Not My Turn

Four years ago a chum conjured up a cracking idea. “Let’s do the Lions tour to New Zealand!” he said. A bunch of us signed up for the Mid-Life Crisis trip of a lifetime to spend two weeks immersed in the best rugby on the planet with an eclectic collection of rugby lovers from all corners of these islands in the country most devoted to the sport. The brewing anticipation since then has been joyful. I have loved the innumerable lunches, pub outings and incessant debate in the Cardinal Vaughn Car Park at Twickenham about the tour. I’ve never seen grown men reduced to such animated and childlike excitement as I have with this tour as it has morphed from a dreamy ambition to reality. My own sense of adventure was heightened because I have never been to New Zealand but have always thought of it as the place I am spiritually at least, most close to. Indeed, if ever the Mad Marxists get a sniff of the levers of power here that is where I’m heading.

Crumble Kid with our Tour Leader. I had to send him, the shirt doesn't fit me so well anymore...............................

Crumble Kid with our Tour Leader. I had to send him, the shirt doesn't fit me so well anymore...............................

It was then, a tad disappointing to miss QF002 to Auckland via Dubai and Sydney last night. What we might describe as an unfortunate confluence of events have conspired against me and forced me to drop out just at the four year finishing line. It was though fantastic news for the youngest Crumble Kid who got the phone call of a lifetime, packed up his university accommodation in quick time and drove down at 3am yesterday. A quick turnaround from summer to winter gear at home and off to Terminal 3 where, after a quick goodbye, he found himself luxuriating in the BA Lounge with my chum. Kind of surreal turnaround.

We tend not to sink into self pity at home, it just isn’t our way. You move on and move fast. It is after all, not the biggest disappointment I have ever had with missed flights. No, that one is forever etched on my memory.

In the summer of 1981 I was sent from the Scottish Infantry Depot at Glencorse to join the Gordon Highlanders for a couple of months before starting at Sandhurst in the September intake. After two months in Belize I was ready to go. Any sane person would have felt the same. So it was with as much of a spring in my step that I could muster while doing foot drill that I marched into the CO’s office in Airport Camp to be told, “Well done Corporal Crumble, I hope you have enjoyed your time with us. I want to wish you good luck at Sandhurst and I look forward to meeting you again sometime.” That though, is not what he said. Not even close.

“Now look here Corporal Crumble, I know you must be looking forward to your flight tomorrow and starting at the Academy but there seems to have been a bit of a cock-up in the paperwork back at the Depot. You will now be starting at Sandhurst in January so will stay with the Battalion until we leave Belize in November. When we get back to Kirknewton you will stay with us and come up to the Mess and understudy a Platoon Commander until you start in January.”

That was kind of him. I had a fabulous time with the Gordons who were a decent and professional bunch and the time spent with the other officers in Kirknewton was indeed, good preparation for the Academy. But, at the time, standing in his office, the news was crushing. Another three months in that stinking, disease ridden country; most of it spent humping heavy kit around the jungle. Disappointed doesn’t touch it. In Belize they brew a beer called Belekin, (tastes like cheap perfume and did the same sort of damage to your gut), and distill a rum called One Barrel which tasted much like the issue mossie-rep we used in the jungle. I think I drank most of the available supplies in the country that night. I never touched the bloody stuff again. Looking back, it was a good thing. Had that bad news not have come my way then a whole lot of cards would have fallen differently and life very probably, would have meandered down a different path. 

As I said, we banish pity at home but I allowed myself just a hint of pathos when I sat down on return from the airport to watch the Woody Allen movie, Cafe Society. Like all Woody Allen films it received mixed reviews. I loved it and it fitted my reflective mood perfectly. The film is worth watching for Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous cinematography alone and the soundtrack is full of my favourite music. It was a gentle and melancholic end to what was, a rather frantic day.

I guess then, it will have to be Japan in 2019.

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Hot!

The summer of '76

Crumble in another hot place, far away and a long time ago.

Crumble in another hot place, far away and a long time ago.

One of the more eclectic items on my CV is that of Jungle Warfare Instructor. This was quite useful in the jungles of Belize and Brunei and the memories of those happy days were front and centre in my mind when I started working outside earlier. I’ve stopped now. It’s hot, very hot; 1976 hot. 1976 was, at the time and since, the longest and sunniest summer in memory. The good news was beer was 25p a pint and it cost a fiver to fill the car up. The bad news was record unemployment, a sick economy without cure, riots in Notting Hill and the England cricket team getting hit out of the ground all summer by the storming West Indians. The major revelation that summer was that girls, in fact everyone, started to wear much, much less than we were ever used to in this country. It was quite an eye opener really and a great time to be a teenage boy. Perhaps that’s why, despite all the bad things during that period, we mostly look back on it with misty eyed fond nostalgia.

Today's forecast

A Nasty Piece of Work

John Martin McDonnell is a nasty piece of work. Some may view him as just dim and irresponsible, others as a sinister and manipulative individual. I am firmly in the latter camp. McDonnell has called for a million people to march in protest in London on July 1st. Is that clever when London is under persistent threat of terrorist attack? Will the Met welcome having to divert resources to police the event? There will be trouble. You can absolutely guarantee that. 

Veteran Corbyn agitator riles protesters at Kensington Town Hall, (picture from Guido)

McDonnell is urging people to protest to help destabilise the government, bring down the Prime Minister and force a second general election. His disrespectful contempt for democracy is outrageous and it is dangerous. The devious and calculating way that tragic events are being weaponised to stir up a hate campaign, which is full of false facts and disinformation and includes agitators appearing to protest in West Kensington while labelling themselves ‘locals', against the Prime Minister is an affront to decency and due process. 

What is happening is much, much more than mischief making. McDonnell and his henchmen are attempting to subvert our democratic process. In clear and open view the Labour party has allowed itself to be taken over by extreme left Marxists. This is not about housing in West London, those poor souls are being used as ladders for the cynical operators of Momentum to propel themselves into a position of total dominance of the Labour party and from there, the Government.  

Corbyn meanwhile is wandering around every new disaster like some latter day saint proclaiming love and hugs for all. His new found respect for anything with a blue light on it or the word ‘security,’ in it is especially dubious. Corbyn is the anti Christ. That so many Labour MP’s who previously treated his policies with disdain are now swooning in his shadow is cowardly and pathetic. They are first in line against the wall as they will discover when they are deselected one by one. That so many feeble-minded and dim witted fools can’t see the truth of what is happening in front of them is worrying. 

 

In another place, in another time there were also demonstrations against democratic election results. It did not end particularly well.

Did No-one Hear The Nonsense Alarm Ringing Long Before?

not in London in 2017... how?

not in London in 2017... how?

We woke this morning to another unimaginable tragedy, this time in West Kensington. We are going through one of those cycles of bad news upon bad news and we all wonder where it will end. For most of us the cycle will flatten out and we’ll move on but for the participants of last nights events there will be no end. A good friend of mine still suffers from flashbacks and smells the rich smell of AvGas whenever he sees a Salvation Army collector or band. They are one of the images imprinted on his mind from Lockerbie when they were handing out tea and sandwiches to soldiers and others tasked with their gruesome clean-up work. Indeed, looking at the pictures on television of what can only be termed a disaster one could be forgiven for thinking that the ghost of the tragedy visited on that Border town had risen last night in West London. 

There will be deep and extensive analysis of what conspired to cause an apparently small kitchen fire to rage out of control and reach the upper stories within, it is said, just 15 minutes. I am no expert in fire, fire prevention or fire fighting but still feel obliged to ask as a concerned citizen, just three questions,

Which genius thought it was a good idea to spend ten million pounds cladding the structure in wood, plastic and polyurethane with a cavity turning a run of the mill 1970’s tower block into one big chimney, or should I say crematorium. Did no-one, no-one at all hear the nonsense alarm going off? In the planning application for the building refurbishment more concern appears to have been extended to trees than to the external building fabric. You don’t have to be an architectural genius do work out the implicit fire risk. No, you could just think, or Google, because the information telling us that polymeric core materials will burn at temperatures well below that of developed fires is hardly difficult to find.  Here is an example,

The mechanisms of external fire spread are succinctly summarised by the author of UK Building Research Establishment (BRE) report BR 135 (see below):

“ The mechanisms by which fire can spread externally include combustible materials and cavities – either as part of a system, or those created by delamination of the system or material loss during the fire.  Once flames enter a cavity they have the potential to travel significant distances, giving rise to the risk of unseen fire spread within the cladding systems.” External Fire Spread – The testing of building cladding systems, Sarah Colwell, BRE

Nor is West Kensington the first example seen in the UK. There were at least 30 fires in the 1990’s in the UK involving composite panels and a series of well publicised fires in the Gulf and Asia in recent years. I won’t go into any more detail, the information is readily available for anyone who seeks it out, including the link above. Suffice to say, someone, or more likely some people should swing for what happened today. It so didn’t need to happen.

My second point is even simpler. Of course fireman did today the brave things that firemen do. It takes a special kind of courage to walk up flights of stairs in breathing apparatus in a smoke filled building of questionable structural integrity which is burning itself to a cinder, as the NY Fire Service can readily attest to. Why though were the London Fire Brigade as recently as last Saturday advising residents in the block that in the event of fire they should ‘stay put.’ It takes a special kind of imagination to believe that you can be safer on top of a burning building than attempting to make good your escape down the stairs. What were they thinking? Did they not look at the experience of 9/11 when many died because they were told to stay where they were rather than attempt to escape? Even easier, just watch Towering Inferno. Get out and get out quickly.

I think we pretty much know what is coming next and that will be a demonstration of prevarication rather than decisiveness from virtually all involved. There will be an inquiry and soothing words to allay fear. Actually, what the public should demand is action. We have a generational problem with our public bureaucrats and politicians in that not only do none of them want to take responsibility for their actions but none want to take any decisions which might lead to career risk. Moreover, any individuals in opposition seeking gain from this tragedy need to be put firmly in their place. Even a cursory look at the history of building regulations in this country and parliamentary reports scream that the lot of them are culpable.

Here’s a clue. The Government should immediately announce an inspection programme of every public and private building of more than five stories with cladding, to begin tomorrow. No if’s, but's or maybes. Anything sub standard must be ripped down and rebuilt. All new builds must have sprinklers and anything else that prolongs survivability in towers. The government will immediately review the veracity of smoke hoods and will quickly initiate a national programme to encourage the purchase of smoke hoods by householders if lives might be saved by their use. The Fire Service will immediately review it’s advice to householders in tower blocks and had better have a bloody good reason for telling them to stay in the middle of a fire if their review concludes that that particular advice is not suicidal bollocks. 

Concrete bollards that obstruct fire engines from getting to their deployment points on the scene. Seriously?

Finally, I save a special remark of contempt for the Channel 4 news reporter John Snow who elevated insensitivity to new levels today. In an interview, while bodies were being counted, he demanded that Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of Kensington & Chelsea council, promise the survivors that the smouldering burnt out shell behind them would not be turned into a new block of private luxury flats. It was a cheap and nasty thing to say to a man who had done the right thing and been available for interview all day and, whilst not condoning any errors of judgement in relation to planning that may have been made in the past, certainly didn’t deserve that. That though, is Channel 4 for you and that, is pretty much John Snow. 

Stranger In A Strange Land

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Many will simply shake their head while muttering, 'the world has gone mad.' I know I did. We are where we are though. Westminster is trying to figure out how to make a seized up situation work while the rest of the country is going about its business with an air of, 'well that showed them.' The chickens though, whole squadrons of them, will at some point in the future be coming home to roost. In the piece that follows, my friend Tim Price of PriceValue Partners offers his take on events, past, present and future.

“If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.” - Thomas Sowell.

It is difficult to know where to begin. That 262 British parliamentary seats fell to a party led by a self-confessed Socialist is bad enough. That said leader lacks the support of 172 of his own MPs is troubling. But that someone who has publicly supported the IRA, Hizbollah and Hamas could attract 12.9 million votes while the United Kingdom is under attack by terrorists simply beggars belief. Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, points out that Jeremy Corbyn – who seeks the office of Prime Minister – would not be cleared to join either his former agency, or GCHQ, or MI5; and indeed would, 2 in the past, have been actively investigated by the latter. It is said that you get the politicians you deserve. So what on earth did we do to deserve this ?

Letter to the Financial Times, 8 June 2017, the day of the UK General Election.

Letter to the Financial Times, 8 June 2017, the day of the UK General Election.

Nor are we making a narrow party political point. As Clive Crook points out for Bloomberg, while Jeremy Corbyn offered the UK electorate the sort of swivel-eyed Trotskyism that ought to have died out in the 1970s along with flares and safari jackets, Theresa May was making her own lurch towards the left:

..instead of championing a solidly pro-market centrism, May adopted a semi-skimmed leftism heavy on industrial-policy meddling and other piecemeal dirigisme.

So a plague on both your houses.

Many investors today were forged in the crucible of the Global Financial Crisis. This was, no two ways about it, a crisis originating in debt. The plain numbers are stark. Simon Mikhailovich of Tocqueville Bullion Reserve reminds us of those numbers with a sobering tweet:

A bit of math. With the global debt / GDP ratio at 320% and the cost of average debt service at 2%, it takes 6.4% growth per annum just to service the debt. Not happening.

Our politics have gone mad, and our markets have gone mad with them. As Ronni Stoeferle and Mark Valek point out in their latest, magisterial study of the yellow metal, In Gold We Trust,

We live in an age of advanced monetary surrealism. In Q1 2017 alone, the largest central banks created the equivalent of almost $1,000 billion worth of central bank money ex nihilo. Naturally the fresh currency was not used to fund philanthropic projects but to purchase financial securities*. Although this ongoing liquidity supernova has temporarily created an uneasy calm in financial markets, we are strongly convinced that the real costs of this monetary madness will reveal themselves down the line.

*With that amount of money, one could purchase 20 Big Macs for every person on the planet. Notably in Switzerland – according to the Big Mac Index – the most expensive jurisdiction worldwide. Alternatively, one could also buy one 1/10th oz. gold coin for every person on the planet. We would recommend the latter.

Faced with universally expensive bonds and predominantly expensive stocks, there seems to be little point in low cost index tracking – at present, at least. This is an investment ‘strategy’ that Jim Mellon describes as “pass the parcel for investment morons”. The only sensible and credible responses to the investment challenge of our times can be to diversify broadly, and then invest selectively, and defensively. (Longstanding readers, along with our clients, will know that we put particular emphasis on Benjamin Graham-style value stocks, systematic trend-following funds, and gold.)

This is also a crisis of education. How, aside from craven bribery, could so many young Britons flock to the sirens of socialism ? How did so many millions manage to avoid any grasp of history (or choose to ignore it) ? Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute, however, is not defeatist. He quotes from the master, Hayek: 

We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is.. a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty.. and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal.. They must be.. willing to stick to principles and to fight for their full realisation, however remote.

There is otherwise the very real likelihood of nasty intergenerational conflict. The Baby Boomers already ate most of the pies. The millennials and Generation Z are right to be angry. But last week this anger manifested itself in the form of some Corbyn supporters burning newspapers. To anyone with a sense of history, the UK today feels like a very strange, and disturbing, place.

Oopsie!

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The croft in the Highlands scenario just became a viable option

The REME vehicle mechanics had been working on the engine pack throughout the night. As dawn rose through the mist on the North German Plain Bombardier Clark turned to me and said, ‘Well Sir, I reckon the things properly fxcking fxcked.’ Bombardier Clark had a way with words which I find difficult to better this morning as I survey the train wreck that is the election result. 

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Tory passengers noticed before the driver did that something was awry

Despite all the opposition parties swaggering around the studios like winners there aren’t any really. Except for Jeremy Corbyn personally, house prices in Scotland and Ruth Davidson. The parliamentary Labour Party have just been handed their worst nightmare. New Labour is history and New Old Labour is here to stay given that Corbyn’s position is unassailable. Theresa May is on political life-support and will in all likelihood be gone by mid morning or will give notice to leave, (although the BBC are now signalling she intends to stay). I expect you could then say that Boris is a potential winner but he, or whoever the Tories elect, will be handed a chalice laced with political arsenic. One of the things I got right, and there weren’t many, was that Ruth Davidson would shine and she has with a genuinely robust set of wins in Scotland which has nobbled IndyRef 2. The SNP though will have more influence at Westminster than before. The Lib Dems went nowhere and UKIP did every bit as badly as we expected.  The Europeans meanwhile are not happy. They wanted a strong and unified set of negotiators on the other side of the table.

As an act of national collective madness this will take some beating. I look at the fact that so many misguided half-wits voted for a man who supported terrorists uninterrupted for 30 years with bewildering incredulity. The not so nice part of me thinks, ‘Stuff it. I hope you get your grand coalition. Your loans might go down but there will be no jobs for you at the end of it.’ The Conservatives have however, only themselves to blame as I explained in a previous post. They might have been hearing but they weren’t listening. That under 30’s, of all previous political hues and family backgrounds, lurched to Labour is an unforgivable dereliction of responsibility by the Tories. 

One thing is for sure and for certain; we will have another election this year. We’re turning into bloody Italy. This morning, the croft plan doesn't seem so silly. The only, and I do mean the only mitigation in staying up all night was Emily Maitlis in that red dress. I think Bombardier Clark would concur.

Courage

For the casualties; the Regimental Band of the Coldstream Guards and Pipes and Drums of the Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) play the beautiful Sands of Kuwait.

It’s Book Club night so the Coven are getting together elsewhere to stir their potions and compose some new spells against a backdrop of suitably windy and wet weather. The dogs are dozing and I am sitting in that lost space between finishing supper and waiting for the post 10pm exit poll for the first indications of how went the day. I can’t say I am too exited. The election campaign has been a missed opportunity for so many to present a challenging and interesting, vibrant and exciting platform for the future. Instead we have had slow-and-steady or being exulted to believe in fairies. Kind of like a choice between school dinners or blowing all your money in one mad night at the casino. Utterly forgettable the lot of them. If that is the best we can come up with as a country then something has truly warped and ruined our usually imaginative, if occasionally cranky, national DNA.

So, my mind has been wandering as it often does. I can’t help dwelling on the extraordinary courage and tenacity of a small number of individuals last Saturday night on London Bridge and in Borough market. The Aussie nurse who ran headlong into danger to help, the journalist who strode over to take on the terrorists, the London Transport police officer who stood in the shoes of so many before him, the bar manager who struggled to keep the doors of the bar closed against the attackers, the young Spaniard swinging his skateboard to defend others, the bloody minded Millwall fan who wasn’t having any of it. Brave, brave people who in an instant, were confronted with life threatening danger. Up close and personal and through instinctive self preservation, training, selfless courage, anger, belligerence, selflessness; who knows, something clicked in. They saved lives. In some cases at the cost of their own. Others amongst them suffered grevious wounds. We will remember that day for many reasons.

John Bamford GC. Awarded the George Cross in 1952 at the age of 15 after rescuing his two brothers from a house fire despite suffering terrible burns

John Bamford GC. Awarded the George Cross in 1952 at the age of 15 after rescuing his two brothers from a house fire despite suffering terrible burns

We don’t give awards for bravery away with Lucky Bags in this country. The starting premise, certainly for those in uniform, is that everyone does their bit. That is, you have to do something a bit special, above and beyond to be recognised. When recognition is due though, the system is usually unstinting in recognising it. There are occasional omissions. It has often been the case that acts of bravery have not been witnessed, some people have been better at writing citations up than have others but as a general rule, the right thing happens. The hurdles to recognition are unashamedly high. For example, as a rule of thumb, it is said that for the George Cross Committee of the Cabinet Office to recommend the award of a George Cross, (awarded to civilians and the equal of the Victoria Cross), there should have been a 90% probability of the recipient being killed. You can see some examples on the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association web site here. Members of Army Regiments and Corps mostly all know the names of their Regiments recipients of the Victoria Cross and all recruits are taught in their Regimental history lessons the stories of days when their forbears won multiple awards in the same action such as the Lancashire Fusiliers ‘Six VC’s before breakfast,’ at Gallipoli. 

I believe the actions of those brave individuals on Saturday night will, in time and after an appropriate period of mourning for the dead, be seen in that light. Their fighting spirit and sacrifice will come to have some meaning for us all and they will be remembered for a very, very long time, not just for their individual actions but for what collectively it signifies. A medal is not worth a life, it just isn’t. But embracing what they did, and remembering them, might save lives. I genuinely do believe we ought to start treating the dead and wounded of terrorist actions as war casualties and give the memory of their actions the dignity they earned.

Are We There Yet?

"Election Warms Up". Good coverage of the  General Election (in 1964)

One day to go until the Election and most of the parties will be wishing they could wind the clock back and start again. Led by the Conservatives, with the worst campaign in memory and about as interesting as toothache, most of the parties set low standards, failed to achieve them and have been in defensive mode from the get-go. The Liberals seemed to wandering around in a baffled daze wondering where the buses went. They were left behind at the start line when they put all their eggs in the basket marked, ‘cross about Brexit,’ without it having dawned on them that most of the ’48%,’ had moved on. (Tim Farron incidentally is rumoured to be vulnerable tomorrow). UKIP’s engines blew up when they turned the key while the SNP charged off at 100 miles an hour but in the wrong direction, having made the same miscalculation as the Liberals and subsequently went back to start again focusing on public services while under unremitting pressure for Ruth Davidson. The clear campaigning winner is Comrade Corbyn who has successfully rewritten the narrative of his personal support of terrorist groups over 30 years and presented a platform of reasonable unreasonableness by promising lots of free stuff to anyone with a hand out whether they need free stuff or not. As one member of a Question Time audience described it, ‘your manifesto reads like a letter to Santa Claus.’ It is easily the most mendacious, devious and manipulative campaign by Labour that I can recall. But clever nonetheless. So, May will win tomorrow but hasn’t really earned it. But why has CC done so well and May so badly?

The Conservative campaign has been described as ‘presidential.’ My view is that the Prime Minister initially set out to attempt to be anything but presidential. I believe her aim was to restore some gravitas and dignity to the office and to do so by avoiding electioneering stunts with hi-vis jackets and hard hats or rolled up sleeves with a pint in hand being a ‘man of the people,' as every PM since Mrs T has at some point attempted and mostly failed to do. The approach has failed though. She has come across more as something between a sub post office mistress and a doctors receptionist. Worse, until this week those ministers with a strong intellectual belief and understanding of their departments and policies, and a charm with which to communicate them, have been hidden from view. The manifesto was, I thought, much better than the press it received suggested. Despite being more 6 null Left wing than I would like I think I understand what the intended broad thrust was. In fact, it was woefully undersold and there were plenty of points which have resonance with the electorate that deserved some flesh on the bones such as the aspirations to build out the digital infrastructure so that every home has access to hi speed broadband by 2020. 

The Conservative manifesto also suggests a policy of student debt forgiveness for student nurses but is limited in its scope. The Conservatives should listen to Crumble, expand it and make a noise about it. I have long argued against the current loan regime, (how can a compound rate of 6.5% be justified in the current low rate environment? It is usury, plain and simple. A £42k student debt with compound interest at 6.5% will be £80k in ten years time). At a minimum, HMG should be offering students electing to do courses which have a direct benefit to the country, (computer science, medical, social work, teaching etc) and where there is need, discounts which increase with length of service. This should be extended to those who subsequently go into a government job where they make a career sacrifice to do so. Further, young people who engage in voluntary work on either a charitable or local government basis, join initiatives such as Teach First, or serve in the Reserves should also benefit from a discount. Given most loans will anyway remain unpaid HMG may as well attempt to derive some benefit from them for the national good. In committing to this the Conservatives would lay the foundation for some sort of vision for the under 30’s which has been the biggest miss of the entire campaign. In fact, the Tories have been watching a completely different movie and have left the young with little incentive to vote for them. Usually, when people start talking about ‘the vision,’ it is time to switch off and walk away but in this instance, a better articulated view of how the UK is going to come to terms with accelerating developments in computer power, automation, robotics and biotech against a backdrop of rapidly changing demographics would have been a good thing. A simple statement such as ‘All primary school children will be taught elementary coding by part time students and graduates who will enjoy a level of student debt relief commensurate with commitments made,’ would at least put a marker down and be duly noted by the young vote. Oh and while I am on the subject of students it’s about time HMG shook down the universities and tackled head-on the weak value proposition that so many students are paying for in terms of poor and sporadic teaching on three year courses which, in many subjects, could easily be done in two.

The Dementia Tax episode was just woeful. Again, there is some good rationale to it which would leave most if not all better off than they would be today but the delivery was mistimed and misunderstood. The big, (and getting bigger), problem we have in the UK is that since Labour years ago weaponised the NHS the chances of having a rational discussion about it are round about zero. Back in 1978 my geography teacher, Mr MacKay told us that with the then rate of growth by 2027 we would all either be working for the NHS or be patients of the NHS. Mr McKay was a lot smarter than most of our politicians. Their selfish and infantile thinking precludes debate about potentially innovative and creative solutions to a growing problem and 6 null is contemptible. The other big problem for the NHS is that it has become the default dustbin for everyone in society with any kind of problem, medical or not. That, with a galloping sense of entitlement encouraged by idiot politicians from its users produces unsustainable and unreasonable demand. If citizens in Ireland pay for GP’s appointments what makes us so special that we shouldn’t do the same? The whole national approach to the NHS, and the expectations that we have of it are in heavy need of recalibration rather than the national state of denial which exists. A general election though, is not the time to do it.

Tory strategists clearly thought they were being clever by occupying the centre ground and edging slightly to the left, presumably with the intention of pushing Corbyn further out to the extremes of policy. Unfortunately for them, they were left looking flat-footed when Corbyn outflanked them and has had the bare faced cheek, as someone who has voted against all Anti Terrorisim Acts, to start selling himself as a friend of the police and security services and a bastion of law and order. I am left incredulous that some believe the outrageous nonsense he has been promulgating. Fortunately, the electorate are not as stupid as Corbyn needs them to be in order to win. Let’s though, just remind ourselves of some of the things that would disappear if Comrade Corbyn actually won, (I'll see you all in the hills then....)

The Monarchy

The SAS

Special Branch

The 'Five Eyes' Intelligence Sharing Agreement

Winning

Foreign Corporations

Low Interest rates

Synagogues

Gibraltar

High Net Worth Individuals

Scotland

Foreign Investment

All the Regimental Silver (to be returned to its original owners)

Tax Receipts

The Elgin Marbles (and everything else cluttering up the British Museum)

Public Schools, Grammar Schools, Academies

The Falklands

Trident

The House of Lords

Our International Reputation

Statues of famous statesmen

Northern Ireland

Premium of the pound over the Euro

 

 

 

 

Time Out

So, home a tad late to a warm welcome from the dogs and Shepherds Pie, ‘it’s in the oven.’ With 48 hours to go until the election, and the servers of the Social Media companies smokin’ as they go into Warp Factor 5 overdrive with a digital frenzy being unleashed by political supporters of all sides, I’m taking a time-out for a moment to share my all-time favourite ad.