30 May, 2011

FIFA: if not me then who?

I made a mistake in my last post: the World Cup which England were expecting to host (2018) in fact went to Russia (more likely to be 50C below freezing). It is the 2022 World cup which has been awarded to Qatar, by which date the entire country will be airconditioned. Such a mistake only reinforces my candidacy, showing, as it does, that I am beyond the petty detail; more a man of principal.

Now Mr bin Hammam (his name as far as I know means 'of the Turkish bath'), together with Jack Warner, has been suspended, leaving the incumbent, Sepp Blatter, as the only candidate. I should just like to point out to the media that the word 'election' stems from the Latin for 'to choose' and if there is only one candidate it is not an election. For this we use the word 'appointment' or 'coronation'.

The reason I want to stick my small oar in is that this is extremely important to a great many people, and they don't deserve to be be let down by petty politicking and financial venality. I have no specific allegation to make, but I think it would surprise no one if they were all on the take. That's how it is with the Olympics.

Tax Freedom Day

The Adam Smith Institute reminds us that today is Tax Freedom Day: from 1st January until 29th May Britons were working for the State, to  pay their taxes. At 149 days this is 3 days longer than last year.

One of the reasons for this is that since the Coalition came to power the State has increased in size by 3%.

It takes a special kind of political incompetence to receive opprobrium for making cuts while in fact raising spending. 

29 May, 2011

FIFA: the solution

It is hard to know what to do about football’s governing body FIFA. A couple of its leading members are accused of accepting bribes, and when an investigation began, led by The Guardian newspaper, out of pique they didn’t award the World Cup to England. Instead they awarded it to Qatar, an astonishing decision given the fact the World Cup takes place in the summer, when the heat in that country reaches 50C. Now, of the two people competing for the leadership, one is accused of being involved in bribery concerning that award, and the other is accused of being aware of bribery going on and doing nothing.

There is, obviously, too much money going round in the game, but there is nothing we are likely to be able to do about that. Also obviously, the nature of the Federation, with over 200 national associations, many in countries where there is a different attitude to our own on this sort of thing, cannot be changed.

The only solution is for more light to be cast on the proceedings. Now that  the British Press has got in amongst it, we need more papers, more TV channels, more bloggers to do so. We need to restore public confidence and that can only be done through openness. The ridiculous Mr Blatter’s position is untenable. There needs to be an undoubted, trusted emergency candidate.

I suggest myself. Naturally I know nobody who plays or watches football, right-thinking people regarding it as a game played by Nancy-boys and watched by thugs. Clearly I would need to live in an apartment or hotel in Zurich, perhaps near the banking district, my expenses defrayed and a modest 7- figure salary to make sure I was incorruptible.

For the award of the World Cup I would naturally only favour those countries which make the right sort of application, showing the appropriate...er...enthusiasm.

26 May, 2011

Arrest of a not-guilty person

It would appear that a man, identified by the Serbian authorities as Ratko Mladic, has been arrested in.. er.. Serbia, having been in hiding for a decade.

I do hope we are going to afford him the courtesy of being considered innocent until proven guilty. The BBC News Channel described him as 'Europe's most wanted war criminal'. I have a feeling that if DSK (Dominic Strawss-Cohen Est Angl) had been described as 'New York's most wanted rapist' there might have been some small activity on the defamation front.

An interesting point was made by a man interviewed by, I think, Radio 4. Since we all, for nearly  twenty years, seem quite comfortable with the results of Mladic's policy (only 5% of refugees have managed to return, with no efforts to change this, and so the ethnic cleansing has been tacitly approved internationally) we can hardly call him a criminal: we agree with him.

The Serbian president, Boris Tadic, has said that nothing now stands in the way of his country joining the European Union.

The current EU rules are that any newly joining country simultaneously signs up for the euro.

Just thought I'd mention it.


When DSK (and I am still grumpy about the BBC's pronunciation. Dominic is an established Anglicisation for Dominique, why not use that?) was appointed to the IMF in 2007, Jean-Claude Juncker, leader of the eurozone, said it would probably be the last time the job went to a European. If the next appointment were to go to someone from the third world, the job as head of the World Bank would too, although Bob Zoellick could sensibly have his tenure renewed. So the US Administration must have got used to the idea that these changes were going to happen.

If Obama really wanted to look like a modern leader he would announce at the G8 that he was supporting one of the non-European candidates, either Carstens of Mexico (because Mexico is a client state of the US), Manuel of South Africa because that's who the 3rd World seem to want, or the increasingly pronounceable Shanmugaratnam (let's have an established Anglicisation for that!) because the Far East has put its house in order and can justifiably lecture, whereas Europe has not.

Go on Baroque (established Anglicisation), do something useful for the world.

A time for spear waving

Mr Obama’s visit to Britain is over, and we must be grateful for small mercies. Obama went for the tried and tested foreign policy gambit to re-election: when it’s going badly at home, show what a big swell you are abroad. In the process he had a good shot at making David Cameron look like a Statesman. Cameron’s coalition partners were allowed to meet the President, or it may have been just to talk soft furnishings with Michelle, but were not allowed to serve British sausages (as if they haven’t suffered enough) to the servicemen.

Britain for its part did its best, as with the Royal Wedding, to look as if it hasn’t yet escaped the nineteenth century. Can it really be that despite the defence cuts, despite the fact that our troops haven’t even got proper body armour, we still have a Royal Horse Artillery? What do they do all day? Col. Gaddafi has an excellent collection of Arab thoroughbreds so I expect they will be trying to get their hands on those. In fact I am beginning to think this whole exercise has been got up so we can appropriate the horses, the insanity of Gaddafi feeding the appetite of an empire which, no one seems to have noticed, imploded in 1948.

The US and the UK were, said Obama, preparing to turn a corner in Afghanistan. Heard this one before? We have turned so many corners that we have been going round in a circle, and are now facing the other way, preparing to leave, defeated.

At one point Obama, who is quite as militarily aggressive as his predecessor, seemed to be issuing a call to arms in the Middle East: ‘The US and the UK stand firmly on the side of those who long to be free’. ‘The time for leadership is now’. He actually said that. The film did not show parliamentarians slapping their sides, thrombotic with laughter, but I imagine that’s how it must have been.

So, it’s Saudi Arabia you are going to invade now is it, Barack?

 It is a time, he didn’t actually say, for pointless bravado.

25 May, 2011

The eurozone plays hardball

There is a strange story doing the rounds, that since Greece has not been denationalising fast enough, Government assets will be transferred into a trust, run by eurozone accountants, so the decision to denationalise an industry would be taken out of the elected Government's hands.

This would finally put and end to Greece's sovereignty; it would become a colony of Brussels.

'Such a plan is likely to raise opposition in Greece', says the Financial Times with an understatement you can only admire, 'but Mr de Jager (Dutch Finance Minister who is promoting the plan) says such considerations should be set aside. “Right now, we’re beyond sensitivities. Our common predicament is simply too serious,” he said.

Note how Mr de Jager thinks that the convenience of the Eurozone is more important than a country's independence.

Greece has got itself into this predicament but I do hope the Greek people will retain at least some shred of dignity and flatly refuse to abase themselves in this way.

24 May, 2011

End of the World, and of the BBC

You may think that my few days away from blogging were caused by the announcement of the end of the world on 21st May by Mr. Harold Camping. The Guardian reports that one of his followers, Robert Fitzpatrick, spent his life savings of $140,000 advertising the imminent Armageddon. I don’t know if he was disappointed when he woke on the morning to find he had not been taken to a Better Place. I expect he ‘phoned his friends just to make sure they hadn’t left without him. Mr. Camping is reported to have raised $100 million to publicise the non-event. He has now decided that the last day, which he calls ‘The Rapture’ will be on 21st October.

Actually it could have been mistaken for The Last Day here: violent electrical storms which blew not only the antenna, the router and the electrical supply to the computers but also the backup system. I am still looking for a system which works in bad weather.

Even worse news than the End of the World is that the BBC has now officially given up trying to pronounce Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s name. It should be Stroasse-Kahn but they say Strauss-Kahn. An insider tells me they have said it is an acceptable Anglicisation*. Of course an Anglicisation would be Strawss-Kahn. This is a Germanisation, to make it sound like the family of 19th century Austrian composers.

As to DSK, he is out on bail, but the police are telling sordid tales of Clintonian substances on the woman’s dress. It may be true, it may be false, but I fear we are about to hear the bits we really didn’t want to hear.

*Of course the BBC does not comment on what is acceptable. I should have written 'an established Anglicisation'

20 May, 2011

Tempus Fugit

The Amondawa tribe of the Amazon, first discovered by the outside world in 1986, apparently has no word for, or concept of, time.

Anthropologists are still trying to discover how all those Italians made it out there in the first place.

IMF: the runners and riders

The starters are lining up. The post of IMF Head has been European for all its 63 years, except when the European head has resigned (Horst Kohler of Germany and DSK) and the deputy has carried on. In all except 12 of the last 48 years it has been held by a Frenchman. The US holds 17% of the votes, Europe 25%, China only 4.4% (according to a formula established after World War II).

Here they are, then.

Christine Lagarde, 55 Finance Minister, France. The French are putting it about that she is a financial rock star but in fact she is neither of those things, being a lawyer and having silver-grey hair (although so does Jimmy Page). She is wedded to the existing policy of bailouts, but is possibly the best hope for those who want a European in the job. The Bookies' favourite.


Axel Weber, 55, ex-head of German Bundesbank. Mrs Merkel is known to want a tough, disciplinary German in the job. That is to say that she is happy with the bailout policy but wants rigid financial discipline imposed on the bailed out countries. Weber had been proposed for the ECB job but turned it down.

Augustin Carstens, 52, Governor of the Bank of Mexico, worked at the IMF 2003-6 a positive hawk who would be less sympathetic than DSK was to the European cause.

Trevor Manuel, 55 finance Minister, S.Africa, 1996-2009. Well regarded economist, some doubt his abilities with the bureaucracy.

Kemal Dervis, ex-economy minister, Turkey very highly regarded, and has experience of rescheduling a failed country’s debt (his own). May not be recommended by Turkey, which would exclude him.

Stanley Fischer, Governor Central Bank of Israel, 1st Deputy MD IMF 1994-2001 A positive hawk, with experience of the IMF. But Israeli.....

John Lipsky current acting MD of the IMF, he had wanted to stand down in August. American, which means if he wanted the job the US could not realistically have the World Bank head.

Mario Draghi (see below) Governor of the Bank of Italy. Had been earmarked for the ECB but who knows....

Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Finance Minister of Singapore, chair IMF monetary & financial committee. Many people think it right that the job should go to an Asian Tiger. He is sound, knows the IMF and would be my preferred candidate if I could pronounce his name.

Lagarde has said that Europe should field only one candidate (don’t know if she has anyone in mind) but it is not certain that France and Germany can agree on this. Equally it is not certain the other countries can field a single preferred choice. In my view the system is hopelessly outdated and needs some fresh blood.

There may be other candidates but these seem the most likely. They’re under starter’s orders....

19 May, 2011

Super Mario

When I first wrote about Mario Draghi, in September 2009, he was such a little known figure that it was difficult to get a photograph of him, except one with a lady I supposed to be his wife (sorry, with all this scandal about I should make it clear that I am not trying to say that she is a prostitute or a hotel chambermaid, only that they are together in the picture and I didn’t know what his wife looked like, either. Phew!)

Now of course, photographs of Draghi are everywhere. This one shows him after a night out with fellow central bankers in the via Veneto having stolen a helmet from one of the Italian Presidential Guard (no, sorry, I made that up).

It seems Super Mario has got the support of the people who matter (Merkel, Sarkozy) to become the replacement for Jean Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank.

There was initially opposition to his candidacy because he was Italian, officials whispering that they couldn’t be represented by someone from a country with such a casual attitude to monetary control. I think this shows just how far Europe has come since 1957 (no distance at all). Draghi is however the best candidate, and in my view will do the job well.

My reservations are two. The first is that he might be needed back in Italy for whatever happens post-Berlusconi. My dream team would be Luca Cordera di Montezemolo, Emma Marcegaglia (head of the Italian CBI) and Mario Draghi.

The second reservation is that he is perhaps Europe’s last serious candidate for the replacement to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who has resigned as head of the IMF. Gordon Brown is of course ruled out for conspicuous incompetence, and would not be supported by is own country, and Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, is, well, French (although she has an unblemished record with chambermaids). There are excellent candidates from Turkey, Singapore and other countries.

We do not yet know Draghi’s views on whether the likes of Greece should be bailed out or allowed to default. We should. It is something he would have to deal with in any of the above roles.

DSK latest

There is talk that DSK is on suicide watch in prison, that a former pimp has said she supplied girls to him and that one of them complained about his violent behaviour, and that the lady in the current case lives in an AIDS hostel.

Of course none of this may be true, but it all makes you think.

In his letter of resignation DSK said "I think at this time first of my wife - whom I love more than anything - of my children, of my family, of my friends."


A ddifficult subject and not really one I had wanted to tackle.

The Justice Secretary, Ken Clarke, has said on radio that there are different categories of rape, and the whole world is up in arms, calling for his resignation.

OK. A young man of 17 and a girl of 15yrs 11 months fall in love and decide to consummate their relationship in an informed, loving and consensual way. Under our law the young man is guilty of rape because the girl, not yet sixteen, cannot be deemed to have consented to intercourse.

Even the meanest intelligence, which must surely include the bevy of self-righteous activists mouthing off yesterday, can see that our young man has committed a crime of a completely different level of gravity to the husband who forces himself on his estranged wife, or the masked attacker who preys upon passing women. In these cases a woman's life can be ruined whereas in the case of the couple above it is not.

So there are different categories, or levels of gravity of rape.

Mr Clarke, who has a reputation for being a loose cannon, was an idiot to get into this in the first place. It appears though, that what he wanted to do is offer guilty rapists a reduction in their sentence if they pleaded guilty at the start of the trial, thereby saving the woman the trauma of going through what must be an appalling occasion for her, of months of confrontation with her attacker, and slur cast on her own life. Clarke believed, possibly rightly, that this would encourage more women to come forward with their accusations, without fear.

But the public is not ready for this and Clarke, an experienced politician, should have known that.

17 May, 2011

How to get on

Quote of the day on Radio 4 from David Brookes, a social scientist who has conducted some rather spurious research on how people mould their own lives. "People called Dennis are more likely to become dentists, people called Lawrence are more likely to become lawyers. That's why my daughter is called 'President of the United States'"

Arresting the bad guys

The International Criminal Court is said to be considering issuing an arrest warrant for Colonel Gaddafi. I don't quite know who is going to execute the warrant given that the UN has prohibited the use of troops on the ground. A British Bobby, maybe.

I expect that at the same time the ICC will be issuing warrants for the arrest of the leadership in Burma, Zimbabwe and China, all of whom are guilty of arbitrary imprisonment, torture and murder of their own citizens.


16 May, 2011

Thoughts on DSK

- At his bail hearing DSK looked dreadful. Gone was the soigné performer who topped up his perfume twice a day, the confident chaud lapin ladies' man. I was reminded of PG Wodehouse’s description of one of his characters... ‘He stared ahead, like a man who has drained the cup of life to its lees and found a dead mouse at the bottom’

- There will be a lot of stuff in the French and European Press about hick Americans having it in for the European haut monde, but I wouldn’t have granted him bail. They had to hoick him off a flight to a country with no proper extradition arrangements. Once he made it to France it would take a Presidential order to extradite him back to the USA, and if they kept that paedophile film director Polanski they would keep DSK (now he has been ruined).

- If Sarkozy has been behind this it might occasion him some regret: it is only a tradition that Europe gets the post of head of the IMF (the Americans get the World Bank) and the increasingly powerful developing countries are jealous of this. They also think too much attention and money has been given to Europe recently rather than to other more needy countries. Now is their chance to upset this applecart, and they have some good candidates.

- We don't yet know what John Lipsky, DSK's deputy, thinks about the bailouts of Greece and Portugal

Fear of the foreign

Some people seem to think Europe is crashing around their ears. Other than the euro having been found out, the latest problem is the Schengen Agreement. This pact, signed in 1985 actually predates the EU, but is regarded as a central plank of the European Project. It provides for borderless crossings between the signature countries, so if you are an Albanian who has got into Greece (not too difficult I am told) you can travel to Germany to find work.

When looking at the EU and its various agreements, pacts and directives, you have to imagine a bureaucratic mindset where whatever is decreed will happen. If it looks as if it isn’t happening we don’t need to question the bureaucratic system, we need more directives, more regulation. It was obvious that the one size fits all interest rate of the euro would lead to strains on the system but instead of doing something positive a whole new system of bailouts, new loans and so on is created.

Equally it was obvious that mass migration would threaten the Schengen Agreement. They tried to put caps on migration from new EU countries but they are coming from all over. There are two specific threats to Schengen: firstly Denmark reinstated border controls and let it be known that it was saving billions by not allowing foreigners in. Other countries will consider doing the same. The second threat concerns the Arab Spring. As of last month, 26,000 refugees had arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year. Of these, 23,000 are young Tunisians without hope of political asylum. Don’t forget that they are almost all men. If one establishes himself in a country he sends for his wife and family, so you have to count double for each immigrant.

Tunisians make their way to the island of Lampedusa because it is not far to go (it is nearer Tunisia than Italy), but it is quite obvious where they want to end up. Almost everyone in the north of Tunisia speaks French as a second language.

So the Italians processed the arrivals on Lampedusa and those whom they couldn’t send home they gave a visa and put them on the train to France. The French were outraged at this, perhaps forgetting it is exactly what they had done with Britain, and intercepted the train.

But it is clear, is it not, that immigration is a Europe-wide problem. Immigrants see France, Germany and Britain as a far better prospect than Italy so they will make their way up the peninsula, now planting tomatoes (backbreaking work which the Italians don’t want to do) then picking them, then grapes in September / October then olives in November / December. By winter you want to be somewhere where there is factory work and that means France or Germany.

If the European Union is to mean anything at all, countries must get together to solve a Europe-wide problem. But they only think of their own narrow self-interest, while complaining that it is their neighbours who lack the esprit communautaire.

15 May, 2011


President Sarkozy of France is certain that he can beat Ségolène Royal in the Presidential race, as he did last time. Equally he is certain he can beat her husband, François Hollande, or the insane communist Martine Aubry. And he knows that if Marine Le Pen, who is doing remarkably well in the polls, were to make it into a run off, the left would vote for him, holding their noses, as they did for Chirac when Marine’s father Jean-Marie was a contender.

The person he is worried about is Dominique Strauss-Kahn (by the way it is pronounced Stroasse – only Radio 4 seems to take the trouble to get it right), 62 year old head of the IMF.

Now DSK has been arrested in New York for alleged attempted rape of a chambermaid at an hotel.

DSK has a reputation, which he has rather encouraged, as being a grand séducteur, and was put on probation at the IMF a while back for having an affair with a subordinate.

Of course these things don’t get reported in France when committed by the great and good, because of their ridiculous privacy laws. But they do in America.

For DSK to continue either at the IMF or as a Presidential candidate this will have to be nipped in the bud pretty quickly, and even then, with his reputation, it is not going to look good.

Lucky Sarkozy?

There are whispers that luck had nothing to do with it.

14 May, 2011


The State of Israel is 63 years old today.

The day after its founding, 15th May, it was invaded by several Arab States and you wouldn't have bet good money on its lasting 6 months, let alone 63 years.

This blog wishes Israel well, and is prepared to listen to criticism from those Arab countries which, like Israel, are functioning democracies (none of them).

12 May, 2011

Nearly right

In the end the earthquake was in Spain.

It turned out the guy did his forecasting according to the alignment of the planets, which are presumably the same for the Spanish.......

Probably as good a method as any other. The problem is now everyone will believe Raffaele Bendandi's predictions, or at least his system (he died in 1979).

11 May, 2011

Shaking in their boots

There is news that up to a fifth of Romans will take the day off and try to leave the city today. This is due to a prediction made in 1915 that today would see a severe earthquake in the city.

It just goes to show the extraordinary superstition of the Italians, a nation which despite its devotion to the Church, enjoys astrology and fortune telling.

If only we could forecast earthquakes....

09 May, 2011

Gay shock

A major study in California has decided that homosexual men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer as heterosexuals.

We are bombarded with medical studies these days and most are reported and then forgotten about. What the trendy left media, such as the BBC, are going to do with this information I really don’t know. My guess is that they will simply not report it, as being against everything they believe in.

But there is interest for the rest of us in this report. It used to be that the things that were going to kill you – the BBC implies it is your fault – were smoking and drinking. Now, it seems there is a bigger evil.

The advice of this blog is only to put yourself at a certain amount of risk. So if you like a drink and a cigarette, and a man comes up to you saying ‘Hello Sweetie’, tell him you simply can’t give up the beer and fags, sorry.


Today is Europe Day, known in some places as Schumann Day.

Both concepts are bogus: Europe is not a country, even though our unelected masters seem to think it is. Schumann was not the architect of the European undemocratic, bureaucratic nightmare which we see today; that was Jean Monnet, civil servant and former cognac manufacturer.

In a welcome development,10 Downing St has refused to fly the European flag (shown here)

I don't quite know what we are supposed to do on Europe Day - there has been no suggestion of street parties, even though the locals where I am will celebrate almost anything.

Perhaps it is a day for reflection. So reflect on this: Britain pays fantastic sums into the EU each year - this year it will be €13.7 billion and only gets a little back (€8.3 billion). But even so that should not be deducted to give a net cost: we can only apply the €8.3 billion where our European masters say we can (not, for example, to reducing the national debt).

This has been a very, very expensive exercise which has merely saddled us with more regulation and less democracy. There has never been a better time for leaving.

08 May, 2011

Robert Johnson

Today Robert Johnson, the great blues player, had he lived, would be 100 years old. He died aged 27, believed to have been poisoned by a jealous husband.

A myth grew up, encouraged by Johnson, that he had sold his soul to the Devil, in return for prowess at the guitar.

07 May, 2011

The Euro in danger

A strange story emerged on the Der Spiegel website last night: that Greece had decided to leave the euro and was in talks with eurozone finance ministers. It was denied by Brussels, but then it would be.

Greece - together with most economists - has concluded that it is not going to be able to pay back its debt. There are riots on the streets, and the Government is threatened.

Lending it more money is not the answer. I have been saying for several years that the Eurozone needs a mechanism for countries to go bust within it, or to leave it.

The financial markets have kept the euro strong, because they believed that the system of bailouts would work, and nobody would lose out by lending to the poorer countries. That belief is now under threat. Greece simply cannot make the repayments and maintain social cohesion. And if Greece is forgiven part of its debt, how long before Portugal and Ireland want the same treatment? And what will happen to the banks which are holding so much debt from these peripheral countries without having to write it down? If Greece leaves the euro its debts will be worth 60c per €, and the banks would have to make provisions.

Things are not looking good in the Garden of Eden.

North of the border

It is sometimes easy to forget that Scotland represents only 8 or 9% of the people of the UK (although I often think there are more Scots outside Scotland than inside). Yesterday was such a time, with the media full of the results of the local elections.

It was an astonishing win for the Scottish National Party, and its leader Alex Salmond who have gone in the space of a few years from localised cranks to the governing party.

There was not much talk during the campaign about Scottish independence, although that is what the SNP are about. Speculation is now about when – not whether – they will introduce a referendum on the subject.

Fraser Nelson, the former political editor of the Scotsman, writing in Coffee House speculates that it will be next year, when the Westminster Government is at its most unpopular. I think that most Scots are nervous about taking this plunge and that is why Mr Salmond played it down during the campaign.

2016 is my guess, giving him five years to show how Scotland can live independently of the UK.

Electoral Systems

Now that the electorate has decisively opted for First Past the Post (FPTP) for Westminster elections, it is time to turn our attention to the hotch-potch of other systems used in Britain.

The Scottish Parliament currently uses the Additional Members System, The Welsh Assembly the Regional Top-up system, London Mayoral elections the Supplementary vote and MEPs the D’Hondt system except N. Ireland which uses the Single Transferable Vote.

Only FPTP has democratic legitimacy and it should be used for all British elections.

05 May, 2011

bin Laden

Having had Osama bin Laden shot in the head, Mr Obama seems to have turned the gun on his own foot.

At least we assume it was Osama bin Laden who was shot. The President said so.

But now we can't see the film of the attack because it contains pictures of a dead man, as if such things were not shown daily on the television. One witness says bin Laden was captured alive and then shot. Will they submit the film for independent scrutiny?

The body was spirited away by Special Forces to an aircraft carrier and buried at sea after a DNA analysis proved it was without doubt him. If we can't see the disturbing pictures can we see the DNA analysis? This involves comparing a sample from the dead man with another, perhaps of a close relative. Presumably American forces got an independent doctor to do this and it is completely above board, so can we see it?

Obama was on course to receive a massive boost to his popularity after this bold coup, but now risks that that boost dissipates in the face of rumour and insinuation. He should remember that it was only the other day that he had to publish his own birth certificate to prove he was born in America.

If the President has to identify himself properly then the same should go for bin Laden.

Stop this

Sandor Kepiro is 97.

He has been arrested for 'complicity' in the murders of several people in Novi Sad, Hungary, in January 1942 when Hungary was an ally of Nazi Germany.

January 1942 was more than 69 years ago.

Really, this nonsense has to stop.

03 May, 2011

Dye another day

Strange. Pictures of Osama bin Laden before and after his death show that he dyed his beard.

I expect the much vaunted CIA operation was simply following the Grecian 2000

02 May, 2011

The Alternative Con

Well, it’s been quite a couple of days. First the Royal Wedding, then the beatification of John Paul II, for which it is said more than a million people gathered in Vatican City, now the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

A fourth major event occurs on Thursday, and for me at least it is highly important: the vote in the UK on changing the voting system. I am against the Alternative Vote and I should like to say why.

One reason is that second and third choices seem to me bogus votes. The system’s promoters say that a candidate has to get 50% of the votes, but if the Labour candidate scrapes a win on the back of my voting him third out of four, can he really say he got my vote? And with candidates having to pander to all sides it will be the death of conviction politics. No one will be able to campaign on what he really thinks, only on what he thinks will upset the people least. There will be no more Enoch Powells, no more Tony Benns, no more Dennis Skinners. Just dull people who toe the line.

But my main objection is that I am certain it will lead to a continual state of coalition; as we often see in Europe, the same people in charge seemingly forever, but in different groupings, different flavours.

The pro-AV camp seem to be worried about this, and are trotting out misleading statements about Australia, the only serious country in the world which uses the AV system. They say that there are fewer hung parliaments in Australia than even in England.

The truth is that we are not being invited to select the Australian system where for many years now it has been the law that you have to vote: it is a criminal offence not to. This and other factors have in time resulted in a two party system. Of course, if voters perceive their choice as one party or the other there is not going to be a round of complicated coalition negotiations: one wins, the other loses. But in Britain it is more complicated. As John Howard, four times Prime Minister of Australia pointed out, Britain has two and a half parties (in fact, with UKIP and the Greens, you can spot a couple of little quarter parties nudging through). So Britain is likely to form coalitions under the AV system whereas Australia is not.

And why are coalitions wrong? For the simple reason that the policies are made after you have voted, your future decided by the political elite without your input. As we saw in the UK elections last May, the Government's policy was stitched up by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg and now whenever they are asked something they refer to the ‘Coalition Agreement’. You never voted on this. So if, for example you voted Liberal Democrat because they weren’t going to have tuition fees, you have been cheated. If, like me, you voted Conservative because Mr Cameron was going to repatriate powers from Europe (and, incidentally was going to have nothing to do with changing the voting system), cheated. You aren’t asked to vote again on the ‘Coalition Agreement’, you take what these two decide for you.

AV is, quite simply, undemocratic.

On the radio programme ‘Any Questions’ the other day a couple of panellists admitted they were going for AV because it would eventually lead to the AV+ system of proportional representation. This is an even worse system, where some of the candidates are elected as above, and a percentage come from a party list: you don’t vote for them, they are the Leader’s cronies. This is how Berlusconi’s dental hygienist became a legislator in Bologna. Remember Helmut Kohl? He was caught with his hand in the till, and his constituency voters quite rightly voted him out. But the following day he was back, being one of the Party List: not just an unelected candidate but a rejected candidate put into a position of power by his friends. This is corrupt and an insult to the voters.

I urge you to have nothing to do with AV. Vote NO.

Osama bin Laden

I am concerned that the celebrations in New York may be premature.

The death of bin Laden is not the end of terrorism.

It is not even the death of al Qaeda.

The reasons why these people plot outrages against civilians still subsist. Bin Laden was a figurehead and their movement is damaged, but they are still there.

01 May, 2011

Vox Pop

As I write, the procedure for the beatification of John Paul II is beginning in St Peter's.

Quite a lot of people seem to be against this, on the grounds that he was a conservative Pope, with all the implications for abortion, contraception and female priesthood that implies, and because of the great paedophilia scandals in the Church during his time.

I think this is a mistake: he is being beatified not for his papacy but for the holiness of his life. In this procedure, three 'voices' are heard and synthesised: vox dei, the voice of God, vox ecclesiae, the voice of the church and vox populi, the voice of the people, sometimes called the sensus fidelium, the consensus of the faithful. This last is particularly strong. Homes and offices have his image on the wall: the faithful want John Paul II to become a saint.

And he will.