28 April, 2014

More racism

The media have not been shy of telling us that the UK Independence Party has had a bad week, being referred to everywhere now as 'racist'.

UKIP promptly went on to top the opinion polls, being now expected to come first in the European Elections.

They must be doing something right, mustn't they?

I sometimes wonder how it would be if the whole country, other than a few bien pensant lefties in London, turned out to be, in their terms, 'racist'. It reminds me of that East German politician who said 'the people have lost the trust of the state'. These people would be writing their bilious articles and displaying their high blood pressure on television while the rest of us ignored them and got on with being utterly horrid, in our own way.

There would be two separate realities, one for the media classes and one for the rest of us. Indeed, perhaps it is already like that.

Quite interesting.

27 April, 2014

The men in charge

I often think back to the time the Glazer family bought Manchester United. Hundreds of supporters paraded at the stadium with banners saying 'Manchester United is not for sale'.

But of course it was: it was quoted on the stock Exchange which is an invitation to buy or sell the shares.

Now they are getting a new manager. The media have been having earnest discussions with former players and heads of fan clubs 'So, Jim, the man the fans want is....'

Of course it is completely irrelevant who the fans want. Manchester wanted to hold on to the previous manager until they had confirmed a replacement but the Stock Exchange rules didn't allow this: if there are rumours circulating you have to deal with them publicly.

Equally, the reason the interim manager and former player, Ryan Giggs, won't get the job is that the investors probably haven't heard of him as a manager. They will require someone who has managed a team to win international tournaments.

All the fans are required to do is traipse through the gate every Saturday and buy the shirts.

Honour

Chung Hong-won, Prime Minister of S. Korea, has resigned over the ferry disaster.

He was not captain of the ship, he did not write the rules for conduct of a ship in open waters, it was not he who failed to give the order to abandon the vessel.

But it was indeed a disaster, he was the man at the top, and he has quit, like a gentleman. He bowed to the people he served.

I do hope some British and European politicians have been following this story.

26 April, 2014

Ukraine; the next step

I hesitate to re-enter the debate on the Ukraine. A dismal story in European statecraft has been mishandled at every step, such that it is hard to see an end to it.

Let me explain, however, how there could be an end.

As I have pointed out, Russian aggression was the likely outcome of Europe's wooing of Ukraine. A child could have seen that. Putin carefully cultivates his image as a tough guy, but it is not purely for his image. If the former Soviet states on the periphery of Russia know that he means business they won't step out of line. He has to be able to rattle his sabre at America and Europe.

So instead of more sanctions, which will not harm America but which will do lasting damage to Europe, let Putin win something. Back down a bit, concede a little so he has something to show for it all: not just the man who lost Western Ukraine but the man who stood up to the West.

That way there is a chance of peace.

22 April, 2014

Rome



Yesterday, had it not been Easter Monday, and had I not been out for a long lunch with friends, I should have been celebrating the 2,767th birthday of Italy's capital city, said by legend to have been founded on 21st April, 753BC.

Still a great place.

Right and Wrong

I have probably mentioned that I knew the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in a previous life and think very highly of him.

I cannot, however, leave unchallenged the tripe he has spouted about homosexuality in the Daily Telegraph (is this the only newspaper which covers religious matters?). He says, and I paraphrase, that much as he would like to recognise gay marriage he can't because the Africans wouldn't like it.

Sorry, Justin, but we expect you to know. The reason people have been leaving the Church of England in hordes over the past few decades is that it doesn't appear to believe in anything. For those of us who drift in and out of religion, and it is most of us, it is like going for a swim from a ship with a loose anchor: you never know where it will be when you want to get back on.

The job of the Archbishop of Canterbury is to know whether, in the sight of God, gay marriage is acceptable or unacceptable. If acceptable it would be quite wrong to deny homosexuals marriage in Church, ie in the sight of God.

If he thinks homosexual marriage is the right thing then, it being an important topic, he should advise those who refuse it that they are leaving the Church.

If it is wrong, he should be prepared to upset the liberals and say it is wrong, or leave his job if he can't.

If he blubbers that he thinks it is OK but that some others don't, people will think him soaking wet and ignore everything else he says.

People are entitled to be told by the Church what is right and what is wrong, and entitled to a Church which commits itself to these principles.

Get a grip, Justin!

Christian?

It seems that fifty-five people have signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph complaining about David Cameron's statement that Britain is a Christian country.

They are incorrect.

Most countries - America and France are the best known for this - have in their constitution provision for the separation of Church and state. Nothing wrong with that, it's just that it isn't the case in Britain. The Head of State is head of the Church, Christian bishops, but no Buddhists, Muslims, Jews or Jainists, sit as of right in the upper house.

Unlike most countries but like, say, Pakistan or Israel, Britain has an established religion, and this is not dependent on the number of people in Church on  any given day.

Where we differ from so many other countries with established religions is that we welcome people of other faiths and protect their rights. This doesn't mean Britain has changed religion. It hasn't.

20 April, 2014

Unhelpful

This blog salutes Dr. Kari Poikolainen, an alcohol expert, formerly of the World Health Organisation, for his recent report on recommended drinking levels.

He says that drinking only becomes harmful at more than 13 units a day, equivalent to about a litre of wine.

The guidelines from the National Health Service are for 3-4 units for a man, so Dr. Poikolainen is coming in at three or four times the recommendation.

Naturally the busybodies are furious. Julia Manning, of the think tank 2020 Health describes it as 'an unhelpful contribution to the debate'.

Incidentally I love this use of the word 'unhelpful', meaning 'differing from what I say and therefore to be banned or ignored'.

2020 Health is funded by the Government, and Ms Manning is hardly likely to jeopardise her salary by saying 'Oh, sorry, I've been talking complete cock all along'.

I personally found Dr. Poikolainen's report very helpful.

19 April, 2014

Holy War

I think I have mentioned before in these pages that Iraq was a Shia Moslem country run by a cabal of Sunnis, whereas Syria is a Sunni Moslem country run by a cabal of Shias. A great deal of unpleasantness could have been avoided if they had simply swapped leaderships.

Of course the Syrian conflict is still going on, kept out of the press by Ukraine, a lost Malaysian Airlines flight and a sunk Korean Ferry. We learn of Abdullah Deghayes, 18, of Brighton, who went out to Syria and was killed.

Now, usually when we hear of British Moslems going to war it is against us: some sort of jihad they have got up, but this is a purely Islamic thing: one set of Moslems fighting another. Of course our rather gung-ho Foreign Secretary, William Hague, would have got us involved if he could have, but Parliament, for once, put a stop to it.

So it is no different, really, from our fathers and grandfathers going to fight in the Spanish civil war: if that is what they want to do, fine. Around 400 British nationals have gone to fight in Syria. Around 20 have died.

It's just a bit depressing that, despite being British, they see themselves primarily as foreign.

14 April, 2014

Mystery

I've been away on holiday to Sicily, a land of strange contrasts. I've written about it in The Commentator, an internet magazine you should read (it's free!).

As I write, a frantic search is still going on for the disappeared Malaysian Airlines jet in the Indian Ocean.

Why? There is no chance of finding anyone alive after all this time. We (and why does it include the British?) seem to be devoting far more resources to it than we did to the Air France flight which disappeared a few years ago.

There is a lot of speculation on the internet, as always, but even people like myself who reject conspiracy theories are beginning to feel that there is something we haven't been told.

02 April, 2014

Marvin

Incredible - well incredible for me anyway - but yesterday it was 30 years since Marvin Gaye died.

He was shot, aged 44, by his own father.

Gaye led a difficult life, but he could do this:


01 April, 2014

France

I don't follow football, but as an example of life management it repays inspection. When a team is doing badly, the trick is not to fire the players, but the manager, the guy responsible for the strategy.

In France, Fran├žois Hollande, responsble for the strategy of injecting more socialism into the country (the State takes up 57% of the economy), and for borrowing more and more money, has been found out by the electorate. He is the most unpopular President ever and has taken the biggest drubbing ever seen in the Fifth Republic.

So what happened? He sacked the Prime Minister whom he had appointed.

It would be like the bottom ranking team sacking the ball boys.