dave's political assassination.
Or, again, perhaps, in his own welter of fear and loathing, Dave will amaze us all by taking a big gamble and announcing both his absolute refusal to pay and, say, a much earlier in/out referendum and his willingness to campaign for 'out' if his terms are not met.
Photo: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures / Columbia Pictures / Eon Pictures
No, no, not him! He might look the part but he's just another precious 'luvvie' who would have trouble shaking his vodka martini. (I can say that sort of thing from the safety of Blogdom although I would think twice before saying it to his face!) Anyway the real 'James Bond' looks more like this according to The Telegraph today:
He was a suburban bank clerk called Eric Roberts who lived with his wife and three children in the leafy enclaves of Epsom in Surrey and worked in the Euston branch of Westminster Bank. For reasons which are not made clear in the Telegraph story, before and during the war Mr. Roberts had connections to various pro-Nazi individuals in England and under guidance from MI5 he built up an extensive network of traitorous dupes who passed him secret information believing that Roberts was working for German intelligence and that it would make its way to Berlin.
He has an interesting face, Mr.Roberts, that half-smile indicates a man who might relish a private joke! And he did have one Bond-like characteristic which showed in his choice of sport. He was a member of a ju-jitsu club, as judo was called back in those days. I think I must take bank clerks more seriously in future!
To be fair, I haven't given it a great deal of thought, well, when do I ever, but it seems to me that we owe 'Vlad the Impaler' a debt of gratitude. Happily, it is nowhere near the size of his own debts which are beyond colossal. But 'Vlad', with all the short-term cunning and long-term stupidity that you would expect from an ex-KGB thug who's only in it for personal power and personal wealth, has done us all an immense favour by invading the Ukraine. This action has brought about a tit-for-tat exchange of economic sanctions which, whilst it has some ill-effects on us, has hit Russia straight in the solar plexus, and has done so at exactly the very worst possible time.
For obscure reasons that only the future history books will eventually uncover, the Saudis have decided to repeat their exercise, first executed in the mid-'80s, of allowing the price of oil to drop for which I canonly say, "شكرا جزيلا لك". (That's Arabic for 'Thank you very much', honestly, my linguistic skills are tremendous.) Alas, for poor (and I do mean 'poor' as in damn near broke) Mother Russia that is a catastrophe because, as a result of Vlad's short-sighted policy of depending utterly on his oil and gas reserves, the drop in revenues means that he has to start digging into his foreign currency reserves.
As A E-P explains with much more authority than I can muster, Vlad's entire policy of 'strutting his hour upon the stage' instead of sticking to the much harder task of dragging Russia into the 21st century by building a modern, balanced economy, means that Russia is now facing a repeat of the implosion that destroyed the old Soviet Union:
"Russia is already in a perfect storm," said Lubomir Mitov, Moscow chief for the Institute of International Finance. "Rich Russians are converting as many roubles as they can into foreign currencies and storing the money in vaults. There is chronic capital flight of 4pc to 5pc of GDP each year but this is no longer covered by the current account surplus, and now sanctions have caused foreign capital to turn negative, too."
"The financing gap has reached 3pc of GDP, and they have to repay $150bn in principal to foreign creditors over the next 12 months. It will be very dangerous if reserves fall below $330bn," he said.
"The benign outcome is a return to the stagnation of the Brezhnev era [Застой in Russian] in the early 1980s, without a financial collapse. The bad outcome could be a lot worse," he said.
My other reason for gratitude to Vlad is that a great deal of the collateral damage from a Russian implosion will be felt in the EU. Already, the effects of the sanctions are hitting Germany whose economy has shuddered, if not to a halt, then to a severe slow down. The French, too, are weeping buckets because Vlad slapped on sanctions against French agricultural products and we all know, do we not, that French farmers can cut up exceedingly rough when their earnings are hit. So all in all, this piles yet more pressure on the euro zone nations to make up their minds whether they are going to go into full financial and political union or whether they are going to fall apart.
Yes, I know, we will be caught in the back-draft and it will be painful but if over the next few months it is very obvious that our troubles all stem from European troubles then I hope that even the British electorate will decide that they would rather have a Tory government to steer the country through it than a Labour one led by the 'Milipede'.
The particularly useless bastards I have in mind are the pompous, feeble creeps who run our armed services and who, in the finest traditions of British 'brass' throughout the ages, are totally unfit for purpose. Today in The Telegraph they 'fess up' to the fact that the British army was totally unable to fight two major campaigns, Iraq and Afghanistan, simultaneously. So now, after 450+ men died in Afghanistan and God knows how many were maimed for life, they tell us. And, of course, by now, well after the event, they have all collected their pensions, gongs, knighthoods and seats in the Lords, but at the time none of them, not a single one, had the courage to stand up to the government and simply say 'No' and threaten to resign if they were over-ruled! They are all utterly despicable!
3rd Bn The Parachute Regiment mount an operation by Chinook helicopter in the Mizan district of Zabul in southern Afghanistan Photo: Christopher Pledger/The Telegraph
The full story will be shown in two episodes on BBC2 this Sunday and the following Sunday. Watch it and weep!
ADDITIONAL: Read Peter Oborne in The Telegraph, he has seen a preview of the programmes.
Lord who of where? I hear you mutter! I refer, of course, to Sir Edward Grey, a man who served as Foreign Secretary for eleven years during what could be described as one of the most dangerous periods of British history. In so far as I have any political heroes, he is one of them.
In considering the particular enigma I refer to in my title it is important to remember that Grey, born in 1862, was a Wykehamist. For the benefit of my foreign readers that means he was schooled at Winchester College. Founded in 1382 it is the oldest public (that means 'private', of course!) school in the land and it has a reputation for rigorous intellectualism combined with religiosity. Not that Grey lived up to it, at least the intellectualism, because he was, by all accounts, a poor scholar. In fact, so poor were his exam results that strings had to be pulled to get him a place at Balliol College, Oxford, where his idleness resulted in a barely scraped Third! Naturally, being apparently lazy and thick but a toff, the only place for him to work was in government! He won a parliamentary seat at the age of 23 on behalf of the old - not to be confused with the current shysters - Liberal party.
Grey married quite young and after his 'honeymoon' his equally young wife made it quite clear that she did not enjoy the physical side of marriage and there-after they lived as 'brother and sister'. In direct contradiction of today's 'lifestyle advice', they lived very happily together not least because both of them found society life tedious and much preferred to escape at every opportunity either to the banks of the River Hitchen where they rented a cottage, or, back to their home county of Northumberland. Country life and living meant everything to both of them.
Even before the 19th century passed into the 20th, Grey learned from his experience as a junior minister that Germany was going to be trouble! Thus, when he was appointed Foreign Secretary in 1905 he was well prepared for what would be an 11-year (to the day) tenure dominated by trying to work with, around or mostly against, a German leadership which, in my opinion, was suffering with a group psychosis. It did not require great genius on the part of Grey to realise that war with Germany was probable rather than just possible but even so, false optimism or just plain, old-fashioned wishful thinking might have fooled other men into relaxing their guard. That did not happen with Grey who, whilst trying to placate Germany as and when it was possible without too much cost, pursued a straightforward policy based on the likelihood of war. So far, so good and, one might say, so 'Wykehamist'!
But there was one aspect of Grey's policy which then, and when it was discovered, and now, raises questions of his probity. Grey knew that given German militarism and its obvious aims then France would be the prime target. Thus, he bent all his efforts into aligning Britain with France - as far as he was able. In pursuing this policy he helped to facilitate secret staff talks between the British and French army commands. Over time, these talks became extremely detailed making provisional arrangements as to the size and deployment of the British force, where they would land, how they would be transported, where they would be deployed and so on. And all of this was done in secret. Not just kept secret from the country but even from his own Cabinet!
As you would expect, Margaret MacMillan in her superb book The War That Ended Peace, puts it much better than I could:
It is the military conversations that have remained the most controversial over the years. Did Grey, that upright Wykehamist, deliberately deceive the Cabinet and the British people by keeping the talks and the arrangements that were being made secret? More importantly, did the conversations commit Britain to come to France's support in the event of a German attack on France? Grey himself repeatedly answered No to both questions before and after 1914 but the reality is less clear cut. When the conversations started in 1906, Grey informed the Prime Minister, Campbell-Bannerman, but did not tell the full Cabinet, perhaps because he feared opposition from the radical wing of the Liberal Party. The Cabinet was not officially informed of the conversations until 1911, during another crisis over Morocco. [My emphasis.] The House of Commons and the public did not learn about them until Britain was about to go to war in 1914. Accordingto Lloyd George, most of the Cabinet were shocked: 'Hostility barely represents the strength of the sentiment which the revelation aroused: it was more akin to consternation.' Grey reassured his colleagues by saying that Great Britain was still quite free to do what it pleased. Again this is debatable.
And indeed it has been debated ever since! Given the general political atmosphere at the time with the strenghtening of the Entente Cordiale, the French can be forgiven for assuming that Britain would instantly come to their aid in the event of a German attack, but Grey made clear on numerous occasions that no matter how detailed the staff talks were he could promise nothing without the consent of the British Parliament. The fact that he ducked out of actually telling Parliament until the last moment must have been noted by the shrewder French politicians and military. The French Minister of War said of the British army in 1912 that, "The machine is ready to go: will it be unleashed? Complete uncertainty." And after the war, Joffre said, "Personally, I was convinced they would come, but in the end there was no formal commitment on their part. There were only studies on embarking and debarking and on the positions that would be reserved for their troops."
So, to quote a phrase, when it comes to producing "duplicitous bastards" this country can stand proud! The irony, of course, is that the biggest 'DB' of the lot was that upright, uptight, Old Wykehamist, Lord Grey of Fallodon. My hero!
ADDITIONAL: I couldn't resist this famous photo of him in old age with a friendly robin perched on his hat:
Those 'damn Yankees' are at it again: I keep telling them but they never listen - all we want are your food parcels and you can keep your hurricanes to yourself. But no, on Monday night and Tuesday morning our 'septic Isle' is to be pounded from the west by another hurricane which, if it knew it's place, would be ripping through Arkansas and blowing the jugs of hooch off Barney Magroo's shelves. But it may not be all bad because according to reports it will mainly hit Ireland and 'ooop north' as far as 'Jockland', and it's an ill wind that doesn't blow up a Scotsman kilt and give us all a laugh!
Why UKIP will ultimately fail: Because deep down, that is, just beneath the skin which counts as profound in 'Kipper' circles, they couldn't agree on the time of day! It is already obvious that Farage and Carswell do not live on the same planet. Carswell's views on immigration would horrify most 'Kippers'. Now we read that Mark Reckless, 'their man in Rochester', is refusing to back 'Kipper' policy in regard to the HS2 farrago. I think the only thing they can all agree on is their detestation of 'Dim Dave'. Beyond that, they're a shambles!
'Lookin' good over there': Shouldn't speak too soon, I know, but me and my big mouth, or perhaps I mean, me and my big keyboard, can never resist the temptation. However, I am relying on Mr. Larry J. Sabato of the University of Virginia who is, by all accounts, a terrific pollster swot and on Thursday he summed up the electoral situation 'over there' as they run in for their midterm election. His opening paragraph, with his emphasis, says it all:
As we approach the home stretch, 2014 has turned into a tale of two elections. On the one hand, this is a classic sixth-year itch election where the incumbent president’s party is going to suffer losses in both houses of Congress. We’re just arguing about exactly how many. Overall, it is indisputable that Republicans will have more critical victories to celebrate than Democrats when all the ballots are counted, and they have a strong and increasing chance to control the next Senate.
I do hope he's right and if he is, then only a jug of Barney Magroo's Very Finest 12-Hour Vintage, slightly chilled, and served in a tin cup, will do for the celebration.
Take cover, Professor!
Sometimes, just sometimes, I regret never having gone to a university. For example, reading this witty, intelligent and self-perceptive essay by Chris Walsh of Boston University made me regret never having had the chance to be tutored by him, or someone like him. He is writing on the subject of cowardice - mostly his own! Well worth reading. Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily.
And here's another reason why I might have enjoyed university: From time to time I have expressed my irritation, I could use a stronger word but given that I don't know the man it would be inappropriate, at 'Archbishop' Richard Dawkins but anything from uneducated 'me' by way of criticism would be like shooting at a Tiger tank with a pea-shooter. So on this occasion I am delighted, courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily again, to whistle up a proper, heavy weight, intellectual tank-buster - John Gray, the philosopher. In his long but elegant dismemberment of 'Bish' Dawkins, John Gray displays that finesse with an intellectual and literary scalpel that I truly envy:
One might wager a decent sum of money that it has never occurred to Dawkins that to many people he appears as a comic figure. His default mode is one of rational indignation—a stance of withering patrician disdain for the untutored mind of a kind one might expect in a schoolmaster in a minor public school sometime in the 1930s. He seems to have no suspicion that any of those he despises could find his stilted pose of indignant rationality merely laughable.
Honestly, once those university swots go at each other it makes World Wide Wrestling look cissy!
Yet another 5-star corker: Yes, yes, I know I 'm a tad generous with my 'star' allocations but this one really does earn every one of them! It is "Eyeshot" by Taylor Adams, and no, me neither! However, Mr. Adams understands that in a thriller a simple setting and story line can be absolutely terrific - as in terrifying! In this yarn, a young couple are driving across an almost totally empty desert, somewhere in New Mexico, I think. They are diverted by emergency signs off the main road and along a small country road which eventually leads them across a sort of moonscape bowl about two miles across. Waiting for them, well camouflaged, is a psycho, long-distance sniper! The rest is a nail-biter! By the way, I bought it for my Kindle for £1.99! They ought to make a film of it but as much of what goes on is inward thinking that might be a bit tricky to pull off. The chap who made Gravity could probably do it. Anyway, buy it and money back if you don't like it, er, not from me, waddya think, I'm made a' money?!
'Nige' gets some help from - Barroso? So the soon to retire consigliori of the racket that is called the European Union spends all day on our TV sets telling 'Dave' what he can and cannot do. How much of his various interviews will re-appear on 'Kipper' electoral ads, do you think?
No more rumbles today
Of course, the title above refers to my response to the death of Professor A. H. Halsey. No doubt his family and friends are grieving for a man who seems, from his obit in The Telegraph, to have led an unblemished private life. I, however, am concerned with his public life in which, I would suggest, he probably did more damage to Britain than the best efforts of the Luftwaffe during WWII!
Halsey was one of those products of what might be called the 'respectable working class' who took advantage of the educational system and after gaining a place at a Grammar School eventually went on to university and finally - and this tells you all you need to know about him - he became Britain's first professor of Sociology! To provide his full title I quote from Wiki:
"He was Emeritus Professor of Social and Administrative Studies at the Department of Social Policy and Intervention, University of Oxford".
Just pause and roll those various titles across your tongue - "Social and Administrative Studies", "Social Policy and Intervention". In other words, everything that has slowly but irrevocably strangled the life out of what was once a thriving and flourishing society getting on with its business with minimal government interference. The vomit-inducing irony - yes, for once this is an irony I detest - is that this man who spent a lifetime whispering at the elbow of ministers of education was a man who had risen by his own efforts through the very education system which he then spent his life destroying!
Truly, sometimes there can be nothing more dangerous than a foolish man imbued with what he thinks are good intentions!
I neither expect nor want my politicians to be 'goodie-goodies'. It's a tough old world out there and you need very tough people to hack their way through it on our behalf. Even so, there are some limits and Ed Miliband crossed one of them when, with deliberate 'malice aforethought', he stood against his own brother in the last Labour party leadership election and, with the help of a loaded and potentially corrupting election system that allowed Len McClusky and his UNITE union to swing the vote, he won and killed his brother's dream. I hope he savoured that victory which drove his brother from British politics and, it is reported, created a deep family rift, because that sweet taste has now turned to ashes in his mouth. Four years ago he stood triumphant on a victory platform. Today he trembles on a scaffold trapdoor with a rope around his political neck waiting for either the voters or his own party bigshots to pull the lever and send him on the last big drop. Throughout these Isles he is derided and despised - and I'm lovin' every minute of it!
And so is Mr. Dan Hodges, my 'go-to' commentator on Labour party affairs. In today's Telegraph he, in effect, writes the 'Milipede's' political obituary. According to his careful analysis of the likely run-up to the election Labour has nowhere to go except down. This, of course, is cheering news to a (small 'c') conservative like me. Perhaps, just perhaps, 'Dim Dave', despite himself, and with a few encouraging smacks around the head from his Right-wing bully boys, might just be forced to make enough promises to swing the election his way. Then my dreams will come true because the thought of 'Dim Dave' with a small majority and thus totally at the mercy of his 'Kipper'-sympathising faction is about as near heaven as I am ever likely to reach!
I have placed my champagne on ice ready for the night!
Yes indeed, Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century was right to describe economics as "the dismal science" and nothing has changed since then. A good part of its inherent misery stems from the fact that our economy is run by crafty politicians who constantly bribe us with our own money but even more depressing is the fact that they do so with our connivance! We (sort of) know it but we don't wish to face it. The only 'good' thing, if that is quite the word, is that sooner or later 'truth will out', or perhaps, 'reality will in', whichever, it is always exceedingly "dismal" when it does occur. Needless to say, when it does we blame the politicians which makes them even more cynical and contemptuous of us because they know that we knew all along that they were running a giant Ponzi scheme but we just didn't have the guts to tell them to stop because, actually, we quite like being bribed with our own money.
Anyway, truth and reality are now beginning to knock on the door of H.M. Treasury even if 'Boy George' and 'Dim Dave' are not talking about it. The details are explained in an excellent article written by Robert Colville and Sam Dodge in today's Telegraph. If, like me, you prefer your complications in diagram format, then this article provides a very good one:
The very essence of the piece lies in #3 which shows that this financial year the Treasury was expecting, as a result of all those extra workers now employed on all those new jobs that 'Boy George' and 'Dim Dave' never stop boasting of, an increase in income tax receipts of +6.8%. Alas and alack, all they are going to get is a decrease of -0.8%!. 'Something wrong with our bloody tax, today', as Adm. Beatty nearly said! The important point for us all to appreciate is that the shorfall of some £2.6bn will now have to be borrowed - and we will have to pay the lenders handsomely for the privilege. Correct me if I'm wrong but I seem to remember that we are already paying in excess of the combined defence and education budgets merely to meet our existing interest payments on our borrowings.
The fact of the matter is that here, just as in Europe, and just as in America, nothing has been done to correct the fundamentals following the 2008 crash. Each of these power blocks needs to face up to some different but equally hideous and difficult decisions which will hurt their suckers their electorates. Needless to say, they will continue to avoid action for as long as possible in the hope that the problem will pass on to the next administration. Alas, 'Boy George' can't leave a note to his successor telling him that 'there is no money left' - that 'joke' was used by the previous Labour minister.
Do read The Telegraph article, well worth it.
J. P. Morgan (JPM) is America's biggest bank and you can take it as a given that the situation there is mirrored across the American (and British!) banking scene. In simple language what it shows is that the bank has deposits filling its offices from the basements to the roof-tops. However, should you think that with all that dosh it would be 'easy-peasy' to get a loan, say, to start a business, you would be a sucker wrong. These days, JPM does not 'do' lending. You can see the line of blue (lending) bars actually ends up lower than 2008. But the deposits are, literally, through the roof!
So the question is, where is all this money coming from to swell the coffers of JPM? Well that's an easy one to answer - straight off the printing presses run by the Federal Reserve - and 'over here' the BoE who, incidentally, have just awarded the next money-printing contract to De La Rue. So, no need for JPM and the other banks to lend money out on interest, too risky, too messy and too much like hard work. Much easier with all that dosh in the vaults to invest it in the stock market:
In other words, by keeping the pedal to the metal on QE [Quantative Easing, or, Money Printing] for the past 6 years, the Fed has giving the banks all the benefits of money creation (soaring deposits), without any of the risks (loan creation in a record low Net Interest Margin environment). And if you are JPM you will be perfectly happy with this arrangement and not seek to lend out any money, as the case has been for the past six years. Which means consumers who wish to take out loans to fund ventures and other growth strategies are fresh out of luck, because the banks that ordinarily supply them with this risk capital have simply shut down the process entirely, and instead are gambling in the stock market.
This is the equivalent of one of those wonderful, imaginary, Victorian cycling-machines fitted with rotor blades which will keep you high up in the air - for just so long as you can keep pedalling. When you can't, they will pick up the smashed detritus of your machine - and you! - and bury you together.
Er, have a nice day!
Yes, indeed, no wonder all my Aussie e-pals were unable to wake up the other morning, they'd obviously been partying away to the wee small hours as only Aussies can in their own inimitable style. And they had much to celebrate given the news that at last not only has their government done away with the ridiculous carbon tax but now their Labour party opposition has bitten the bullet and agreed not to reintroduce it should they get back into government.
Meanwhile, 'up over here', Owen Paterson MP, the former Environment Secretary sacked by 'Even Dimmer Than Usual' Dave, has warned that unless the Climate Change Act of 2008 is scrapped the lights really will go out all over Britain. Dave must be hoping that he can scrape through this winter without any major black-outs into which the Tory party will disappear and UKIP shine like a herald's beacon!
If Rochester falls to the 'Kippers', there is a bungle with an ebola-infected immigrant, the euro-zone goes tits up and the country is blacked out, the very real question arises as to whether the normally ruthless Tory party will do what they're so good at - knifing Tory prime ministers in the back. "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well, it were done quickly" because then there would be time - just! - for a new leader plausibly to backtrack on old policies and cut a deal with the 'Kippers' before facing the electorate.
Well, a man may dream, may he not?
'SigInt' at work: A rare and fascinating glimpse through the keyhole at GCHQ is provided by Charles Moore in The Telegraph and I urge you all to read it. Ever since the WWI days of 'Room 40' at the Admiralty, signals intelligence has proved over and over again to be the leading source in providing hard and timely intelligence. The outgoing boss of GCHQ sounds like a good man and I just hope they find someone equally efficient to take over from him. Anyway, keep up the good work, boys and girls, we all depend on you - and I really do mean 'depend'!
Farage vs. Carswell: The more astute observers of the political scene are already forecasting a divorce and the 'honeymoon' has barely begun. In essence the problem is simple - UKIP is a single issue party and it's members are, in the acronym invented by the late, great Bernard Levin, a bunch of 'sifs' - single issue fanatics. They share a detestation of our links with the EU but beyond that there is a big, foggy hinterland in which they all stumble about trying to find their own route forward. Thus, Mr. Carswell, a small 'c', conservative, free market libertarian believes immigration is, on the whole 'A Good Thing' where-as Mr.Farage, his erstwhile leader, thinks it is 'A Good Thing', too, but only because it provides him with a platform to rail against it and thus collect the votes of the unwary. Outside of immigration and the EU, the two are synonymous in the minds of your average 'Kipper', I suspect that were you to lock three of them in a cupboard they would emerge with six different manifestos!
No, no, no, no! Now, they - yes, it's always that mysterious 'they' - want to make it a criminal offence for a third party to publish intimate photos that you either took yourself or allowed someone else to take and which, anyway, you sent to them. Well, sorry and all that, you may now look a complete idiot for taking the photos in the first place but that is because, 'in a very real sense', you are a complete idiot! However, your idiocy is not something that I wish our policemen and courts to waste even more of their mostly wasted working lives on, there is plenty of real criminality out there to be sorted and most of which they can barely cope with in the short time they have available between tea-breaks!
Why do they keep smiling at me? It's creepy, I tell you! A bit like living with The Stepford Wives. I refer, of course, to all those people, mostly women, who appear constantly on my TV during the ads and they 'smile and smile and I could murder them as they smile' - sorry, Will, but it was just so appropriate. They all flash on to my screen advertising this, that or the other and instantly they grin, smirk, simper, chuckle, chortle or smile until their faces must hurt - and I hate it! I want to get up and punch the screen in! It's usually around this time that the 'Memsahib' removes my whisky and sends me to bed.
Spare a thought for Sister Wolf: Poor girl is moving house and is thereby facing the dreaded 'Book Problem'! Having been something of a 'genuine Bedouin' throughout my life I have become used to regular and merciless culls of the books that seem to accumulate around me but, alas, poor 'Big Sis' has been in the same house for yonks and must take some harsh decisions. Rather sensibly she has picked on all of her books with yellowed pages. Good thinking, Sis, they're yellowed for a reason. I have several that have actually dissolved to dust - and I never even got round to reading them!
Now that's what I call a bogey!
Yes, you see, nose picking isn't always bad as I try to explain to the 'Memsahib' when, usually whilst sitting bored to pieces in a traffic jam, I sometimes explore my nostrils. She says it is disgusting and I claim it is hygenic. A row then ensues and ends when she raps my knuckles which, since they are usually halfway up a nostril makes my eyes water. However, according to The Telegraph, that creature in the photo, a leech, actually, apparently lived up the nose of some poor young girl who went trecking in the Far East. It was probably quite small when it slithered up there but, like Topsy, it just grew and it grew. Suffering with persistant nose bleeds the medics eventually discovered the unwanted guest. Now, if she had been a regular nose-picker she would have cured the problem much earlier. I rest my case!
Carswell the catalyst? According to Liam Halligan in The Telegraph, that is exactly what the new UKIP member for Clacton could be. It is a 'must read' article because, apart from singing the praises for Mr. Carswell's economic philosophy, it reminds us (as this blog has also from time to time) that 'Boy' George at the Treasury has done nothing - that's nothing as in zero - to correct our national finances. Our national debt at £1,410bn is twice what it was when 'Boy' George took office four years ago and he will have borrowed twice as much over five years as Gordon Brown did over ten! I might not be a UKIP supporter but, like Halligan, I'm definitely a Carswell supporter.
No more rumbles tonight.
First of all, an apology to my many foreign readers for my recent habit of returning to British politics - again - and again! But please understand that since 'that woman' departed, next to knitting and stamp collecting, there has been nothing more eye-stabbingly tedious than our Westminster politics. Today it is riveting. It makes chaos theory look easy.
Dan Hodges in The Telegraph, a commentator with a personal history inside the Labour party and a shrewd observer of the political scene on the Left, insists that whilst 'Dave' is obviously in difficulties after the by-election results, the man who is right up shit creek without not only a paddle but a boat, as well, is Ed Miliband:
“Happy birthday!”, Nigel Farage cheekily said to David Cameron via Sky News. It was not a happy birthday. It was a terrible result for the Tories, right at the bottom end of their expectations.
But it was an even worse result for Labour. In fact, it was a catastrophe. [My emphasis]
The Tories knew Clacton was coming. They had priced defeat in. No one on Labour’s side saw Heywood coming. There had been whispers circulating Labour conference that the party had a problem in the seat. But over the past fortnight the whispers had ceased. Opinion polls gave Labour a 20-point lead. Even in the minutes after the polls closed Labour officials were confidently briefing that victory would be theirs by a comfortable margin. In the end they came within a whisker of losing.
The insupperable problem for Miliband is that having set the rudder to automatic on course towards his 35% core vote he now has absolutely no room for manouvre. He has ruled out both a referendum and a renegotiation with Europe and there is, therefor, nothing in his programme for those who are sick of East European immigration which, in the main, are the plebs who might normally vote Labour but are now scared of losing their jobs. Cameron, by contrast, has plenty of sea room to his Right and as I have said elsewhere he is likely to alter course in that direction. I would add that if he doesn't he would simply prove that not only does he fail to understand the mood of the British people but he underestimates the ruthlessness of his own party. There is a meeting due soon of the parliamentary Conservative party and I suspect that if anything less than some good red meat is not tossed to them, Dave could be the red meat they will devour!
In another article, Dan Hodges, in effect, paraphrases the old, TV advertising slogan, 'Calm down, dear, it's only an election'!
But why would the polls move? The Tory base is locked in. It can basically only go one way, and that’s up, but that rise depends on attracting back Ukip switchers (plus a few middle-class Labour voters who will quietly shift allegiance over the mansion tax). Labour still has further to fall (potentially quite a long way to fall), but again that’s primarily due to the Lib Dems reluctantly returning to the fold.
And what do those Lib Dem and Ukip defectors have in common? They are essentially protest voters. The Lib Dems are angry at Nick Clegg’s betrayal. The Kippers are angry at everything. And if you protest, you protest. You send tweets, you post comments, you tell your mates in the pub, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it any more”. And so when the nice lady from MORI suddenly walks up to you with her clipboard, you don’t say “Look, I’m saying I’ll vote Ukip, but I’m only kidding. I just need to get it off my chest. You won’t tell anyone will you?” You tell her you’re Ukip till you die.
I would also add that if you are a protester then you will continue to protest inside the polling booth during an irrelevent European or by-election poll. But voting for the people who will rule over you for the next five years is a very different cup of tea:
In previous elections the polls have been distorted by the “Quiet Tory” phenomenon. I suspect this election is going to be distorted by the “Loud Kipper” phenomenon. The polls will break late. They will shift, but they will not shift allegiance right until the final moment. Why would they? Why would someone angry with David Cameron, but fearful of Ed Miliband, let Cameron off the hook early?
In fact, I suspect that there are many people who will be voting Tory and Lib Dem on 7 May who currently aren’t even aware themselves that they’ll be voting Tory or Lib Dem on 7 May. The most important demographic in the forthcoming election will not the C1s or C2s but the PAs, the Paul the Apostle voters who will experience a polling-booth conversion.
I tend to go along with Hodges on this but there is one huge 'known unknown' looming over the horizon about which Cameron can do nothing - except pray that it will hold off until after may 2015. That is, a European economic implosion possibly followed by a global stock market plunge. Both, in my humble opinion, are more than likely in which case all electoral bets are off.
So the ice-bucket has been poured over the three main parties (see my post from yesterday) and Dave, Ed and Nick sit there frozen and soaking and in a state of shock - as well they might, given these results, courtesy of Guido:
Douglas Carswell (UKIP) 21,113 (59.75%)
Giles Watling (Con) 8,709 (24.64%)
Tim Young (Lab) 3,957 (11.20%)
Chris Southall (Green) 688 (1.95%)
Andy Graham (LibDem) 483 (1.37%)
Heywood and Middleton:
Liz McInnes (Lab) 11,633 (40.9%)
John Bickley (UKIP) 11,016 (38.7)
Iain Gartside (Con) 3,496 (12.3%)
Anthony Smith (LibDem) 1,457 (5.1%)
The majority of instant conclusions need to be tempered by careful consideration but there is one double whammy that can be enjoyed without restraint - the virtual obliteration of the 'il-Lib-non-Dems'. In both constituencies they were slaughtered. I bet the 'Kleggeron' can hardly wait to leave the sinking ship and scuttle off to some cushy European job with his Spanish wife - don't think the feeling ain't mutual, Nick, baby!
As for the other two, Ed, I suspect is the happiest - by which I mean that he feels ever so slightly better than suicidal! A majority of 600+ is wafer thin but still just big enough to cover his shrinking manhood if only because a win is a win. But there is a favourable undercurrent in the Heywood result which he and the Labour leadership will wish to swim in and that is the fact that although UKIP took massive bites out of their vote, they in turn took chunks out of the Lib-Dems. That might be enough to save their bacon in enough seats to give them a victory at the general election. The rest of us must also be grateful for that slim win because it keeps Ed as leader of the Labour party and he, single-handed, is the party's biggest vote loser!
I don't suppose Dave is too worried by the results because he's too dim to understand the threat and he seems to surround himself with Old Etonians who are even dimmer! However, if the Tories lose the next by-election in Rochester then perhaps the shock of that will be felt in No. 10. If that happens there may well be a discernible shift to the Right in the Tory party message but with only six months to go to the election that may be far too late - shoulda got up earlier, Dave, baby, and smelled the coffee! Most voters, unlike political nerds like me (and you lot!), tend to drift to a voting conclusion months before voting day. Also, it is worth bearing in mind that a goodly percentage of them quite enjoy making mischief at European elections and by-elections but when it comes to voting for the government of the country, like 'a hanging in the morning, it concentrates the mind wonderfully'!
So, what I'm trying to tell you is that as far as the outcome of the next general election is concerned, er, I haven't a clue!
Today, and next month, we have some fascinating by-elections 'over here' whilst 'over there' it is only a month away from their mid-term elections which might, or might not, hammer the final nail into Obama's presidential coffin.
Let us consider our little contests. The word is that Douglas Carswell, the former Tory MP, will romp home for UKIP in Clacton, the only question mark being over the size of his majority. Much more interesting to us political nerds will be the result 'ooop north' in the normally safe Labour seat in Heywood. There has been much chatter recently about the possibilities of UKIP burrowing into the Labour vote. This by-election will test that hypothesis. I wouldn't be too surprised if it happens because there cannot be too much enthusiasm amongst 'the plebs' for the current Labour party, led as it is by the most pathetic wet ever seen on the hustings. UKIP's greatest advantage is the fervent zeal of their supporters which might well prove to be catching. Certainly no-one could get 'fervent' about drippy Mr. Miliband!
Meanwhile, 'over there' they are entering the final laps of their mid-term elections and the main question is whether or not the Republicans can capture the Senate. Praise the Lord (and pass the ammunition!), the last mid-term saw the Republicans take back the House which put a partial arm-lock on Democrat ambitions but control of the Senate this November will render Obama's reign, in effect, null and void. It will also have a couple of extra 'goodie points'. Should a vacancy occur on the Supreme Court any nomination from him will be put through the wringer by a Republican-controlled Senate. Second, as 'The Kraut' points out, it will provide an opportunity over the next two years for the Republican party to re-establish themselves as a national party with a national programme rather than a collection of disparate, squabbling, State-centred pressure groups. That will not be easy given that they are riven between their grassroots (the 'plebs', if you like) who believe in certain fundamentals and the so-called 'sophisticates' in their leadership who wouldn't recognise an ideology if it bit them in the arse!
Alas, 'interesting times'!
Still, an'all, I do have some good news from 'Our Man in Arkansas'. 'JK' assures me that he had a meeting with his new best friend, Barney Magroo, in his highly discreet company HQ situated deep in the Arkansas hills. 'One Tooth' Barney, as he is known to his friends, is the sole proprietor of the huge State-wide business, Refreshments for Gentlemen Inc., also known under its trading name as Glugs for Guys, and according to 'JK', Barney has 'put the fix in' and Mr. Tom Cotton is assured of a seat in the Senate. Mr. Cotton, or 'Senator' Cotton as I prefer to think of him, is actually my new best friend and I just know that when he wins handsomely in November he will remember the support he has received here at D&N and, when eventually he wins the presidency, I feel absolutely certain that my invitation to his inauguration in Washington will thud onto my front door mat. (I should live so long, my life already!)
I really do believe that the next election is the most critical we have held for the last three decades. Politically speaking, we have, at last, reached a Y-junction. This has not happened since 'that woman' ran the country because, frankly, since then it hasn't mattered too much which party held power, they were all more or less centrist. Ideology was frowned upon, disputation was mere shadow-play and differences were minimised in order to keep the 24-hour news schedules calm. The political elites have spent their time in a comfort zone with non-stop 'lift muzak' playing and gradually they have drifted away from us, the electorate, and instead they have drawn together, irrespective of party, inside the Westminster village. The result, of course, is that 'we, the People' are revolting - and I do the jokes round here!
The most obvious sign of revolt can be seen in the inexorable rise and rise of UKIP which has subverted the Right-wing of the Conservative party. In their beginnings they were amateurish stumblebums but very gradually they attracted one or two able men and, more important, some reasonably serious money. As is often the way with 'ground roots' political movements, eventually they attracted a charismatic leader whose oratorical skill had such power that it floated the party from the backwaters into the mainstream. UKIP is a Right-wing party but a very English Right-wing party. Somehow, in some way, it never quite reaches the nastiness of Continental nationalist parties. As Nigel Farage emphasises at every opportunity, it is possible to believe that it would be a real pleasure to share a pint or three with him down at the local pub. Of how many politicians from the other parties could you say that?
But this disatisfaction, amounting almost to rebellion, against the perceived cosiness of the Westminster elite is not just confined to the Right. Thirty-odd years ago 'that woman' dealt the Left an almighty blow which brough them to their knees but it was not a death blow, they still live, they still breathe and they still, so to speak, reproduce. Smaller but still as virulent the Left have infiltrated not just academia but also the weird and wonderful world of 'Quango-land', the massive state organisations which still exist (like the BBC) and now we learn that even the mega-rich and increasingly influential charity organisations are led at the top by committed Leftists - remember that the next time you see some sweet old lady rattling her collection tin outside your supermarket and tell her to piss off! But most of all the real Left-wing power, and I'm talking Marxist power here, resides where it has always been - in the big trade unions which, since their tattered forces were routed by 'that woman', have been forced to amalgamate which has made their leaders immensely influential inside the Labour party where they hold the cheque book.
In other words, exactly the same revolt has occurred on the wings of both major parties. The only difference is that UKIP is an external threat where-as the Unions are an internal threat. Needless to say, the media being mostly idle and lazy will produce volumes on the Tories external and, courtesy of Mr. Farage, all too public threat whilst not bothering with the fact that the man who really runs the Labour party today and who gives the two Eds their orders is Len McCluskey of the UNITE union. Most people's response to that is to ask, "Len who?"! Nobody with even a minute social life pays much attention to party conferences which is a pity because it is now obvious that the Labour party have taken a definite turn to the Left. They are now determined to return the country to state nationalisation and control. Their 'hero' is not that half-litre socialist, Hollande, who even with his paltry socialism is rapidly running France into the ground, but the likes of the late and unlamented (except by some 'useful idiots') Hugo Chavez and the Castro family cartel which has kept Cuba in dire poverty for decades. I cannot stress too strongly that the Miliband/McCluskey duality are determined to ram home state socialism, red in tooth and claw, or if you prefer, in hammer and sickle, if they get half a chance.
If, in some desperation (I hope), you now glance Rightwards towards the Tory party what you will see is not too comforting. It is certainly not inspiring. However, what you will see are signs of movement and, most important, movement in both the Right, and right, direction. Yes, it is reluctant on the part of some, including the prime minister, but it is motion. It is hard for any of us to admit that we were wrong - well, it's not too hard for me because I have you lot to point it out constantly - but when you are prime minister it is exceedingly tricky because too abrupt a volte face leaves you looking like a prat, which 'Dim Dave' might well be but, and here I admit I am crossing my fingers, I suspect that he is just intelligent enough to realise that perhaps he has made some mistakes. It may have taken Nigel Farage's sawn-off shot gun pressed to his electoral tender parts to get the message across but I really do think he realises that an alteration in course is required even if, for practical political purposes, it must be done in a series of small changes.
Now, judging by their comments, some of my 'UKIPper' pals, here at D&N, are suffering from 'terminal apocalyptic syndrome'! For a start, they describe a Britain that I simply do not recognise. Yes, there is much that is wrong but- it was ever thus! Personally speaking, I look back to the 1950s as a golden age of tranquility and decency which, in my more grumpy moods, I tend to use as a comparison to the manic modern world. But of course, that was judged from my own very personal upbringing during which I never experienced any of this:
All those pictures were taken somewhere 'oop north' during my so-called 'nirvana' of the 1950s! So whatever age you live in there are always problems because nothing and nowhere is ever totally and forever trouble free. It is easy to point at all manner of things in this, 'our septic Isle', and feel an urgent desire to bring down the whole rotten edifice whilst crying out, Lear-like, that the world is mad and it is time to end it all. Well, if you vote for UKIP instead of the Conservatives you will get your wish. To paraphrase 'Dave' you might go to bed dreaming of Nigel but you will wake up biting the pillow between the two Eds and even worse, with Len McCluskey standing at the foot of the bed wearing a basque and high-heels and cracking a whip!
So, I appeal to my 'UKIPper' friends when they enter the privacy of the voting booth to have the good sense to avoid the seductive but false pleasure of schadenfreude because when you pull down the roof of your own house you will get hurt just as badly as the rest of us.
Alas, I'm away visiting two very old friends today and, yes, when I say 'old', just like me, I mean OLD! I should be back later today and all that time on the motorway will allow me to marshal my arguments to convince you that even if you have to hold a cloth over your nose it is essential that you vote for 'Dim Dave' at the next election. And I will go further and attempt to persuade you that your conviction that 'there is something rotten in the state of Britain' whilst it is true to a degree, it is mostly an old truism that most Englishmen have muttered for centuries. Most of you 'UKIPpers' seem to be suffering with terminal grumpiness and I fear that your inchoate anger will led you into foolishness. I will explain why later on today.
ADDITIONAL: Sorry, sorry, sorry but as you can guess,meeting old friends, particularly one I hadn't seen for some years means that there was a lot of catching up to do - plus a round journey of five hours not counting the 30 minute nap I needed in a layby on the way home! You 'UKIPpers' can stand down until tomorrow!
A few days ago I warned Dave that he needed a good dose of Churchill, so to speak, for his conference speech. By accident - well, no-one sensible actually sets their clocks in order to watch a party conference speech even if their social life is as pathetic as mine - I did catch the beginning of Dave's speech and then - quelle horreure! - I ended up sitting down and listening to the whole damn thing. Sometimes I worry about myself!
I will leave it to the clever clogs who do this political commentating for a living to decide on its merits but I, personally, was impressed. It was everything that Miliband's speech was not - well-crafted, comprehensive, detailed and delivered with the right mix of humour and passion. UKIP was given a quick clip round the ear and the message, which cannot be repeated too often in my view, was spelled out - a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband. Interestingly, he maintained a steady, sustained barrage against the No. 1 enemy - Labour in general, and the two Eds in particular. I think - I hope - that his message to the young, to the workers, to the aspirational might just peel away quite a few Labour-leaning voters.
As far as Europe is concerned, a topic which I suspect is not yet a top priority for most voters, he went as far as he could even if it wasn't quite far enough for me. He has promised an end to open immigration from Europe and also an end to the powers of the Human Rights Court over British law. I hoped that he would go the extra step and promise to support an 'OUT' campaign if he failed to get a satisfactory deal from Brussels-Berlin.
An old Jock song which sprang to mind when I read a rather hopeful piece in The Telegraph by Ian Martin. He suggests, no more, that one result of the recent referendum was to wake up the genteel middle-class, mainly situated in and around Edinburgh, who rightly affronted by the extremism of the Scots Nats and, with no love for Labour, might be tempted to double-lock the 'NO' result by voting Tory in the next election. The lady who leads the Tories north of the border enjoyed an excellent campaign and made something of a name for herself and her party. What a turn up that would be if Scotland returned a few Tory MPs! Mind you, I'll believe it when I see it because, as my old Ma, true Scots lassie down to her tartan bloomers, always reckoned the Campbells were an untrustworthy bunch. She would have known being part Campbell herself - Jean Ann Mary Mackay Campbell Duff, by name!
Thus spake the dear, old 'Duke of Boot' after the cataclysmic battle of Waterloo, and thus might speak 'Dim Dave' if, against the current odds, he squeaks in at the next election. His domestic problems, of course, are all over the media and need no repetition. However, it is the gathering storm which raises no warning dust which should concern him, not that there is a hell of a lot he can do about it. Roger Bootle in The Telegraph reminds us all, grimly, that absolutely nothing has been done to correct the massive faults within the euro system. The 'Kaiserin' insists that there must be no financial laxity and her government:
. . . is planning to run a balanced budget over the next several years even though the Maastricht Treaty would allow it to run a deficit of 3pc of GDP. German fiscal plans envisage its debt to GDP ratio falling sharply. So the German public finances will be in much better shape than just about anywhere else in the advanced world – including the UK.
As Bootle reminds us, the Germans believe the rest of Europe is in 'die Scheiße' precisely because they all failed to be Germanic enough. He also points out that a good deal of the past wealth created by German industry came from precisely those extravagant European countries who borrowed and spent like drunken sailors! Please note my use of the words "past wealth" because the last two quarters have seen a large drop in German productivity. The German 'miracle' is being tested, so let us hope their 'faith' is strong! Meanwhile all eyes are on France and Italy although Spain, with its internal Catelonian difficulties, should not be ignored. Italy in particular needs careful watching according to Bloomberg:
Italy’s 10-year yield rose two basis points to 2.41 percent, after increasing two basis points last week. The nation sold 5.5 billion euros of debt due in 2019 and 2024 and 2.9 billion euros of floating-rate notes maturing in 2020 today.
'Dim Dave' needs a European financial crisis inside the next eight months like a hole in the head because, of course, he will be blamed by the (less than) Great British Public! But it is perhaps the potential world crisis that should worry him (and you!) even more, as Jeremy Warner, er, warns in The Telegraph:
Contrary to widely held assumptions, the world has not yet begun to de-lever. In fact global debt-to-GDP – public and private non financial debt - is still growing, breaking new highs by the month.
There was a brief pause at the height of the crisis, but then the rise in the global debt-GDP ratio resumed, reaching nearly 220c of global GDP over the past year. Much of the more recent growth in this headline figure has been driven by China, which in response to the crisis, unleashed a massive expansion in credit.
In a 'normal' world too much debt would be worked off gradually with an increase in productivity and commerce but, alas, around the world today the brakes are coming on and growth is stagnating where it isn't actually falling. At some time it will dawn on the international 'Shylocks' that all those government bonds they bought - and for which they charged a fortune in interest - are not going to be repaid. At that point - brown stuff hits fan! And again,'Dave' must be hoping that the penny, or rather the ga-zillions, doesn't drop before next May!
Bloody Royal Mail: Honestly, darlings, you simply can't rely on the Royal Mail these days now it has been privatised, I mean, God knows what happened to my invitation to dear George Clooney's wedding yesterday. I mean, obviously I was invited, a distinguished luvvie such as myself would have been on dear George's A-list. And isn't he brave, fancy actually marrying a lawyer - quelle horreure!
'Hitch', the other one, provides a timely warning: As 'Dim Dave' juts out his chin and purses his little lips and prepares to unleash 'Bomber Command's aircraft, er, all six of them, 'Hitch' has a suggestion in today's Mail for all those amateur militarists in Westminster :
Before they’re allowed to play out their bathtub bombing fantasies, oughtn’t they to be asked to show they can manage such dull things as schools (no discipline), border control (vanished), crime (so out of control that the truth has to be hidden), transport (need I say?) and hospitals (hopelessly overloaded and increasingly dangerous)?
'Bling black the Blitish': That's what they are crying for on the streets of Hong Kong today as they demonstrate for the freedom to choose their own city leaders. When we ran the place we mostly let the locals get on with it, only pausing in our money-making (of which the Chinese played a large part) to give the Triads a biffing if they got too uppity and interfered with the serious business of banking and trading. Well, of course, they don't really want the British back but they are obviously sick of the regime in Beijing which pretends to be on the side of the workers but has no hesitation in smashing them over the head with a truncheon if they disobey orders. Where have I heard that before?
Today I multi-tasked - never again! Last Sunday you may recall that I bragged at how I cooked a pork fillet - easy-peasy that was. Today it was roast chicken with all the trimmings - stuffing, bacon, sausages, roast potatoes and three different veggies. God almighty, never again! The 'Head Chef' was forced to hobble out to the kitchen whilst I panicked and ran around in circles demanding to know how long this was to go in the oven and when do I take that out of the oven and so on and on. I think I mentioned before that multi-tasking is not my strong point - just one thing at a time with a good long rest in between is more my style. Mind you, the end result wasn't too bad - but I'm absolutely knacked!
The most malignant apparatchik of them all is going: So farewell, then, Eric Holder, perhaps the most politically corrupt Attorny-General the US of A has had to put up with for years. All pretence of applying the rule of law according to the law and the Constitution went straight out of the window when this evil man appeared. The worst result of his loathsome reign is that the next regime to follow Obama, whether it be Democrat or Republican, will pick up Holder's twisted methods and apply with double vigour. 'Our Will' had it right:
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.
Sleeping well, Dave? Well, you won't be when you read Lord Ashcroft's private polling of marginal seats reported in The Telegraph. According to His Lordship, who has, I suspect, no love for 'Dim Dave', the Tories look as though they will lose 24 critical seats and hand a comfortable majority to Labour. Mind you, I have a feeling I'm going to wake up several times during the night with the heebie-jeebies at the thought of Len McCluskey running the country through his sock-puppet, Ed Miliband. I may have to emigrate to Arkansas!
No more rumbles today