Friday, 28 May 2010

A New Tax - ID Cards

I see David Blunkett has threatened to sue in order to get his £30 back that he paid for his National ID Card. Apart from the obvious fact that this is a change of government policy and that no government can bind their successor, does he really want people to be able to sue the government for lost money? Because if he does there’s a couple of grand I want back for the gold they sold at the bottom of the market, another couple of grand for pissing my money away on diversity outreach co-ordinators, more money pissed away on computer systems and databases that didn’t arrive. I would personally like to sue him, and every other member of the shower of shite Zanulabour MP’s that relieved me of a damn sight more than £30 worth of tax when they were in power. Your party lost this and many other arguments – just deal with it Blunkett. Call the £30 a tax on being a nasty controlling illiberal set of bellends, or a Nazi tax for short.



Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Red Cross and the Taliban



Here’s an example of a Red Cross patch that attaches to the Velcro on Coalition UBACS or identity panels worn in Afghanistan. Notice anything about them? Firstly they’re not very big, and more obviously they are not very bright and shiny are they? Don’t stand out very much – especially compared to those World War II movies where both the British/Americans and Ze Germanz wore great big white armbands with the Red Cross on them and great big white helmets with Red Crosses all over them. Now why do you think that the Coalition in Afghanistan don’t wear the internationally recognised symbols of Aid and comfort to the wounded?

When you’ve worked out why, consider this. Under the moral high ground of being neutral to both sides the Red Cross/Red Crescent has been handing out First Aid training and medical kits to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Will the Red Cross be there to stick a plaster on some poor unfortunate Taliban psychopath after he cuts his finger on the controls of the tank he is using to crush some poor Homosexual for defying “God’s will”. Will they be there with a soothing massage when some poor “fighter” gets RSI in his arm from beating up women?

Fine, the Red Cross hands out medical care to combatants regardless of the rights or wrongs of the war in question. Squadron Leader Bertie “Bungo” Byng whiling away the hours in Stalag Luft XYZ will be very thankful for the Red Cross for carrying out their role in providing food, draughts boards, Pornography and keeping the Waffen SS from the door. But if you notice, they’ve not being doing too much in the last 65 years or so. Not too hot when it came to the Massacre at Hue, or stopping the Ethiopians using starvation as a weapon against the Eritreans, nor were they too effective at stopping the West Side Boys from chopping the arms off civvies with a dirty great big machete. Oh, and they haven’t been too successful at stopping Islamic terrorists from lopping the heads of prisoners off (part of their job). Are they getting any quid pro quo from these people in return for patching Abdul up so he can continue his quest for his 72 virgins? I bet you they’re not. Nor will I bet you that they’re providing first aid kit gratis to Western and ANA troops – Jonny Q Taxpayer has that privilege.

As far as I’m concerned, if you deliberately shoot at people wearing internationally recognised symbols of aid then you should get Red Cross/Red Crescent assistance and protection withdrawn. But that’s just me, I guess I’m a bit old fashioned when it comes to the difference between legal and illegal combatants. The Red Cross have the right to be neutral, but then you have the right to tell them where to go when a pretty girl in a Nurses outfit rattles a tin under your nose.



Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Those unfunded pensions.

The state employs, give or take, after Gordon Brown's lunatic handling of the economy about half the people in the workforce. Many of these people are on unfunded final salary pension schemes. What people who want to suggest that "we're broke" do, is add the net present value of some 20m public sector pension liabilties and tack that onto the National debt. Then they add the banks (at an effective value of the assetts of Zero) and suggest that we're much, much worse than any other country in the world.

Now what I am about to say is not to defend Gordon Brown's idiocy. He took the Deficit to 12% of GDP, and that is utterly unsustainable and probably criminal. But even at this rate, given Japan's example, we could keep going for a several years before the shit hit the fan. When a quarter of Government spending is borrowed, you do not need to make stuff up to make it appear that we're in a mess. The fact is that the UK started the Noughties with the lowest share of public debt as a proportion of GDP in the developed world. Because of Browns tax rises since 1997, and sticking to Tory spending plans, he took Debt:GDP from a creditable 43% to an excellent 30% by 2000.

Since then, he's spent with the care and concern of a man urinating after 13 pints. That is not in dispute. The speed at which the debt is increasing is the issue. Not its absolute size, which for the UK remains lower as a percentage of GDP than Germany (though we will overtake them soon) France, Italy, the USA and the outlier on the list, which does not have a AAA rating, Japan.

I digress. People with an axe to grind often whack a number they claim is the unfunded public pension liability, and another "the cost of the bail out". Both are meaningless.

The banks are financial assets on which the state is likely to make a return. They certainly are not going to lose everything they invested. To add that to the debt makes no sense at all. Unfunded pensions are more complicated.

Why are pensions unfunded? For the simple reason that a manager of a pension pot of the scale nessesary to fund the civil service superannuation scheme would wield more power than the Chancellor, and probably more power than that of the Prime-Minister too.

So the 'liabilities' have become just another ongoing cost of employing existing civil servants. To add a net present value (what's the discount rate going to be? how are you forecasting indexation?) is to apply a meaningless number to a problem that isn't there. There is no rating, the cost doesn't go up or down with the country's Credit rating. It is not ever going to be called in one go. It is an annual cost built into budget forecasts. No country in the world puts a value on the unfunded pension liabilties of public sector workers, nor does any country "fund" such a scheme (except Norway, but they're a special case with options not open to the rest of the world). Public sector pensions are paid everywhere out of General taxation. My guess is in the event of a severe budgetary crisis, it will be the welfare junkies who can work who will feel the pinch, not the pensioners, who can't.

To whack it onto the national debt just demonstrates ignorance. There are major problems with the state's finances. Public sector pensions just aren't one of them.

Of course if you wanted funded pensions, the only way to do it would be to have personal pensions for everyone and ban final salary schemes. But that would simply add another burden to the Generation that's already paying off Gordon Brown's legacy. That of course is an issue for another post.



Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Protest in Parliament Square.

There's a bit of talk around the place about whether protesters should be cleared from Parliament square. Iain Dale thinks they should be. And predictably Old Holborn thinks they shouldn't be.

The Libertarian in me hates any state (by this, I mean specifically the police) activity which arrests anybody who isn't causing anyone harm. However, the right to protest does not include the right to set up a squatters' camp opposite parliament. The right to protest does not include a right to erect shelter on land which does not belong to you, for which you're not paying for the right to use. So Brian Haw has been arrested again. And I am heartily sick of the sight of him, and have been for a while.

Whilst I would never deny him, or anyone else the right to protest, I feel is is within the rights of the state to deny him the right to erect a tent or more permanent structure on land he doesn't own. Limit idiots who want to call the Iraq war "illegal" (it wasn't) to a sandwich board and placard each, and see how long their protest lasts if they're exposed to the weather.

Because there are other people who might want to protest in Parliament square occasionally, which is a bit difficult if the Socialist Worker (I recognise that font anywhere) has monopolised the entire frontage of the south side of the lawn in perpetuity. Perhaps the police have been heavy handed, but British fair play and all that. Brian, you've had your say, now fuck off.



"The EU Should Issue Debt Jointly"

The international economic system is full of stabilizing feedback loops.

If your economy is weak, you will export less, your foreign reserves will fall, your currency will weaken, making your exports more attractive, meaning you export more, pouring money into reserves, strengthening your currency and so on... If your economy is strong, your inflation rises causing higher interest rates, which makes your currency more attractive to foreign reserve holders so it strengthens. This makes your exports less attractive causing exports to fall and so on...

Look at what both these examples rely on: Yes! A freely floating currency and domestic control of interest rates. And look at what is happening to Greece (and is about to happen to Spain). They cannot control their currency, and therefore suffer disproportionately when they have the wrong interest rate and currency level. Of course, in both these countries, and in Greece especially, they've had Socialist Governments for most of the last 40 years, the centre right only managing to win consistently in the 90s. This means a bloated state bureaucracy and rampant government spending. And of course, since Greece joined the Euro in 2002, both the centre Right and Pan Hellenic Socialist movement have had the ability to borrow at a rate subsidised by the mighty German economy.

I TOLD YOU SO

For those of us who ALWAYS regarded the Euro as a stupid thing to recommend for anyone outside the Franco-German-Benelux core, the problems of Greece should stand as a warning to anyone recommending it in the future.

And if you add to the idiocy of removing the automatic stabilizers of currency fluctuation to the idiocy of Socialist government to whom you give the temptation of nearly free money, OF COURSE YOU'RE GOING TO GO BANKRUPT.

Schadenfreude is not pleasant to see, but if the misery the Greeks are feeling now can serve as a warning to Europhiles to prevent them advocating UK ever going into the Euro, I shall indulge in it a bit. And if the queues of Jobless in Greece and Spain lead to unrest, then perhaps that should serve as a warning to the UK electorate. And maybe the British Government will get on with firing the parasites in the public sector (no, not the sainted Nurses 'n Teachers - I'm talking about the worthless box-tickers, the prod-noses, the diversity outreach co-ordinators, the 5-a-day workers, the Quangocrats, the Fake-Charity wallahs) to prevent the same happening here.

Britain is NOT Greece. Our National Debt, measured as a balance outstanding as a percentage of GDP is one of the smallest in the developed world. Though our deficit is large, we are still able to borrow Long-term, and we also have the longest-dated national debt in the OECD. Furthermore, Sterling is a major currency which floats freely. We have time to sort out the catastrophic mess left by our last Lunatic government.

Today a low-grade Bank Clerk called Herbert Van Rumpy-Pumpy or something like that suggested that "EU countries should issue debt jointly". Basically that allows socialist lunatics in Greece to spend even more of German tax-payers money (ie that earned by Germans not yet born) than they do already.

We are NOT in Greece's position in part because of the economic policies of the Thatcher Major years to pay down the National debt (which stood at just 45% of GDP in 1997 and fell to 30% by 2000, as Brown stuck to Tory spending plans), in part because a well-developed financial sector provides a market for all that Government borrowing and in part because we're not in the Euro. A Liberal Conservative Government is fixing it, and the federast Lib-Dems have realised that 'Europe' is a tough sell right now. Remember this; and don't let socialist europhiles ruin it. Again.



Monday, 24 May 2010

Those BA Stirkes

Now the issue as I understand it is that the BA cabin crew are amongst the best remunerated in the industry. BA also flies with the greatest number of Cabin crew per flight. BA wishes to reduce the number of crew per flight (to a figure still some way above the industry average) and cut the pay of new recruits (not existing employees) because it has struggeld to make money in the face of onerous pension liabilities, the economic downturn, the ash cloud and oil-prices. The Union, for some reason, thinks this completely unacceptable, and calls strikes with the potential to bankrupt the company, thus ensuring that UNISON members (and the colateral damage of everyone else at BA) lose their jobs and pension.

This strikes me as so HEROICALLY counterproductive, the only reason I can see for this is the internal politics of the Labour movement. A big strike, and a high profile corporate casualty would strenghten UNITE and Wheelan in the battle to shape the Labour party. BA employees voting for a strike are pawns in someone elses game of chess.

Or am I being a tin-foil hatted conspiracy lunatic who should spend less time on t'interweb?

Declaration: The writer hopes to fly BA this week.



Medieval Peasants accuse Defence Secretary Liam Fox of racism and disrespect

Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a Newt!
Sir Bedevere: A Newt?
Peasant 3: (Meekly after a long pause)… I Got better.

I would like to protest in the strongest terms about Dr Liam Fox saying that Afghanistan is a “broken 13th Century Country”. In the 13th Century Britain had some working drains, the Magna Carta which protected due process, the rule of law and gave Jews rights. There were also some roads and women could work in some industries. They also thought education was a good thing. Quite Frankly Dr Fox has overstated the Afghanistan development by at least 12 Centuries. And by doing so, Foxy has issued a deep and lasting insult against the people of Medieval England (who only occasionally burnt Witches).



Friday, 21 May 2010

A Brazilian in Iran

I’d like to return to an old friend of the blog. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Sagres Caipirinha Skol Brahma Lula Hoopa Rumba da Long John Silva has just said that the International Community should follow Iran’s example and negotiate. Now old Da Silva is obviously new to this “World Power” game; but since his beard has clearly seen the Iranian Revolution and its complete lack of regard for any forms of diplomacy whatsoever when they invaded Foreign Embassies I’ll simply assume that he is a card carrying moron to trust anything to come out of the mouths of the Mullahs.

In a swipe at the evil Yanquis and the West in general this smug attention seeking Brazilian prick said “There are some people who don’t know how to do politics without an enemy”. Yes that’s right Mr “White Blue-eyed bankers” da Silva, some people really don’t.



State Puritainism

I listened to some copper on the Today program this morning. The "Binge-Drinking" moral panic was still there, but instead of demonising pubs, it was all about cheap booze at home or in the park. Whilst I could not support his proposal to raise the age at which you could buy Alcohol in a Supermarket to 21, I noticed he wished to keep the pub drinking age at 18, regarding the social environment of the pub superior to that of the park bench or sofa.

Is this a sign of the state puritainism of the last 13 years rolling back? I don't think I heard anything on 'Today' in favour of pubs before this morning?

Perhaps one day they will learn that British people drink to excess because they always have, and that Britain is an oppressive shithole where everything is either banned or compulsory, and the resultant stress causes us to drink to excess and punch other, equally stressed arseholes. Maybe Britain would become a better place if the petty authoritarian choke-hold was released a little bit.



Thursday, 20 May 2010

The U Boat menace - North Korea and the Cheonan


I see that the Bear Shitting in Woods/Dolly Parton sleeping on Back/Pope Catholic/Russians offering bribes for the Association Football World Cup collection of phrases is about to get another airing. It seems – in case you suspected Aliens, Freemasons or Jews were responsible – that the North Koreans stuck a Torpedo up the spout, shouted in as Teutonic a manner as the North Koreans can muster “Los” or in North Korean pronunciation- “rrrross” and gesunket a South Korean Corvette killing 46 South Korean sailors. I know this, you know this unless your choice of headwear is tin foil, and sure as hell the Chinese government knows this too.

The fact that the international team investigating the matter found part of a Torpedo gold embossed with the words “Made in North Korea” stamped on the torpedo sticking out proud as a honeymooners cock from the side of their boat seems to have clinched the deal. Sherlock Holmes you didn’t need to be to wrap this case up. Hell Frank Drebin could have solved it.

So what will the Chinese do, as basically they’re the only ones propping these morons up? The South Koreans have cut all aid to the North working out, about 10 years later than the rest of the world, that giving North Korea food aid was a waste of time. So basically the only people that stop North Korea from collapsing are the Chinese. Now the Chinese equivalent of Kremlinologists have said that they fear a collapsing North Korea will mean no end of grief for China. They also don’t want the West or any other enemy on their doorstep.

But in collapse terms, firing Torpedoes at their next door neighbour, because they don’t give you free food, is pretty much a collapse of all sense as I would define it. As North Korea have proved recently, they don’t really care what the Chinese government says or does, they do their own thing. Besides its not as if China hasn’t got enemies on its borders, the Vietnamese don’t like them and they share a land boarder. And didn’t they fight a boarder skirmish with Russia in 1969, oh and India as well?

The North Koreans are making the Chinese look like a bunch of idiots. China doesn’t mind if you kill your own people, but the shooting of the next door neighbours by their proxies makes them look bad. If they were clever they would sell North Korea to the South for scrap, on the proviso that all the US Military bases go. This would push the US Armed Forces back to Japan – with all their Tanks and other Heavy Equipment at least a days sailing the wrong side of the Korea Straits. But they’re the Chinese government and as such won’t admit they were wrong. They would rather loose face on an ad-hoc and repeated basis than bite the bullet and get rid of the problem once and for all. But this time the South Koreans will need to get some form of reciprocity, even if its just business contracts, and its going to be China that picks up the bill.

A spokesman for the North Korean Navy released this statement. “The imperialist lackeys of the South Korean puppet regime, god I’m hungry, have issued evil verminous slander against the Proud Peoples, I could kill for a Cheeseburger, Navy. Those who protect the Glorious Magnificent, with Fries – lots of fries, Leader would never fire a Yu-4 passive acoustic homing torpedo from a depth of 34.2ft from an SS Romeo Type 033G Class submarine on a bearing, oooh with Gherkins too, on a bearing of 48.4 degrees magnetic. Oh and a coke, and mustard, and maybe a bit of Chilli on the fries. And anybody that says we would Torpedo them will be sunk”.



On the insanity of banning short selling.

The Germans have mistaken "causing" for "profiting from". There is so much wrong with banning short selling that I don't know where to begin.

First, a little about short selling. It is the practice of selling stock you don't own (selling whilst "short" of the stock) in the hope of buying it back cheaper at some future point. You can either do this "Naked" without owning stock (this is not allowed on most stockmarkets) or you can borrow the stock from someone else for the purpose. On derivative markets you either go long or short depending on which side of the contract you're on.

Most trading strategies (I'll stick to equities, because that's what I know best) involving shorts are "pairs trades" or similar. That is you seek to exploit the difference between two similar, but not identical securities. You go Long (buy), for example Barclays and go Short (sell) RBS. By doing so you hope to profit from the fact that Barclays can still pay its traders enough to stick around, and RBS can't and therefore can't make money.

So... what happens when you ban short selling: all those people wisely hedging out market risk as in the above example are forced to buy the stock they consider crap, and sell the stock they consider good. By denying the prospect of hedging, the market's risk goes up, and the value falls. Basically if you think that banning short selling will prevent "speculators" from "driving the price down", whether it's currency derivatives or equity then you're demonstrating your profound ignorance.

If you're selling the socialist worker, that's fine. When you're running the third largest economy in the world, it's not so good.

So... the Box-heads have succeeded in giving me the buying opportunity I've been waiting for for months. Bravo. And it won't stop whatever it is - euro weakness, banks going bust you thought you were protecting yourself from. If anything, it creates an imbalance and will make likely anything you're trying to avoid.

Don't believe me? look at the charts for the banks around the dates of the 08/09 short selling ban.



Those Tory "Betrayals".

The Government plan to allow the payroll to vote in the 1922 Committee is a matter of Internal Tory governance. Parties are not in the constitution, they're a convenience which allows the first Lord of the Treasury to command sufficient support in the House of Commons to pass the Budget and the Queen's speech. Only Labour, which puts party above country, gets all misty-eyed about its internal affairs.

Nor is the Fixed term parliament a constitutional change. It is an agreement between coalition partners.

So whilst I disagree with the 55% vote needed to secure a dissolution, and the plan to allow ministers to swamp backbenchers in the 1922 Committee disappointing, but not exactly the end of the world. When you consider that the Great repeal bill (a Tory idea, though Nick Clegg seems to be doing all the talking) is still going ahead. This will scrap ID cards, Databases and promises a "bonfire of unnecessary laws which make criminals of ordinary people". In this will be the free vote on Fox-hunting which may not get passed because of the tight parliamentary arithmetic. This is as promised - not as I keep hearing "a Betrayal", and the "Tories bending over for the Lib-Dems".

Fucking get a grip people. We're in coalition Government, not opposition. Labour, who RUINED THE COUNTRY are out of Government. Hosannah in the Highest. Rejoice! Stop focussing on the petty, small and insignificant things which you don't like and have a look at the big picture.

So CGT is going to go up. Who Cares? It's a tax on people too mean to pay for advice and entirely voluntary unless you're VERY rich, in which case, you have the option of holding on to your assets or going short (unless you're German). It should be at your marginal rate. Why should capital gains be protected if earned income isn't? If you start up a business, there are reliefs available so it isn't a tax on entrepreneurship. Does any Tory SERIOUSLY disagree with the Liberal plan to raise the Income Tax threshold to £10k? I've argued in favour of it several times. If this means VAT goes up, then so be it. We're broke and all that stuff the Labour party bought on the tick has to be paid for. And that means doing what Maggie did in her first term, and for the same reason: raise taxes because Labour left the cupboard bare.

But it is not all bad news: Home investment packs: gone. Every day, some quango or fake-charity has its funding withdrawn. If they keep saving £1m here and there, eventually they'll start saving real money. Any public-sector employee earning more than the PM will have to justify his salary. This is BEFORE we get to the £6bn of "Tory Cuts" that the election was about, and BEFORE the great repeal bill, which will save more. At the home office, the CPS, a useless, box ticking organisation staffed by incompetent civil servants and failed Lawyers sees some if its powers returned to police Custody sergeants who will have discretion about whether to charge. The devolution of power to local professionals is beginning.

Europe is going to be the bug-bear of every swivel-eyed monomaniac who will squeal "betrayal" every time 'Europe' does something they don't like, such as ... exist. If you think Cameron is going to risk Government over a piffling hedge-fund regulation (which will in any case be watered down), you're a twat. I don't like the limits on Hedge-fund manager remuneration and limits to their activities, but ways will be found around it, it will affect a tiny number of Very rich people and, like all European financial regulation, will promise a lot, and deliver very little. My guess it will achieve the sum total of fuck-all. Osborne would be crazy to use political capital which he will need for more important battles ahead to fail to stop what was a done deal before he got the keys to No. 11.

This Government is committed to reducing the burden of the state on the average punter, and has quietly, without fuss and efficiently let its actions do the talking. We've got so used to endless spin and dissemination, that people who never liked Cameron anyway aren't focusing on what's being DONE.

LibCon coalition government: Not perfect, but infinitely better than Labour.



Wednesday, 19 May 2010

The Filthy, Disgusting Perversions

of which some women are capable never ceases to amaze me.



Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Protection on the Left Flank

The Labour party demonstrated its attitude to the Liberal Democrats after the election: They thought that the other left of centre party was theirs for the taking, and any Lib Dem votes could be added to theirs in an 'anti-Tory alliance'. This was true for about a third of Lib Dem voters. Tories make the same mistake with UKIP.

When asked what they wanted to see from the election the voters seemed to indicate that a hung parliament was their favoured option, and that a Lib-Con alliance was what they wanted to see. Whilst I wanted to see a big Tory majority, I am disgustingly satisfied with most of what's come out of the Government since the election. This poses a problem for the Political blogger. I have no-one to rant against. I am reduced to apologising and defending government actions against people that disagree. So If you think you're going to see right-wing firebrand ranting against the CGT raise, you won't. I don't agree with the policy. But as it's (1) Temporary (2) a simplification in that it's a tax at the same rate as income taxation & (3) 'paying for' a rise in the income tax threshold to £10k, I think I can let it slide.

And this is the point of Coalition. If I can be persuaded that some dodgy policies are necessary, at least in the short term, imagine what the Liberal Democrats in Government are doing to the left. As I mentioned above, the Labour party HATE the Tories. But they will not be able to muster the passion in their activists against the EVIL Tories because their fellow-travellers have got into Government too.

Maybe it will force the Labour activist base to reappraise their view of Tories as evil, rich class enemies. Many Labour people assume Tories are naturally authoritarian. We are not. We are only interested in 'the rich'. We are not. We are bigoted. We are not. And perhaps because the Liberal Democrats have seen this, eventually the Labour party will too. In the mean time, the leftist opposition will be blunted by the presence of genuine left wingers, albeit ones who see what needs to be done to fix the country, in Government.

Maybe, just maybe, we'll see gentlemanly politics return to Westminster, and freedom to the country.

Or am I just demonstrating a hopeless optimism?



Skal for Norge 17 Mai – Nationalsdagen I Norge. A review of the Norwegian 17th May through the Medium of Naval Uniforms.

I was in Norway for the 17th May Celebrations and I’d just like to share my thoughts on the celebrations. All in all it was a thoroughly splendid event. All the Norwegian women were cutting around in Bunads. Most Norwegian women haven’t been tarred with the ugly brush anyway, so seeing them scrub up was a special joy. The parades were first class although after the old boys of the “I shot lots of Germans in WWII Association”, the fire service and the Brass Bands passed they started to scrape the barrel with the Bergen Wiff Waff Association(which is what you’d expect with a national population of 4.7 million).

Since everywhere in Norway of any importance whatsoever is by the sea, there were a lot of visiting Naval vessels. These were the only uniforms I noticed. But there could have been others. And if you are a Civil Servant seconded to MI6, don’t print this out and then leave it on a train. Remember - Secret Squirrel and all that.

Russia


Now I’m a British Stockbroker, and though not as well off as the Liberal Democrats say I am, I’m able to just about make bus fare in Norway. So my sympathy goes out to Conscript Trainee Bogcleaner 3rd Class Piotr Popavaliumandroppov who must have looked at the price of a cup of Coffee and a sandwich in the same way that I look at the prices of Modern Art at Bonhams. A mixture of shock and incredulity. The difference is that unlike Piotr, I don’t need Roy Liechtenstein’s Whaam! on my wall to avoid passing out. I assume the Russians were sent to Bergen either to spy on a NATO country (In which case it’s a waste of time as the Haakonsvern Naval base in Bergen is on Google Earth, has its own web site; and the Norwegians have enough fit locals to mean that a KGB Honey Trap is a complete waste of time) or to encourage the Sailors to offload a bunch of Reindeer skins on the local tanning industry. Anyhoo… The Uniform looks like a bunch of cloth tied together with a piece of string, whilst the hats have been designed so that they have somewhere to land Helicopters when they’re fresh out of aircraft carriers.

Norway
Very smart all things considered. And I’m considering the fact that their Armed Forces are full of civilian National Servicemen who don’t really give a toss.

Sweden

The Auld Enemy of Norway whom the Norgies celebrate being free from. Obviously this being Scandinavia their Freedom fight took a different turn than the Mau Mau hacking farmers to death with machetes, or even the Irish taking out strategically important targets like mothers buying maternity Bras at Harrods, or builders buying a pint in Guilford. This is Scandinavia, where nothing exciting has happened since Thor Bloodaxe decided he couldn’t be arsed to sail his ship out of Oslofjord any more. No the Norwegians changed the spelling of the word Toilet and refused to talk to the Swedes any more until they got desperate and went home. Swedish and Norwegian hostilities now consist of their entries to the Eurovision Song Contest (Something all Europeans take seriously for some inexplicable reason). The Swedes naturally started with the advantage of their stunning pre-emptive attack by Anni-Frid, Bjorn, Benny and Agnetha, until the Norwegians fought back with a feint from Finn Kalvik with a deliberate Nul Points before a staggering flanking manoeuvre that smashed into the Swedish main body by “Bobbysocks” in 1985. Anyhow, the Uniform is smart as a Carrot.

Royal Navy
Only a couple of these guys knocking around. I guess the Naval Attaché and his Adjutant since the Royal Navy fleet is Hiding in shame tied up practicing not surrendering to Iranian Rowing Boats. Smart uniform though. And maybe one day they’ll be able to earn the forgiveness of the country they embarrassed by sinking the entire Argentinean fleet or something.

Finland

For some reason, they were all bimbling around in Camouflage. Because, as students of naval history will tell you. It’s not a problem hiding a 1,450 Ton Hameenmaa Minelayer, but those tricky people that live inside it that are the buggers to hide.

USA
Alltogether now… pa pa pa, papa, padapadap parr. Quite simply ridiculous.



Monday, 17 May 2010

Britblog Roundup # 270

Is up over at Mr Eugenides' place.

And due to travel commitments, I was unable to link to the last couple of BBRUs: 269 at the Wardman Wire and 268 at Philobiblon.

Any nominations for this weeks' to the usual address: roundup [at] britblog [dot] com. And you're allowed ONE self nomination and please don't include boring party political rants from sitting or former MPs unless they ACTUALLY have something INTERESTING to say (ie not a soundbite we're already heard on the 6-O'Clock news).



Thursday, 13 May 2010

Oh Happy Day

As Mr E Points out. What a wonderful sight.



Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Faster Orgasms, Cialis, the British and the Electoral system

Whilst I agree with most of my Blog colleagues post, there is one point I vehemently disagree with “I can be persuaded as to the merits of some form of PR”. I think the poor chap has been out in the Cypriot sun too long. I blame the fact that Her Majesty no Longer issues a good stouty Pith Helmet, Punkah Wallah and Mosquito boots. Of course the MOD procurement office is not the only one to blame - Keo Lager which is a dreadful drink - also needs to share responsibility. The simple fact is that whilst PR was invented here, it was designed for foreigners, chiefly in the Colonies I’m afraid, and therefore all forms of PR are inherently wrong for the British character. It is merit free, bereft of merit, lacking, devoid of, sans, denuded of merit.

Quite simply Proportional Representation is staggeringly un-British. Aside from the fact that the Halls of the Mighty will be populated with assorted Nazis of the BNP, the Green party Druids running around naked trying to fornicate with nature; and the odd chap from Scotland trying to legislate that we celebrate East Germany’s 40th Party Conference and get a bust of Che Guevara waving a Palestinian flag in Westminster Abbey. These are the sort of strange people we exported when we still had enough Dominions to populate and became Mormons, Voortrekkers, or in the case of MacTrotsky - the sorts of shits that went on strike in Australia during WWII for more pay and shorter hours whilst their betters were shish kebabing Japanese on the Kokoda trail. Or in the case of the forefathers of the Greens who got deposited amongst the natives to distribute hugs and crystal massages they became Lunch. These people should not be allowed within 10 Nautical miles of a woolsack and ermine.

But a better reason has been found during this unedifying spectacle of Conservative and Labour politicians sticking their posteriors rearward in the hoped for Liberal Reach-around. It has taken God knows how many days for Zanu Labour to be thrown out into their Charidee directorships. We British people want and need quicker results. Look if you’re Italian and you have nothing better to do with your day than decide which haircut is going to go best with your Bolle sunglasses and shiny new Prada loafers then PR is definitely for you. And the same goes for Germany who need chaos because of the inherent dangers of the sound of synchronised Jackboots when they actually get organised. Sao Tome & Principe, San Marino and Liechtenstein probably find it useful because when nothing will get done and you have a 33% chance of either living next door to the President or being married to him, then it’s fairly workable if you all take turns to have your say.

But Britain, no way. We want things instantly, now, right this second. We haven’t got time to wait 6 days for a government to show up. We’ve barely got time to wait for our Big Mac if it’s not on the slidy shelf. Britain invents things to go faster, we invented the bicycle because we wanted to walk faster, the train because the bike is too bloody slow, ditto the jet. We invented Sandwiches because we wanted to eat faster, the Royal Mail to communicate faster, Tarmac so Postman Pat no longer had any excuses and the internet to Orgasm faster. Concorde, the Mallard, ThrustSSC, the SS Great Western and the E-Type Jaguar are our symbols, not the 4 hour lunch. And it’s the same goes for our fellow First Past the Post Anglo-Saxon cousins with their Rotary clothes lines, SR-71A Blackbirds, Viagra and Nitro Drag Racing.

If you want slow then play cricket, rather than playing with the electoral system.



Monday, 10 May 2010

The Dude's view of electoral reform.

Let me be clear. I have an idea of a more proportional system. And I am not going to share it with you because you don't care any more about my radical scheme to ensure 'fair votes' than I do about your hair-brained scheme, such as the one in the comments to the last thread about paying MPs according to Majority.

I can be persuaded as to the merits of some form of PR, but only if there is a lot in it for the party I support, which is why I want the Conservatives to do it (anyone who thinks they don't think this way is probably lying to themselves). However I remain a supporter of our Current first past the post system which is not, as everyone seems to believe, broken. Does anyone think a Hung parliament with the Tories as the Largest party does not reflect roughly the will of the electorate? Ergo it ain't broken, so don't fix it.

One of the things the electorate like about are system is the fact that you vote on Thursday and by friday morning the moving vans are in Downing street. By Lunchtime, the new executive head has banged his tabs in to Brenda and we have a new Government. The immediacy of this process is rare in democracies around the world. This time, people are bewildered that Gordon Brown, the man who Lost the election IS STILL THERE. If they can be persuaded that the undignified horse-trading by politicians after the election is THE KEY FEATURE of proportional systems, then perhaps I will admit that perhaps I was too hasty to surrended to the PR bandwagon.

I will say it again. Democracy is NOT an exercise in accurate tribal head-counting, but an opportunity to chuck the rotters out. Under some forms of PR, the political elite can never be kicked out be the electorate under almost any circumstances, because they get to the top of the list. Even a safe seat can be lost if the electorate are pissed off enough like Tatton in 1997.

Anyway... PR is a side show next to the fucking apalling mess the country's in thanks to 13 years of disgusting incompetence and malice by the Labour party. I will examine the proposals which are put before us, and if there is to be a change there had better be a referendum. Whilst we can all think of perfect systems, I'm not interested. Suffice to say AV+ is supported by Brown, and is Therefore wrong (Q.E.D.), and STV is an abomination unto God and smells of poo, so I like neither of the systems on offer. The relative merits of various flavours of PR, like internal politics
of the Labour party are things that interest me not a jot.



Saturday, 8 May 2010

The Electorate have spoken, Damn Them!

Despite polling stations reporting queues at 10pm, with hundreds of voters too stupid or disorganised to vote earlier were denied access to the polls. The Liberal democrat polling surge turned out to be a surge in responses amongst the 39% of the electorate who think a General Election is an episode of X Factor and can't be bothered to find out where their polling station is. My greatest dissapointment of the result was the pathetic turnout, for which the British People should be ashamed. We do not deserve to live in a democracy.

Generally the message is "they're all as bad as each other, innit", and as a result, not voting is seen as in a typically nihilistic and cynical British way, as the correct option. The truth is that we, the lazy, spoon-fed and ignorant electorate have the Government we deserve. 20 years of Labour lies have left the electorate immune to savage assaults on their civil liberties and willfully ignorant of the real differences between the parties. The Lib-Dems and the Tories share a commitment to civil liberties that goes beyond the labour approach of treating everyone equally as a criminal/terrorist/potential paedophile, whilst using group "rights" as a crowbar in their policy of divide and conquer. Both reasonable parties deplore 42-day detention, ID cards, databases and the creation of the British Democratic Republic of omnipresent CCTV and surveillance by council prod-noses and state-sponsored informants. They are not "all as bad as each other" and I will violently assault the next person to make that assertion for it is merely Labour's most pernicious and corrupting lie.

For if the Low turnouts of the past few years can be blamed on anything it is this childish attitude. It stems from the New Labour approach in the 1990s to turn a few back-benchers' misdemeanours (for next to the appalling corruption at the heart of Labour, shagging one's secretary in a Chelsea shirt, or 'cash for questions' has an almost comic innocence) into a belief that the entire Conservative Government was corrupt: the lie that started the rot. Rather than excoriating the stupid, corrupt individuals, the reputation of the Tory party and the entire political system was dragged through the mud for Labour's base party political ends. Then the Labour party started to Govern. Cash for policies - the ecclestone affair, purchase of honours, the abuse of the immigration system to import Labour voters to "rub the right's nose in it", the lies, the incompetence, the constitutional vandalism, the fiscal diarrhoea and the slovenly abuse doled out to political opponents both outside and within the party finally destroyed the reputation of the Labour party too. Of course the dashed hopes of 1997 made this a more painful betrayal for the electorate.

Of course, whilst the Labour party destroyed the country, the smearathon on the motives of the Tory party continued to be effective.

They may have been politically successful, but the failure of the New Labour machine to govern effectively was total. Despite the biggest rise in peace-time taxation in history which occurred during one of its longest booms, Labour was running a massive budget deficit even BEFORE the crash of 2008. The achievements with all this money boils down to reduced productivity, overmanning and public sector waste. Of course there have been improvements, it would be hard to spend that much money (that we don't have) and there not be, but the gains are not commensurate with the cost.

It is no wonder the people have turned off politics.

Which meant that when the Tories unveiled the most optimistic, decentralising, yes... Libertarian manifesto (I am ignoring the Daily Hail-courting 'National Service' plans as a silly dog-whistle) I could have hoped for from a mainstream political party, no-one was listening. Because the Labour party had managed to frame the debate around £6bn of "cuts" as a result of not raising tax which is, apparently, "taking money out of the economy". This is economic double-think, and the only reason I can think of that it is taken seriously is that the party spouting this nonsense is ACTUALLY IN GOVERNMENT. Had they been talking this piffle from opposition, they would have been rightly derided: just another advantage of incumbency abused by Labour.

Finally, the the fear-mongering amongst public-sector workers, who thanks to Gordon Brown's decade of fiscal incontinence now make up 50% of the electorate, that the Tories would fire them instantly they won, meant that Labour managed to secure a face-saving and totally undeserved rear-guard defence of seats.

This profoundly negative campaign contrasted with the rather optimistic and naive campaign of the Tories who assumed that the people would take radical policies in Education, taxation, benefits, policing and the Constitution as CHANGE. Cameron relentlessly focused on his policies,though you wouldn't have guessed from the coverage, which focused entirely on personality. They didn't believe in Cameron as an agent of "change" because they've been looking at Cameron for 4 years, which is a long time in X-factor Britain. And, of course because, so the other Labour lie goes, no-one who went to Eton can be trusted to run a Bath because they're evil. Talking about policies is "boring, and they're all the same, and nothing changes, innit". The lesson: in New Labour's Britain, only viciously negative campaigning works. Never, ever mention policy.

Because the Tories, who are "just as bad as Labour, innit", cannot represent "change" another Young public schoolboy of whom the electorate were only dimly aware popped up halfway through the campaign. Nick Clegg did well in the debates and has an interesting set of Policies. The media had decided that Vince Cable, instead of being a self-righteous superannuated socialist, proposing more of the same failed "tax the rich" nonsense, was in-fact something of a Guru. Now they could paint Nick Clegg as "Change" too even though on the manifesto, his offering looked more like "the same old politics" than the Tories'. Under the lib-dems Westminster would become a regional assembly in the EUSSR. He even disagreed with the electorate on the only policy they seem to care about: Immigration.

Never let the facts get in the way of a Media Narrative.

Despite their x-factorisation of politics, the truth is the election debates are the only good thing about this whole sorry campaign. At least they caused the electorate to sit up and take notice to the extent they'd indicate to the pollsters that they'd been paying attention. However the end result was an election in which the people have demonstrated that by Apathy they can be persuaded to accept the hellish Benthamite Panopticon that New Labour's Britain has become, and that If you repeat a lie often enough, the people will accept it. They may tell the Pollsters that they're going to vote for someone, but in reality they can't be arsed because "they're all the same, innit". The lie factory that is all that remains of New Labour has destroyed British democracy to such an extent that even in the midst of a fiscal crisis caused by reckless Government spending for more than a decade, one and a half hot wars and the most unpopular Government since records began, little over half the electorate can be bothered to vote, because they've been persuaded to blame the present crisis on "the banks", and can't be bothered to remember the rest.

So what happens now? Parties will have to work together. Cameron will be PM with Lib-Dem help. Despite my support for First Past the Post, some form of electoral reform is now inevitable, if not now, then as soon as the Left next get their hands on the tiller. I would rather the Tories make something lasting, in tune with what is left of the British constitution. So I hope the Tories get into bed with the Liberal Democrats even at the price of some form of PR, in return for their support in getting a Conservative budget and Queen's speech through and undo some of the Savage assault on civil liberties. I am sure I could be persuaded by multi-member constituencies, so long as they were small enough, and individuals rather than parties remain what you vote for. Counties and equivalent seem the obvious choice for constituencies.

As I write this from a sunny bar in Cyprus, I understand negotiations are ongoing between the Tories and the Lib-dems. Labour cannot be allowed back into Government. That means the Liberal democrats may just get their greatest wish. A Very British Dude reluctantly concedes electoral reform as inevitable, in order that the Tories can start to undo the damage of 13 years of New Labour's national scat-party. A small price to repay for National renewal.

The Tories must seize the opportunity to mitigate the lunacy of some of the PR proposals as the price of shutting the Labour party out of power for a very, very long time. Conceding defeat to a silly proposal because the electorate however nihilistic and ill-informed have been persuaded of its necessity is a price of Democracy. Electoral defeat is not what Brown and Co. deserve; New Labour deserve to be hanged for treason, not let off with pensions. However forgoing bloodthirsty revenge is another price of democracy.

The people have spoken' damn them.

Oh. And for the record, I'm in the 39%, because of an almighty fuck-up by my proxy who might get forgiven, if they're really, really nice to me. This is the first election, local or national since 1997 in which I have failed to vote.



Friday, 7 May 2010

I see a Tall Dark Man…

“The people have spoken, the bastards”.
Dick Tuck’s concession speech following his loss in the 1966 California Senate.

Well it’s all over bar the shouting, and at the same time it hasn’t even begun. The horse trading, the backroom deals, the recriminations of all three parties. Mystic Travelgall will try and predict the next couple of weeks. This is his gut reaction.

1) Brown will try and fight on with Canute like ignorance of the will of the people. And will fail – probably as early as 14:30 today. He’ll bribe and try and cajole the Sandalistas who have been left at the altar one two many times throughout history by Labour. They would be fools to believe anything coming from the Great Clunking Fist.

2) ZanuLabour will ditch Brown and then start fighting like ferrets in a sack. Balls, Harperson, Miliband et all will all be briefing like mad against Brown and/or each other (even Blinky who survived by the skin of his teeth will be bitching). Who they end up with will depend on their Union paymasters.

3) ZanuLabour will not pick somebody electable. They have a closed shop system when it comes to picking their leadership. Their leader will be picked by a small clique who will prize political purity over electability. I’m purchasing a couple of chickens to sacrifice so the gods choose Harman.

4) Cameron won’t be able to carry his party on a deal with the Sandalistas over PR and reform of the electoral system.

5) Cameron will try and fight on with a minority government. He’ll scrap ID cards, may get his Great reform bill passed and shortly after strenuous talks with the electoral commission call another election within a year.

6) Britain will be downgraded by the ratings agencies. The markets will force through reform.

7) The Liberal democrats will be squeezed again in the second election unless they drop their PR fetish and settle for a major boundary chance in conjunction with the Tories.

8) Labour Scotland will find themselves excluded from England only legislation. Cameron will be under too much pressure from his back benchers not to answer at least part of the West Lothian question.

Just speculation of course.



Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Well bugger me with a Fish Fork

According to People Management magazine “People in the HR and recruitment sector are more likely to vote Liberal Democrat than the other parties, according to a poll examining voting intention among different professions”.

Well golly - who'd ave thunk it, the people who run the diversity seminars in my office, who spout shite about communication performance outlines; and whose only role in the economy is to look so wet and weedy that you don’t punch them when you loose your job thereby reducing hospital bills are all Liberals. I am shocked. Other gems of information guaranteed to make you faint in the overload of newfound knowledge are that the workshy Bolshevik twats on strike every day the barometer is predicted to hit “Very Sunny” either side of a bank holiday rather than driving their train all vote ZanuLabour. Other shockers are those who work on a building site vote Tory, rather than appreciating the merits of Harriet Harperson who tries imprisoning them every time they shout “Nice Tits Darling”.

“With HR and particularly recruitment being so cyclically driven, it would appear that HR and recruitment jobseekers believe that the Liberal Democrats are best placed to secure the recovery,” commented John Salt, website director at Totaljobs.com”. Obviously this should actually read “With HR and particularly recruitment being so removed from the actual business of running a business and making a profit, It would appear that HR and recruitment workers who actually need no skills whatsoever to do their jobs and have little working knowledge of the economy believe that the Liberal Democrats are the best placed to secure the recovery”.



Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Hiatus

Travelgall may be returning from his travels and may be regailing you with more tales of the south seas, but I am departing for sunny climes on an all-expenses paid holiday courtesy of HMG. (Don't worry, I'm not going that far east). I doubt I will have an internet connection, so blogging will be light until my return. I hope you can all cope with the idiocies of the election campaign till then.

I envy all of you who are going to election-night parties, who get to watch Blinky Balls lose his seat and get to enjoy Brown's consecession oration.

I will probably be sunbathing.



Unless, of course this is not an accurate depiction of Military man-management.

I leave you with news that a Great Repeal Bill will form the centrepiece of a Tory administration's first Queen's speech. This is another reason to vote Tory enthusiastically, along with the free schools program, and the plans for radical localisation. That's enough to think that the Conservatives have a plan to roll back the bully-state created by 13 years of the most disastrous Government in British history.

Many people say, quite ignorantly that Cameron is not a Conservative. He is, and a radical one. He and his team have laid out a program which I can heartily endorse. He just needs a mandate to enact it. And in that, Libertarians need to make common cause with conservatives to deliver a Tory government. No Government is perfect, but Cameron's offer is so much better than that of the Labour party, an eye must be on kicking the latter out. And even if you have reservations, voting Tory remains the best option for that end.

Vote Tory. Use a clothes peg, if you must, though you shouldn't need one, but do so even if your motivation is twisting the knife in Brown's gut. I want to come home with a sun-tan AND a majority Conservative government.



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