The Curmudgeon


Monday, November 30, 2009

The Certain Distance

A Highly Principled Functionary in a Government which was about to engage in some Sanguinary Hanky-Panky registered a certain moral disquiet at the possibility that the eventual results might not cast him in an altogether favourable light. A few nights later, as the Highly Principled Functionary was travelling home from the flat where he maintained his mistress and other expenses claims, the Prime Minister himself rose from the back seat of the car, vaulted into the front and seized the steering wheel. Soon they had left the city far behind and were rattling and bumping along a narrow, overgrown track.

"May I humbly request enlightenment concerning the direction this Government is taking?" inquired the Highly Principled Functionary, once his jowls had settled more or less back into their accustomed station.

"I am driving you within a Certain Distance of your resignation," replied the Prime Minister; "but not all the way. If you wish to go beyond a Certain Distance, you will have to exercise certain prerogatives."

"What prerogatives?"

"You will have to get out and walk there yourself," said the Prime Minister.

The Highly Principled Functionary, because of concerns about his personal security, had not walked anywhere under his own power during the present Parliament. Once the Certain Distance had been reached, therefore, he suffered himself to be driven back to town.

Later, after a few hundred thousand persons had been killed, mutilated and made destitute, the Highly Principled Functionary informed the Court of Iniquity that he had suffered the gravest misgivings over the Sanguinary Hanky-Panky from the very beginning, but had felt it incumbent upon himself to protect the good name of the Government by refusing to add his career to the casualty figures.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Troubling Foreigners

The home affairs select committee has registered mild concern that episodes such as this one cost the taxpayer too much. About a thousand children a year are being held in places that are "essentially prisons" while awaiting ritual sacrifice upon the altar of tabloid pacification; the average stay is something over a fortnight, but stays of up to two months are "not uncommon". Every so often an extra frisson will be added by releasing a child and then re-detaining them. Nobody knows exactly how many are being held or what condition they are in; the home affairs select committee finds this "troubling". Doubtless the home affairs select committee would describe sexual abuse, starvation and recreational homicide as frankly irritating.

The committee's recommendation is to speed up the asylum process by kicking people out faster; much as a Texas humanitarian might argue that a long wait on Death Row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and therefore the lawful and Christian thing would be a quick tar and feather and then the lethal injection. The committee chairman, Keith Vaz, waxed indignant about the fact that "these children have done nothing wrong" and "should not be being punished", but stopped a judicious distance from saying that no innocent child should ever be put in prison: "It must always be absolutely the last resort to keep a child detained for any length of time." Given that the tabloids', and hence the Government's, default position on asylum has for the last ten years lain somewhere between thuggish incompetence and hydrophobia, virtually everything being done these days is the last resort.

Additionally, of course, the detention centres are run by private companies, whose welfare the Government cannot afford to ignore. If the free market were interfered with sufficiently to shorten waiting times or imprison fewer units, or to compel those private companies to buy into the liberal fiction that an asylum seeker is an actual human being and then keep records to prove they were doing so - that, certainly, would be troubling.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

UKIP Goes Corsican

The United Kingdom Independence Party has registered a certain annoyance at the rejection by Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives of their proposal for an electoral deal, and have sworn vengeance in the event of a hung parliament; which shows much the same irresistible comic timing as Heinrich Himmler displayed in April 1945 when he attempted to forge an anti-Soviet alliance with the Americans. The domestic policy of Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives may be variously worn-out, crude, weird and nonexistent; their foreign policy may be treading a fine and subtle line between Churchillian blimpishness and Rothermerean fascism; they can make what proposals they like about privatising Whitehall, politicising the police, chipping away at the health service and cutting the BBC down to something the Daily Mail might be able to kick a bit harder without knocking the polish off its hobnailed boots; it all matters about as much as the party election broadcast with which, ten days ago, the Glorious Successor contrived to emphasise yet further the futility of the House of Windsor. Daveybloke's Minister for Lurching to the Right of Silvio Berlusconi stated that the Conservatives "don't make policy on the basis of secret deals with other parties"; such shady business is entirely futile when the likes of Oleg Deripaska and Michal Kaminski are awaiting the fraternal embrace. The two main parties in our mother of democracies - so seedily similar in politics, in temperament and in the friends they choose - are also alike in this: that neither will suffer in the least for making promises they do not intend to keep, so long as those promises are made to the electorate and not to anyone who actually makes a difference. In our mother of democracies, where the attainment of a vast parliamentary majority is largely a matter of buying a handful of marginal constituencies and gaining the support of Rupert Murdoch, to plan for a hung parliament is virtually to declare oneself Napoleon.

Friday, November 27, 2009


After thirty years of Thatcherism, there is so little left of the public sector to sell off that Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives will be reduced to stiffing the taxpayer over the Government's own buildings. There will also be some cuddly cuts in civil service redundancy payments, since there is very little fun in depriving a chap of his livelihood if you have to give him a large compensation payout when you do it; and departments will be able to bid to run one another's services, rather than wasting time and resources running services for the public. Any banker subjected to Daveybloke's cuddly cuts would undoubtedly respond with threats to turn the economy into a basket case and then set fire to the basket; but those civil servants who remain after Daveybloke's cuddly purge will be placed under "a statutory duty to protect public money", because so much of it will be needed to pay the private landlords who will own all the buildings in Whitehall after Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives have sold them. Doubtless Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives will take the usual relaxed attitude towards ministers with directorships in companies which receive rent from departments which occupy buildings in which those same ministers, mirabile dictu! are responsible for negotiating those same rents. The honours system will be "discreetly used to reward civil servants who dedicate themselves to improving productivity", which on present evidence will largely entail flogging off whatever land and assets they can scrape together in between firing people. Government departments will "become tenants and pay rent, and this would give them incentives to use property more efficiently", much as privatisation has incentivised the efficientisation of the railway companies, the water companies, the energy companies, the benefits agencies and the immigrant disposal services. Philip Hammond, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury who presumably plays Dick Cheney to George W Osborne, has announced his attention to announce the need for "a heart and minds agenda" and a "cadre of public sector entrepreneurs"; which sounds a little sinister coming from the British Friends of the Decent Waffen-SS.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thy Rod and Thy Staff

Further revelations have emerged in Ireland about the importance of religious faith in protecting law and order. Senior members of the Garda, doubtless recalling the joys of their own Catholic upbringing, gave priests immunity from investigation, let alone prosecution. On at least one occasion the Garda and the heirs of St Peter collaborated to ensure that a complaint of abuse never went to trial, and to enable the person accused to leave the country. In an uncompromising access of ethical Britishness, the latest report on the wonders of faith schools describes this relationship as "inappropriate". Investigators found "no direct evidence of an organised paedophile ring among priests in the Dublin archdiocese", presumably because the practices of the Church and the Irish government made such things about as necessary as an organised expenses-fiddling ring in Westminster.

A campaigner for victims' rights has challenged the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak to visit Ireland and apologise for "the betrayal of children" by those who were only supposed to beat the true faith into them. Rather bizarrely, the campaigner claimed that only a visit from the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak would exonerate the Church of culpability in the abuses for which the Church is in fact culpable, and which a certain Cardinal Ratzinger was once rather anxious to cover up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Flawed Intelligence

A report by Human Rights Watch claims that there is clear evidence of the British government's involvement in the inexpediently enhanced interrogation of its own citizens, and that the British government has thus placed itself in a "legally, morally and politically invidious position". Irrelevances aside, it is not altogether clear what the legal and political consequences might be - the empty suit at the Ministry of Justice may be put on trial, and then again it may not - but doubtless the Glorious Successor will make some effort to smooth things over in the next few days by inquiring after the health of a minor celebrity. The Foreign Office sent out a spokesbeing to give out a prepared denial; representing Her Majesty's Loyal and Complicit Opposition, William Hague huffed and David "Liberty or Death" Davis puffed, while a spokesbeing for the Ascended Incarnation of the Vicar of Downing Street gave out a prepared denial.

The Human Rights Watch report is partly based on the testimony of Pakistani intelligence agents who were doing a crucial job under difficult circumstances and who stated that British agents were grateful that "all means possible" were being used to extract information - accuracy being at best a secondary consideration in the War Against the Abstract Noun. It is not known whether the Pakistani agents were motivated by envy of our freedom and prosperity, or whether they were themselves tortured into accusing the British intelligence services of including the sort of people whose actions Tony Blair would not condone.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Magnate and the Market

A Hard-Working and Industrious Magnate laboured mightily for many years to inoculate his father's mind against misplaced favouritism. He thus inherited the entirety of the family's multinational bile and hot air business as soon as the aged progenitor had amended his will in accordance with the dictates of wisdom, and had subsequently succumbed to the rat poison with which his trusted offspring habitually laced the paternal tea.

One day the Hard-Working and Industrious Magnate came upon a Market being skewed by an Outdated Concept.

"Begone, villain!" thundered the Hard-Working and Industrious Magnate, hurling at the miscreant several dozen fairly inexpensive politicians and news editors; whereupon the Outdated Concept fled squeaking from the scene, never to trouble man, magnate or market again.

"Why do you lean away from me like that?" asked the Hard-Working and Industrious Magnate, perceiving the Market's continuing lack of upright and natural growth.

"Alas," replied the Market, "your attack on that Outdated Concept was so vigorous and sudden that I am suffering fluctuations, which are having a most deleterious effect upon my general stability."

Overcome with compassion, the Hard-Working and Industrious Magnate drove the Market into a corner, where he milked it thoroughly until its bottom dropped out.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Any Old Iron

Since he had nothing better to do today, the Glorious Successor has been posing once again with New New Labour's spiritual grandmother who, thanks to this latest gesture of Murdoch-oriented servility, is now believed by the Press Association's Journalistic Passive Omniscient to be the first living politician to have her portrait hung in 10 Downing Street. The old bag was attended by a rogue's gallery of former thugs and cronies; from Kelvin MacKenzie of the scumbag press, through the Reverend Bernard Ingham, pastor of the Congregation for Sanctification and State Funeral, to Lord Saatchi, whose firm pioneered the process of democracy as advertising campaign in which we now bask twenty-four-seven and from wall to screaming wall. Daveybloke, who believes that there is such a thing as society (it's something in which the poor have responsibilities and the powerful have rights), "was not seen entering Downing Street by the front door", presumably in case Ingham ate him for being soft on Europe; but apparently he managed to sneak in by the tradesmen's entrance. Of course this was not a portent of the future - how could you even think such a thing?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Glowing Report

A spokesbeing for the Department of Clean Coal and Sustainable Uranium, who is surnamed after a natural device for processing waste and pissing on whatever might present itself to be pissed on, has refused to give details of five separate security breaches at nuclear power stations in the United Kingdom. The breaches, according to the Office for Civil Nuclear Security, were of the sort that "warranted further investigation and subsequent follow-up action"; which could entail anything from trespassing through vandalism and theft of nuclear material or "sensitive nuclear information" to setting off a bomb. The uranium-urinary spokesbeing gave the universal password "national security reasons", stating that any attempt to reassure the public in this matter would be tantamount to assisting "a person or group planning theft, blackmail, sabotage and other malevolent or illegal acts" which are properly the exclusive province of governments and their more or less deniable operatives. A consultant on nuclear security observed that "three years ago, the OCNS's annual report recorded eight breaches in information security, and at that time the nuclear security regulator was prepared to reveal that these included 'the theft of laptops from parked vehicles' and 'inappropriate transmission of restricted information over the internet"; and, with typical scientific uncharitability, implied that the Department of Clean Coal and Sustainable Uranium might be suffering from "an acute atomic insecurity". Well, really.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Political Manifesto

A Political Manifesto, finding itself thoroughly starved of ideas, went begging from door to door around the various Departments of one of the world's numerous Greatest Democracies in the World.

It went first to the Treasury, where an Alchemist sat poring over an immense and complicated tangle of equipment. "Go away!" yelled the Alchemist when the Political Manifesto announced its presence. "Do you not see that I am busy turning base public utilities into gold for the financial sector?"

So the Political Manifesto went to the Department of Agriculture, where it found two Specimens of Obesity listlessly throwing food at each other.

"What are you doing?" asked the Political Manifesto. "Is this some new and efficient policy which will usher in yet another new and efficient era of peace and prosperity for hard-working families?"

"Go away!" yelled the Specimens of Obesity in antiphonal indignation. "Do you not see that we are busy settling the question of this year's monosodium glutamate crop? We are trying to work out whether African corruption has caused it to fail, or whether European intransigence has precipitated a surplus."

"Democratic debate followed by decisive action?" chanced the Political Manifesto, timidly holding out its begging bowl; whereupon the saggier of the Specimens of Obesity grabbed the bowl, filled it to overflowing with freshly-microwaved chocolate and chutney ossobuco, and flung it at his baggy colleague's head.

The Political Manifesto went next to the Department of Justice; but it found only a Person of Swarthy Aspect being hit and humiliated by unseen hands.

"What is this?" demanded the Political Manifesto. "Are you trying to demean the name of Justice in this, the Greatest Democracy in the World?"

"Not at all," said the Person of Swarthy Aspect. "I should be only too happy to stop this miserable spectacle, but I am unable to apply for release from my bonds because nobody is responsible for my confinement."

Driven to extreme measures, the Political Manifesto dragged itself to the Press Department, where an Empty Suit with Megaphone Attachment sat blowing hot air into some deflated reputations. "Please help me, kind sir," said the Political Manifesto, "for I am thin and insubstantial, with barely an idea inside me, and virtually indistinguishable from the Manifesto of the Other Party, which is an object of near-universal loathing and derision."

Horrified, the Empty Suit with Megaphone Attachment seized the Political Manifesto, subjected it to a thoroughgoing cavity search and stuffed it with photographs of happy children, beautiful pensioners and hard-working families. "There," said the Empty Suit with Megaphone Attachment; "you are no longer thin, indeed you are positively thick, but without anything in you that might cause problems later."

Despairing, the Political Manifesto flung itself into the path of an Approaching Election, whereupon it was adopted by Public Apathy and lived a happy and prosperous life for nearly two months before being torn up because of an unforeseen alteration in macroeconomic circumstances.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Norsemen Plunder Almost-British Carbon Sinks

Thanks to the golden thread of imperialism that runs through our history, which has brought good business practice to Nigeria, democracy to Uganda, peace to Palestine and call centres to India, Britain is able to maintain a special relationship with many former colonies around the world, thus pandering to Whitehall's delusions about our still being a global power. Two years ago one of these ex-colonies, Guyana, approached the British government with a proposal to give Britain control of its remaining rainforest - an area larger than England - in return for aid and assistance in building a low carbon economy, which would include limiting the deforestation that accounts for a fifth of the world's emissions. Whether because Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring had better things to do than talk to a lot of little chaps with funny names, or because the Lower Miliband was busy building airports and nuclear power stations, or just because the Ministry of Equipment Shortage couldn't spare the troops to teach the uppity natives the true meaning of democracy, the British government did nothing; so the Guyanese did a deal with Norway instead. It is thanks to this level of British leadership at the forefront of the war on climate change that we are now firmly on the road towards catastrophic levels of global warming. That, at least, is one bus even Britain won't be able to miss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hypocrite Pasteur, Mon Semblable, Mon Frère

The Archbishop of Canterbury has confirmed, for the benefit of those Catholics who were unaware of the fact, that the Anglican and Roman faiths both believe in God. With his usual touching ignorance of what is going on around him, Dr Williams also claimed that the Anglican communion, which has been tearing itself apart over the private activities of consenting adults for almost ten years, is proof that churches can stay together in spite of their differences. The ecumenical glass is "genuinely half-full", in that many Anglicans are so close to the Catholic position that the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak can pull off an adroit bit of bigot-rustling at the price of a few nominal concessions. Dr Williams appears to believe that this is the first stage on the path to pontifical acceptance of female bishops: "When so much agreement has been established in first-order matters about the identity and mission of the church," he wheedled, "is it justifiable to treat other issues as equally vital for its health and integrity?" Dr Williams insisted that "there was more uniting the denominations than dividing them"; but if he considers this a basis for unity his ignorance of human nature must be matched only by his ignorance of the history of Christianity. The very first adherents of the Jesus cult were a sect within first-century Judaism, who were persecuted by people with whom they had more than a little in common, namely fellow Jews like the Inquisitor of Tarsus. The Inquisitor himself, after his hallucination on the road to Damascus, got into an undignified squabble with his fellow cultists, Peter and James, over who was the best apostle and whether the burning issues of kosher and circumcision were vital to the health and integrity of the faith. A couple of hundred years later, the military power of the eastern Roman empire was placed at the disposal of the noisiest, most ruthless and most ethically flexible among the various competing versions of Christianity, the adherents of which duly went about eliminating those of their co-religionists who disagreed with them on such fascinating questions as whether the god of the Jews was different from the god of the Christians, whether Jesus was created or begotten, whether he was human or divine, and so forth. There are few better fuels for mutual hatred than having a good deal in common.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don't Worry, It May Never Happen

As the Lower Miliband announces panic-building of nuclear power stations before the sustainable uranium becomes too plentiful to make them a profitable enterprise, the Government has suddenly discovered the merits of renewable energy, and has published plans to allow wind turbines to be installed without planning permission. The proposed changes to the system would also attempt to make it look as if the Government were interested in making it easier for solar panels to be attached to stadiums, schools, railway stations and offices. "The people who want to greenproof their homes should get a helping hand, not a stop sign," said the Minister of Homelessness and Repossession, before announcing the various stop signs which he will personally put in place: "strong safeguards in relation to noise levels, size, location and the potential impact on an area". It is certainly reassuring to see that nasty, noisy things like wind turbines are not being treated as though they were something clean and quiet like a new airport runway. There will also be a "clean energy cashback scheme", which will place the Government in the invidious position of bribing the public to undercut the energy companies. Fortunately, the plans are to be put out for "consultation" for three months, by the end of which time the election campaign which has been going on for the past two years will have reached the pre-orgasmic stage; after that, the Daveybloke administration will bury the whole idea, thus keeping safe his ministers' prospects for corporate directorships once their duty to Murdoch, the Mail and the White House is fulfilled.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elective Affinities

The shadow secretary for Cultchah, Jeremy Hunt, has denied the accusation by Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring that Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives have adoped New Labour policy and struck a deal with Rupert Murdoch. Of course, the very idea is "completely wrong and totally improper". Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives, according to Jeremy Hunt, are going to "allow media operators more flexibility to own businesses operating on both the same and different platforms", thus permitting the likes of Rupert Murdoch to extend their charming and civilising influence yet further into the British media. Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives, according to Jeremy Hunt, "will strip away the regulations in the same way that Big Bang [deregulation] revolutionised the City [in 1986] to make it the major financial centre of the world" and to provide some of the necessary conditions for that brilliant success of the banking industry which has made the British economy what it is today. One can only guess at how far from their minds was the desire to please Rupert Murdoch when Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives thought that one up. Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives, according to Jeremy Hunt, will emasculate Ofcom and give the BBC another kick in the balls at the first opportunity; hardly the kind of policies for which the consent of Rupert Murdoch needs to be sought by means of a formal contract. Indeed, Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives - aided no doubt by Daveybloke's Cuddly Coulson, whose connection with Rupert Murdoch is, for the moment at least, almost certainly non-contractual - have about as much need of a deal with Rupert Murdoch as a paedophile has need of a written blessing from the Pope. They are mutually complementary, and each sustains the other.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Misguided, If Not Downright Indiscreet

The Glorious Successor is to apologise for the transportation of a hundred and fifty thousand children to faith schools in Australia. This particular golden thread, which ran through our history between 1929 and 1967, involved taking children out of social or charitable care in Britain and placing them in the tender care of the Roman Catholic church, which subjected them to the usual loving regime of slave labour spiced with physical and sexual assault. The object of the exercise was to ensure that the colony not be lost to the Asiatics, and the scheme might therefore be seen as a precursor of the Glorious Successor's present policies of holding back the mongrel hordes by imprisoning children at home and sending teenagers to kill children abroad. The main difference, of course, is that the terms in which the policy was originally couched are no longer fashionable in present-day political discourse; hence the Glorious Successor's description of the British Commonwealth's use of kidnapping and fraud as a means to ethnic cleanliness as "misguided". The Secretary of State for Tiny Human Resources was careful to emphasise the public-relations aspect, stating that it was "important that we say to the children who are now adults and older people, and to their offspring, that this is something that we look back on in shame", rather than going all politically correct and writing it into the history books.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Resignation Issue

A Wad of Taxpayers' Money, which had believed itself destined for the modest glories of public service, discovered that it was, instead, an involuntary participant in a transaction between a Respected Parliamentary Figure and the firm of Tapps, Crapper and Flush, luxury bathroom refurbishers by appointment to the well-heeled and the mightily-bowelled.

"You will, I am sure, excuse my asking," said the Wad of Taxpayers' Money, in pardonable discombobulation; "but in what manner or fashion will the outfitting of your bathroom in the party colours, with gold fittings and computerised towel rack, help to serve the public weal?"

"In all probability, it will not," replied the Respected Parliamentary Figure, squatting tranquilly above the National Honour and preparing a major release of political fallout.

"But you are not using me for the purpose for which I was intended," protested the Wad of Taxpayers' Money; "surely this is a resignation issue."

"I am glad you take such a realistic view of the matter," said the Respected Parliamentary Figure; "it may help you to continue in your healthy attitude if you remember that others have to resign themselves to considerably worse."

And, rising with a grunt from his throne, he screwed up the Law of the Land and prepared to utilise it in the retroactive purification of his parliamentary seat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Embarrassment of Riches

There will be no meaningful deal from the Copenhagen climate change chatroom; and even if there were it would be sabotaged by the United States, ignored by China, sneaked around by everyone else and bitched about by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for at least as long as our world-saving, paradigm-busting, bank-reforming recovery from recession continued to assist us in meeting our international obligations. Meanwhile, there have been flood warnings in Wales and in three counties of England, and there is a possibility of "extreme danger to life and property" in Dorset. Cross-channel ferries are being cancelled because of violent moisture levels, and there are reports of floods half a metre deep in Cornwall. The hills of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Wales could get three inches of rain, and much of the rest of the country will get one inch. "People should be aware that there will be a lot of water around," said the Environment Agency's director for the southern region. Naturally, our greatest ally has chosen this auspicious moment to discover about eight toilet flushes on the moon.

Friday, November 13, 2009

They're Coming to Suck Out Our Britishness

A calamitous new catastrophe of immigrant-related calamity was averted this week as Brazilian police seized a British trafficker who was trying to smuggle a thousand illegal non-Europeans out of the country in his suitcases.

Global warming means that Britain's insect life is undergoing change as the Earth adjusts to new economic realities.

This makes Britain an attractive prospect for foreign wildlife, some of which works hard and plays by the rules.

The voracious, venomous and hairy-legged Brazilian immigrants were bound for London, where they probably expected to blend in with the indigenous population.

It is not clear whether they were intended as decorative domestic slaves or as medical personnel to destabilise the National Health Service.

Much will depend on whether the arrested British man is found to have acted from motives of non-corporate profit or because of the European Declaration of Human Rights.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Plenty And To Spare

A Natural Resource, which had been almost entirely transmogrified into urban pollution and luxury goods, approached the Minister of Depletion with an urgent request for succour.

"This is outrageous," said the Minister of Depletion as the remains of the Natural Resource crawled like a terminally damaged cockroach through the holy portal of his office. "Not content with filling the room and hardly leaving me space enough to breathe, you are dirtying the walls, scraping the ceiling, interfering with the furniture and blocking a fire exit. The bodyguards will escort you from my Palace of Austerity, and you will please have the goodness to come back when your condition has attained a more governable degree of severity."

"Alas, sir, you are mistaken," said the Natural Resource; "thanks to decades of exploitation, I am barely large enough to fill one of your chairs, let alone crowd you out of this humble yet spacious suite."

"Perspective is everything in these matters," said the Minister of Depletion; "the burden of my responsibilities to the soldiers and stockbrokers of tomorrow means that my eyes are focused almost entirely on the future."

"So I observe," said the Natural Resource, gazing closely at the watery little orbs whereby the Minister of Depletion attained his visionary perspective. "Indeed," it continued, "a couple of Executive Directorships, located at the limits of your foresight, appear to have precipitated some remarkable adjustments in your sense of scale."

Thus reassured that the Natural Resource was much smaller than his charitable vision led him to believe, the Minister of Depletion had it cooked into a hamburger which he fed to his daughter live on television in order to prove that there was plenty and to spare.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Big Brother's New Clothes

The Ministry of Tough has announced its plans to exclude the DNA profiles of innocent people from the national police database, which plans involve keeping the DNA profiles of innocent people on the national police database. The original idea, if that is the word I want, was to keep DNA profiles of people arrested for "serious violent and sexual offences" for twelve years whether the data-inputee was found guilty or not; the European court of human rights has ruled this illegal and the House of Donors is wobbling a bit, so the Ministry of Tough has decided, after its usual inimitable fashion, that the measures are not draconian enough. The new plan is to retain for six years the DNA profiles of anyone whom the police feel like arresting, regardless of such fripperies as the presence or absence of evidence against them; to retain for six years the DNA profiles of children who are not cautioned or convicted of an offence (or three years if the offence for which they are not cautioned or convicted is a minor one); and to retain the DNA profiles of people who are not guilty of terrorist offences ("suspects" in modern parlance) until the day they die. A spokesbeing for the Home Secretary and science buff Alan Johnson said: "The reality is that many investigations of counter-terrorism actually take a very long time indeed"; so long, in fact, that the process of trial and verdict, far from being the conclusion of the case, is merely a single, vaguely inconvenient, rather wishy-washy phase of the ongoing battle for optimal toughness. Britain's leading liberal newspaper, which apparently has been reporting on a different Ministry of Tough to the one by which the rest of us have been watched all these years, refers to all this as "unexpected".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Alas, Thou Hast Misconstrued

The Metropolitan Police, as it appears in some of Jack Straw's damper daydreams, is becoming flesh in South Africa, where it seems that somebody doing a wonderful job in difficult circumstances has made an honest mistake and shot a three-year-old dead. The protector of the public allegedly mistook a pipe for a gun which the potential criminal was pointing at him; the fact that nothing resembling such a pipe was found at the scene has been made public rather precipitately, without any of the attempts to soften the family's grief which constitute the norm in more civilised countries. The South African shadow police minister made express mention of the case of Jean Charles de Menezes, whose bulky jacket and suspicious behaviour featured so prominently in Scotland Yard's efforts to soothe his relatives' pain. "You had people falling on their swords and feeling honour bound to do so," she said; strangely enough, apart from Cressida Dick who was punished with a severe promotion, and the honourable Ian Blair who was forced to resign mere years later over an unrelated spat with the London Haystack, the self-impalements that come to mind are distinguished by their fewness.

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Personal Gesture

The Glorious Successor has been carrying out his unique brand of public relations again, this time by mis-spelling the name of a significant casualty in the Great Game whose mother, after the fashion of bereaved parents, has flung herself into the bosom of the scumbag press. Significant casualties have been piling up a bit of late, and somebody in the Glorious Successor's press corps has hatched the idea that a personalised, hand-scrawled note to "acknowledge the debt of gratitude owed by the country to those who have died to protect the people of Britain" might have some sort of relevance to those whose relatives have been thrown away in a sordid and incompetent exercise to further the interests of multinational corporations. As a result, the Glorious Successor "takes a great deal of time writing letters of condolences", doubtless in much the same image-emollient spirit as he takes time to check on the welfare of singers or to push second-rate celebrities for the European presidency. A spokesbeing stated, for those who might not be aware of it, that whatever else he may be prepared to inflict on the British squaddie, Gordon "would never knowingly mis-spell anyone's name".

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Ceremony of Remembrance

In between starting wars, a Vigorous and Upstanding Statesman found time to claim some extra expenses from the taxpayer and use them in an attempt to buy a Wreath of Poppies.

"Unhand me, monster!" screamed the Wreath of Poppies as the indignity penetrated. "How dare you despoil me thus - I who am a symbol of peace and remembrance of the dead?"

"There is nothing wrong in remembering the dead," replied the Vigorous and Upstanding Statesman, "but one must also encourage the living. My ministrations will transform you into a symbol of military glory and noble sacrifice, of conquest in the name of liberation and of civilian casualties buried under tales of derring-do."

"Bestial and depraved creature!" gasped the Wreath of Poppies in horror. "Know that I shall never consent to serve so nefarious a scheme!"

"Since we live in a Democracy, you are of course entitled to your opinion," said the Vigorous and Upstanding Statesman; "but you have somewhat exaggerated ideas regarding the importance of your consent."

Whereupon, thrusting home his point with characteristic aplomb, he threw down and laid the Wreath of Poppies right beside the Intercontinental Ballistic Memorial Cenotaph.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Piece of Intelligence

A Piece of Intelligence, having been purchased from a Decent Alien by a Security Serviceperson of the Free World, expressed a degree of curiosity concerning the treatment it could expect in its new existence.

"You have nothing to fear," the Security Serviceperson of the Free World reassured it; "you can look forward to a life of liberty and prosperity in the name of universal human values and market forces, once the appropriate corrective surgery has been applied."

"Corrective surgery?" said the Piece of Intelligence. "But I am perfectly correct as I am, at least within the generally accepted limits. And anyway, if you did not like the look of me, why did you buy me from that Decent Alien?"

"Mere correctitude is not the same as fitness for purpose," said the Security Serviceperson of the Free World. "There is always a bit of twisting involved, and perhaps a minor amputation here and there in obstinate cases. Nothing serious - merely a few adjustments to bring you in line with Government policy."

The Piece of Intelligence was so appalled at this prospect that it fled from the Security Serviceperson of the Free World and sold itself to a Journalist, who left it in a taxi while keeping a tryst with an Official Fabrication.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Still Up For It

The Glorious Successor, who bankrolled, in the name of national security, the wars which did so much to encourage the July 2005 bombings; the Glorious Successor, whose government has paid fulsome tribute to our brave servicepersons while closing military hospitals and quibbling over compensation for the maimed; the Glorious Successor, who cannot spare money for proper housing, health care or equipment for those fighting abroad, but who spares no effort or expense in kitting out riot police at home; the Glorious Successor, who presumes to lecture the Afghans about the corruption of their government; the author of Courage: Eight Portraits, who has probably been almost as near the field of battle as might potentially tend to cause him the possibility of a not excessive degree of personal inconvenience, plans to pledge not to walk away, nor to be "deterred, dissuaded or diverted from taking whatever measures are necessary to protect our security" by continuing with the measures that have endangered it. Doubtless the Glorious Successor will be wearing a poppy as he makes his pledge; and doubtless, thanks to the usual cosmic oversight, the miserable assemblage of paper and plastic will not wither in his buttonhole as he speaks.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Tired Party Line

A Tired Party Line, finding itself exhausted by the number of Ministers which clung to its tattered remnants, applied to a Doctor of Spin for some revolutionary revitalisation.

"What appears to be the problem?" asked the Doctor of Spin, once the Tired Party Line had struggled through all the newspapers in his waiting room.

"I have been the Party Line at the Ministry for Expedient Starvation for more than three years now," said the Tired Party Line; "and the Prime Minister's humane and enlightened policy of sycophanto-elevatory dynamism means that I have been adhered to with ever-increasing rigour and scrupulousness. As a result I am wearing extremely thin in places, and I feel that a holiday would not go amiss."

The Doctor of Spin examined the Tired Party Line carefully and observed that, indeed, it had become so worn that the voters would have found it virtually transparent, had any of them still been paying it attention.

"You speak no more than the truth," said the Doctor of Spin, "which is in itself an extremely worrying development. It would be healthier if the Ministers did not cling to you so much; that is what has caused your substance to become depleted. With future Party Lines we must allow Ministers to utilise their natural adhesiveness, which means we shall be able to economise on the substance."

And, taking out his favourite rotatory scalpel, he chopped up the Tired Party Line and recycled it as sound bites.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Unto Caesar

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that religious propaganda, in the shape of an instrument of painful and messy execution, is not an appropriate form of decoration for a children's classroom. The case was brought against the Italian state by a Finnish immigrant, and the verdict has caused great and noisy anguish among the natives. For its part, the Vatican has asked for time "to evaluate the reasons behind the decision", said reasons having to do with the rights of children to religious and educational freedom: concepts with which the Church has understandable difficulties. Nevertheless, a spokesbeing has anticipated matters by condemning the absence of propaganda as "partisan and ideological".

A correspondent of Britain's leading liberal newspaper, who has interviewed most Italians, writes that "most Italians argue passionately, as did their government's advocate in Strasbourg, that the crucifix is a symbol of national identity". Crucifixion was indeed the crudelissimum taeterrimumque supplicium of the Roman empire, which did indeed originate in Italy; but it is difficult to see why this should be a point of pride, even in a country which includes the Vatican and Silvio Berlusconi. It's as if the Mexican government were to insist on hanging an obsidian knife-blade in every classroom as a reminder of the good old days when a sacrifice was a sacrifice.

One Berluscrony blathered that the crucifix is "a universal symbol of love, meekness and peace"; which doubtless is why that paragon, the Emperor Constantine, went forth to battle under it, and why all the other religions of the world, many of which boast of their own love, meekness and peace no less than Christianity, have been queueing up to adopt it. "Preventing it from being displayed is an act of violence against the deep-seated feelings of the Italian people and all persons of goodwill" - none of whom, apparently, are acquainted with the Saviour's teaching on straining at gnats and swallowing camels, to say nothing of turning the other cheek. The leader of the Italian Democratic Party said: "An ancient tradition like the crucifix cannot be offensive to anyone"; the tradition of enforcing the crucifix in classrooms dates from the inoffensive days of Mussolini, who knew exactly what to do with those who committed acts of violence against the deep-seated feelings of the Italian people and other persons of goodwill.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Science is a Wonderful Thing, But...

A minister who initially disagreed with the Home Secretary's decision to sack his independent advisor for giving independent advice has clarified his position after receiving assurances from the Home Secretary himself; and, after all, everyone knows by now what those are worth. Lord Drayson, who apparently was a lord even before falling into step with the Government, accepted the Minister of Tough's assurances of "the importance he attaches to scientific advice and his respect for scientific advice", provided that scientific advice does not trumpet its independence in such a way as to drown out the Government's own standard dog-whistle.

The Glorious Successor meanwhile clambered into the fray with his customary adroitness and subtlety, reminiscent of Daveybloke's occasional forays into intended humour, or of a three-legged rhinocerous negotiating its way up Ann Widdecombe. "Scientific advice is very important and we value it," the Glorious Successor said. "You can see that with swine flu" and the complete lack of media panic it has caused; "with climate change" and the brilliant combination of doing nothing and doing worse than nothing which has been the Government's response; "and with all sorts of environmental problems", thanks to the dip in carbon emissions resulting from the recession which Gordon has so thoughtfully engineered and so considerately prolonged. Nevertheless, "we cannot send out a message to young people that it's OK to experiment with drugs and to move on to hard drugs"; which would inevitably be the lesson drawn should the Government do anything so foolish as reclassify certain substances whose evil harmfulness and harmful evilness have been set in tablets of stone since the beginning of time, or at any rate since the Daily Maul started taking a benevolent interest.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Blair Babes

Well, here's a thing: not only has New New Labour taken Britain into the championship league as far as child incarceration is concerned; New New Labour has manifested its belief in traditional family values by incarcerating record numbers of women as well. The number of women in custody has risen by over fifty per cent since the start of the Vicar of Downing Street's ministry; and, as might be expected given New Labour's record of concern for the vulnerable, the biggest increases are among older women and those with mental health problems although, as with the male of the species, remarkably few of these prisoners are former Members of Parliament. A spokesbeing for the Ministry of Tough said that, having placed so many vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, into custody, New New Labour is "committed to diverting vulnerable women, who are not serious or dangerous offenders, from custody", and is about to spend £15.6 million over the next two years in order to reverse the policy of the last decade, which apparently happened while New New Labour wasn't looking.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Yes, But Can Peter Mandelson Manage This?

As may be seen from their present sane, considered and unified stance on Europe, Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are a very different proposition from the nasty old party of yore. Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are proud little Britons, which is why they love Lord Ashcroft so much, since he lives in Belize. Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are in favour of openness and transparency, which is why they love Lord Ashcroft so much, since he disdains to say whether he pays tax here. Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are against corruption, which is why William Hague allowed Lord Ashcroft to purchase a life peerage and the post of party treasurer for the sum of "several million pounds". Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives are in favour of British sovereignty for British parliaments, which must be why William Hague took Lord Ashcroft along on a whirlwind, romantic trip around the world last month. Ashcroft was discreet enough to remain outside the room while Hague asserted British independence in the traditional fashion before the Rodham Clinton rectum; and Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives must surely love him for that.