30 September, 2010

It could happen to anyone

The cyclist, Alberto Contador, found to have the banned substance clenbuterol in his system, has said that it came from contaminated food.

Have you eaten contaminated food? Containing performance enhancing drugs?  Good Lord, have I?

If my friends report me hurtling round the Umbrian hills on a bicycle, you will know the answer.

Tony Curtis

Tony Curtis, the actor, has died aged 85.

His line in some forgettable Mediaeval drama 'Yarnder lies der Cassel of my Fadder' epitomised the contribution of Hollywood to the arts.

Berlusconi Redux

Sometimes I think of European politics in the way of a weather forecast: Germany stable with slight rumblings of thunder, France serious thunder, depression, Holland and Belgium (see below) no one has a clue what is going on, Greece – well, you can guess.

But what of Italy? To recap quickly, Berlusconi’s governing People of Liberty coalition (PdL) had essentially three elements: his own Forza Italia grouping, Gianfranco Fini’s former ex-fascist National Alliance (AN) and Umberto Bossi’s Northern League.

Fini, as the natural successor of a 73 year old leader, might have chosen to keep his head down, but he said he could not tolerate Berlusconi making laws to keep himself out of prison and led a breakaway group.

Berlusconi enunciated 5 principles on which he would govern. It was the fifth (shorter trials) which contained the Get out of Jail card. Fini said he would support only those policies contained in the manifesto.

Bossi wanted an election (his party is doing very well in the polls) but Berlusconi went for a vote of no confidence, which he won last night. Out of 620 present, 342 voted for Berlusca, 275 against.

Silvio says that this means his government is stable. Cynics point to the fact that he can only rely on 303 core votes. For the rest he is dependent on Fini’s group.

My guess is that Berlusconi will be able to battle on – what can Fini achieve by calling an election? The future depends on how the economy goes, and it could go either way.

29 September, 2010


The European Union, in a brilliant response to the problem of countries running excessive deficits proposes to...er.. fine them. Countries which haven't got any money will have money taken away from them. So their deficits will be worse.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission, said this would be "a sea change in the way economic governance is dealt with in the European Union".

It seems to be a sea change from common sense.

The commission insists that 3% is the maximum level of deficit which can be permitted.

Current deficits are: Germany 3.3%, Italy 5.3%, France 7.5%,  Spain 11.2%

Great to have such clever people in charge.

A result!

Finally there is some sort of government in the Netherlands. After nearly four months of negotiations, a government has been formed with the tacit approval of Geert Wilders' PVV party.

Mr Wilders, a noted Islamophobe, is currently on trial, charged with incitement to hatred.

Neighbouring Belgium still doesn't have a proper government.

Another couple of triumphs for proportional representation

28 September, 2010

Anyone will do

I think we all feel sorry for David Miliband, who having gained the support of both MPs and the membership was narrowly beaten by the Unions' placeman, his brother Ed.

However there are rumours that he will give up politics and become Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Hold on there.

This is an important job, affecting the lives of billions of people. Miliband may be a worthy individual but he is not a banker and clearly does not have a sound grasp of economics.

We cannot have crucial roles like this being handed out to failed politicians because they need some sort of compensation, an income even. Dominic Strauss-Kahn was bad enough. The banana man would be even worse, an insult to the third world as well as to the developed world.


27 September, 2010

Gaza again

The Economist says that the Crazy Water park in Gaza has been torched by heavies from the Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of Hamas, the regional government in Gaza.

Supposedly to stiffen Gazans’ resolve, the Qassam Brigades have begun to suppress the emerging good life in the strip. A squad of heavies torched Crazy Water, a new resort, in which Mr Haniyeh’s economics adviser has a stake. Mr Meshal was said to have fumed at the sight of a video that showed girls and boys cavorting in the resort’s pools, a far cry from the “resistance culture” he would like to foster.

The Beach restaurant, a favourite for secular types, including foreign aid workers, was closed for three days after police nabbed a woman smoking a water-pipe.

As I reported, Gaza has a higher literacy rate and a lower infant mortality rate than Turkey, with a similar GDP per head. Now the lunatics who run it are determined to reduce everyone to penury and hunger, to make their political point.

The EU is a massive 'aid' donor to Gaza, which receives far more per head than is given to Africa. It ought to stop.

Confusion in France

The former French cabinet minister and, some say, rival to Carla Bruni Sarkozy, Rachida Dati, seems to have confused in a statement inflation (l'inflation) with oral sex (la fellation).

Oral sex is a manufactured thrill highly enjoyable for a time until reality dawns.

This is an insight the current finance minister, Christine Lagarde, may never have had. Her replacement is now obvious.

26 September, 2010

Bryan Ferry

Bryan Ferry collects his pension today. God I feel old

Habemus papam

So, after 150 days of nail biting tension, when sometimes the excitement (I'm stopping you there, Ed.) the Labour Party has chosen a new leader. It's..er.. a bloke called Miliband.

I believe they have chosen the wrong one; easy with two identical surnames on the ballot. Ed is the younger and more old labour of the two. His first problem, given that David Miliband won more votes from the MPs and the members, is that he will be seen as the candidate imposed by the unions, and the unions are about to become very unpopular, with a series of strikes which, they barely conceal, are political in nature.

Ed's second problem is that he has evinced a belief that his party can win using its core vote. I do not believe that to be the case. Brother David would have reached out to other voters.

All Ed can now do is moan about the cuts, while there are signs that the people believe them to be necessary.

Lastly, I think this is a good race in which to have come second. Unless the next few years are a disaster, the voters will be giving another chance to Mr Cameron. If Ed loses narrowly in 2015 he will be allowed to stay on. If he loses badly his career will be over almost before it has begun.

I hope Ed enjoyed the celebrations last night. They look to be his last bit of fun for a while.

25 September, 2010

La vendemmia

A difficult year: it was wet when it should have been dry, cool when it should have been warm and sometimes hot when it should have been only warm.

We picked early because the weather is deteriorating, which is a risk.  However we have an acceptable quantity of acceptable looking must, and it now remains for the winemaker to screw it up turn it into something drinkable.

22 September, 2010

Vince Cable

I have just been listening to the conference speech of John 'Vince' Cable and have been left with the impression that the Tories have got into bed with some very strange people indeed.

Perhaps I could just say something about bank bonuses. Britain had, essentially, four large banks. Two of them, Lloyds and Natwest, have been bailed out by the taxpayer while the other two, HSBC and Barclays, have not.The government has no business telling the independent banks what to pay their staff, so if there are two jobs for a dealer and Barclays is offering £1 million whereas Natwest is constrained to offer £25,000 plus luncheon vouchers, it is pretty obvious where the talented staff are going to go. But we need talented staff in these temporarily nationalised banks to make top profits to improve the valuation of the bank to let us get our money back.

There is public concern at bankers but it is being misdirected. The recession didn't happen because of bankers' bonuses and Vince Cable knows it. The dealers (these are the people who get the big bonuses)were encouraged by the senior management to take risks. Why? Because Gordon Brown had made money too loose, interest rates too low. The banks were over-leveraged. Why, you might ask, didn't the Bank of England have a quiet word with some of them, as it has always done in the past, and just warn them to behave rationally? Because Gordon Brown took the job away from the Bank of England and gave it to some other people who didn't have a clue what they were doing.

Lastly it would have been easy to make the banks ringfence the capital of their traditional businesses (the bits you and I see) and when what Cable regards as the casino bit got into trouble we could have let them go under. Simples.

It is no good Cable railing that capitalism is sometimes horrid. It is, but it has made us rich.

Must be the olive oil

A true story from hereabouts.

Giuseppe (not his real name) likes to dance. At the local celebrations where there is accordion music he has the habit of pulling some lady on to the dance floor for a jig.

At a recent one the lady, an American, complained that his behaviour on the dance floor was 'inappropriate'.

Giuseppe, who receives my warmest compliments, is 91.

Nick Clegg

'Nick Clegg says it's up to athletes about Delhi' ran the headline. The Delhi Commonwealth games look a complete shambles but the big news is that finally a British politician, asked to put his nose in where it really wasn't wanted, declined.

Congratulations, Mr.Clegg.

21 September, 2010

The minimum wage

The Government has announced increases to the minimum wage to take effect from October. The basic minimum wage will increase from £5.80 to £5.93, an increase of just over 2% and the starting age will be 21, not 22. There are similar increases to the rates for younger workers and a new apprenticeship rate.

OK, I know it's not much, but I still think it's a mistake. The minimum wage keeps people who could and would work for less out of the jobs market. Minimum wage earners are disproportionally likely to work for small companies, which is where we are expecting our growth to come from.

A lot of political bullets are going to have to be bitten during the austerity measures and this should have been one of them.

20 September, 2010

Si forent Christiani

A mean spirited and ignorant little letter in the Guardian the other day, signed by the great and lefty good, including Stephen Fry, has got me thinking about spirituality in Britain.

On the last ‘Any Questions’ on BBC Radio someone asked whether there is ‘an aggressive new atheism’ in Britain. The first respondent said that he didn’t recognise such a thing and the others dutifully and leftily followed suit.

I am afraid I recognise it only too well. It is not just the ubiquitous Richard Dawkins, whose aggressive atheism is paraded almost daily in the Press. Dawkins is beginning to look a fool, or at the very least a bore. His fellow anti-spiritualists – fifty signed the letter to the Guardian – would have you believe that they are providing a balance to an already established religious perspective, but it goes further than that. The thrust of the letter was that whilst the Pope should be allowed to come here and talk quietly to his flock (Oh! Thanks, Stephen) it should not be accorded the level of State visit. Now the Vatican is of course a State, recognised by our Government as such, and plenty of other states are against contraception and abortion and doubtful about allowing equal status to homosexuals in matters such as marriage and adoption. And we never heard Fry and his cronies complain about their visits.

No, this is a specific hatred of the Roman Catholic Church. And these lefties hate it so because it has a billion followers (each Sunday, despite being very much a minority in Britain, there are more Roman Catholics in Church than Anglicans). It is credible, is their problem, not only believable but believed.

And their answer? To prevent it from being heard. This is the new intellectual* fascism: they don’t even want you free to think about things they don’t approve of. They want the other side of the debate banned.

I’m afraid, however, that the new ‘aggressive atheism’ in Britain is in part also assisted by our terror of Muslims. No one pretends that if the BA stewardess had been wearing some sort of Islamic symbol she would have been forced to take it off. Nor do we pretend that she had to remove her crucifix for any other reason than that a Muslim might have been offended. When a bus travelled round London plastered with the message ‘There is no such thing as God’, several people suggested that for equality’s sake other buses should be festooned with ‘There is no such thing as Allah’. Fat chance. An executive from the BBC admitted that whilst he thought it would be permissible to burn a bible on screen, he would not allow the burning of a Koran. We welcome people from other faiths into our country and then pay Danegeld so they are not upset.

So any burgeoning spirituality in Britain is squeezed by the atheist left on one side and by the Muslims on the other.

This is Pope Benedict’s task (I think we have already given up on Rowan Williams who wouldn’t say boo to a goose). Si forent Christiani.

*I once heard Stephen Fry described as 'a stupid person's opinion of what an intellectual is like'

19 September, 2010

Still here!

Silly me. At the time of writing der Vater is still in Britain, having completed his State Visit thing and now gone to Birmingham to beatify John Henry Newman, local boy made good.

I have always been mildly curious about Newman, without having done any particular research about him, and so I was surprised to read this in the Financial Times.

The thrust of the article (and it is worth reading in full) is that McRatzinger was a Newmanite until the late '60s when he was lecturing in Tubingen and a number of protesters broke in, disrupting his lesson. From then on he went away from Newman's teaching and became more authoritarian. Newman, you see, had taught that the plurality of the church, ie most catholics, should believe something for it to be accepted as dogma. Translated into contraception (almost certainly) and abortion (possibly) this might make for dogma which the Pope, and his predecessor, and almost all the Popes before that, disagreed. So why is he beatifying him?

Interesting stuff.

Non Angli sed Angeli

The Pope has left Britain, with a smile on his face and to an extent a smile on the country's face. The quote above, from Gregory the Great, on discovering some English slaves and declaring them to be Angels rather than Angles, in fact continues 'si forent Christiani': they should be made Christians.

Perhaps that's what McRatzinger has in mind. An uphill struggle, as I shall be commenting in a later post.

18 September, 2010


Jimi Hendrix died 40 years ago today

It's hard to believe

17 September, 2010

Annabel and the Chookie

It seems a new tartan has been created for the Pope’s visit to Scotland. The carefully designed pattern blends white and yellow (the colours of the Vatican), white and blue (the colours of Scotland), white and red (the colours of the arms of John Henry Newman, who will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI during the visit), and green for the lichens growing on the stones at Whithorn, site of St. Ninian's church (the Pope arrived in Scotland on St Ninian’s day).

The plaid will be an heirloom of the McRatzinger clan for generations (surely he hasn’t got any children? Ed.)

Prince Philip, known in those parts as Chookie Enbra, was among the jamboree, having been sent to collect the Pope from the airport. We have heard little from this wonderful man for a bit, but he seemed to be on prime form. Noticing several of the great and good were wearing ties of the material, His Royal Highness zoomed unerringly on to the leader of the Scottish Tories, Annabel Goldie, and asked, in view of the fact she wasn’t wearing a tie, whether she was wearing knickers made of the tartan. The 60 year old spinster’s stuffed frog reply, that she couldn’t discuss the matter and in any case it would be inappropriate to show them, just made it one of those classic moments.

McRatzinger has now come down to meet the agressive new atheism south of the border.

16 September, 2010

Kasper bows out

As a businessman I would always hesitate to tell a line manager where he was going wrong with his staff, but if the proposed summit between this blog and the Holy See goes ahead, I shall have to tell Christ’s Vicar on Earth that Cardinal Walter Kasper, whose job title is to promote Christian unity around the world, is scarcely pulling his weight.

In an interview with the German magazine Focus the cardinal, said to be an expert on ecumenical language, appears to have said that “When you arrive at Heathrow you think at times that you’ve landed in a Third World country”, and that Christians in Britain were discriminated against “above all by an aggressive new atheism. If you wear a cross on British Airways, you are discriminated against.”

Of course we all rather think the same on arrival at Heathrow. With its polyglot thousands milling around, often pushing mattresses or carpets in shopping trolleys, its inadequate and poorly cleaned lavatories and its disgraceful bars and restaurants your first thought might have been Delhi.

And there is no doubt that Britain is governed by an aggressive new atheism. It is evident not so much in British Airways as in the BBC, the Government and among the scientists. Perhaps it is better that these things are finally aired but I think it a mistake for an expert n ecumenical language charged with pushing Christian Unity to be the bloke airing them.

The Vatican says that Cardinal Kasper, who looks a jolly soul, has been suffering from gout, and I know myself that this illness can easily make you grumpy. The key is to expect it, and carry your medicine with you at all times. My rule was that if I wanted to say that Britain was a third world country I would instantly take a pill, whereas if I found myself promoting an auto-da-fe of women priests in Hyde Park I would take two.

15 September, 2010

You couldn't make it up

It seems that Gordon Brown will be a visiting fellow at Harvard, lecturing on good government.

I can only say that Americans must think Obama is truly, truly dreadful.

Next scoop: Princeton's Applied Economics Department recruits Fidel Castro

The Browns are seen here modelling clothes from their latest range.

Bomb at the tower

The Eiffel Tower has had to be evacuated after a bomb scare. I am surprised this hasn't happened before: it is the most visited monument in the world for which you have to pay to get in.

Guy de Maupassant once said he always had lunch there because it was the the only place in Paris you couldn't see the thing.

14 September, 2010

Wilkommen der Pope

I am not uncritical of the Pope, or of the Vatican, and in my urbi et orbi message on the Feast of All Fools suggested they smother the old boy.

However I have been increasingly supportive of his visit to the UK, in part because of the flood of feminists and lefties complaining that he doesn't approve of abortion or women priests, just like all his predecessors (He's the Pope, for God's sake). I don't see why we should only invite people to this country that we agree with, or rather that the bien pensant army of right-on lefties agrees with.

Two little snippets of information caught my fancy: The ANSA news agency says that British bookies are taking bets on the possibility of the Popemobile having a puncture or being involved in an accident (currently 26-1 and 67-1). I don't know: it's a Mercedes, not a 1956 FIAT 500. I hope these odds aren't based on inside knowledge: this is a spiritual visit, not a Pakistani cricket match.

The second, reported in the Telegraph, is that at 2pm on the day of the Holy Father's visit, all the bars in the Palace of Westminster will be closed. Why? They don't close for the State Opening, attended by the only other person in Europe who is Head of State and Head of a Church. Are they worried the old boy will join the line for the early evening G & T and stay a bit too long?

That must be it.

13 September, 2010


Turkey has had a referendum on its constitution which the governing party, led by Mr Erdogan, has won.

The changes will weaken the position of the army, and make it impossible to ban political parties, which seem to be good things. That’s not what it is really about, though.

The constitution which Ataturk instituted after the First World War provided for a secular state, and the army was sworn to uphold it. Mr Erdogan’s AK party has strong Muslim leanings, and the changes to the constitution will make it a lot easier for Turkey to become an Islamic state now, rather than a secular country with lots of Muslims in it..

So when the referendum result was welcomed by Britain and America, they weren’t really telling the unvarnished truth. This could turn out to be rather bad in the medium term.

I have said it before and it is worth repeating: in the end we shall greatly regret not welcoming Turkey into the EU.

11 September, 2010


I wasn’t going to write anything about the assault on the twin towers – the ninth anniversary of anything isn’t terribly interesting – and the event looks as if it is going to be more famous for what the West did in response to it than for what actually happened. Billions of dollars spent and scores of thousands dead.

In passing, I am rather surprised that there is still nothing there, after nine years. You would have thought the traditionally industrious Americans would have thrown up a skyscraper in a matter of months. They obviously need more Chinese.

One typically daft anniversary celebration has been from the Evangelist minister who was going to burn the Koran, or several of them. Obama has predictably gone over the top, the Secretary General of the UN felt unable to remain silent, and even the normally level headed General Petraeus has said the act could endanger American troops.

I must say if I were an Afghan or Iraqi, with an occupying force in my country, and it had descended almost into lawlessness, I wouldn’t be too worried if some nutcase in their country were burning books. Other preoccupations, you see.

The minister, or pastor, is called Terry Jones, like the 1970s comedian, and is the spiritual sustenance of a congregation of about 50 in the Dove Outreach Centre of Gainesville, Florida. Jones now claims he has done a deal with a New York imam that he will not burn the Korans if they don’t set up a proposed mosque and Muslim centre near ‘Ground Zero’.

The Dove Outreach Centre doesn’t look in much better shape than Ground Zero. Part of the cross on the wall seems to have fallen off. I should have thought this an important part of the fabric of the building, and suppose it is what comes of spending all your money on Islamic literature.

Anyway, I have friends who live in the Ground Zero area and they say that the proposed site for the mosque is in a deserted alley nobody ever goes down, and that no one local gives a stuff whether there will be a mosque or a Dove Outreach Centre.

I spend a fair bit of time advising people to forget their grievances over the second world war and I now think Americans should lighten up a bit about 9/11. Let's let them have their cultural centre, and let's not spoil the valuable work of reaching out to Gainesville's doves with the smell of burning books. That smell has assocations, Terry, and they are the wrong ones for you.

More WWII madness

Erika Steinbach has had to resign her post in Chancellor Merkel's government for a statement she made about the beginnings of World War II. She said, and I am not joking here, that Poland shared some responsibility for the start of the war because it had mobilised its army in March 1939, six months before the Germans invaded.

It is not just the stupidity of this remark that concerns me, it is why it was made. Are people in Germany searching for some new theory about the war's origins? The vast majority would rather the matter were not mentioned. So why is it a preoccupation for a woman born after the events took place?

It's got to stop. It really has to.

Get your shoes off

It is reported that a man has thrown a shoe at George Papandreou, Prime Minister of Greece. In this case it was apparently for allowing Greek sovereignty to be pooled into Europe, a little ironic since the Greeks (Mr Papandreou's uncle, I think) lied over their economic performance in order to get in, and the rest of us have been paying the price ever since.

But it was the busniess of shoe throwing I wanted to air. Long a practice in the Middle East, you will remember that a chap threw his shoe at George Bush not so long ago; and just the other day someone threw a shoe at Tony Blair. I am greatly in favour of it, and believe it should be encouraged among right-thinking people. I like it for its sheer symbolism, saying 'you are the sort of thing I tread in', and I like it for its wide opportunity for expression. Someone might throw a wooden clog in protest at unemployment (the French for clog, sabot, is the origin of the word 'saboteur'). Imagine protesters against George Osborne's withdrawal of middle class benefits throwing their Manolo Blahniks in his direction; protesters against cuts in the military throwing their Wellingtons.

What would you throw at Gordon Brown? I don't think it would be a clean shoe, and would perhaps have a hole in it. And at José Manuel Barroso, after his bogus 'State of the Union' speech? A brightly coloured Mandarin's slipper.

EU Referendum

A new campaign has started for a referendum on whether we chould stay in the EU or leave it.

The people behind it are competent and experienced and this blog supports the campaign. I have some concerns about the timing, is all. Nevertheless I shall be making my own contribution soon.

10 September, 2010

Blair. Again?

The Corriere della Sera carries an interview with Tony Blair in which he says the British public has not turned its back on him and he would be ready to return.

Bethink you of that, Messrs. Milliband.

Losing our sovereignty

The European Union has demanded the creation of new regulatory supervisors for banking, insurance and securities. Naturally this won't be just three people, there will be lots of high salaried staff, lots of offices, lots of international travel and lunches. Indeed the agreement paves the way for a European Systemic Risk Board, with even more of the above.

Incredibly, the British Government has gone along with it, giving up the power to regulate the City of London.

You will remember that David Cameron promised us a referendum if any powers were given up to Brussels.

So can we have it, then?

Quote of the day

Michael O'Leary of RyanAir on anthropogenic Global Warming

"I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can't tell us what the ******* weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the ******* global temperatures will be in 100 years' time. It's horse ****."

09 September, 2010

The AA

Not the estimable organisation for helping alcoholics but the rather shoddy motoring organisation of the same name.

I must admit to a little bias here. Long ago, touring in Europe in my Morris Minor Traveller, I had an accident in Germany. I had taken out the maximum Five Star Insurance and tried to get lodging, medical bills, travel paid with the AA's vouchers. No one would accept them, saying they were never honoured, so I was left with no option but to sue the AA in court in Stuttgart. I won, and have studiously advised people not to have anything to do with the organisation ever since.

A curiosity in London is that you can often see AA trucks towing away illegally parked cars. How does this help the motorist?

Now the AA has written to the Transport Secretary, who you would have thought had better things to do than read their drivel, to the effect that removing speed cameras from the roads 'will put lives at risk'. From the Press Association: 'A recent switch-off of cameras in the Thames Valley area alarmed residents and there now appeared to be a "road safety policy void", the motoring group said.'

Of course this 'motoring group' is nothing of the sort: it is promoting the views of residents, non-motorists, against the interests of the driver. The AA has turned into another busybody pressure group trying to advance its right-on poitically correct opinions at the expense of its members.

Take no notice of it, is my advice.

08 September, 2010

The Coulson affair

The great news manipulator Alastair Campbell once said that a story was serious if it was in the news for eleven days. This is what the Labour party are doing with the Andy Coulson affair and, so far, succeeding.

People who know more about this than I say that it is not about 'phone tapping, or 'phone hacking which are aparently, different things.

What the News of the World scandal gathering operation was doing is calling famous people's mobiles at times they would be talking or have them turned off. You get put through to the voicemail or secretarial sevice, and inserting a code allows the owner, remotely, to access his messages. Most people, apprently, don't bother to change the '0000' which is the default setting, so the reporter hears the messages.

If you are burgled and you tell the police (should they express any interest) that you left the house unlocked, you get a stern talking to. But despite the fact that a certain amount of negligence has taken place, intruding on your private messages, like burglary, is a crime. Two reporters went to prison for it. Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World but says he knew nothing about it at the time and therefore the police can't charge him.

All this may be true but some people will be asking whether Mr. Cameron, knowing this, wasn't a little rash to employ Mr Coulson.

My guess is that this story will die out, but not quite yet.

Ian Cameron dies

With the passing away of his father, in France on holiday, David Cameron has experienced in a remarkably short time the death of a child, the birth of another and the death of a parent.

Sometimes we chug along without realising how easy life's progress is; at other times we wonder if there is anything more that can be thrown at us.

Utmost sympathy from this blog.

06 September, 2010

She speaks (of course)

We shall never know if Wayne Rooney was one of the footballers who obtained a super injunction against revelations of his private life, because we are not allowed to know; but today, by whatever means, his story is out. It seems that he saw a prostitute while his wife was pregnant and the hooker has of course sold her story to the tabloid press.

But the public embarrassment, followed by what must have been a difficult interview with his wife, is not all that was in store for Rooney. The tart says that the sex ‘felt seedy and became a bit samey. Wayne was really quite plain in his routine (routine!). He wanted straight sex with a little bit of naughty thrown in, but not too naughty’.

Plain in his routine. The great putdown. You can almost feel sorry for Rooney, one of the most tabloid-followed men in the world, who thought this would be a secret. He must have the practical intelligence of a wilted lettuce.

It's the barrel that's rotten

The Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police is Brian Moore who earns £126,400 a year, between a minister and a cabinet Minister.

On the night of 3rd July 2008, Pamela Somerville decided to spend the night in her car after a row with her boyfriend. The following morning the car didn’t start, because she had left the heater on, and the police arrived. She asked them for a jump start. They took her to Melksham Police Station and charged her with refusing to give a breath test, a charge she denies and which was later withdrawn.

Sergeant Mark Andrews, seemingly exasperated by Ms Somerville’s repeated requests to know why she was being held, grabbed her and threw her into a cell. She was injured when she was thrown on the floor and was bleeding. For a while she was unconscious. All this is on film, the officer has been convicted of assault and will be sentenced, almost certainly thrown out of the force.

So far so good. But we need to ask ourselves why the officer behaved like this. It is certain that he knew there was CCTV in the police station and yet, in front of the cameras, committed what can only be described as an act of serious violence on an innocent member of the public..

The answer is that Ms Somerville was suspected of the worst crime in the police manual: drinking and driving. It will not have occurred to Sergeant Andrews that she might have been innocent, and he felt he was able to treat her like a violent terrorist suspect. Such is the culture n the Wiltshire Police Force (I have been stopped, quite near Melksham, stone cold sober at 2am by the only 2 officers on duty, and we discussed my car’s tax disc while people were being raped and burgled). It is the culture of many British Police Forces.

This is not a case of a rotten apple in the barrel, it's a case of a rotten barrel.

Which is what brings me back to Chief Constable Brian Moore. He is responsible for the attitude of his officers. He is responsible for finding out what sort of policing the people of Wiltshire want and delivering it (I assure you it isn’t arresting sober people in their cars).

Mr Moore has failed in his job and has failed in his duty to the public. He must resign.

03 September, 2010

The US and the EU

Open Europe has the best quote yet from Tony Blair's memoirs. It concerns the G8 summit in 2001, where George Bush meets federalist loony Guy Verhofstadt

He didn’t know or recognise Guy, whose advice he listened to with considerable astonishment,” Mr Blair writes.

“He then turned to me and whispered, ‘Who is this guy?’

‘He is the prime minister of Belgium,’ I said.

“Belgium? George said, clearly aghast at the possible full extent of his stupidity. ‘Belgium is not part of the G8’.”

Mr Blair explained to Mr Bush that Mr Verhofstadt was there as “president of Europe”. Belgium held the presidency of the EU council at the time.

Mr Bush responded: “You got the Belgians running Europe?” before shaking his head, “now aghast at our stupidity”, Mr Blair writes.

02 September, 2010

The BBC and bias

In an interview with the New Staatesman BBC Director General Mark Thompson has admitted the left wing bias on the BBC, something that even the most insensitive lefty has known for years. But he implies it is in the past:

"In the BBC I joined 30 years ago [as a production trainee, in 1979], there was, in much of current affairs, in terms of people's personal politics, which were quite vocal, a massive bias to the left. The organisation did struggle then with impartiality. And journalistically, staff were quite mystified by the early years of Thatcher.

“Now it is a completely different generation. There is much less overt tribalism among the young journalists who work for the BBC."

Nice to have it acknowledged, I suppose, but there is still a wide spectrum of bias in the BBC, encompassing not just straightforward party political leanings (although that still occurs) but on a wide range of subjects. It is vehemently against Euroscepticism, for example, portraying it as 'right wing'. It is against religion, it is against climate change scepticism, these two receiving the same opprobrium, as if the protagonists were swivel eyed colonels in Gloucestershire. Anyone who is against abortion or immigration is given the same treatment.

Read this article in the Telegraph  here on how they treat opponents of the Pope's visit and those opposing the ground zero mosque.

I'm afraid, Mr Thompson, there is still a lot of work to do on this subject, and in my view the BBC cannot continue as a publicly funded broadcaster until it is done.

France bashing

It is reported that the French national rail company, SNCF, bidding to run a railway line across Florida, is subject to complaints by Jewish groups because it transported prisoners to the concentration camps in World War II.

That war ended 65 years ago.

Lighten up, I say; this nonsense really has to stop.

The reason for not employing SNCF is that they are incompetent and the staff are rude.

We know what's good for you

NASA have flown a doctor to the Atacama desert in Chile to take charge of the 33 miners trapped 700 metres below the surface of a mine.

The doctor has refused the men alcohol and cigarettes.

Bad for them, apparently


Chris Myers, the Foreign Secretary's Special Adviser, has stepped down complaining about the press innuendo. I feel sorry for the guy, but not sorry that the story has been followed.

I repeat: what Mr Hague is accused of is, having been told by the Prime Minister to employ only two Special Advisers, employing a third who was less qualified for the job than several others. It doesn't matter a jot if Mr Myers was employed because he was gay, because he made Mr Hague laugh or because he was good at Scrabble.

Hague has made a buttock-clenchingly awful statement about how he is not gay and how his poor wife has had miscarriages, but I am afraid he still has some explaining to do.

01 September, 2010

The demon drink

Apparently Tony Blair says Gordon Brown drove him to drink.

You and me both, Tony, but if I could have got through the news of Brown wrecking the British pension system on just a gin and tonic and half a bottle of wine a day I'd have been quite pleased.

Oh, of course you were First Lord of the Treasury then, weren't you Tony?

I am looking forward to reading this book.

After the watershed

Something which might not make the BBC news too often: according to the reliable ANSA news agency, in his book Tony Blair has expressed his admiration for Silvio Berlusconi.

William Hague

Allegations in the blogworld and in a couple of newspapers that the Foreign Secretary spent at least one night during the election capaign with his driver, and that the driver has now been appointed as Special Adviser, must be deeply upsetting to Hague's wife Ffion.

The investigation must not stop, however. It is important to recognise that what Mr Hague is being accused of is not homosexuality but of putting the seemingly unqualified man on the public payroll.