Saturday, 28 March 2009

Brown; Queen; world war; horses

As the country steams on oblivious, while the lookouts shout “many icebergs, dead ahead”, it’s quite fun to get up in the morning and see what fresh madness the government is proposing. It excelled itself this morning – Brown’s gone up to Buck House to bully the Queen about gender equality and religious discrimination in the monarchical line of descent. I like to try and avoid sarcasm, but the only thing to say here is: How very useful, Gordon!

As has become customary, the Labour Party finds it necessary to pander to the forces of reaction – in this case the Church of Rome (makes a change from you-know-what) – in order to carry on attempting to destroy English culture. It is what one wearily expects from them. However, to attempt it in the current grave situation is foolish and arrogant. It is clear evidence that the government has become an ancien regime and Brown its megalomaniac – and I use that word advisedly – leader.

I suspect this could be the beginning of a scorched earth policy for the Prime Minister’s last period in office. Sir Jim Rose’s folly-packed education reforms (puppet master: Ed Balls) also suggest this.

The Queen* who clearly has more regard for this country in her little finger than the Labour Party has within its entire rank-and-file, will have something colourful to say in private about Brown’s sense of timing and priorities. The recurring Westminster whisper, which says our Prime Minister is quite seriously autistic, seems truer than ever.

*I have always respected the Queen; as a teen Marxist I imagined what a revolution would be like – and decided that the Queen and “Charlie” would, if I was in charge, be allowed to live in exile, possibly training racehorses on the Isle of Wight),

While Brown is tinkering with the Monarchy’s diversity policy, this is happening in northern Pakistan, just 110 miles from Islamabad:

I’m starting to think that, all global problems considered, we’re heading for a world war. You read it here first.

Now, for a bit of racing talk: Paul Haigh, a fine two-fisted racing journalist, has resigned from the Racing Post. The Guardian covers the fall-out here.

Although Haigh is a bit of a contrarian, his column was a refreshing dose of reality in the paper. His points about the paper’s shortcomings are all too true. They are running scared from the issue of corruption and even “gamesmanship” in the sport. The reason is obvious: the editorial team is paranoid about libel. However, when I used to work there I rapidly discovered that quite a few people had little working knowledge of libel laws. I did and saw straight away that they were being way too conservative in censoring criticism of jockeys and trainers. They simply did not understand the law of fair comment and its elasticity. The other reason that more trenchant criticism of riders and trainers does not appear is because of fear that friendly relationships built up with yards for the purposes of news and features will be compromised. The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the paper’s relationship with bookies.

Haigh put the poor punter – skinned alive between the players and the layers – first. The paper is good at being enthusiastic and poetic about racing – and you need that, because at its best it is an exciting and worderful sport – but utterly hopeless at wading into shit and dubious bread-and-butter bookies’ racing. I soon realised that there is a great hostility at the Post to taking the piss out of racing and pointing out, in broad, non-actionable terms, how corrupt it can be.

And it can be corrupt. At some point during most weeks of the Flat or National Hunt season I will find myself in a betting shop watching a horse at a very large price with no form or some poor form from way back suddenly come steaming home to win or make the frame. You know it stinks. You know there’s a huge chance that the horse has been ridden in an illegal fashion many times to manipulate its handicap rating and its price/odds. Some pointers: the betting shop commentary goes very quiet (libel), the racecourse goes very quiet and the punters in the betting shop get angry and hurl their slips at the screen. Sometimes questions are asked by the stewards, sometimes not. A colourless report will appear in the racing press the next day. Someone’s had a killing. Haigh is right, the Post’s circulation is in precipitous decline, its tipsters are pretty useless (Pricewise’s jumps season record has been pisspoor and I did better than him for Cheltenham) and its sycophantic attitude alienates potential readers. If it doesn’t become disputatious, essential and feared, it will perish, and that will be a sad thing.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

'Britain's First Shariah Compliant Newspaper'

Melanie Phillips on a particularly offensive Guardian editorial (which looks very much like the handiwork of Seumas Milne).

Hannan does what Variety used to call 'socko biz'

I did enjoy this. He's much better than those two little nerks on the Tory front bench. A tip of the hat to Mark Brentano for this.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Well, Oborne was right, wasn’t he? He said in the Mail last week he’d heard rumours that Mervyn King was getting scared about the borrowing levels. Now we know there *is* a rift between the Governor of the Bank of England and Brown and Darling after King’s comments at the Treasury Select Committee. He knows the truth: the debt level and Government deficits is terrifying; the IMF have given warning that Britain is facing the biggest Government deficit in the West and King has sensibly decided he doesn’t want to end up in the same historical dustbin that our Prime Minister is heading to, labeled ‘the man who abetted the man who bankrupted Britain.’
He’s getting that ‘I want to go to the toilet’ feeling, is old Merv, make no mistake about it. It’s logical that he should. He’s interested in the account books; whereas Gordon and Alistair are only interested in retaining power, at any price, even if they have to get your great-great-great-great grandchildren into debt doing it.

King may not be the only one getting the fear. The most significant thing in this story is that the Queen called King in for a private audience. She’s never done that before, ever. Wouldn’t you like to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation?

Keep your ears cocked in King’s direction.
Naturally, the Government said there was no disagreement between King and Darling/Brown. Another day, another lie; what’s one more at this late stage? Watch Brown as well - he'll be looking for ways to make King sleep with the fishes.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Aaronovitch - the view from the bunker

It’s always worth reading David Aaronovitch’s editorials in the Times on Tuesdays because as a leading ‘client journalist’ and sycophant for New Labour his pieces reveal the current state of the government’s mindset.
And the mindset is whiny and defensive, to say the least. Yesterday’s column was so extraordinary that I undertook the unusual and onerous task of reading it a second time just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The first three-quarters was a rambling, sophistic defence of the socialist surveillance state (with a picture of Hitler and Himmler for good measure. Caption: ‘we should defend democracy because the alternative is far worse’ – nice, simple, false dichotomy schoolbook socialism). The fact that we are being spied on at almost all times when we are in public is nothing to worry about, Dave reckons. People blather on about how this vast system of bureaucracy and monitoring could well be used by an unscrupulous government for nefarious purposes (I would have said it already is, but that is another story) BUT, says Dave, that’s bollo because bad governments are bad governments and behave badly, regardless of CCTV cameras, databases, ID cards.

The fact that first and ancient principles are ignored here was expected – it’s the people who own government, not the government who own people (socialists can never get their heads round this one, even when they’re shooting their mouths of about social democracy and people power), therefore the absolute minimum of cataloging is a natural defence of liberty. What I didn’t expect was the last quarter of the column, where Dave suddenly – rashly, in my view – listed what he sees at the achievement of Labour in power. Now, don’t laugh:

‘But what about. . .what went right? The new schools. The defeat of bullying. The new hospitals. The waiting list reductions. The expansion of nursery education and parental rights. The city regeneration. The Right to Roam.’

Er, and that’s it. Rather a measly list. The new schools? What, the ones where skunk and knives are rife, where the police bounce the gates at 3.15 and local paper reports a knife arch being invested in? The defeat of bullying?
That isn’t what I see in the streets and on the buses round here, quite the reverse. Trendy teaching methods are the royal road to more sociopaths, not less. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. Parental rights? I think that translates as the screaming chav who comes up and berates the school for mildly reproaching her little darling for being a bully (sorry, they don’t exist anymore). The city regeneration? What like the sixty million quid The Public, a postmodern public arts space which closed because of a total lack of interest from the public and a ridiculous and impracticable design?
What Dave should do every week is talk about Iraq and Afghanistan, the two ‘progressive’ wars he and his buddy Tony were so hot on. You rarely hear him, or Christopher “windbag” Hitchens on these subjects these days; and we all know why.

Dave also says we shouldn’t get ‘impatient’ with foreign workers or immigrants. How very Mandelson (I would imagine they were muckers at Weekend World in the 70s). Just think how righteously angry the young Dave Aaronovitch (who repeatedly yelled “Trotsky” on University Challenge) would be with a lardy, well-heeled Times journalist with a big house and lots of moolah telling the indigenous poor and unemployed to stop moaning about how difficult a long-term government policy has made their lives and how high it’s made their rents and how small it’s made their wage packets. Heavens, what an Establishment prig, he would have cried. The young Aaronovitch would have identified today’s Aaronovitch as a member of wealthy, out of touch ruling class. Like Mandy, a sort of Marie Antoinette of the Blairite ancien regime.

PS: It was nice to see him have a pop at “potty mouthed right-wing bloggers” – one aspect of social democracy Dave probably finds regrettable. . . Of course, anyone who uses the internet to disagree with current centre-left orthodoxies becomes a ‘right-wing blogger’. This has been a Polly Toynbee tactic for a long time. You just say the word, like “witch” in the seventeenth century.

And to think, this man won a prize named after Orwell. . .

Monday, 16 March 2009

King not amused by Brown's big punt

One of the best reasons for having a flick through the Daily Mail on a Saturday is Peter Oborne’s column on Westminster. Oborne, whose brilliant Triumph of the Political Class is a handbook for those disgusted at/despairing of British politics, doesn’t muck about. His column on Saturday revealed that Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, is none to happy with Gordon Brown’s last big punt on the stalled economy: printing more money, or, as the spin doctors would have it, quantitive easing. These few pars were significant, I thought:

Although the Prime Minister wants details of this plan to be unveiled at the time of next month's Budget, I can reveal that it has met with unexpected and powerful opposition from the Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King. The Governor is very worried about the Labour Government borrowing yet more money and launching a mammoth public spending splurge.

The Governor's reservations have been passed to Treasury officials via unofficial channels. One of the main reasons for Mervyn King's deep concerns is that he is determined not to go down in history as the Bank of England governor who presided over the collapse of the creditworthiness of the British state.
He is increasingly worried that extra government spending will damage the official credit ratings that are awarded to the Government as an independent yardstick of the health of the nation's finances. If our rating were downgraded, it would have a severe effect on the ability of the Treasury to raise more money on the international currency markets because it would be forced into paying a much higher rate of interest.
Earlier this year, there was speculation that the world's premier rating agency, Standard and Poor's, was ready to take the unprecedented step of lowering its rating for British government creditworthiness from its gold-plated triple 'A' classification to a lesser grading. It eventually held back from making such a damaging move. Since then, however, the outlook for the British economy has darkened.

Crucially, the decision to print extra money has very badly compromised the integrity of the Government's debt financing and it also now looks certain that Chancellor Alistair Darling will be forced to revise sharply upwards his forecasts for borrowing in his Budget. Mervyn King is therefore afraid that Gordon Brown's 'fiscal stimulus' will result in the downgrading of Britain's credit rating on the basis of pessimistic predictions about the Government's ability to repay its debts.

The Bank of England is under no illusions of the dire consequences that could follow. Above all, there would be flight of foreign capital from Britain, leading to the collapse of sterling in the international currency markets. More worrying would be the consequence for interest rates.

At present, the Government's gold-plated 'AAA' rating means that it can repay loans at a beneficially low interest rate. But if Britain's credit rating were lowered, the Treasury would be hit by having to pay much higher interests rates for loans. This, in turn, would lead to the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee being forced to sharply raise base rates for everyone - thus driving the country even deeper into recession. Such a crisis of confidence is exactly what happened in the Seventies when interest rates soared into double figures and when Labour Chancellor Denis Healey was forced to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to save the country from bankruptcy.

The rest is here. Let's see what happens. Reading this story reminded me of a news story a week or more back, when Brown was calling for countries to give more money to the IMF. Perhaps he knows a country that's going to need it . . .

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Dhimmi Shelter + Cheltenham Days 1 and 2

Anjem Choudary, leader of the demonstration against the 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, appeared on GMTV this morning to defend his actions. A summary of Choudary’s utterances and political stances can be found, with references, here.
Kate Garraway interviewed him and soon found herself flummoxed by his topsy-turvy logic – British soldiers compared to Nazis, protestations of being British while simultaneously referring to Saddam Hussein as ‘our’ dictator (make of that what you will), defending his actions as his democratic right while being an ardent hater of democracy, imagining that ‘British people living in Iraq’ would make the same protests as he and his colleagues had if Iraqi troops were fighting in Britain. Yes, but Anjem, they wouldn’t *be* living, would they? He even had a moan, without a trace of irony, about ‘the far Right’.
A short while after the interview was over, Garraway’s co-pilot, Andrew Castle, referred to Choudary in a conciliatory fashion as ‘a very intelligent man’. Then both presenters shrugged, smiled and said: ‘well, this *is* a democracy. . .’
Can you imagine them treating a member of Combat 18/National Front/BNP like that? Did those two even know who Choudary is or what he has said? About giving women 100 lashes for adultery (he said this on Nicky Campbell’s debate show on the BBC recently), assassinating the Pope, saying Christmas is 'evil' and executing non-Muslims?
Get used to seeing interviews like that on the television. Lazy, under-briefed TV presenters going a couple of rounds with a fascist enjoying/abusing the full ethnic minority indulgence our society provides, and getting soundly beaten. Mad Hatter’s Tea Party ahoy! Talking of mad, “Mad Mel” Phillips, as the journo branch of the chattering classes like to call her, writes well here on related subjects.
Professor Roger Scruton writes a brilliant article for Azure here on the problems we face and what we might do about them. Even though it is Scruton’s familiar record, he adds in extra thoughts – Christianity, religion based on irony and Jewish metaphysics; western civilisation, held together and powered by none other than our old friend alcohol. He also makes the important - and one would think obvious - point that the current approach towards radical Islam - conciliation, apology, cultural suicide - won't stop radical Islam, it will encourage it. Roll on the day when our pisspoor government can see this.

I didn’t have a too bad first day at Cheltenham (by which I mean backing horses running at the Festival; I certainly can’t afford to visit). I won a few hundred quid and punted accumulators which, had they come off, would have landed me three hundred and eighty grand. No selection was absurd; all were fancied horses. Ah well.
I did OK-ish today, though I rashly lumped on Tony McCoy’s mount in the 4.40 and it came 18th, an unusual wash-out from the champion jockey. Still, the Sporting Life website tells me some poor sod at the Festival had five grand each-way on it.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Hobspawm: Only the 'C' Word will do, if I'm honest.

While 'progressive' media outlets (BBC, Guardipendent) have been apologising and praising him (now he's a Companion of Honour), Steven Glover in the hated, reactionary, bigoted, lunatic Daily Mail, lays out a calm, sane, measured case against Eric Hobspawn, the Communist historian and apologist for the Soviet Union.

As a young man, 'Frogspawn', as I call him, wrote a worthy pamphlet on how the Nazi-Soviet pact was a jolly good thing. OK, young men say silly things, and, as Alec Guinness says in Lawrence of Arabia, '...young men must say their say.' But what of old men? Here's Frogspawn being interviewed by Michael Ignatieff in 1994. Asked whether 'the radiant tomorrow' promised by Stalin would have justified 'the loss of 15 to 20 million people', Mr Hobsbawm simply replied: 'Yes'.

Note the details of Frogspawn's influential position in British high culture.

The fact that Seumus Milne thinks Hobspawm is 'the greatest historian of the 20th century' should ring warning bells among thinking people. Read Milne's own nauseating apologia for Stalin and totalitarianism.

That this shameless old loon has been made companion of honour in a country and a system he would like to have seen destroyed demonstrates we are being governed by idiots (need I mention the disgrace of giving an honorary knighthood to Ted Kennedy - what would his Nazi-lovin' old Pa say?). Tell your friends. Spread the word.

The fact that we're governed by idiots* may explain why 'Britain is now so overwhelmed by Islamist extremists and terrorist plots that our foreign policy has become subservient to our desperate need for intelligence' That the CIA is now operating here and 'dining on chicken madras in West Yorkshire'. Tim Shipman's piece is worrying but not surprising; not if you've read Londonistan, that is.

In other news: I remember sitting in a pub with mates during the last recession ('No more Tory boom and bust' - Gordon Brown, '97, '98, '99, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, er, er, er. . .) and someone said: 'I dunno why they don't just print more money.'
Well, maybe that person's running the Treasury now. It's funny, after all these years politicians are praying for inflation.

*By idiots I mean people in their 50s who devoured Frogspawn at university and captured and buggered up every institution they could get their hands on. Probably on account of the burning injustice of an old codger once telling them to stand up for the national anthem or get a haircut - most middle-class lefties' entire worldview is borne of incidents of great oppression like that.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

BBC's Cosy Memories of 1984

Since my post on Harry's Place went down such a storm (quite unexpectedly, I may add) yesterday, I thought I might as well chuck some more thoughts into 'net discourse.

Today’s BBC TV Lunchtime News’s item on the 25th anniversary of the NUM’s great strike in 1984 made me think a few things. First of all, pointing out BBC leftward bias is like painting the Forth Bridge or rolling a pea up Everest with your nose. However, sometimes you have to do it. Having been an NUJ officer and rep I am always interested in how the NUJ-heavy BBC news staff cover union stuff.

The main thrust of Savage's report was not on the why or wherefore of the dispute but on the miners' resentment of the police's behaviour. A classic culturally Marxist take on an historical event (and a handy way of avoiding any parallels and ironies with today's burgeoning industrial disputes). The police's behaviour is a clause in the story, a huge and important clause, but a clause nonetheless. Virtually the first image we saw was of Arthur Scargill being arrested. The audience's familiarity with a complex industrial dispute that occurred a quarter of a century ago is, interestingly for this dumbed-down, user-friendly organisation, taken as read. We get straight into what interests Savage and, presumably, his BBC editors: police clashing with miners at Orgreave and testimony from one NUM man of police heavy-handedness and 'fascist' behaviour. Naturally, no mention was made of the murder – by miners – of taxi driver David Wilkie. Note Kim Howell’s testimony.

Savage then finished his report (not in the net version) by reminding us that a Conservative government was in charge during the miner’s strike (a Labour government wouldn’t be so high-handed and institutionally crass to striking industrial workers, now would they?) and ended with this final line: ‘. . .to the people of Yorkshire, Arthur Scargill will always be a hero.’
But not in Nottinghamshire, eh, Danny? Unless this 25th anniversary is going to move around locations other than Yorkshire, it appears that the Beeb have decided to commemorate the strike in a very one-eyed way. The nuances of the strike – the disagreements among miners and mineworkers’ organisations – were ignored. It was presented rather in the manner Soviet TV must have recalled the 1917 revolution – bloody, glorious, necessary and united against the forces of reaction.

While I still take the side of the miners’s cause of fighting for their livelihoods and kicking against a high-handed, monetarist government uninterested in their personal plights, Scargill, it seems to me, is a boneheaded Communist and unapologetic admirer of Stalin. See here. I’d bet you could find a fair few people in Yorkshire, never mind anywhere else, who wouldn’t have a good word to say about the man. You wouldn't know any of that from Savage's pisspoor work.

Final thought: Mandelson and the steelworkers. But no great outcry from reporters such as Savage about *that* (or the nuclear workers' complaints). Better to live in the comfy past, where tories were villains and Stalinists heroes.