Friday, 30 September 2016
They say you can smell it, the reek of corruption. The guilty parties are presumed to wallow in the stench of it and it is generally accepted as a truism that power causes it. Power over resources, power over things and most especially power over people. Who judges the judges? Who polices the police? But it starts way lower than these lofty heights; corruption, like charity, begins at home. And where corruption goes, hypocrisy usually follows.
Sam Allardyce was swiftly removed from the England manager’s job because of the sensitivity of the Football Association in the wake of the Sep Blatter affair and others and now more dodgy dealings are coming out into the open; it turns out the face of the beautiful game is scarred with ugly backhandery where everybody has his paws in everybody else’s pocket. Nobody is hugely surprised though, the general public have got used to being the mugs who ultimately pay for it all.
Sport and politics may be mired in corruption, whatever the colour of the supporters scarves, but we are hardly free from it ourselves: Getting into a club because your mate is on the door and lets you queue-jump. Blagging a big game ticket via the corporate hospitality allocation. Hot-housing your child to pass an entrance exam simply because you can. Using power to obtain sexual favours; using sexual favours to obtain access to power. Generally speaking, we accept that it happens as long as it is behind closed doors, but as soon as sleaze is exposed we have to feign outrage and cast the first stone.
Public funds, political donations, charity, planning applications, building contracts; all come in for intense scrutiny at some time and all are under permanent suspicion in this paranoid world. Possibly none are so discredited than the uses to which the foreign aid budget is diverted, but foreign aid itself is a form of corruption; greasing the wheels of commerce in the world’s far flung places, to which end I am reminded of the Development Minister of a central African country, newly independent who visited London a few years ago.
At the invitation of UK’s department for trade and development and to gain access to some funding the minister was having dinner with the British secretary. He was mightily impressed by the lavish hospitality and not a little surprised when his host invited him to a private dinner party at one of the most prestigious new addresses in the capital. Apartments in the gleaming landmark tower block cost tens of millions and the African minister asked of his host “How can you afford all this on a public servant’s salary?”
The secretary took him to the picture window and pointed to the Millennium Bridge. “See that? That bridge could not have been built without the direct involvement of my department at the time.” The African minister was duly impressed, but the suave Englishman hadn’t finished. He put a finger to his nose, winked and whispered conspiratorially, “Ten percent”
Two years later a British delegation were visiting the African country to see for themselves how British largess had enriched the lives of its citizens. They were greeted at the airport by a fleet of limousines and sped past crowds of cheering children waving national flags to a lavish reception at a gleaming, gilded palace. The UK Secretary of State was open-mouthed at the grandeur and sought out the African development minister. “I thought you were a poor country” he asked “how can you afford all this?”
The minister laughed and escorted his guest to a window. Beyond, a wide river meandered lazily. “See that bridge?” the minister said. The British official stared. He looked to the left and to the right and could see no sign. He looked again, then turned back to his host. “No,” he said, “I can’t”. The minister laughed, a huge rumble of mirth from deep in his belly. He patted his pocket and declared “One hundred percent.”
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
I didn’t stay up to watch the great debate because A) It isn’t really all that important, B) It probably won’t matter very much in the long run, and C) Are you mental? It was Trump and Clinton, for heaven’s sake. What was I going to learn by listening to a pair of geriatric mental defectives going at it over a lectern? As it happens I did wake a couple of times and heard bits of it on the always-on (don’t ask) radio that lives in the bedroom. The early polls are right. Insofar as it means anything at all, Hillary ‘won’.
But it was far from being a presidential debate. Let’s face it, the USA is screwed in leadership terms, whichever one it ends up with. But that need not be such a problem. After all, Belgium did without an entire government for 20 months and nobody really noticed because governments are often more about setting tone, rather than doing any hard governing. And as far as I can make out, Italy hasn’t had anything resembling stable government since, well, since Mussolini. So long as the Chianti keeps flowing, it seems, it’s all good.
Let’s face it, much as I would laugh and laugh and laugh should Donald Trump take up residency in the White House, a part of me would feel sorry for the USA. I don’t think Trump would be the new Reagan, I think Trump is – and you do too, if you’ll admit it – a vainglorious, bombastic bag of hot air with a hair trigger and an eloquence that would make Wayne Rooney look like a world class orator. His performance the other night, although many are wishfully claiming otherwise, was clumsy, unprepared, and occasionally petulant. He sounded like a playground bully, bested by words, firing back “Yeah? Yeah? Well... your momma!”
As for Hillary, where does one start? She is as dull as dull gets and as much a part of the rancid establishment as the incumbent she hopes to succeed. The missus likes Obama, says he’s got a personality and it’s true, he does seem like a good man at heart and probably great fun at dinner. But he has done much to lead America down the slippery slope of decline that socialism inevitably brings and like our own soft-left recent governments has let down swathes of exactly the kind of people who made the USA great. Hillary represents more of the same. Plus, you know, Bill...
Top trolling, USA. Well played...
America is due a republican in the top job, as the UK is due a new Maggie. May and Trump could do business together and who knows, she might distract him while the US government gets on with running things behind his back. He’s no smooth operator and he will be way more of a laughing stock than Dubbya ever was – George Bush looks pretty good now, doesn’t he folks? Hell, he may last no more than a few months before it all goes tits up for him. But face it you have to root for him because the alternative is Hillary fucking Clinton.
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Floppity Bunny frolicked in the sweet green grass outside the burrow as he waited for his bestest ever friend to walk with him to work at the Happy Valley Fun Factory. His little pink nose twitched with delight as he sniffed the air. Oh what a joyful day they would have, doing a job they loved and bringing happiness to the whole world. “Hey Flops!” shouted Foxy Woxy as he bounded along the woodland path to the sunlit glade where Floppity lived. The two friends linked arms and skipped off to work. Mrs Bunny waved them off and grinned with pleasure at the anticipation of a day of good old spring cleaning... and gin.
At Uncle Jeremy’s ecstasy emporium work was its own reward, so much so that even just thinking about it was just heaven. Foxy and Floppity were joined by Fiona Ferret and Malcom Mole and the four of them beamed from ear to ear as they imagined all the fun they would be making today. Ordinarily they would put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay but when they arrived at the factory gates they found Mr Brock the Badger, the works manager, drawing a heavy chain through the railings and securing it with an enormous padlock.
“Why, what’s the matter?” asked Malcolm “Is it a holiday?” The friends clapped with glee but the normally smiley Mr Brock shook his head. “Not today, my old friends, not today.” He sighed, took out a marvellously spotted handkerchief and wiped a slick of sweat from his brow. “It’s bad news, I’m afraid.” He went on to explain how the factory would have to close because nobody could afford to pay for the jollity they manufactured. “We’re getting all our joy from the Far East now” he said “they make it so much more cheaply than we can.”
The friends were stunned and thought it first it must be a joke, a mischievous prank that Mr Brock was playing. After all, the whole of Happy Valley relied on the factory for their livelihood. But when he put on his hat and set off down the road with a heavy and troubled gait they realised he was serious. “But how?” they asked and “But why?” Mr Brock sighed and sat himself down on a convenient tussock. The friends gathered round as he told them how this sorry state of affairs had come about.
In the bad old days, under the Tories, he elucidated, there wasn’t much happiness about, so Comrade Corbyn and Wrong McDonnell decided that something must be done. They borrowed lots and lots of money and set out to guarantee happiness for all, to which end they had bought some magic beans from a tinker and determined that Britain would become a world leader in manufacturing happiness from nothing. Jobs for all, they said, and well-paying jobs at that. But it turned out that the British weren’t very good at making happiness and their brand of orderly mirth was an esoteric offering and far too pricey to sell abroad.
So we made happiness for the domestic market, he told them, which only the rich people could afford and as sales dwindled the prices went up and we had to keep paying our workers more and more to keep everybody else supplied with cheap imported happiness. The new party, renamed Fluffy Old New Labour, kept pouring in the borrowed money until one day it all ran out. And that day was today. Mr Brock stood up, replaced his hat and strolled off leaving the friends open-mouthed.
Labour Party Conference 2016
It was getting cold now and dark clouds had hidden the sun. They pulled their thin coats around them and for the first time saw how flimsy and insignificant their lives would be without work. As they trudged back toward the glade, Malcolm and Fiona bid them farewell and promised to stay in touch. Floppity looked up at his much larger friend and asked, forlornly, “But what will we eat?” The fox put his arm around the rabbit and grinned a toothy grin. He said, “I’ll think of something.”
Monday, 26 September 2016
“Be like still water, Grasshopper. Use your enemy’s strength against him.” Master Po’s advice to the young Kwai Chang Caine is a central principle of various martial arts and one that has been heeded and employed by many people and groups over the years. For some time now alien cultures have been using the west’s liberal society to invade it by making appeals to a generosity of spirit often lacking in their countries of origin. From where most of us are watching it looks like nothing so much as taking the piss.
Wage violent jihad from within using the enemy’s generous welfare system. Avoid deportation by pleading a right to family life. And now, in a move which should have British lawyers hang their heads in eternal shame, use state legal aid to assist the prosecution of soldiers who have to bankrupt themselves to pay for their own defence. These irresponsible legal actions assume that the complainants were all innocents, going about their lawful and peaceful business and not the active bomb-makers and participants in armed insurrection most of them actually were.
The developed world is in deep trouble right now and it is a trouble largely of its own making. As wealth has been accumulated and public facilities built up our societies have become more soft-liberal and self-harming by assuming the mantle of charity central for all the world’s poorest. When the displaced indigenous peoples complain they are berated for being racists, believing the charge they have backed down and allowed their governments to hasten the rot by promulgating the myth that immigration is, of itself, good.
In the face of the bold revolt of Brexit it has been claimed that there is an upsurge in our despicable racism. The same accusation will be used to facilitate the importation of yet more who have designs on milking our system while not contributing to it. The police are unable to counter violent demonstrations of force when they involve ‘people of colour’ for that would be racist. How soon before we see French-style running battles in the streets? When it comes to job creation the state-sponsored hate crime industry is booming. This is not a society in control.
There are none so blind as those who will not see and this Game of Thrones thing that the press and the establishment think they run? Do they imagine that soundbites and accolades and obfuscations and evasions will ward off the threats by attacking or covering over the symptoms instead of tackling the cause? HS2, Boris Johnson, the ‘genius tactician’ George Osborne and his ‘northern powerhouse’, the third runway... Diane Abbott. Are these characters and projects confected in the hope that they will distract our attention from the real issues which face us? Because it’s not working.
Where there's a fire there's a fiddling politician...
Why do politicians refuse to acknowledge what plebs like me can see a mile away? Or are they like hipsters in their little hipster bubble, imagining they are cool and trendy and that the mocking laughter they hear is actually a form of praise? I heard Labour MP Angela Rayner on LBC talking about the evils of ‘Tory austerity’ and ‘taking the fight’ to the Tories and ‘preserving the fabric of British society’ which, she claimed, the Tories were destroying. She sounded like she believed every earnest word. If the Labour party ever had a strength it was in convincing large numbers of sheeple of this narrative. Master Po would have been proud of Kwai Chang Corbyn.
Friday, 23 September 2016
Well, Aleppo has experienced its heaviest bombing for a long time. The Russians are coming. Some aid is getting through, while other such convoys are being shelled and all hell is breaking loose. Fortunately, the BBC is too preoccupied with losing Bake-Off to worry about all that. Meanwhile, here at home, despite the results being known some months ago - such is their electoral integrity- the Labour Party will tomorrow announce their elected leader... again. Will it be a throwback to failed far-left socialism, the magic money tree and squeezing the rich... or will it be the other one?
Who cares? The rest of the world is still banging on about Brangelina and their kids of many colours – Tim Rice already has the lyrics sorted out and rumours are rife that Andrew Lloyd-Webber fancies a go at another West End hit. The papers are full of the usual health scare, health fad, health service soundbites, topped up with envy pieces about other people’s vast wealth... and horoscopes. Why even the Kardashians have been banished to the wings as a flurry of inconsequential gossip-fodder floats to the front pages. We really are an embarrassingly shallow species.
War, famine, disease, a migrant crisis that threatens to alter the whole world order, global warming, global cooling, running out of gas, too much gas, pollution, space invasion, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fires. The planet is beset by death and destruction all around, but we can put all that aside to catch up on the gossip and spend half our lives on social media sited dedicated to the worship of televisual crap: Give us this day our daily soaps.
But seriously, the Brad and Angelina thing reminded me of an acquaintance of mine, from way back, who married a local beauty known as Klondike Kate; a bigger gold-digger you’d be hard-pressed to find. Kate and Kev’s marriage was a thing of wonder for all around and as he’d come into a bit of money and made some good investments she saw it as her spousal duty to ease his burden and take the weight of responsibility off his shoulder by spending his fortune as fast as it grew.
Kev was a canny old cove, however and he managed to squirrel away some of it into various little rainy-day funds and a secret art collection he kept in the attic. A long-time fan of the Antiques Road Show, Kev had an eye for the sort of dusty Victorian watercolours which were occasionally revealed to be lost paintings of celebrity artists of the age and worth many tens of times their purchase price. He reckoned that when the gloss went out of their marriage he might have in his hoard enough portable value to start over when she had cleaned out his bank account and taken the house.
No need to adopt a cavalier attitude...
One day Kev’s lawyer called him and asked him to come into the office. “I have some bad news” he said. “Your wife has been rummaging around and she’s found a picture she reckons is worth a million pounds.” Kev blinked and thought for a moment. Damn, she’d found his stash. On the other hand, his little hobby would appear to have been a wise investment after all. “But surely” he replied “that’s good news?” The solicitor looked at Kev and shook his head. He said “It’s a picture of you and your secretary...”