Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Rehash Brown's

Gordon Brown's Policy Points Dissected:-

- A strategy to tackle anti social behaviour - "We reduced crime by reclassifying much of it as 'anti-social behaviour'. Now we shall reduce anti-social behaviour by reclassifying much of it as 'unruly behaviour'."
- No compulsory ID cards - "We will put an stop to what we started in the first place."
- End to binge drinking - "See ID cards (above)"
- Teenage mother's hostels - "We suggested this in 1998. But in view of the fact that it never happened, we are perfectly entitled to suggest it again... and again."
- Get tough on ASBO dodgers - "We will be tough on ASBO dodgers, tough on the causes of ASBO dodging (i.e. Gordon Brown, who downgraded ASBOs.)
- An elected second chamber - "It is indeed fortunate, Comrades, that this didn't happen when we first promised it, because my government would fall apart without it's unelected peers. But next time round it really will happen... Honest."
- Change - "The great thing about change is that you can keep on promising it, even if nothing really changes. Let's face it, we're not getting any younger... or even staying the same age for that matter, Comrades. And that is indeed change!"

"To conclude, Comrades: If at first you don't succeed, try (2001), try (2005) and try (2010) again..."

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Setting the bar "high"

Lord Mandelson denied reports that he was 'high as a kite' yesterday, following an exuberant display at the Labour Party conference. The Business Secretary managed to inject life into an otherwise demoralised conference with a rousing speech that claimed that the Party could still win the next election and that promised undivided loyalty to Gordon Brown.

In an era when everyone assumes that politicians must be 'on something', and coming hot on the heels of Andrew Marr's questioning of the PM about the use of prescription drugs, it is hardly surprising that commentators assumed that Lord Mandelson's speech was the result of his taking 'happy pills'. The speech was an emotional roller-coaster that ranged from the frenzied to the coquettish, from the camp to the strident.

At times he was self-effacing and demure, meandering effortlessly through the past gripes and criticisms of his enemies. But eventually he was laying into the Conservatives in an impassioned and almost fanatical rant, claiming that Labour still had the ability to beat the Cameron crew. The Lord's temper was infectious. At the end of a speech that whipped the delegates into near hysteria, he won a standing ovation and received the adulation of many of his former critics.

Said an excited delegate, "On happy pills? Of course he is not on happy pills... If you had been resurrected from the dead for a third time, found that everyone was calling you 'The Lord' and realised that you could walk on water, you'd be high as a kite."

Monday, 28 September 2009

Golden Brown

Senior Labour party figures are furious with the BBC about the interview that Andrew Marr conducted with the Prime Minister at the start of the Labour Party Conference. In the interview Marr asked Brown whether he was using "prescription painkillers and pills" to help him "get through". The PM and Marr then went on to clash over whether this was a fair line of questioning.

Lord Mandelson has criticised the BBC for "personal intrusiveness" and the Labour Party has lodged a formal complaint. Alistair Campbell attacked Marr for repeating rumours that had previously been confined to the blogosphere - they were originally raised by the Conservative blogger Paul Staines aka. Guido Fawkes. Campbell said on his own blog, " It was low stuff. Everyone... has certain areas of their life that they'd prefer not to be asked about on live TV."

The question that no-one appears to have asked is whether it is of concern to the nation that the man with his finger on the nuclear trigger, the man who can take the country to war (or lead the country out of war) is taking mind-altering medication. Furthermore, does it matter that quite a number of people who are dependent on such medication do appear to have a higher than average chance of plunging into debt at some point?

Perhaps not. Many former world leaders have carried on quite ably for years whilst receiving mood, or mind-altering substances. John F. Kennedy and Adolf Hitler are both known to have led their countries whilst taking amphetamines aka speed. They were both extremely powerful men who had at their disposal 'weapons of mass destruction'. And both carried on leading their respective countries 'under the influence' for years rather than just the months - for which most Doctors hope to prescribe such medication.

In fact both were noted for the successful prosecution of complex and 'mind-blowing' confrontations, that showed cunning, bravado and 'determination'... one of which involved the brutal domination of much of Europe, the other that took the world to the brink of thermonuclear war better known as 'the Cuba Missile Crisis'.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

From G-Whizz to G-Was

The G-Men are back. Well-groomed, in snappy suits, keen, mean, the G-men stride across the world stage. They have come a long way since the old days. They have recently saved the world from economic crisis, from financial meltdown. They return refreshed, renewed. And they are no longer 8 in number. Now they are 20.

Don't be mistaken. They might look like they are all just smiles. But no, they are much, much more than that. They are hugs... they are words. They are photocalls. They are intentions and aims and goals. And of course, they are hopes. They are the very audacity of hope, the audacity of hopes.

And here comes Gordon - is he G1 or G2? Nobody knows. Does anybody care? He is all swagger and rictus grin. He has renewed confidence, despite what the polls back home say. And now a man called Barack, audacious, hopeful, arrives and the crowds are loving him. Maybe it is he who is really G1... And Gordon, confirming that Barack is indeed G1, calls over to Barack: "Please, Sir. Can I have my picture taken with you?" Barack does not appear to notice and walks on amongst the adoring crowds, oblivious.

And everyone is asking: Will these G-Men conquer the greedy bonus-hunters, the dreaded 'Masters of the Universe'? Will they defeat that eternal enemy that wishes to drain the life blood from the planet, that seeks to destroy all Earthlings?

Well, you, the reader, can stop worrying about all that. The G-men have decided that they are going to have a good long sit down and think and talk about the problem of the 'Masters of the Universe'. And not only that, they will also make statements, saying that they are going to do something, insisting that something must be done. And when we, the earthlings, see that they all shaking hands and hugging eachother, we will surely be able to rest assured that something will undoubtedly be done. Once again we will be able to sleep at night.

And then the wives of the G-Men appear. Boy, do they love these photo-calls, with their designer suits and their hair-dos. They love all the primping and pampering and showing off... And then the wife of G-Brown calls across to the wife of Barack and she shouts, "Can Gordon have his picture taken with your husband." And the wife of Barack whispers into the ear of Barack. And Barack nods in that subtle way that he does. And then the wife of Barack gives the thumbs-up to the wife of G-Brown. And the wife of G-Brown then whispers into the ear of G-Brown. And all of a sudden, the rictus grin, that very trademark of Gordon, G-man, G-Brown... that grin, it just got a whole, whole lot bigger.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Cleaning up (the other sort).

The Times reveals today that David Cameron is making good his claim to be cleaning up politics. It is alleged that 28 Conservative parliamentary candidates for safe seats are working for lobbying companies, whilst more than a fifth of his 150 candidates most likely to win seats for the first time will have done public affairs work.

To be fair, none of the three main parties has any kind of policy nor desire to reduce the influence of lobbyists on government - a situation recently referred to by President Obama as blocking 'the revolving door'. However it is the Conservatives, seemingly on the brink of power for whom the lobbying issue is of the greatest concern.

So what is David Cameron going to do about it? We can assume that he is having sleepless nights right now worrying about whether he can offer the British people, 'government of the people, by the people, for the people ...' and whether he can really offer them the 'transparency' that he so desires.

Because he is a Conservative, Cameron is seen as a man who can most likely offer Britain 'smaller government'. He will no doubt be aware that the reason government exists in the first place is because it offers 'critical mass' to individuals and groups of individuals.... because team effort achieves more than rogue behaviour in so many instances in life.

The question is: Is he aware that some groups and 'teams' in society sometimes find themselves wielding more power than others? Does money, inheritance, existing power etc., play a part in deciding for whom that government of the people actually exists? And does he understand that these questions are crucial if he really wants to achieve the goal of open, transparent, fair government?

Of course he does. He is an Old Etonian and he will have learnt that just as on the playing fields of Eton, so in a just society you have to play by the rules. He will know that those rules must be transparent and fair to all who play... Let's just hope that he knows exactly which rules everybody should play by...

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Goosey goosey gander

The Chancellor Alistair Darling has stunned the City of London with his new 'get tough' policy, by telling Britain's Bankers '"The party's over." This is the latest in a series of initiatives by the government to show 'who is boss' and to make it clear that this government 'means business'.

The PM Gordon Brown has previously made it very clear that he is "not happy" that bankers are paying themselves massive bonuses once more. This has had the 'big swinging dicks' and 'masters of the universe' quite literally quaking in their boots.

Of course some commentators were of the opinion that 'the party was over' one year ago when the financial markets crashed and the demise of Lehman Brothers created the world's largest ever bankrupcy. But it appears that this was clearly not the case, according to Darling. For the past three months at least the phrase 'bonuses are back' has been on the lips of everyone still employed in the City.

Some wonder whether this new 'get tough' policy might be a response to the French approach. President Sarkozy of France has suggested he will leave G20 negotiations unless a “substantial, significant and detailed” deal on controlling bankers’ bonuses is reached. Already this week, Lord Turner of the FSA has intimated that many bankers offer little to society with their complex trades. And today, Lord Myners the City Minister has called for greater transparency in pay deals.

Whether the government's new assertiveness will amount to more than a hill of beans, is unclear. No one has yet come up with a viable way of curbing excessive pay packets. And most expect Gordon Brown, despite his 'noises' to back down when it comes to the crunch (not the credit sort, but the other sort). For Gordon has always realised that the City was the 'goose that laid the golden egg' (of high tax revenue). Now, why would he want to kill that goose, even if, from time to time, the bird sprays shit all over the place - as indeed it did one year ago.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Missed a postman..?

Oh yes, wait a minute, Mr Postman... Wait Mr Postman....

Please Mr Postman look and see... If there's a letter in your bag for me

( Please, Please, Mr Postman )

Why's it takin' such a long time... For me to hear from that boy of mine

There must be... Some word today... From my boyfriend... So far away

OFFICIAL CHORUS: The postmen are not working today because they consider it an imposition to work the eight hour day that their contracts expects them to work.
So screw your boyfriends, girlfriends etc... We work to rule and rule to work...

Gordy Blimey

Gordon Brown has received the ultimate accolade: A ringing endorsement from US former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The PM was named world statesman of the year at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation awards last night.

The Foundation campaigns for religious freedom and human rights - something that quite clearly appeals to a Prime Minister who has sought to pursue ID cards, extend imprisonment without trial, put innocent people on the DNA database and snoop on the internet traffic of all British citizens.

Kissinger said, "His leadership has been essential to our ability to overcome the moment of danger" - a reference to Brown's handling of the world economic crisis last year. Kissinger also praised Brown's "vision and dedication".

Kissinger undoubtedly saw in Brown many of the qualities of a former 'world statesman' - one for whom he had worked some forty years earlier - Richard Nixon. Like Brown, Nixon concealed behind his weather-beaten face and Cheshire cat grin an aptitude for scheming and duplicity that earned him the nickname 'Tricky Dicky'.

History will no doubt at some point confer a similar nickname upon the British Prime Minister - one to add to his title of 'world statesman'... Perhaps something along the lines of Fraudy Gordy..?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


The conference season has kicked off this year with all three parties engaged in internecine struggles. Key people in each party are the subject of whispering campaigns from within their own rank and file. Policy frequently appears made up 'on the hoof' and then later retracted as the press reacts furiously to any apparently 'off-message' speeches and announcements.

Nick Clegg has had to backtrack on his 'savage cuts' proposal, which appeared to be the result of bravado. Vince Cable has been criticised for not clearing his 'million pound house surcharge' with the rank and file first. Labour is contending with an Attorney General who employs illegal immigrants and a leader whom much of the party believes is a nutter who will probably bow out before the next election. Meanwhile the Conservative Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne is being criticised as weak and not up to the job, too much of a political point scorer, who is frequently out of his depth.

It is primarily the greater discipline of the Conservatives that has allowed them to maintain their lead over the other two parties. However, much of the electorate is very much in the dark as to how it will put 'clear blue water' between it and the Labour and LibDem parties. When politics is all about being all things to all people, it is difficult to avoid frequent political cross-dressing and the ultimate alientation of the rank and file.

Monday, 21 September 2009

How deep can you go?

Hard though it is to believe, internet chat rooms and newspaper comments boards are buzzing with a 'barrage of criticism' over the debut of a singer called Aleisha Dixon on BBC's 'Strictly Come Dancing'. What is really desperate is the fact that some fans of the show have claimed that she is 'out of her depth'.

Quite how any judge on a ballroom dancing show - however dim - can be out of their depth is anybody's guess. But it might have something to do with the BBC's remarkable designation of the show as an example of 'public service broadcasting.' The BBC Director General Mark Thompson underlined this point last week when he claimed that viewers of the show were concerned with "the quality and range of the programmes and content they watch and listen to.”

Oddly enough, the show is scheduled directly against that other beacon of public service broadcasting, 'The X-Factor' which gives some idea of the kind of programme the BBC really thinks it is. Still, fans of the dancing show now clearly are of the opinion that it truly is quality programming - as they indicated when they furiously bombarded message boards with such pearls of wisdom as 'Aleisha is banal' and "Aleisha's limited knowledge fell short of that of the ex-judge, choreographer, Arlene Phillips".

Maybe the BBC could have a rethink and start hiring wits and wags like Jeremy Paxman, Stephen Fry and Alain de Botton to judge pop and dance competitions. You never know, it might just fool people into believing that these shows are actually 'high-brow'.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Guilty until proven... guilty

The government, desperate to prove its green credentials is seriously considering a controversial plan to make motorists automatically liable in crashes involving bikes or pedestrians. The proposal is particularly insidious as there are many instances where cyclists are to blame for crashes, as in the case of red light jumping. However the government, having failed to persuade the requisite number of people to take to their bikes has fallen upon its default option of trying to change society by changing the law.

Clashes between cars and cyclists are common in London, which has actually seen a large rise in the number of people taking to the bike. The government's rather ropey logic has allowed it to conclude that it is therefore fine to blame the car driver. And so it has charged the transport secretary, Lord Adonis, with the task of formulating a policy that would blame the motorist, even when the cyclist was quite clearly to blame.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: "There is nothing wrong with this policy. By stating that the guilty can be considered innocent, the government is doing nothing new. It has itself been claiming total innocence in cases where it is plainly guilty for some years now. So we are very much at home with this policy." However a spokeman for a leading motoring organisation responded by saying: "Bad policy-making is almost the norm for this government, that thinks that you can change virtually anything in society by changing the law... It is clear that the wheels came off this Government some time ago."

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Want some?

The LibDem leader Nick Clegg has challenged Conservative leader David Cameron to a duel to find out who is 'more savage'. The party leaders who, it is universally acknowledged, were chosen because of their youthful good looks and their charisma are both becoming increasingly concerned that this is the only reason why they were chosen.

Lately it has appeared pointless attacking the Prime Minister Gordon Brown as everyone else is already doing a good job of it. But it makes a lot of sense for The LibDem and Conservative leaders to round on eachother in order to prove which of them is the 'hard man' of politics.

Clegg has accused Cameron of not being 'savage' enough with spending cuts. He has suggested that there should be a longterm freeze in the public sector pay bill, scaling back of future public sector pensions and the withdrawal of tax credits from the middle class.

The Conservative leader who has previously avoided scaring the electorate with drastic spending cuts is sure to hit back with a withering attack on Clegg and is likely to announce broader plans to decrease public debt. Now that the 'c-word' has become acceptable, none of the party leaders can any longer feel shy of fighting in this particular arena.

What is clear is that throughout the past few years the three leaders have worked so hard to cling on to the same ideological turf that it now seems that the only way that any of them can distinguish themselves is by punching eachother's lights out in a public brawl.

Friday, 18 September 2009

No more cover-ups or denials

It is official: Gordon Brown has run out of things to cover up. The Prime Minister whose reputation for double-dealing has flourished of late is now facing a crisis of confidence, as he searches for new departmental policies and secret deals to hide or to deny ever existed.

Brown is currently defending himself from claims by the Tories that he mis-led parliament during a month-long campaign in which he accused them of planning 10% cuts to public services. A recently leaked Treasury document shows that at the time officials were themselves forecasting 9.3% cuts.

The Prime Minister's determination to move away from the spin of Old New Labour to the straightforward lies of New New Labour has undoubtedly borne fruit, most notably in the case of the Al-Megrahi release where he denied that an oil deal with Libya was in any way involved. Since that time, Brown has more or less universally been acknowledged to be a double-dealer.

But is it possible that time is running out for the man who has governed Britain for the past two years on a diet of untruths, cover-ups and denials? Can there be anything left to hide for the man who is assumed to be lying almost every time he opens his mouth nowadays?

Perhaps, the man who started out as he meant to go on when he denied back in 2007 that he was planning an election, could have just one more card up his sleeve. The ultimate denial for this Prime Minister would be the denial that there is going to be a general election in the next nine months and that he is going to lose it. But in the case of Gordon Brown it is not totally inconceivable.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

"I see them everywhere"

Dan Brown's latest conspiracy theory novel, The Lost Phallus, has the hero Robert Langdon chasing penises. The book is true to the spirit of his first two novels, Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons where the Professor uncovered the mysteries of secret sects using his genius for decoding symbols. The plot is hair-raising and has Langdon alternately being chased or obstructed by nutters who are determined to keep their phalluses to themselves.

In the latest novel the plot revolves around the symbols not of religion but of government and commerce. The Washington Monument is central to Langdon's 'penis obsession' but The Eiffel Tower and Taipei 101 also play big parts in the proceedings. Langdon believes that the leading world powers were actually established by sex-mad political leaders who all signed up to the notion that "Power is the best aphrodisiac." He also thinks that early mystics hid clues to facts that would blow apart our understanding of reproduction.... and that they hid those clues in famous monuments.

Naturally Langdon is seen as a meddler by the phallocentric 'keepers of the secrets of reproduction' and they send a crazed scientist called Dawkins to get him. Dawkins will do absolutely anything to protect the truth. However, once Langdon has got the 'bit between his teeth', there's no stopping him and before long he starts seeing penises everywhere - even in his breakfast cereal.

The story ends dramatically with a giant gorilla climbing the Washington Monument, holding the Professor's 'female helper' Fay Wray in his sweaty palm. This is seen as a symbol of the repressed sexuality of the political classes. Meanwhile Dawkins is dispatched whilst trying to beat Langdon at a game of 'advanced symbology'. And Langdon's friend Professor Derrida claims that "The inner truth of gender is a fabrication." Nobody knows what he means by this. But it appears to do the trick, and the world's politicians soon come together and promise to be more transparent in future about their 'sexual relations' with 'those interns' etc.

The drama ends memorably with the symbologist Langdon raising aloft a large dildo and stating: "I have at long last got to grips with this sacred object."

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

"No more laymen, brothers!"

One year on from the collapse of Lehman Brothers market watchers and political leaders alike are delighted that ordinary folk now understand collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) and other structured securities. There is a sense that, now that everybody understands the complexities of the market place, it is far less likely that maths geeks and rocket scientists will ever again be able secretly to develop and trade the toxic waste that brought down that financial behemoth.

It is widely accepted that banks will have to show greater accountability in the coming months and years. Congress is working through President Obama's overhaul of the regulatory system and in the UK, Gordon Brown is making noises about how cross he is that bankers are paying themselves large bonuses again. But the key to long term change in the running of the global financial system has inevitably to come from the ordinary voters, the taxpayers who will have to hold future political leaders to account, and through them, the banks as well. And for that to happen they have to be able to understand the nature of the products that those banks trade.

And so it is with this in mind that Prime Minister Brown has decided to authorise a new range of derivatives that mean something to ordinary people. He and Chancellor Darling will sign off the first wave of these in the coming months. They will include poker derivatives - after all everyone and his aunt does poker nowadays. They will also likely agree roulette derivatives - roulette being another hot home counties favorite; pawn shop derivatives - much in vogue nowadays, what with the recession; lottery derivatives - everyone loves a punt, and remember, it could be you; and, slightly more controversially, mortgaged-up-to-the-hilt derivatives - a personal favorite of the Prime Minister.

"Let me make myself clear: The era of bankers having all the best tunes is over." Said Gordon Brown today. "It is time for people to understand what many of us have understood for a long time: The financial markets are not going away. So if you cannot beat them you must indeed join them. And the best way to do that is for this government to spread plain, intelligible casino capitalism to the masses. So that is why I now offer you 'The People's Derivatives'."

Monday, 14 September 2009

Product Debasement

There are concerns in some quarters that the decision by The Department of Culture to allow product placement on commercially produced programmes in the UK will plunge broadcasting standards down to a new low. The Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw is proposing a three month consultation before finally confirming the lifting of the current ban on product placement in a bid to allay these concerns.

There could however be some exciting new developments resulting from product placement. It is believed that edgy teenage dramas such as Skins and the Inbetweeners will allow the manufacturers of condoms, sex toys and 'lubricants' strategically to 'place their products' as and when appropriate. It is also thought that major cocaine, heroin and marijuana dealers will pay producers big money to show drugs as being freely available - and even possibly good - for young people. Arms manufacturers hope crime dramas will showcase their hardware, allowing a certain make of gun or of knife to be waved freely around in a threatening manner, with, say, the hero always carrying the more expensive, more refined model.

Commercial broadcasters and advertisers claimed today that ordinary viewers had nothing to fear from seeing product placement on their favorite programmes, since it would not generate anything out of the ordinary. Said one: "What's weird about seeing people in the Rover's Return or Queen Vic sipping insipid keg beers and piss-poor lagers before diving into their pot noodles and pork scratchings? And what is the problem with DCI Jane Tennyson washing down her Nurofen Plus with half a litre of Smirnoff? It's kind of what you'd expect anyway."

"The sort of people who watch programmes containing product placement will feel very much at home with the trash that producers will be placing. And let's face it, there could not be anything more naff and degenerate on television right now than mainstream television adverts... like that one with an irritating nodding dog or that directory enquiries one with those pathetic mustachioed men. Not to mention those ghastly sponsorship announcements at the beginnings and the ends of programmes. So can standards on commercial television really get much worse? Somehow I think not."

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Ashes from the Phoenix

The Prime Minister Gordon Brown today praised the Phoenix Four for the orderly way in which they ran MG Rover into the ground. He is said to be impressed by the restraint and forbearance that they showed, leaving the car maker less than a billion pounds in debt and siphoning off into their own bank accounts a paltry fifty or so million pounds between them.

This week inspectors published an 830 page report costing £16m into the collapse of the car firm in 2005. It stops short of accusing the Phoenix directors of wrong doing, but it does suggest that whilst the car firm ran up huge losses, they paid themselves huge bonuses which they stashed in off-shore bank accounts. They ran roughshod over corporate governance guidelines and switched key assets out of the company into their own name. When the car firm went under 6,000 employees were thrown out of work.

However Mr Brown is said to be impressed by the small scale of the losses and the moderation that is evident from the minimal bonuses that the Phoenix directors paid themselves. In particular he is said to be ecstatic that in the light of the catastrophic losses of the automobile industry in the US, which ran to tens of billions in the case of Ford and General Motors in recent years, the losses at MG Rover are in fact to be welcomed.

"Compared to the losses in the US," said Mr Brown, "These really are small beer. It is also clear from the recent inspectors' report that there is absolutely no evidence of government incompetence, and even if there was, it would be of little consequence." Mr Brown concluded: "Let us be clear, the collapse of MG Rover is history. And on such occasions as these I like to quote the words of that late, great car maker, Henry Ford: History is bunk."

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Four intellectuals in pursuit of a theorist

Last night Newsnight Review broke new ground when it managed for the first time in television history to interview four leading academics / writers who all took exactly the same line on Charles Darwin. The BBC has often in the past been accused of trying to generate debate for the sake of it, of engineering conflict, even of sowing seeds of discord. Some critics have suggested that a public service broadcaster has a duty to take a more singularly educational line.

In the past the Beeb has sadly resisted banging that drum in the name of objectivity. But last night its flagship Newsnight Review came out unequivocally on the side of Charles Darwin and invited four like minded liberals to engage in a classic 'set-piece love-in'.

It is hard to say who loved whom more. Did Margaret Atwood love Dawkins more than Darwin because he had effectively spread the word, was a more influential writer (nowadays at least) than Darwin? Did Ruth Padel love herself more than her great-great grandfather (Charles Darwin) because she felt a sense of occasion that simply did not exist in the Victorian 'dark ages' when his efforts were largely unappreciated... even derided? Or did the token fellow in the dog collar who clearly loved Darwin also love Richard Dawkins deeply, madly, passionately simply because... well, hey, a Christian can learn to love evolution, can't he?

At one point the discussion descended into animal impersonations when Margaret Atwood offered the insight that we don't know if animals sense impending death and we never will do, but insisted that it was a point still worth harping on about - it was the kind of consideration that she bungs in her novels, needless to say. Dawkins, ever the selfish genius then rolled over and tried to make love to himself, intermittently mentioning the words 'the prime directive', and suggesting that masturbation is simply an extension of the selfish gene.

But surely the night will forever belong to interviewer Martha Kearney for her unceasing and devoted sycophancy in the face of four trenchant Darwinists and her courageous attempts to agree with everything that these very public intellectuals said, skillfully avoiding tricky questions like, "If you are that confident about your beliefs, why do you tend to belittle those who don't sign up to them?"

It was a love-in alright... a night from television history that we'll be talking about for quite some time to come, testimony to the power of faith and language and intellectualism, and of course to the real 'prime directive,' the power of the BBC.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Yes, more clusterfucks

The financial markets are reeling today after the statement made by Alan Greenspan that a financial crisis will "happen again". Traders, taxpayers and Radio Four listeners had been hoping that after last year's near meltdown everyone had learnt their lesson. But Greenspan stated quite unequivocally, "This is not the first, and it will surely not be the last clusterfuck that the Western economies experience."

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling have worked tirelessly over the past year to ensure that last year's crisis is never ever repeated. Gordon Brown, in his brand new initiative to put an end to 'boom and bust' has even considered restricting the bankers' bonuses many have blamed for the excessive risk taking activities that sparked the crisis in the first place... Although he has of late disgarded this idea in view of the fact that it would of course put an undue and some might say unnecessary burden on relations with his 'paymasters' in the city.

Whatever the case might be, the people have agreed one thing: Noone ever wants to see a repeat of the near collapse of Western financial markets that was witnessed in 2008. So it is with great sorrow and unhappiness that people have digested the statement made by Greenspan yesterday. Whoever would have thought that greed and recklessness and the desire to feather ones own nest at the expense of others could occur ever, ever again? And who would ever imagine that politicians, in all their wisdom and their kindness and in all their ability to absorb and understand history could allow such dreadful events to be repeated?

Perhaps... it is time to think the unthinkable... Perhaps it is time to ask whether our great, our wondrous leaders really are the brilliant, the benevolent, the masterful beings that we have always, always held them to be.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The Doors of Perception

Hard though it is to believe, the UK's two main parties are on the verge of civil war. Conservative right is attacking Conservative left and Labour left is attacking Labour right. And it is all over which idiot, or bunch of idiots, in either party, left the doors of perception too wide open because they wanted a bit of 'wiggle room'. So what is at stake?

- On the Labour front: Recovery - When is a recovery not a recovery? When is the word recovery premature? Is 'recovery' going to become the word most associated with Labour in the run up to the next election?
- On the Conservative front: Spending - How much should a future Conservative government cut public services? Is Mr Osborne faint hearted in his approach? Does he need to slash and burn more? Will spending cuts be associated with the Conservatives in the run up to the next election?

For both parties, perception is more than ever really the problem (rather than the solution). Everyone wants to stand in the middle of the road nowadays, despite the old Nye Bevan aphorism that such people tend to get run over. But ever since New Labour moved everyone closer to the centre ground in the late 90s, the political parties have been too terrified to move away, just in case the sidewalk holds even greater horrors. At least in the middle of the road, you can keep your enemies close and never suffer such accusations as: "Look, he/she is on the wrong side of the road." At least no-one need appear to be like the proverbial 'chicken', always thinking about crossing to the other side... And if everyone is doing political cross dressing nowadays then no-one can point at the other guy and laugh.

Problem is that the natives, and the party activists are getting restless. They are starting to realise that even though the next election should be one of the 'big ones', with a hell of a lot at stake, no-one is really sure what actually is at stake. Gordon will claim 'recovery' is here and carry on as before, and Conservatives will insist on spending cuts, but not on the scale that some in the party, and the city and even the civil service would expect.

Politics is about nothing else if it is not about massaging public perception. We know that, "You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." At some point the truth... the natives... the party activists will catch up and say that something is not quite right? Surely?

Although who knows? Gordon Brown might well play a blinder and call a general election at the beginning of the Conservative Party Conference this autumn. It would certainly wrong foot the opposition. Maybe that is the best the Gordon can hope to do right now.

As George Dubya Bush put it: "You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on."

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

More Allsopp, Channel 4.

Despite calls from some quarters to ban Kirstie Allsopp, the government is currently considering plans to encourage More 4 to roll her show out 24/7, in the hope that this might help rekindle the property market before the next election. The presenter of Location Location Location, although the daughter of Charles Allsopp, 6th Baron Hindlip, could be considered a little suburban due to her obsession with buying and 'doing up' property. But this is what makes her popular with the prospective homebuyers, television executives have decided .

On a day when it was reported that young homeowners face legal action and bankruptcy after their 'off-plan' flats plunged in value, commentators are wondering whether television presenters who have 'pushed' the dream of untold wealth through property ownership, should be allowed the oxygen of publicity. Clearly Channel 4 thinks that they should and Gordon Brown, looking fondly back to the glory days of rampant property speculation, would like to take this one stage further.

Brown would like to create a 'rolling' property channel where suburban TV personalities would help home buyers up and down the land find their dream homes. Brown hopes that the perception that everyone is 'doing property nowadays' would swiftly return the market to the febrile state that existed pre-2008. "Who said that I did not put an end to boom and bust?" said Brown. "What happened to the property market last year was just a side show. Clearly the quickest way for everyone to get rich again is to believe that everyone can get rich again. So my advise to you, the British people is: tune in, turn on, shell out."

Monday, 7 September 2009

They, like, hurt my feelings, man.

A controversial tribunal decision that company practices discriminate against employees with strongly held views on drug taking will be challenged in the courts. Executive Tim RoadChief who is a member of the Native American Church of Navajoland claimed that he was unfairly dismissed by the airline British Virginways because of his insistence on flying planes whilst high on the hallucinogenic Mexican cactus peyote.

Tim Roadchief believes that his philosophical belief in 'North American Peyotism' should allow him the same protection against discrimination as other religious beliefs. Roadchief was dismissed after an incident where in the midst of one of his 'vision quests' involving fasting, solitude, and quiet but steady contemplation, he attempted to fly a Jumbo Jet from New York to London.

Virginways bosses dismissed him on the spot, but Roadchief's lawyer has filed an action claiming that the law needs to be clarified for the increasing numbers of people who take a philosophical stance on the drug taking environment and 'altered states'. "People should be able to express views and act accordingly without fear of retribution or discrimination."

Tim Roadchief himself commented: "All I tried to do was bring onto the plane my friends Cedar Man, Fire Man, Drum Man, and Earth Mother. These guys were carrying nothing more than an eagle bone whistle, various feather fans, water drum, and prayer staff. I kinda believe in this peyotism shit man, so like it follows that it must be religious discrimination if the boss man then dismisses me for acting on those beliefs. Don't it?"

News in Brief: Monday Morning City Round Up.

- The Two Handed Economist: The economist famous for predicting the credit crunch has offered his view on prospects for economic recovery. He has quite unequivocally stated that, on the one hand there could be a U shaped recovery, but on the other hand there could be a 'double dip' (sometimes referred to as a 'W'). When asked whether this was really a prediction, he replied: "Yes indeed, it is a prediction... a prediction of all possible scenarios." Would a U-shaped recovery be a thin-U, he was then asked... Or fat-U? The angry economist replied: "Fat-U too."

- An equality watchdog has suggested that women have much smaller boners than men. A survey commissioned by the equalities and human rights commission has shown that women in the Square Mile are not getting it on as much as men, leading some to suggest that 'Sex and the City' is a myth.

- The European Network and Information Agency has warned of an alarming increase in bank account 'skimming' across Europe. Despite a high profile campaign over the past few years, banks are still whacking customers with exorbitant charges for minor overdraft transgressions. In addition, despite interest rates being at an all time low, banks are still squeezing customers with high levels of interest on mortgages, loans and credit card debt.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Hardwired to get really wired

Research revealed in the Sunday Times today suggests that human beings might be hardwired to believe in Richard Dawkins. The idea has emerged from studies of the way the human mind behaves during heated debates about religion and evolution. Scientists think that humans are born with a tendency in such situations to display self-righteous indignation, especially when confronted with views of the natural world that conflict with their own.

Bryce Hoodwink, Professor of developmental randomness at the University of Bristols apparently believes that children display a "natural intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs. Never mind that fact that their parents tell them that there are such things as Father Christmas and Tooth Fairies. If their parents didn't them these things they'd make them up anyway."

Professor Hoodwink believes that the same goes for God and Richard Dawkins. "School children don't believe in one guy or the other because their parents or teachers have told them to believe in them. Oh no. If God and Dawkins weren't mentioned even once throughout their lives, kids would simply have to make them up. The fact of the matter is that we all need something to believe in."

However a spokeperson for the Department of Disbelief today stated: "Struth! You couldn't make it up, could you? If we are all hardwired to believe in Richard Dawkins or even in God for that matter, then who exactly was it who put the wiring there in the first place? That's what I would like to know. Was it God or Richard Dawkins? These people make me laugh... For crying out loud, some people nowadays wonder whether Richard Dawkins is bigger than Jesus... But then that is what they once wondered about the Beatles, didn't they?"

Saturday, 5 September 2009

History is Bank

One year on... and some are foolish enough to believe that the 'goose that laid the golden egg' was in actual fact 'the goose that took a dump' on the economies of the West. How wrong they are. Bank shares are soaring, income from trading is on the up again - and so much so that banks are once again wealthy enough to pay multi million bonuses to their intrepid 'big swinging dicks'. Little wonder then that Gordon Brown is now blowing hot and cold over the issue of bonus restraint.

Brown was the champion of the city from the early nineties onwards. In the financial markets he saw what all politicians adore: Pixie dust. He saw that the world around us no longer had to be defined by truth, but could be defined by perception. In the case of the financial markets, this perception meant one thing: confidence.

New Labour was the first party openly to believe that politics was just a form of marketing, simply a way of getting people to believe, a means of encouraging faith. The confidence of the financial markets chimed very well with that approach, because the financial markets were marketing writ large. Brown saw how over the seventies and eighties, corporate America and corporate Britain had lost power to the financiers such as Goldsmith and Milken who could move markets, intimidate companies and influence government.

Then in 1992, Soros showed that he could go one better and actually intimidate government. Brown at this point realised that huge cash flows could alter government policy and even beguile an electorate that increasingly wanted a way of getting rich quick. That is why Brown cosied up to the bankers and why he never urged restraint on the credit derivatives markets. Confidence was high and had to remain high for New Labour to prosper. And when confidence was no longer high, Labour's prospects sank.

But Gordon Brown dealt with all of that. He saved the world. After his hyperdermic injections of capital the economies of West - once close to collapse - are now soaring. And that is once again because reality is defined by perception, by confidence, not by what is really happening. The goose is laying its golden eggs again. So why restrain it?

Oh, fair enough, there is the question of some debt that needs to be repaid one day, but Gordon can probably find some way of shoving it 'off balance sheet' - Out of sight out of mind... Maybe some kind banker will help Brown flog this debt by creating a new type of funky 'Government Derivative', or a 'Collateralised Brown Obligation'. And then everyone in the City of London can carry on doing what they always did best: Jettisoning history and living like there was no tomorrow.

Friday, 4 September 2009

His Phoniest Hour

Prime Minister Gordon Brown dismissed claims today that he had forgotten the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two. Some are asking why Britain is not following the lead of Russia and Poland in commemorating a key moment in European history. There is speculation that Brown fears that he might be compared to Winston Churchill who was one of the greatest Prime Ministers and war leaders in British history. Brown's record is less impressive.

It is 70 years since Britain declared war on Germany, heralding the start of World War II. At 11am on September 3, 1939 the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast the announcement on radio. Chamberlain of course was the man responsible for appeasing Hitler and is often characterised as a ditherer, something close to Mr Brown's heart. So perhaps unfavourable comparisons with both leaders were ultimately what encouraged him to overlook any commemoration.

That said, Mr Brown later set the record straight. "I was indeed afraid that I might be compared to Churchill, but not for the reasons that people suspect." A Brown aide proceeded to clarify this statement: No10, it seems, had learnt that yet another third rate revisionist had been "trying to flog his new book" by stating that Churchill was a deeply flawed monster, who was utterly wrong to push for war and should have continued down the path of the appeaser Chamberlain. Said the aide: "Mr Brown could never tolerate comparison with someone like that... A warmonger, that is."

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Johnson defends skimming

Doctor Boris Johnson, staunch champion of the city of London has vigorously defended skimming, the multi million pound operation that he views as a key employer in the capital and that enables a trickle down of wealth from rich to poor. He was responding to Lord Turner's report last week that suggested a Tobin Tax should be levied on all bonuses. Commenting that the financial sector - which he described as an intermediate rather than an end product activity - had become too large, Turner condemned some financial innovation as "socially useless", questioning for example whether "the world would have been better off without any credit default swaps".

However Dr Johnson has hit back at Lord Turner, asking: "What is a flaming pinko doing running the FSA? People certainly have very short memories don't they? I should say so. Don't people remember the Bolsheviks? One day they were trying to curb the excesses of the bankers, the next they were pumping lead into members of the royal family."

Mr Johnson was not slow to point out that many people in the economy benefited from skimming. He suggested that were regulation on skimming actually to be decreased - either for credit card skimming or casino skimmming - the activity would then flourish, bringing much needed taxes into treasury coffers. "You ask the taxi driver, the celebrity chef, the diamond dealer, the super-car or yacht trader whether that wealth placed in the hands of a few people does not benefit the economy... And it's not just that. There is also a 'trickle down effect' via taxation. Many of the taxes that pay for your schools and hospitals, your roads and your police could well be funded in the future by an expanded 'skimming' industry. You might call skimming an intermediate activity, since it does not offer an end product, but that does not stop it allowing money to flow. And the flow of money is just what the economy needs right now!"

Doctor Johnson concluded by adding: "It is clear that when a man is tired of the City of London, he is tired of lies."

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Perfidious Mr Bean

Prime Minister Gordon Brown today hit back at critics who accused him of 'double-dealing' over the release of Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, insisting that there had been "no cover up, no double-dealing, no deal for oil." The statement comes after an attack from the Former U.S. Justice Department official David Rivkin who had said: 'This is the kind of duplicitous behaviour that most people here do not expect from Britain.'

In a surprise move, Gordon Brown has fallen back on a time honoured and trusty 'off balance-sheet' defence. This is a defence that is more commonly used in economic or financial affairs. The term OBS has traditionally been seen as a way of allowing the Government to claim that it is not heavily in debt, because any debt that there is or might be is being stored off the country's economic balance sheet.

In the case of the Megrahi release, Brown has claimed that he was 'off balance sheet' with the truth. Lawyers and academics are currently evaluating this defence to see whether it holds up to serious scrutiny, but there are some on Gordon Brown's side who are giving it serious credence.

What Brown would claim in this instance is that ever since Scotland became semi independent - or devolved - it has effectively sat off Britain's political (and diplomatic) balance sheet. It would therefore be possible for England and Scotland to come to the same conclusions over issues such as the release of the Lockerbie Bomber, lucrative oil deals etc etc. without any recourse to, or evidence of collusion.

Mr Brown said: "New Labour is about nothing if it is not about contracting out responsibility, about asset stripping truth and about privatising the 'actualité'. Let the people of Britain and indeed the rest of the world understand that New Labour is the party of double-entry honesty."

Elsewhere, the former Home Secretary J.Smith has helpfully added that the Megrahi release, "Did not feel right." This earth-shattering and insightful statement has prompted commentators to ponder whether in fact she should soon return to Government - not simply as Home Secretary but perhaps as Prime Minister, so that she can instruct the British people - and anyone else who might be interested - as to what kind of double dealing and duplicity does actually 'feel right'.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Hulk Smash!

Disney and Marvel fans throughout the UK and Europe are trying to evaluate plans of a 'tie-in' between the two companies and No.10 Downing Street that will help to promote government policy across Britain, and perhaps even throughout Europe. Fans are divided on what the deal actually means and whether the proposals will dilute and irrevocably alter the Disney / Marvel brand. There are fears that by bringing deeply flawed characters such as 'Iron Man' Gordon Brown into the fold, the Disney / Marvel image will be jeopardised.

The PM and the Disney CEO appeared jointly on prime-time TV last night to announce the deal: "We believe that adding Downing Street to the Disney / Marvel portfolio of brands offers significant opportunities for long term growth and value creation." Gordon Brown added: "Take a deep breath, all your favorite Downing Street characters remain unchanged. We will still have 'Iron Man' (your humble PM) saving the world with his massive bank bail-out package, Spiderman (Lord Mandelson) dressed in his lycra bodysuit, weaving his tangled webs, The Incredible Hulk (John Prescott) charging to the rescue of the Labour Government in 2010, and Goofy and Donald Duck (David Miliband and Jack Straw) claiming that they have never heard of 'this Mr. Megrahi' or the rehabilitated villain Colonel Gaddafi.

In a 'souvenir' edition Tweet' the wife of the Prime Minister, Sarah Brown (Marvel Girl) tried to wrap proceedings up: "With great power comes great responsibility (Mandelman). Gordon will not let you down in your hour of need." However a Whitehall official was later forced to deny that the proposed 'tie-in' with Disney / Marvel in reality meant just more of the same old Mickey Mouse Government.