The Curmudgeon


Friday, November 30, 2007

Don't Worry, Gromit, Everything's Under Control

The Secretary of State for Internment and Repatriation, Jacqui Smith, has warned of a "growing" threat of "attacks on crowded public places" featuring "the use potentially of dirty bombs and other things". Is it possible that the very same something which John Reid wasn't thinking about while he was Minister of Defence has come home to roost? Smith went on to say that the terrorist threat "is something that we need to take seriously", and claimed that "we are in terms of the resource and the capability we are putting into it". Nevertheless, the British public is required to "remain vigilant over the Christmas period" and also "urged ... to get on with their daily lives". Don't let them interfere with your way of life, but remember to do your bit for the clash of civilisations effort.

Although Smith specifically warned of a threat, Smith "did not suggest there was a specific threat"; but she did emphasise "how the number of people tracked by the intelligence services because of suspected involvement in terror plots had risen from 1,600 to 2,000 in just a year". The argument seems to be that the more the intelligence services are looking for something, the more plentiful that something becomes - an argument which served the Vicar of Downing Street rather well during the early part of his crusade against Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass ethereality. I am not certain Smith has waited quite long enough for this particular set of emperor's clothes to come back into fashion.

Possibly with a straight face (it was only Sky News), Smith also "insisted the government could be trusted with sensitive biometric data despite the debacle over the loss of sensitive data relating to 25 million people held by HM Revenue and Customs". As you would expect, the recent fiasco is precisely the sort of thing the Government's magical biometric snake-oil scheme is designed to prevent: "The whole point about the identity system is that, actually, you will need to have both biographic details and biometric details, which incidentally will be kept on separate databases", actually. Clearly, then, in order for your personal details to fall into the wrong hands, some penny-pinching bureaucrat will actually have to lose four discs instead of two. I feel safer already.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Understated Concern

One effective way of putting into perspective the Government's treatment of its armed forces' Iraqi employees is to look at the Government's treatment of the armed forces themselves. Besides lack of proper equipment and lack of proper health care, the Ministry of Pre-Emption is now offering a lack of proper housing. The Government has said that the issue is "a priority" and, true to form, has imposed disproportionate cuts on the housing budget. Most of the family quarters were sold off in a penny-pinching exercise by the interregnum in a suit which occupied the Prime Minister's office between Thatcher's downfall and Blair's ascent, so the Ministry plans to spend two-fifths of the money set aside for "upgrading service accommodation" on renting the buildings back from the company which bought them. Meanwhile, forty per cent of family quarters are substandard, as is more than half of the accommodation for personnel who are single and thus, presumably, less in need of good housing than their married counterparts. Still, the Ministry did manage to avoid "postponing work such as the construction of all-weather pitches and the resurfacing of tennis courts"; a prioritisation it concedes now "seems questionable in hindsight".

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Roads and Reality

The Campaign for Better Transport has conducted a poll showing that more than sixty per cent of people want more money spent on public transport, with only thirty per cent in favour of building more roads. Doubtless the CBT has an agenda, which is why they rate the last two paragraphs of the story in Britain's leading liberal newspaper while a study by the charitable wing of the Royal Automobile Club gets the headline. The RAC Foundation is calling for the building of, at a minimum, 372 extra miles of traffic lanes each year between now and 2041, in order "to deal with a 44% increase in the numbers of cars and a 37% rise in traffic" which nothing can stop, apparently. The study, amusingly titled Roads and Reality, also claims that "new roads have little effect on climate change", which may well be true provided that no traffic uses them; and that "public transport alone cannot remove congestion", perhaps because transferring the drivers of sixty five-metre-long cars to a bus ten metres long would cause the bus to be detained by irate members of the Royal Automobile Club manning roadblocks up and down the country. "The RAC Foundation seems to be living on a different planet from the rest of us," said a CBT spokeswoman. Perhaps it's this one.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The aptly-acronymed Government Actuary's Department (GAD) is "a special unit which analyses how demographic changes could affect Government spending". It has just come up with a projection which suggests that "with high immigration and fertility rates, the population could reach 108,723,000 by 2081". On the other hand, "if the same factors were low, the population could rise by as little as four million to stand at 64 million by 2081". The projection is based on "variations in life expectancy, fertility rates and immigration"; or, as the home affairs spokesbeing for the Down with Frogs, Out with Wogs party has it, immigration, immigration and immigration. "Labour need to wake up and understand the factors driving population change as well as the solutions," fulminated David Davis. "Only the Conservatives would take steps to reduce immigration to levels that are suitable and sustainable for the UK", life expectancy and fertility rates being matters for the individual private healthcare and parenthood consumer. The idea that Britain's population might shrink - owing to such factors as increased flooding, severe heat in summer, water shortages, lack of affordable health care, excessive road traffic, terrorist activity, profitable but unsafe public transport, irradiation from nuclear leaks, exhaustion of food supplies, unanticipated temperature drops during the winter months, bad diet, power cuts, homelessness, armed police doing a difficult job, or the unauthorised usage by hostile powers of national identity data to persuade British law enforcement corporations that everyone born in a month containing the letter R is likely to grow up into a financially negligible psychopath - does not appear to have been considered. This no doubt means that GAD's figures are singularly uninformative about the ways in which Britain's population is likely to develop, but depressingly revealing about the ways in which Government spending can be affected.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Letting Them Die

The Government's huge gratitude towards selected Iraqi employees seems to be filtering down to the client group, to no very beneficial effect. Dan Hardie has been in touch with three people who claim to have worked for the British army, two of whom have been vouched for by a Times journalist and the third of whom has sent copies of his British Army identification and photographs of himself with soldiers.

Employee One is stuck in Basra. The British Government has announced that he can apply for help if he can transport himself to the British base outside Basra, or to the Embassies in Syria or Jordan. The British Government apparently does not see travelling as a particularly difficult pastime when one lives in a war zone. However, the man told Dan Hardie:

Of course, we cannot travel to BIA (Basra International Airbase) due to the militia keep watched all the ways to BIA and they got their own fake check points there although, we claimed for asylum through the internet (we sent our application to the claim office at BIA) . But we afraid that the British are going to take a long time to process our claims also we are very worried if they will offer just some money instead of asylum, please sir inform all the British people that we looking for asylum and just the asylum will save our lives, also we can't travel to Syria anymore to claim for asylum there as the Syrian government issued new conditions for Iraqis who want to travel to their country.

In 2006 I have threatened by militia that hated me because I work and help coalition forces in Iraq, I told my bosses about that but they said we can't do anything for you because we have nothing to do with civilian and we don't have any army rules or orders to help you, then I continued my daily work with British army, few days later the militia attacked my house trying to catch me but I was at the work at that time, they beaten my family and told them: we want your son or we will kill all of you.

Employee Two is in Syria. He meets the arbitrary conditions laid down by the British Government for entitlement to help, in that he worked for the British for twelve months after 1 January 2005 and, what is more, he can prove it. Unfortunately, his visa has expired, so I suppose he counts as a failed asylum seeker; and in a country with a Ba'athist government, to boot. He has to get the forms for asylum or resettlement aid, not from British embassy staff, but from the embassy's Syrian security guards; and he says he knows four others who are worse off than he is because they worked for less than a year.

Employee Three worked for the army in 2003, which of course doesn't count as far as the British Government is concerned. He will get no assistance at all.

David Miliband apparently does not consider this issue to be urgent; possibly he shares more values with the Saudi Arabian monarchy than he would care to acknowledge. The Government's conditions for aiding Iraqi collaborators have resulted in the abandonment of several hundred people who worked for the British between 2003 and 2005, or who worked for less than a year; many will have left their jobs at the end of a battalion's six-month tour of duty. The Government should be helping people on the basis of the risk they face, not on that of an arbitrary time stipulation.

Even those who meet the Government's criteria are not being properly helped. Iraqis in Basra cannot apply for help via Basra International Airbase, since the airbase is surrounded by militia checkpoints. Iraqis in Syria are being screened by the Syrian police and delayed by British bureaucracy, and thus may face deportation back to Iraq as a result of overstaying their visas.

Please write to your MP, informing them of these facts and requesting them to alert ministers to the situation. Inform them also that Dan Hardie is in direct contact with a number of Iraqi employees and is willing to brief MPs by email (at or by phone. As always, be polite. You might just save a life.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oxford Blues

The well-known martyr to Austrian ideas of free speech, David Irving, has been invited to an event hosted by the Oxford Union Debating Society. The leader of the British National Party, Nick Griffin, has been asked along too, and the members of the society have voted by a margin of two to one in favour of letting them speak. Predictably, a row has blown up. A former Minister for Frogs and Huns "condemned the union for 'promoting anti-Semitism'"; apparently the BNP's attitude to non-Jewish non-whites is not a matter for concern. The university's Muslim and Jewish societies said that the principle of free speech was "overshadowed in this instance", as presumably it would not be were those societies to extend invitations to radical imams or militant Zionists. The part-time Secretary for Supporting Our Boys, Des Browne, has felt "forced" to withdraw, though apparently from a completely different debate.

The organiser of the event, Luke Tryl of the rebranded Young Conservatives, has, in the Observer's words, "claimed that it is possible to abhor the views of Griffin and Irving while accepting their right to be heard". Despite the use of the alarm-verb claim, which we are more accustomed to seeing these days in connection with Iranian statements that agree with IAEA reports, there does not appear to be anything wrong with Tryl's argument. A viewpoint that cannot be publicly articulated is one that cannot be publicly shot down.

The planned debate will not even be about anti-Semitism or the Holocaust, so Tryl and his colleagues can hardly be accused of giving Griffin and Irving a public playpen in which to ride their nasty little hobbyhorses. Even if this were the case, the claim by the Oxford University Jewish Society's co-president that "by having them speak, it legitimises their views" shows an understanding of the purposes of debate that would not be out of place in a sermon by the Vicar of Downing Street. According to Tryl, the debate will be about "the limits of free speech"; and it will be a debate, not a political rally. Tryl has said that "there will be other speakers to challenge and attack [Irving's and Griffin's] views in a head-to-head manner", rather than the atmosphere of, say, the Labour Party conference.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jots and Tittles

The gifted entertainers at Christian Voice, some of whose merry antics have been noted here before, are continuing the good fight against the axis of evil which launched Jerry Springer: The Opera upon the unsuspecting citizens of a pious nation. Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, and his disciples are trying to overturn the refusal by a City of Westminster magistrate to prosecute Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, which broadcast the show nearly three years ago; and they are also trying to prosecute Jonathan Thoday, the producer of the theatrical version.

Green's lawyer claimed that the show "crossed the blasphemy threshold", whatever that may be, and that "neither Mr Thoday nor Mr Thompson felt the least inhibition in ridiculing God, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the sacrament of the Eucharist and Christian belief". Presumably this means that Christian Voice is aiming for a prosecution under Britain's law against blasphemous libel, which I seem to recall New Labour did not repeal on the grounds that nobody uses it any more. To their credit, the BBC are not arguing that no offence was intended, or even that Jerry Springer did not attack the Church of England (the only sect protected under the blasphemy law); but that "the magistrate acted within her powers in refusing to issue summonses, since freedom of expression was integral to British society", except for lyrical terrorists and anyone within earshot of the Houses of Parliament, of course.

Green himself called the show "an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief" and claimed that no-one would dream of making such a spectacle about Islam. Well, if only more Muslims would condescend to take part in our extensive culture of self-inflicted humiliation and emotional pornography, instead of hiding behind those silly beards and burkas, I'm sure someone would be happy to give it a try.

Friday, November 23, 2007

An Amusing Prank

The third member of the Holy Alliance, John Howard, appears to be dying as he has lived, politically at least; a literal drowning in a bucket of bloodied excrement is probably too much to hope for. Some of his closest associates have been implicated in a black propaganda campaign involving the distribution of a leaflet accredited to a fictitious Muslim organisation, the Islamic Australia Federation, which calls on people to vote for the opposition in tomorrow's election. The leaflet claims that the opposition Labour party supports a radical cleric "who has described scantily clad women as 'uncovered meat'"; apparently Australian women cook with less lard than their British counterparts.

Those directly implicated are the husbands of two Howardettes, Karen Chijoff and Jackie Kelly. Both deny all knowledge of their husbands' activities, and Kelly has described the leaflets as an amusing prank, the kind of thing any self-respecting politician might get up to after a gallon or two of beer. Howard has said that the leaflet "does not represent my views", which is no doubt perfectly true. As if the call to vote Labour were not enough, the offending document also includes the phrase "Ala Akba", which appears to lavish gratuitous if misspelt praise on the American Library Association.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Clean Air

In the present parlous state of British politics, the motives behind certain actions by our lords and masters can be a little difficult to fathom. Is the ID card scheme an overreaction to terrorism, a symptom of political control-freakery, a calculated preparation for the social meltdown which will occur when the lights go off and the water stops coming out of the taps, or simply a boondoggle to augment the profits of yet another, probably foreign, private corporation? Is the reappearance of Ruth Kelly, bearing glad tidings of how Gordon Brown plans to slice eighty per cent off our carbon emissions by expanding Heathrow, an attempt to bury the wreck of another PR exercise or a valiant effort to remind us that there are, even now, ministers yet more inept than the Chancellor, the Foreign Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Defence and the First Lord of the Treasury? The fact that Kelly's latest eructation took the form of a written statement to Parliament seems to indicate the former, but one never knows; the results when she wields the ministerial pen are hardly less brilliant than when she deploys the ministerial mouth. If flights from Heathrow are not increased by another two hundred thousand a year, "jobs will be lost and the economy will suffer" - much the same dire consequences as would ensue from capping fat-cat payoffs, retaining people's right to a decent pension, compelling corporations to clean up after themselves, keeping workers' wages in line with inflation or, indeed, doing anything at all which might not altogether suit Gordon and those who pull his strings. Evidently, despite the massive if somewhat vaguely specified benefits to the environment, the million or so British workers whom Gordon plans to shunt into green British jobs over the next twenty years will not have enough positive impact to counter our economic losses should Heathrow Airport be forbidden to metastasize as far as Dover. Still, the public has until 27 February to make its views on the third runway known, and if the idea proves unpopular the Government will, of course, do its best to manage without. Meanwhile, remember to turn off the taps when brushing your teeth and keep your thermostat turned down to within levels which could reasonably be considered not overly excessive.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Silver Lining

It may soon be time to reform (or, in Oldspeak, abolish, break up, privatise or otherwise castrate) the National Audit Office. Not only is the NAO implicated, thanks to the justice-efficientising method of guilt by association, in the Great Database Cockup, but it is about to criticise the Government severely over the sale to a foreign private equity company of a chunk of the country's defence capability. The Treasury, which at the time was in the safe, responsible hands of a certain Gordon Brown, failed even to get a fair price; the assets were "snapped up ... at an eighth of their value". The deal was approved by Lord Moonie, possibly the most aptly-named New Labour minister in the entire history of the cult. Lord Gilbert, a former minister of procurement, complained of "the damage done to the special relationship between Britain and the US" because "the work exchanging British and US research work is the glue that binds it together", or was until the chimp and the Vicar discovered a more personal kind of stickiness. There were also "questions about intelligence sharing because of US defence secrets being passed to a private company", not to mention the fact that "both US research workers and British research workers funded from the public purse would resent the fruits of their work going to enrich individuals in a private company". It appears that, when it comes to the crunch, research workers in the defence industry are not so much more public-spirited than workers in mere public transport or the NHS. Still, on the positive side, two senior civil servants were empowered to become multi-millionaires as a result.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Freedom of Information

An honourable mention, if you please, for Paul Grey, the head of HM Revenue and Customs, who has resigned over the loss of the "personal details of virtually every child in the UK" and "the national insurance numbers, and in some cases the bank details, of parents claiming child benefits". The information was stored on two discs - a highly centralised database, and thus precisely the sort of thing the National Identity Register is being set up to prevent - which were sent by courier from HMRC to the National Audit Office, and failed to reach their destination. It seems someone failed to follow the rules, which could never happen at the National Identity Register. Even if it did, they could always ensure greater data protectivity by installing a few more cameras.

Although the data was sent out on 18 October, Gordon's little Darling has found no evidence that it has "reached the wrong hands", and has apparently not found it necessary to assure anyone that the data was properly encrypted. The Metropolitan Police are investigating the matter: something the National Identity Register would help them to do more efficiently. Since we have not heard anything about the children on the database being social parasites, spawn of single mothers and illegal immigrants, and quite possibly recipients of terroristic grooming in the manner recently popularised by the head of MI5, it appears that Sir Ian Blair, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is not a close acquaintance or adviser of Paul Grey.

Monday, November 19, 2007

How Green Was My Britishness

The Glorious Successor, whose charmingly craven and cack-handed brand of political courage has done so much to restore our civil liberties and get us out of the arse of the White House, has "stated his determination to make Britain a world leader" in the war against global warming. Apparently we are not already a world leader in that particular war, despite our indubitable frontality in the wars against terror, privacy, public accountability and people who write things. Gordon pointed out that Britain has "played a leading role" in "three previous technological revolutions" - including, no doubt, the Industrial Revolution which started this fossil-fuel-burning business in the first place - and now believes that Britain should seize the opportunity to create a new greener Britain with a new greener economy providing greater prosperity and high quality British jobs even as it protects the environment and provides a better green British quality of better green British life for all British green better British. Gordon also predicted that "within two decades ... more than one million people could be employed in [green, British, better] industry in the UK", which goes to show that climate change and incipient global catastrophe are not only a Challenge but an Opportunity. Gordon is "ready to consider increasing the Government's target of a 60% cut in Britain's carbon emissions by 2050 to 80%". It is just possible that Gordon believes he will not be in office by 2050, and therefore incurs comparatively little risk of actually having to deliver on such a pledge, even if mere policy commitments had much to do with New Labour's actions in any case.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Count Dracula

Philip Saville 1977

The BBC's adaptation of Dracula, written by Gerald Savory, was broadcast during the Christmas season in the eightieth anniversary year of the book's publication. Savory's screenplay is largely faithful to the book, and the changes are largely beneficial, such as the amalgamation of Stoker's two most interchangeable good guys into a single character and the large amount of screen time devoted to Jonathan Harker's sojourn at Castle Dracula, which occupies a comparatively small section of the novel. Harker's witnessing of the Count crawling down the castle's outer wall - black cloak billowing and dark eyes blank as a lizard's - and his later encounter with Dracula's three undead brides, are among the book's most memorable episodes, and Count Dracula does them full justice, abetted by a fine performance from Bosco Hogan as Harker.

This version benefits greatly from the BBC's characteristic professionalism in production design, and from some superb casting and acting. It's refreshing to encounter a horror film (or Gothic romance, as the opening titles have it) whose makers have sufficient humility both to keep to the original story and to keep from camping it up. Although the Count's hairy palms are a little overgrown, and despite some unnecessary colour-reversed imagery, the visual effects are mostly serviceable. There are very few rubber bats in evidence, and the only one to be seen in close-up is patently real and alive; while the blood on display actually resembles blood and not red paint.

Professor Van Helsing is played with immense panache by Frank Finlay, whose performance as Dennis Potter's Casanova (1971) is also not to be missed. Rather than the coolly scientific demeanour which Peter Cushing brought to Hammer's Dracula films, Finlay's Van Helsing emphasises the Professor's eccentric charm and deadpan humour. "Her body isn't there," Dr Seward (Mark Burns) exclaims on opening Lucy's empty coffin. "That is good logic as far as it goes," replies Van Helsing helpfully. Susan Penhaligon conveys the vivacity and innocence of the human Lucy without making her more loathsome than the vampiric version, something Stoker and a number of other actresses have failed to achieve.

Judi Bowker's Mina is equally human and sympathetic. The scene where she wakes from a trance to find herself tainted by having drunk Dracula's blood, which Stoker mars with melodramatic declamations, is here moving and horrifying, thanks in no small measure to Bowker's performance. Her conversations with Jack Shepherd's Renfield help to make the unfortunate madman's abrupt repentance and rejection of Dracula unusually convincing. I don't think I have ever seen a better Renfield than Shepherd's; in other versions, when this fascinating character is allowed to appear at all, he is mostly reduced to a mere cackling maniac with an appetite for small game. Savory's script and Shepherd's acting restore the complexity of Stoker's character - by turns calculating, civil, violent, pathetic, suspicious and, at the last, courageous and even chivalrous in his fight for sanity and redemption.

Finally, Louis Jourdan's Count may lack Christopher Lee's physical stature, but he more than makes up for it in thin-lipped pallor and more-than-aristocratic froideur. Jourdan's restrained gestures, razor-gash mouth, low voice and quiet, deadpan delivery beautifully convey the vampire's cold, sardonic cunning and cruelty, and the hint of affection and playfulness he displays as he offers his brides a little treat in place of Harker's blood makes an exceptionally chilling coda to a thoroughly effective nightmare.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Retreating in Order to Advance

Thanks to the Glorious Successor's brilliant leadership in the war on climate change, another brilliant victory approaches. The Department of Environmental Finger-wagging Rhetoric and Abjection is "planning an emergency package of at least £300m of cuts covering key environmental services", including "recycling, nature protection, energy saving, carbon emissions and safeguarding the environment". This no doubt constitutes a strategic withdrawal so that the forces of climate change can be outflanked, taken in the rear and utterly annihilated at a later date. This efficientising measure, which is merely the latest of the hundreds of millions of packages of measures introduced by the Glorious Successor in the wisdom of his unique vision of leadership in the achievement of carbon neutrality somewhat later than our time, may well bring the war on climate change within measurable distance of its beginning. The Glorious Successor has achieved this despite the usual spoiling efforts of the United Nations, whose Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is now warning that "all forms of carbon pollution from flights to inefficient light bulbs must become more expensive if the world is to avert catastrophic effects of warming". This means that the UN is dangerously close to advising governments to interfere the free market, which would constitute intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. If there is one thing the Glorious Successor cannot abide, it is intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign nations. Meanwhile, remember to turn down your thermostat by one degree, and not to leave the tap running unnecessarily.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It Seems We Have Been Here Before

The International Atomic Energy Agency has reported that Iran is co-operating with its inspectors and is producing only fuel-grade uranium, as is its legal right; hence Britain's leading liberal newspaper is living its values once more by screaming about the threat Iran poses to the world's largest nuclear power. Iran "has installed 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium - enough to begin industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel and build a warhead within a year", assuming they all spin at full speed, and that nothing goes wrong, and that Iran intends to build a warhead. The IAEA has uncovered no evidence of Iran's intention to do any such thing, although given that Iran is bordered both to the west and to the east by recipients of the dubious blessing of western "hard power", its government could hardly be blamed for deciding that a deterrent might be advisable. The IAEA's report has caused outrage in Washington, London and the Righteous State, where the forces of democratisation are expressing deep concern because Iran's nuclear programme does not appear to be within forty-five minutes of blowing anyone off the map. The Glorious Successor has "called for increased pressure on Tehran, including an international ban on investment in the Iranian oil and gas industry", which will give Tehran no end of an incentive to stop looking into alternative energy sources. "If Iran wants to restore trust in its programme it must come clean on all outstanding issues without delay," said a spokesbeing for our own Ministry of Lesser Breeds, examples of whose outstanding cleanliness can probably be found by anyone prepared to look hard enough.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bruges Grope

The Minister for Lesser Breeds, David Miliblaband, is off to do some finger-wagging at those of our European partners who have not kept up with the progress of civilisation here on the mainland. He will "suggest that by 2030 all cars purchased in the EU should have zero carbon emissions"; though, being a New Labour proposal, it is extremely unlikely that this will actually mean that by 2030 all cars purchased in the EU should emit no carbon. Since Milibaland will also be proposing "an extension of the fledgling EU emissions trading scheme with the creation of an EU carbon bank to regulate the amount of carbon used", it is much more likely that he means the cars will emit just what their manufacturers think they should emit, the carbon being arbitrarily assigned to some Third Worlder with a smaller footprint whose government will receive some generous bounty so that he can better enjoy the process of being starved, roasted and flooded.

Milibibland will inform the EU that it must no longer "focus on internal not external challenges"; after all, there are few things less important in any community than the mere rules by which its members get along with one another. It is also dangerous to focus on "institutions rather than ideals", since the former might easily be used to prevent the latter being appropriately imposed upon those who might not yet have realised the advantages of adopting the values Britain shares with George W Bush. If the EU continues on its dangerous path, we will "face losing our hard power by not being prepared to intervene", Iraq and Afghanistan having demonstrated the wondrous effectiveness of our hard power. We will also "face losing our soft power by closing off further enlargement and a bolder near neighbourhood policy", diplomacy being apparently impossible except between EU members. "The result: the return of protectionism, growing energy insecurity, division with the Islamic world, and unmanaged migration to conflict and inequality" - all because of those tragically short-sighted potato-crisp reformers in Brussels.

Mibilalaland's Great Idea is to "consider extending the single market beyond our immediate neighbours, and to the Middle East and north Africa"; which, among other advantages, may help to place that beastly Human Rights Act in some sort of perspective. If Israel, Saudi Arabia and the sovereign, independent Iraqi government could join the EU, this would result in "European rules shaping the world", just like in the good old days when half the map was painted pink. Perhaps one day we might even get America to join; otherwise, "we return to power politics and an age of disorder" in which institutions such as the UN charter might well be thought to trump ideals such as hard-headed interventionism.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Radicalisation Preventability, Securitisation Prioritality

The Glorious Successor has unveiled a wide-ranging package of measures again. This one is intended "to bolster security in public places while attempting to prevent young people being radicalised by violent extremists". The plan is to build barriers outside airports, railway stations and ports, which will protect them from car bomb attacks until someone manages to drive a car through the barriers. Then I suppose we'll have to think again, and perhaps raise the time limit on internment to a hundred and twelve days.

Gordon is also setting up a new unit, in which "police and security intelligence and research" will co-operate to identify individuals who have not yet fallen under the influence of terrorists, but who might do so one day. This is apparently a response to the MI5 director general's warning last week (it was not, according to the Independent, a mere allegation) that the evil ones were "grooming" children to carry out terror attacks. If things go really well, and is Sir Ian Blair remains in post to remind us all of the meaning of corporate responsibility, perhaps in a little while we shall have our first paedo-terrorist shoot-to-protect incident. Gosh, I feel safer already.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Gordon offered further rebuttal to those who believe he has no sense of humour: "The objective of al Qaida and related groups is to manipulate political and humanitarian issues in order to gain support for their agenda of murder and violence"; evidently al-Qaida's brand of interventionism is not hard-headed enough for Gordon; "and to deliberately maim and kill fellow human beings, including innocent women and children" - and they don't even buy their weapons from us, at least not officially. "We must not allow anyone," least of all a bunch of pesky paedo-Muslims, "to use terrorist activities as a means to divide" British workers from their British jobs, "or to isolate those belonging to a particular faith or community."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hard-Headed Internationalism

The Glorious Successor has finally come up with a brand name for his continuation of the Vicar's foreign policy, apparently because he is "trying to draw a distinction between what some", presumably journalists and other creatures of little memory, "regard as the former prime minister's idealism, especially his faith in the healing powers of democracy, and economic renewal". Gordon wishes to be seen as harder than Tony, who has probably only helped to kill a few hundred thousand people. Gordon's brand of international aggression is called "hard-headed internationalism". It is hard-headed because the international community of Britain, the US and Israel "now rightly recognise our responsibility to protect behind borders where there are crimes against humanity", as in Saudi Arabia. Still, "if we are to honour that responsibility to protect we urgently need a new framework to assist reconstruction". The thinking, if I may so flatter it, seems to be that if we rebuild the little brown people's homes for them after the initial shock and awe, they might be less inclined to support those who are trying to kick us out of the countries where we have so generously, if hard-headedly, intervened. Gordon suggested "a standby civilian force including police and judiciary who can be deployed to rebuild civilian societies". This certainly has potential. Recalcitrant jurists who come down on the wrong side of the argument between legal propriety and political expediency, or policemen who are too much inclined to ask questions first and shoot later, might learn a salutory lesson or two if they were suddenly dispatched to the Third World with orders to rebuild a civilian society. Gordon also reassured the international community that he has "no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe" and that "our ties with America founded on values we share constitute our most important bilateral relationship". In what may be seen as an example of the sharedness of British and American values, particularly the sense of humour, he noted that "progress in the Middle East would require a roadmap for economic reconstruction" once the demolition is complete, and recommended that the American-run World Bank "should become a bank for the environment".

Monday, November 12, 2007

Won't Someone Please De-Sexualise the Children?

Daveybloke the Cuddly Conservative has performed his usual trick of fulminating over a serious issue without saying anything particularly serious about it. Today the issue is rape, and Daveybloke has predictably promised a crackdown. If there's one thing that gets the Conservative Party's libido up and drooling, it's the promise of a crackdown on something or other; and of course a bit of sex and violence is always good to deplore, as readers of any scumbag tabloid will testify if they can keep from licking their lips for long enough.

As usual, Daveybloke agrees with the political wing of the modern Conservative Party, New Labour, that the solution to society's moral collapse is to put a great many more people in prison. Daveybloke wishes to see longer prison sentences for convicted rapists, but seems to have been a little coy about how many early releases will be necessary to make room for them all while we wait for all the brand, spanking new prison places he's going to fund by abolishing the ID card scheme. (And no doubt, once those places are filled up, Daveybloke will be happy to start up a new ID card scheme to fund a few more.)

Daveybloke also said a few words on the "sanctity of consent to sex as a vital right for every woman" and deplored the "growing sexualisation of our society" over "the past decade or so" since Labour got into power. We have to be honest: as somebody or other implied during a recent general election campaign, voting against the Conservative Party means that some bloke on early release is opportunified to assault your daughter. Daveybloke also blamed "those that work in the media and music industry", advising them to "exercise their responsibility in how they present female role models". The cultural transformation which will bring about this happy state of affairs "should start with making consent a compulsory element of sex education in schools - although parents would retain the right to opt their children out", parental ignorance, prejudice and repression having no discernible effect on children's minds, and being thereby safe for the pandering.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lest We Forget

Some people are never satisfied. Despite the Government's compassionate and courageous offer to help Iraqis who can prove they have worked for British forces for a year or more and who are prepared to leave their families behind, one Haider Samad is still pleading for help. Samad, who has worked for the British army and for a British mercenary outfit, says that he is on several death lists and that Basra city council has "issued an edict stating that anyone helping the Samads would be charged with serious offences against the state". He also says that at least thirty other interpreters who worked for the freedomisers in southern Iraq have already been murdered, and that anyone with links to the foreign fighters in the region is being purged. Our boys certainly seem to have done a wonderful job making the place safe for democracy.

Meanwhile, a whopping forty-four MPs, including a whopping three Conservatives, have bothered to sign Early Day Motion 2057; and the Government has pointed out once more that anyone who can prove they have worked for British forces for twelve months continuously, etc., etc. All they need do is apply to the Home Office's Gateway Programme, which is dedicated to "securing our borders, enforcing our immigration laws and managing migration to the benefit of the UK".

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bring Hither the Fatted Calf

It appears that rumours of the conversion to Catholicism of a well-known crusader, witch-hunter and tin-pot Messiah are not without substance. I am sure we all wish Mother Church joy of her new-found Son, and it is certainly nice to know that there is at least one thing about Tony that is not without substance. Tony has been "interested in Catholicism for many years", but refrained from conferring the blessing of his membership on the Church because of "constitutional sensitivities". Given the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, the ongoing campaign for internment, the NHS database, the leukopachydermal fiasco that is the ID card and so forth, I suppose we must also be glad that Tony has at least one constitutional sensitivity, even if it is a little redolent of a chronic wife-beater ordering his children not to talk back to their mother. Tony's government "pursued a number of policies which the church opposed", possibly because God, one of Tony's oldest and greatest allies, told him it would be all right, or perhaps because the Christian churches, however much they might squeal about abortion, homosexuality and stem cell research, have always stopped considerably short of ordering the faithful not to kill Muslims in return for worldly goods.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Natural Selection

Finnish police have come up with a brilliant diagnosis of the motive for Wednesday's high school massacre: the perpetrator and self-styled "natural selector", Pekka-Eric Auvinen, was "bent on exacting maximum damage". This is certainly helpful.

Auvinen, who was eighteen, felt "cast out and bullied by his fellow pupils". As is usual after this sort of event, there are calls for greater gun control, and if cast-out and bullied adolescents continue posting rants on YouTube there will doubtless be calls for greater internet control. Calls for greater bully control, if they are being made, are evidently not worth reporting.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Manchurian Candidate

The Heathen Chinee have sneered at the efforts of a hard-working peace envoy to bring the light of salvation into their drab, wretched lives. The recently-ascended former Vicar of Downing Street was allegedly paid half a million dollars (£237,000 at the moment, but may yet tumble further) for a speech which revealed "nothing new". This will come as a very small surprise to anyone who has lived for any length of time with Tony's unappetising mix of Thatcherite policy, Head-Boy-on-Prize-Day rhetoric and Jeffrey Archer persona; but it seems to have been a bit of a shock to the system for the little yellow chaps. Tony, it seems, was "forthcoming with pleasantries and clichés without offering any insight", which shows that his time as Saviour of the Middle East has not dulled his charm nor swelled his not-quite-infinite variety. "We should exercise less ostentatiousness and vanity ... [and] learn more new and genuine knowledge - especially when we are using even a penny of taxpayers' money," advised the China Youth daily newspaper, which shows just how primitive an idea of the uses of taxpayers' money some people still have. If that's their attitude, it's no wonder there's so much pollution. Tony, at least, has been careful to ensure the sustainability of the Blair legacy: he "reportedly earned £300,000 in his first week of a North American speaking tour last month, during which he apparently recycled the same jokes on a number of occasions".

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Touch of Realism

A team at the University of Aberdeen has put together some pictures of men and women looking happy and disgusted, and has discovered the sordid, hidden truth behind romantic passion: "if you smile at people and you maintain eye contact, it makes you more attractive". According to a Dr Ben Jones, of the Face Research Laboratory, this "challenges most previous studies of facial attractiveness". Apparently these previous studies "focused on physical characteristics, such as a preference for symmetrical faces or masculine versus feminine features" without taking facial expressions into account. Specialists are wonderful creatures sometimes.

Dr Jones claims that sexual attraction is "a sort of narcissistic thing. People are attracted to people who are attracted to them", which doubtless explains why there is no such thing as unrequited love; and that "at the most basic level ... people like faces with direct gaze more than they like the same faces with averted gaze", which is why shyness is so unattractive a trait as to render romantic pursuit and conquest, at the most basic level, such a thoroughly unpopular pastime.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Privatised Climatality, Sustainable Profitability

The Glorious Successor has announced a climate change bill "which would make the UK the first country in the world to introduce legally-binding targets for emissions cuts"; though, given New Labour's well-known flexibility when it comes to legal obligations, it is just possible that this splendid achievement may turn out a little less impressive than it sounds. In order to "prevent dangerous temperature rises" which are taking place now, the bill "would enforce reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of at least 60% by 2050", the means of achieving this being airport expansion; investment in safe and sustainable fuels like uranium; and doubtless also by strongly encouraging any government which defaulted to subject itself to the severest possible penalty which it could, in conscience, sustain. Fortunately, the bill will also "set five-year carbon budgets" rather than annual ones, thus ensuring that, if news of the latest failure cannot be buried in the landfill of some future 9/11, it can at least be attenuated into the odd atmospheric particle.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Open Transparenticity, Transparent Candididity

Gordon's little Darling warned today that ten years of sound economic practice have led to "an unparalleled period of financial uncertainty". Darlingbloke's jitters were apparently triggered by the departure of the CEO of the world's largest bank, Citigroup, with a financially sound, non-inflationary, non-pensions-crisis-exacerbating severance package in the region of twenty million pounds. Darlingbloke told the BBC that we need to "get to a far better situation where there is a great deal more transparency, more openness, so people understand the risks to which these banks have become exposed and they can avoid being so exposed in future", but noted that, while some banks "do have considerable exposure ... however these banks do have strong balance sheets", so while things may be about to go to pot, then again perhaps they might not. Given the rapidity with which New Labour can produce legislation to deal with terror suspects, asylum seekers, benefit claimants, people in hoods, people who read lists of names in the vicinity of Parliament Square and other menaces to our way of life, it is curious that Darlingbloke seems to have had nothing to say about the changes in the law which are doubtless being sketched out on the back of an appropriately sized envelope to ensure that the banks behave more responsibly in future.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Borderline Psychosis

In a country with an education ministry that promotes religious delusion, a defence ministry that launches unprovoked attacks on other countries, and an opposition party that agrees with the Government, it was doubtless inevitable that we would develop a border protection scheme which weakens national security. Staff in the immigration system claim that they are "being asked to perform key roles such as passenger profiling with less than three hours' training" and that vehicle checks are "down by 50 per cent because of insufficient preparation".

The claims are being made by a trade union, the PCS; but by one of those amusing sociological paradoxes which make Britishness the rollicking national experience it is, they do not constitute a threat to the very order and fabric of our society, as would undoubtedly be the case if a union were to express similar concern over the closing of post offices, the privatisation of health services, or cutbacks in safety procedures on public transport. Since the very order and fabric of our society are not at stake, the Down With Frogs, Out With Wogs party agrees with the trade union: the PCS general secretary says that "National security requires proper resourcing at appropriate skill levels, not short-cuts", while the Shadow Home Secretary Rampant accuses the Government of an "ill-thought-out, back-of-the-envelope style".

The Home Office has responded that "staff in the new force will be expected to perform their 'non-core' tasks", i.e. swap roles with staff from different departments, "only on limited occasions". Obviously, if someone from the passport agency is expected to do only limited work for Revenue and Customs or the charmingly East German-sounding Immigration and Nationality Directorate, it would be uneconomic to give them as much as three hours' training for the job. Indeed, it seems plausible that only New Labour's usual excessive concern for the headlines has prevented them drafting in a few Chinese cockle-pickers or Rwandan butchers as an economically viable human resource augmentation measure. I'm sure such people would be cheap, and they probably wouldn't complain.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Transform or Die

The Bush administration has belatedly discovered the virtues of diplomacy, but is having some little trouble finding the staff to implement it. Now that the sovereign, independent Iraqi government has been surged to an appropriate degree of stabilitisation, the new US embassy requires forty-eight staff to help convey the Iraqi leaders' wishes to their humble helpers in Washington. Unfortunately American diplomats, only three of whom have been killed since Mission Accomplished in 2003, regard the prospect of a tour in Iraq as a "potential death sentence". The present ambassador in Baghdad has warned that those who put their personal safety before the interests of the chickenhawks are "in the wrong line of business", and the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has informed the recalcitrant that she and they "are one foreign service and people need to serve where they are needed", be they trailer-trash in the firing line or chimps in the National Guard. Rice has apparently vowed to "shake up the antiquated bureaucracy", presumably a euphemism similar to the Blair/Brown "reform", the process which has led to such brilliant results in the United Kingdom's health service, education system and courts. In place of the antiquated bureaucracy, apparently on account of "a new historic calling" which has called historically to the State Department, Rice wishes to introduce "transformational diplomacy", which she defined as doing stuff "with other people, not for them", and as using "America’s diplomatic power to help foreign citizens to better their own lives, and to build their own nations, and to transform their own futures". So that's where it's all been going wrong! "Vital to this vision," she noted, "is continued collaboration between civilians and the military. Diplomats must be able to work effectively at the critical intersections of diplomatic affairs, economic reconstruction, and military operations."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Forgive and Forget

The Minister for Deportations, Liam Byrne, who despite being a father of three is "regarded as intelligent and ambitious" in the voice of the always useful Pressman's Passive, has been fined for talking on his mobile telephone while driving. Byrne, whose first name is a mirror image of the paper he seeks most to please, has undergone a "torrid week". On Monday the high court claimed, against all rational evidence, that the Government cannot deport whoever it damn well pleases just to get a favourable headline from the scumbag press; and on Tuesday Byrne was forced to concede that the public is "right" to expect the Government to have some idea of how many people there are in the country who might need throwing out. Today's torrid climax to the torridity of the week was virtually surpassed in torridity when Jacqui Smith "gave him her support", though it is not clear whether her support for those who deport foreigners is worth quite as much as her unequivocal backing for those who blow their heads off. Smith noted that the summary execution of Jean Charles de Menezes was "tragic", by which she presumably meant politically unfortunate; but said that the context should not be forgotten. "On July 7 2005, 52 people died in [suicide bombings in] London," she said. "On July 21, four potential suicide bombers also threatened the lives of Londoners, and on July 22, the Metropolitan police were chasing people at large in order to protect Londoners", something they could hardly be expected to do in a competent fashion just because that's what they're paid for. Similarly, the context of Liam Byrne's mobile telephone conversation came out in mitigation of his unreserved apology to the court: he was "taking an important call on a deportation matter at the time". Surely it is appropriate now to draw a line under this tragic episode and allow this well-intentioned if all too torridly human guardian of our nation's way of life continue to do his duty.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Phishing Met

From: "dumdums"
Date: Thu Nov 1, 2007 1:00pm Europe/London
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: keepign you safe at | \||Te

Dear Sir Madam or Legal Imigrant

I am Sir Iaian Blaiar I am in chrage of a Thriving police corporation dedicated to counternig evil whererever it may be en counterered. owning toa Recent tradgedy i am obligatsd to requets the small temprororary hlep of repsectavble Busuness ssuch as yourselfs.

The sitaution is that this. in Ju;ly 2005 a neraly indentical Clone of an evil terorrist was no great LOss desrevredlty had its fiendish Brane detsroyed Instantly and utturly by my faithful stromtoopers. this Clone was an evil foriegn drug adicted Passsprot expired agressive who ran away agrresively when Chhallenged ileggally laeping brariers in an agressive manner. as a Supsected evil terorist the BRane was destroyed instanltly ands Uterly. I deeply regret deeply this deeply regertable indicent thouhgh no great loss He was deeply rergetable and i wnat only to Get on with fighting evil. in light of the colsed circiut TV chnaging itsss story adn the regretttabble natur of e this inclident i beleive it wolud be un[porfitable to sSpeculate further ecxept to say that if more Forieng Police were like my stormtorpers little maddy might be safe and sgun atttt in her ownHousing.

however Owning to the Tragedy of being unjutsly subjected to an unlimitied fun fing fine of ££££175000 thuousand plus Costs i msust reregertablly inquest yorur Intreventnion to Save the british taxpayer form hram. Orr Else. For iff british Police msut tragdically Pay this tradgic fing fine Not a chlid wlil be Safe in britian for mnany genernations to Come.

Yors instantly utterly

SIR iaian blaiar