The Curmudgeon


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting Warmer

Emissions rise as economy sort of flops about

Britain's greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, thanks to the greenest Government in history.

The recession caused by excessive public libraries and the NHS resulted in large falls in emissions during 2009, thus exposing the dangerous economic incompetence of the environmental lobby as compared with the likes of George Osborne and Eric Pickles.

However, last year the economy picked up thanks to the increases in consumer confidence which resulted from the coalition's promise to throw half a million people out of work.

Thanks to the firm and decisive actions of the greenest Government in history, Britain has fallen from third to thirteenth place on international league tables for investment in low-carbon fuel and technology.

The Treasury has responded by opposing attempts by the Committee on Climate Change to impose a target of a 60% cut in greenhouse emissions over 20 years, on the grounds that the present financial crisis makes a good excuse for not even bothering to pretend.

Emissions also rose due to the snow in winter, which the Treasury said was also to blame for the lack of recovery in the recovery.

Me at Poetry-24
Renaissance Men

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Scattered Clues

Our rulers' continuing attack on the forces of Stalinist centralism enters a glorious new phase with proposals to "reform" or, in Standard English, to break up and privatise, the Forensic Science Service. The FSS is owned by the state and is more or less the only provider of forensic services to the police; this of course means that the FSS is nothing other than (O horror) a public sector monopoly, and must be Bullingdosed into rubble which can be sold off to the highest bidder forthwith. As a result, the criminal cases review commission, which has no powers over private companies, will be unable to do its job and, according to its chair, "cases which would otherwise have been referred back to the appeal courts will not be, and conversely cases which could be concluded quickly will take a great deal longer to conclude". In other words, lots of people who might otherwise not be in jail will stay in jail, and the lawyers will make lots of money. Meanwhile police forces will have to enter into commercial contracts with companies selling the services of forensic scientists, which will certainly be cosy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Redeploymentisation Opportunification

I am sure we all remember how, during the bad old days of New Labour and New New Labour, Britain's brave bobbies were prevented from doing their brave and necessary work because of excess bureaucracy imposed by the bloated government-biggery of a public sector grown virtually foreign in its all-pervasive hideousness. Happily, George the Progressively Regressive has put an end to all that with his little chopper; unfortunately, the malignant anarchist saboteurs of the Warwickshire police authority are collaborating with Labour councils all over the country in trying to make Daveybloke's Big Society thingy look like the tissue-flimsy figleaf that all nice people know it definitely isn't.

Thanks to Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition getting Whitehall out of the way at last, the savings for Warwickshire will necessitate up to a hundred and fifty front-line officers being drafted into desk jobs. Police officers, like members of the Royal Family and the House of Donors, cannot be made redundant, and they can only be retired against their will after thirty years' service; hence Warwickshire's savings will have to be among the civilian staff, who constitute the aforementioned excess bureaucracy and whose perks are of a humbler nature. Once the civilians have been saved, police officers will have to replace them; and since the Government has got out of the way so thoroughly, there will be no money to recruit extra officers to make up any resulting shortfall on the streets. Fortunately, the Home Secretary and her Police Herbert have "repeatedly said it is possible for savings to be found through cutting bureaucracy and back-office functions without hitting the frontline", which clearly settles the matter. A Home Office spokesbeing reiterated the well-known Blairite argument from faith: "We believe that police forces can make the necessary savings while protecting frontline services", and if people of the calibre of the Home Secretary and her Police Herbert believe it, there can be no further doubt. The spokesbeing added a finger-wagging little maxim about time management, so as to leave no sliver of a doubt as to just how far we have come since the bad old days of New Labour and New New Labour: "The effectiveness of a police force does not depend primarily on the number of staff it has, but rather on the way they are deployed". A one-legged man can win an arse-kicking contest, if only he can utilise his metatarsal resources with sufficient prudence and provided the Government has got far enough out of the way to prevent his being encumbered with crutches.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Coming Soon

My new book is almost ready for publication; I hope it will be out before Walpurgisnacht. It contains a short novel called Taking Down, and two shorter pieces called "Scourge for a Slumbering Scalp" and "Imago Dei". My backlist is, of course, already highly available, and should be purchased and reviewed to the uttermost limits of your endurance.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thought for the Dave

Daveybloke's Big Society thingy is, you know, a bit like God. It can solve all our problems, inspire our neighbours to aid us, and enable the poor and needy to forget their gross materialistic urges; but nobody - not even those who dreamed it up in the first place - quite knows just what it is. Accordingly, Daveybloke's Minister for University Fees has clarified (or, in Standard English, abolished) the convention whereby academics get to decide how their funding should be prioritised, and has ordered the Arts and Humanities Research Council to apply itself forthwith to the theology of Conservative Party sloganeering. Among the Council's tasks will be the setting in stone of politically correct definitions for various words, such as fairness, engagement, responsibility, mutuality, individualism and selfishness, which Daveybloke and his chums have been throwing about recently and with which politicians on both sides of the nasty/stupid divide have been encountering understandable difficulties.

A spokesbeing for the Department of Bonus Elevation Skills claimed that the Council had itself proposed Daveybloke's Big Society thingy as a worthy subject of research, and that "prioritisation of an individual research council's spending within its allocation is not a decision for ministers". The Council more or less confirmed this, saying that some minions of David Willetts, who is "regarded as one of the intellectual forces behind" Daveybloke's Big Society thingy, presented it with a free and informed choice between losing its funding and doing as it was told. We can only hope the Council will apply itself to the matter with all due diligence, not least because of the intense public concern which is likely to result from the revelation that the Conservatives not only required "intellectual forces" to fumble their way towards conceiving of Daveybloke's Big Society thingy, but that they required more than one.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Greasy Wheels

The Minister for Beer, Skittles and Justice is trying to water down the Bribery Act, which New New Labour passed on its way out as a mean little gesture towards its hated emulators. Britain had promised to bring its legislation into line with much of Europe and the US thirteen years before, but the Reverend Tony of Ecclestone and Wardle was off on a journey and hence somewhat preoccupied. The Minister for Beer, Skittles and Justice has apparently decided that companies which trade on the London stock market are not necessarily carrying on business in the UK, and that therefore companies which have fled Britain's harsh trading environment for places with less regulation and bigger corporate bonuses should be exempt from the law. This could lead to corrupt foreign companies being favoured over law-abiding British companies; or, worse yet, it could lead to people like Rupert Murdoch or the Russian mafia being able to buy legislation in Parliament as though they were Lord Ashcroft or Rupert Murdoch.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Last Chance for Peace

A Last Chance for Peace, having waited at an appropriate distance for several weeks, finally presented itself to the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World. Since that distinguished individual possessed a security team comprising only the most blatant Material Interests, strategically massaged to look like Tough Decisions, the Last Chance for Peace had a difficult time gaining access.

"What do you want?" asked the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World, as the bruised and multiple-orifice-traumatised Last Chance for Peace was finally flung into the room.
"O most worthy and liberal potentate," gasped the Last Chance for Peace, "I have been waiting for more than a month for the privilege of your attention."
"Ah yes," said the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World; "but you were a whole extra mile away, and I was much concerned with matters of state. The National Swerve Initiative, whereby the Government concerns itself exclusively with getting out of the way, is by no means so easy as it sounds."
"But do you not know," said the Last Chance for Peace, "that your armies are on a war footing? Are you not aware that Catastrophe is on the horizon?"
"It is not my Catastrophe," said the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World, having taken a brief glance; "that Catastrophe was made by the previous Government, in spite of my own party's fervent support."
"But what of the millions of innocents who may be caught up in its Horrible Consequences?" asked the Last Chance for Peace.
"The Government will get out of their way," proclaimed the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World. "They will not be prevented by red tape or legal obfuscation from fleeing, screaming, starving, seeking private medical care or escaping the Catastrophe in their own legally bought and maintained helicopters."
"Catastrophes are notoriously unpredictable," said the Last Chance for Peace cannily; "supposing this one should rebound upon you?"
"Then the Government will get out of its way also, thanks to the National Swerve Initiative and some obliging people I met at University."

Then, perhaps because the memory of his schooldays caused the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World to recall some traumatised orifices of his own, he looked upon the Last Chance for Peace with a more charitable eye, and a thin but detectable scum of benignant interest formed on the cold porridge of his features. "Supposing I fail to take you," he said, "what happens then?"
"Your citizens will revere you as strong and decisive, even if corrupt and repulsive; your Cabinet will unite behind you for fear of appearing almost as weak and flabby as they actually are; the Opposition will offer critical support amounting to glorious impotence; and your Material Interests in the slaughter trade will grow even more, ah, robust," said the Last Chance for Peace.

So the Prime Minister of a Small But Significant Bit of the Free World seized the Last Chance for Peace and threw it out of the window. It fell on the head of an Accredited Member of the Free Press, who immediately filed a story about having been injured in the first major firefight of the war.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Still Too Weak to Walk? Cut Off the Other Leg

Some chap called Moody has endorsed George the Progressively Regressive's pretext for attacking the poor and vulnerable, saying that a fanatical commitment to paying off the bankers' gambling debts within this parliament was "very important" to Britain's favourable credit rating. Moody then warned that Britain's favourable credit rating could suffer if George the Progressively Regressive proves as correct in his estimates of future growth as he has in the past. This caused the markets to suffer one of their turns, thus proving once again why everyone with a shred of economic sense is implacably opposed to regulation.

Another chap called Fitch has warned that further austerity measures may be necessary should the damage caused by the present austerity measures prove unhelpful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

War Safe, Chancellor Promises

Austerity measures will not impede new crusade

The war on Britain's budget deficit will not be adversely affected by Britain's war on Colonel Gaddafi's war on the Libyan rebels' war on the war on freedom, sources said today.

Although there is no money available for schools, hospitals, libraries, public transport, childcare facilities, post offices or pensions, the Chancellor is believed to have set aside a considerable sum for dropping high explosives onto Arabs.

Speculation has been rife about where the money will come from, with Boris Johnson's staff issuing pre-emptive denials that the London mayor pulled ten million pounds out of Liam Fox's arse during a late-night Bullingdon War and Budget Rah Rah.

"Liam was never a member of the Bullingdon Club," said a spokestwit. "In any case I think it's rather bad taste to compare bombing Libya with destroying a good restaurant."

Until late last night Downing Street truthfulness operatives were briefing that the money had been discovered by accident down the back of Danny Alexander.

However, this story was discounted after journalists discovered that it originated with Nick Clegg.

Me at Poetry-24
Cowboy Dave

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

He Got On His Bike

Well, isn't this cosy. Andy Coulson, the former scumbag press editor and Downing Street truthfulness operative, has saved himself from the mercies of the Big Society by signing up for a new, if occasional, consultancy post. The ickily named One Young World, a "global conference for future world leaders", is the brain-drain of an advertising agency chairbeing and its chief executive; the agency for which they work was responsible for two of the best jokes of the last general election campaign: the image of Daveybloke as Barbie's pimp and the caption, "I'll cut the deficit, not the NHS", which Britain's leading liberal newspaper tactfully labels "famous". With even greater tact, the chairbeing told the Financial Times that Coulson was "a bright and talented individual". Coulson was so bright and talented a Murdoch tabloid editor that he doesn't seem to have known about half of what was going on at his newspaper, where gangs of rogue reporters apparently went about their criminal business while Coulson beavered away night after night shaping their sorry dross into actual journalism. With material of this calibre to call on, the world's future leaders will certainly be the equals of its present ones, at best.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Austerity, Responsibility, Sobriety, Economy

The Budget again - what a joy!
A Chancellor's favourite toy!
I can chop a bit more
To help with the war,
And be Daddy's and Davey's best boy!

The Budget again - oh, it rocks!
I'm so sweet with my little red box!
And my charm so capacious,
Refined and sebaceous -
I'll smirk them right out of their socks!

The Budget again - oh how jolly!
My day in the limelight - oh golly!
Cutting schools, cutting capers -
Come cheer and wave papers!
Rah rah and let's break out the Bolly!

Gideon Fatwick

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Freudian Slurp

The Department of Health Privatisation has been shaking its head in pained wonder at the unbigsocietal mindset of certain uncharitable persons who have questioned whether Matthew Freud, the head of a PR company which promotes Pepsi and Mars, is really the best Daveybloke's Cuddlies can come up with to instruct the proles about the virtues of healthy eating. Freud is married to Rupert Murdoch's second daughter, and has been known to fly Daveybloke out to Murdoch's yacht when the old boy feels like a bit of a chat about mobile telephones or something. "It all looks pretty incestuous, or at best not a very competent way to proceed," commented one Liberal Democrat, insensitive to Daveybloke's royal ancestry whereby competence is little more than an intolerable vulgarity and incest is just as acceptable a method of keeping the family in funds as corruption, nepotism or claiming one's wife as a parliamentary expense. A spokesbeing for the Department of Health Privatisation fulminated that privatising health projects was not the same thing as letting business take them over, and delivered a lecture on the natural affinity of obesity profiteers for girding the country's bowels into a great social movement. Freud's company, meanwhile, showed remarkable presence of mind by declining to comment until Daveybloke or Rupert can spare a moment to tell it what to say.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Rather Special Day

On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the pretexts for which were so ferally swallowed by the great media beast, it takes a special kind of journalistic courage to claim, as Britain's leading liberal newspaper claims today, that Daveybloke's little rah-rah in favour of bombing Libyans represents "the first major foreign policy triumph of his premiership". On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a disastrously drawn-out, avoidably inhumane and messy calamity in which the British government has been shown in the most clear and humiliating light as the abject vassal of a super-power gone to seed, it takes a special kind of memory to draw lessons from "Tony Blair's success, in the face of deep scepticism in Washington, in persuading Bill Clinton to authorise the use of ground troops in Kosovo". On the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, for which one of the more laughable pretexts was the protection of civilians from a foaming dictator, it takes a very special kind of Liberal Democrat to agree with the mercenary contractor Malcolm Rifkind that everything's going to be rosy just because the UN and the Arab League's more convenient dictators have fallen into line this time.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Minor Diversion

Calls for a no-fly zone over Yemen were more or less muted today as dozens were killed and hundreds wounded by some brave young men doing a wonderful job under difficult circumstances. The intervention was carried out by soldiers and by "plain-clothed government loyalists" disguised in journalistic euphemism and what George W Bush would have called "civilian uniforms".

According to Britain's leading liberal newspaper, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has "maintained a firm grip on power" for more than thirty years, which is not at all the same thing as being a dictator. Demonstrations have been going on for more than a month in Yemen and in other small places, but are considered a minor diversion compared to the prospect of strong-armed airgasm spraying white western liberty all over Libya.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fury at Remarks Horror

Silly filly bucks up

A spokesbeing for the non-governing wing of the Conservative party is facing calls for her dismissal after she was recorded conflating Muslims and other immigrants with poor people.

Karen Buck, the shadow Minister of Pay More and Work Till You Drop, said that the Government "don't want ethnic minority women and they don't want Muslim women living in central London".

The Minister for Ethnic Tokenism, Baroness Warsi, attacked Buck for using "race, religion and class for political point-scoring" against a deeply egalitarian, multicultural and pluralistic government of white male millionaires.

Buck also claimed that the Government was "deeply hostile to middle- and lower-income women having children", which experts say may be an exaggeration.

"In fact, the Government has no objection to anyone squeezing out another potential soldier, stockbroker or shelf-stacker," said political analyst Bradley Ichneumon.

"What it objects to is the idea that the Government should take any interest in the health, education or general welfare of these human resources at a stage in their careers when they are only potentially entrepreneurial."

Buck's remarks are likely to embarrass her leaders, who believe in doing exactly what the Government is doing, but in a stealthier and sneakier fashion.

All remarks made in public by front-bench spokesbeings have to be cleared in advance by the shadow prime minister and his Balls, in case any of them say anything which might be construed as left-wing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daveybloke Does Diplomacy

Calls for a no-fly zone over Bahrain were so nuanced as to be virtually undetectable today as troops and riot police attacked protesters. Unlike the pro-democracy protests in Egypt and Libya, the protests in Bahrain have stoked sectarian tensions to the extent of needing to be chastised by the resolutely non-sectarian Saudi military, and have also caused international unease by being supported by Bad Men including the Iranian president, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a known diluter of the Iraq invasion's uranium-tipped benignancy.

For some reason or other, Daveybloke has apparently decided to have a stab at dealing with this situation in a banker's-bonus way rather than a British-Empire-versus-uncivilised-tribes way. He telephoned the king of Bahrain to call for "restraint on all sides", a common diplomatic euphemism in conflicts where less than two sides are armed to the teeth; and the king of Bahrain responded in much the same way as bankers generally respond to the urgings of Daveybloke's social conscience. It is not clear to Britain's leading liberal newspaper whether Daveybloke knew in advance that the régime was going to attack, but let us hope he had the presence of mind to warn the king against using British-made weaponry for unnatural purposes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Party That Supports Our Boys

The Royal British Legion has accused Daveybloke's Cuddly Conservatives of behaving like Nick Clegg, just because Daveybloke made a few promises on the Ark Royal. The Ark Royal has since been decommissioned, and Daveybloke's Cuddlies were probably hoping that the promises could be quietly left to rust until a sudden urgent requirement to save Libya's oil for the nice people necessitated a bit of patch and polish. In his speech, Daveybloke burbled about the Conservative Party's traditional concerns - schools, healthcare, young people with guns and so forth - and said he wanted them all "refreshed and renewed and written down in a new military covenant that's written into the law of the land". Ministers have now been advised that, even with people like Nick Clegg and Michael Gove around to ensure that the Government lives up to its promises, a legal covenant might result in people using the law to do nasty things to the Ministry of Defence. Not wishing to be sued for an arm and a leg by those who may have lost little more than an arm or a leg, Liam Fox has decided that the Government does, after all, have more urgent priorities than the welfare of those who risk life and limb in those great games and manly adventures for which his party loves to wave the flag. The only requirement to be enshrined in law will be for the Government to report every year to Parliament on "everything that is being done to live up to the covenant on things like healthcare, housing and education"; whereupon any shortcomings can be blamed on the situation inherited from the previous government, a tactic Fox proceeded to demonstrate with all due alacrity.

Monday, March 14, 2011

We Cannot Stand By While He Does Exactly What He Did While We Stood By

The Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband has been breaking the mould of British politics once more, echoing Daveybloke's huffing and puffing over Libya much as the Conservatives licked their lips when the Reverend Tony started drooling and foaming about invading Iraq. The Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband does not think we can stand by while Colonel Gaddafi regains control over those parts of Libya where Colonel Gaddafi has lost control despite being enthusiastically armed and petted by the Government of which the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband and its fellow abortion, the Lower (formerly Upper) Miliband were members. Jolly statesmanlike, I'm sure.

Although Gaddafi's threats about immigrants have clearly concentrated minds across the quivering kaleidoscope of echt-Blairite Britain, Daveybloke thinks arming the rebels would be a step too far; presumably because it might cause difficulties for the Americans in controlling them later on. Meanwhile Daveybloke's special nuncio to Belize, Willem den Haag, has so far extracted his finger as to proclaim that the international community ought to do something. Doubtless, in view of our spectacular successes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, to say nothing of the recent Whoops Apocalypse episode in Libya itself, the international community is hanging upon Britain's every word. Den Haag's distinguished predecessor, Malcolm Rifkind, has called for an "open and urgent" supply of weapons to the rebels, though it is not entirely clear whether this is purely the result of his habitual disinterested benevolence. Den Haag echoed the Reverend Tony in burbling about "great, overwhelming humanitarian need", but nobody seems to have asked him whether he would care to recruit the international community into enforcing a demilitarised zone around Gaza, so that aid can get through without its suppliers being massacred by the Israeli military.

Meanwhile, a certain glorious anniversary fast approaches. I really wonder if they'll have the cheek.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cleggy in the Middle

And after all he's done for them. Nine whole percentage points in the polls and the Liberal Democrat rank and file have ignominiously slapped down their leadership's unreserved backing for Twizzler Lansley's demolition of the National Health Service, on the staggeringly naïve grounds that nothing of the kind is mentioned in the coalition agreement; and Shirley Williams has ordered Daveybloke's orange muffler to prepare his constitution for some nasty medicine and go back to his government for further instructions.

Presumably the long-term response will be to try and organise future Liberal Democrat conferences into the sort of balloon-and-bluster hybrids of corporate training day and Ku Klux Klan rally whereby the Labour and Conservative leaderships commune with their servitors. The MP for St Ives made a good start with a Blairite re-writing of history, claiming that William Beveridge, Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan were political blood-brothers to the likes of Wee Nicky and Vincent Cable. Clegg himself is to respond with his characteristic mix of forceful clarity and clarificatory forcibility: "We have our own label: Liberal," he will say, which is certainly true, just as Labour has its own label (viz. Labour) and attacks the working classes, and the Conservatives have their own label (viz. Conservative) and display no interest whatever in conserving anything at all, be it pensioners or the planet. "We are liberals and we own the freehold to the centre ground of British politics," Wee Nicky will continue, even as the Reverend Tony in the days before his ascension; and then Wee Nicky will continue yet further in the same vacuous vein: "Governing from the middle, for the middle", alarm clocks and all, and so forth. I can only hope that Wee Nicky wrote all this himself; to think of him handing over money to someone for churning it out would be almost too misanthropic an enterprise even for me.

In the immediate aftermath of his humiliation, Wee Nicky extruded his own personal interpretation of the coalition agreement, which called for an end to large-scale, top-down meddling with the NHS: "Yes to reform of the NHS", by which he presumably meant yes to large-scale, top-down meddling with the NHS. "But no to privatisation of the NHS". Well, I wonder what Wee Nicky could possibly have meant by that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Slow News Day

Earthquake, tsunami, disaster, casualties. No news of Britons. Major, giant, massive, seventh biggest, fifth biggest earthquake. Lots of information about earthquakes. Dozens killed, hundreds missing. Hundreds killed, thousands missing. Figures will rise dramatically. Dramatic footage. Towns devastated, evacuated, buried. Markets fall, economy may suffer. What will it do to the price of your house? Cars like toys, trains unaccounted for. Sympathy, aid, appeals. Even the Foreign Secretary vaguely aware of the situation. End Times; God is angry. Pray for Japan to the mercy of its attacker. Nuclear plant affected. Explosion at nuclear plant. Radiation leakage at nuclear plant. Japanese government says nuclear firm says British expert says everybody says gibber gibber gibber. Images, devastation, footage, viral; look look look look look. And now for your delectation and edification: an Interesting Fact.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Brussels London Air Attack Horror

Conservative fury as Britain walks free

The London Haystack has failed to condemn the oily European liberals who have allowed lawbreakers to continue endangering public health.

Someone with a funny name said on Friday that a £300 million fine over London's air quality will be deferred until 11 June.

Six years after the standard was agreed, London is the only region in breach of Europe's air quality directive setting a legal limit on dangerous airborne particles other than public sector workers en route to luxury resorts.

The London Haystack's "firm belief" that his latest envelope-scrawl would meet requirements has been recorded by the Guardian's resident psychic and is thought to be vaguely within the awareness of the mayor himself.

Soup kitchens are being set up for the lines of Conservative spokesbeings now queueing up outside every press office in Britain to denounce European meddling in the English capital's climate.

The Minister for Wogs, Frogs and Huns, Willem den Haag, was busy pouring out his heart to Lord Ashcroft, but an aide said that Tony Blair had cost the country £300 million by not opting out of the agreement in the first place.

Me at Poetry-24
Work Ethic

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's About Fairness

In a comforting sign of continuity, the new Tony Blair has commissioned a new Lord Hutton to come up with some good excuses for him. The new Lord Hutton has been assuring everyone that his plan for forcing public sector workers to do more for less money is all about "good Labour values: fairness, looking after the low paid and trying to find a sensible deal for them". Well, of course it is. During his tenure as a New Labour apparatchik, Hutton epitomised such Labour values as helping single parents, looking after the sick, helping people back into work, sticking up for justice, showing respect for the law and even being the greenest government in history. Given all this clear blue water between him and the Conservatives, one can quite well imagine George the Progressively Regressive at the initial briefing, forcibly smirking the need for fairness into Hutton's skull: "Now remember, John, this isn't about saving money, this is about being fair." Hutton paid reciprocal tribute to Osborne's own social conscience by noting that we are all in this together: "We've all got to be part of meeting this enormous challenge of meeting rising life expectancy". Public sector workers who, thanks to the Government's savings on their salaries, are unable to help meet the challenge can always opt out and live on their inheritances, trust funds, bank shareholder bonuses and all the other things real people have.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Someone's Taking Lessons

Those of us who were so uncharitable as to wonder where the Middle East peace envoy had got to recently need wonder no longer, it seems. Whether calling an exquisite double bluff ("I'd have to be mad to shoot at peaceful demonstrators"), warning of an al-Qaida takeover if he doesn't get his way, or spouting Daily Mail fantasies about floods of immigrants, Tony's chum Colonel Gaddafi has clearly been coached by the master. Britain and her gallant allies are apparently considering taking the sort of action against Gaddafi that did so much to help Saddam Hussein against his own rebellious citizens in between the Gulf wars, and the Colonel has seized this opportunity to foam his way to a swivel-eyed paranoid fantasy in the best tabloid-pleasing Vicar of Downing Street fashion. He has actually gone so far as to claim that the forces of enlightenment are interested only in stealing the Libyan people's oil. If that line hasn't got the sweaty little fingerprints of a certain pretty straight sort of guy all over it, I can't imagine what would show them.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Wheels of Time

We mourn for the tyres on the cars of our fathers;
We tear up our clothes in a Biblical strop;
We work ourselves into Victorian lathers,
As the wheels of our childhood go clunk to a stop.

We cannot return with the squeak of an axle;
We cannot ungrind from the teeth of time's cog.
As we wait in their path, so the world's brutal facts'll
Run over us like a truck squashing a frog.

Alas for the castors that wobbled so seemly!
Alas for the wheels of our hastening youth!
Alas for all rollers that rumbled so dreamly!
They've buggered off now; that's the God's honest truth.

Bollop Grudsell

Monday, March 07, 2011

Funnier Than Suez

Britain may soon rival Italy as global military power

Britain's foreign policy has suffered another setback in Libya, with the capture of the Foreign Secretary's idea of a diplomatic team fit for talking to Johnny Arab.

The team of two spies and six special forces personnel was dropped by helicopter onto farmland near Benghazi, challenged by guards and subjected to War on Terror-style baggage searches before being thrown out of the country.

In pursuit of their diplomatic objectives and the international machismo of the United Kingdom, members of the team were carrying multiple passports, weapons and spying equipment, which aroused the Arab suspicions of rebel leaders.

"In Dubai the Israelis used British passports to kill that man, [Hamas commander Mahmoud] al-Mabhouh," said rebel leader Essam Gheriani. "It's a matter of verification."

Gheriani also said that, "At a time of revolution, suspicion is greater than trust", a fact which does not readily emerge from an Oxford degree course in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

The incident is a major embarrassment for the British Government, which is already reeling from shock revelations that British-made tear gas and weapons are being used against civilians despite clear instructions that such equipment is for democratic purposes only.

The Government was today engaged in a damage limitation exercise, briefing that such difficulties are only to be expected in an administration with William Hague as foreign secretary and Liam Fox as minister of war toys.

"With that kind of material, it's really rather inevitable that foreign policy isn't going to be conducted on the basis of IQ points," said a source.

It is feared that in a worst-case scenario the incident may lead to Italians making jokes about British military ineptitude.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Rent Britain

A report by two housing organisations has caused a headline writer at Britain's leading liberal newspaper to confuse England with the UK thanks to its shock implication that the Government, which has denied that its housing policies amount to social cleansing, is in fact engaged in social cleansing through its housing policies. The Government intends to link housing benefit to the price of consumer goods rather than the price of rents; this of course makes perfect sense to the kind of people for whom a house is a market asset and whose actual accommodation is either inherited, paid for by Daddy or, in Nick Clegg's case, supplied by Daveybloke in the form of a nearly clean basket just outside the office door. The housing minister Grant Shapps proclaimed that the resulting cuts in benefits would induce landlords to cut rents, rather than doing what the forces of Socialism would do and kicking out tenants who cannot pay the rent in favour of others who can. The report claims that people will be forced into ghettos where rents are lower, jobs are fewer and the Big Society waits in the wings with its riot shields and pepper spray, thus undermining the Government's stated aim of getting people back to work. This will certainly come as a shock to anyone who regards the Government's stated aims as possessing some vague relevance to what they actually intend doing; but it is unlikely to surprise anybody else.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Shock as Throwing Money at Greedy Bastards Fails to Reform Attitude

Somebody ought to do something about it, says Bank of England governor

Notorious left-wing firebrand Mervyn King has told the Daily Torygraph that high street banks are exploiting their customers for short-term gain.

King is due to become responsible for banking regulation and is thought to be delighted at the prospect of carrying the can for the Government's bailout of the sector the next time it crashes the economy.

King mentioned the traditional manufacturing industries and explained why they were purged from the national economy under Margaret Thatcher. "They care deeply about their workforce, about their customers and, above all, are proud of their products," he said.

"We've not yet solved the 'too big to fail' or, as I prefer to call it, the 'too important to fail' problem," King said. "The concept of being too important to fail should have no place in a market economy."

A spokesbeing for the banking industry disagreed with his comments, stating that it would be wrong to blame the whole banking sector for the actions of a few rotten apples.

"Fortunately, the banks do not live in a market economy," the spokesbeing said. "The banks live in a welfare state which is paid for by the market economy to which the non-millionaire population is confined. It is time for banks to draw a line under today's culture of repentance and atonement and get back to being nice."

King's remarks come weeks after the Chancellor signed Project Merlin, under which the Government agreed not to do anything about pay and profits if the banks would agree to go on the way they're going but call it "restraint" rather than "whoopee".

Friday, March 04, 2011

Smart Engagement

Yesterday Daveybloke's orange muffler responded to some particularly vicious Barnsley exit polls by delivering himself of a speech pointing out that the Liberal Democrats are actually not the same as the Conservatives, and that Nicky himself has actual differences from Daveybloke which stem from Nicky's liberal philosophy, actually. "Where multiculturalism is held to mean more segregation, other communities leading parallel lives, it is clearly wrong"; which explains Nicky's almost vocal opposition to faith schools. Nicky also proclaimed that the Government must learn to distinguish between violent extremism of the nasty terrorist kind, and non-violent extremism of "deeply unpalatable, illiberal views", such as the idea that benefits claimants' poverty is a lifestyle choice, or that public health is something for general practitioners and Turkey Twizzler manufacturers to work out between themselves, or that elderly people who can't afford to live in the city can make do without a post office, or that libraries should be closed to help the rich with their gambling debts, or that tearing up electoral pledges once in office is the sign of a new and healthy democracy, or that imprisoning children is fine as long as you call it something else. "We don't win people to liberal ideals by giving ourselves a leave of absence from the argument," said Nicky. Well, of course we don't. We win people to liberal ideas by hitching ourselves to a right-wing bandwagon and helping to remove the brakes.

Me at Poetry-24
Dear Rupert

Thursday, March 03, 2011

To An Untrustworthy Arab, In Great Moral Perplexity

Iraq disarmed? O say it isn't so!
Friend Curveball, we're not mad but disappointed.
If only we had known the things you know,
George Bush and poodle Blair, the Lord's anointed,
Might never have embarked on their crusade
To cleanse of terror your oil-troubled lands.
Friend Curveball, all those stories that you made
Have left you with much blood upon your hands.

We wanted our ex-ally's reign to cease;
There's no denying he'd become erratic.
And so we fibbed and bullied, bugged and spied;
We've lost count of the miles we went for peace,
To keep your people well and democratic.
Yet, oddly, it was mostly they who died.

Polper Gubbil

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Hard to Police

From David Blunkett through John Reid to Agent Smith and Alan Johnson, the Home Office has generally been the most obvious field where the Nasty and Stupid factions of Britain's one-party state may collide and self-fertilise in harmonious fructification; and the present incumbent, Theresa May, looks set to continue that noble tradition. May has commissioned an "independent review" of police pay and conditions which has not yet been published, but as a middle-aged lady in a hurry she has anticipated the review's conclusions and informed her own enforcers that their pay and conditions are going to be cut, as a humane alternative to simply sacking thousands of officers and expecting them to join up again as volunteer constables. May expects the review to be fair and seen to be fair, like the budgets of George the Progressively Regressive; and she also wants it to be modern and management and implemented and helpful and service and management and budgets and maximise and deployment and flexibility and management and (naturally) frontline services maintained and improved; so cutting pay and conditions was self-evidently the only possible solution, because "now, more than ever, the taxpayer needs to get a fair deal from all parts of the public sector", since the public sector does not consist of taxpayers.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Uncivilised Tribes

When all the other types of posturing fail, try the Churchillian. Daveybloke's emulation of the Reverend Blair's emulation of the sainted Thatcher's channelling of a pompous dipsomaniac xenophobe and Greatest Ever Number One Greatest Briton Ever™ acquired a shiny new belligerence today as the Prime Minister took the opportunity granted him by Tony's chum Colonel Gaddafi to do a bit of blimping for his party's Short, Sharp Shock for the Fuzzy-wuzzies wing. Daveybloke claimed (or "vowed", as the Guardian's Pomp and Circumstance correspondent hath it) that the Libyan people, unlike the British people and one or two others, "would not be left to their fate", and noted that the Government didn't understand the forces opposing Gaddafi terribly well (apparently they are brown people). Nevertheless, Daveybloke and his chums, in the absence of an effective foreign secretary, are working frightfully hard to get all the prep done and find out whether or not they'll keep on buying our weapons. Daveybloke ordered the international community to get its act together and said that it was quite unacceptable for Gaddafi to be "murdering his own people, using aeroplanes and helicopter gunships and the like", which are clearly quite different from the cuddly things Daveybloke was helping to shill in the region a week or so ago. Having failed to plan for the popular revolts in northern Africa spreading to Libya or for British citizens being in the country at the time, Daveybloke burbled that Britain and its allies should plan "for every eventuality"; which will come as a pleasant change to those who have been exposed to the Daveybloke idea of planning for such eventualities as peak oil, global warming, an ageing population or poor people falling ill.