Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Full To The Brim

Right, let me just think aloud here.

The little Puddlecotes have already learned ... the climate change mantra off by heart (and ad nauseam); about Nelson Mandela and the evil white person in South Africa, reactionary lefty poets and the marvels of India; the perils of being a Muslim in 1947 Pakistan; essential skills such as bag-packing and nail beauty; and the political might of the Green Party.

Today, the girl proudly informed me - as I was jostling for position with a couple of grannies for the marked down goods in Tesco - that she is being taught all about triangular trade.

While involved in a tug-o-war over a rather nice tray of pork medallions, I asked how it worked.

"Well", she replied, "England sells guns and ammunition to Africa, and that buys slaves. They are sold to America and England gets sugar, coffee and tobacco.". As the tenacious oxygen-robber finally admitted defeat and removed her fingernails from the cellophane, I made sure that the little P was aware this was a historical trade. Fortunately, she nodded and confirmed that she knew this. "Yes, we're learning all about slaves and racial integration. That's why we're going to watch Hairspray later in the week.".

So that's all right then.

Do you know what? I reckon she is already full to the brim with right-on guardianista ideology at the age of 10. Don't it make ya proud? Almost fully primed for transition into secondary school where these raw ideas can be carefully honed to produce a fully-formed righteous offence-taker.

So much better than in my day at that age, when we learned useless stuff like times tables, spelling, grammar, the Battle of Hastings and world capital cities.

Now, if you'll just excuse me, I'm off to place my face in a pillow and scream.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Up Town, Top Speaking

Last week at the IEA, Mark Wallace of the Taxpayers' Alliance began his speech with this piece of trivia to illustrate modern day state hyper-regulation.

· Pythagoras’ Theory – 24 words
· Lords’ Prayer – 66 words
· Archimedes Principle – 67 words
· Ten Commandments - 179 words
· Gettysburg Address – 267 words
· US Declaration of Independence – 1,321 words
· Magna Carta (including signatures) – 3,856 words
· EU regulations on sale and trade of cabbages – 26,253 words
One lives and learns, eh?

Thanks to skilled speakers such as Mark, the Voices of Freedom debates have thus far been highly entertaining and thought-provoking, and even provocative at times, so I'll be popping up there again tonight for the final event of the series.

Entitled "Who holds the liberal torch in 2010?", the list of speakers is again impressive, featuring James Delingpole (writer, journalist and broadcaster), Julian Harris (chairman, Liberal Vision), Chris Mounsey (leader, Libertarian party), Brendan O’Neill (editor, Spiked!), Mark Pack (co-editor, Liberal Democrat Voice), Paul Staines (aka blogger Guido Fawkes), and Michael White (assistant editor, Guardian).

Hmmm, with any luck there could be an eloquent row in the offing there.

If you're going. mine's a pint in the pub after. If not, here's a little vid for your perusal. Although focussing on US stats, it's still a good illustration of why state restriction/prohibition are the most counter-productive and damaging policies (or aspirations) known to man.

Hasta mañana.

A Spoonful Of Sugar Makes The Medico Frown

Remember when sugar was a byword for joy and happiness?

That just won't do for the insufferable lunatics within the upper echelons of the NHS.

Health chiefs are to ban sugar in tea and coffee in hospitals because it poses a health risk. The NHS in Wales is to stop the sale of hot drinks containing sugar from vending machines. Hospital bosses say they are being ordered to enforce the ban because sweetened tea and coffee offer no nutritional benefit and can have a detrimental effect on dental hygiene.
The medical community are a miserable bunch of risk-terrified harridans at the best of times, but they are seriously excelling themselves if this is not a dramatically late April fool from the Wail.

The Welsh Assembly said in a statement: 'Hospitals are visited by a very broad cross-section of society and, as such, the whole hospital environment should reflect the importance of healthy living.'
Proof, if any were needed, that people we used to trust - I'm talking doctors here - have comprehensively lost the plot.

When the youngest Puddlecote was born (the boy), the only sustenance during the night, for his maternal grandmother and I, was the vending machine for her sweet tea and my cheese sarnie (night catering staff aren't as payroll-worthy as NHS managers, you see). Both the tea and the cheese are now to be banned, apparently - in Taffland anyway - but are you confident that such fuckwittery won't spread? And I mean honestly?

Additionally, in 2001 we were able to consume such products just outside the maternity building as we nervously enjoyed a cigarette. Now we'd be forced to hire a taxi to get to a place where we could indulge in all three.

Nice 'caring profession' you have there, DoH.

To cleanse your mind of such hideous state-sponsored shite, here's a hark back to the days before the joy-inducing qualities of sugar, like other substances these nutjobs disapprove of, were righteously ignored and eradicated.

Ironically, Alma Cogan died young after injecting pharmaceutical shit into her body in a vain attempt to fit a healthy stereotype. There's a lesson there somewhere, doncha think?

The Sniper In The Crowd

From here

Monday, 28 June 2010

Tate & Bile For Charidee

Following on from earlier, it's interesting that upon checking my inbox, another of the Guardian's letter-writing hand-wringers has spam e-mailed me.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)has embarked on a campaign to persuade the Government and cultural institutions to reject money from oil and gas companies that use sponsorship as a way to launder their reputations and mask their environmentally destructive nature.

CIWEM deplores the continuing acceptance of guilt monies and influence from the petro-carbon industries, as this sullies the arts, and undermines our cultural institutions. At times of economic recession, there are debates about replacement funding for the arts, but crimes against the environment are crimes against humanity. Oil money is an expedient too far.
I do believe this stands as proof of my earlier musing. Namely, "Who is then supposed to pick up the tab, they don't say. Not their problem, that. And besides, there's always the magic money tree in Whitehall ever ready to produce another harvest at will, eh?"

The burbling continued [emphasis mine].

As the world and indeed Tate have learned to flourish without support from slavery, tobacco and alcohol, we and they must learn to emerge from the culture of fossil fuels and the insidious oil industry. BP, Shell and all other petro-chemical corporations must be denied control of our arts and cultural institutions, right now.
Now, while it is mildly flattering that CIWEM has somehow picked me out as a blogger who may be useful, at the same time, on this evidence it's clear that they've never bothered to read the bloody thing.

I just had to go have a look see at what type of organisation these trolls are.

CIWEM's members are employed throughout the environment sector, including senior management, engineering and scientific posts in local authorities, water companies, regulatory bodies, consultants, contractors, government departments, universities, the private sector of industry and environmental and conservation organisations.
Quite a professional outfit, then. In fact, more than that, they are, indeed, a professional body who sell qualifications and training which accounts for £1.5m+ of their £2.2m income.

•Corporate Members and Fellows are entitled to use the designation 'Chartered Water and Environmental Manager';
•Corporate Members may use the post nominal designation - MCIWEM and Fellows may use the post nominal designation - FCIWEM ;
•Training and professional development opportunities through CIWEM 's own postgraduate Certificate and Diploma .These are unique and highly respected environmental qualifications;
•A range of professional and non-professional grades of membership, including Environmental Partner and Industry Affiliate;
•Registration for suitably qualified members with EC (UK), as Chartered Engineer (CEng), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) and Engineering Technician (EngTech);
•Registration for suitably qualified members as Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv);
That's quite a flourishing business they have there, and no mistake.

But hold on, they're also a lobbying firm.

Our relationship with the UK Government has developed strongly; many of our conferences and events are run jointly with government departments and agencies. We are able to work with Government as an honest broker and facilitator, yet at the same time lobby with great strength over issues where we feel Government is weak or misdirected. We have implemented many actions from our Parliamentary Action Plan, which was produced during the year, giving us greater access to parliamentarians in terms of profile raising and lobbying.
Superb. Fingers in many pies can make for a very successful business ... especially if there was some way of being exempt from taxes and VAT.

Oh, but there is!

You may have noticed that they are registered charity number 1043409 (England & Wales) and SC038212 (Scotland).

And their latest accounts, produced in PDF format, tell us that they recently bought a £380,000 computer system at the WC1 registered office address which, presumably, they all cycle in to. So much for "emerg[ing] from the culture of fossil fuels and the insidious oil industry [and] petro-chemical corporations", then.

The Thirty-Nine Saps

An early day motion in parliament demanding a ban on smoking in cars where children are present has been signed by 40 MPs.
Name them. Then sack them. They are not there to play God with their constituents' lives. They are public servants. If they are playing around with this nonsense they are not doing their jobs and if they believe this rubbish then they are too stupid even for public office.
Good idea, Leg Iron. Except there are only 39 of them so far.

They being:

Mearns, Ian; Glass, Pat; Glindon, Mary; Bottomley, Peter; Russell, Bob; Durkan, Mark; Corbyn, Jeremy; Dobbin, Jim; George, Andrew; Blenkinsop, Tom; Lavery, Ian; McKinnell, Catherine; Elliott, Julie; Simpson, David; Jackson, Glenda; Brooke, Annette; Campbell, Gregory; Campbell, Ronnie; Caton, Martin; Barron, Kevin; Anderson, David; Gwynne, Andrew; Illsley, Eric; Lazarowicz, Mark; Hancock, Mike; Flynn, Paul; Gapes, Mike; Williams, Stephen; Owen, Albert; Paisley, Ian Jnr; Dodds, Nigel; Hopkins, Kelvin; McCrea, Dr William; Hamilton, David; Greenwood, Lilian; Pugh, John; Hughes, Simon; Baldry, Tony; Halfon, Robert
And every thick as shit one of them easily duped by, err, no science whatsoever. I thought they employed researchers - with our money, natch - to, err, research.

If one of the above is your MP, aren't you glad that such a stunningly incompetent twat is your only link to the legislature for the next five years?

Especially if they also believe this astounding bollocks from the same article.

A survey on behalf of the Office for National Statistics indicates that there has been a net increase of 3% in the number of people going to pubs since restrictions were imposed.
What have they been doing then? Popping in and hiding in a corner as 52 pubs close per week?

Has someone pumped large quantities of mind-numbing chemicals into the water up Westminster way?

Tate & Bile

If there is anything which should grip the shit of any right-minded member of society, it's lumpen-headed ideological hypocrisy. As illustrated perfectly by 171 hare-brained 'artists' today.

As crude oil continues to devastate coastlines and communities in the Gulf of Mexico, BP executives will be enjoying a cocktail reception with curators and artists at Tate Britain. These relationships enable big oil companies to mask the environmentally destructive nature of their activities with the social legitimacy that is associated with such high-profile cultural associations.

We represent a cross-section of people from the arts community that believe that the BP logo represents a stain on Tate's international reputation. Many artists are angry that Tate and other national cultural institutions continue to sidestep the issue of oil sponsorship. Little more than a decade ago, tobacco companies were seen as respectable partners for public institutions to gain support from – that is no longer the case. It is our hope that oil and gas will soon be seen in the same light. The public is rapidly coming to recognise that the sponsorship programmes of BP and Shell are means by which attention can be distracted from their impacts on human rights, the environment and the global climate.
Here we go again. A bunch of righteous lefties hectoring others to do their bidding. They use a new angle on application of the tobacco control template, but the sentiment remains the same - no-one should deal with a company of which they, personally, disapprove.

These no marks - most regularly heard when squealing for more goverment 'investment in the arts' - are demanding that the Tate refuse vital sponsorship on dogmatic grounds. Who is then supposed to pick up the tab, they don't say. Not their problem, that. And besides, there's always the magic money tree in Whitehall ever ready to produce another harvest at will, eh?

Tobacco money is now tainted after institutions became fed up with the constant righteous shrieking, drinks industry cash may soon be going the same way. But if the aim of these startingly naïve luvvies is to relegate the oil industry to pariah status, there is one slight problem.

You see, tobacco and alcohol can be - and often are - cited by the righteous as largely unnecessary to everyday living. The same, however, can't be said for oil. The Daily Mash, as always, puts it best.

Professor Henry Brubaker, of the Institute for Studies, said: "Oil companies aren't pumping this stuff just so they can have it sitting around in buckets under their stairs.

"They pump it because you want it. [...] So whenever you feel tempted to have a go at BP, what you should do instead is either sell your car and any objects you own which contain plastic, or shut your stupid fucking face."
If these 171 dickwads have ever flown, they are hypocrites. If they own a car/use buses/trains they are hypocrites. Hell, if they signed this fucking letter by way of an e-mail to a central co-ordinator, they are hypocrites.

Whiny, tax-sponging, bleeding heart socialists generally are.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

World Cup Safety Advice - Heart Stopper Edition

Please place me firmly on the naughty step. Oh yes, and thwow me to the floor ... vewy roughly.

Because, you see, I said this.

Even the righteous have trouble imposing their morals on us during World Cups [...]
Of course, in my defence I did append a disclaimer.

[...] although this could be a test case for their increased powers so one never knows.
Well, I think we know now, don't we? You were warned before the Algeria game, so if you ignored the advice you only have yourself to blame.

Watching the World Cup on television could increase the risk of dying from heart disease, scientists have warned.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found 373 of the group - one in 35 - died from heart disease over a ten-year period.
So if it goes to extra time ...

Enjoy the match you walking sitting corpses, you.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

FIFA's Political Stable Door

Olympic boycotts in 1980 and 1984, cricket tours to apartheid South Africa. It's clear that sport and politics don't mix.

Keep politics out of football, FIFA tells French

JOHANNESBURG, France — World football's governing body FIFA have said that they would oppose any political interference in French football in the wake of their World Cup debacle.

Questioned in Johannesburg over events back in France, FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke warned against any politial interference.
Quite right too.

Except that FIFA are hardly the body to call for isolation considering they've held the political stable door open for quite a while.

World Cup 2002.

Senior figures from Japan, South Korea and Fifa, football's world governing body, met in Sapporo this week and agreed to a joint draft statement on non-smoking in the 20 stadiums. The idea originally came from the World Health Organisation and has the full backing of Fifa, which is hoping to win brownie points from the international community for responsible behaviour.
World Cup 2006.

"Green Goal - the path to a sustainable 2006 FIFA World Cup"

FIFA General Secretary Urs Linsi: "This initiative means an exceptionally important goal has already been scored even before the 2006 FIFA World Cup gets underway. FIFA welcomes and supports the efforts put in by Local Organising Committees in Germany to run the FIFA World Cup in harmony with the environment, thus meeting vital ecological criteria."
And World Cup 2010.

Former US President Bill Clinton was in Tshwane/Pretoria on Wednesday to attend the crucial encounter between the United States and Algeria, and while at Loftus Versfeld Stadium he met with FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

During their discussions, both he and President Blatter stressed the importance of investing in development projects, particularly in the realm of health. “The official campaign of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, '20 Centres for 2010', ought to leave a legacy in Africa and above all in the fields of education and health, which are two of the programme’s key areas,” said the FIFA President."
Perhaps their plea for politics to be kept out of football would be more persuasive if FIFA were reciprocal in keeping football's nose out of politics.

Just saying.

Link Tank 26/06

Bacon, check. Eggs, check. Coffee, check. Links, check.

Deregulation of health and safety legislation is going to be "challenging"

When vuvuzelas attack

CBBC's Newsround to screen documentary on children whose lives are affected by their parent's relationship with drink

MacDonalds to be sued over happy meal toys

Alcohol consumption rises by 8% in India this year

Chimp wars

Playboy and cigars, what could be better?

Obama's plan to 'modify' the behaviour of Americans

Portugal 7 North Korea 0? Nah, never happened

The 'precautionary principle' of wealthy countries harms the prosperity and health of poorer nations

Burgers to die for

Alcohol and obesity not necessarily responsible for fatty liver and other liver diseases

The 12 most bizarre comedian lawsuits

Friday, 25 June 2010

Anti-Smokers On The Couch

I'm seriously beginning to believe that fanatical anti-smokers suffer from some kind of severe mental imbalance.

Earlier this year they were sent into a clucking and flapping frenzy at the sight of a barcode on a Ferrari F1 car.

John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, said: “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes.
Odd, that. The bottom of the Marlboro packets I've seen look a bit like "SMOKING KILLS".

"I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits.”
Pushing at the limits of our credulity, John. Or pushing at the limits of your quite stunningly authority-obsessed mind. But whichever way you cut it, there is no possible way that a barcode is going to somehow induce an irresistible urge to smoke in the minds of thousands of 14 year olds.

As Anna Raccoon ventured at the time.

Does the prancing Ferrari black horse make you want to rush out and put all your money into Lloyd’s TSB?

The same silly charade is now being played out over the pond after Obama's administration oversaw a ban on the words 'light', 'mild', and 'low'.

WASHINGTON — A US law banning the selling of so-called "light" or "mild" cigarettes took effect Tuesday, but some anti-tobacco groups say the makers are sidestepping the rules by using color-coding packaging.

Some say that color-coding packs and switching to terms such as "gold" and "silver" instead of "light" and "ultra-light" are efforts to continue misleading consumers.

"With a wink and a nod, the tobacco industry has found new ways to continue their deceptive marketing practices to circumvent the new regulations," said Charles Connor, president of the American Lung Association.

"For example, they must drop the word 'light' in their packaging, but have already made it clear to their customers that if they want lights, they just need to look for a package in a specific color, such as gold.
That's right. Anti-smoking nutters now want colours banned.

They have had their heads buried in so many self-congratulatory reports and studies; read so many articles on the evils of the tobacco industry; allowed confirmation bias to erase their grip on reality; that they are simply unable to grasp the idea that different cigarettes can offer a different flavour.

In their seriously deluded brains, smokers only smoke lighter cigarettes because they believe they won't die if they do.

Let's apply the same crackpot reasoning to Doritos.

There are packets with the words "super hot" or some such on them, and others bearing the tagline "cool". Doritos, in our analogical world, have been banned from using these words (on the daft premise that all Doritos are unhealthy and some purchasers may believe that the cooler ones are less so) but their customers - who are quite happy to accept the 'health risk' - would still like to know which flavour is gentle on their tongue, and which will require them to pre-load the fridge with bog roll. So the spicy ones are marketed with a red bag, the mild ones in a blue one.

Oh no, say the bansturbators, this is scandalous! Doritos are still telling their customers which is the flavour they enjoy. The evil bastards.

The FDA asked for documentation from the cigarette maker to determine if it was deliberately circumventing the law.

"We applaud the FDA's action," said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"We call on Philip Morris to go beyond the actions called for by the FDA and immediately stop" using these materials, Myers said.
Materials? Isn't this torturing linguistics by some considerable degree? They are colours. Colours which are all around us. Everywhere. Every day.

With this kind of thinking (I use that word loosely), we may as well ban Barclaycard from producing credit cards in pastel shades as it implies less danger of fucking your life up by hitting Harrods with only £12.37 in your bank account.

Put these people on the Freudian couch and I'm sure we'd discover that a fair percentage are certifiably bonkers.**

**Talking of which, check out an example of such a person over at F2C's comments, starting here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Happy Low Carbon Day

I'm pretty sure that the little Puddlecote's schools are going to be fully signed up to this lesson in fairytale appreciation, so why not share, eh?

Oi! Turn that light off!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Stakeholder Consultation With ASH

My last e-mail to the world's worst ex-smoker, prominent ASH trougher Martin Dockrell, didn't result in a reply, unfortunately. Not sure why as I thought I'd couched it quite well. Perhaps I was too, I dunno, rambling or confrontational?

Anyway, in the interests of balance after yesterday's budget, I thought I'd have another stab at consulting with him (the stab bit shouldn't be taken literally) seeing as he is a stakeholder on the matter.

Subject: Stakeholder Consultation
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 22:00:22 +0000

Greetings, Precious

Long time no, err, hear?

Listen, I was thinking that we haven't touched base for a while and, yes, it's partly my fault. I should have responded to your last silence more enthusiastically. My sincere apologies.

Now, I know you had a bad day yesterday, what with your plea for budget tax increases being ignored and all, and I just knew that you would have been ducking for most of the afternoon while Debs flew around the place in a cackling frenzy.

Which is why I've left it it till tonight to ask what you make of all that stuff in the budget. You see, if I could have been a fly on your wall at around the time that Osbourne gave you the finger, I would have done so, but unfortunately I'm not Jeff Goldblum. I'm very keen though, in the interests of balance, to hear your (obviously) unbiased opinion on events.

So what's your take on it, chum? I bet it was a Hamlet moment, eh? Oh, sorry, perhaps that wasn't the best comparison but you know what I mean.

Anyway, hope to hear from you soon as I'm sure there are many who will look forward to your reply, sunbeam.


PS You still seem to be dodging that beer we talked about, by the way. Was it the reference to arsenic? Heck, I was only kidding, dude! :)
I'm sure the last time was an oversight and he'll be forthcoming with his thoughts soon ... we do all pay a portion of his wages, after all.

Can You Imagine ...

... what could be coming Sunday morning?

Please, Lord, not another xeno-frenzy?

Ban Facebook!

Via Gawain, file this under 'you are seriously stupid and have no right to make your own decisions'. Someone always knows better.

There has been an explosion in the usage of this online social networking tool across Europe: unfortunately many people have crossed the line from social networking to social dysfunction. This is a real health issue and I am calling upon the Commission to take action.

Visiting your Facebook page frequently actually causes what psychologists refer to as ‘intermittent reinforcement’. Notifications, messages and invitations reward you with an unpredictable high, much like gambling. That anticipation can get dangerously addictive. Many people access their Facebook page once or twice a week; however, for others it has turned into a compulsion — and it is a compulsion to dissociate yourself from your real world and go and live in the Facebook world.
All the usual authoritarian heart-tuggers are in there. The hyperbolic use of 'explosion'; the expression as fact that this is a 'real health problem'; invocation of 'experts'; the comparison with a commonly regarded evil, in this case gambling; and do I sense an underlying hatred of a big, bad (but popular) capitalist money-making enterprise? Yep, I think so.

As socialist (which the author of this crap is, natch) navel-gazing becomes ever more absurd, one must ask why they always get so jealous of those who enjoy something popular? Or, more to the point, why does this jealousy always - but always - drive them to seek a solution whereby others are stopped from deriving that enjoyment?

And why collective punishment is, yet again, the chosen tool to restrict choice for the vast majority, on the flimsy premise that a tiny few may be incapable of exercising control over their own lives.

Didn't that used to be part and parcel of evolution?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

NICE Work If You Can Get It

You always know when the righteous have come out with a work of superlative ineptitude when just about everyone rips it apart with little effort (remember Preston Policy Exchange?). Unfortunately for NICE, their laughable mish-mash today has been treated in such a manner so I won't add more than a mish-mash of observations.

Firstly, there's something disingenuous about the cost argument for healthy (ie non-processed/fast foods)

Poorer people have up to a threefold increased risk of heart disease over those who live in more affluent areas of the country. The focus for the Nice committee was safeguarding the population, rather than advising the individual who may have limited options.

[Klim McPherson, professor of health epidemiology at Oxford University and chairman of the Nice committee said] "It is about busy people having a lot to do, having to make choices on the fly, making pragmatic choices on how they feed themselves and their children," said McPherson. "Commercial organisations are very good at exploiting people who make choices on price and convenience."
He wibbled on.

“Where food is concerned, we want the healthy choice to be the easy choice. Going even further, we want the healthy choice to be the less expensive, more attractive choice."
Now, I don't understand this. We are consistently told that healthy, non-processed food is the cheapest option.

In fact, it is demonstrably true. If one really cares about healthy food, pasta, tomatoes, garlic and mixed herbs, for example, will make a family meal for buttons. If you want meat, even enough of the leanest pork for four will only set you back around £3. Combine potatoes to half a pound of minced beef and a carrot and you have cottage pie for six.

Anyone can do this, and it doesn't take knowledge of food ingredients or the difficult (for some, apparently) task of reading the mandatory nutrition details on the label.

So, considering healthy food is already the cheapest, we are into the 'easy' territory. In fact, that is all this guidance is about - the fact that the food industry markets to a public who wish to buy food which is simple to prepare.

It is consumer choice they are trying to restrict, pure and simple.

So why has most of the coverage today focussed on the 'evil' food industry? Well, probably because if NICE had attacked the true source of the problem - people who don't worry too much about food and choose things which are simple to prepare - their advice wouldn't come across as very caring, would it?

If Mike Kelly had turned up on BBC Breakfast, and declared that he was determined to stop the poor buying shit, Guardian readers, far from indulging in an anti-industry frenzy, would have vehemently turned on him instead.

Much more persuasive to target the imperialist capitalist food manufacturers who consistently reduce prices for the consumer in the face of overwhelming demand, eh?

It's the way you tell 'em, ain't it Mike?

Similarly sinister is the suggestion that fast food outlets should be banned near schools. There can, of course, be no suggestion that such places are the cheaper alternative, only that the people who pay NICE's wages - you know, us - very much like what they sell, and that just won't do.

This idea has been trialled already in the UK and the results weren't pretty as I pointed out last year. 'Near schools' soon turns into 'near schools, parks and leisure centres' ... and 'near' soon becomes 'not as near as first suggested'.

The essence of the 'next logical step' principle.

And all for what? Naturally, it's the false economy of saving cost to the NHS.

They believe that reducing salt and saturated fats, as well as banning trans-fats, would save the NHS more than £1bn.
That there are still millions in our country who believe such a whopping fib is proof that the funding of NICE should be shifted into education sharpish.

Healthy people cost the country far more than the unhealthy, and when pension provision is taken into consideration, the idea that - somehow - people dying early will cost the country more becomes pure comedy.

Hey, don't argue with me that life isn't all about cost ... I'm not the one making that gambit. It's just very simple to disprove, is all.

So, NICE's advice today boils down to ...

- Some lies
- The poor aren't making the correct decisions so we must force them to do so.
- Expensive food is popular so we have to ban it
- We hate the capitalist food industry which has enhanced choice
- The NHS profits from poor health but if we said so we'd not have a job tomorrow

Little wonder, then, that the government told them to shove it. With any luck, this will start a trend for the new lot.

But just in case they are wavering, may I remind them of a previous gem from NICE?

Hiking booze prices will force shops to slash the cost of food - and lead to greater state benefits, say a health watchdog.

[...] the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence believe that if supermarkets cannot entice customers with cut-price booze, they will use food as "loss leaders" instead.
Yes, that's right. If the coalition ramps up alcohol prices with, say, a minimum price, food will get cheaper and NICE can start the whole 'cheap food is killing the country' meme again.

Clever, huh?

There Goes The Neighbourhood



No change this time round. Labour's plan to increase the duty on cider by 10% above inflation will be scrapped from July.
If you're in the Shoreditch or Whitechapel area and have been hearing a high-pitched whining noise since lunch, it's not the incoming 747s on the Heathrow flightpath. Merely an almighty tantrum being thrown in a couple of offices.

There'll be screaming all over the MSM in the next couple of days, mark my words, the righteous aren't used to being ignored, you see. Swarm like flying ants, they will.


Mascot Watch (8)

Our Philip's been a bit of a busy bunny of late, so he has. Highlighting male victims of domestic abuse in the House, receiving Seb Coe in Shipley, talking to the police about the Bradford murders and, err, judging a kids' fancy dress contest?

Some may also have noticed him at PMQs last week, though, in the slot (1. engagements) which customarily sees a friendly dolly tossed up for the Prime Minister. Davies is a trifle too contrary for that, though.

This was followed up by an article penned for The (Invisible) Times prefaced in his typically forthright manner.

For far too long in this country, the small band of left-wing, politically-correct do-gooders have had a disproportionate sway over the debate on law and order. “Prison doesn’t work” they say or, “we lock up more people than any other civilised country.”

The reality behind these myths needs to be seriously exposed for the sake of this country’s future.

[...] When it comes to sentencing, we should be thinking of extending sentences not shortening them.
I'd give you more but I don't fancy waking up next to a kangaroo's head as punishment for handing Rupert's stuff out for free.

This stance seems to impress Peter Hitchens, who on Sunday questioned Davies's compatibility with his own front benches.

The genuinely conservative MP Philip Davies smacked the Liberal Tory Premier, David Cameron, smartly about the chops.

How long, I wonder, can people such as Philip Davies sit on the same side of the chamber as Mr Cameron and his liberal, PC friends like Chris Huhne and Ken Clarke?
Actually, Hitch, I'm rather hoping he stays there as long as possible to regularly prick the collective coalition conscience.

And it looks like he will do exactly that considering the avalanche of approving comments when his remarks were reported back in his constituency. I think a geezer called Bert Sanders summed up the general feeling.

"Nay lad you must not punish prisoners its against their human rights. You'll always be on the back benches as you are not toeing the line, but I reckon you'll be Shipley MP for a long time."
Looks like my sidebar pic is safe for a while, then.


All that guff about fair trade and protecting the livelihoods of African farmers righteously flies out the window when it suits.

Nairobi — Tanzania's delegation to the World Trade Organisation will appeal against a proposed Bill by Canada that seeks to ban the use of ingredients in cigarette brands saying it will affect tobacco farmers globally.

The Tanzanian delegation will also raise the issue of the Canadian ban being incorporated into the draft guidelines (Art. 9 and 10) of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at the World Health Organisation.

In October 2009, Canada adopted a new law (the Cracking Down on Tobacco Marketing Aimed at Youth Act) that will effectively ban the manufacture and sale of traditional blended cigarettes - and will thereby indirectly significantly reduce imports of the burley and oriental tobacco used in such cigarettes.
'Cos we care about you Africans, really we do ... but only when you're producing bananas and coffee.

Dick Out And About: Doctors Obsessed With Alcohol

It would seem the medical profession's paranoia over alcohol has claimed an unfortunate victim (link)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Dangerous Doormats, Perilous Pictures

The bansturbators at Brighton and Hove council are at it again, I see.

First residents were told to remove their doormats.

Now tenants have been ordered to take down pictures and bin their pot plants, all in the name of health and safety risk.

People living in Noble Court, Hove, have been told by Hyde Housing Association they must clear their communal walkways as they pose a fire risk.

It follows Brighton and Hove City Council issuing a diktat to its tenants telling them to remove their doormats for similar reasons.
Quite what kind of fire risk a reproduced Constable on the wall, in a Wilkinson's frame, might pose, they don't say.

Still, rules is rules, bans is bans, and boy do Brighton council enjoy them.

If anyone was previously unconvinced that traditional parties of every stripe are all aligned to the same authoritarian, risk-terrified mindset, then surely Brighton's curious mish-mash of Tory, Green, Labour and Lib Dem should offer conclusive proof.

Be careful out there folks, and beware the psychopathic spider plant in the porch on your way out in the morning.


Quote Of The Decade

"The tendency of government has been to legislate for the sake of legislating. Bills have been rushed through in order to give the impression that action is being taken. However, many ills cannot be solved by legislation. Much legislation is drafted in haste and is not solidly evidence-based."
Ain't that the truth, Lord Norton!

A Musical Interlude

Click to enlarge

Insistendo quasi le vespe = insistent like wasps

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Labour: The REALLY Nasty Party

I've been out today treating Mr Puddlecote Sr to his Father's Day sausage and chips. OK, it was a bit more refined than that but he being a South London boy, brought up in a working class heartland, it wasn't difficult to find an eaterie he'd enjoy which wasn't packed to the rafters with arrogant righteous types wittering on about the quality of the re-heated steak and mass-produced (in Swindon) French Chablis. Otherwise known as 21st century pubs (or Harvesters).

We went to an Indian restaurant. A bloody good one of 35 years standing, too, but obviously a bit low-brow for yer average pretentious ladder-climber on such an auspicious day as a fabricated marketing opportunity. Although fairly quiet, with barely a quarter of the 20 tables occupied during our time there, something happened which was both a surprise and emotionally warm.

People from different tables actually talked to one another.

How about that, eh? Social interaction. Remember it? People getting along and genuinely enjoying each other's company. All part of the moment together. Wonderful stuff.

Except that the dead hand of the state was still there stifling the reverie. One group turned up with an old woman who had recently broken her ankle but was determined to carry on regardless. She painfully took an age to reach her table, I mean about 5 minutes, and her beam of satisfaction at finally being able to sit down was a delight. At one point during the two hours we were there, she needed to visit the loo and the staff helped her as all other diners watched supportively while she struggled there in supported pigeon steps. Blessed with a great sense of humour, she returned making jokes about her recent frailty which cracked us all up.

The meal over, she weakly stood to go outside for a postprandial smoke. As we were all getting along nicely, many were calling for the restaurant owners to give her an ashtray to save the evident hassle of going outside where there was nowhere to sit. There were no objections whatsoever, in fact the sentiment was unanimous. Of course, the restaurant were forced to decline. They did so very politely and apologetically, emphasising that there was nothing they'd like more at that moment, but it wasn't their decision to make. As we all now know, it was decided back in 2006 that they, and their customers, are not allowed the choice.

The woman must suffer. Labour said so.

It reminded me of Hairy's hideous pomposity last year, where she attempted to turn generosity of spirit into a party political attack on a Conservative club who tried to accommodate its frail customers.

Some Tories just can’t help themselves. Is it really so difficult to obey the law and not smoke in public places?
The linked article pointed to a report about a club in Wales where pensioners were allowed a modicum of shelter from the February cold.

He said the three people caught smoking were pensioners and had been standing just inside an external door.
As Hairy says. How difficult can it be to throw pensioners out into the bitter late winter weather, eh? How difficult can it be to eject a woman who can barely walk when the entire clientele, and the owners, would rather she wasn't made to do so?

Not difficult at all if you're a Labour politician who isn't hampered by disabilities or age (remember when they used to defend such people?). They love making laws which do exactly that.

Like other Labourites who continue to dub the Tories as the 'nasty party', Hairy nevertheless believes that it is atrocious for anyone to make allowances for the old or infirm if they smoke.

And not only do they believe that, they actively promote it with appalling legislation.

Additionally, our hosts threw in a free post-meal liqueur for our table, and others it seemed to me, which could arguably be in contravention of Labour's ban on drinks promotion.

Because, you see, Labour administered the government which officially banned 'Happy Hour'. How apposite.

Now. Please remind me. Which is the really 'nasty party', again?

We Can't Be Trusted

And the award for brass neck of 2010 goes to ...

Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham revealed that Government Hospitality, which manages the cellar, had spent £17,698 on new stock since May 6 - bringing the total value to £864,000 - though he insisted the standard practice of buying wines young saved money for the taxpayer.

"None of these wines has yet been used. Careful management of the Government wine cellar enables GH to provide wine for high profile events at significantly below the current market rate, making substantial savings for the taxpayer."
Hey, Henry. The rest of us poor bastards who are condemned to life under your dictatorial rule tend to do the same.

When our suppliers offer a money-saving deal, we avail ourselves of it, thereby making 'substantial savings' for our household finances. With our own money, I might add.

Precisely the savings, in fact, that you hypocrites would seek to deprive us of by any means possible.

So, let's get this straight. We voted for a referendum on Europe - you refused it. We voted for a partial smoking ban - you changed it. Some of us voted for parties you don't like - you exclude them. You get caught out claiming expenses we could only dream of - you complain it's unfair.

And now, after telling us you have to cut expenses to the bone, you are increasing expenditure on bargain alcohol while spending every waking hour hectoring us that we can't be trusted to do the same.

You've got some nerve, I'll give you that.

H/T Ranty

Saturday, 19 June 2010

That Democracy Problem (2)

There really isn't a more hideous sight than seeing politicians - having negotiated the greasy democratic pole themselves - desperately using their influence to deny the same privileges to those with whom they disagree.

MPs really don't get this democracy thing, do they?

Peers are to give MEPs special passes to allow them access to the House of Lords - after MPs removed their rights to Westminster passes.

When peers rejected the approach taken by the Commons last year, Labour's Lord Tomlinson said MEPs had enjoyed the right to passes "for the last 29 years without, as far as I'm aware, having produced any problems".

He suggested the issue could become "a very serious irritant between ourselves and the European Parliament".

At the time, the then Commons leader Harriet Harman said the decision had been made after a review of the rules relating to passes and concern about pressure on facilities.
The Palace of Westminster has shrunk, apparently.

But Labour MP John Mann said it would stop the BNP "parading round here as if they're legitimate politicians".
And there it is.

I don't know what John Mann's definition of a 'legitimate politician' is, but mine would be someone who, in a democracy - you know, where the public choose their representatives? - gains enough votes to be one. Just in case you weren't aware, nearly one million people 'democratically' and 'legitimately' voted for the BNP in June last year. John Mann (who only gained 25,018 votes himself) is arrogant enough to believe that his view trumps that of those one million combined.

Of course, UKIP gained nearly 2.5 million votes. More than Labour, in fact, but they're excluded too. How convenient.

Could someone please tell me why the Lords, who seem to understand democracy vastly more than the quite astoundingly dull-minded self-centred individuals in the other place, are somehow deemed irrelevant and old-fashioned?

Could it be because they irritatingly keep adhering to common sense and reason?

Blogroll Update

Via Obo, I've just found out that Woman on a Raft has finally started a blog. As Queen of the commentariat, this can only be a good thing, so straight on the DP blogroll she goes.

Also, considering we're going to require some good advice on the vagaries of UK customs once the government raise booze and fags to ever more unrealistic levels in the upcoming budget, the expert analysis of Nothing 2 Declare is going to come in handy.

And why I've not added the impeccably-researched - albeit occasional - writings of Katabasis before? Well, fucked if I know.

Lastly, Fuel Injected Moose writes some very insightful stuff ... when he's not drooling over cars, that is.

Link Tank 19/06

A dozen for your delectation.

Drinking alcohol protects against arthritis

No sex please, we're soccer players

Salt scares lack solid evidence

Smokers reduce costs to the New Zealand health service

Scientists to study why Ozzy Osbourne is still alive

Iceland's parliament approves law making it a haven for investigative journalists and whistleblowers

Queensland to impose $100 fines for swearing in public

Hiding a paternalistic agenda behind bogus economics

First, China. Next: the Great Firewall of... Australia?

Is the war on drugs really a war on sex?

Breastfeeding is acceptable in public ... except whilst driving

A positive review of Lembit Opik's stand up routine

Friday, 18 June 2010

World Cup Safety Advice

If you're planning to watch the England match tonight, please be aware that it is extremely dangerous. Remember that your sole purpose in life is to remain entirely risk free at all times.

Towards that goal, here is some timely advice from an unutterably dull, overweening, self-righteous bell end.

Jules Birch, founder of Works with Water Nutraceuticals, explains: “Following England in the World Cup is often a very stressful and all-absorbing experience. Football fans are likely to experience high blood pressure through stress, smoking, drinking and eating junk food, which directly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes”


A man’s safe daily unit limit is 4, or just one pint of 4% or stronger lager. Every additional pint raises systolic blood pressure by another 4 mmHg, so just 5 pints takes blood pressure into red card territory. During the last World Cup in 2006, 815 million pints were sold in the UK, 60 million more than the previous June.


Episodes of anxiety cause dramatic spikes in blood pressure. If these temporary episodes occur frequently they can cause just as much damage to blood vessels and to major organs such as the heart and kidneys as consistently high blood pressure. Furthermore, when you’re anxious you're more likely to resort to other unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking and overeating.

Fast Food

For many of us, typical World Cup celebrations will include a large quantity of high calorie, salty party food, raising blood pressure even more. To maintain a healthy level, Jules Birch from Works with Water Nutraceuticals recommends an adult should eat no more than 6g of salt a day, and that any food with more than 20g total fat or 5g saturated fat per 100g of food should be avoided completely. Unfortunately, one of Britain’s half time favourites, pizza, often contains 15g saturated fat and at least 3g of salt.
Apart from that, enjoy yourself ... if it's possible.

Or, you could avoid it altogether seeing as the game "distract[s] the populace from political injustice and compensate[s] them for lives of hard labour".

And we always thought watching a football match was a fairly uncomplicated matter, eh. Who knew?

Thought For The Day

Mr Puddlecote Sr often regales us of the time in the early 70s when he played against Andy Ripley. An awesome, unstoppable prospect on the pitch - a gentleman off it. We could all do with remembering these lines from his Telegraph obituary.

“Dare we hope? We dare. Can we hope? We can. Should we hope? We must, because to do otherwise is to waste the most precious of gifts, given so freely by God to all of us. So when we do die, it will be with hope and it will be easy and our hearts will not be broken.”
Andy Ripley RIP

UPDATE: Thanks to Rick S in the comments for uploading this to YouTube.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Medic Porn

What German physicians will be spanking their stethoscopes to this year

And you thought Hustler centerfolds were clinical. Japanese Computer display company EIZO wanted to promote its high-end monitors to doctors. So, via their German ad agency Butter, they put out the most revealing pinup calendar ever.
Hey, nice shoes!

Do You Feel Protected By This?

During my jolly jaunt on Tuesday, I met up with a couple of very likeable people who work for blog mascot, Philip Davies (see sidebar to the right). They seem keen to understand objectors to his speech last week on the surveillance state.

Phil (I think we're familiar now), being Phil, is apparently well aware that safeguards are needed in that regard before people can truly trust the state to use such tools responsibly.

As this particular libertarian has mentioned previously, the only real issue with such technology is the human propensity to abuse it. Listen, I'm no luddite, nor do I believe is Alex Deane who excoriated Philikins (too familiar?) at the IEA, or the No2ID contingent who were equally surprised at his unexpected stance on the night. I'm sure they accept that, for example, CCTV has a valid place in modern society - in fact, I know the latter do as I asked them - but that the accompanying control just isn't currently satisfactory.

As I sipped my tax-funded tea (as promised, I didn't have a choccie biccie mostly because it wasn't offered ... cuts, eh?) I hope I made clear - unaccustomed to sober debate as I am - that the biggest fear is mission creep.

You know, that horrible feeling that we've been duped into a quite revolting restriction of liberty on a false premise.

Like this, for example.

A grandmother has been jailed for five years for possessing a "family heirloom" World War II pistol.

Gail Cochrane, 53, had kept the gun for 29 years following the death of her father, who had been in the Royal Navy.

Police found the weapon, a Browning self-loading pistol, during a search of her home in Dundee while looking for her son.

She admitted illegal possession of the firearm, an offence with a minimum five-year jail term under Scots law.

Cochrane told the High Court in Edinburgh that she had never contemplated she might be committing a crime by keeping the gun or that she might need to get a licence for the weapon.

She said: "I thought it was just a war trophy."
Just to clear something up for the cynical. The reason that Cochrane would have pleaded guilty is that there is, officially, no defence as the law currently stands. Possession is possession and that's that.

Now, we have seen this before with a guy called Paul Clarke. However, the differences in Clarke's case are twofold. Firstly, he managed to escape the mandatory 5 year prison sentence, and secondly, he was only arrested In the first place because he attempted to hand the weapon in.

Yet Gail Cochrane is now behind bars for not only not knowing that she had committed an offence, but also for not trotting down the police station with her family keepsake, which could have resulted in the same zero-tolerance 'possession' charge anyway if Clarke's experience is to be taken as a guide. What's more, her ignorance of the need to declare her serviceman father's weapon was used against her.

Judge Lady Smith said: "I am not satisfied that a reasonable explanation has been put forward for not handing this gun into the authorities throughout the 29-year period she says she has had it in her possession."
Now, Jack of Kent was calmness personified during the Paul Clarke affair and offered many sceptical insights into how such a prosecution could be justified, so hopefully he will lend his expertise to this case too.

Especially since there is no suggestion that the weapon was ever going to be used.

She said she believed it was a real gun, but had no ammunition for it.

The weapon was sent for examination by firearms experts who concluded that it was a Czech-made pistol dating back to about 1927.
You see, this is the problem. A law brought in to punish dangerous gangsters and criminals has been applied, apparently without common sense, to jail a grandmother for 5 years.

I'm sure if JoK casts his legal eye over the case he will pull out something which isn't evident from the bald reportage from the BBC, but this woman is clearly no Griselda Blanco, so one must presently conclude that mission creep has again come into play, and that a law intended for the dangerous and inexcusable has been turned on an unfortunate, and seemingly innocent, member of the public.

There are many sides to the crime and punishment coin. This case, yet again, proves that before any measures are proposed, promoted, or wildly encouraged, let alone implemented, all unintended consequences should be fully explored to avoid the public feeling that they have lost their own liberties as a result.

See, Phil?


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Tom Harris And Stones

To paraphrase Tom Harris and his continuing 'New Politics' rebuttal.

Number of people who voted after being given the chance to peruse the parties’ manifestos: 29,691,380.

Number of voters who voted after being given the chance to peruse the coalition agreement: 0.
Or ...

Number of people who voted after being given the chance to peruse the parties’ 2005 manifesto commitments on a proposed smoking ban: 27,148,510.

Number of voters who voted after being given the chance to see Labour's last minute bastardisation of its own manifesto commitment: 0.
That's quite a glass house you have there, Tom.

That Democracy Problem

Look. We either abide by democracy, or we don't.

BNP leader invited to meet Queen at Buckingham Palace garden party

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace confirmed that an invitation had been issued this year. She said that Mr Griffin was eligible to nominate himself and the Palace would not discriminate against democratically elected representatives.
Quite rightly too. It's that democracy thing, you see.

Searchlight, the organisation which campaigns against the BNP, said it was “bizarre” that Mr Griffin had received an invitation when his party had been soundly rejected by voters at the general election.
Actually, it would be 'bizarre' if one of two MEPs, representing a party which garnered almost a million votes in June last year, was denied an invitation to which he is entitled under the current rules. Especially at the behest of Searchlight, an organisation for whom no-one has ever voted.

Listen guys, yes the BNP are misdirected and deeply unpleasant, but it's kind of important that we stick to the etiquette of our electoral system. Anything else would appear, well, a bit like a dictatorship, really. Or, even worse, the EU.

Sometimes such annoying inconveniences are thrown up. Life tends to do that. Think 13 years of authoritarian Labour government, for example.

And with that, I suppose I say farewell to the Times as a linkable source.

An Irrepressible Rage

There's bluster aplenty in the Mail comments at news that Churchill's cigar has vanished.

Spot the difference: How today's airbrushing PC censors decided Churchill could do without his cigar

In the original photograph the war leader has his cigar gripped firmly in the corner of his mouth. But in the other image - currently greeting visitors to a London museum - his favourite smoke has been digitally extinguished.
There have been other recent examples of iconic pictures being airbrushed to remove tobacco from the sight of the terminally-nervous, most notably in France where Coco Chanel and M Hulot have been similarly treated.

Therefore it's only natural to assume that this is all down to political correctness.

Allen Packwood, of Churchill Archives Centre, said he had never known of the leader's cigar being airbrushed out before. 'The cigar is part of what makes Churchill an iconic figure and of course it was very much part of his image as war leader - it went hand in hand with his victory salute and the uniforms he wore.
What's politically correct for 2010 was not politically correct for 1940.'
One commenter attempts to offer a less risible reason for the missing cigar.

I know who did this!

It was not due to Anti smoking it was simply he image was very low res and he took the decision to remove the cigar as it looked better in his opinion!

I guess we will be producing another one soon!

- JZ, London, 15/6/2010 14:25
This doesn't really stack up, though, considering that the 'after' picture looks a hell of a lot less like Churchill than the 'before'. In fact, the post-airbrushing is more reminiscent of Benny Hill rather than Winnie. If that was truly the justification, then he/she must be a woefully incompetent photo editor.

Since the Mail is unable to track down the perpetrator, one can only guess at the real motive, but it may well be down to a rather gross characteristic of the anti-smoker ... pure, unadulterated, vindictive spite.

For example, let me introduce you to Rosie O'Neill, a famous New York socialite at the turn of the 20th century. Here she is pictured in 1907.

Now, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you may just notice that a cigarette has been crudely scratched out (on the negative) of the fingers of her right hand. This was in the period where puritans and zealots were in the ascendancy prior to Prohibition and tobacco illegality in 15 US states. The irrepressible righteous rage which must have motivated someone to do something like that is bordering on the psychotic.

Remember too, that this was decades before any science had been conducted into the harm caused by tobacco. There was no more to this desecration of a tranquil photo than stark hatred.

The more extreme tobacco haters have always possessed this trait, but now the anti-smoking juggernaut has reached top gear, they have a handy 'health' peg on which to hang their vitriol and bile. It's never been about health, though. This sentiment has always been there, as the picture of Rosie O'Neill proves.

It's why talk of sealed smoking rooms or separate smoking pubs can't be tolerated, even though there is no threat to the health of anyone except those who choose to use them. It's why even the suggestion of an amendment motivates anti-smokers to scuttle from the woodwork spitting condescension, insults, loathing and bigotry.

In a civil society, one would expect such behaviour to be frowned upon, but instead government feed and nurture it against all notions of common sense and reason.

We may never know why Churchill's photo was messed around with, but seeing as there is no valid reason why it was done - and that history, and the present, illustrates the dog in a manger mindset of the rabid anti-smoker - one can't rule out base, naked spite as a motive.

As for Rosie O'Neill, there is a charming end to the story of her photo portrait. Fellow jewel robber David G, who e-mailed me her story, is a superb photo restorer. He said:

"I hand-colorized the original B&W photo and added the cig back into her hand, thus restoring her spirit to its rightful truth of the actual way she wanted to be depicted in the world, post-humously of course since this was her back circa 1907. May her soul now rest in peace."
I think Rosie would heartily approve, don't you?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Dick Out And About In Westminster

Nothing to see here today. I'm off to Westminster this lunchtime ... and they're going to let me in! I understand I may even cop for a taxpayer funded coffee, though I won't push it by asking for one of those continental choccie-covered biscuits.

In the evening I'll be trundling over to the IEA for the third Voices of Freedom event, leaving an intervening couple of hours in which to watch the Ivory Coast/Portugal match in the company of like-minded friends ... most probably in a pub.

It's a tough job, and all that.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The Politically Homeless Working Class

Hand-moisturising bistro-attendee James Mills, writing on the Guardian web-wreck yesterday, was close to getting something right.

As the proportion of Labour MPs with a manual-working background has fallen, so has its share of the vote
Yeah, that'll be it. Cos working class people really look into the background of their PPCs before casting their vote. Happens all the time, it does.

I was just discussing it with Bert down the road the other day. He said - and I quote - "if only that Labour guy who was telling me that my life is shit, and that I am shit for enjoying it, wasn't well-educated and a bit posh, I'd have voted for him".

James, the working class expert apparently, went on to say.

[...] a BBC poll last year showed that almost 60% of white working-class people felt unrepresented in parliament. Labour, the traditional home for that social group, saw their share of the lower income DE demographic at the last election fall by a third to 40% according to recent analysis. This cannot be mere coincidence.
No, James, it's not coincidence. You're incredibly correct in that assumption.

You see, the working class have pretty much lost interest in politics simply because politics has lost interest in them.

The solution, perhaps, would be for Labour politicians to - and I realise this may come as a bit of a shock - um, actually listen to the working classes?

I know it's a bit of a dirty thing to do, James. They're a bit chavvy, after all, and there are so many wine and cheese parties for you to attend. But if you're going to write about the views of the working class, don't you think that there is something rather important that you have missed?

The total proportion of MPs who were previously manual workers was 8% in 1997. This figure had fallen to 6% by 2005. Now in 2010 the current crop of MPs from manual-working backgrounds is a mere 4%. Among Labour MPs the figures are not much more encouraging either. In 1998 13% percent of the 418 Labour MPs were from a manual working background, but only 9% of the current 256 Labour MPs are.
And all of them, without exception, trumpet the party Guardianista-led line.

It doesn't matter if you have 1% or 100% of MPs from working class backgrounds. Working class people usually vote on a tribal basis. The fact that Labour have blown that natural allegiance from the working man should be a damning signal of failure for socialist policies.

However, James, who has no fucking clue as to how a working man thinks, works, or plays, reckons the way back is to promote a few working men into the ranks of the PPCs and it's all going to be hunky dory.

James, come here mate. I'll speak quietly in your shell-like as I don't think you have quite got it, and I don't want to embarrass you unduly. Shhh.

{whisper} I think the reason Labour were shunned by their core vote could have something to do with their ... BEING FUCKED UP THE ARSE BY LABOUR.

Working men (and women) are the productive sector in our country. The guys who make your TV, the ones who put together your car on the production line and forge the metal you use everyday. They also provide your utilities. They empty your bins, they cut your grass verges, they deliver your post and they risk their lives defending you against aggressors.

And how did Labour treat them? Hmmm, let's see.

They failed to supply troops with equipment that would protect them; they condemned their lifestyles; they destroyed the leisure haunts of the working man; they taxed their meagre pleasures to destruction.

And why? Because unproductive, middle-class, state-paid, quangocrats and fake charities, who all live comfortably in non-working class comfort, told them to.

Where do you live again, James, you didn't say?

Salient facts, James:

[...] demographic at the last election [fell] by a third to 40% according to recent analysis.
And James's solution?

We need more than 9% working class MPs because we used to have 13% in 1998
Yeah. That's what it is. Obviously.

Never mind the policies, bus in the gutteral idiots and the Islington tofu parties can carry on regardless.

Good fucking grief.

We Need Urgent Action On Alcohol

It's clear we have a problem with alcohol pricing in this country and that something must be done.

Fortunately, unrepentant hedonist Cookie has leapt into action with a petition.

The petition states :
The price of dirt cheap cheap supermarket lager is rising whatever anyone says. We believe government intervention and a Maximum price of 50p per unit will ensure a free English persons right to get as pissed as he/she likes for the princely cost of buttons!
And in case anyone is not convinced, he further explains how such a measure will make for a "happier and shinier world".

He's even designed a natty blog badge for his inspired campaign.

In such worrying times, Britain needs men of drive and vision. We salute you, Cookie.

Nick Cleggeron ... make it the maximum and banish the scourge of alcohol at 'deposit account' prices, for good.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Rankin Hypocrisy

Via Private Eye, I see that NHS Brmingham East & North have renewed their alliance with artsy photographer, Rankin.

A couple of weeks ago, they released a new 'hard-hitting' video to tackle binge-drinking.

Because, you see, Rankin is awfully concerned about the problem, so he is.

Jameson, the world’s best selling Irish whiskey, is delighted to announce details of a new advertising campaign which will go live from 4 September, and will be supported with a fully integrated marketing spend, of €5 million. The “It’s a Jameson Thing” campaign is a series of portraits shot by internationally renowned portrait photographer and film director Rankin.
And the 'not-associated-with-binge-drinking-at-all-really' target?

The new campaign targets 25 to 34-year-old men by “reinforcing Jameson's credentials as a premium and contemporary spirit, while also supporting its leading position in the UK”.
Such a split in Rankin's loyalties doesn't come as much of a surprise though. You see, the guy has form.

His last collaboration with NHS Birmingham was a gore-fest of an anti-smoking video, so hideous in its portrayal of a smoker being brutally beaten senseless, that it has been flagged 'inappropriate' by YouTube for anyone under 18.

However, as I mentioned in September, Rankin doesn't find anything too violent in tobacco when he is pallying up to showbiz stars. If anything, one would assume he considers smoking rather photogenic.

Rankin's anti-drink offering merely backs up my previous conclusions about his odd flip-flopping (if he is giving his services for free), or the wasteful nature of the NHS (if he's not).

Either the NHS are spunking a hell of a lot of money, which could be better directed towards front line services, on this disgusting advert. Or Rankin is a quite egregious hypocrite.

Or maybe both.
If I were a bookie, this new evidence would persuade me to make the former the favourite.

The Exception That Proves The Rule?

Practice ...

... makes perfect.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Mascot Watch (7) - The 'Iain Dale Gasped' Edition

You'll have noticed that this blog is very quick to laud our esteemed mascot, Philip Davies, when the pearls of freedom-loving wisdom cascade around his public appearances, so as promised, it's only consistent to also report on those - thankfully few - occasions when his views contrast with conventional libertarian thought.

Thursday night at the IEA was one of those times.

Tasked with debating "BIG GOVERNMENT IS WATCHING YOU - The surveillance society and individual freedom", the make-up of the panel suggested that the evening would be a one-sided affair. Davies, however, had other ideas and, to head-shaking and a collective sharp intake of breath from a surprised audience, launched into a passionate defence of four tools of surveillance - CCTV, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), DNA capture, and body scanners.

Davies argued that when talking of freedom and liberty, many forget that these measures enhance freedom rather than restrict it.

He clutched a ream of printed newspaper reports of violent crimes which were solved due to the availability of CCTV, and contended that the public is offered more freedom from murder, rape and mugging precisely because of the prevalence of cameras. On ANPR, he referred to the murder of Sharon Beshenivsky in his constituency, pointing out that her killers were apprehended while fleeing to London, thanks to ANPR.

He defended DNA capture with reference to the many historical crimes which have now been solved since police began routinely swabbing for DNA. He even professed annoyance that, as a law-abiding citizen, he isn't able to volunteer his own DNA! And on the subject of body scanners, Davies was adamant that the terrible consequences of a potential bomber slipping through security and boarding a plane should trump any embarrassment or privacy issues with such equipment.

As you can imagine, after such a polemic, there were more than a few - Chairman Iain Dale included - whose gobs were well and truly smacked, even if they were generous enough to offer warm applause.

Now, I suppose it's possible that he was assuming an equal and opposite position simply to provide balance to the debate, but his tone didn't support that idea, so one must reasonably surmise that these were, indeed, his sincere beliefs.

And, if taken in isolation, the examples provided by Davies in support of his views are very persuasive. In fact, in a Britain governed by an ideal state, we could accept such an argument without question. However, we are faced with a state which is far from perfect, as Davies himself recognises in many other areas.

The problem, of course, is the inevitable mission creep which always accompanies surveillance measures, and just about every other 'innovative solution' promoted by our government, come to that.

CCTV may very well be useful for the prosecution of murderers, but we know from experience that public officials can't help themselves - before long they're using them to chastise us for minor transgressions. Davies highlighted criminals apprehended by means of ANPR, but their principle use is for harrassing motorists. DNA retention may be useful for solving crime, but the accompanying breakdown of trust between the public and authorities when our presumed innocence is withdrawn is arguably more damaging to society. And while body scanners are good for deterring terrorists, and are relatively new with only fairly superficial abuses so far, you just know that government officials won't hesitate to employ them against the public for trivialities if they feel like it.

It's a matter of trust, and we're all out of it when it comes to our relationship with the state.

They have been stamping on our faces for so long - their abuse of RIPA is an egregious example - that it will be many years before we are able to take their reassurances at face value. If a teen son continually promises to treat your car with respect but always ends up driving it through your flower beds, after a while you stop letting him have the keys no matter how passionate his plea for your trust. Likewise, the state have only themselves to blame for our exasperation and lack of faith in their treatment of us.

Still, Davies's contribution - and Alex Deane's blistering rebuttal - made for a crackling atmosphere and a very entertaining debate. Let's hope the next in the Voices of Freedom series, on Tuesday evening, is as thought-provoking.

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