Friday, 29 May 2009

Bill Cash

I'm getting sick of the sneering mentality of the Telegraph to MPs' expenses. Looking at the 'revelations' about Bill Cash renting from his daughter, I strain to see anything wrong.

If you were allowed to rent off a family member, why not do so? Who cares if you own another property, if you're not claiming from the tax-payer for it? No-one is alleging flipping, or that he didn't actually live in the flat he was claiming for, and the rates charged were at market. If you are genuinely between flats, then claiming the modest sums charged by Private clubs saves the tax-payer money, as Mr Cash says, especially when he moved out because the rules changed. Where is the problem? This story is nothing but innuendo, and like Julie Kirkbride (who has done no worse than Balls/Cooper, who remain unmolested), I fear another grave injustice from the Broadsheet-inspired mob is about to be perpetrated. In hounding relatively innocent members, you're letting some criminal behaviour go unpunished.

Why chase Bill Cash, when Blears, Hoon and Purnell are still ministers?



Thursday, 28 May 2009

There’s something Vichy in the air


A veteran fixes Army vehicles during World War II

It seems Her Majesty has not been invited to the 65th Anniversary of the Start of the liberation of Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and arguably even Germany itself (along with a minor nation of little importance). As a Veteran of WWII you would have thought Her Maj and Her Husband (Another Veteran) would have been a popular choice since, you know, they actually did some fighting for their country against Herr Hitler. Furthermore she happens to be Head of State of four of the countries that fought; so the Vichy can save on chasing round the garden for another 4 portion of snails thanks to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But it seems Short arse Presidente Nicolas Sarkozy and his fried egg titted wife do not consider the hundred thousand Brits or Canadians buried under her soil part of the “main event” (Ignoring the 1 Million plus British and Commonwealth men buried under her soil from the previous war). The French Presidente is too busy giving President Obama of the US hand relief.

Obviously when Macavity Brown heard there was a photo opportunity with Obama, the tosspot was straight on the phone to the Elysee Palace. Of course being the incompetent ignorant half blind fuckstick that he is, he thought that since it was so last minute only he needed to be invited. ZanuLabour are the People, and the People are ZanuLabour, why would anybody else except our glorious leader be needed? The fact that the remaining British and Canadian Veterans want the Queen to be there to take the salute; rather than some faceless ZanuLabour drone of an undersecretary for the British MOD is irrelevant to Labour. Veterans are little people, many will vote Tory, so they don’t count.

This event should be about ALL those brave veterans who stormed the beaches (and yes Hollywood – Britain and Canada were there too, you know the chaps whose stories you nick to make your movies). What it should not be about is photo opportunities for politicians. Does anybody wonder why Politicians are held in such loathing by the general population – when they use the dead of war to grandstand and kiss arse to a popular version of their ilk



Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Some excellent work from the Taxpayers Alliance

In case you have not observed this excellent piece of Polling by those chaps at the Taxpayers Alliance; they have come up with some important data on the EU. It seems the European dive for protectionism the minute white tops appear on the waves of economic stability has not gone unnoticed by the general public. Indeed the EU is even less popular now than it ever was.

It has said people are so annoyed with the EU they wish to carry out a campaign of civil disobedience on our behalf. 69% want us to start disobeying the rules, 60% refuse to pay the fines when we break the rules, 57% want us to take power back unilaterally, 75% want a referendum (Oh dear Lib Dums – only 23% want politicians to choose), 75% to keep the GBP over the Euro and 67% believe that the recession has proved we need to control our own Economic policy.

In a poll carried out by Travelgall Data Polling Management Ltd using a weighted shifting random sampling multiplied by a positive multiple of previous history of voting divided by the number of spanners in a Sit Crome tool kit of my mates, 90% wanted the EU to “Fuck off and die”. The 10th mate worked as a Civil Servant in Her Majesty’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Ministry of Truth aka the EU funded BBC was unavailable and unwilling to comment on this polling statistic.



Tuesday, 26 May 2009

First Past the Post

Cabalamat has posted a manifesto for political reform, and has asked me for my opinon. This blog has a view on the voting system, which is much the same as its view on everything else: If it ain't broken, don't fix it. The expenses scandal was not as a result of a voting system; it was a symptom of a culture of entitlement amongst Parliamentarians. I think they've got the message, and an election under the current rules would suffice to clean the worst of the stink. Transparency in the expenses system would cure a lot of immediate problems. A bit more direct democracy would do the rest.

For supporters of electoral reform must first demonstrate that the system is fundamentally broken, rather than in need of a few running repairs. Does anyone think that the landslides in 1983 and 1997 did anything other than accurately reflect the public mood? Has any really unpopular government won a big mandate without the support of the people? No. Has a really unpopular Government been able to abuse the voting system to stay in power? No. Can the country get rid of a Government they don't like? Yes.

For all their accuracy, the various forms of PR miss the point: democracy is not a tribal head count, or at least it shouldn't be in a mature western nation. The idea that governance is better when there are lots of small parties with their own enthusiasms, all of whom reflect the views of a narrow stratum of opinion is made ludicrous by the back-room horse trading that goes on to form a Government, which inevitably looks like something no-one voted for. For in Britain, the coalitions are within parties, not between them. This means that the voter knows in advance what a Government led by one or other of the party leaders will look like. They may think they're all shit, but at least they have the option to vote for the least smelly turd.

You may argue, as DK does, that it would be better to vote for a party whose policies you actually agree with, but if the recent saga proves anything it is that whilst there are plenty of people willing to stand, though even rich, highly organised parties are barely competent at vetting their candidates, few outright crooks, cranks and loons get through. Judging by the scrofulous and swivel-eyed who stand for fringe parties, I am happy to leave the coalitions within parties, where they are.

By joining a party, you accept to some extent that you will not agree with all the policy they come out with. With hard-work and enthusiasm, you can influence policy to an extent and humility is important in politics: time at the coal face is good for the soul. Small parties are often single person vehichles, which in practice means demagogery. Furthermore, without money, and lots of it, you don't stand a chance of breaking through in a small party- only someone as rich as sir Jammy Goldsmith can influence elections from scratch.

If you're not a billionaire, and don't like what you see, join the least smelly turd, and bring air freshener (at the risk of strethchin a metaphor to breaking point). Help write policy, sit on committees. Make your voice heard. Change policy. Talk to your MP. Stand for council. THere are many ways to shout louder. They all require effort and persuasion. Which is no bad thing.

You may argue that many people live in "safe seats" or may be forced to vote tactically in order to achieve a "less bad result" , but whilst this is frustrating, by definition a majority of people in a given area are happy with the chap they've got representing them, the net result is that opinion across the broad 30 million or so voters is reflected, in all the levels of enthusiasm. Your tactical vote for a party of second choice will balance out an enthusiastic voter in another party's safe seat. I'm a Libertarian conservative. My MP is a Liberal Conservative. I'm happy. I used to live in a Labour rotten borough. because my vote was counted, and my candidate lost. It didn't bother me.

FPTP is not perfect. But it is better than the alternatives:

Proportional representation by party list is an abomination. It enshrines parties in the constitution, with the result that party machines choose the representatives, not the voters. It is the favoured system of small, single issue or extreme parties. Anyone proposing this as a solution has, almost by definition already lost the argument.

The varying forms of Single Transferable vote are supposed to be "fairer" to parties whilst eliminates the party list element by retaining the concept of voting for an individual. The level of proportionality depends on the number of members in the constituency and the exact formula by which the votes are transferred.

There is the additional problem that parties will have to consider the tactics of who to put up - do you put up a full list, and risk the vote being split between candidates, or do you put one candidate up, guaranteeing that at least one candidate from your party gets in. Thus the parties themselves may restrict voter choice. There may not be the option to cast all your votes for your favoured party. The increase in "proportionality" is greatest in large constituencies with many members, which has all the drawbacks of List PR. I am just not convinced the additional complexity is worth the drawbacks.

Finally there is the AV plus system, also known as Instant transfer voting, which seems to mean ranking the candidates and then eliminating the possibilities one by one and transferring votes to other parties. I just cannot see how that would make any difference to the outcome in the vast majority of constituencies, except that it would mean that the Labour party and Lib dems would happily give each other the 1 and 2 slots, thus guaranteeing centre left Governmnet for ever. Which is probably why lefties love it. What about someone Like me who has come to my party of choice because all the others have ruled themselves out in some way:

  • Labour: Wouldn't vote for them ever because their policies stink, and they are incompetent on a heroic scale.
  • Liberal Democrat: Euro-enthusiast and PR fetishist tax-hiking dishonest sandal wearing weird-beards.
  • UKIP: Too many loonies.
  • BNP: See labour and UKIP
  • Others: Why would I do this?
  • Conservative & Unionist: the least smelly turd.
Do I put only one mark? Does that mean my vote is worth less?

Do you want to spend time explaining the voting system on the doorsteps? Do you think anyone will care? First Past the post, has the great advantage of simplicity, ease of use, the electorate understand it, and it is time-hallowed. FPTP requires that a national challenge be mounted, and that you must be capable of winning in a plurality of seats which in practice means mounting a national challenge. This prevents piling up votes in one corner of the UK to the exclusion of the others: the South East is the only part of the country which would really matter under a proportional system. Labour and the Liberals just want to change the rules because they're losing, and that smacks of sour grapes.

The next issue is fixed term parliaments, which I also oppose. The ability of the commons to call a vote of no confidence and trigger a general election, or the ability of a Government to seek a new mandate when they think they can get away with it means that the political process can reflect public desire for change, or lack of it. The people aren't stupid: they punish an opportunistic election. But I prefer and have argued for a system in which General elections could be called by the people, and allowing recall of disgraced members of parliament. We do not need fixed terms, which in effect means perpetual elections, as parties build up slowly to the big day, years in advance (the recent US election lasted 3 years). We need the control of the process to pass from no 10 to the people who would get an election when they felt it was nessesary either when a government loses authority either by parliamentary arithmetic, as Major, or by a collapse in Moral Authority, like presently.

My favoured solution (which I blogged a year ago) is that the Crown would be the repository for a petition, which when it reaches a certain number in a set time, would cause the Queen to dissolve parliament. It would be clear that she would be acting apolitically, on the instructions of her People. This would run with the rub of the constitution and empower the population. This should also be mirrored at a constituency level. MPs which disgrace themselves should be recalled by their own electorate.

Are the people manning the barricades shouting

"WHAT DO WE WANT?"
"A SINGLE TRANSFERRABLE VOTE BY THE KEMENY-YOUNG METHOD"
"WHEN DO WE WANT IT?"
"NOW!"

No. They are not. FPTP is supported by the people, who basically couldn't care less so long as they can get rid of the rotters, should one Government lose their trust. They do, however want to get rid of an MP who's been caught. All in all, I think Carswell is very much on the right lines.



Lib Dems and Europe

I’m usually a huge fan of Mike Smithson over at political betting. He has a great blog with a admirably lax comment forum. But in this instance I believe he has let his Liberal Democrat instincts overrule his usually impressive neutrality. Discussing whether Dave is “Out-Blairing” Tony Blair he says…

There’s just one week and one day left in the campaign for five yearly election of members of the European Parliament and yet another news cycle goes by without the EU being an issue. For the reaction to the Telegraph’s MP expenses exposes and now the talk about constitutional change has simply pushed the core matter that people will be voting on off the agenda.

For David Cameron and the Tories - for whom the EU issue always has the potential to explode - this must be like Christmas coming earlier. The last thing he wants talking about is the party position on referendums on the Lisbon treaty or the grouping that his party’s MEP plan to belong to in Brussels after the June 4th election.


Now this is a gut Liberal Democrat position, that the Tories don’t like talking about Europe. What the LibDems haven’t yet worked out is that there has been a sea change in Conservative politics, and the party is now almost united on this issue with the exception of a handful of Tory Grandee holdouts like Ken Clarke. I would furthermore have thought David Cameron would like nothing more than to talk about his position on the EU Constitution/Treaty of Lisbon. Unlike all the other political parties the Conservatives haven’t lied their arses off on giving the public their say. This is clear Blue Water between himself and the other main parties. He can show how he actually listens to the public. At the moment he is stuck in the “plague on all your houses” discussion on political corruption which doesn’t help the Conservatives, indeed the only people who benefit from this discussion are the minor parties.

Obviously I don’t have the same problem of neutrality as Mike. I can say what I want so I’m hardly going to castigate him on this one instance.



Why you breakin’ my balls Hans?


Short arse whack job Kim Jong Il has fired off the mother of Nuclear Firecrackers and the world “will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are”. The North Koreans have done this because they know the Chinese are paranoid about having a reasonably pro-American democracy on any of their boarders and will do jack shit about the North Koreans learning to love the bomb. This is why China is also keen on the Military Junta in Burma, don’t mind the Lao “PDR” killing lots of their own people, just love those Commies in Nepal etc.

North Korea has also calculated that the US Democrats are weak when it comes to Foreign Policy. In fact they probably haven’t stopped laughing over the time Clinton sent Madeleine Albright and she handed them every thing they wanted on a plate in return for “not developing nuclear weapons”. The sales of Polycel Hairline Crack filler after the underground test have demonstrated how successful that policy was. Since Kim Jong Il is Ill the North Koreans also figure that the bomb will give his successor the time to pick his own “Pleasure Team” of North Korean girls.

So what can be done? Short term nothing. Longer term - cut the aid that the West supplies them. Kim Jong Il and his Kim Jong Ilk can ignore this short term – after all they’ve already lost 1 million plus people to starvation. But sooner or later enough soldiers will be burying their parents for it to cause a problem. Harsh I know, but there’s only so long you can support failure. Then China will have to start handing over great wodges of cash to keep North Korea afloat. If the Chinese want the dictator equivalent of Leylandii to cover their boarders they can bloody well pay for them themselves.



Monday, 25 May 2009

Hutton

Will Hutton is a euro fanatic. Today he surpasses himself in a solipistic tirade whose main point is that the European elections are, like... really important. He's wrong. The Electorate aren't idiots and will only do what is important. They don't turn out for local government elections as centralisation means that councils merely implement and rubber stamp policies which come down from Westminster. As Westminster has given power to Brussels, so turnout has fallen for General elections too. So you might think that the European parliament would start to gain voter interest. You might be right, if that legislature had any power, which it doesn't. It is the commission which drives the agenda. And that is appointed. So what does Hutton say about this?

Nothing.

...This year's elections for the European Parliament are even more low profile than 2004's and they were hardly thrilling. The Lib Dem and Labour Euro manifestos dutifully roll out the advantages of European engagement - working together on climate change, addressing the banking crisis, fighting people-trafficking, entrenching rights at work etc, etc - but the authors know they have a struggle.

There is no passion for Europe for Europe's sake - only routine calls to make "the EU work for Britain", as Labour says. The inference is obvious: but for doughty Labour, the EU would be against Britain. Untrue, defensive and hardly an inspiring call to arms.

The Conservatives have passion, but not for the EU. David Cameron's message is not that voters should vote for a Tory MEP to get anything done in the European Parliament - it is to put more pressure on Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on the Lisbon constitutional treaty now.

So the evil Tories' call to have Labour obey a manifesto commitment is not democratic is it? The EU parliament will not get anything done even if it had power, so the Tory position, even on your characterisation of it, is reasonable.
In any case, as his party will not be sitting with the centre-right grouping in the European Parliament but either as independents or with a rag bag of east European MEPs with less than progressive attitudes towards gypsies, homosexuals and Jews, it will not matter much what Tory MEPs think on anything.
Cameron's delay in leaving the European Peoples' Party is designed to avoid sitting with the nutters. This has not stopped federasts from bleating endlessly about how leaving the EPP makes the Tories little better than facists. According to internet law, Hutton has therefore lost the argument.
It is a dismal prospect all round. Apart from the retiring Glenys Kinnock, the name recognition of British MEPs is pathetically low. They don't appear on radio and television, don't campaign on local issues and are lucky to get asked to speak at school speech days...
Dan Hannan?
.... Turn-out will be poor and voters will vote on national issues. Why bother?
Why bother indeed. The European parliament has so little say in the decisions of the EU that it is an even bigger joke than Westminster, which can at least influence the makeup of the Commission. The public have got the importance of the EU parliament bang on.
The European Parliament may not be the seat of even a semi-European government, nor ever will be. But it matters. It holds the European institutions to account - from the European Commission to the European Central Bank.
No it doesn't
It scrutinises proposed legislation from the European Commission. It can dismiss commissioners and the commission president....
...But chooses to not use these powers, because everyone's a good little European, and dissent is barely tolerated....
...It cannot rival a national assembly like those of Britain, Germany or France in importance, but it is a relevant institution none the less and we have the chance to vote for who is in it...
Unlike, say the Commission. Democracy eh?
...The British could be engaged in matters European if anyone dared to lead them.
They, the people are engaged in Europe, at least insofar as they have made up their mind. They don't like the EU and resent further powers going to Brussels, if they can be bothered to care.
Part of the problem is that the European Parliament, despite its considerable formal powers, is too damn reasonable and too damn unideological. There is no cut and thrust between parties with a continental mandate committed to very different visions of Europe engaged in vital argument with a European Commission with real clout and real money. Pro-Europeans like to boast that more than half our legislation is now made in Brussels...
...Boast? Do they really think that will sell the EU to a skeptical public?
...so simultaneously sparking a new round of Euroscepticism...
...which Hutton thinks equivalent to facism, so clearly not...
...and overstating the importance of the entire EU having, say, common standards on the chemical content of petrol or on airline flying rights. On what gives politics its guts - education, health, welfare, transport, tax, defence, foreign policy, morality, MPs' expenses, the powers of local government, justice, criminal law - national governments jealously guard their autonomy, enormously helped by Britain which ever since we joined has done as much as possible to stop the European cause in its tracks...
...Imagine the undemocratic disaster it would have been without us...
....Only on competition and trade policy, along with agriculture, do European institutions have real power. Progress on climate change and terrorism, while important, is mainly negotiated between governments. So the elections are essentially for a still- forming institution that monitors bread-and-butter issues which, out of sheer practicality, need to be tackled on a continental scale.
So by Hutton's own admission, none of the key issues in voters' minds are covered by this parliament, whose powers are extremely limited. And he expects us to use the vote to do anything other than act as if the Euro elections were a national opinion-poll.
Yet even over these the majority of Tories are nihilist and would rather obstruct the whole enterprise than be constructive.
It's not about how to make Government work, but about making it stop. This is an entirely honourable position, and one which is skeptical, but not yet against withdrawal. Much like the people of the UK, whose attitude to Europe the Tories reflect. Democracy, eh. Who needs it?
Who needs Europe, they ask, and while it may be modest now, what of its longer-term, dark ambitions? Britain should aim to be a super Switzerland committed to free markets, financial services, private schools and minimal government.
Sounds good to me.
Europe remains the Tory modernisers' blind spot. David Cameron and William Hague must know the risk they are running. They know, or should know, that a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty once every member state has signed it, as is likely this autumn if the Irish vote yes in a second referendum, is a European suicide note; 26 other countries are not going to spend another three years ratifying another treaty amended to meet David Cameron's and his party's prejudices.
Do you mean 'prejudices' or do you mean a thought-through position, agreed by the vast majority of the party, which is in tune with that of the British people? Of course the Tories don't want to talk about Europe. Neither do the electorate.
They are condemned to tell Britain that while some cosmetic concessions may be made, essentially the body of the treaty must stand. If the British hold a referendum and there is a no vote, then the consequence will be that Britain must withdraw from the EU.
Hurrah... if that's true, there's no need to vote UKIP.
So either this is a one-off stunt which the party leadership knows it must retreat from once the treaty is signed off or a ploy it knows will lead to a yes or no vote on de-facto European Union membership within two years of winning next year's election. Either way, it hardly inspires much confidence.
On the contrary, Will, this is the most optimistic thing I have heard for some time. Cameron's equivocation cannot last. If he ducks a post ratification referendum, he knows there will be a grass-roots revolt. The fact is, the Tories are united on Europe, and the referendum will happen. Whether or not the treaty is ratified before the election. He's not talking about it, because that would dominate the Agenda. And the electorate don't like talking about Europe. So Cameron's position is tacticaly sound.
So these European parliamentary elections really matter. Ukip will do well. The Conservatives will do better than 2004, but not as well as they need to win a general election. Along with the BNP, the opinion polls suggest that more than 50% of the vote will go to anti-EU parties.
Fuck me. There's a problem with democracy, Will. The people will just not do as they're damn well told. You federasts, Will are the ones not listening.
I'm not sure the British know the consequence of their vote, but a dynamic is in train that will lead to our exit from the EU. As a pro-European, I don't want this to happen, but I've begun to wonder whether it wouldn't be better for Europe.
Which is clearly where your loyalty lays. Traitor...
Only living outside the EU as the sceptics want - creating a politically diminished Britain fit for hedge funds, tax-avoiders and asset-strippers - is likely to convince the British majority that the option is a disaster.
Like those hell-holes, Norway and Switzerland. How can anyone advocate that? A "politically diminshed" Briatin is still bigger in terms of population than most countries in the world, who rub along quite happily without nanny EU. And we're the 5th largest economy in the world. Oh, with the world's third largest deployable military. And Nukes. And a permanent seat in the UN security council. Politically diminished indeed.
Meanwhile, the Europeans can deepen the EU, along the way empowering the European Parliament.
Good for them. Because the European project has not at all been a costly disaster, and ever closer union is just what it needs
When a Tory government leads an impoverished, embittered Britain back into the EU in 25 years' time, reality will have imposed political maturity.
Or maybe Britain will thrive outside the EU, the return of the billions we pay to French farmers will help pay down Labour's debt for a start.
And elections for the European Parliament will be much more serious. Then they really will warrant bumper stickers, TV debates, hustings and the attention of the whole nation.
Or, if as I suspect, We're better off out, then Euro elections will have as much interest to a Briton as those to German state legislatures. None whatsoever, just as they are now.

A fisking brought to you on the instructions of Mr Eugenides, who e-mailed me yesterday...



Bank Holiday One Liners

Alan Johnson comes out for Electoral Reform. One of the reasons I disagree with the "politics is broken" meme, is that it could get much worse. Don't give the politicians an opportunity to do something stupid.

While we're on the subject of stupid politicians, Even the Chancellor can't get his head round the Tax system, and needs help. Paid for by us, naturally.

The Army have traditions, The Navy has Customs, and the RAF has a collection of bad habits. Now available on CD ROM.

There is a lot of guff about the Bishops criticising the BNP. My view is that the knuckledraggers started it by suggesting that "Jesus would vote BNP", and therefore it is relevant and fair for the primate of the Anglican communion to come out and say "er... no. He wouldn't. He would be a liberal democrat" (Sandals you see).

The Conservative candidate list has been reopened. Should I go for it?

North Korea tested an atomic bomb. Take it away Dr Lehrer...



Britblog Roundup #223

Is up over at Liberal England



Friday, 22 May 2009

MPs fear expenses suicide.

Nadine Dorries M.P. fears the suicide of a Politician over the expenses scandal. Funny how Politicians didn’t fear bankers killing themselves when they were in the bully pulpit bashing the hell out of the entire profession for their “greed and sleaze”. I don’t remember any concern for the thousands who have already lost their jobs in the finance industry. I don’t recall any thanks for the billions they gave in taxes to Zanu Labour for them to piss away. So cry me a river Nadine Dorries M.P. Still I suspect one politician is safe, even the taxpayer funded Mock Tudor beams on his house won’t support the weight of a noose.



A Waste of Time and Resources

Yesterday afternoon, whilst fantasising about the enormous Gin 'n Tonic I was going to have when I got home, I cycled into the back of a Transit van. Don't worry, the bike is OK, because my face took the impact and acted as a crumple zone, and I hit a hard bit of the van, so no damage there either.

The good news is that this happened in office hours, right outside one of the Doctors' surgeries in my town. I saw a doctor, who bandaged my head, whilst the receptionist wiped the blood from the floor and walls. (Head wounds are spectacular and produce a lot of claret).

"That'll need stitches", he said.

"Are you sure? It doesn't look that bad"

"Yes, It's quite deep"

My sunglasses had apparently driven themselves into the eyebrow, cutting deeply, and there was a parallel split caused by the impact with the rear driver's side corner of the van.

"Well can't you do it?"

"No. You'll have to go to A&E."

Not disheartened, but amazed that a qualified doctor felt himself incompetent to patch up such a minor wound, I tried another Doctors' surgery in Town where I saw a nurse, who again refused to stitch me up, but again bandaged me up again and sent me on my way to A&E.

A&E not needed

I reached A&E in the next town at about 5:30pm, having seen two people already who should have the confidence to deal with the sort of wound, a split eyebrow, that boxing cornermen and rugby coaches patch up on an almost daily basis in order to get their fellows back into the fray. I did not need to be there.

"Hi there" I said to the triage nurse. "I've hurt my head, and I need a couple of stitches."

"You need to wait to see a doctor".

"I've already seen a doctor, and a nurse and they agree, I need a couple of stitches, or maybe some glue and steristrips. Any nurse will do, no need to waste a Doctor's time." I could see the waiting room start to fill up.

"You need a doctor to make that decision."

"I've already.... Never mind... how long will I have to wait?"

"About an hour and a half", was what she said, but the Government target is 4 hours and they actually took three and a half before I saw a doctor.

"That'll need cleaning up, to get the eyebrow hair out of the cut, wait over there and the Nurse will see to you." He said.

Thirty seconds in front of a doctor and no more than 5 minutes with a nurse. For which I had to wait three and a half hours, converse with a doctor, an nurse, an administrator and two triage nurses.

The arse-covering requirement that I see a doctor wasted my time and his, when any nurse, including the one in my home town, could and should have been competent to deal with such a minor wound. But for safety's sake, I am forced to DRIVE to the next town (with a head wound and potential concussion, which both medics were worried about, and although I wasn't concussed, I wasn't wildly keen on driving anywhere either), fill up A&E, and endure looking at the endless procession of inadequate and helpless who trudge through whilst the normal people, with minor wounds huddled for mutual protection against the freaks in the corner. And wait. And Wait. And Wait.

I don't understand. I wasn't ill. I wasn't concussed (I know what that feels like). I just needed patching up and sending on my way. What the hell do they teach nurses these days? Surely any nurse should be able to deal with minor flesh wound, which didn't even need suturing (as I suggested to the baby-faced doctor I saw first). Just some superglue, a sterilised wipe and half a dozen steristrips. When I got to see a doctor, and a nurse, the treatment was great. They do know what they are doing. But the nurse had to pick a scab off my head and re-open the wound in order to patch me up, I had been waiting that long.

And that, ladies and Gentlemen is why the NHS is useless. Nurses can't do what nurses do. Doctors ' time is wasted. The Bureaucracy, 'elf & Safety and petty credentialism mean that only certain types of nurse are qualified to do the simple running repairs that the majority of walking wounded in A&E needed for their sprianed ankles, cuts and bruises. No-one took responsibility, and no-one cared that the majority of people were enduring quite unessesary waits. Doctors' valuable time was being wasted too.

And as the patients grumbled away in the waiting room. I couldn't help comparing the A&E systems I've seen in France, Austria, Germany and Canada where the minor wounds are patched up and sent home with no fuss and little bureaucracy by whoever is nearest without having to wait the government mandated four hours. It's no longer money. We spend what others spend on healthcare. It is about the organisation, the culture. The NHS is the world's third largest employer with over a million people (after the PLA and the Indian Railroad). No organisation that big works. The public sector producer interest was visible in force: nothing in the waiting room worked, it was stuffy, uncomfortable an and no effort was made to indicate how long you would be waiting. Queue up and take your stalinist service. Be thankful for what you get. Don't criticise the sainted nurses 'n doctors. It's your health service.

Wonderful thing, the NHS. Envy of the world. Widely imitated by... Oh...



Kaphar hunnu bhanda marnu ramro

Pre 1997 Gurkha veterans have finally be allowed to live in this country. I can see why the Labour party was very reluctant to let them in. The Gurkha is a brave, loyal patriotic, independent, hardworking individual who relies on himself and his friends. Values not exactly welcomed by this government who have nevertheless had an open door policy to those they believe will become a pliant client state. I on the other hand look forward to welcoming these honourable people who will be a credit to this nation in peace just as they are in war. I am also really looking forward to the BNP Candidate for Church Crookham trying to explain this one away. The Gurkhas are loved and admired by the British people, and congratulations to Nick Clegg for fighting their cause in Parliament. Of course the main praise (other than the exemplarity example of the Gurkhas themselves) is due to Joanna Lumley who ably provided a superbly run campaign. Her demolition of Immigration minister Phil Woolas was a joy to behold.

There is the worry that the Gurkha regiments will be cut because their pensions will cost the MOD too much money. To which I say “Utter bollocks” I suggest that the Sir Humphries at the MOD cut down on the hotel bills by staying in 4 and 5 star accommodations, and start looking at canvas options – just like real soldiers, I’ll even let them play dress up in CS95 and everything. The MOD could also get the odd defence contractor to deliver on time and on budget. They will find the money to not only pay the pensions, but even find the money for the odd extra regiment, some helicopters and body armour too. If you’re stuck for ideas I’m sure these chaps could be seconded.

I will leave you this story of the Gurkhas fearsome reputation. During the Falklands war a great many Argentinean prisoners were taken with very few British troops to guard them. The Royal Marines were having particular trouble with the Argentine Officers who were inciting their men to attack their guards. The Royal Marines were replaced by Gurkha guards, and the Marines – before leaving told the POWs that the Gurkhas were cannibals and would eat them if they caused any trouble. They then told the Gurkhas that if any Argentinean started giving them grief to smile and lick their lips. The result was some very very well behaved prisoners.

One of the greatest honours of my life was when I was given a Kukri by a Gurkha Corporal I knew.



Thursday, 21 May 2009

Atheist Wedding...

When (if) I get married, I want to do it in church, because I like the idea of the marriage vows being witnessed by the community of one's friends and family in the place and in the manner it has been done for centuries.

Religious friends think this hypocritical because I am an athiest.

God, demonstrating His love, yesterday.

It isn't. In order to make my statement, subtly, I want one of the readings to be one of the more wildly inappropriate Passages from the Old Testament. The Story of Lot's daughters being offered to the mob to rape for example (Gen XIX 1-9), or may be the one where they get their poor old dad drunk and... you know... (Gen XIX 30-38). Or the one where a concubine is thrown to the mob, gets gang-raped and dies (Judges XIX 14-29). Perhaps if that's too close to the bone, then an grossly gynophobic set of instructions Like Leviticus XV 16-30 could be slipped in. These will almost certainly get vetoed. Perhaps one of the meaningless lists would be fun Like Genesis V, if followed by "this is the word of the Lord". Or perhaps one where some random tribe gets it. I mean what had the Midianites ever done to hurt anyone (Numbers XXXI)? Any more suggestions for passages which might be suitable... the comments are open.

A subtle sendup, which will at least have the benefit of finding out who's listening to the service.

Does this make me a bad person?



Rating the UK

I have to admit that I’m having an awful lot of fun with this Parliamentary scandal. Unlike my co-writer Jackart I’m quite enjoying seeing Parliamentarians squirm and possibly go to gaol. Now if we look at the total figures of corrupt Politicians and compare it with the general public, it is not any higher or lower as a percentage than the general public with a criminal record - around 20%. Nevertheless Jackart considers politics a noble calling; I put politicians in the same bracket as tax collectors, traffic wardens and actors. You have to be a flawed human being, probably with a weight problem, a twitch and personal hygiene issues all rolled into one at school to choose to be a politician. Your entry into Politics is merely a way of getting back at all those who called you “Fatty Blinky Stinkpot” or combinations thereof. There are noble exceptions such as Margaret Thatcher (PBUH), Lech Walensa, Cincinnatus and the like, but I work on the theory that if you work in a sewage farm, sooner or later you’ll hook a wedding ring rather than a turd.

Nevertheless we will certainly agree on one thing, there is a lesser of two evils. And as the market reacts to the fact that Standard & Poor has lowered the UK to negative from stable; and the threat to the UK’s AAA rating increases just at the apex of the largest government borrowing since World War II we should not let ourselves be distracted by this plague on all your houses corruption. This government is the biggest bunch of economic illiterates to plague the UK since the “Tools Down” period of the 1970’s – also Labour. The phrase can’t organise an orgy in a brothel doesn’t even begin to sum it up. The Labour party are fuckwits of the order of magnitude that hasn’t been seen since the Captain of the Titanic said “What Iceberg?” They have fire hosed your money at the state sector for so long it will take a generation to pay it off. And whilst this corruption scandal shows the mendacity and venality of many in the Political class, at the end of the day it is small fry compared the corruption of the Labour government in throwing your money at their client state. And if you think voting Martin Bell or Esther Rantzen is going to help you are deluded.



Hypocrisy

Travelgall accuses me of thinking politics a "Noble Profession". I do not... I think political thought is a noble calling, but practical politics is the art of the possible and is by its nature a series of grubby compromises. Indeed I argued at the time of the Banking crisis that politicians were gleefully rounding on a class of person even less popular than they were, in order to distract people from the growing expenses row: Bankers. Despite this, the vast majority of MPs though have been proved by this crisis to be thoroughly good eggs - they have not taken the piss despite every opportunity.

Of course there are a great many MPs with a stink of Hypocrisy. In the select committee which so monstered Fred the Shred et al, was one Sir Peter Viggers, A Tory MP who has resigned for a bizarre expenses claim for a duck island (disallowed, but everyone thinks he got it, why let the facts get in the way of good story eh?).

So ye sow so shall ye reap. Do not provoke the mob, for you know not for whom they will come. Bankers, Politicians... who's next? The self-employed? Bloggers?

What is interesting is that this crisis, I have never met two people who have maximum outrage about the same thing. Tam Dayell's bookcases, Hogg's Moat cleaning, Viggers' Duck Island are all fine by a number of people I have met (The self-employed are, in general more indulgent than PAYE sheep employees), yet these same people were offended by first-class travel, which I think a reasonable expense. Mike Smithson is most outraged by Shaun Woodward's claim for a second hand copy of his own book. Many people are offended by the profit from second homes, which doesn't bother me at all, so long as they pay the taxes we little people are made to, which is why Hoon, Purnell and Blears have offended me, though they are tied with Morley and Wiggin who appear guilty of outright fraud and, worse crashing incompetence at it. Basically, there's something in this crisis to tickle the prejudices of everyone and because it is OK to hate MPs, everyone can enjoy their 2-minute hate.

But this is really getting like those Racist arguments, where every murder by a Black Person is used to confirm a long-held prejudice. The fact... FACT of the matter is that the majority, the vast Majority of MPs have behaved. You may say "they covered up malpractice" or some such nonsense, but a Libertarian should not be his brother's keeper, nor should he ask MPs to be. A Libertarian should not be making accusations of a "political class" or indeed any other class. A Libertarian should look at the evidence and step back from his prejudice. Which is why the Libertarian blogosphere has dsiappointed me during this crisis. I expected better from many of you than the "Hang 'em all" nonsense. You can't pretend Douglas Carswell isn't an MP.

I mean given the trail the Telegraph gave this scoop, is anyone else thinking "3 cases of tax-evasion, two of fraud and a few dubious expenses claims, many of which were rejected... IS THAT IT?"

Is that really enough to subject the mother of parliaments to the whim of an unelected quango? (though you may argue that in the European Commission, it already has). To cause a Government (albeit a rotten one) to fall? To cause the Speaker (albeit a useless one) to go for the first time in 300 years?

Take a look at Berlusconi and tell me that this "crisis" would even make it to page 10 of an Italian paper (after all, he owns them). This would barely register on the scale of American political corruption, France: They all went to school together with the jounalists and are in any case all sleeping with each other's wives. No-one would be interested. Japan? Too deferential for this to be exposed. Germany is probably the only other major country where this piffling "someone you've never heard of has their fingers in the till" scandal could turn into a "crisis".

Let's have some perspective, people. Hang the rotten ones out to dry (which is being done, by all parties), but if this crisis proves anything it is the fundamental decency of the British body politic, and is evidence of the disinfectant qualities of sunlight. That's all the "crisis" needs, which is what we've already got.



Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Hot air

Train spotters with wellies - aka the Twitcher community (lead by their messiah complete with beard) David Bellamy is upset that Greenies are encouraging wind turbines. These wind turbines apparently upset birds in their Natural Habitat by cleaving them in half whilst doing whatever it is that birds do. Professor Bellamy is keen on fucking up the habitats of fish instead by encouraging tidal power. It’s hard to know which side to support on this one - mostly because I don’t really care either way.

On the one hand I enjoy the odd bit of grouse, but it is an occasional meal, whereas fish fingers are a more regular sustenance which should put me in favour of Tidal Power. Yet on the other hand the idea of Scotland being covered by wind turbines; thereby giving the Scots something else to moan about, and stopping my Grandmother crapping on about the Highlands is a compelling idea. In essence however it basically it comes down to the question of which you would rather have chopped up, the bloody wood pigeon that sits outside your window and wakes you up every morning, or a Spanish fishing trawler. It’s a tough decision.

What isn’t difficult however, is to imagine the comedy fight a la Bridget Jones, between two sets of eco-weenies, with me looking on and cheering from the side. Of course we could piss off both the Bird Nerds and the Tree Huggers whilst solving the energy problem, CO2 emissions and biodiversity issues in one fair swoop. Just build one great big Nuclear reactor on a Marsh warbler breeding ground instead. Far less damage than covering the whole of Scotland with either Windmills or Tidal barriers.



Gordon's Logic...

... at PMQs today appeared to be following the following thought process: I'm not going to call an election, because the Tories might win it. We've got a year to "reform the electoral system".

an unelected leader, today

First Past the Post does not create a commons exactly in line with the proportion of people in the electorate, but it does reflect the public will rather well. Does anyone think 1983 or 1997 did not reflect accurately what the public wanted? Under the current system, an MP if he has done wrong will be punished as an individual by his electorate. Tatton for example was a safe Tory seat (it is now Shadow Chancellor, Gorge Osborne's) until one Mr Hamilton accepted a Brown Envelope and Martin Bell stood, and won as an independent. Esther Rantzen is going to accept the same role this time round, though where is yet to be decided.

Under the Proportional Representation system favoured by the Liberal Democrats parties are enshrined in the constitution. That is why I am against it.

STV... Multi Member Constituencies. Fuck off. Not Interested. All enshrine parties at the centre of events. This means fewer independents and mavericks. It means more corruption and cronyism.

The fact is, Brown, If you're listening, you one eyed cunt, we want to get rid of you. And we want to get rid of your Party, for that is the point of democracy, not a tribal head-count. Then we might consider electoral reform. If you, Brown, were to attempt to reform the electoral system, I would not be alone in suspecting that you were doing so to cling onto power.

An elected leader.

This country is getting more like Venezuela by the day. At least Chavez won an election or two.



Summer of Blood

In 1381, a Government strapped for cash and stuffed with unpopular, unaccountable and unprincipled people attempted to raise money to continue the war in France. The most unpopular member of the boy King's inner circle, his Uncle John of Gaunt wanted to conduct some expeditionary warfare at the country's expense in order to expand his holdings in Spain.


The parallels between then and now are obvious: we have a cash strapped governments and corrupt legislators enriching themselves at the taxpayer by engaging in property speculation with public money, and a total unwillingness to see how angry the people were about it. It is, however an advantage of our carefully chaotic system that it can cope with the public anger without enduring the bloodshed which ripped the country apart in the Peasants Revolt. We merely fire the speaker, and give him ermine and a fat pension. In 1381, they killed all the Belgians in London ('why' is explained in the book...).

In attempting to raise new taxes and broaden the tax-base, Richard II provoked anger and violence, not because his demands were unreasonable, but because they went against the reality of a society where power had shifted from the owners of land to the providers of Labour. The Black death had seen the Population of England fall, Land was not scarce but labour was. Working wages rose, and noble incomes fell. The poll tax was an attempt by the political class to make the 'little people' pay for their new power. Replace 'Land' with 'Capital' and you have a similar situation as a result of the 'credit crunch' now. Returns to both fell because of crises - the black death and a collapse in asset values respectively which have the potential to fundamentally change the way society and the political economy operate.

Of course now we accept taxes on even the lowliest worker that would provoke a Medieval peasant to reach for the pitchfork. Perhaps we have become too supine in the face of authority? Or perhaps we are on the cusp of major political and social change. Who knows?

Reading Dan Jones' book, one is struck by how close we came to revolution then, but also how reasonable and indeed conservative the rebels demands were (just as ours are against our legislators), and how quickly such reasonable demands can become, with intransigence on both sides and the goading of extremists, a dangerous and divisive set of unrealistic expectations which lead to violence, destruction and death. However good the leaders or their intentions, revolutions are rarely good for the people.

For the revolt ultimately poisoned English life for the rest of the young king Richard II's reign. He became a Tyrant in response to his early introduction to the commons. And it is the aftermath, and the long-term effects of the Peasants' revolt where this book is strongest, and I certainly felt that I understood the causes and effects of the great events. I would have liked a more in-depth assessment of the key players, John Ball and Jack Straw, who remain rather mysterious - Wat Tyler in particular burst onto the scene at Smithfield without much explanation of his previous actions or motivations. The king's key advisers and champions are better presented, perhaps because the author does not embark on flights of historical fiction preferring to stick to the sources. The king eventually won and as history is written by the victors, these come down to us more accurately through history.

Summer of Blood is written in a fast-paced journalistic style, which well suits the explosive events - a few days and weeks around the festival of Corpus Christi, 1381. The story unfolds quickly, and given the distance of time between the events and now, the writing makes it seem modern and relevant. If you read it I challenge you to not think about setting fire to Douglas Hogg's moated Manor House or Hacking Jacqui Smith's head off.

This is a timely story well told. No wonder Amazon have sold out!



A Glass of Whine for the speaker

A Glass of Whine for the speaker

“It wasn't his accent or religion that did for him. It was the fact that he was a dinosaur, like you George (Galloway). Get ready to play the species card”.

I do not say this out of some misplaced sense of snobbery. It is not the fact that he is from Glasgow that is the problem, but rather the fact that he is a Glasgow Labour MP of the very worst sort - a bovine, chippy, venal, knuckle-dragging, tribal, narrow-minded, grasping, slow-witted, nepotistic, mentally subnormal dullard.
Mr Eugenides

The usual useful idiots have been trotted out to defend the useless sack of shit that was the speaker of the House of Commons. In this case it is serial bigot and cheerleader of every Islamic dictator twix Rabat and Lahore – “Gorgeous” George Galloway. His Piece is the usual shite you would expect from the man recently back from his stoning at the hands of Egyptians whilst taking supplies to Hamas the Palestinians. “English snobbery can do a Morris dance” is how it begins, followed by the usual Commie cant of “Sheet Metal Worker”. We have also had the ZanuLabour MP Sir Stuart Bell bitching about the "Toffs" on the Electric fish tank– presumably these Toffs are in cahoots with international Zionism, the Illuminati and the Boy Scouts of America.

The only person who can be described as a snob in the disastrous reign of the Speaker is… The Speaker. He fired his secretary for being a Sloane who "probably voted Tory”, and got rid of a decent Sergeant of Arms, replacing him with a non entity called Jill Pay on equally class related grounds. The only person who could be accused of tribalism is the Speaker – his elevation to the post was entirely due to chippy Labour vindictiveness, and nothing he did changed that. The simple fact is he didn’t do his job regarding Damian Green MP, and then blamed it on the non entity he appointed and was responsible for. Even she kept her job - 'accountability' is a dirty word in the Labour Party. He was biased in his dealings with Parliament. He spent taxpayers money on himself and his wife like it was going out of fashion (although I will defend him on using his air miles - that’s what they are for). He tried to block a Freedom of information bill on the very issue that landed him in the Sewage Farm, unbelievably refusing to disclose the information after the Telegraph had plastered it over the front pages. And he then lost it with Kate Hoey MP and assorted others when they pointed out – quite correctly – that his actions were bringing the British Parliament into even more disrepute than the limbo dancingly low position we were in already - both home and overseas.

So what can we expect in the future of this Weapons Grade Retard. Well Ermine and an immediate lift to the Upper Chamber now you've been forced to go. How very New Labour, and how very symbolic of everything libertarians hate about the role of government in our society and its rewards for failure. P J O’Rourke says “Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit”. They should stick a picture of Michael Martin next to this quote. A man who used the union political system to gain power and privilege far beyond his worth. I would say “don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out”, but since that door is the House of Lords and you’ll bill us for damages to the bloody thing, I’ll simply say that unlike the meaningless platitudes coming in your direction I welcome the fact that you will go down in history even if it doesn’t take another 300 years to fire a speaker.



Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Independent oversight

Gordon Brown thinks that an independent quango should oversee member's pay and remuneration. Sounds good until you ask the simple questions:

A Quango. Appointed by whom? Accountable to whom?

Gordon Brown is an idiot. Why not just publish what MPs earn and make them publish any expenses they claim so that a much bigger committee, the 70,000 or so voters in their constituency electorate can make up their minds. Put in place a system of recall whereby if a threshold is crossed, a by election could be triggered by a petition of constituents. Thus if a member disgraces himself, then the voters can get rid of them.

The country needs Genuine accountability to real voters, not false accountably to faceless bureaucrats, who in practice will probably include superannuated MPs.



MPs' expenses: The wash-up.

I watched the speaker 'speak' yesterday, if his illiterate chuntering can be accurately described as such. He demonstrated a poor grasp of english, an inability to read, as well as failing to understand parliamentary protocol and clearly had not prepared the business in hand. He therefore lost control of the house. Only the protection of a tribal Labour government is keeping him in his job, spokesmen for which are suggesting Martin is being made a "scapegoat". He isn't; not only has his own snout in the trough, but has been at the centre of attempts to cover up the expenses scandal. And for the reasons outlined above, he's been a lousy, partisan speaker.

There is no defence for Martin, he's got to go right now. That much was made clear yesterday.

There are 110 MPs on this list.

5 of them are there because peace in Northern Ireland was bought in part with the promise of the Commons expenses. Sinn Fein were always vile. A few hundred grand a year to keep 'em from blowing bits of the UK up is cheap at twice the price. Call it danegeld if you will, but does anyone disagree?

Of the remaining 105, The majority are there for piffling expenses claims, many of which have been paid back, like David Cameron's Wisteria cleaning or Prescott's bog-seats: claims of the sort for furnishing or maintaining a second home, which the rules allow, but don't pass the 'smell test' or at least don't in this atmosphere. The majority would not face censure by a private employer or the tax man who at worst will demand a repayment with interest. Some are on the list for failure to submit a receipt, or for merely enquiring whether they could claim for items and some are being accused of 'flipping' when their circumstances genuinely changed.

A good 30 or so did not break the letter of the rules, but rode roughshod over their spirit, and will lose ministerial positions, and get shafted at the next election as a result. These are the flippers and the married couples with different "main" homes or those who claimed for things like moat-cleaning, home cinema systems or massage chairs which cannot be reasonable furnishing for a second home, nor can it be described as "wholly and necessarily" incurred in their parliamentary duties.

And a handful of the really corrupt, and I am absolutely delighted to be able to put the twitcher in chief, Eliot Morley and Hazel 'Chipmunk' Blears in this list, probably not only broke the Commons rules, but the Law too, by claiming for mortgages which had been paid off, or evading capital gains tax on second properties.

So let's be generous to the Telegraph. There are 30-40 MPs who were really on the make, most of whom who have paid back what they owe, and faced embarrassment and the threat of de selection and losses at the election. We await prosecutions for the fraudsters and the tax-evaders. The rest, despite having the opportunity and even encouragement from the whips, did not avail themselves to home cinema systems, massage chairs and the like. Many did not even take the Additional Cost Allowance, even though they were technically allowed.

As many of you know, I am an incorrigible optimist, and my faith in parliamentary democracy remains unshaken. Are you going to tell me that less than 10% of the general public, if given the opportunity would act in a questionable way? Or less than 1% in a downright illegal way. By all means kick out the rotters who were at it, and defenistrate this useless speaker, but if anything this crisis shows that the vast majority of MPs are worthy of the title "Honourable" member, and as a class, they are less dishonest than the general population would be under similar temptation. Not only am I an optimist, I am also an individualist. I don't excoriate MPs as a class for the same reason that I don't hate and fear black people just because I got mugged by one when I lived in South London. Think about it when you say "they're all at it", because Sarah Teather, for example clearly isn't, and will rightfully demolish Dawn Butler, who seemed to think a Jacuzzi is an acceptable expense, when they contest Brent at the next election. Nor can Peter Lilley or Tim Boswell, or Kate Hoey, MPs who have represented me in recent years be accused of being on the make. These MPs are going to have no trouble explaining their expenses to their constituents and will almost certainly be returned.

This scandal has been a brilliant canary in the mine, showing that a European-style culture of entitlement amongst our MPs has not yet spread to all members. The Telegraph has nipped it in the bud, and soon enough the people will have their say. The public has, however lost faith in this parliament. Each member needs to be able to put his side of the story to his electorate, who will judge whether they are worthy to represent their constituencies. Local parties should, and will deselect MPs whose behaviour will render them a liability, thus the democratic system will be purged of those who have been abusing it. We can't have a year of this. There must be an election now.



Monday, 18 May 2009

Britblog Roundup # 222

Welcome one and all to this week's (delayed) britblog roundup , the two-hundred and twenty-second edition of this weekly roundup of all that is good and wholesome in the British Blogosphere. Clearly the big news this week is the escalating scandal of MPs' expenses, which threatens to engulf the Constitution. As we go to press, the speaker is making a statement, and he does not appear to be carrying the house. It may be we haven't seen anything like this in 300 years.

Expenses have dominated political blogs. Liberal England thinks the "worst Speaker of modern times" is Cornered. Letters from a Tory savages those MPs who have tried to defend their claims, as does the Shrewd Mammal, and earthpal thinks the gilded barrack block is the solution. But with the story getting on for its 11th day, the posts are getting more thoughtful and looking Deeper. 10 Downing St. links the scandal to the earlier one about the e-mails, by noting the hiring of a new Twitter Czar Tsar Supremo on a staggering £160,000 - taxpayer funded naturally - to spread Government propaganda in fewer than 160 characters.

Curly thinks posties should deliver the BNP's leaflets, arguing that the mail shouldn't have a constitutional role in choosing which parties are acceptable.

Cabalamat points us to a couple of posts (one of them mine) in which ideas for a reformed benefits system, and the sheer godforsken awfulness of James Purnell are discussed in some detail.

Over to blogging critiques of the MSM, Angry Mob brings us the 'Daily Mail Dictionary', translating the petty bourgeois cant that paper uses to describe shallow-minded bigotry. Dodgeblogium thinks the BBC's reporting is an outrage.

It's not all politics. Obsolete brings us the story of the Manic Street Preachers' new album art being censored by supermarkets. It shows the bruised face of a child. A painting... Banned, 'for the Children' naturally.

Pliable
thinks that 'celebrity' endorsement is not necessary for classical music. Even that of the expense-fiddling Stephen Fry.

Swiss Toni demonstrates a purist approach to atheism by eschewing Religious Swear words. "Jesus H. Christ, on a cunting bicycle", for an example (that he doesn't give in the text).

Elizabeth Chadwick tells us of the history of Hometown Castle.

The usual gaggle of terrifyingly illiberal post from feminists starts off with Laura Woodhouse reckoning Britain's low rape conviction rate could be cured by allowing victims to design a system with lower standards of proof allowing victims a say in designing the system in rape cases. Laurie Penny thinks Harman's equality bill is 'brave'. According to Yes Prime minister, that means 'Lunatic' but I don't think Laurie has seen the episode. She actually thinks positive discrimination is a good thing. Then over on her blog, she's complaining that PETA are not campaigning for vegetarianism, but are in fact a subtle and carefully deniable agents of the international phallocracy, spreading porn to objectify women. She doesn't put it quite like that. There's a post from a Very Public Sociologist on the social stigma of the Gastric Band. Finally, Jessica Burton thinks women should learn to defend themselves. According to the potted Biography, she doesn't like sanitary towels, but apparently, still manages to go to kickboxing thus dispelling my sexist notions informed, no doubt by the 'Waaaaaa Bodyfoooorm' adverts. Having just taken up Judo, though I totally agree with her post.

Green Guys Global have gone fishing. I rather liked this post. And in agreeing with The Daily (Maybe) too, I am sure to incur the wrath of my readers, but he thinks that development aid is woefully misused, and "tourism" ain't the best industry on which to build a better life for your people. If you want to protest vote, on this evidence at least,the Greens aren't totally loony. Though I haven't read him for a while, and would rarely agree with him, I think too I may have been harsh; On the evidence of this interesting post, perhaps Gain Economics shouldn't be in my 'Blogs by Idiots' bracket any more.

We're nearly there. The Miscellany paragraph is, by it's nature a good place to finish. In a strangely fascinating set of posts, The Diamond Geezer points to the far reaches of London at the cardinal points, South, East, North and West. Meanwhile, away from the M25, Junction 14 and on to the high street.... Is it being sold as a libertarian joke, gently mocking the surveillance society, or as a cheap 'security' accessory? Either way, I'm going to get one, despite Cabalamat not giving any clue which. Wherever you are in London though, watch out for the drunken Pidgeons.

Finally, if you've got to the end of this roundup, you will disagree with Mr E.

Next week, we're over at Liberal England, so anything you think represents a great extension to the understanding of the human condition, or anything you think to be arresting, interesting or simply funny, from anywhere in the British Blogosphere, send them to the usual address: britblog [at] gmail [dot] com.



Still knuckle dragging racists

And don’t let the BNP tell you otherwise. Thanks to Letters from a Tory, this disgraceful attack on Victoria Cross winner Johnson Beharry from those whiter than white tosspots knocking one out over their "History of the Waffen SS" DVD's over at Aryan Towers. They say that this brave and noble man only won his VC because he was black. I take it they are not for the right of our Gurkhas to settle here either. I wonder whether the odious little shit that wrote this would care to repeat his comments in the Royal Hospital Chelsea for example. Or better yet in front of me.



Anyone for Tennis?

One of the Williams sisters in action.

A great leap forward has been made today in the sport of Tennis. For the uninitiated this involves a pretty Eastern European in a short skirt hitting a ball across the net to what looks like a SdKfz 182 King Tiger. The men will all cheer on the 17 year old Warsaw Pact blonde, she will loose to the Main Battle Tank. This spectacle is sadly interrupted due to inclement weather which forces the general public to listen to Cliff Richard in a pitiful attempt to boost the morale of the rain drenched British Public. This is their own silly fault, as they should be in a corporate hospitality tent out of the rain drinking own label Champagne and eating Strawberries picked by the tennis players' classmates. Wimbledon has decided to eradicate the Cliff Richard issue by building a retractable roof, which is something that can only be applauded.



Friday, 15 May 2009

Labour's grand plan

Words fail me. This government has pissed our cash away without even the pretence of asking for value for money ever since D’ream were playing the halls of Blackpool. Our debt is through the roof, our spending out of control. And yet ZanuLabour is still trotting out that tired Cliché on “Investment” in public spending. The fire hose of “public” money just isn’t quite strong enough. So unbelievably their big plan to narrow the polls is spending even more. If there’s one thing the last week has taught us, it is that the political class is staggeringly incapable of spending our money in the interests of anybody except themselves. And that covers the gamut of state spending from flat screen TVs for their London pied-a-terre, to bribing their client state with huge pay rises whilst those that pay for it are taxed through the eyeballs.

The Labour party is prescribing lung cancer patient Great Britain a carton of full strength unfiltered Capstains a week.



Thursday, 14 May 2009

Ye Account of Deaths on the Field of Westminster

On the ensuing day, which was Friday the 14th of May, in the year of our Lord 2009, on the feast of St Crispin Crispianus the constable and all the other hypocritical chippy socialist officers of the knave of Labour, the pageboy of Brown, Squire Hoon, Lord Mandleson, and Lady Blears; the counts de Miliband and his horse Beckett, d’Darling, Count Shaun de Woodward. The Lords de Gummer, de Jackson, de Ancram, de Arbuthnot, Sir Douglas De Hogg, de Spicer, de MacKay, de Grove, and in general all the other nobles and men-at-old school Tory, put on their armoured blinkers and sallied out of their quarters. Of the surplus to requirements men-at-arms, under the orders of the Count Clegg, One Knight under the Liberal banner, Lord Andrew George who was supposed to be wearing his state provided Armour turned out to be his daughter residing in his armour – who was verily quite fit. Lord Prescott Two Shags of Mock Tudor Manor was late to the battle as he was on the Privy at the start of the engagement.

When the Public observed the politicians thus advance their claims, they drew up each under his banner, with his blog and rolled up newspaper: they were, at the same time, astonished by the speaker of the house, and others of the princes, and ordered them to confess their sins with sincere contrition and to fight boldly against the enemy. The public loudly sounded their trumpets as they approached, and the Politicians stooped to prevent the bungs and bribe allegations hitting them on the opaque visors in front of their eyes; thus the distance was now but small between the two armies, although the Politicians had retired some paces. Before, however, the general attack commenced, numbers of the MPs were slain and severely wounded by the English public firing lit Telegraphs. At length the disgusted Public gained on them so much, and were so close, that excepting the front line, and such as had shortened their lances, the enemy could not raise their hands in surrender quicker than a Frenchman. The division under sir “Blinky” Balls with the flag of John Lewis flying high, of eight men-at-pocket, who were intended to break through the English unwillingness to treat them like Princes of old, and during their advance on the private swimming pools, were reduced to seven score. Continuing to vainly justifying their expenses, their switch of axis to the tennis courts was also soundly beaten back.

True it is, that Sir Lembit of Opik, who had been also ordered on this service, quitted his troop, thinking they would follow in a rearwards direction, to attack the Public by withdrawing, but he was shot dead from off his horse. His plan to defeat the enemy public by running away so far in the direction of Romania that the public would die of exhaustion was in vain. Other Liberal Democrats had their horses (named Beckett) so severely handled by the smears, that, smarting from pain, they galloped on the chippy Glaswegian division and threw it into the utmost confusion, and despite his arrogance breaking his authority in many places. The expenses were becoming unmanageable, so that TVs and throw cushions were tumbling on the ground, and a whole army of interior designers in Knightsbridge was thrown into disorder, and forced back on some lands that had been just replanted on the public purse. Pageboy Brown, from fear of death, fled to write books on courage; and this caused so universal a panic in the Labour ranks that great part followed the example.

The public took instant advantage of the disorder in the van division, and, throwing down their lit Telegraphs, fought lustily with sarcasm, abuse, letters to the editor, and deselection, slaying all before them. Thus they came to the second battalion that had been posted in the rear of the first; and the public followed close king Call me Dave and his men-at-arms. Duke George of Osborne (who had both realised the gig was up and supported the public), who had just arrived in obedience to the summons of the pageboy of Westminster, threw himself with a small company (for, to make greater haste, he had pushed forward, leaving the main body of his Parliamentary Party behind), between the wreck of the van and the second group of politicians who were busy plundering their own baggage train; but Pageboy Brown instantly killed by the Public, who kept advancing and slaying, without mercy. His final words were the same phrase over and over again “But it was within the rules”. All MPs that opposed them, after slowly withdrawing their hands from other peoples pockets were thus destroyed in the same way had done the first. They were, from time to time, relieved by their varlets, who carried off the prisoners; for the public were so intent on victory, that they never attended to making prisoners, but fell on those that fled. The whole rear division being on chauffeur driven horseback, witnessing the defeat of the two others, began to fly, excepting some of its principal chiefs.

Labour
Pageboy Browne of Fife– Cut down whilst fleeing the battle
Lord Truscott - Drowned in a Browne Paper bag of Cash
Lord Taylor of Blackburn - Drowned in a Browne Paper bag of Cash
Lord Mandleson – Found slain amongst the baggage boys
Lord Prescott of Mock Tudor Manor – Death by pie
Lady Hazel Of Blears – Taken captive by Her Majesty’s Customs and revenue for ransom
Geoff Hoon – Squire of numerous lands and property. Death by Hot Bananas thrust up rectum by irate squaddies
Sir Jack Straw – Dead whilst helping the Police with their Enquiries.
Elliot Morley – Gaoled, and died of wounds whilst being bitten by Rabid fox
The dishonourable Jack Straw - Taken captive by Her majesty’s Customs and revenue for ransom
And others too numerous to name.

Tories
Sir David Willets – Electrocuted
Sir John Gummer – Beaten to death by cans of insecticide and mole shovels
Sir Michael Spicer – Decapitated by swinging blades
Douglas Hogg – Drowned
James Arbuthnot – Drowned
Lord De MacKay – Defenestrated by King Call me Dave

Lord Clegg – minor wounds
Lord Hune – Crushed to death between two heated surfaces into a nice flat and pleasing shape
Sir “John” Menzies - Campbell Smothered by Wallpaper paste
The rest of the Liberals – none of name, and of all other men but five and twenty.

Thanks to These chaps for the basic text and Shakespear’s Henry V for a bit of inspiration.



A part of my childhood died…

It has just been announced by a well known thespian that they are gay. I can understand this in one respect as the film they are most famous for had such heavy homosexual overtones that the 25th Anniversary DVD commentary should been done by Julian Clairy. This would be bound to influence somebody unsure of their sexuality. The performer in question was also famous for their portrayal of an unusual and strange religion. Nevertheless I fancied the arse off Kelly McGillis in Top Gun and Witness and it was her presence alone that stopped me putting a boot through the TV screen. Even at the age of 12 the urge to throw something at the TV was almost irresistible, as I saw the grinning Tom Cruse flying around with his mates dog tags in his bloody hand (because as everybody knows, you can pilot an F-14 Tomcat one handed in a dog fight with “Russian” Northrop F-5E Tiger II’s). Ditto Witness – lousy movie but Kelly’s Mormon bouncers more than made up for it when I got to watch the film age 11.



Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Thinking about a Negative Income Tax.

Dave's Part, not a website with whom I usually agree has a nice article up about benefit fraud. Like him, I find the current "benefit thieves: We're closing in" advertising campaign abhorrent.


James Purnell, on his way to the flat he shares with his Girlfriend.

The problem is that the choice is claim benefits OR work. Clearly there needs to be some system that allows the hard up workless to take cash-in-hand work to supplement their income without losing benefits to the extent they become homeless, thus maintaining the habit of work and preventing total despondency leading to welfare dependency.

Simply allowing a few hours a week or earnings up to a small amount to be ignored, or turning a blind-eye to cash in hand work, as Dave suggests, is a recipie for schooling entire populations in tax evasion like Italy.

Any means-tested benefits lead to problems with exceptionally high marginal tax rates as the benefit is withdrawn. The same is true of specific benefits like housing benefit. This is an artefact of an unduly complex system, with myriad benefits targeting behaviours and lifestyle choices with which Governments down the ages have sought to punish or reward. The result of the system is the jobless and those otherwise dependent on the system are forced to negotiate a daunting bureaucracy of multiple agencies and securing multiple streams of benefit, which in practice becomes a full-time job.

So let's go back to first principles.
  1. Simplicity is a virtue
  2. Marginal tax/withdrawal rates should not be punitive anywhere on the income scale, in practice this means 50%.
  3. The tax and benefit system should not be used to punish or reward lifestylye choices.
  4. No marginal tax rate should be higher for lower earners than the bands above it.
  5. No-one should starve.
What we need is a system which combines the whole tax and benefit system into a consistent, simple, fair progression, from benefit support through to earnings and tax-paying without the 80 or 90% withdrawal rates faced by a single male on the minimum wage , which falls to 20% for middle earners, and rises (in the 10/11 tax year) sharply to 62% between roughly £100,000 to £125,000 before falling again to 51%.

That is not consistent or fair.

What we need is a system where people at the bottom of earners (£0.00 per year) recieve a subsistence from the Government. Any pound earned subsequently must mean at least 50p to the worker net of benefit withdrawal. If there is to be a minimum wage, and with a sensibly designed benefits system, there would not need to be one, it seems grotesque that people earning it pay any tax at all. Is it not better for the state to subsidise employment than unemployment?

Though I have often mentioned it, I am not wholly convinced by the citizen's basic income. It strikes me as ludicrous to pay comfortably off people money when they don't need it.

I have come down instead on the side of a "negative income tax", a variant of the flat-tax system. The Government guarantees you a subsistence income, say £6,000, which doesn't depend on where and with whom you live, and the Government takes no interest in what you do with it, thereby discharging its responsibilities to see to it that no-one starves, increasing freedom and increasing self-reliance. I would include a universal child benefit, and some incapacity benefit for the genuinely disabled - perhaps by starting the basic income element at a higher rate depending on the level of disability.

Someone earning nothing will recieve £6,000. Everyone then faces a marginal 40% tax rate. So first pound earned is taxed at 40%, the same as the Millionth, and the total tax due is calculated net of the £6,000.

This means that someone earning £15000 pays no tax, but recieves no benefits, compared to paying £3,400 under the current system. Someone on the median income, £24,000 pays a total of 18% in tax or £6,000 compared to £8,100 and someone earning £250,000 pays a total of 39%, £4,000 less than under current rules. The amount of tax paid by the rich is equivalent, but everyone is better off through the income distribution. Raising the withdrawal rate to 45% should see everyone over £33,500 slightly worse off, and everyone underneath better off, and should therefore be roughly revenue neutral, especially when you consider such a radical simplification of the system would free up huge resources from the civil service.

Obviously one can finess the numbers. Different Guaranteed minima and different witdrawal rates. It would be possible to have 0% withdrawal for the a tranche, perhaps around break-even, or at the bottom. The whole system would be administered through PAYE, leaving no need for the costly overheads of benefit offices and the vast back office of the DWP, allowing for a significant reduction in headcount in HM R&C. With a marginal withdrawal rate of 40%, this would have to account for substantially all personal taxation: this would only be fair on middle earners if things like Council tax were withdrawn, perhaps being replaced by a percentage of income tax being earmarked for councils.

I have tried to include an estimate of Working Tax credit, but the calculation is fiendishly difficult to model. I cannot think of a system so fundamentally flawed as Gordon Brown's greatest achievment, whose complexity leads to overpayment, which gets clawed back from the poorest families in the land. Why tax them only to hand some of it back to them by some absurdly complicated formula, which is not accessable to any auditor, cannot be checked by the system's vicitms?

Simplicity is a virtue of Flat-tax systems. This one is steeply progressive, which should please the left, but is fair and doesn't substantially change the tax paid by the majority of people, but removes a large number from the tax-burden, and provides an income to the poorest, without the obscene disincentives to work. Clearly the ideal is to have corporate taxes covered by the same marginal rate, but at the 40-45% level this is not going to be possible, but could be an aspiration for a right-leaning government. It also means the marginal tax rate is roughly equivalent to the Government take as a share of GDP. If this system was stuck to, it would be difficult to hide a big expansion of the state like the recent Labour Government has.

So there we have it. The Very British Dude solution to the tax and benefit system. Are you listening, Dave*?

*Cameron, not Osler.

[Does anyone know if it is possible to put a Spreadsheet up on Blogger?]



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