30 August, 2014


Apparently someone has hit the MP George Galloway, breaking his jaw and damaging his ribs. Stop laughing at the back there, this is serious.

A man has been detained by police.

I assume that the events which follow will be the same as they would be if a pro-Israeli MP had made a vehement and intemperate attack on Hamas and had been assaulted by a Muslim.

27 August, 2014

Explain please

You may have heard the appalling news that in Rotherham, northern England, some 1,400 children have been raped and abused over a period of several years.

The independent report into the matter said that no one on the council could claim ignorance over what had been going on. Yet only one has resigned.

One said that the workers on the case were 'waiting for guidance'. I don't know what guidance you need if you find out children have been systematically raped.

The truth of the matter is this: with a couple of exceptions all the attackers were Pakistani Muslims, and with a couple of exceptions all the victims were ethnically British (white). I know this sort of discussion is difficult for some people but it has to come out for it to be properly investigated. Why did the Pakistanis want to destroy the lives of white children but not those of their own ethnicity? We have to know the answer to this.

And this was their defensive shield: the council, the social services, the police did not prosecute them, because they were Asian muslims.

And we need to ask this: what is it with the Labour Party (for they were all Labour, bien sur) and child rape? Not long ago we had the story of Harriet Harman, currently deputy leader of the Labour Party and Patricia Hewitt, a former front bencher, back in the days when they were at the National Council for Civil Liberties. They were using taxpayers' money to help the Paedophile Information Exchange on the grounds that being a paedophile was a valid lifestyle choice.

Now Labour permit it to go on, the rape of children for God's sake, on the grounds that to make a fuss might seem racist.

Can we have an explanation, please?


The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, is under formal investigation in France for misuse of her position (Finance Minister) by 'resolving' a dispute in favour of a friend of her boss, Nicolas Sarkozy, costing the French taxpayer hundreds of millions.

Of course she will resign her post while she clears her name.... er....no?

23 August, 2014

Space Shuffle

Imagine you are a bank manager and someone wants you to invest a huge sum of money in his new factory.

What does it make? Clothes pegs.

A new design of clothes peg? No, same as the old one.

Er....a cheaper clothes peg? Nope. They cost very little as it is, these will be a fair bit more expensive.

So the world is well served for cheap clothes pegs. What is the point of this new one? He just wanted his own clothes peg factory.

Some years ago the American military developed a mapping system which can position an object within... well it's probably a millimetre by now. And they offered this system - not quite as good as the military's but down to a metre - free. You pay nothing for satnav, it's a gift. You just pay for the gizmo which works it.

So what did Europe do? Started their own of course (they're bureaucrats, not bank managers). Firstly with the Chinese, then when the Chinese got tired with the indecision and bureaucracy and developed one on their own, they continued alone. It has cost billions - we'll probably never discover quite how much - of our money.

Yesterday the satellite launched - years late and massively over budget - and went into the wrong orbit.

Now there will be more money wasted, to obtain something that is already free.

Admit it!

The global warming loonies at the BBC have reluctantly come up with another change to the certainty they have been espousing.

Scientists now believe that the global warming 'pause' will continue for another ten years. What they mean by 'pause' is that they will not permit any suggestion that temperatures are not going up (that would be DENIAL), only that they will be going up soon, not right now.

So: they tell us that rising carbon dioxide emissions cause the temperature to rise, then at a time when carbon dioxide levels have been rising, there is no rise in temperature. There has been no rise since 1998 and now it looks as if it will be 2025 before you get any warmer.

I want to stress I am not a climate change denier, I am a sceptic. I would be less sceptical if they could explain why temperatures aren't rising when they said they would. But they can't explain it. According to the BBC there are ten theories as to why temperatures aren't rising. Actually there are eleven, the final one being that they were talking cock in the first place.

Incidentally, for those of you sitting in terror that temperatures may rise 0.15degC over a decade, here in Italy it is usually 5C warmer than Britain and often 10C warmer. And we don't have raging tsunamis and arid deserts; it's quite nice, really. You can grow potatoes as well as aubergines and peppers, wine and olives and in spring there are lambs bouncing around on the grass.

I just want an apology from Prince Charles, George Monbiot and the other fools who have been promoting this story, then an admission from the scientists that they haven't a clue what is going on.

After that I might listen.

16 August, 2014

Yo Kurdistan!

Of course. Why didn't we think of it before? The solution to this Middle East business is to arm the

The Kurds have been suffering from this ISIS incursion as well and now all we have to do is deliver shedloads of armaments and their plucky little Peshmerga fighters will sort out the loonies.

So....who are they? I know the British Foreign Office doesn't usually ask this before we fight alongside strangers and teach them how to use high-tech weaponry but this time, let's ask it.

The Kurds are a people who haven't got a country. they'd like one, and will call it Kurdistan. Good. Our weaponry will be helping them achieve that noble aim. Er.... where exactly will Kurdistan be?

Good question. They would like a bit of Iraq, where they have around 6 million people, a bit of Iran (also about 6m) a bit of Syria (2m) and quite a large chunk of Turkey (12m). On the borders of these countries is where they want to establish their homeland.

See any problems here? Aren't we against the partitioning of Iraq? Since a large number of Kurds are Sunni Muslims might a few of them not be completely unfriendly to ISIS? When they attack our NATO partner Turkey the NATO Treaty will oblige us to defend the Turks, fighting our own weaponry.

Why hasn't this Kurdistan been established before? Because they haven't had the weaponry.

Remember two things: the British Foreign Office should be closed down in the national interest and there is nothing so awful about the Middle East that we can't make it a bit worse.

15 August, 2014


This blog's compliments to Ranbi Singh Suri who has been elevated to the peerage, described by the Government as 'a leading figure among Sikhs'.

The Secretary General of the Sikh Council UK, Gurmel Singh, however, said he'd never heard of Suri.

The Conservative Party has of course head of him because he has donated more than £300,000 to it.

I am not getting into a panic about cash for peerages because that is the system we have. What I am saying is that we must change it. We still have a few hereditary peers, incredibly but the rest are all placemen: donors, failed politicians, mates. And these are our legislators. There are now so many they can't even fit into the chamber.

In good time for the next election, probably on the Feast of All Fools, I shall be publishing my manifesto, and it will include what we can do about this.


We have all seen the latest figures from Europe. Italy registered a second quarter of negative growth, putting it officially in recession, although effectively it has been in recession since 2011. France is stagnant and no one would be surprised if its high tax-high spend model tipped it into recession quite soon. Germany has now recorded negative growth, In fact it was only some surprising figures from Portugal which stopped the entire Eurozone from going into the red.

While Britain and America surge ahead, Europe is stagnant, and doesn't appear to have a policy to emerge from stagnation.

I don't want to bore everyone by saying that I predicted exactly this. Others will write the history of the Eurozone but it seems to me that Germany awoke late to the fact that rather than bringing the constituent economies together the euro kept them apart.

Germany perceived, correctly, serious flaws in several, mainly Southern economies, flaws which its own economy didn't appear to have, and then wrongly perceived this as the root of the problem. They would have to get efficient, rein back the trade unions, cut the barriers to work, the bureaucracy and so on, OR recognise they couldn't afford the public services they were giving their people and cut them.

What they failed to realise is firstly that these flaws had resulted in a breakdown of the money transmission systems. Banks lent to their friends, and in any case were stuffed with public debt instruments and had no money to lend.

The second thing they failed to realise was that these flaws and indeed the public service levels were institutionalised. I remember a Greek Trade Unionist saying that he had spent his professional life getting public services to a European level, and he wasn't going to have them taken away by Germany. It was not long before he remembered the war.

And in these countries - Italy is a good example, with France not far behind - the government spending had produced personal fifedoms which had hooked up with politicians. Politicians had relatives and friends on the boards of public and semi-public companies, private companies had political 'friends' which smoothed their passage, trade unions were in on the act. It was never going to be easy to change and if you take a look at Italy you'll find that it scarcely has.

But the financial woes remained and credit is too tight to allow growth. Some bright spark in the IMF said Italy should embark on a programme of public investment, in railways and roads and so on. And where would it get the money to do that, while it is up against its 3% budget ceiling (France is way over it)? And you can pretty well name the families in Calabria, Campania and Sicily who are going to do well out of that.

Europe needs a commitment to reform but right now, more urgently, it needs an easing of credit conditions. It needs to be flooded with money.

The only bright spot on the horizon is that if the Germans think they are going into recession, they might start to take the project seriously.

Europe was set up to be self suifficient: a vast area which traded largely with itself and was surrounded (they thought protected) by tariff barriers. They should have realised that in a crowded room, if one person has a cold, they all get it.

If you have a child or grandchild, send them to America or the Far East. Europe is dying and will be so for another generation.

Cliff Richard

For as long as I can remember, people have wanted to tell me something they knew for certain about Cliff Richard's personal life.

So one shouldn't be surprised that in the present mood of public hysteria the police have decided to have a tilt at this highly public figure.

I am not sure, though, that we can be proud about what is happening. Someone in the police or social services tipped off the media and the cameras were already waiting when the police arrived to search his flat in Berkshire.

Do not forget that this is a man who has not even been interviewed by the police, much less cautioned or charged, much less sent for trial, much less found guilty.

The law must take its course, but I think we are only just now beginning to learn that people who have been in the public eye, who rely for their living on being in the public eye, can be ruined without being guilty, and ruined by the very media which gave them the publicity.

The Daily Mail giveth and the Daily Mail taketh away.

14 August, 2014


I have another piece in The Commentator about Europe. Read it: it's free


But for a cock-up, this piece would have appeared in The Commentator.
Another year, it would seem, another rip-off scandal in Rome. This time it was some Americans who felt they had paid too much for their ice creams and took the carabinieri along to the ice cream parlour. There they were shown the price list, which was clearly displayed in accordance with the law.  A similar thing happened to some British tourists last year.

Perhaps the daddy of them all was in 2009 in a famous restaurant called Il Passetto, where two Japanese ran up a bill for €700 before going back with the police. The restaurant, once the haunt of Ava Gardner and the Hollywood A-list, was closed down, for public health reasons. It has since reopened under new management.

In protest at his treatment, the proprietor pinned on the window what the Japanese had eaten: three starters each of mushrooms, scampi and oysters; pasta with 2kg of lobster; 1.5kg sea bass served with potatoes; fruit compote and ice cream. A pretty sporting lunch! They were presented with a bill for €579 which they made up to €700 having had their photographs taken with the waiter.

There is no need to be ripped off in Rome and no more likelihood of it than in London or Paris. In fact eating out is fairly cheap.

Here is my guide to your Roman Holiday.

Transport. The taxi fare from Fiumicino Airport is fixed at €48 (€30 from Ciampino) which takes you anywhere inside the Aurelian walls (built 275 AD). Far cheaper are the Terravision buses which drop you near the station and which you can book up online. The fare from Termini station to the centre is €10-12; there is no need to tip the driver although they are grateful if you do. Only go in licensed taxis. Look at the meter.

Roman buses are high speed and innards-shaking over the cobbles but a ticket is only €1.50 for 75 minutes, encompassing as many trips as you can take.

Eating and drinking. The way an Italian uses a bar is to enter, announcing noisily what he will have (the bartender can compute dozens of orders at a time), talk to someone briefly while standing up, perhaps waving a croissant or slice of pizza as he speaks. He leaves within minutes and might go back three or four times in a day.

In cities and tourist areas you pay to sit down; and the bill might be double or treble. I once paid maybe five times the going rate for coffee overlooking the main square in Siena. It was worth it. The going rate is about €1 for an espresso and around €1.20 for a cappuccino.

Naturally you pay a lot more for a restaurant in a known tourist location like Piazza del Popolo or the via Veneto. There are hundreds of restaurants in the cobbled streets to the west of Piazza Navona where you can get a decent meal for €25-30. A pizza and beer will cost around €12. If you like plenty of cheap wine (I do) go to one which has a house wine in ½ litre and litre carafes rather than stuff in labelled bottles.

It is years since I could get through a full meal of antipasto, Primo (pasta course), Secondo (main course) and dolce (pudding). Just tell the waiter what you want, perhaps antipasto and primo at lunch, antipasto and secondo at dinner. And why not try an ice cream afterwards?

I don’t know why ice cream should be the cause of so many complaints. Look at the menu and have an eye to the quantity you want. One of the best places is Giolitti in via degli Uffici del Vicario, near the Pantheon. Some say it’s the best. A scoop is around €3.50. You pay in advance and they don’t want you sitting down (reserved for people eating their expensive pastries). You can even jump the queue by ordering and paying on your smartphone.
Then do like the Romans: walk the ancient streets with your loved one, sharing the flavours and getting fat together. It is the only food it is acceptable to eat on the street.
Hotels: cheap and simple near the station, expensive in the centre.
Enjoy it and always come back.

08 August, 2014

No you don't

Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, having been discomfited by his debating opponent who insisted he answer the question of Scotland's currency, has said 'Scotland will keep the pound as of right'.

I am afraid this is a right limited to members of the United Kingdom.

By the way, the name of the currency is Sterling.

Scotland's currency will decline by at least 20% if they vote for Independence. This could be a good thing, but probably won't be. They don't have the industry or the flexible labour markets to benefit from more competitive exports.

Currently the Scottish Currency is issued by Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank and Royal Bank. Check your wallets for these notes.

What Salmond would like to do is say that he will allow Rest of UK to keep its nuclear base at Faslane if Scotland can use sterling. Unfortunately if he said this none of the loony left would vote for him, so he would lose anyway.

Here we go

Barack Obama seems keen to bomb Iraq, renewing a war from which the USA has only just disengaged itself. Who can doubt that Britain will be not far behind?

This is a war, in part of our making, between two branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia. In Syria, and that wasn't very long ago, was it, Barack?, we were going to support the Sunni against Assad. Now we are going to attack them.

Firstly, this is none of our business. Where are the political playmakers Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar? Why aren't they doing something? Why aren't Russia and China, who wanted to defend the Syrian Shia against the Sunnis and against Western intervention, why aren't they involved in this? What about the rest of Europe? Does anyone seriously think Germany and Belgium are going to take their fair share of casualties and expense?

Second, you know what is going to happen. We will get drawn further and further into this and before you know it there will be helicopters, then special forces, then ordinary soldiers. These things always escalate.

Third, this is going to give more grounds for militant western muslims, from Birmingham and Leicester and Manchester and Bradford, to say they will retaliate for the bombing by starting their own bombing campaign, on British soil.

Parliament should be recalled to discuss the crisis and it should take the decision to take no action whatsoever other than diplomatic.
PS Obama is the fourth President in a row to bomb Iraq. It seems to be a rite of passage.

06 August, 2014

Not Alexander

Alexander the Great, you will recall, wept because there were no new worlds to conquer. This is not so of the ..er.. less great Alexander 'Boris' Johnson. For Heaven's sake, John 'Vince' Cable, Gideon 'George' Osborne, why can't these people use their own names?

Anyway, Johnson wants to conquer No.10 Downing St, and he is, as the Americans say 'making his run'. He is looking for a safe seat for the 2015 election.

I don't like Johnson, and would never vote for him. Nor would I vote for any party which he led. He is a shallow self-publicist, albeit a good one. The speech in which he announced this was one where he declared that Britain would survive outside the European Union. Perhaps there should be joy in Heaven when any sinner repenteth but he has had ages to make this announcement (I have been saying it since 1991). I don't suppose he believes it - or indeed believes the contrary. He just saw which way the wind was blowing in the Tory Party.

He never seems to fail with his self-publicity, though. Even the occasion when he was stuck on a rope slide - something which would have been a disaster for, say, Harriet Harman, he managed to come out of it fairly well. The truth of the tale is that they ask you how much you weigh so they can adjust the pulley, and he refused to tell them and it went wrong. Like Winnie the Pooh, seeking the honey of publicity, he was stuck because he was too fat.

And I don't like his private life. For me anyone who could treat his marriage vows in such a shoddy way could equally forget a promise he made to the people who elected him. And here is an example, with this very speech. In 2012 he solemnly promised the electorate of London that he would not stand as an MP while he was mayor of London. Oooh! said the voters, that means he won't be standing in 2015. Wrong.

It is arrogance: promises don't apply to him, they only have to be kept by little people. We have seen this type of arrogance in some bank employees and in Andy Coulson, former editor of a newspaper. We really don't need it on the front line of politics.

Johnson is untrustworthy and a cheat. If the Tory Party take up with him he will let them down without a care in the world. For Alexander the Less they are the equivalent of Marx's useful idiots. It will be the biggest mistake they have ever made.

04 August, 2014

Pro Patria

The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War. I have always thought I understood the Second World War, with its clear threat of invasion, but this previous one seems mysterious, even now, which is perhaps why it holds such fascination for the newspapers.

Commemoration began months ago, in an almost triumphal tone, as if the start of a war which killed millions were something to celebrate. Now it seems to be on a personal level, respecting 'our heroes' who died for our liberty.

Let me say I don't think the First World War was about our liberty and I think a hero risks his life knowing the risks. They volunteered, most of them - there was no conscription until 1916 - in utter ignorance.

They believed somehow that there was a glory which transcended dying. They must have been shocked at the lack of individualism engendered by so many troops and so much mechanisation. Agamemnon and Achilles were not mown down in their thousands, nameless, numberless corpses. It was no place for heroes. Were they naive, or were they duped?

If any of the Prime Ministers in my lifetime had asked me to go to war I should have looked very carefully, not just at the risks, but at the motive. Supposing Tony Blair had, from the safety of his bunker, asked for the ultimate sacrifice for what he perceived as the nation's duty!

Those were different, trusting times. No one supposed that Asquith or Grey had in fact no idea what a war would be like.

I can't help feeling that our present mood of scepticism and mistrust of politics, regretted by some, in fact makes our time far happier. Perhaps that is the lesson of the Great War.

As to the rest of it, we still seem keen to start a fight. We and the French bombed Libya to remove Kadafy without the slightest clue as to what would come after him. Our then Foreign Secretary, Hague, wanted to fight in Syria, in support of the very same Sunni Muslims who are now causing havoc in Iraq. And Iraq itself is a disaster, largely of our making. So is Afghanistan, which has lasted longer than the First and Second World wars together. Finally Hague (again) was down in Kiev supporting a mob which overthrew Ukraine's democratically elected government, ably supported by those great international statesmen Hermann van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton.

It seems the people have learned to say no, but the politicians have not.