Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Monthly Archives: August 2008

We’re Doomed

Dad's Army's Private Fraser "We're Doomed"

"We're Doomed"

So on the busiest week of the year for holiday traffic, someone though it would be a super idea to put up some roadworks on the A303. Just as the South-East, having decamped to the West Country returns home, they were digging up one of the main trunk routes. An hour in tailbacks, and we were travelling at night. To be fair, in an odd departure from the traditional road work set-up, they were actually working.

One could give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it was emergency road works, but more likely it is just a way of nature reminding us that the holidays are nearly over and things will be downhill from here.

Much the same philosophy that underpins, I suspect, Alistair Darling’s arrival on Planet Earth with the warning that we are entering the worst economic period for sixty years. (Why 60 years?)

This possible exercise in expectations management – a switch from the “at least it’s not as bad as under the evil Thatcher” line – could be one side of a double-edged strategy. The other may have more to do with the Labour party’s internal ructions. Is Alistair looking to undermine his boss by singing from a clearly non-conformist hymn sheet?

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Don't Crow Too Soon

Guido is making much of the timing of Tim Parker’s departure from City Hall earlier this week, given the fact that the following day, Boris apparently accepted the tube unions’ demands for a rather generous pay rise. Boris has “caved in” to Bob Crow and his comrades, they say. The Lefties are crowing (sorry) reckoning that their predictions/wishes for Boris to screw up are coming true, though how accepting a deal made by an arch lefty like Crow counts as screwing up, from another Lefty’s viewpoint, is not clear.

Yet the same was no doubt said about Mrs Thatcher (are we still supposed to talk about her?) in 1981, when she “gave in” to the miners unions, knowing that the time was not right and a good general, whenever possible, chooses his battles.

And we all know how Arthur Scargill ended up four years’ later.

There is a significant proportion of Londoners, including many who voted Conservative for the first time in voting for Boris, who would not appreciate those who forced them into the midst of a Tube strike, whichever side those protagonists were on. Boris knows this and I suspect feels that there are more pressing priorities in the first couple of years of the administration (and before a General Election).

As for Mr Parker? A shame that he has stood down, but in four years time I doubt anyone will remember this minor episode. Already, you would be hard pushed to find someone, outside the SE1 bubble, who remembers the names of James McGrath or Ray Lewis. In 2012, as the Olympics loom people will be judging Boris by what he has achieved, not how frequently the plastic name plates outside some offices in City Hall might have changed around this summer.

Rather Rambling Blog Post, Going Forward

I have been contacted by a salesman trying to sell me fee protection insurance. All well and good, except he was from some company called “C C Haitch”. Now I’ve heard of CCH, as have many in my and other professions, but CC Haitch was a new one.

You will note that he had already hit on one of my pet hates. And this after I have only just calmed down after health cover company HSA’s recent ad campaign (Haitch S A = Hey, Just Say! Oh, how clever that must have seemed when they pitched it.)

Never mind. At the end of his spiel, he offered to get me a quote “going forward”. That was a relief – I had always been worried, when shopping around for insurance, that I might end up with a quote going backwards, which rather defeats the purpose of insurance, you’d think.

Anyway, I’m off now to hunt down some errant apostrophe’s. (You can take the boy out of the grammar school, but you can’t take the grammar school out of the boy.)

If You’ve Nothing To Hide, You've Nothing To Fear

Whether it’s 42 day’s detention, ID cards or the DNA database, we hear it every time.

I don’t know what deputy headmaster John Pinnington’s politics are, or whether they have changed as a result of his experience, but clearly, by any just measure, he would have had nothing to fear … you’d have thought. The Register has the story:

John Pinnington … was fired from his job when an enhanced criminal record background (CRB) check turned up allegations of abuse made against him. He took his case to judicial review, arguing that the allegations were seriously flawed, were unsubstantiated, and that the police should only include them in a CRB check where there were some grounds to believe they might be true.

This view was rejected, as Lord Justice Richards ruled that there was nothing unlawful about the actions of the Police force in passing on allegations. And future employers “should be aware” of the accusations, however weak and unreliable they are.

In relation to employment with children or vulnerable adults, it is information of which an employer should be aware. It is then for the employer to decide whether the employment of the person concerned involves an unacceptable risk.

[We have] no way of knowing whether these allegations were true, false, or the deluded imaginings of politically-correct Martians.

What we do know is that police investigated and took no further action, and that at least one set of allegations was based on the controversial “facilitated communication” method of eliciting statements from children too damaged, otherwise, to speak on their own behalf. On any objective scale of evidence, they belong in the category labelled “weak”.

Of course, it’s “for the children” so no measure is too draconian. Just like, err, terrorism, hate crimes, in fact anything that can be extrapolated to the point where “lives are at stake”.

I know, we wet libertarian types can bang on about it as much as we like, but Walter Wolfgang, having been arrested for heckling a minister, under anti-terrorism powers, didn’t actually go to prison, did he? If a council uses powers intended for surveilling terrorists to combat the scourge of parents playing the system on school catchment areas, nothing really bad happens to them, does it? I mean, lives are never lost because of a bad “enhanced” CRB check or unproven allegation. Are they?

The trouble with “nothing to hide – nothing to fear” is that it’s becoming increasingly hard to define what is worth hiding. That lame joke about “pikies” (a racist term nowadays) that you shared in the pub? Taking the mickey out of chavs in the post office queue? Tut tut, we have to promote social cohesion you know. Just don’t try applying for a job.

They Don’t Like it Up ‘Em

“Fairness” is one of the most moveable feasts in politics. One man’s fairness is another man’s grievance.

However, it’s always satisfying to know you’ve wound up the opposition.

Labour furious at Tory jibe about ‘fairness’

George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, has sparked a bitter row by accusing Gordon Brown of adopting the principle of ‘fairness’ merely because of its popularity with focus groups.

He will use a speech this week to claim the Tories are now the real champions of social justice and equality…

He will also say that the Tories are now ‘the driving force behind the ideas that will create a fairer Britain’.

His words drew a furious response from Labour, which has been associated for a century with the equitable division of wealth.

That final sentence, from a commentary by a leading left liberal newspaper, exposes a fundamental difference between Left and Right, Labour/Lib Dem and Conservative. The Left look for equality of outcomes such as the “equitable division of wealth” (equitable in the case of socialism, in it’s simplest form, simply meaning “equality”). It’s telling that after a century of being associated with such things, the gap between “rich” and “poor” is still widening. Conservatives, however, look for equality of opportunity – the fundamental means to create wealth, not the distribution of wealth itself. Whether or not you take that opportunity, and how much you make of it, is up to you.

To the Left the cry is “you can afford it, what are you complaining about?”.

To Conservatives the credo is “you can do it, we won’t stand in your way”.

The End is Upon Us

I haven’t done precise scientific measurements, but I have a random hunch that the runner beans in the garden are 3mm shorter than they were at the same time every previous year that we have been in our house (4 years).

So, with our runner beans now growing at the slowest rate on record, this must be a sign of the effects of global warming. We are all going to die. Get out now while you can and think of the children.

Ok, maybe a bit too silly, but then again

A number of UK bird species are laying eggs significantly earlier than they were 40 years ago, a report reveals.

A conservation coalition’s report says some finches, robins and tits are all laying earlier and puts this down to warming caused by climate change.

The RSPB said birds were having to respond to climate change to survive.

It must be the silly season when that fact that species are adapting to an ever changing environment is deemed to be news. Do supporters of the man-made climate change doctrine not realise that this sort of thing is starting to do their cause more harm than good?

Not that I am in any way suggesting that man-made global warming is not a real and incontrovertible truth that only loonies and the big bad evil oil companies could possibly doubt. After all, everybody knows that the statistics of the “hockey stick” are totally sound.

Packing 'em in

Far be it for me to compare Labour’s control freakery with that of their political cousins in Beijing, but reading this (h/t Croydonian):

The government is working to fill all seats at London’s 2012 Games, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell has said….If they were not filled “by people who have paid the full price”, they should be filled by schoolchildren, she said.

… sounds more than a smidgen like this:

Chinese officials have admitted that they are concerned about the lack of spectators at some Olympic events.

They have hired volunteers, dressed in yellow shirts, to fill up empty venues and improve the atmosphere inside.

I thought we were all supposed to be effused with the Olympic spirit?

All £20bn of it.

We Shouldn't Laugh

Actually … yes, we should.

Birmingham, hosts to the 2008 Conservative Party Conference, can’t recognise its own skyline from that of its State side namesake. The Birmingham (West Midlands) Post has been following the story. The Mayor of Birmingham Alabama has taken the opportunity to point out that much could be gained from the two cities building closer relations, mixed up skylines or not.

As an English Southerner, (Birmingham (W. Mids) being in The North) I could make comments about the two cities both being the subject of stereotypes of slow-witted sorts who talk with funny accents, but that would be totally unfair … that some staff at the City Council are slow witted is clear, and some of them surely have Brummie accents, but I’m not sure that would apply to the good burghers of Birmingham AL.

So, just so I’ve got his right: in September when I go to party conference, do I change at Marylebone or JFK?

Favoured by Who?

Look what those evil Tories are planning now…

Cities in northern England such as Liverpool, Sunderland and Bradford are “beyond revival” and residents should move south, a think tank has argued.

So who is suggesting that the cattle trucks be readied? Policy Exchange. Now I haven’t read the report yet, but it appears to boil down to the conclusion that throwing taxpayers’ millions at run-down areas isn’t the silver bullet that some might think. Whatever, it’s is clearly deemed by some at our esteemed state broadcaster to be good for a bad headline about the Tories.

Listen to the BBC radio bulletins (Radio 2 at 7 and 7:30 this morning) and the headline is “A think tank favoured by the Conservatives has suggested …”, or as at 8am “David Cameron’s favourite think tank”. The fact that the Party has pointed out this is not party policy is relegated to an afterthought at the end of the short piece.

That the Policy Exchange is a centre-right think tank is undisputed – however, as is often the case on the BBC, if a report comes out from a left-wing think tank, the political qualifier is rarely used. When was the last time a report from, say, Demos or the Joseph Rowntree foundation was presented as a think tank or organisation favoured by Labour or the Lib Dems? Perhaps it’s just that the ideas that such bodies come up with are, in the eyes of the average BBC hack, so eminently sensible that they need never be the subject of a slanted bad headline.

Like a Bad Smell

Comment has already been made elsewhere (including at Biased BBC) about Ken Livingstone’s too-regular appearances in the media of late. Really, anyone would think he was gearing up for a book launch or something.

The last week or so has seen the newt fancier commenting on China and the athletics meeting that’s going on there, trotting out his standard line of “we have no reason to criticise China’s action in Tibet after what we’ve done in Iraq and Afghanistan”. Well, we probably did some pretty unpleasant things during our Imperial days but that shouldn’t have stopped us having a go at Hitler. (Warning – Godwin’s Law approaching).

This morning it was the treat of listeners to Nick Ferrari on LBC, though to be fair to Nick, Livingstone has never been a stranger to that London station, where he is now finding regular genuine employment.

Ken’s real vitriol was turned on Boris because the Mayor didn’t head off on a junket to the opening ceremony of the Games in Bejing. Yet who cares? Ken’s Communist mate the Mayor of Bejing invited him over, but Boris doesn’t need to be there except at the end to receive the torch. Boris, it seems, has this old fashioned notion that the Mayor for London should spend his time in London.

Livingstone was earlier asked to give his pearls of wisdom on Boris’ first 100 days in office. “Too early to say”, said Ken, almost sounding reasonable when he welcomed the extra PCSOs on the transport network, but then thought it wrong that Boris should be appointing people from the Right to his team (as opposed, presumably, to the – ahem – broad political church that Livingstone gathered around him).

“Boris’ administration was actually more right wing than appointments like Rosie Boycott might make it appear”, he warned ominously.

I should blooming well hope so.