From my man on the ground in York
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible." T.E. Lawrence; Seven Pillars of Wisdom
I note the passing of John Noakes with a mixture of sadness and warm nostalgia. Millions more will feel the same. He was very much a part of my growing-up, as he was for a whole generation of boys and girls. For us then youngsters, his infectious sense of fun and enthusiasm generated a sense of curiosity and 'can do,' spirit with an overlay of mischievous contempt for scolding adults, wary of too much adventure and time away from books. He was in fact, for our generation, a cross between Bear Grylls and James May.
Noakes did some genuinely inspirational things, all of which are etched on the memory. His parachute jump with the RAF, (he held the record for the longest free fall by a civilian for a few years), his epic climb without harness of Nelsons Column and his HMS Ganges mast climb spring to mind, not forgetting of course his bumpy ride down the Cresta Run. Those will be much quoted over the next 48 hours as tributes are paid to him and people reminisce. Perhaps though, the short Blue Peter piece about the making of an episode of the epic comedy 'Porridge,' in the clip above demonstrates a little bit better what he brought to us each week. You see, as kids, we actually learnt stuff from Noakes in between the madness. I also like to think in some small self-indulgent way that I brought a little bit of the Noakes eccentricity into my own kids upbringing. He genuinely was, a barking mad uncle for an entire generation.
Like millions of others, I tried, oh how I tried, to get a Blue Peter Badge. I reached adulthood though disappointed and empty handed. However unkind it may seem, I have often felt a pang of jealously for those who may have one. I like to think that I am a better, more mature person now. So, if you have a badge in your bottom drawer, go and get it, wear it and wear it with pride in proud memory of a thoroughly decent bloke who helped make growing up fun and lifted horizons for many.
Back to Desert Island Discs and last Sunday Kirsty Young presented the show with castaway, Nadiya Hussein, a young lady famous for being a bit useful in the kitchen and for being what the BBC appears keen to portray, (in a rather patronising way), 'a good next-door Muslim.' Mrs Hussein is indeed, an engaging lady and I rather enjoyed her selection of music. Now the famous Crumble playlists are, on the whole, at least 40 years behind current music trends and have a habit of going further back and loitering around the twenties and thirties with the occasional foray into the forties and fifties rather than into anything more fashionable. This may be why I had never heard of another lady called Katie Melua until she turned up on Mrs Hussein's DID playlist. I like Katie Melua and fear I have rather missed out. We're going to put that right. She wins immediate promotion into my 'Best Ever Dinner Party Playlist,' and my 'Going To Sleep,' playlist. It's iTunes-download-frenzy-time and thank you to Mrs Hussein; you're more than a cook to me.
I also note that Katie Melua is going on tour and is playing in Guildford in November. As luck would have it the show is sold out. I'm not surprised. I've only ever been to two concerts, (both to see Katherine Jenkins, once at Wisley and once at Hampton Court), and was thinking I might make this a third. Perhaps next time then. Still, the girl is a shoe-in for the 2016 Thinking Man's Crumpet list; that's for sure and for certain.
I am way behind with posts and intend to quickly regain lost momentum. Lobbing the odd comment onto The Facebook is no substitute for my usual arcane and eclectic ramblings here which is far more satisfying for your correspondent if not for my Mum and my two other loyal readers. So let's get started.
I am one of those crusty curmudgeons who heartily resents paying the BBC licence fee. The apparent aim of the BBC is to, 'enrich people's lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain.' Radio 4 apart, it does none of those for me. I can muster no enthusiasm for it's lack of editorial independence and independent thinking. The utter bilge that the Corporation serves up labelled 'entertainment,' is nothing of the sort as it competes with ITV in a race to see who can sink to the lowest common denominator the fastest. I look to the US for my televisual down time. The quality of comedy and drama being pumped out is astonishing and represents a very real threat to the future of the BBC, ITV and indeed SKY. They deserve what's coming.
If you're wondering what I'm talking about then wonder no more. I've been a fan of the comedy, Modern Family since it's inception. The joy of Modern Family is that in each episode there is a piece of every family's experience. Crackling show though it is, it has been usurped by an upstart must-watch newcomer called Life in Pieces. The format is to tell four short stories about the same family in each episode and it's a winner. I download it on Amazon Prime, (from the office because those thieving bastards from Openreach still want thirty eight grand to reinstall a broadband line at home which used to be there until they took it away and gave it to a neighbour). You should download it too. You will also, (probably), see a slice of your own experience in each episode. These well written and acted comedies from the States are flawless in their execution and it is somewhat embarrassing to note the meagre fare on offer from this side of the Atlantic relative to our own Golden Age of comedy way back when. Anyway, I'm here to help; hope you enjoy it.
A real old school hero of the 'they don't make them like that anymore,' class of gentleman passed away over the weekend. Capt Eric Melrose Brown CBE DSC AFC, better known as 'Winkle,' Brown has died at the age of 97.
The Fleet Air Arm's most decorated pilot, his story is one that defies all odds. No-one has flown more types of aircraft (487) or performed more carrier landings (2,407) than Capt Brown, who met Hermann Goering at the Berlin Olympics in 1936… and then interrogated him after WW2.
His fluency in German meant he also questioned some of the senior Nazis at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, which was liberated by the British Army in April 1945.
The year ended with the test pilot becoming the first person to land a jet aircraft on a carrier – a de Havilland Sea Vampire on to the deck of HMS Ocean at the end of 1945.
If you want a treat, you can hear his story on the Desert Island Discs archive on BBC iPlayer. Capt Brown did the programme's 3,000th edition.
I've just spent the last 50 mins reading the latest May-Aug CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), update. It is 107 pages of uplifting inspiration merged with 107 pages of desolate grief. The grief far out weighs the inspiration. I've written about CRY before; so have many others. Although great strides are being made to reduce the number of early deaths from sudden heart death among young people in this country they are, in the scheme of things, baby steps. One death is too many.
We lose, very roughly, twelve young people a week in the UK from undiagnosed heart disorders, mostly but not always, when playing or participating in sport. Most of these individual tragedies are avoidable by simple screening. We don't though, mandate heart screening as a matter of course for our children in the UK and the death toll rises as an inevitable consequence. So, let me put this in plain and simple language that even the most stupid politician can understand.
If a rabid extremist walked out tomorrow morning and wasted 12 youngsters HM Government would immediately make it clear that 'no stone would be left unturned, no expense spared, no hiding place...... yada, yada.' Yet we'll lose more than that number before Christmas Day with kids clocking out because their ticker gives up the ghost with no warning. Because though, it happens in isolated incidents, up and down the land, there is no collective outrage, no front page news, no anger and frustration on Question Time and the rest of the media to force action. Every child in Italy is screened, why not here? To be screened in the UK a child has to meet one of the following criteria, they must be
a. At a school with an alert medical centre, sports department or enlightened headmaster who offers screening
b. Have parents who are aware of SADS and who are in a position to do something about screening
c. Lose a friend, colleague or neighbour in a tragic episode and take action
d. Be dead and the screening comes in the form of an autopsy.
Am I alone in hearing the nonsense alarm going clang-a-lang-a-lang? British sport is crammed full of self righteous self interest. From SKY Sports to the BBC, the Sports Minister, the FA, the RFU, Lords, Lord Coe; the whole shagging lot who are responsible for collective sporting failure on a quite epic scale. We have held two monumental sporting events in the UK in recent years and these people talk and bluster about 'legacy.' How about taking responsibility and doing something good in ensuring that no child who steps foot on a sports ground is at risk from sudden death. That would be a simple, achievable and laudable legacy. It's not mouth guards and shin pads parents need to be worrying about on the sports field, its being dressed in black and working out orders of service because the sporting establishment and those in the government charged with health, sport and education cannot, or will not, get their collective act together. Shame on them. Angry? Bloody right I am.
Of course, some individual sportsmen and members of the sporting establishment are great supporters of the campaign for screening. Among them Nick Easter, Sir Steve Redgrave, Gregor Townsend, Rio Ferdinand and John Inverdale, who experienced at first hand a tragedy when playing. It's not enough though, it just is not enough. I think its time to get angry and to communicate the frustration in the utter madness of doing nothing. It's not much, but I'll be writing to two Members of Parliament a week from here on in and conjuring up whatever other means might be at my disposal to cajole, embarrass and pressure those in positions of authority and responsibility to do the right thing.
We had a saying in the Army, 'JFDI.' 'Just Fucking Do It,' Mr Cameron, just do it.
I’ve never been to a pop concert. I won’t be going to one anytime soon. The son of a friend was at the Bataclan concert in Paris on Friday night and thankfully, made it out with his friend. 80 others didn’t and many more are left with life threatening and life changing injuries. Those young people saw things that evening that most soldiers don’t see in a career. Just as their lives have changed, so has life for us all. The attack which security services in Europe expected but dreaded manifested itself in a brutal slaughter of the innocent on a medieval scale. It is an unfortunate irony that many of those kids who were perhaps living life to the full, brimming with optimism and idealism would have been the very constituency who supported mass migration from Syria, Africa and the Middle East this year. I described it at the time as possibly the biggest Trojan Horse in history. The full ramifications of unfettered migration over many months from war zones is yet to be felt. The media has been very sensitive to cross referencing migration and terrorism, especially the BBC who were at the forefront in creating political pressure to open the doors, but the fact remains that mainland Europe does not know what internal security risks it has created as a result of its liberal approach to the problem.
The threat from Sunni jihadists is not new, especially in France. Returning foreign fighters, domestic supporters of ISIS and other individuals sympathetic to the jihadist cause who pre date problems in Syria create a complex and multi stranded threat. At the moment, it is not known if the perpetrators on Friday were returnees working to Syrian based planning and funding or grassroots operators sponsored by domestic organisations or a combination of both. The dominant threat currently comes from ISIS and that pre dates Fridays incident with 10 out of 17 previous attacks since September 2014 being perpetrated by ISIS fighters or sympathisers. A French returnee has also reportedly told the authorities that Syria was a “terrorist factory” where individuals were being trained to attack Europe in the near future, and it has also been reported that returnees would attack not in their countries of origin, but elsewhere to lessen the risk of detection upon return (Le Monde, October 20). According to The Jamestown Foundation there is roughly a 3:1 ratio of domestic sympathiser events versus returnee attacks and while the security services stop or disrupt more than half of those initiated we know from old experience that the terrorist only needs to get through once. Certainly, the events of Friday in Paris wholly justify the British Governments approach to the Syrian refugee crisis in focusing on the camps and only letting individuals in directly from those camps who have been fully vetted.
Whatever the source of funding and planning of the terrorist operation France plans to hit ISIS hard. Air operations overnight are a start but the skies over Syria are becoming congested with Allied and Russian aircraft and the French may decide to focus on Northern Iraq where they have already flown 1,285 sorties against Islamic State targets whereas up until last night they had flown only two sorties in Syria. At some point, the Allies are going to have to commit ground forces to destroy and eradicate ISIS. Given justification for previous conflicts it shouldn’t be difficult to come to that conclusion. ISIS is engaged in genocide in Northern Iraq, they present a high level threat to our own populations and war from the air is not working. Having created the vacuum in which ISIS has flourished I’m not sure for how much longer governments can continue to ignore their moral and political duty.
It’s also clear that Schengen is finished in an already rattling European construct. No government will survive if they fail to protect their citizens. The Bavarian prime minister Horst Seehofer knows this and is becoming more vocal in his demands for permanent border controls and faster repatriation of asylum seekers. That view in Germany is underpinned by the popular view which is hardening, helped by incidents such as the one last week when a Montenegrin citizen was arrested while allegedly driving to Paris with several weapons. While German police have not established a direct connection between this incident and Friday’s attacks, they have said that a link cannot be ruled out. The fact that this man was from Montenegro and made it to Germany in his car will strengthen the demands for stricter border controls along the so-called Balkan route of migration. Politically, Merkel is now in a weakened state which will probably be terminal and we can expect a rise in support for parties coming from the extreme left and right wings, especially if governments are not seen to act.
2001 New York
2004 Beslan, Russia
2009 Maiduguri, Nigeria
2012 Kano, Nigeria
2013 Baga, Nigeria
2014 Kaduna, Nigeria
What about the UK? The list of significant terrorist actions above reminds us that we are well within their reach from either internal or external operators. Our Security Services will stop most incidents but what of those who get through? Our experience with Jihadists is mostly limited to the 7/7 bus and tube attacks in 2005. The big difference between Jihadists and the Provisionals, who we fought for 30 years, is that the Jihadists are prepared, or expect, to die. That was never the case with PIRA. Moreover, we have to ask the basic question, ‘is our lightly armed police force trained and prepared to respond to a fire group attack like Paris?’ I don’t doubt the bravery of individual coppers but facing multiple battle hardened assassins armed with automatic weapons and suicide belts is a level beyond their normal drills, even if they are an armed response unit. Witness the television scenes of the armed French policemen outside the Bataclan concert, unsure of what to do. The basis and success of previous actions were on attacks going wrong which led to armed sieges and negotiated outcomes or by action after much preparation and reconnaissance by special forces. It just doesn’t work like that anymore. To save lives action has to be swift, aggressive and lethal.
The basis of national confidence in our response rests on 22 SAS. Even with a sub unit based in London though, they can’t be everywhere. Even if they could be within 45 mins of every town in England, 45 mins is too long in these situations. I think the Home Secretary and Chief Constables have no choice but to radically upgrade fire arms training and arming of police officers across the UK. To send an ordinary unarmed beat officer into one of these situations will have only one outcome. In mitigation, it is very difficult to acquire and move around automatic weapons in the UK. The police are very skilled at interdicting plots before they get to maturity and especially when working with GCHQ, 5 and 6 it is not easy for terrorists to plan and execute operations. It isn’t impossible though. Cuts in the numbers of police officers should be suspended immediately. Military support should not be considered by the COBRA committee after a bad thing happens but the committee should start planning on that basis now.
What does that mean? I would nominate two infantry battalions or Marine Commandos for Home Defence, one operational the other resting and training on 4 week rotations and rotate the battalions with others every 12 months. The operational battalion would be dispersed in platoon sized sub units across the UK, each with a serving or retired SAS or SBS instructor with a section on short notice to move 24 hrs a day. Their aim would be simple; in the event of a terrorist attack their task is to rapidly deploy and kill the terrorist. I would rebuild the old Northern Ireland ‘Tin City,’ to suit current scenarios, ie shopping malls, theatres, spaces for large groups and train both police and soldiers relentlessly. This is not a game, when this new enemy get in their stride the casualty list climbs by scores every minute. They do not negotiate. Speed and aggression are paramount. Our current intelligence and Special Forces based response is not commensurate with the threat. Many would recoil at the inclusion of military assets as part of normal support to the police but these are not normal times and this is no ordinary enemy. The safety and well-being of ordinary citizens is much more important that what column writers in the Guardian think. Anyone thinking that such a plan is excessive may wish to consider how we would deal with a four man fire group letting rip at the Metro Centre in Gateshead two weeks before Christmas. Thought so. I’d mostly be calling in the Commanding Officers for their briefings right now.
Jeremy Corbyn’s first shadow cabinet meeting
It was clear immediately after the General Election that the Labour Party meltdown would result in them being out of power for ten years. Obliteration in Scotland, forthcoming electoral boundary changes, splits within the party and no coherent vision whatsoever would make sure of that. Not content with being a party without a cause, fractured and humiliated they then set about self-combustion with an political miscalculation of epic proportions in a spectacular weapons grade cock up when some party ‘thinkers,’ decided the so called ‘debate on the future,’ (which never happened), needed some left wing input. They certainly got that. Step forward the sandal wearing bloke who knits his own clothes, eats tofu and cuts his own hair. Friend to every terrorist group and crack pot dictator on the planet, their very own rebel with 500 causes, Jeremy Corbyn; the new Leader of the Opposition. To describe him as a man taking Labour back to its old roots is a dishonest slur on previous mainstream Labour leaders, many of whom like Dennis Healy, (Landing Officer at Anzio), James Callahan, (Royal Navy in the Far East), Roy Jenkins, (Royal Artillery & Bletchley Park), Merlyn Rees, (Squadron Leader RAF), had an honourable war record. Even Harold Wilson and Michael Foot volunteered but were rejected.
Portrayed as a soft and cuddly, tweed wearing standard bearer for the weak and oppressed he has resolutely failed to support his own party in Parliament on 500 occasions. Let me tell you, he is not soft and cuddly. He is a short tempered individual who takes any criticism poorly and is a leading candidate for the men in flapping white coats to come and carry him away in a white van with a blue flashing light on top. Years ago I lived in Islington and despised and despaired that the local MP was an individual who supported PIRA when they were busy blowing the arms and legs off children in our towns and cities. He supports Hamas, Hezbollah, criticised the SEALs who took out Bin Laden, is sympathetic to ISIS, AQ, the Taliban and Boko Haram and would cede the Falklands to Argentina, leave NATO and abandon Trident. How anyone will find a way of explain this calamitous hotch potch of insane ramblings to Washington goodness only knows.
While his election reflects a general tide of discontent with mainstream politics, (UKIP and the SNP in the UK, Saunders and Trump in the US, Catalonian separatists, Syriaz in Greece, Le Pen in France), there is a zero possibility of him being elected. He is himself incidentally, yet another individual who hasn’t done a day’s work in his life outside the Labour movement and politics. My Labradors are more plausible candidates. It will though, ensure that the Labour Party in its current form is finished and the insiders, (who already are plotting his downfall), know that. His one shot at widening his appeal is in the Euro referendum. If he decides to back Brexit he may pull back voters previously lost to UKIP but they are the very voters who will recoil at his stance on the Falklands and support of terrorists given most of our dead and wounded come from white working class communities where patriotism is not the dirty word that is might be among the champagne socialist of Islington and Highgate or with the luvies at the BBC or Guardian, (and aren't they having a heart wrenching weekend!).
There aren’t many winners here, except perhaps political satirists and cartoonists. Parliamentary democracy and our international reputation certainly won’t gain anything with a weak and wild eyed opposition led by a barmy Looney Tunes Marxist. Monty Python couldn’t have come up with a more bizarre script. The fact that Corbyn never really wanted or expected to be Leader hurtles the whole nonsense into the realms of chaotic comedy, especially and contrary to what the media portray, not that many people actually care about Labour sailing off the political cliff. The Tories meanwhile will lie in wait for Corbyn and his fellow delusional barking mad chums to embed themselves properly before ripping them apart in a merciless feeding frenzy. That way, the whole of Labour will be tainted and not just a few extremists.
There is viable concern that weak opposition leads to bad government and that is the challenge before Cameron now; to pursue the traditional Conservative ideal of one nation politics. The astonishing advancement of state Academy schools in London, much of it supported by City funding, is a good example of the way forward. It’s now his game to lose. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy the show. Personally, I’m hoping that Diane Abbot gets the education brief. It will be good to hear her justification for educating her own son privately whilst criticising the rest of us for so doing.
So the UK is to accept thousands of Syrian refugees.
The media frenzy has leveraged up the emotional blackmail leaving the Prime Minister with no where to turn. He should have turned to the citizens who will again bear the brunt of the influx. If the Government chooses to act on whatever happens to be the latest issue trending on Twitter then good luck to them but it’s hardly statesman like. The dead child on a Turkish beach seems to have been the tipping point. That was the dead child on a Turkish beach proving Stalin’s dictum that ‘one death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic.’ The boy drowned after getting on board a Turkish boat run by Turkish smugglers in Turkish waters under the eyes of the Turkish coastguard. How does that become the problem for citizens in our towns and cities who already are swamped with previous waves of immigration creating overcrowded schools, GP’s and housing lists. Moreover, why get in the boat in the first place? If the family were fleeing war they had succeeded in doing that by being in Turkey. Ifd the father had actred so recklessly in the UK he’d now be in jail awaiting trial.
I have read a number of pieces on the web from locals suggesting that many of these refugees are not Syrian, Afghani or Iraqi but include Palestinians and others. Have you noticed incidentally, just how many apparent refugees are young men aged between 10 and 30 carrying the latest smartphones and wearing spic and span Nike trainers? One could say that anyone living in the Middle East could have refugee status, I wouldn’t want to live there but the line, a line, must be drawn.
Frankly, I do find it somewhat repugnant that we didn’t lift a finger to save the Yazidis when ISIS where hunting them down like animals but as soon as people turn up in Greece on News at Ten ‘something must be done.’
The causes of the crisis are wide and varied. We do know however that ill-advised action in Libya and ill-advised inaction in Syria are big contributors to the problem. Thank you Twitter. I wrote about them here at the time. I’ve also written over the years about the tidal wave of humanity on its way from north and sub Saharan Africa as a result of war, economic failure and climate change. The current problem is characterised by the media, especially the BBC who have lost all objectivity, as an urgent temporary crisis. It isn’t. We haven’t seen the beginning of this yet and just wait till the Indian sub continent hear there’s a new game in town. The UK is going to have to get a whole lot more selfish unless it chooses to completely change its way of life upside down. The Australians have gone down that road, we should urgently consider it.
One thing that Mr Cameron does have right is in focusing on the dispossessed in the camps rather than those besieging Hungary and Austria. That gives some basis of control and screening. Germany may retrospectively be moved to consider this when they collectively realise that they may have opened the doors to the biggest Trojan Horse in history.
Let’s be clear about one thing. The UK has had open doors for many years but with no planned increase in infrastructure to support the soaring population. In the eighty years between 1851 and 1931 the population grew by about 1m souls and between 1951 and 1991 by 2m. Following the relaxation of controls by the Labour government some 3.6m immigrants arrived between 1997 and 2010. That’s more than the net total in all of our previous history. Thanks Tony. The Office of National Statistics now estimate that as of last year, 8.3m people living in the UK were born abroad which is around 13% of the population. Don’t let any ranting old pop singer let you believe otherwise.
The lie down and cry Islington Liberals will of course be banging their very big moral drums but they will be the ones least affected. The poor bloody infantry in all this will again be the white working class in our poorest urban and rural areas. School places, accommodation, GP and NHS dentists lists are all already challenging as pressure on public services grows. Mr Cameron seems to be aware of this given his reluctance to act until pushed to the edge. He should remain so for we are building up problems for ourselves in our social structure which are all of our own making.
Regardless of what they think at the BBC, I’m not alone in thinking this is not going to end at all well.
Here we are then. The appointed day after far too long and assanine a campaign which has lacked vision and truthfulness. The electorate have been treated like children with each party competing to scare us away from one party or the other. That they have all failed miserably to articulate a pathway that meets the hopes, dreams and aspirations of citizens is actually as tragic as it is an acute moral and political failure.
A missed opportunity doesn't come close to describing the paucity of original thought which is badly needed to meet the demands and accelerating evolution of the domestic and geopolitical world which is pressing in on us. Not to mention economic fragility, demographic pressures and a continuing technology revolution which will see 50% of white collar jobs replaced by a commuter chip or robot within 20 years. Westminster and all it encompasses; politicians, advisors, spin misters, lobbyists, the media - either they are all deeply cynical in a contemptible and mendacious way or they are simply self obsessed stupid people. We have in fact, after all that campaigning, very little hard evidence on which to make a decision and the consequences may be grave.
Here then, are my top gripes from the last six weeks,
- "I've talked to lots of ordinary people up and down the country." How many times have we heard that, (insert name of major party leader here). No you haven't. You've purposely been kept in a bubble away from normal people because you don't know how to communicate with them and your minders want to avoid any blowback from any disgruntled individual you might meet.
- Ed Milliband telling us the NHS will suddenly disappear under any other government. This rings all the bells. Untruthful, scaremongering and cowardly. The whole population can see the NHS is unsustainable in its current form for all the reasons that are evident to every family in the land. Free cradle to grave health care without restraint for every citizen employing every single facet of pharmaceutical and medical engineering advance is simply a black hole that will swallow the entire economy. Thats been known for decades. Its obvious that none will have the stones to face up to the problem right up until we reach the point of crisis. That means people will suffer and die before we begin to come up with creative solutions to meet the challenge.
- Odd how minor matters such as Defence, Britain's role in the world in respect of foreign policy and our relationship with organisations like NATO and the Commonwealth have all but been swept under the carpet. Sure, we sent HMS Bulwark to the Med under the "Something Must Be Done," flag but I haven't seen for example, any earnest debate about the vast migration from Sub Saharan and North Africa which faces Europe and which too, has been forecast for decades.
- Surgin' Sturgeon, that irritating women whose head wobbles like a Thunderbird puppet has done a spectacular job for someone who isn't even standing in the election. The media have of course fed the monster rather than doing their job in unpicking and unravelling the absurd demands, promises and fantasies promulgated by the SNP which for some bizarre reason are accepted as factual by all except those who quietly brood in the stillness of their own homes, worrying about the nasty and intolerant place their country is becoming.
- The BBC found, probably by accident, some mitigation in the Leeds debate but overall their coverage has been anything but fair and balanced. The journalists simply can't help themselves and their in built institutional left wing bias always finds a way of seeping through. As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew Neil is probably the hero of the campaign and one of the few who has called the political class to account. He's been a joy to watch.
- A glaring characteristic of the campaign has been the vast array of political figures who have been kept in their box throughout. Obviously, the spinmeisters decided early on that anyone with the least bit controversial views should be hidden away. They were, which has made the whole thing very dull indeed. How many times have you seen Ed Balls for example, Michael Gove or Eric Pickles?
- Talking of Mr Pickles, just think Eric, if I may call you that, how easy a runaway election this would have been for your party if only you'd kept your promise to get the bloody wheelie bins emptied every week. This is the United Kingdom yet rubbish collection is more irregular than it was fifty years ago and more in keeping with that seen in a Peruvian shanty town than a modern advanced economy. Yes, just hand over two grand a year in council tax and drive your refuse to the recycling place yourself because we can't be bothered. Perhaps they kept Eric off the box in case someone nailed him on that, I certainly would.
- Perish the thought but this incidentally, is not an election that anyone should perhaps actually want to win. The incumbent is most likely to remembered in history for a thousand years as the man who presided over the break-up of the United Kingdom. He will definately face a recession and probable economic crisis, that is simply as unavoidable as it is cyclical. A cursory glance at the numbers tells us that and no, the next one won't be a surprise, "none saw it coming." Plenty of people are writing and warning now. I find it beyond reason that all the parties happily expound their views on how to spend more money but not not how to create wealth. Beyond our shores, after years of ill thought out meddling by the West in the Middle East, it is now on fire. We can't ignore it indefinitely although our political elite are doing a pretty good job of it.
- The amount of spending plans resting on taxing houses within the Circle Line is just madness; don't they realise houses can simply fall in value? Perhaps they might like to acquaint themselves with the deflation monster which is being exported from China and which is pulsing throughout western economies creating fiscal havoc.
- If the major parties care as much as they tell us they do about the United Kingdom, why has no one discussed or debated the potential for a short term government of national unity to see off the SNP?
- Who on earth thought it was fair or reasonable to give that deluded looney Trotskyist from the Green Party a national platform while ignoring the DUP from Northern Ireland? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
- Russell Brand, seriously?
- The smell of corruption surrounding postal votes which remains unaddressed.
Well, we are where we are and goodness knows where that leads us to this time next week. There will be surprises and moments of incredulity aplenty tonight. Myself, I'll be at the Guards Museum for dinner following a talk on the battle of Waterloo, the battle that really cemented this nation as one, banished the Napoleonic threat for ever and provided the security on which the Empire was built. I shall enjoy that a good deal more than I have this election.
This is a viral video of Rima Karaki, a Lebanese lady who specialises in putting opinionated and self absorbed men in their place. She's obviously been under instruction from Mrs Flashbang. Now, aren't the BBC looking for a new producer to keep you-know-who in his place if he returns from suspension? Don't thank me, I'm here to help.
Back in the nineties I used to marvel at how sober suited American business on trips to the UK and Europe would immediately go “off piste,” when it came to the après. They drank, smoked and flirted way more than they would ever do at home. While that may be true of many men on business travel, as a group they simply seemed more enthusiastic than did any other because some said, “they got to be guys again.”
That is, at home under a suffocating thought police in the work place and tight domestic reins they could finally drink more than two beers and enjoy a packet of Malboro or a cigar without looking over their shoulder.
The suffocating thought control has of course, over the years, infected our own society and this perhaps explains some of the joy and popularity of Top Gear. Three middle aged blokes doing bloke things in a bloke manner without regard to any pronouncements from health or transport Quango’s. The audience, from schoolboys to middle aged men take solace in life beyond their own and its become Sunday night escapism for many, most of whom have only a passing knowledge of cars and beyond a lottery win, no chance of driving most of those on the show.
After the latest storm in a teacup, (an apology, a handshake and a beer is all that was required to calm things down here), the shows future is in question. The odd thing is, most of the 700,000 who have now signed the petition to reinstate Clarkson would be include the many who have been complaining about the stale format and scripted and contrived adventures on the show in recent years.
Who is to say this situation isn't just as contrived? Are we seriously asking is Clarkson a bloke or a Diva? After all, the publicity is global and they've got every media organisation by the nose. Viewing numbers will rocket when they have milked this and finally do the apology, handshake and beer thing.
Competition of course is encroaching. Jodie Kidd on the Classic Car Show is somewhat easier on the eye than Big J so a media frenzy over a minor tiff is a cheap way of maintaining global dominance. In their shoes, I’d sort out the issue today, get Clarkson back on board while telling him not to be a big girl Diva, (if indeed he was), and just for extra spice hire Sabine Schmitz making a team of four........... Three Men & A Babe. Job jobbed, move on. Oh and Jeremy, or Punchy Clarkson as we affectionately know you, if you have to practise stick to Piers; no one complains when you do that.