Listening to odd bits of news during my week away, I had a feeling of the liberal tide being perhaps just past its height and now on the turn. The Government's continuing about-turn on multiculturalism, a growing acceptance among our rulers that the criminal justice system is biased in favour of the bad guys (although the pro-criminal lobby will argue that the problem lies with the stupid public's perception), the uber-liberal chair of the Youth Justice Board complaining that teachers can't discipline pupils - all straws in the wind.
But the tide is still pretty damn high. There was lots of media blather about "Fat Britain", as if it was anything to do with the Government whether we're fat or not. Aren't people responsible for their own eating and exercise regimes, and shouldn't the Government keep its nose out ?
Of course not. We - that is you and me - are taxed to pay for the NHS. And fat people use the NHS more - cost more. So your fatness is now of interest to the government. Your lifestyle is not your own. "We pay for you - we own you. And what's really funny is that we bought you with your own money."
(Of course there are exceptions to this. Practising sodomites can expect unlimited NHS resource to be applied to tackling the consequences of their lifestyle. Not so for smokers, say, or drinkers.)
The Government raises some £500 billion a year in tax - around 43% of GDP. You can buy a lot of people that way - and they do, in the form of the Guardian-reading, state-funded classes who, surprise, regularly vote for more state spending.
But that's not enough for our rulers.
"As the Government has become ever more obsessed with the issues of cultural diversity and alleged institutionalised racism, so contract compliance is sweeping through our civic order. All kinds of public organisations, from police authorities to charities, from Whitehall departments to quangos, are now demanding that private contractors prove their devotion to the new creed of the State. Given that spending on public sector procurement is estimated to be worth more than £100 billion a year, contract compliance can be used as a powerful tool of change."
Ha ! Thought you could avoid all that PC stuff in the private sector, did you ? Think again, little man.
And at the same time as the assault on the private sector commences, so the screw is tightened on public sector employees.
The professional firefighter's job is difficult and demands high standards. It requires fitness, intelligence, self-discipline, determination, integrity and compassion.
There are stressful and hazardous situations to be faced. The firefighter has to deal with these and provide comfort and reassurance to people who may be affected by them.
So says the Strathclyde Fire Service on its recruitment page. You might think the stressful and hazardous situations to be faced involve things that are burning. How wrong you'd be.
Four firefighters have appeared before a disciplinary hearing over their refusal to hand out leaflets at a gay pride march in Glasgow.
Another five men, who are also based at the city's Cowcaddens fire station, had their cases considered last month.
All nine will be given a written decision later in the week.
Some of the men were opposed to attending the event on religious grounds while others did not think it was part of their core duties.
However, gay rights campaigners argue that firefighters are public servants who cannot be seen to discriminate.
The firefighters were reported by superior officers after the Pride Scotia march in June for disobeying orders.
Words fail me. You can contact Strathclyde Leafleting Service here.
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