The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unfortunate Reactions

A cross-party committee of MPs has endorsed a report by Unlock Democracy and the Association for the Conservation of Energy which says that ministers' claims about the wonders of nuclear power are about as true as one would expect. Both the present rabble and the government in which the Upper (then Lower) Miliband had the honour to serve as Minister for Greenwashing have generally taken a faith-based approach to nuclear power: instead of assessing needs and then working out requirements, the Government took a less pedestrian route and commissioned research which took as its starting point the assumption that ten new reactors would be built. The completed research was then presented as evidence in favour of the original premise.

Such feats of logic are nothing new, of course. The Government wanted to raise tuition fees; the Government claims to want to help students; therefore raising tuition fees helps students. The Government wants to cut benefits; the Government does not want to be seen to increase poverty; therefore taking money away from poor people does not make them poorer. A certain Professor David Mackay has "made the case" that wind farms and other low-carbon sources cannot satisfy demand, and that therefore (since any attempt to lower demand would be an unthinkable blasphemy against the markets) it will be necessary to invest in nuclear. Doubtless by coincidence, Professor David Mackay is now chief scientific advisor to the Department for Energising Climate Catastrophe. There is room for doubt as to whether nuclear is any more capable of making up the shortfall than wind, solar and biomass; but at least with nuclear we can be reasonably sure that the appropriate palms will be crossed, the correct pockets lined and the deserving nests feathered.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Training for the Future

Applications for university places in 2012 have gone down by at least eight per cent, and the vice-chancellor of the University of Worcester predicts that the final figure will be closer to ten per cent. He claims that this will be partly because many teenagers and their families are too stupid to realise that the new tuition fees don't have to be paid up-front. In fact, the fees are paid via student loans, which ensure that students begin their working lives saddled with a debt of up to £9,000, to the immeasurable benefit of their social conscience. It is not known how many students have decided not to apply for fear of more promises by the Liberal Democrats, or in case of that unfortunate educational symptom of the past thirty years, Malignant Spontaneous Goalpost Motion.

There has also been much talk of apprenticeships and learning a trade; which, as one would expect, means that "in the short term, some young people who would have gone to university will end up on benefits" and will doubtless continue to live with their parents and enhance family values; while "in the long term, we will have a workforce that is less skilled", which will help to drive down yet further all those nasty excessive wages. All in all, it looks as if the Government's battle to keep the riff-raff out of university is going rather well.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Jesus Loves You, But Not That Way

The Church of England's most prominent theological incompetent has had a blather in the Daily Torygraph about homosexuals and marriage. It is, saith the preacher, not the role of the state to define what marriage is; though possibly the Church might condescend to tackle the conundrum if asked nicely. Treating homosexuals as second-order human beings has been our habit for so long that any attempt to legislate against it would be comparable to the actions of a Saddam Hussein or a Kim Jong-Il: "We've seen dictators do it in different contexts, and I don't want to redefine very clear social structures that have been in existence for a long time and then overnight the state believes it could go in a particular way." As a self-proclaimed follower of a man who boasted that Daddy would arrive soon and set the world to rights by throwing most people into hell, the Archbishop of York objects to overturning social structures which have been in place for a certain amount of time. Marriage is "set in tradition and history", just like war, slavery and the Pharisees.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Loaded and Biased

The fiend Salmond's question in favour of breaking up the United Kingdom has caused a mighty blip in favour of Scotch nationalism and has therefore been universally denounced as loaded and biased. Here an expert provides a word-by-word analysis, showing the fiendish cunning whereby the question has been phrased in order to ensnare the gullible.

Do The very first word of the question implies action, as though breaking up the United Kingdom were something positive, constructive and progressive like Trident or the poll tax.

you Salmond here personalises the issue, addressing his audience as though they were adult human individuals rather than abstract psephological resources to be utilised and expended for the greater glory of British democracy.

agree Agreeability is more agreeable than disagreeability. Had the question asked whether respondents disagreed with something, many would have voted otherwise in order to seem agreeable to anyone who might happen to witness them voting in a secret ballot. The word also implies that there are people to be agreed with, i.e. that Scotch nationalism is a popular political enterprise rather than a perverse minority obsession.

that This bland conjunction exudes neutrality, and may on that account alone be treated with justified suspicion.

Scotland The name of the disputed region, calculated to stir up misguided local sentiment in those lacking sufficient dignity to consider Britishness a point of pride.

should The word implies obligation, and perhaps even moral necessity, neither of which should be invoked in a mature debate unless it concerns social cleansing or meritorious homicide.

be Another small but significant verb, like do, which packs a considerable freight of ontological intensity into a deceptively concentrated monosyllabic lexeme. There is a terrible postmodernist irresponsibility in Salmond's casual yet manipulative use of a word whose full implications have not been properly understood by even the most eminent philosophers.

an The use of the indefinite article implies that Scotland will be able to sustain itself as a unitary state, one and indivisible. Yet negotiations are already afoot to make it part of Norway, and even of Europe.

independent A highly loaded term, offering the implicit claim that Scotland's present circumstances are repressed and downtrodden, and that voting for the snare and illusion "independence" would somehow express a wish for the Good Thing that is independence.

country? Carries the clear implication that if the United Kingdom broke up Scotland would be a real country like England, rather than a pathetic tattered remnant like India or the United States.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Excuse Me, Prime Minister, Your Greenwash is Fading

David Nussbaum, the chief executive of WWF UK, has expressed mild disappointment that the greenest government ever may not be altogether living up to its claims. In 2006, David Nussbaum's charity helped to arrange a photoshoot whereby Daveybloke was driven to the airport, flew to Norway, hugged a husky, flew back to Britain and was driven away from the airport, thereby symbolising the Conservatives' commitment to a low-carbon economy. It is possible that this was the same Daveybloke who repeatedly used his dead child as an alibi for all those promises about helping the vulnerable and protecting the NHS; in any case, Nussbaum displayed approximately the degree of rational scepticism one would expect from a former accountant with a qualification in RE: "The long-term future of the Conservative party David Cameron is trying to lead is the party which continues to embrace people for whom environmental sustainability, care for the natural world, thinking about what we are leaving our future generations, those are deeply held values."

Nussbaum was tactful enough not to mention the Government's recent decision to spend what it has saved by depriving people of legal aid in a fight to cut subsidies for the solar industry. Nevertheless, the Government has made noises about a green investment bank but has ensured it will have no borrowing powers until the next election; the Government has made noises about improving the energy efficiency of homes, but has gone all coy when asked how the improvements will be paid for. It is becoming clear even to Nussbaum that something has unaccountably gone awry. I wonder what it might be?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Technologies

Russians have resorted to various guerrilla tactics in protesting the corruption and incompetence of their government, including a sixty-five-metre phallus painted on a St Petersburg drawbridge which, when raised, faced FSB headquarters. Police in Siberia are attempting valiantly to deal with an infraction on a smaller scale, consisting of various toy figures brandishing subversive placards. Much mirth was occasioned among the unenlightened public, but officers of the local constabulary subjected the display to a detailed examination and sedulously copied down all the slogans in case one of the toys should make a run for it. "Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events, using toys with placards at mini-protests," complained Andrei Mulintsev, the deputy police chief. New technologies are the bane of many a democracy enforcement official the world over; but Andrei Mulintsev appears rather an extreme case. Our own Metropolitan Headbangers, Firearms and Venus Trap Club is famous for its difficulties in coping with such innovations as digital cameras, mobiles and people with cerebral palsy; but dolls were known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and people have been making figurines since at least the Neolithic.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Elegy for Chicken Yoghurt

Farewell, Chickyog! O nourishing domain
And poison of our nation's nasty shits,
With all those floating crunchy sweary bits!
I fear we shall not know thy like again.
Perhaps thou hast attained thy worthy goal;
And yet I fear that with thy going hence
The blogomind will grow a bit more dense;
The internet will gain a sorry hole.

Still, better to part well than stay too long.
All yoghurt has, of course, its use-by date;
In Brighton too, oblivion must come.
Although the world continues so far wrong,
Thy lactose may foment a better state:
Thy spirit's giblets yet shall beard the scum.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's All About Fairness

Government attempts to give the proles a bit of moral backbone have reached such rarefied ethical heights that even some Conservatives are starting to feel queasy. Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who was lord chancellor under the sainted Thatcher and the subsequent interregnum, has registered disquiet at the idea of making people pay for the services of the Child Support Agency. Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition plans to allow the CSA to charge up to twelve per cent of any maintenance collected, and to impose a fine of fifty or a hundred pounds on anyone who has the gall to try using the agency while claiming unemployment benefits. The idea seems to be that there is nothing like a cash-flow crisis to bring a couple together again; and, of course, those who are not legitimate couples are little better than single parents, breeders of riot and work-shyness and militant expectations of free university courses, who should be thankful for any chance at self-improvement.

Ministers may be prepared to lower the charges, which would retain the all-important principle that justice is for those who pay; and they have also tabled an amendment watering down the requirement that applicants demonstrate an attempt to reconcile with their absent ex-partner, perhaps by paying News International for a transcript of their telephone conversations. Nevertheless, Lord Mackay still seems to think there is something wrong with docking the child maintenance of people who can't afford to hire their own bailiffs. He has met with Iain Duncan Smith and has found the reply "hard to make out", though it is as yet unclear whether this is due to the foot in Duncan Smith's mouth or the rectum encasing his head.

Me at Poetry-24
Family Values

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just A Suggestion

In Westminster there is a clock
Embedded in a tower,
Beside a palace where a flock
Of sheep and crooks do cower.
The pile is leaning by degrees
Insidious and small;
Let's lock the doors, and chuck the keys,
And watch the fucker fall.

Gurney Hopflobbage

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Structural Adjustments

An Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster applied to his doctor for relief from his lack of well-being. Because the doctor was also a Trainee Accountant and Junior Financial Efficientiser at various hospitals and related outlets, an appointment was granted after less than seven years.

"What seems to be the trouble?" asked the doctor, when the Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster had at last attained admittance to the surgical sanctum.
"The trouble," said the Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster, "is that the country is governed by venal incompetents for whose greed and stupidity I pay the price, along with millions of others."
"Very likely," said the doctor; "but I asked you what the trouble seems to be. Diagnosis and treatment of genuine troubles falls, I fear, some considerable distance outside your income bracket."
"In that case," said the Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster, "the trouble seems to be that I am morally indignant at the recent past, chronically worried about the present and gnawingly apprehensive of the future."
"Neurosis, anxiety, paranoia," diagnosed the physician, handing the Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster a bottle of tablets and a Final Demand. "Take one affiliated pharmaceutical product every four hours and remember that money isn't everything. This service is free at the point of use, so kindly make your payment to the receptionist on your way out."

The Involuntary Participant in an Economic Disaster did as he was told, and had completed almost half the course of tablets when his medical insurance company was bought up by a conglomerate of wealth creators registered in Belize, whereupon he was dismissed from gainful employment in order to improve his productivity and downgraded to Malingerer Second Class.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Such Transparency, You'd Hardly Know it was There

A consultation document has been published, in which the British lobbying industry specifies the maximum level of scrutiny it is prepared to put up with, and trusts Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition to water things down according to taste. Political corruption being one of our few growth industries, the proposals take unerring aim at think-tanks and charities, and also at trade unions, whose patronage of the Labour party was one of our most shameful national secrets until the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband and his Balls declared yet again for the Conservatives last week. However, in order to spare the blushes of people like the former defence secretary, Adam Werritty, the Government's idea is to create "a register of activity, not a complete regulator for the industry", on the standard assumption that criminal activity is perfectly fine provided only that it isn't all furtive and proletarian. Hence, there will be no statutory code of conduct and no obligation for ministers to declare meetings with chums of theirs who just happen to be lobbyists and with whom they just happened to be discussing the weather or the evils of materialism or something.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mean Times

Greenwich may lose its status as the world's horological hub thanks to a Conservative back-bencher who has betrayed her party's traditionalist instincts with a proposal to move the country's clocks forward an hour throughout the year. This would place us in the same time zone as the rest of Europe, doubtless to Europe's profound relief at having finally been allowed to catch up with the mainland.

The benefits, according to supporters, would be nearly as numerous as those once claimed for New Labour's ID cards: lower electricity bills, fewer accidents, lower carbon emissions, more sports participation in the evenings by those few who still have the use of a playing field, and up to eighty thousand leisure and tourism jobs in the middle of a global recession when simply everyone is going on their hols. A reduction in seasonal affective disorder would even provide a pretext to slash mental health services yet further, should the Government feel the need of a pretext for doing anything so self-evidently virtuous. The sole unfortunate side effect would be "reduced fear of crime", although it is certainly arguable that Daveybloke and his Cuddly Coalition have done more than enough to ensure that a replacement programme of structurally sustainable fears will be fully installed and functioning by the time any legislation comes to pass.

Fortunately for the soul of the Conservative party, a Rees-Mogg is on hand with the traditional dose of reactionary inanity. The MP for north-east Somerset has proposed an amendment to the bill which would allow the county to set its own time regardless of anything else, thus transporting it back to the early nineteenth century when there was no public transport and everyone knew their place.

Update In accordance with the revered democratic traditions of our Mother of Parliaments, the bill has been talked out by a handful of MPs. Among the bill's opponents, interestingly enough, was Christopher Chope, whose debating skills have been noted by your correspondent before, and who was worried that the proposed changes would play into the hands of the fiendish Alex Salmond. No doubt this is only the first of many instances, between now and the referendum, of principled Government concern over the comfort and welfare of people in Scotland.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Argie Bargy

Fears are being revived that an ugly right-wing government faced with popular unrest and an economy going into a tailspin might find it expedient to start a fight over a few sheep. Daveybloke has been huffing and puffing to the faithful about making sure our defences are in order, and has annoyed the Argentine government with the claim that it is behaving in a manner reminiscent of the empire for which Britain should stop apologising. Meanwhile the Minister for Wogs, Frogs and Huns, Willem den Haag, has been trying to induce the Brazilians to intervene on Britain's behalf, with indifferent success. Luckily, Brazil is quite close to Belize, from where den Haag's chum Lord Ashcroft gives the Conservative Party its orders; so the trip is unlikely to be entirely wasted. Nevertheless, the Argentine foreign minister has charged Britain with unprovoked deployment of the Duke of Cambridge and with rewriting history. It is as yet unclear whether Daveybloke's new-found dislike of colonialism will extend to ordering the Americans to give the island of Diego Garcia back to its original inhabitants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dead in the Water

Michael Gove's jolly jape of inflicting a vandalised copy of the Authorised Version on every school in the country has run into much the same sort of trouble as his more recent wizard wheeze of using public money to give some of Daveybloke's relatives a new yacht. Daveybloke is all in favour of the Bible; indeed, our politics is steeped in it, from gay-bashing through militarism to genocide, and from the creationist lunacy of Genesis to the millenarian lunacy of Revelation. Only last month Daveybloke had a bit of a burble about our being a Christian country, whereupon he also very charitably burbled that he was not in any way saying that being non-Christian was somehow wrong; any more than it is wrong to be foreign, female, a Tourette's sufferer or otherwise laughable. Nevertheless, although Daveybloke has no objection to robbing the taxpayer in a good cause, Gove's hobby of breeding white elephants seems to give his public-relations conscience an occasional discomfiting twinge.

As one would expect, the Department for Faith Schools does not know if the Gove Bibles have been printed or, if they have been printed, where they may be stored; on the other hand, it is almost fairly certain that they will be distributed at Easter, so as to commemorate the original publication's four hundredth anniversary, which does not take place this year. Although Daveybloke has apparently ruled out using taxpayers' money, the legions of Michael are trumpeting that the Bibles will be distributed even if no private sponsorship can be found. Perhaps the Ministry of Justice has some obliging volunteers in orange jackets lined up to help.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Political Police

An editorial in Liberator, the happily-ignored voice of those activists who still think Liberal Democrat has something to do with being liberal or democratic, has registered incredulity at the management decision not to put up candidates for election as police commissioners, even in places where the London Haystack isn't already ruling by decree. "Is this really the party that was prepared to stand up for civil liberty throughout the New Labour years," demands the editorial, "but which now has nothing to say on how voters are policed or how the police behave?" Oh, Nicky, our Leader, say it ain't so!

Officially, the line is that policing should not be treated as a "political football", which doubtless explains why the Deputy Conservatives supported the idea of having elected commissioners in the first place. The leadership has expressed a preference for independent candidates, since these are, like the police themselves, apolitical by definition. It is quite possible that the Deputy Conservatives' tactics derive simply from the fact that they don't have any money; but the party may also see it as an opportunity to get back into protest-vote territory by entering opportunistic alliances with whoever looks to be in the market for another sell-out. In any case, it is rather touching to find that, even after all this time, some of the Deputy Conservatives' few remaining dupes still have it in them to be shocked at their leadership's conduct.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Too Old, Too Costly, Too French

Jury trials too expensive to waste on petty criminals, ministers say

The provisions of Magna Carta are far too expensive to have a place in modern Britishness, ministers announced today.

Reforms are being considered which will enable certain criminals to be punished more cheaply, in accordance with present-day conceptions of human rights.

Originally believed to be inalienable and unconditional, human rights have recently become more contribution-based, as part of the war which Britain's hereditary millionaires are waging against the something-for-nothing culture.

Ministers were impressed with the speed, efficiency and incarceration-orientedness of sentencing after last summer's riots, and it is now hoped that the same treatment can be economically meted out to anyone who steals a bottle of water or writes things on Facebook.

"We have no plans to remove trial by jury," said a spokesbeing for the government which had no plans for any of its other reforms to affect front-line services either.

The Liberal Democrat wing of the Conservative Party is expected to endorse the move, on the grounds that Magna Carta was imposed on an unwilling populace by French overlords.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

True Feeling

They had learned to wire the human brain, so that by the point of birth any individual could be artificially predisposed in almost any direction the Director of Cerebral Resources might choose. Once birth was accomplished, the implanted predispositions could be nurtured and encouraged; at first by carefully regulated stimulation of the reward centres, then by more subtle and individually tailored programmes of induced curiosity, aesthetic satisfaction and mystical ecstasy.

The Director of Cerebral Resources preferred instead to manufacture square pegs for round holes, and then to socialise his predestined misfits with arbitrary doses of fear, perplexity and grief. Through this little hobby, the brain of the Director of Cerebral Resources found a greater sense of fulfilment than any artificial stimulation could provide; for the Director of Cerebral Resources had been born in the old-fashioned way, and his brain had been wired by God.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Matter of Principle

That nice Mr Huhne, in his capacity as Deputy Conservative excuse for an energy minister, is giving his masters a bit of a snigger by going to the court of appeal over the Government's plans to cut feed-in tariffs for domestic solar panels.

Of course, just as the Deputy Conservatives' vote to increase tuition fees was actually a vote to reduce tuition fees, and just as the Deputy Conservatives' vote to privatise the NHS was actually a vote to protect the NHS, so the Deputy Conservatives' reduction of support for the solar industry is in fact a gesture of support for the solar industry. A ruling in December backed the claim by two solar companies and Friends of the Earth that the cuts would create "huge economic uncertainty" and would "tend to undermine the confidence of those participating in the market for small solar systems"; but according to that nice Mr Huhne and the Department for Petroleum and Climate Catastrophe, this judgement is based on a misunderstanding. Just as with the education system, the pensions system and the health service, the Whole Point of the cuts is to clarify, facilitate, ensure, encourage, benefit, securify, generositise and fairnessitate. Quite apart from state subsidies being a Bad Thing in themselves, an excessively generous return when the industry is just starting out would lead inexorably to severe depletion in the future, when the industry will be self-sustaining and thus all the more in need of the kind of welfare state that now exists for banks, oil companies, war profiteers and other friends of the earth.

In characteristic style, the Government has shown how many figs it gives for the solar industry and its customers by proposing to backdate the cuts to the middle of the supposed consultation period. Nevertheless, the court ruling was premature as, despite the urgency of the situation, "no decision has yet been taken, and a decision will only be taken after a full analysis of the responses to the consultation". So you see - that nice Mr Huhne isn't even appealing about a real cut, only about a theoretical one which he may or may not choose to implement in the name of stability, sustainability and Shell. That nice Mr Huhne, if you'll just stop sniggering for a moment, is appealing on a matter of principle.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Helping Out

Should Conservative Central Office wish to avail themselves of my propaganda skills, I am available and venal within fairly reasonable limits.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Don't Frighten the Horses

Daveybloke's father-in-law has very considerately given the proposed HS2 rail network a boost, after the fashion of Daveybloke's own recent propaganda coups in favour of Scottish independence. As chair of the Old Berkshire Hunt, the fourth Viscount Astor blathers that the new railway is supported mainly by "northern Labour MPs who relish the thought of the beauty of the Chilterns being destroyed", and who persist in their proletarian vandalism despite the availability of cheaper and more beauteous alternatives. In what may well be the first recorded instance of a Conservative peer living in a science fiction novel rather than a pseudo-Victorian bodice-ripper, the noble Viscount suggests that transport enthusiasts instead use "Skype and the internet", the freight capacity of which has hitherto been severely under-utilised.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Riddle

A Caucus and a Primary
Were racing long and hard.
Indeed it was a sight to see:
Such glitter, so much lard!

The Caucus started in the front;
Its way was far from straight.
The Primary, with epic grunt,
Began a little late.

"My candidates, they all agree,
In tones from smooth to raucous:
One nation under God, and free,
And stronger!" yelled the Caucus.

The Primary came up behind,
Responding with a bellow:
"Yet mine are strong and free, you'll find,
'Neath God, you common fellow."

"They'll cheat the poor and pay the rich,"
One of them said, "and bomb."
"Mine too, you sad son of a bitch,"
Quoth t'other, with aplomb.

The race was won and lost; the fans
Went wild and threw their hats -
But were they the Demoblicans,
Or were they Repucrats?

Spavin Hossop IV

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Immigration Unemployment Report Fury

Fury at immigration unemployment report

Fury erupted at Westminster today as a report by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research threatened to undermine thirty years of mature debate and journalistic intrepidity.

The report utilised national insurance registrations by foreign nationals in an attempt to undermine the link between immigration and unemployment.

The Department of Work and Pensions is thought to be looking into the possibility of solving the problem by abolishing national insurance.

Immigration as a primary cause of unemployment has been a mainstay of Government policy since the birth of the corporate welfare state under Margaret Thatcher.

However, the report persists in confirming existing research rather than the revealed gospel of the Murdoch press.

"It's precisely this sort of irresponsible confusing of the public mind that makes people vote BNP and drives business away from the white working class," said a spokesbeing rented on behalf of both the main political parties.

The findings contradict a report by Migration Watch, which takes five pages to show that any lack of correlation between migration and unemployment is contrary to the intuitions of Migration Watch.

The Home Secretary, who is worried that the country is being inundated by dusky people with cats, was unavailable for comment.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Regulation Slightly Less Lite

Here is how Daveybloke and his Cuddly Coalition are going to slim down the fat cats: they aren't. Many of the present Government's policies are either watered-down or pumped-up versions of New Labour policies: watered down if the original resulted from one of New Labour's feeble twitches leftward, pumped up if it resulted from one of New Labour's stronger and more successful attempts to turn the country into one big happy casino with UK Border Agency trimmings. In this case, the starting point is New Labour's policy of giving investors an "advisory" (in Standard English, ignorable) vote on remuneration; Daveybloke and his Cuddly Coalition plan to make this vote binding, which might be taken as a pumping-up were it not for the fact that shareholders nowadays, being mostly hedge funds and foreign gamblers, do not often take advantage of the privilege. Most votes at annual meetings go in favour of all resolutions, generally by margins that would do credit to a plebiscite in the sort of aspiring democracy to which Daveybloke likes to shill weapons for crowd control.

The Government has also asked whether a ratio of boadroom pay to wage-slave pay should be published, which appears rather incautious given the public's continuing inability to blame the economic crisis on nurses, the disabled, bad weather, the French or Alex Salmond. Fortunately, the Government had the good sense to ask the question in a consultation, so Daveybloke already feels the idea can safely be crunched up, thrown away and consigned to Danny Alexander's food bowl.

Me at Poetry-24

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Prosperity, Transparency, Stability

Since leaving Downing Street for Gordon to tidy up before the Tories moved in, the Ascended Incarnation of the Reverend Blair has engaged in numerous charitable works; and some uncharitable voices at Tax Research UK, which scrutinises company finances, are now more or less accusing Tony's earthly manifestation of taking accounting lessons from Vatican Incorporated. One company, christened Windrush Ventures after his reverence's oratorical style, has received almost ten million pounds for "management services", the details of which appear to be something in the nature of a holy mystery. "It is baffling; these accounts make remarkably little sense," said one spiritually benighted accountant. Additionally, in his capacity as bringer of peace to the Middle East, Tony has been doing his best to enhance the profits of Wataniya Mobile and British Gas, both of which are clients of J P Morgan, an American investment bank which (for thus are the inscrutable ways of providence) also pays his reverence two million a year. As we try to keep warm this winter and hold onto our comparatively humble jobs for another few months, it is comforting to be reminded that one of the few remaining constants in an unstable world is the slimy avarice of the Reverend Blair.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Class Difference

Just when we thought there was no significant difference between the Conservatives and the Deputy Conservatives, conclusive proof has been found in the Dominican Republic that they are not at all the same. Some years ago, when the Deputy Conservatives were still posing as liberal democrats, a nice young man named Michael Brown approached them with a gift of just under two and a half million pounds. Brown, who lived in Majorca, swept Charles Kennedy off his feet in much the same way as Lord Ashcroft charmed the metaphorical pants off Daveybloke's current Minister for Burmese Democracy, Willem den Haag. Kennedy was treated to trips on Brown's private jet, while less privileged bigwigs were regaled with tales of public school, St Andrew's University and connections with royalty. One can imagine Daveybloke doing much the same during those heady days between the 2010 general election and the signing of the coalition agreement, burbling of Eton and those charming Windsor people to a besotted Wee Nicky and his chums; and, as with the coalition agreement, at least one side of the Brown-Lib Dem love-in was utilising a certain degree of terminological inexactitude. Brown failed his maths O level, had a City and Guilds in catering and was wanted in Florida for cheque fraud; but despite these qualifications he was not, as he claimed to be, an offshore trader with links to the US embassy, and the money he donated to the Liberal Democrats was stolen. Brown was arrested in 2005 over accusations of a forty-million-pound fraud, and then absconded two and a half years later while awaiting trial for theft, false accounting and perverting the course of justice without the prior consent of the Home Office. He has now been arrested in the Dominican Republic, and therein lies that long-awaited significant difference: the Conservative Party, by and large, is bankrolled by a better class of crook.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Nick Clegg Vows

Now that his plans for electoral reform, protecting the NHS and being at the heart of Europe have gone so well, Wee Nicky has been doling out some useful hints about the likely backdrops for this year's studies in abjection. Foremost among them are tax avoidance and executive pay: Wee Nicky "very much hopes" that George the Progressively Regressive will do the right thing and tell all those Conservative donors that they'd dashed well better cough up, or else. Such is the rampant feasibility of this scenario that Wee Nicky has promised that the next budget will contain "a general tax avoidance rule to stop people playing the system"; and we all know what it means when Wee Nicky makes a promise.

Wee Nicky also claimed that the Deputy Conservatives had "led the debate on irresponsible capitalism", the likes of the Occupy movement being mere fellow travellers to radical visionaries of the Danny Alexander stripe. Wee Nicky then demonstrated his party's leadership by saying that the Government "must be just as tough on bankers' bonuses as it was last year". Last year, the Government toughly allowed banks to raise the tough salaries of their professional gamblers in order to make up for any toughness in the bonuses they were still being toughly paid regardless of performance. We must hope that letting them do the same this year will not cause undue hardship.

Wee Nicky said that "he had not planned with the prime minister" for Europe to cut itself adrift from England at the EU summit last year, and reassured the rump of his party about the extent of its influence in Daveybloke's Cuddly Coalition by confirming that nobody bothered to tell him what had happened until after the event. On the bright side, Daveybloke has given his permission for Wee Nicky to host a meeting of European Liberals on Monday "to map out a new competitive future for Britain and Europe". Wee Nicky proclaimed that England could still influence Europe by doing as Wee Nicky did when Daveybloke gave his VE Day address to the Commons, and standing tall in an empty seat. In addition to leading the debate on irresponsible capitalism, Wee Nicky also promised to lead a debate on Europe, and we all know what it means when Wee Nicky makes a promise.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Smarter and Smarter

Daveybloke's Minister for Mere Science, David Willetts, has proclaimed the Government's ambition to make the UK the "best place in the world to do science"; whereupon, being Daveybloke's Minister for Mere Science, he proclaimed in the next breath that the Government has no intention of doing anything about it. As in so many other matters, it suffices for the Government merely to state its ambitions; after that, it is up to the rest of us to shake off the shackles of laziness and disempowerment with which sixty years of Socialist interventionism have afflicted us, and get on our bikes for Britain. In a nutshell, "there will be no additional government funding", the requirements of Mere Science being as nothing to the crying need for faith schools, tax cuts and theological investigations of the Big Society thingy. The most Willetts is prepared to do is step out of the way of any private corporation or foreign university which may care to step in and do his job for him.

The director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering responded tactfully enough, but then said that "no political party has yet outlined a clear alternative vision for the UK economy", which is surely rather premature of him. No doubt the advantages of corporate feudalism, social Darwinism and splendid insularity will be exhaustively explained to us by both of the City's political wings as soon as the universities have done their job and generated the necessary big-societal slogans.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

A Good Book

While the four hundredth anniversary of the Authorised Version has been marked in Britain with grovels to Mammon and crass political posturing, a new Norwegian translation of the noted collection of X-rated fairy tales has become a bestseller. Thirty translators, priests and academics were involved in rendering the original Greek and Hebrew into Norwegian, which was then given a stylistic polish by a team of twelve literary authors. Stine Smemo Strachan of the Norwegian Bible Society, who worked on the project, has attributed its success to the translation's readability, and "the fact that its publication is seen as a cultural event": the original printing ran to twenty-five thousand copies, but the book has already sold more than three times that number since mid-October, despite lacking an introduction by Michael Gove.

Me at Poetry-24
To Ronald Searle

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

That Populism Thingy

An attempt by the tax office to recover the cost of Dave Hartnett's little gift to Goldman Sachs by squeezing small businesses over minor errors has drawn a degree of criticism from some headline-hungry Conservative back-benchers. "It seems as though HMRC sees small businesses as low-lying fruit to meet their targets," blathered the new intake for Witham, who appears to regard fruit as some sort of self-concealing, ambush-oriented creature. "That kind of persecution is outrageous." Whatever their size, after all, commercial tax dodgers do not claim housing benefit; and even the smallest may one day grow up to sell a directorship or so for a seat in the Lords. Doubtless the whole nasty business is the fault of Europe, the top tax rate, the Liberal Democrats and the previous Labour government, not necessarily in that order; and doubtless the universal panacea of privatisation is not far away.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Dubious Benefits

Research by the Chartered Institute of Housing indicates that the deserving poor - those hard-pressed yet hard-working families which have laboured to spew forth our Daveyblokes, our Osbornes, our Alexander Boris de Kosovo Johnsons - may allow themselves a brief period of rejoicing. The welfare cuts which, as of this month, kick in while also kicking down, will result in mass migrations by those of the undeserving poor whose animal instincts are sufficiently fine-tuned to tell them where they're not wanted; for the rest, there will be a humanely uncomplicated choice between hunger and homelessness. The analysis notes that "big cities where we expect to find most of the jobs and the most varied employment are the worst hit by the government changes" and that, as a result, the undeserving poor will have to work harder to find work, to the incalculable benefit of their moral fibre and the Big Society thingy.

In celebration, the Department for Work and Pensions Withdrawal regurgitated its standard Daily Mail leader column to the effect that "housing benefit was unfair because some families on benefits had been able to live in homes that most working families not on benefits could not afford"; a self-evidently deplorable situation for which the only sensible remedy is to ensure that only the right sort of families are able to afford anything. The Department also noted that "early indications are that people are not moving out of cities in their droves to cheaper rural areas"; which indicates that the brilliant Iain Duncan Smith and his minions are not yet altogether up to speed on the distinction between a description of the present and a prediction of the future. Liam Byrne, the former Minister for Infant Repatriation and current shadow Minister for Work and Pensions Withdrawal, said that, as usual, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition did not oppose the Government except on one or two points of detail: though utterly gorgeous in principle, the social cleansing programme in its present form "could actually end up costing more by pushing up the costs of homelessness", and the whole point of homelessness is that it's supposed to be cheap.

Sunday, January 01, 2012


The time of resolutions being here,
I can confess the one I made last year:
So vast a vow, so grandiose a folly
As hubris will essay when times are jolly;
Namely to post, come Hell or inundation,
One entry per terrestrial rotation.
That epic task complete - one post for each
Foul day - it's time you all endured a speech.

As is well known, a blogger's life is lonely.
Bereft of real society, with only
Vile Facebook and our violent games for chums,
We're all embittered psychopathic bums.
And yet - pathetically - we must needs
Have things to speak of, though we speak as weeds.
If mudgeonry's the thing, one must pour bile
On fellow men; no misanthrope's an isle.
Accordingly, I first should thank the folk
Who've ulcerated me. Dear Daveybloke
And all your bully-boys, what would I do
If not for little charmers such as you?
My debt could take the whole decade to pay;
For now, I'll thank your betters, if I may.

To my dear chair, my gratitude profound
For keeping of my arse above the ground;
My cushion, in its efforts never stinting
To stop the slats my buttocks from imprinting;
I think a word of thanks is also due
My monitor, mouse, keyboard, CPU,
Without which useful bits of techno-stuff,
The input-output process might be tough.
I'd further like to thank my ISP,
Which spent October entertaining me
With constant broadband cutoffs, and some nice
Long hours of muzak waiting for advice.
It gave me grounds for many a hearty laugh,
And put the phone bill up a hearty half.

I thank BenSix and Bliss, fine bloggers who
Read books by me, and troubled to review;
I bow, and recommend your time and thought,
To Mr Justice Stapley and his court;
I thank the sage of Brighton, just McKeating,
Who's done some very charitable tweeting;
And Scotland's Michael Greenwell, who did not
Link only, but gave blog-space to my rot.
Less frequent, although more profound, than me
Is techno-mnemonist Giovanni T;
I thank him and all stalwarts who, despite
My ravings, read and comment on this site,
Among them my most frequent and most true:
Miss Googlebot, the belle of Mountain View.

No doubt the mudgeonry will not grow less;
Although in twenty-twelve, I must confess,
Even should chance and Chancellor allow
Me to retain the pittance I have now,
I may in conscience give some days a miss:
The leap year could well kill me after this.
The business has exhausted me to buggery;
So pardon, if you will, this meta-bloggery.