The Curmudgeon


Sunday, September 30, 2012

We Won't Jump Into Bed Until You Lose Your Balls

As befits a party of principled pragmatism, the Deputy Conservatives are already writing the next coalition agreement, for use when Labour comes begging their help in throwing together a government. As befits a party of vision and statesmanship, the Deputy Conservatives' first condition is not the fixing of the economy or the rescue of the NHS, but the purging of Ed Balls. "Whatever the public perception, George Osborne is a fairly straightforward person to deal with, more so even than David Cameron," according to some anonymous senior figure. Of course, swivel-eyed ideologues generally are fairly straightforward people to deal with, as are pompous bullies and overgrown schoolboys. Nevertheless, the Deputy Conservatives evidently feel that our wonderful journey into a new political stranglehold should have more to do with personalities and less to do with policies; which is quite understandable in a party which has so few policies remaining to it. As befits the Deputy Conservative leadership, the anonymous senior figure also made an unflattering comparison of Balls to Gordon Brown, a senior figure in the Labour party who was notorious for using anonymous press briefings against people he didn't like.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Temple and the Flock

Once the mob had learned its letters,
Dan Brown arose to beat his betters.

And while it ogles chapel walls,
The Sistine falls.

Benedetto Cambiasoldi

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not Just Another Vampire Story

My novella The Voivode has received a very kind review from Gerard Cappa, author of Blood from a Shadow, an Irish-American conspiracy thriller set during this year's presidential election. I haven't yet read Blood from a Shadow, but I certainly intend to; and in these straitened times it seems only frugal to emphasise that my readers can buy both Mr Cappa's book and my own and still have change from a tenner.

The proximate cause of The Voivode was this attempt by a descendant of Bram Stoker's to cash in with a supermarket sequel to Dracula, which duly appeared in my local Tesco. Dispensing with the epistolary format in deference to the presumed intelligence of their readership, the authors cannibalised Stoker's notes for characters and plot threads which weren't included in the original book, and added the obligatory touch of postmodern would-be-cleverness by having Stoker himself appear as the producer of Dracula the play. The Voivode has numerous references both to Stoker's novel and to the historical Dracula; but I did have the good grace to leave Stoker in his grave, where doubtless he continues to revolve.

Still, writing an entire book purely out of literary vindictiveness is a little too much like hard work even for me, so The Voivode was also an attempt to write a vampire story from an unusual point of view. There are plenty of stories from the vampire perspective, and plenty more from the perspective of those human beings who hunt vampires, fight vampires or nurture teenage crushes on vampires over the course of a series or two. The protagonist of The Voivode derives instead from Dracula's servant, the madman Renfield, who is by far the most interesting character in Stoker's original and whose complexity is almost never done justice on film (this is an honourable exception). My character is a good deal nastier than Renfield, though, and has no Mina Harker to redeem him.

The beginning of The Voivode, with a link to the paperback edition, is available here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rising Damp

Having done so much to keep us on the glorious journey to climate catastrophe, it seems only fair that the greenest government ever should fail to help those affected by the various little pot-holes which are already making their presence felt. The recent flooding has brought attention to a disagreement between the Government and the insurance industry over what will happen when the present arrangements expire next year. Since the Government refuses to continue those arrangements, the industry wishes to raise premiums on every home insurance policy in the country in order to finance policies on properties which are at greater risk. The Government claims that some companies are cherry-picking and, morally indignant at the thought of insurers behaving like Gove academies, also refuses to agree to anything that involves larger premiums. Home-owners are hardly the same demographic as pasty-eaters, after all. Francis Maude, the Minister for Ministerial Administrativity, has not yet advised flood victims to cope by bailing out the conservatory with jerry-cans or by installing larger swimming pools in their back gardens; but no doubt it is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open Secrets

In the finest liberal tradition of open debate, the director of Liberty has been blocked from addressing the Deputy Conservative conference over the coalition's secret courts bill. At the moment, the party is debating whether Nick Clegg should cave in to the Conservatives immediately or, as with the anti-NHS bill, cave in to the Conservatives later. Given that one of the bill's purposes is explicitly to prevent political embarrassment, the Deputy Conservative leadership's enthusiasm for it is quite understandable; but some of the plebs are making noises of disapproval, so the last thing the Deputy Conservatives need at this point is a civil liberties campaigner openly discussing civil liberties with a party which once claimed some sort of interest in preserving them. The party has allowed outside experts to contribute before, but evidently this time the price in cognitive dissonance was too high to pay.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's All About Quality

The Confabulation of Business Interests, whose more honourable members have done so much to ameliorate the economic crisis and avert a double-dip recession, has been researching the virtues of privatisation. Surprisingly enough, the conclusion is that the Government could save money by opening up such commodities as social housing, school meals and prisons to corporate takeover. Naturally, the private sector would not want a race to the bottom on price; the prices of railway tickets and the continuing rounds of profitable increases by the energy cartel certainly seem to bear this out. Nor would the private sector benefit from simply cutting services: wages, pension schemes and the other platinum-plated perks enjoyed by prison officers and school dinner-ladies would have to be slashed first. The twenty-two thousand million pounds thus saved would then be available for maintaining the aforementioned services should the companies involved turn out to be as competent as G4S, as honest as Serco and as concerned for public welfare as Southern Cross.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Condoling with the Plebs

A political talent which manages to alienate the armed forces, the civil service, the public and the police, simultaneously and within the space of half a single parliament, can only be described as a very special sort of political talent indeed. Nevertheless, Britain's Head Boy has been bustled off to the North, where he intimated that killing police officers, even plebeian police officers, was a Very Bad Thing, and where he burbled sweet nothings about allowing the Government to get in the way of certain types of organised crime. Mercifully, he appears to have resisted any temptation to proclaim that Little Ivan was a policewoman too. We progress, do we not? In the wake of Andrew "The Patrician" Mitchell's recent indiscretion, perhaps a few small alarm lights are starting to flash even within those Stygian depths of dimness which inhabit the average Bullingdon cranium.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scottish Independence Podcasts

Americans, Conservatives and other aliens may not be aware that the Great in Great Britain is a measurement of size rather than a judgement of history. When the fiend Salmond stalks the land, belching the brimstone of Scottish independence, he is not seeking to destroy Great Britain, nor even to sunder a union which has endured since the days of King Alfred (whose own sobriquet "the Great" does represent the judgement of history, and who probably deserved it). At the moment, England and Scotland are part of an unwieldy and horribly dysfunctional political entity called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which has existed in various forms since the early eighteenth century. Scotland and England have shared monarchs, for whatever that may be worth, since the beginning of the seventeenth century; before that, according to what I learned in school, nothing much happened between the two countries aside from Wallace, Bruce, some Edwards Plantagenet, Macbeth and Hadrian's Wall.

The debate over Scottish independence might do something to widen this perspective, but not if the mainstream media have anything to do with it. Political debate in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland essentially consists of dog-whistling and hand-wringing, and with a permanent seat on the UN security council at stake the independence issue is no exception: the Starving Scotlandistan faction yaps from the true blue corner while the Regrettable Ingratitude sorrowers whine in the pale pink one, or else self-proclaimed pragmatists on both sides try to outdo one another in pushing Imperial rah-rah or social-democratic utopia.

Fortunately, Michael Greenwell, who admits to a certain Scottishness himself, is here to help, in a series of podcasts featuring interviews with people who take a slightly broader view than the average Westminster press release, or even the average Guardian editorial. The first two of these interviews can be downloaded and/or listened to here and here; they are informative, interesting and well worth your attention, and hopefully there are plenty more to come.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Patricians at the Gate

Britain's Head Boy has criticised as "wrong" the hissy-fit thrown by his newly-appointed class monitor, Andrew Mitchell. Self-evidently, the behaviour patterns of a self-important bully are singularly inappropriate in a Conservative chief whip, much as the manners of a purple-faced Bullingdon blimp are inappropriate in the First Lord of the Treasury. The Sun claims that Mitchell called police officers "fucking plebs" and told them to learn their place. Given the general quality of Daveybloke's appointments, this is not altogether implausible; still, it would be prudent to maintain a certain scepticism, since whatever words Mitchell did use were spoken face to working-class face rather than sent over a mobile phone. In any event, it was no doubt an inexcusably incompetent way to manage the servants, and it seems quite likely as a result that Mitchell will only keep his job for as long as there is nowhere to promote him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fury at Too-Soft Primary Schools

Horror at record results

Primary school pupils are bracing themselves for a scolding after record numbers reached national curriculum standards in English and mathematics.

Britain's education secretary and prime justification for entomophagy, Michael Gove, is expected to see the results as evidence that education standards have fallen and that children are not being compelled to learn enough Latin, Greek and Bible studies.

Elizabeth Truss, a female junior minister and co-author of a pamphlet about the laziness of British workers, congratulated pupils, teachers and families but said that teacher quality needed improvement and discipline needed to be strengthened.

Ms Truss is a token female in the Conservative Party, where discipline is generally regarded as a moral necessity for little people and an optional sex kink for parliamentary expenses claimants.

A spokesbeing for the Department of Gove emphasised that test results are not always comparable and that no information for some assessments was available for previous years, even if the Government had any interest in using statistics for non-mendacious purposes.

Me at Poetry-24
Seriously Pleasant

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Apology

There was once a Party Animal who embarked upon a long and depraved coalition with a very fat Blue-Rinsed Paramour. Though despised and humiliated at every juncture, the Party Animal not only persisted with the affair, but sold his children's health insurance and embezzled that of his neighbours in order to finance his Blue-Rinsed Paramour's demands. In addition, the Party Animal required his own wife to obey the Blue-Rinsed Paramour's every whim, whether by burning down the local public library or by organising a cripple-kicking competition in honour of Gladstone, Lloyd George and Enoch Powell.

The Party Animal's wife did her best to put up with the situation, partly because the Party Animal had told her it was all for the best, but mostly because the only other game in town was a gangly adolescent who wore padding under his clothes to make himself look as much as possible like the Blue-Rinsed Paramour's marginally uglier sister.

However, after two and a half years the Party Animal's wife rebelled, and demanded of her husband whether he had any recollection at all of the solemn vows he had taken when they were married.

"My dear," said the Party Animal, "you are quite right; I owe you an apology. I should never have taken those vows without first factoring in my own inability to abide by them. From now on, I shall promise only what I am certain of delivering. Now, bend over and grab your ankles once again, otherwise I solemnly pledge that my Blue-Rinsed Paramour will be displeased with you."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Liberal Democrats in Existence Justification Revision Attempt

The Deputy Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Hughes, has been letting the voters know on what terms his party will accept electoral chastisement. As one might expect, the ever-lengthening list of broken pledges received as little attention as the party's connivance at the destruction of the NHS. Instead, Hughes declared that every betrayal, every fiasco, every evening spent with his head in the toilet for the amusement of the Bullingdon Club, would be worthwhile if by the next election "growth is clearly happening and going in the right direction". The right direction, presumably, is upwards, although given his leader's record in office Hughes' caution in being too specific is entirely understandable. The Deputy Deputy Prime Minister also proclaimed that "a huge cloud had been lifted" from the party's morale when Wee Nicky threw his little hissy-fit over the Conservatives' refusal to abide by the coalition agreement and support an elected House of Lords. Now that Wee Nicky has squealed a bit after two and a half years of humiliation, everything's just fine: "the mood is much more positive and much less worried, and of course keen to focus on growth in the economy and on jobs"; possibly for the very good reason that, after the tuition-fees U-turn, the referendum farce, the Europe veto, the NHS betrayal, the Lords fiasco, the collapse of their local representation and the recent influx of crooks, goblins and climate change deniers into the cabinet, the Deputy Conservatives have very little else left to talk about.

Monday, September 17, 2012

One Rotten Apple Can Protect the Whole Barrel If Properly Thrown Away

Simon Harwood, the member in good standing of the Metropolitan Firearms and Headbangers' Club who assaulted Ian Tomlinson minutes before the latter's unlawful killing by the forces of physiological anarchism, has been sacked for the gross misconduct of allowing the assault to be filmed and thereby bringing the Met into yet further disrepute. Harwood had offered his resignation twice since turning Tomlinson into an incident at the G20 protests; both offers were refused, either because the Met thought it had better keep Harwood on hand for just such a show trial as this, or because his superiors genuinely thought he had done nothing wrong. Given the steady stream of misinformation issued by police and press immediately after Tomlinson's death (to say nothing of the earlier promotion of Cressida Dick, who oversaw the assassination of Jean Charles de Menezes), the second explanation seems more probable. Like any valuable member of society, such as a banking executive or a parliamentary expenses claimant, Harwood will be able to claim his pension; he has already resigned once, coincidentally avoiding a disciplinary hearing over an illegal arrest and fraudulent note-taking, but it is apparently unlikely that he will be employed by the police again, at least until the police have been fully efficientised into the mercenary sector.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

No Refuge, No Resource

The Government's reintroduction of Dickensian standards into our education system is proceeding apace, as budget cuts mean more and more primary school children are going hungry to their lessons. Received wisdom in Dickens' time taught that cold and hunger helped the concentration and encouraged self-discipline; much as, for similar reasons of economic management, the promise of reward in heaven for self-denial on earth was preached to the poor by a generally well-upholstered Anglican church. Given the current fashion for policy-based evidence, it can hardly be long before such useful pedagogical myths are resurrected unto profitable glory alongside the deportation cancelled on feline grounds and the mansion-dwelling benefits claimant. In the meantime, the Department of Gove Bibles extruded a spokesbeing to say, once again, that it was up to individual schools to choose between starving their pupils and letting the roof fall in, because individual choice is what modern Conservatism is all about. There are plans to double the "pupil premium" for those children who are so badly disadvantaged that even the Bullingdon Club cannot yet find anything to deprive them of; but the money will not be made available until just before the next election, when presumably it will serve some useful purpose.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I Sort of Believe in the Least Worst We've Got

The leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition has once again demonstrated the extent of his radical vision by giving an interview to the Daily Torygraph about how little he disagrees with the Conservatives. Asked whether being rich was a Good Thing, the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband answered, "Yes, if you make it the hard way"; then, as one would expect of a leader who has just passed a moral judgement, he proclaimed, "It's not for me to pass moral judgment." For the benefit of those who are being made poor the hard way, the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband burbled some sweet nothings about making capitalism more decent and humane, doubtless with the same degree of sincerity as Daveybloke used to burble about the humane decency of the National Health Service. The Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband is "keen to show that he is a centrist", which naturally means dispensing with all those economically tainted leftish votes and trying to win over the kind of people whose idea of socialism begins with Kenneth Clarke and ends at The Gulag Archipelago. It is to be hoped that the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband has no delusions about winning the next election by sheer force of personality. Nevertheless, despite his criticism of Blairite "light-touch regulation" (corruption, in Standard English), the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband still managed a choirboy echo of the Reverend Tony's evangelical fervour: "I want to save capitalism from itself," he squeaked to the empty church.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pacem in Terris

What with the presence of the Deity doing so much for the cause of peace in the Middle East, the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has embarked upon a quick pilgrimage to Lebanon. Benedict's chum in Christ and sometime peace envoy, the Reverend Blair, is apparently busy with more profitable undertakings; so it has fallen to the Pope to make the usual noises "as a friend of God and as a friend of men", with the usual staggeringly effective results. As a friend of God, the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak denounced religious fundamentalism, because everyone should be as reasonable as the Vatican, as moral as the Curia and as tolerant as the Inquisition; as a friend of men, the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak denounced the import of weapons into Syria, without which the war could not continue and in which the Vatican presumably has little or no financial stake. The papal spokesbeing did not rule out a meeting with supporters of Hezbollah, which is regarded as a terrorist organisation by the United States, and therefore presumably by the Reverend Blair as well; despite this, and despite the sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak's enthusiasm for the Jew-baiting Tridentine Mass, the risk of a targeted air-strike by the Righteous State has apparently been judged acceptable.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Real Truth

We statesmen and reporters of the Press,
You know, do get things wrong from time to time;
And then we find it helpful to express
Regret for errors, not remorse for crime.

It happened a long time ago, of course -
Not on our watch, the fault of someone else;
So now we cry our crocodile remorse,
And grovel as expedience compels.

Some things were done that it was wrong to do,
So now we say the thing that's right to say.
We hope our words will be enough for you,
Because we're doing just the same today.

Kelvin deBozza

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pedagogical Panopticon

And, speaking of Deputy Conservative triumphs (one hates to think of any getting lost in the throng), here is how Wee Nicky and his chums have begun dismantling New Labour's surveillance state: they haven't. A series of freedom of information requests has disclosed an average of one CCTV camera for every thirty-eight pupils in just over two thousand secondary schools and academies. A spokesbeing for the Department of Gove Bibles pushed the responsibility onto head teachers and blathered about the Data Protection Act while decorously omitting mention of what measures are being taken to enforce it. Two hundred of the schools had cameras in the pupils' toilets and changing rooms, bringing to mind a line I once read about "pedagogic filthy-mindedness masquerading as moral vigilance". I can't find the line, but I think it was Orwell's; I believe he was discussing the education system during that warmly glowing fag-end of the British Empire on whose return the Conservatives in all our political parties are so buttock-clenchingly bent. Then again, perhaps it was a Vatican encyclical. Anyway, Big Brother Watch and the GMB trade union expressed a degree of indignation, while Wee Nicky and his chums sat fidgeting at the back of the room and hoping nobody would see them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not Bigoted, Just Different

In another brilliant victory for the Deputy Conservatives, Wee Nicky has angered several professionally-incensed persons, including Lord Carey of Blathering-in-the-Dotage and the reliably osteocephalic Peter Bone, by editing his own speech to suit their delicate sensibilities. In the version first released to the press, Wee Nicky referred to opponents of gay marriage as "bigots"; this version was then hurriedly amended and roundly denounced as an "early draft" which should never have been released, never have seen the light of day, never have been written down or thought of, and which is even now being torn into slightly larger than bite-sized chunks and forcibly fed to Danny Alexander. A spokesbeing for Wee Nicky proclaimed that the original version "is not something he was ever going to say, because it is not something that he believes"; a remarkable statement in more ways than one, quite aside from its abject failure to staunch the foaming indignation of the homophobes. The idea that Wee Nicky, of all people, might refuse to say something just because he didn't consider it true is nearly as intriguing as the idea that people who think gays have fewer rights than the rest of us are somehow not bigoted. Be that as it may, the bigots in Wee Nicky's speech were amended to "some people", because bigots are people too, after all; particularly when they are the sort of bigots on whom one must depend for one's continued possession of a little red box.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fracking About

As the Bullingdon Club are well aware, the north of England is bleak, nasty, self-pitying and full of northerners; hence, no doubt, the favourable terms granted to Cuadrilla, the company exploring Lancashire for opportunities to blast underground methane into the water supply. Cuadrilla (the name refers to the support team of a man whose job it is to torment cows in public) has been blithely ignoring the conditions of its planning permission by drilling beyond the cut-off date which was imposed to protect wintering birds. Given the Government's state of intense relaxation about private companies getting filthy with the environment, it is difficult to see why any restrictions were put in place at all; and Lancashire county council is doing its bit to redress the balance by having no current plans to hold Cuadrilla accountable for its conduct. Instead, and in accordance with modern British justice, a protester has been convicted and fined for trespassing on the company's site.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Greasing the Slippery Slope

A newly-appointed under-secretary to the Minister for NewsCorp and Health has been having a bit of a gush about the National Health Service. Using the Daily Mail model of evidence by anecdote, Anna Soubry recounted her experience of gall bladder removal on the NHS as opposed to a couple of less exhilarating adventures in private hospitals. Since Soubry has just gained a promotion in the government which forced through Twizzler Lansley's Health and Social Care Act, these remarks are presumably on a par with Daveybloke's pre-election burblings about the wondrousness of nurses and suchlike. Those burblings, it will be remembered, were accompanied as often as not by Daveybloke's waving of little Ivan's corpse, since Daveybloke is not the chap to content himself with mere gall bladders when dead children are at his disposal.

Anyway, Soubry's likely level of sincerity about the NHS provides an interesting context for her other remarks, which concerned the laws on assisted dying. Soubry confined her observations to the problem of assisted dying for the terminally ill, though she apparently failed to acknowledge the contribution of Atos Healthcare in keeping such unfortunates pleasantly busy until their departure time. She registered annoyance that the euthanasia market is being cornered by foreigners and called for greater honesty, which is certainly a healthy development from a subordinate of Jeremy C Hunt. Measures to encourage a healthy increase in the suicide rate among other types of social expendable are presumably on the drawing board.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Haute Couture

Considerably diminished by repeated assaults from the legions of Rationalistic Anthropology, a Threadbare Myth sought sanctuary in a church. No sooner was it inside the door than it was seized, robed in white to represent Eternal Truth, a mask glued to its face for the sake of Holy Mystery, and its meagre physique bulked out with the stuffing from unused hassocks.

The Threadbare Myth was aware that the inhabitants of churches occasionally have odd predilections, and bore this treatment stoically. Nevertheless, it was somewhat disconcerted to find itself hustled up to the belfry, loaded into a catapult and fired at the very legions of Rationalistic Anthropology from which it had been fleeing.

After a long and precipitous descent, during which the wind whistled horribly in its ears, the Threadbare Myth landed hard on the head of an Evil Atheist, and promptly bounced off again. Recovering from the impact, the Threadbare Myth scrambled to its feet and did its best to brazen the situation out.

"Tremble, you malefactor," it thundered at the Evil Atheist, scattering clouds of hassock stuffing with every syllable; "observe this robe, this mask, this magnificent sawdust, and confess the manifest absoluteness of my continuing non-irrelevance!"

"My dear fellow," said the Evil Atheist, calmly brushing herself down, "grateful as I am to you for drawing my attention to your extravagant wardrobe, your efforts are quite unnecessary. I already knew that your tailors are not the most reputable."

Friday, September 07, 2012

Presentational Difficulties

One of the Reverend Blair's oldest chums has conceded that, even after all this time, the war on Iraq still suffers a few problems in the all-important matter of public relations. Lord Falconer, who "supported and continued to support the use of force" against the weapons of mass ethereality, shared a bathroom with Tony when their circumvention of the law was confined within the limits of a barrister's career. Later, as a Home Office minister, he is thought by some to have been one of Tony's instruments in dragging Peter Goldsmith's rubbery conscience towards the light of shock and awe. The twenty-fourth of this month is the tenth anniversary of the publication of a dossier which claimed that Iraq was procuring uranium from Niger and that Britain was forty-five minuted from doom; Lord Falconer, having spent the decade in profound ethical rumination, has now noticed that "the impression is that the government misled the country in relation to the reasons for war and embarked upon war in circumstances where there wasn't a proper justification". This means that the Iraq adventure "is unquestionably the issue that most defines Tony Blair in the British public's mind", although Falconer implied that one day other issues may take its place: prosperity theology, perhaps, or the famous outbreak of peace in the Middle East once Tony became its envoy. After all, many great persons see their reputations fluctuate and change. Even Tony's other chum, the Saviour, has not been altogether immune; though of course the Saviour had not the benefit of Lord Falconer's services as an evangelist.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Clear Dividing Line

It seems Daveybloke's new and improved gallery of grotesques may be demented enough for even Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to find one or two areas of divergence. The Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband has been making interventionist noises, though of course not too far or too fast. Encouraged by the appointment of a millionaire shoe salesman and climate change denier to the Department of the Environment, Miliband felt bold enough to push a few green buttons and to lambast George the Progressively Regressive for his evident belief that Albion can muddle through even as the seas boil around her. In case we hadn't noticed, Miliband's climate change spokesbeing, the Blairy thuggette Caroline Flint, pointed out that there was now a clear dividing line between Labour and the Conservatives; and indeed, there is a distinction to be made between Miliband's habitual too-little-too-late and the coalition's frothing fanaticism. It may be an academic distinction, and it almost certainly will make no practical difference to the disasters ahead; but at least the distinction is there if you squint hard enough. Next year, presumably, the Upper (formerly Lower) Miliband will be petitioning the oil companies for permission to hug a husky in their Arctic fiefdom, provided he can set foot there without drowning.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Let Them Read Kindle

The Library Minister's trained
As a Tory, and therefore restrained
In being too minded;
Though readers may find it
A pity he hasn't been brained.

Max Dressrock

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Hunt Shunted, Twizzler Punted

Daveybloke's long-awaited reshuffle shows the Bullingdon sense of humour in full haw-haw; notably in the appointment of Chris Graybeing as minister of justice. Graybeing, who has no background in law, is the one who proclaimed that Christian hoteliers deserve more protection from the taint of homosexual money. Daveybloke's original choice for the justice brief was the mediocrity's mediocrity, Iain Duncan Smith; but the Secretary for Work and Pensions Withdrawal has indicated, possibly to the surprise of some, that he is not interested in justice.

Even more characteristic of the Bullingdon style of statesmanship is the shunting of the Minister for NewsCorp, Jeremy C Hunt, to Twizzler Lansley's post at the Department of Health. Hunt's replacement at the Department of Cultchah, Press Releases and LOCOG is Maria "The Motivator" Miller, the woman who thinks four hundred thousand jobs are more than enough to support 2.68 million people. Presumably Hunt was offered the post when he and his master had that brief encounter a month ago; curiously, the press are billing it as a promotion, despite copious evidence over the past two years about Conservative priorities as to public health versus the interests of Rupert Murdoch. Aside from his obvious intellectual and moral qualifications, Hunt is also a believer in homeopathic snake-oil remedies and an enthusiast of unwanted births, which in retrospect makes his appointment seem all but inevitable.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Leader in Waiting

I am sure we all remember David Davis, the peculiar right-wing Conservative who likes to offer himself as living proof that being raised on a council estate by a single mother can have results fully as disastrous as a normally-radioactive nuclear family. Davis was one of the contenders in the last party leadership contest, during which he emanated such bizarre toxicity that Daveybloke decided he would be just right to shadow the Home Office; a function Davis resigned in order to pursue an odd, sub-Boris publicity stunt on the pretext of fighting for civil liberties. Since then, Davis has presumably been active on the back benches, rallying the dim disaffected; now, on the eve of the first reshuffle not to be forced on Daveybloke by the idiocy or crookedness of his underlings, Davis has popped up on the hated BBC, spraying useful advice like a tomcat perfuming the curtains.

As one would expect, Davis would like the Government to change its policy, but in essentially the same style as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition: whereas Labour think the Government should do exactly as it has been doing only a bit slower, Davis thinks the Government should do exactly as it has been doing only a bit faster. Although Osborne's mugging of the economy has somehow managed to obtrude itself upon the Davis awareness, his recommended treatment for the resulting coma is simply to administer more and harder kicks in the head, supplemented with such predictable extra hobnails as tax cuts for corporations and the gradual abolition of National Insurance. Davis apparently did not mention capital punishment and the public flogging of wheelchair users; which was rather an unfortunate oversight, since that would almost certainly have made the Liberal Democrats happy to sign up to it all.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Keeping Up With Johnny Foreigner

Daveybloke's Minister for Wogs, Frogs and Huns and special nuncio to Belize, Willem den Haag, has been doing his bit for the pre-conference rah-rah by quoting Gordon Brown on the need to dispense with our imperial hangover; or at least with the guilt part. Flushed with his spectacular diplomatic success in threatening the Ecuadorean embassy with military invasion, den Haag had a blather to the Evening Boris about expanding Britain's international presence now that Iraq and Afghanistan have conclusively demonstrated our non-isolationist credentials. The world is no longer in blocks and we are now, it appears, an equal partner with the likes of India, China and Latin America, while Europe and the United States struggle to keep up. Of course, there are still a few people who think of us in colonial terms, but most of them seem to be elderly wogs in Africa who have failed to realise that Britain is "a natural centre" of the networked world. As for ourselves, while we are waiting for austerity to breed a bolder, tougher Tory Britain, we have to "get out of this post-colonial guilt" and realise that any unpleasantness done under the Empire was all a very long time ago. In accordance with the Gove-Ferguson™ model of history, Willem den Haag cannot remember the Mau Mau rebellion or the robbery of the Chagossians, so there is no reason for the rest of us to remember them either.