30 May, 2013

The last days of the Empire

Recent news from Europe:

Britain is to be taken to court for not giving arriving migrants the same benefits as people who live in Britain and have paid taxes for them. Countries which do not offer any benefits will not suffer in this way.

Next year vacuum cleaners are to be less powerful, for energy saving reasons. Of course if you are slovenly and only use a vacuum cleaner once a year you will not be given any credit.

And we are paying them to come up with these rules which govern us.

I just ask: how long are we going to put up with this?

29 May, 2013

The Rule of Law

Eighty or ninety Afghan nationals are being held without trial, without even being charged, at the British base at Camp Bastion. They wouldn't even allow the detainees to be represented by a lawyer until a British lawyer threatened to take the British Government to court.

To have any effect whatsoever on the prospects of returning this benighted country to the rule of law we must first show that we understand it ourselves.

This puts us down on the level of the Americans (Guantanamo) and the terrorists themselves.

And our trigger happy Foreign Secretary wants to have a pop at the Syrians.

28 May, 2013

The meaning of loyalty

Tesco, the supermarket chain, has announced an anti-obesity campaign. I'm sure I don't have to remind you, but this is a supermarket. Not a government department.

The idea is that Tesco uses the information available to it on its loyalty card to look at what you are eating and....what? There have been hints that it might post healthy recipes to its 'loyal' customers who have been eating the 'wrong' things: 'Hi! You've been buying quite a few cupcakes recently. Would you like a recipe for grilled courgettes with lettuce?' Or will there be a little hiatus at the check-out as the cashier announces 'I'm afraid you're limited to two pizzas a week at the moment - getting a bit tubby aren't we?' Or the registered letter to your home 'YOU FAT COW! YOU'RE STUFFING YOURSELF WITH CALORIES AND YOU HAVE AN ARSE LIKE A HIPPO! DON'T COME BACK UNLESS YOU'RE GOING TO BUY SOME SALAD!'.

So you shop at Tesco and sufficiently regularly to have one of these loyalty cards, then they use some of the profit they have made out of you to tell you what to eat.

This looks to me very much like one of those occasions where it would have been better to remain silent.

27 May, 2013

News from France

Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Paris against homosexual marriage, some, presumably feeling strongly about the subject, fighting with the riot police. A popular slogan chanted by the crowds was 'Hollande, your mother isn't called Robert'.

The top prize at the Cannes Film Festival went to a three hour saga about two lesbian lovers which includes an explicit 15 minute sex scene.

I suppose it's all right as long as you don't want to get married. Let's think about that.

25 May, 2013

The way the money goes

It is reported that the BBC has lost £100 million on a computer project, trying to digitise its programme content. I expect this was run by one of those organisations which calls itself a management consultant but which is in fact just a group of programmers and slick salesmen. They use language like 'driving change' and 'optimising outcomes' and I expect the BBC trendies fell for it hook, line and sinker. Even so, it's hard to see how they got the sum up to £100 million without any checks to see if just some of it might conceivably be being wasted.

This is another disaster for the BBC, and just look at the sackings!...oh...in fact, none.

They have however managed to spend money hiring left-wing Lord Hall as Director General, left-wing Ian Katz, former deputy editor of the BBC's favourite newspaper, the Guardian, as editor of Newsnight, and left-wing James Purnell, former Labour cabinet minister as head of 'strategy and digital' on a salary reported to be around £300,000 a year. Mr Purnell doesn't seem to have resigned his post following this calamity on his watch.

23 May, 2013


You may have heard about an extraordinary piece of nonsense, even by the standards of the European Union, concerning olive oil.

The practice of restaurants offering you little bowls or jugs of olive oil is to be banned, just in case it isn't very nice olive oil, even if the menu didn't say whether it was nice or nasty, Italian or Algerian. All olive oil will have to be in single disposable bottles which can't be tampered with so you know what you are getting. This is great news for the big producers but terrible for the small ones, where a restaurant might choose to put out its own or a small local artisanal product (I am just such a producer myself).

Here's what our Prime Minister David Cameron said: 'This is exactly the sort of area the European Union needs to get right out of, in my view'.

Fair enough, but it now transpires that many countries were going to oppose this and could have stopped it but that Britain, among others, abstained at the last minute, letting it through. Yes, Britain. Mr Hypocrite Cameron said 'Our argument was bound up with a whole set of  arguments we were having about rules of origin and the rest of it and I won't go into the tedious complexities.'

Thanks, Matey, but I should like you to go into the 'tedious complexities'. I should like to know why this happened that we approved something even though the Prime Minister was against it (it is being said that it was some junior civil servant who, I bet, hasn't been sacked). And I should like to know why the PM allowed himself to criticise it when he had nodded it through.

Is this how most of our laws are passed?

Good grief.

PS I now learn that the European Commission is withdrawing the measure on the grounds that it is unpopular. Suggestions that they are considering 1,429,532 other measures on similar grounds are probably wishful thinking.

21 May, 2013

Tory splits

The party Mr Johnson wants to lead, The Conservatives, seems hopelessly divided. Last night Mr Cameron had to rely on the Labour Party to get his legislation, on gay marriage, through.

I don't think it is impossible for the Tories to recover - they have emerged from such schisms before - but nor do I think, as some newspapers have suggested, that they are 'split down the middle'. It seems to me that the activists and supporters, the party in the country, know pretty well where they stand, on marriage, Europe, immigration and so on, and that their representatives in parliament are by and large in the same place (it should be noted that whilst there have been rebellions of around half the parliamentary party, the large numbers of cabinet and junior ministers, PPS's and bag carriers, known as the payroll vote, aren't allowed to rebel, even if they think the same as the rebels).

What is splitting the party is Mr. Cameron and a small coterie of advisers who are closet social democrats. Cameron was doubted by many in 2005 but made leader because they thought he was a winner. In the 2010 General Election he missed the greatest open goal in political history and seems to be celebrating this feat by going off on a frolic of his own, employing as party chairman an old university friend who thinks the party's supporters are 'swivel-eyed loons'.

There is, just, time to get rid of Mr. Cameron, although I suspect that his obvious replacement, Mr Johnson (see below) might be found out within a few months. Probably their best bet is to go into the election with their fingers crossed and afterwards have a good clear-out. Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, is my tip.

Alexander....the truth

No, not the Macedonian warrior king but the politician Alexander Johnson, who calls himself Boris.

For some time now newspapers have wanted to publish news of a child he fathered with an art dealer, but they were subject to a gagging order. The Court of Appeal has now ruled. The Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Dyson, said:

‘The core information in this story, namely that the father had an adulterous affair with the mother, deceiving both his wife and the mother’s partner, and that the child, born about nine months later, was likely to be the father’s child, was a public interest matter which the electorate was entitled to know when considering his fitness for high public office.’

'It is fanciful to expect the public to forget the fact that a man who is said to be the baby’s father, and who is a major public figure, has fathered a child after a brief adulterous affair (not for the first time).

‘The mother accepted in cross-examination that any woman who embarked on an affair with the father was “playing with fire” and that such an affair was bound to attract “very considerable media attention”.’

Now, I don't want to be too old fashioned. I know that people stray; relationships, which once seemed watertight, fall apart, but I do think that a person's conduct of his or her private life is relevant when the electorate consider 'fitness for public office' (and Johnson wants a much higher office than that he currently holds). I might think, in fact I do think, that a man who treats his marriage vows in such a cavalier way might treat in similar fashion the undertakings he makes to me as an elector. This is at least the second time he has done this, on another occasion, it is said, paying for the woman to have an abortion. We are not talking about him sitting down with his wife and deciding that they should go their separate ways (despite having children of their own); we are talking about him cheating. His horrified wife threw him out of the family home when she discovered. It is as if Mr Johnson, like Leona Helmsley who said 'taxes are for little people', thought these vows were something for others, perhaps his wife, to obey. It looks as if he thought it was beneath him.

That is why it is right that this has come out and that is why I would not vote for Mr Johnson, or a party led by him.

19 May, 2013


I have often thought that 'Eurovision' suggests that there is a common TV channel which we all, Estonians, Bulgarians and Maltese, are listening to together. Of course there isn't and we're not. It is just a singing competition which usefully, for a Eurosceptic like me, highlights our differences.

Many countries do their best not to win this ..er.. prestigious event because the winner has to put the show on next year and it is expensive. British voters are unlikely to want public money spent on anything beginning with 'Euro'.

Our technique for not winning, which distinguishes us from other nations, is to field a has-been. Last year Engelbert Humperdinck, a septuagenarian who wasn't even good listening in the 1960s, came triumphantly last. This year I thought we were taking a bit of a risk putting up Bonny Tyler, who used to have a powerful, smoky voice, like a female Rod Stewart. But....she is in her sixties, not many people remember her and the voice has gone a bit. She came 19th, which was a bit too close for comfort. Denmark won it, with a pretty 20 year old singer and a bland song.

Who should have won? No doubt about it, Greece, with the attractively named Koza Mostra and the intriguing 'Alcohol is Free'.


But the Greeks can't afford to stage the competition, either.

15 May, 2013

I yield to no one

Angelina Jolie, the actress, has written a letter to the New York times outlining how and why she has had a mastectomy.

I don't want this.

It's not just that it's too much information (although it is), it's why she did it. Ms Jolie sees herself as a role model who can help other women in similar circumstances.

i don't see it that way. For me it is all of a piece with Bono, a singer, shouting at politicians about children in the Amazon rainforest, or George Clooney demanding to address the United Nations (in one of their only sensible decisions in decades, they refused to hear him).

I yield to no one in my respect for Ms Jolie as an actress; perhaps she is a good one (although I have a suspicion she isn't) and she must, of all people, realise that there is a difference between Mother Theresa and the actress hired to play her in a film (I'm sure Ms Jolie is too attractive to get the part, I am speaking figuratively).

I want Ms Jolie to be an actress, nothing more. If she uses some of her income to help women with breast cancer, that is excellent. We do not need as a standard bearer for a serious problem someone who for a living pretends to be something she is not.

14 May, 2013

Game on!

With regard to the Prime Minister's in and out running in respect of a referendum on Europe, a memorable quote from Michael, Lord Forsyth

'David Cameron's position is that he is trying to persuade the golf club to play tennis, but that if they refuse, he will continue to play golf'

I expect that's clear, isn't it?

Helpful friends

I have mentioned several times in this blog that President Obama does not like the United Kingdom or its people and that we should act accordingly.

Now he wants us to stay in the EU. We remember Henry Kissinger saying 'when I want to speak to Europe who do I call?' It is convenient for America to have all these allies and semi-allies (I am thinking of the French here) grouped under one umbrella.

What I often say to Americans who promote this is, OK, imagine America as part of a large grouping, say, including Canada, Central and South America. The grouping is run by unelected bureaucrats (because no one trusts local politicians; people like congressmen and senators, they're biased in favour of their own nationality) and the whole thing is managed from a neighbouring small country, let's say Guatemala. America has to show the Federal budget to Guatemala before it goes to Congress, and it may be returned with restrictions on what it can spend its own money on. Hot dogs have to be of a certain size (no bigger than in Mexico, no smaller than in Peru) and have a controlled amount of mustard. Oh, and America has to pay billions each year to be a member of such a club.

Don't like it, Barry? then remain silent.

12 May, 2013

Another one!

The cabinet minister Michael Gove has said in an interview that if there were a referendum on the subject tomorrow, he would vote to leave the EU.

I came to this conclusion in the autumn of 1991 and was branded a swivel-eyed xenophobe.

By people like Michael Gove.

Avoidance and the duck

At a sort of pre-meeting of G8 finance ministers prior to the G8 summit there has been an undertaking to do something about tax avoidance. The meeting was in Aylesbury and no one will be surprised that they look as if they are going to duck the issue (sorry).

I get confused and alarmed at all the nonsense spoken about tax avoidance, which is of course perfectly legal (when it is illegal it is called 'evasion'). So it's rather like being persecuted for driving at 69mph in a 70mph limit. 'And to cap it all the swine Hedges had a particularly accurate speedometer on his car. If that isn't cheating I don't know what is'.

We pay the amount of tax the Treasury tells us to pay or we are subject to the criminal law. Sometimes big companies do a deal with the Revenue before setting up. Recently the Chancellor did a deal with the makers of the new Star Wars film, so that it can be made in Britain. Are they tax avoiders? Is someone evil f he pays a little bit more into his pension scheme, thereby paying less tax?

One of the common schemes for avoiding tax is transfer pricing. This is one of the accusations against Starbucks coffee. The coffee is owned by a company in a low tax area and sells it into Britain for a high price, such that the profit accrues in the low tax area. Sneaky? Then why does the government allow it? Several countries, including Germany, I think, don't allow this. We do, because we want these multinationals trading in our country.

Now the multinational always has the threat to trade elsewhere, just as the Star Wars people threatened to film elsewhere. So for a co-ordinated action we are going to have to standardise the rules, between Germany, America, France, the Netherlands Antilles and so on.

Not really likely. An Aylesbury duck.

07 May, 2013

Joy in Heaven

Two dramatic changes of heart. The first from former German Finance Minister Oskar Lafontaine, one of the architects of the euro, who now declares it ought to be broken up.

The second is from Nigel Lawson former British Chancellor, who believed Britain could never conquer inflation unless it joined the euro. He now states not only that we shouldn't be in the euro, but that we should leave the European Union.

'Joy shall be in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth'

06 May, 2013

Syria warning

In my post on Syuria a few days ago I mentioned that there was evidence that chemical weapons had been used but no  proof as to who had fired them. Now, a UN human rights observer says there is some evidence that they were fired by the rebels, the people the British and French are determined to give more weaponry to, and who contain among their number groups affiliated to al-Qaeda.

Really, we must keep out of this, before it gets even worse.


There is something about elder statesmen that everyone seems to respect. When, say, Dennis Healy
dies, people will remember his good points, not the fact that we had to go begging to the IMF to bail us out.

With Giulio Andreotti, who has died aged 94, this may not be so easy. He was Prime Minister of Italy three times, for a total of around six years between 1972 and 1992. As a Christian Democrat, he was close to what we would now call the worst side of the Catholic Church, the side Pope Francis is determined to get rid of. He was also close to the Mafia. A number of inconvenient people disappeared or died on his watch, including former Prime Minister Aldo Moro, kidnapped by the Red Brigades in 1978, whom Andreotti was accused of doing little to help; also disgraced banker and member of the P2 masonic lodge Michele Sindona (Andreotti was also a member of the lodge) who died of a poisoned coffee in the Voghera prison in 1986. It was said later that Sindona simply knew too much and Andreotti supplied the sugar for his coffee.

Andreotti tells us much about Italy today: he is the low point of where it has been since the war and the rise of Beppe Grillo is due to Italy's failure to kill off the modern day Andreottis.

Margaret Thatcher said of him 'He seemed to have a positive aversion to principle, even a conviction that a man of principle was doomed to be a figure of fun.' One of my local farmers said simply 'He ate us.'

03 May, 2013


The Conservative Party is looking for new premises after students broke in and took control of it so easily that the insurance premiums have rocketed.

A wag from UKIP suggested they might be looking as far afield as Holland, the best place to find a disused windmill with a licence to perform gay weddings.

02 May, 2013

Let Them Go

It seems that an American citizen, Kenneth Bae, has been arrested in North Korea (where he worked as a tour guide) and condemned to 15 years' hard labour. We cannot even be sure what crimes he has committed.

So, will America be rallying the Free World in condemnation of the treatment of its citizen? I don't think so. Poor Mr Bae may well be forgotten because America is in no position to protest against the arrest and locking up of people without a proper trial.

During the course of his first election campaign Obama promised to dismantle Guantanamo Bay. He did nothing about it, and got re-elected without even mentioning it.

Now most of the inmates are on hunger strike. You can't blame them. They have been imprisoned for years without being properly charged or tried before a court. In Guantanamo Bay America has lost any claim it had to be the leader of the Free World or a force for good. Its behaviour is morally the same as that of al Qaeda; or North Korea.

And now, before one of the prisoners dies, Obama has promised to do something about it, but without being specific.

Here's what you can do, Barry: send them for trial or let them go.