Saturday, May 14, 2005

Speak For Yourself !

Madeleine Bunting :

"Honour is meaningless to us; we have replaced it with a preoccupation with status and self-fulfilment."

Who's we, paleface ? You might have done.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Live By The Sword ...

So Manchester United are finding out that a stock market quote has a downside as well as an upside, Magnier and McManus have made some money and given Fergie a shoeing. It seems likely that prices will rise at Old Trafford. Not only that, but Glazer's Holy Grail will be to decouple United from the rest of the Premiership when it comes to negotiating TV rights.

I keep hearing how football is just a business nowadays. But of course it isn't. The Bosman ruling, when an EU court decided footballers were 'workers' (they obviously hadn't watched Ivan Campo) and had freedom of contract like any other employee, failed to recognise this.

In any other business, the consumer buys the best they can afford. If a company goes under, they'll buy elsewhere. I haven't seen a Pye Radios or Riley car since I was a kid, but the owners of said items didn't stop buying radios and cars when the brands died.

It's not quite like that in football. When Bromsgrove Rovers were relegated from the Conference and Kidderminster were promoted to the League, Bromsgrove supporters didn't move to Aggborough. When Wimbledon FC, who I watched in their glory days when I lived in South London, were sold to Milton Keynes and rebranded as MK Dons, their fans didn't go to Fulham or Chelsea. They restarted the club in Wimbledon.

Brand loyalty is everything. All 12 of the Football League's founding clubs from 1888 are still in existence. I don't have the details (bet Tim Worstall knows), but I'll bet that not one of the top 12 quoted companies from 1888 is still in the FT500.

Competition is the other difference. A company likes to eliminate competition if it can. Football clubs have to have someone to play against. They have to be of a reasonably high standard. It would profit Microsoft if all the other software developers in the world packed up. United would look pretty silly in a league of one.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

AL Kennedy - "a paranoid, depressed conspiracy theorist"

Subject : 9/11 was planned by the US Government.
Madness rating : storm force 12
Phase of Moon : new (she's gone round to the dark side)

Mentions of
Depleted Uranium : No
Reality TV : No
Christians : No
Porn : No
Blood : No
Celebrities : No
Bush'n'Blair : No (unless you count our "new government of troglodytes, murderers and spivs")
Swearing : Yes

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

One In, One Out

Steve Kingston at God Save The Queen, one of my favourite bloggers, is getting married.

Huzzah ! A health to Steve and his bonnie bride ! May he found a dynasty of true Britons, numberless as the sand on the seashore.

But we all have to give something up when we get hitched and take our vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. I gave up heavy partying and coupling with anyone who would have me (plus a few who were noncommittal).

He's giving up blogging.

Let us hope that when the hurly-burly of the chaise-longue has been replaced by the deep peace of the marital bed, Steve will return. I hope he archives his site somewhere, and doesn't let it die as the lamented Plastic Gangster did.

Nothing can replace this loss, and our grief is ever before us. But at least Scott Burgess at the Ablution is back from his holidays.

Campaign For A Shorter Christmas

'Orrified by 'olly in October ? Nauseated by Noel in November ? It can only be a matter of time before someone, driven beyond endurance by 'Deck The Halls' or Slade, runs amok in W.H. Smith with a letter-opener or stabs 5 Poles or Slovaks to death in Lidl (three in the queue and two on the tills).

From darkest Gloucestershire a beacon of sanity flames forth - the Campaign For A Shorter Christmas.

Already receiving mixed reviews. As someone who loves tacky lighting displays I am in no doubt that this pdf ("your house has an offensively bright and elaborate lighting display. Most people dislike such displays, and it’s very selfish of you to impose it on your neighbours") is the quickest way to get your face punched short of pushing into the burger bar queue in front of a member of the Johnson family.

The Voice Of True Conservatism

Alison Broom, Michael Portillo's political adviser for seven years, in the Indie :

On patriotism :

"I wonder now why anyone stays in cold, grey, Britain"

On sexual morality :

" .. enjoying the food, bohemian lifestyle and the novel joys of a beautiful toyboy"

On adulthood and responsibility :

"Life is uncomplicated and fun, with no pressures or big responsibilities. I'm free to move on and travel to new places whenever I please. Nothing now would induce me to swap this life for a return to a sensible job and a mortgage"

On the poor and social exclusion :

"I've traded in a beautiful 18th century six-bedroomed house in the Cheshire countrytside for a two roomed apartment with balconies in one of Seville's trendiest plazas."

What a tragedy Michael Portillo never became party leader. With an adviser like that how could he have failed ?

Magna Mater ! Magna Mater !

A portrait of the Great Goddess herself in the Indie - and wonder of wonders, you don't have to pay for it.

I often wonder how the Indie reconciles its quid-an-article policy with its commitment to fighting social exclusion, our racist society, and white male hegemony. How many poor Bangladeshis in Brick Lane can read the wise words of wealthy Yazza ? How many young gay men, isolated and victimised on some underclass estate, can take solace from Johann Hari ? How many right-wing thugs on that same estate can read Brute Anderson ? How many parents, worried about their young daughters in an ever more violent age, can be comforted by Deborah Orr ?

"It is extremely distressing to learn that at the weekend in Reading two girls, of 16 and 18, were assaulted in a hotel room by up to six men for up to five hours, then left for dead in a park".

Not just left for dead, Deborah. One actually was dead.

Churchill and the Tories - Two Tributes

Ex-Aussie Labour leader and Prime Minister Paul Keating :

"I drew much inspiration from a British Conservative leader, Winston Churchill, and often said so. He sometimes expressed views on economic and social issues I would not endorse, but his moral clarity was a lesson to us all.
It was that which informed his unshakable belief that Hitler was a psychopath, a racist and a criminal and that, unlike the view of most of the upper class in Britain at the time, Hitler could not be dealt with. Churchill bequeathed to his party a mantle of moral rectitude which remains to this day."

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown :

"A party which has always repudiated equality and diversity policies and produced a string of racist politicians, including Winston Churchill"

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Another Blair Victim

Major, Hague, Duncan Smith, Howard. Line 'em up and knock 'em down !

But Blair had another victim this week - Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, as decent a man as you'll find in British politics.

As Squander Two put it, "They were right to sign the Good Friday Agreement; they were right to agree to talk and negotiate and try to compromise with the IRA. It looked like there was a chance of genuine peace, and a chance like that should not be passed by. But, when it turned out that the IRA were taking the piss, the Ulster Unionists were too slow and weak to react appropriately."

I think he's a little hard on the UUP. They kept hanging on in there at Tony Blair's pleading.

Ulster is a tricky one. There can be no doubt that people like the South Armagh boys would like to be back to the good old days of ethnic cleansing and the odd English spectacular. Presumably they're being bought off, as most of the IRA seem to be, with the prospect of huge amounts of criminally-derived cash. Adams, for all he is a murderous bum, is walking a tightrope of the sort which got Michael Collins shot. It may be that as time goes by and the boyos attend fewer and fewer funerals, it becomes harder and harder to go back to the old ways - in which case leading David Trimble up the garden path (an intelligent man, he will have been well aware of the risk he took) will have been 'worthwhile' and Adams will get the Nobel Peace Prize.

On the other hand it could all go pearshaped - in which case at least they won't have the level of US (or Irish) support they could rely on 20 years ago.

Strange times in the Irish Republic. The boom years have been on for 20-odd years now, the country's becoming much more secular, immigration and asylum levels are high, the youth/dance/drug culture is widespread - it's starting to feel much more like degenerate, decadent England. I can remember 17-odd years back seeing 'Life of Brian' in Cork just after the ban on the film had been lifted. At the time it was a big deal - it wouldn't be now. While in many ways the end of Catholic Ireland is a tragedy, it also cuts down the supply of volunteers motivated by Cathleen ni Houlihan and Our Lady Queen of Ireland. The IRAs helpers south of the border are instead increasingly likely to be motivated by money. It may be that soon murderous Republicanism will have about the level of appeal for an educated young Irishman that an invitation to an Englishman to join an armed terrorist cell of the National Front would have had in the 1970s.

Hawthorn Blossoms From The Curate's Hedge

Interesting. On Friday and Saturday I started getting Google hits for 'Alicia Monckton assault' and 'Rod Liddle arrest'.

And I see this in today's Indie.

Don't worry Rod - it's good to clear the air with a blazing row occasionally. I bet he didn't need the Viagra on Thursday night ... but the fact that he was arrested without a complaint due to new PC domestic violence guidelines is likely to propel him even more quickly along the path from right-on lefty to born-again reactionary. Good, isn't it ?

Elsewhere a correspondent in Bradford sends me two contrasting stories, both involving people 'of previous good character' .

A right villain gets deservedly banged up for his hideous crime.

A highly-respected gun enthusiast has been jailed for a year after he admitted illegally possessing prohibited weapons and ammunition.
Engineer Roy Johnson had also been using lathe equipment at his home to convert pellet-firing handguns into unlawful cartridge-firing weapons, and last Friday a judge said he had to jail him for such offences.
The 52-year-old, of Grafton Road, Keighley, was said to have had an interest in guns for many years and had taken part in shooting competitions alongside police officers, but Judge Peter Benson said he had deliberately flouted the new firearms legislation brought in following the Dunblane massacre.
"What concerns me is that he was a man who knew exactly what the law was, and not only did he deliberately flout it by acquiring prohibited weapons, but he manufactured prohibited weapons,'' Judge Benson told Johnson's barrister Rebecca Young.
The judge said he was absolutely convinced that it was simply a hobby without any sinister motive, but he pointed out that some of the weapons, albeit not the most lethal ones, had not been locked away and could have fallen into other people's hands.
"In this city, in particular, there is a growing culture of gun crime which leads to severe injury and death,'' said Judge Benson.
Johnson, who is married with two sons, faced a minimum sentence of five years behind bars in relation to some of the firearms offences he admitted, but Judge Benson was persuaded by Miss Young that there were exceptional circumstances which justified a lesser sentence. Johnson, who had been a member of gun clubs in the past and did hold a firearms certificate relating to the lawful possession of three air-cartridge revolvers, pleaded guilty earlier this month to possessing a prohibited German revolver and possessing an Italian revolver without a certificate.
He also admitted manufacturing two prohibited German revolvers and further charges relating to the unlawful possession of ammunition.
Prosecutor Gavin Howie explained how the offences came to light after Customs officers at Dover became suspicious about a package containing a blank-firing starting pistol. Information was passed to West Yorkshire Police and a search warrant was executed at Johnson's home last November.
In total officers seized 19 weapons from the house, including 14 revolvers, and later examination revealed that 11 of them should have had firearms certificates.
Mr Howie said that Johnson had fully cooperated with the police and had already signed waivers in respect of about £1,000 worth of equipment that had been seized.
"The police believe Mr Johnson has learned his lesson, although they appreciate the seriousness of the situation he now finds himself in,'' said Mr Howie.
Miss Young pointed out that the majority of the prohibited firearms were held in a safe and other weapons were kept in briefcases.
She said the police were aware of Mr Johnson's interest in guns because of his repeated applications for firearms certificates over many years and his involvement with numerous shooting and gun clubs.
Miss Young confirmed that Johnson had also competed with officers at one club and had a genuine interest in competition shooting.
"He saw the modification of weapons as a challenge and nothing more than that,'' she said.
"It was certainly not his intention to use them. Once they had been modified they were put away as one would a jigsaw puzzle, and he would then move on to the next challenge.''
She said the offences were the result of ignorance and gross stupidity, and it was an extremely hard lesson which he had now learned.
Miss Young said Johnson was an outstanding member of the community who would go out of his way to help charities, friends and neighbours.
The court heard that Johnson had an 82-year-old mother who faced having to go into a home if he received a lengthy prison sentence, and it was also said his wife would not be able to keep up the mortgage payments on their house.
Judge Benson said he had read glowing testimonials in support of Johnson and it was distressing to see a man like him standing in the dock charged with such grave offences.
He noted that Johnson had handed in weapons he held at the time the law was changed, so he was fully aware of the changing climate regarding such guns.
Judge Benson said some weapons had been left lying around and there was a danger that someone might have broken into his home and made use of them.

And a poor victim of society gets a tap on the wrist for her teensy error of judgement.

A woman cleaner who admitted stealing money from an 86-year-old pensioner client has escaped with a police caution.
She was caught in a police sting operation after two marked £10 notes were taken from the man's wallet and found on the cleaner.
But the police, under advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, could not take the matter further because of insufficient evidence and the cleaner's previous good character.
Now the man's daughter, who hired the cleaner, has hit out in an open letter to readers of the Keighley News. The Keighley News is keeping family details anonymous to protect the pensioner.
She said: "If I allowed my dog to foul Silsden Park and not clean up, I would be fined up to £1,000.
"If I drive my car through a speed camera at 33mph in a 30mph zone, I would be fined £60. Would I be let off with a caution? I think not.
"I am absolutely disgusted by it all that she could get away with a caution and not even a fine."
A spokesman for the West Yorkshire Crown Prosecution Service said: "After consideration of all the evidence and taking into account the remorse of the defendant and the fact that she was of previous good character, both ourselves and the police felt a caution was the most appropriate penalty."
Police were called after the man's daughter became concerned about money going missing.
They set up surveillance equipment but did not successfully prove it was the cleaner taking the money. They later recorded the numbers of two £10 notes and put them in the man's wallet. After the notes were removed, police challenged the cleaner, who admitted taking the two notes.
Det Chief Insp Terry Long, of Keighley police, admitted the result was "probably a little bit unsatisfactory" for the family.
He said police had taken the advice of the CPS before coming to their decision.
Because of insufficient evidence, the cleaner's previous good character and because she had not been in trouble before, a caution was handed out.
Det Chief Insp Long said: "We have done everything we could in this situation.
"We took time to put in surveillance equipment and other methods to try and detect this and we have managed to do so."
The cleaner told the Keighley News that she admitted taking the two £10 notes because she thought it was her cleaning money.

Things Fall Apart ...

All is over. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, the Tories recede into the mists. Or something. Howard's resignation is IMHO not the best decision for Britain. The Tories had won England, and had only failed to get more votes nationally because of UKIP votes - people to the Right of the Tory Party . So a beaten army, but retreating in good order, with morale and weapons intact, fit to fight again - and suddenly the general chucks away his sword and announces his intention to retire to a smallholding and raise chickens.

A pity, as it looks as if Labour are about to say to Blair 'so long and thanks for all the election victories'. I can't wait for him to retire to a lucrative career on the US lacture circuit, though as Jon pointed out, the thought of Cherie becoming a judge is enough to make one tremble. They're losing votes to Muslim parties and the BNP, Brown's run of luck is about to end - why could not Mr Howard wait for these favourable factors to run their course ?

Until the moment I entered the polling booth I didn't know if I'd vote Tory or UKIP (after 25 years of Labour voting it's easy to skip from party to party once you've done it once - a bit like the 40something divorcee bouncing from one partner to another). The first time - Tory in 2001 - was the difficult one). In the end I thought I'd never forgive myself if the Lib Dems won the seat (they didn't) and voted Tory again.

Howard's departure makes me wonder if I made the right decision.

Nonetheless, as above, the political landscape is not very gloomy - and certainly not dull. Interesting times lie ahead.

PS - if Minette Marrin has interpreted Mr Blair's Sun interview correctly, the man deserves a Viscountcy at the very least upon retirement.

Quote Of The Day

"I eventually got into university and discovered that not only was there nothing worth overthrowing, but that there was even less worth replacing it with."

Dom at Mugged By Reality.

Police Racism

White male recruits to the Metropolitan Police are having to wait up to three years to join as ethnic minority and women applicants are being prioritised.
The recruits are among 10,500 - taken on by the UK's largest force between 2001 and 2003 - who are being sent for training in staggered intakes.

But the Met has tried to make each intake balanced, moving some women and ethnic minority recruits up the queue.

A spokesman said a more diverse force would deal with the community better.

But of course the same doesn't apply to the NHS.