The Curmudgeon


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Modern Martyrs

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for the full stomachs in his church yelling persecution to cultivate a little perspective. He called attention to the "butchery, intimidation … and harassment" which Christians are undergoing in various countries, and even went so far as to imply that "tangible support" can occasionally rival prayer in efficacy. In suggesting that churchmen might find better uses for their high public profiles than squealing about the many opportunities British Christians have for racking up brownie points with Jesus, Dr Williams mentioned the Salvadorean archbishop Oscar Romero who, despite the no doubt assiduous support of Vatican Incorporated, was murdered for his attempts to defend the rights of the poor against his country's Reaganite government. Pleasant as it is to see that even the Archbishop of Canterbury still has a vestige of pride, it is unfortunate that his most recent major opportunity to lead by example was squandered like so much worldly wealth. Surely one or two Christians must have been killed in Iraq, along with all those lesser casualties.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quite An Experience

The Conservative Party's greatest asset after the Prime Minister has been doing his bit for Daveybloke with a speech in which he mentioned judgement, boldness and leadership in virtually the same breath as Gordon Brown. The hilarity occasioned by that withering piece of sarcasm was doubtless exceeded only by the relish with which the audience heard the Ascended Incarnation of the Vicar of Downing Street proclaim that Daveybloke's slogan, "time for a change", was "the most vacuous in politics". In terms of confirming Daveybloke's Blairite credentials, "time for a change" is certainly vacuous enough; and probably dishonest enough too, since one of Daveybloke's major public-relations problems lies in the obvious fact that he does not intend to change anything, except perhaps by increasing the pace and ferocity of New Labour's fight for the privileges of the rich and corporate. But to hear the vacuity of the Vicar's own most successful imitator condemned by the Vicar himself - by the purveyor of endless verbless claptrap about joined-up government, paradigm shifts and progressive universalism; by the rhetorical grotesque who stood shoulder to shoulder with a nuclear chimpanzee; by the magniloquent psychopath who burbled about kaleidoscopes being shaken; by the pretty straight guy who declared that he would leave soundbites at home to make room for the hand of history on his shoulder; by the drivelling authoritarian who decreed that New Labour was the political wing of the British people; by the Dear Leader who gibbered about a thousand days to prepare for a thousand years - well, we can only hope that those who were privileged to be present had a proper appreciation of the scene, and that there were enough men with airtight tinfoil suits and reinforced buckets to carry away all the vomit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Of Gnats and Camels

A devout Christian (she is not, you will note, a militant Christian) is fighting for her right to exemplify her Saviour's teaching that the clothes are more than the body and the outer appearance a matter of greater import than the inner truth. Like the rich lady whose loudly rattling gift was so superior to the widow's quiet one, she considers the ostentatious display of her faith, and the respect of others for the engine of torture and mutilation which symbolises it, to be more important than going quietly about her duty of helping and healing others. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, and six other Pharisees have added their moral authority to the debate, noting that "apparent discrimination" (apparent? Don't they know? Have they got something in their eye?) against the ever-diminishing minority of churchgoers is "unacceptable in a civilised society". It has been apparent to many of us for some time that the rantings and gloatings of a failed first-century apocalyptic preacher are at best a dubious ethical proposition in a civilised society; but I am shocked that Lord Carey and his fellow conduits of the Divine Will should be ignorant of the Sermon on the Mount, where the proper attitude to persecution is set out rather explicitly.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

So Many to Choose From

When searching for a strategic weak link in the silken-underwear chain of twits, flits and shits who constitute Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives, New New Labour at first glance suffers an embarrassment of riches. From the party leader Michael Ashcroft and his chum, the fool and/or crook William Hague, through schoolboys like Michael Gove and Liam Fox and clowns like Eric Pickles, to Daveybloke himself, whose life since actual policies were required of him has been one long Gay Times interview, it seems that wherever Gordon's propagandists aim their poisoned darts there must inevitably be at least one pair of bulbous buttocks waiting ripe for the sting.

It isn't as simple as that, of course. If New New Labour attacks Gove and Fox on matters of education and defence, the public mind may drift onto such indiscretions as faith schools, Iraq and Afghanistan; if New New Labour attacks William Hague for being a fool and a crook, Geoff Hoon has only recently left the Government and Lord Mandelbrot the Inifinitely Recurring is still inside it. If New New Labour attacks the Conservatives for being in hock to rich businessmen, someone will have the bad taste to point out that Tony was selling opt-outs to Bernie Ecclestone before the millennium dawned and that New New Labour's failure to retain the favour of the Murdoch press has not been for want of trying. For every Eric Pickles or Chris Graybeing among Daveybloke's Cuddlies, there is a David Miliband or a Jack Straw on the other side.

Accordingly, New New Labour has vowed, as the Observer's melodrama correspondent hath it, to target George Osborne, the progressive shadow chancellor. This is reasonable enough. Gordon's little Darling may not have done much to mitigate the effects of Gordon's little recession, but he did at least do more than nothing, while Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives squealed lèse marché. In addition, New New Labour's focus groups have responded with negativity to "mocked-up images of Osborne standing outside 11 Downing Street"; which apparently indicates that Osborne is perceived as more shrill than Lord Mandelbrot, more immature than Randy Burnham, and more lightweight than a brace of Milibands. A spokesbeing claimed that the intention, as always, "is not to make it personal, but to make it about policy".

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Lion Tamer

That gifted comedian, Bomber Hoon, who was filmed seeking work with a lobbying firm, has apologised unreservedly to anyone whose emotions are so unaccountably delicate that they feel he has let them down. Hoon said he had not tried to sell his influence on the back of his ministerial career, although Hoon said that "anyone about to leave one job not surprisingly would use their knowledge, their experience, their skills drawn from their previous positions to try and earn a living in the future". Hoon's previous positions as Minister of Frogs and Huns, Minister of Delays and Cancellations, and Minister for the Gratefully Cluster-Bombed may seem, in the eyes of the uncharitable, to constitute some sort of vague attempt at a ministerial career; but this - rather like Hoon himself - is evidently a gross oversimplification. Hoon said that his situation was no different from anyone else who is leaving a job and looking for another, although not all the redundancies from Gordon's recession manage to get their job-searching efforts on television. Hoon sought sympathy for his difficulties as a person in middle life attempting to find an alternative career, where the skills that brought us the recession, the expenses scandal and various wars are "not readily transferable into other walks of life". Hoon mentioned the unfortunate cases of several colleagues who had spent years languishing on welfare benefits before finding new careers. Anyway, Hoon does not wish to be a lobbyist, possibly because it would be above his dignity. Since, in his case, "my pension is not payable in many years in my case", Hoon wants to live a little and "provide strategic advice to companies". Hoon did not mention whether he had consulted an employment adviser, perhaps at A4E where David Blunkett provides consultancy services out of the goodness of his heart, and where Hoon would probably have been advised to work his way up to providing strategic advice to companies via some sort of work experience, perhaps in McDonald's or a call centre.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Better Late Than Never

During the 1990s, under the premiership of Edwina Currie's little chum whose name escapes me at the moment, Britain's railway system was privatised - partly because the superior efficiency of the private sector was the prevailing religious dogma of the period, but mostly as a gesture of pre-emptive retaliation against New Labour for winning the 1997 election. The transport secretary at the time was one Steven Norris, who is now, mirabile dictu, the chair of Jarvis, one of the most efficient and successful of the rail companies in that it has, at least up to now, managed to stay afloat despite a ten-year record of incompetence, banker-style reward systems and corporate manslaughter. After the Potters Bar crash, in which seven customers underwent an unscheduled bio-detrimentation procedure as a result of Jarvis' failure to carry out its duties properly, the company "felt obliged" to stop doing rail maintenance and, as one would expect, went into health care instead. Unfortunately, despite the availability of a dozen contracts and a New Labour government, Jarvis failed to be shortlisted and, under Norris' guiding hand, spiralled steadily downwards. As a member of the Conservative Party and the minister responsible for privatising the railways in the name of saving the Government money, Norris has, of course, blamed the company's demise on cuts in Government spending.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Distraction Clearance

The political enforcer accused of assaulting a woman during a memorial event for Ian Tomlinson, who died of the Metropolitan Police's peacekeeping efforts last year, has been giving a statesmanlike performance in his defence. His first tactic was the nuclear scare which is meant to make whatever is actually used look reasonable, be it white phosphorous or depleted uranium: the woman was lucky to have been backhanded and then hit with a baton because he could have broken her arm or jaw. His second tactic was, appropriately enough, the good old New Labour pre-emption of nonexistent weapons. His third, which the minions of New Labour and New New Labour are presumably saving for the memoirs, was the admission that he acted from fear; although he does show a pleasing Blarite chutzpah in claiming that the video footage and photographs of his actions are inaccurate because they fail to convey that he was in a blundering Brownite panic at the time. Finally, regarding his suspension from duty, he played the George W Bush card: "It has been explained to me in a number of different ways but I still do not understand". At this rate Sergeant Delroy Smellie is going to find a parliamentary career virtually impossible to avoid.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Perfectly Normal Panic

Someone has finally managed to boil the implications of the approaching oil crunch down to a size that a ministerial cranium can accommodate without risk of a fatal detonation. A few years ago, peak oil was "the preoccupation of a small minority", like the kind of conspiracy theorist who believes that a limited quantity tends to decrease when used up. Now, however, industrialists and other real people are becoming concerned about the issue just as the financial sector - other than hired thuggery, the only industry which New Labour has ever really believed in - is beginning to seem a less than fortunate post-ministerial career choice. As a result, a spokesbeing for the Department of Cuddly Coal and Sustainable Uranium has denied that there will be any marked change in the traditional policy of believing everything BP says. The chief executive of BP claims (or "believes", as the Journalistic Telepathic Omniscient hath it) that rising prices and other market forces will combine their mystical benignity to ensure that everyone behaves sensibly and lowers demand rather than fighting over the last few drops. The Minister for Pollution and Irradiation, Lord Hunt, will be holding a "normal stakeholder meeting" at which he hopes to give some sort of impression to concerned industrialists that the Government has any idea what to do about the matter. The chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy has recommended that the west should "start using ... oil as a scarce commodity"; so presumably the stakeholders will be mainly concerned to keep as much as possible of the remnants, and the profits to be derived therefrom, in the hands of the nice people.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Let Us All, As Gladsome Folk

Let us all, as gladsome folk,
Vote for Dave, for he is Bloke.

All his mercies we'll endure,
Keeping thoughts of Ashcroft pure.

Let him never find us lax
In marrying and saving tax.

All his mercies we'll endure;
Britain's broken, he's the cure.

All our country he shall save
For of Blokes he is the Dave.

All his mercies we'll endure;
Immigrants will soon be fewer.

All us Blokes together is,
'Neath his Photo-shoppéd phiz.

All his mercies we'll endure,
And his rubber-Blair allure.

See him smite the Euro-Wog
While his wifey drops a sprog.

All his mercies we'll endure,
Though the means are yet obscure.

Let us all, as gladsome folk,
Vote for Dave, for he is Bloke.

All his mercies we'll endure,
Fore and aft, you may be sure.

Clotton Heppelwhyte

Monday, March 22, 2010

Retour de la Racaille

Voters have punished a right-wing government which has failed to protect them from the effects of the recession while pandering to the rich. A leftist alliance has won more than half the vote; a green coalition has emerged as the country's third political grouping; and the prime minister has acknowledged that he shares the blame for the government's defeat. It couldn't happen here, of course.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Black Propaganda

Daveybloke's Cuddly, good-with-coloured-folks Conservatives have been accused of "pandering to prejudice" by keeping images of non-white election candidates off their campaign literature in areas where they are afraid to be perceived as less racist than the BNP. Imagine that.

Perhaps even more horrifying, the party has been distributing glossy calendars, bearing pictures of Daveybloke and a racially pure parliamentary candidate, all over east London. These are considered "key pieces of campaign literature designed for people to keep on their walls", instead of tedious calendary things like pictures of kittens, motorcycles or young persons in a state of undrapery. Daveybloke likes to be seen as "in touch". Imagine that.

Daveybloke's Cuddly, good-with-coloured-folks Conservatives have responded to the accusation of leaflet apartheid by sending the Observer leaflets in which pictures of non-white candidates have been airbrushed into original photographs of their ethnically British colleagues. Daveybloke and his Cuddly Conservatives are tremendously modern and know all about airbrushing.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Nice Little Licence Fee, Shame If It Got Broke

Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives have ordered the BBC's Panorama to drop an investigation into the party leader, Lord Ashcroft, until after the election; and the BBC, after its usual courageous fashion, has rolled onto its back and pissed all over itself in its frenzy to oblige. Once the Conservatives have won, the BBC will doubtless be rewarded for its co-operation by being allowed to struggle on for another year or two before being donated to Rupert Murdoch. The Conservatives' objection to the Panorama investigation was that it is unfair to broadcast a programme on a sensitive issue in the runup to an election. The proximity of the election means that Lord Ashcroft's purchase of the Conservative party and numerous constituencies is an even more sensitive issue than it would be normally, which makes the BBC's conduct all the more deplorable. Where would free speech and quality journalism be if sensitive political issues were explored in the very midst of the political events they affect?

The Conservatives have also attacked the BBC for not giving equal time to the Labour donor, Lord Paul, who has the same tax status as Lord Ashcroft but has donated less than one-fourteenth of the amount Lord Ashcroft paid the Conservatives and has not made any Cameronian rock-solid pledges. Those unfortunate enough to be of an age to remember the poll tax - originally envisioned by the sainted Thatcher as a fair and equal charge where everybody paid the same, regardless of capability - will be familiar with the logic.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Sinister Proposal

The surrender monkeys across the British Channel are making noises about co-operating with the mainland on nuclear weapons. France maintains four submarines, which are paid for and run by France; and Britain maintains four more, which are paid for by Britain and run by the United States, in order to deter mad mullahs and suicide bombers from meddling in Iraq or blowing up innocents on public transport. The Glorious Successor has recently proposed reducing Britain's stockpile from four submarines to three, apparently in the belief that Britain would then be only seventy-five per cent in violation of its commitments to work towards disarmament; but today he stated that as long as other countries are trying to acquire nuclear deterrents, he does not see the case for withdrawing any incentive such countries might have for pointing their deterrents at us. The French president, Nicolas de Racaille, noted that "it is our assessment that there can be no situation in which the vital interests of either of our two nations could be threatened without the vital interests of the other also being threatened", as may be seen in the case of Iraq, where British national interests would have been incomparably better served by following the French example and staying out.

Daveybloke's Cuddly Minister for War and Empire has referred to Britain and France as "Europe's only two nuclear powers", despite Britain's obvious status as a North American nuclear power and France's notorious status as a French nuclear power. He plans to invite the French to state formally "what they expect from their relationship with the United Kingdom", which should make jolly reading for somebody. However, a British official has dismissed any idea of sharing the burdens of "deterrence" with the French as outrageously non-tough for the middle of an election campaign.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New Guidelines, Old Tricks

Those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear; hence the Government has decided that the public would be better off not knowing the intelligence and security committee's criticisms of its new guidelines for interrogating terror suspects. The ISC's review of the guidelines was described by a spokesbeing for the Ministry of Wogs Excluding Europe as "comprehensive and insightful", which translates as it is rather long and states the bleeding obvious; and said it had "raised a number of issues that need further consideration", which translates as it is a bloody nuisance. The committee has been criticised in the past for being too subservient to the spooks in MI5, the spies in MI6, the snoops at GCHQ and the intelligence failure at Downing Street; these uncharitable suspicions may possibly have been motivated by the fact that the committee's personnel were hand-picked by the Glorious Successor and continue to sit in the Cabinet Office, which oversees the secret agencies and allocates the committee's budget. The Ministry for Keeping a Straight Bat in the Great Game has stated that Britain must continue working with foreign agencies, even if they do not share UK standards on human rights and thus have some objection to detention without trial, partial drowning or genital reconfiguration in the name of counter-terrorism. The Ministry's annual report emphasised that only ministers can be expected to have the moral courage and spiritual fortitude necessary to decide whether to ignore the useless information derived from people under torture, and thus reduce the market for mistreatment as well as filtering out a good deal of noise from the intelligence agencies' signals; or whether, on the other hand, to pronounce the magic words "national security", and thus at a stroke simultaneously excuse and deny all possible derelictions. Nevertheless, the former minister Kim Howells, who chairs the ISC and appears to have developed something approximating a backbone now that he no longer has a career to lose, has registered disappointment (and, less believably, surprise) at the Government's attitude.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black Phish

Date: Wed 17 Mar 2010 6:00pm Europe/London
To: undisclosed-recipients::
Subject: like good wiv da coloured folks innit

Yo niggaz!!!!!!!!!!

i am Bloke i am daveybloke i am balck Firnedly Bloke i am Hip innit i am talc takl tcackle Racism Bloke iam Da Man 4u Bloke. i am dave Gangsta Tory Bloke in toutch wiv da Pople rah rah. we ar e Not Racist Praty we are allll birtish biritsh britshit innit Toggther we hvave Balck Trian drivers & claeners & Sun raders & Knifecrime. we in da like Not Racist Praty offfer all Knids good britshit to Hlp Hlep Balck Blokes into Bizniozness. we in da like Not Racist Praty iz Not like Racist twoards Black VBlokes we are like Undastand yuor difffclultlies we wlil Cobmat Racism with ouor Gangsta Bloke Refform Agenda we is like tackel Cuases of Povrety like Public sreverces & BBC potplants.

We Non=rascist Prtay Blokes am do Role Modlel Mentor nig Mentornning t2o Show yo wehre Yuo are going Wrong. iff yuo Wrok hard & nott clam Benenfinits you mihght 1 day be Busnizness Bloke like my man Tarbrush Hague. iam Dave da Bloke rah rah We are Not racist to pople popple pepole who iz like thnking what we is thinking. balck Bblokes have gvien much to the Wrold inculding allll our fravoruite niggerian Nigerian biusniz pratcises. we iz like Cool innit wihth Coloured buziness itt is only teh Benenfint Claimnancheats who need fear the Idleness Police Rap.

Yo Blalck Bloke Vote for yuor Bro Daveybloke adn his Bitch Samananthamantha. if yuo want a Jihadi Aysylyum Sneaker for a nighbour vote Libdem or Labour.

rah rah

davey da bLoke

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Your Friends Are Nastier

The master of ceremonies for Lord Ashcroft's private party, Daveybloke's cuddly chairman Eric Pickles, has been fulminating about Labour being in hock to the unions (insert dog whistle and blow: unions winter of discontent corpses lying unburied in the street three day week power cuts Scargill crypto-Stalinism gulags for taxpayers); and of course we all know what strenuous efforts Tony and his Glorious Successor and their chums have made when it comes to empowering organised labour. Presumably this particular bit of fatuity was Pickles' attempt to keep the headlines away from some chums of Daveybloke's who are celebrating the anniversary of a battle between the Latvian SS and a British ally in 1944. The Latvian SS, you may recall, were the Decent SS who fought shoulder to shoulder with the Germans in the name of Latvian independence, since the continuing independence of small and relatively weak nations was a famous priority of Nazi foreign policy. Fans of the demonstration include For Fatherland and Freedom, a "relatively small political grouping" which is part of Daveybloke's relatively small Cuddly Coalition of anti-semites, climate change revisionists and other relatively small and moderate right-wingers. The Upper Miliband, whose mother is a Polish Jew and who approves of torture and murder only when they are applied to the proper sort of people, found the whole business quite sickening.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Try A Little Harder Next Time

An Iraqi gang with the laughable name League of the Righteous have denied that they tortured a Briton whom they detained in 2007 and released last December. The detainee, who was captured outside the finance ministry on suspicion of working for a rogue state, claims that he was beaten, hung up by the arms and at one point subjected to a mock execution. The League of the Righteous deny all this, and also deny that the detainee was renditionised to Iran, although the evidence of Britain's leading liberal newspaper and General David Petraeus is against them. They did not claim that the detainee deserved what he got or that being beaten, strung up and having a gun at one's head doesn't really hurt. This demonstrates that, even after seven years of friendly tuition, groups like the League of the Righteous still have a very imperfect grasp of western values.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Fairy Fucking Godmother Said It

The Conservatives have continued the process of sandbagging Daveybloke's cuddly re-branding exercise by using Bullingdon debating tactics to scupper a bill intended to stop bankers from buying up Third World debts and then pursuing them through the courts. According to Daveybloke's cuddly treasury spokesbeing, the Conservatives had nothing against the bill, which had already been watered down from a previous version, presumably in order to accommodate humanitarian concerns about their chums in the City. However, thanks to a cruel trick of fate over which the Conservative party had no control, the passing of the bill "was not to be". Three Conservative MPs, including two whips, had a bit of a chin-wag together on the benches, whereupon one of them shouted "object!" Under the rules of our great modern democracy, this meant that the bill could not be passed. "We have our suspicions," said Daveybloke's cuddly treasury spokesbeing, who seems to have been virtually somnolent with interest in the matter. The possibilities are that (a) one MP was advised by two whips not to shout "object" but did it anyway, or (b) a whip shouted "object" and sank the bill despite the front benches being in favour of passing it, or (c) two whips instructed an MP to shout "object" in defiance of the wishes of the front bench. In any of these cases, one would have thought the front bench might have some sort of concern about the matter; if Daveybloke does become prime minister with a small majority, it is just possible he may need to exert some degree of control over his backbenchers, and there is at least an arguable case for having some idea of what one's own party whips are liable to do when a bill is being read. Other possibilities are that (d) the Conservatives did not want the bill passed, but did not care to voice their opposition in case it made them look less cuddly and not as good with coloured folk as they would prefer to be thought; or (e) the Conservative front bench did not really care whether the bill was passed or not, but the two whips and one other on the back benches did. Anyway, whichever of these various explanations is the most innocent, doubtless that will turn out to be the true one.

Update The courageous maverick was Christopher Chope, who has expressed his contrition by blaming the Government for not giving the opposition more time to debate a bill to which its leaders had already agreed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Suppressive Persons

The Church of Scientology is justifying its tax-exempt status by upholding the fine religious tradition of moral indignation at films which have not yet been seen. In this case, the film is Until Nothing Remains, a German television drama about a young married couple who join the cult but are torn apart when the husband decides to leave. The Hubbardites believe that this shows them in an unwarrantedly totalitarian light, and are displaying their fervent belief in intellectual freedom by investigating legal means to suppress the film. They are also planning to make a film of their own to spread their side of the story, which we can only hope will be as good as Battlefield Earth. The makers of Until Nothing Remains claim that it is based on the real case of a man who apostasised from Scientology and whose family subsequently broke up; a spokesbeing for Scientology said: "The truth is precisely the opposite of that which the ARD is showing", which presumably means either that the man did not apostasise and his family did not break up, or that the break-up happened before the apostasy.

Meanwhile, the programme director of the broadcasting network has said that Scientology is not a religion, but "an organisation that has completely different motives", such as "power, business and building up a network"; which makes one wonder how ARD's programme director would define Vatican Incorporated or some of the more well-greased televangelists. Also, Scientology is "no religion, no church, no sect" because its "lessons are pure science fiction", unlike the lessons of real religions which tend to fall into the genres of high fantasy and body horror.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Clots at the Heart of Europe

Edward McMillan-Scott, the MEP whom Daveybloke sacked for taking cuddliness beyond reasonable bounds, has joined the Liberal Democrats. McMillan-Scott objected to Daveybloke's removal of the Conservative party from the mainstream centre-right bloc in Europe in order to help create a new, far-right faction called European Conservatives and Reformists - a name that, interestingly enough, forms an acronym which is backward on race. McMillan-Scott compounded his offence by standing against Michal Kaminski, who had been chosen to lead the group through the sort of grubby backstairs deal that passes for democracy in the European parliament; and placed himself thoroughly beyond redemption by winning the election. In his resignation letter, McMillan-Scott professes to be worried that Daveybloke is the sort of bloke who will "say one thing in opposition and will do another in government". Imagine that.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Unknown Knowns

A report by the parliamentary intelligence security committee says that staff at GCHQ have mislaid thirty-five laptops. Fortunately, there is no evidence that any of them contained secret information. Unfortunately, the reason for this is that nobody knows what was on them. MI6, which has expanded recently because of the need for people who neither condone nor encourage torture, has had some data management problems; while GCHQ has taken the Private Finance Initiative route to providing itself with a "signals intelligence modernisation programme", channelling "very large and unidentified sums" to no readily apparent purpose. The report covers a seven-month period ending last July, and has spent the intervening eight months having asterisks drawn on its sensitive parts by Gordon Brown. The former minister Kim Howells, with his sharp eye for detail, observed that this meant the report was "considerably out of date". Whether matters have improved, worsened or stayed the same in the interval does not appear to have concerned him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Decent Wogs

It turns out, much to everyone's surprise, that the British Conservative party has been in favour of Europe all along. As a valued friend of the Conservative leader Lord Ashcroft, and as a representative of one of the less principled parties to the far-right bloc in Europe, William Hague has been doing his best to eat his cake and scoff it in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute. The Institute is a "defence and security" think tank, so Hague criticised the EU for not backing Britain's wars often enough: "the nations of Europe have demonstrated insufficient determination and consistency in the delivery of our foreign policy goals". He also referred to the single market and "enlargement" as the EU's greatest achievements, far outweighing such bureaucratic inconveniences as the law on human rights. Were it not for enlargement, Daveybloke's allies among the Polish Holocaust deniers and the society of Latvian Waffen-SS fans would still be outside the club, and Hague might have had nothing at all to talk about, except possibly the Conservative party's staunch and consistent opposition to the invasion of Iraq, or how jolly good some of the chaps are about women and coloured folk. Someone was tactless enough to ask him about Lord Ashcroft; but Hague, apparently under the impression that Belize is part of the United Kingdom, said he was there to discuss foreign policy.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

We're Not Nasty, We Just Know Some Nasty People

Now that he's had a few days to think about it, the chairman of Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives has decided, or has been decided, that he does not, in fact, agree with all the views of the Young Britons' Foundation, and has extruded a spokesbeing to make this crystal clear. "The YBF organisation," said the spokesbeing, "is independent of the Conservative party", just like Michal Kaminski or the tax regime in Belize, and we all know how much Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives disapprove of those. Indeed, so great is Conservative disapproval for the Young Britons' Foundation that a local organiser has left the party claiming that he was put under pressure from Daveybloke's national front to keep up the flow of paying customers for the YBF's courses. A spokesbeing (it is not clear whether this was Eric Pickles' spokesbeing or another spokesbeing) said that people attended the courses of their own volition, which is a tribute to the Conservatives' respect for personal freedom and the autonomy of the inidvidual. The spokesbeing also said that the YBF is not financially supported by the party, any more than William Hague is financially supported by Lord Ashcroft.

Besides firearms training and a waterboarding-friendly atmosphere, the Young Britons' Foundation offers sessions on "handling negative information". If I might make a friendly suggestion, perhaps that part of the curriculum could do with a bit of tweaking.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Laborare Est Orare

Religious authorities at Lourdes, whose commercial acumen has helped to make it one of France's holiest shrines, have been persuaded that the miracle of transubstantiation is best performed on domestically manufactured produce. Cheap wafers from Poland had threatened to undercut the prices charged by the otherworldly denizens of France's sixty-six religious communities which make and sell the sacramental bread and live off the proceeds. The church at Lourdes has agreed to continue buying French wafers, but at a reduced price. Expressions of gratitude for their new degree of freedom from worldly and materialistic temptations do not appear to have been forthcoming from the religious communities involved.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Journey

Failed asylum seekers posing as children are occasionally getting the reception they deserve, according to a report by Unicef. Claims of having escaped from traffickers, or having been orphaned, abandoned or lost because of the activities of brave young men doing a wonderful job, are frequently met with disbelief and can result in hours of interrogation, though waterboarding and other veracity enhancers are not yet in widespread use. Those convicted of "looking old enough" are consigned to the adult detention system for the protection of British culture and the profitability of Serco. Others, who lack documentation and who fake their traumas so convincingly that nothing can be got out of them at all, end up in a state of surveillance deprivation in the hands of traffickers or non-governmental abusers; and serve them right.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Little Charmers

Prospective Conservative MPs are being groomed by a disturbingly plain-spoken organisation called the Young Britons' Foundation, a self-proclaimed "Conservative madrasa" whose chief executive has called for environmental protestors to be "shot down" for violating the sanctity of private property. He also considers the NHS to be "the biggest waste of money in the UK", favours torture provided the circumstances are appropriate (i.e. if the US says it's all right), and has had his dear pupils entertained by the delightfully maladroit Conservative party chairman, Eric Pickles; by their Minister for Whig History, Michael Gove; and by Daveybloke's chief barker and blatherer on defence, Liam Fox; besides such predictable preachers of moderation as John Redwood and David Davis. The president of the Young Britons' Foundation is Daniel Hannan, another public health expert who is a Conservative MEP and thus a member of that charming European political grouping for whose tastes the likes of Silvio Berlusconi are too left-wing. The Young Britons' Foundation's idea of giving students experience of another culture is to fly them to Virginia to play with automatic weapons.

On being asked about his involvement with these clean-limbed young builders of the future, Liam Fox said that just because he spoke to them doesn't mean he endorses them, which is fair enough. Let us hope he broke it gently that a nuclear attack on Iran followed by an invasion of China via the Churchillian underbelly of Russia may not be a realistic prospect, at least for the early years of the first Daveybloke administration. Eric Pickles didn't know anything about anything and then didn't return calls, which puts him in the unenviable plight of being less level-headed than Liam Fox. Conservative Central Office denied any official links with the group, but "strongly recommends" activists to attend the courses. The Young Britons' Foundation is a broad church, just like Conservative Central Office, and you never know when a firing squad might come in handy.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Conditionally Human

A Brighton paramedic has been putting the New New Labour policy on human rights into practice by withdrawing medical attention from a man who did not appear to merit it. The patient was badly overweight, in poor general health and lived alone in a house whose market value he had allowed to decline. The paramedic, who has a history of doing a wonderful job under difficult circumstances, told his younger colleague not to bother trying to save the non-utilisable human resource because it was "not a viable resuscitation". He has been jailed for a year for perverting the course of justice while not in possession of Ministerial office.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Good Old Days

Decades of safeguarding the nation's theatrical heritage have led to the fulfilment of the dream expressed by the minions of James Purnell during his stint as Minister of Cultchah: the West End is beginning to look more and more like something out of the fifteenth century. Several noted theatres are literal flea-pits, and there are also infestations of rats and mice, which nibble food, clothing, lipstick and floors, leaving faeces and the occasional corpse in payment thereof. "There is no other group of workers in the world expected to go to work night after night in these conditions," lamented one member of Equity, with a certain degree of thespian hyperbole; there are any number of workers in the world who are expected to work in ramshackle conditions with vermin for company, most obviously the noisy rabble in that degraded music-hall, the Palace of Westminster.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Falklands 2.0

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has taken on the mantle of the late Alexander Haig, who intervened so effectively to stop the last Falklands War.

As part of its commitment to sustainable energy, Britain has started drilling for oil in the islands' waters, causing Argentina to revive the 1982 conflict when Britain's former friend and trading partner General Galtieri had his brief moment as the new Hitler.

Galtieri was later superseded in the role by Colonel Gadafi of Libya, now a friend of civilisation and favoured recipient of asylum seekers.

The Falklands War was a career milestone for then British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, whose cutbacks in the islands' defences enabled Argentina to invade, provoking comparisons with the Official Greatest Ever British Number One Briton Ever, Winston Churchill.

Argentina is militarily weak and has no nuclear deterrent, which makes it an ideal target for whatever machismo British leaders have left over from Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the 1982 war, British troops were killed and maimed by Exocet missiles, which the media called "French-made Exocets" and American-made Skyhawk jets, which the media called "Skyhawk jets".

Despite later becoming a democracy under the auspices of the IMF, Argentina has never renounced its claim to the islands and persists in referring to them as Las Malvinas.

It is not anticipated that the presence of oil rigs in the islands' waters would disincentivise British denials that any upcoming war was "all about oil".

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Marginal Constituency

A Marginal Constituency was lamenting its marginality, when lo! there was a puff of smoke, and a little fat man with a sun-tan appeared, lowered his trousers and began pumping cash for at least part of all he was worth.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said the Marginal Constituency, "but might I inquire as to the reason for these flattering attentions?"

"Most definitely," panted the little man. "I intend to make a Safe Seat of you, as I have bought myself a political party for tax purposes and a certain amount of - ah! - upkeep is required."

At this the Marginal Constituency rejoiced exceedingly, for there were any number of Schools, Hospitals and Libraries within it which required considerable upkeep, particularly as most of them had received no attention since the previous election campaign some two or three economic disasters ago.

However, as soon as the Marginal Constituency mentioned these worthies, and how gladly they would greet an injection of cash, the little man's face grew hard while his syringe became correspondingly slack.

"Alas," he ejaculated, pulling up his trousers; "would that all things Marginal could be made Safe by throwing money at them."

Whereupon he disappeared in a bang and a flash. It was later discovered that he had not bought the political party at all; it had sneaked itself into his pocket while nobody was looking.

Monday, March 01, 2010


Thanks to the Government's patriotic devotion to our national heritage, it has been left to local campaigners in Colchester to preserve the remains of Britain's only known Roman chariot-racing course. In the midst of recession, when New New Labour cannot even afford to hire a lawyer reputable enough to avoid the sort of petty shyster tactics one associates with lesser breeds, individual donations from local people have made up the £200,000 necessary to save the site. The Department of National Heritage (or Ministry of Tourism, as Tony hath reincarnated it) does not appear to have taken any interest in the matter, perhaps because New New Labour does not care to be reminded that our celebrated island history was not always one of going forth to conquest in the name of peace, enlightenment and family values. Of course, this may be a blessing in disguise, given that the Government's idea of protecting our national heritage involves turning Stonehenge into a motorway siding, and quite possibly hiring out Milton's cottage to McDonald's as the Puritan Paradise Burger Bar.