Sunday, 28 February 2010

'Uncle Bernie' endorses quantitative-easing joke.

The much loved 'investment artist' has been discussing his 'savings plan that didn't deliver'.

"There wouldn't have been a problem if they'd only changed the law to make what I did legal. Lets face it, depositors with banks like RBS would have lost all their money too, if the government hadn't stepped in and bailed them out. And remember: the government did it with your money, folks!

"What a klutz I was. These politicians sure know a thing or two. Listen boys and girls, don't make the same mistakes as Uncle Bernie. If you want to part a fool and his cash, do it the traditional way. Seek public office.

"Government - it's a licence to print money."

Elsewhere in the news - One of the architects of Enron endorses the IMF! More later

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The funny side of quantitative easing

The anniversary of Weimar Germany seems as good a time as any to rehash an old joke about an old joke.  This one is set in ‘recessionary times’ during the middle ages. People are desperate for new ways to drum up business. In one village the goatherd, Bob, isn’t very happy. He sold a goat to Bill, who is licensed to print money. He walks into his office.

Bob: I want my goat back. You gave me ‘One Goat Pound’, and I believed that this pound really was worth one goat.

Bill: Well it was at the time of the exchange. So, what’s the problem?

Bob: Well, you then printed more ‘Goat Pounds’ without any goats actually passing hands, and then you used them to pay off your debts to Jim, who you ‘ad two chickens off of, and Ivor who had given you his entire turnip crop.

Bill: And very pleased they were too. Business is moving again as a result. Ivor and Jim have been out buying bread and the like, and Ed the baker bought more flour. And so on… People have money in their pockets again.

Bob: And you are doing very nicely out of it too, I bet. But our pound notes won’t buy goats anymore…What if I’d done the same to you and started printing goats? You wouldn’t have been happy.

Bill: Well, you can’t print goats, so piss off.

Bob: Bill, I took your ‘Goat Pound’ on trust. And you have broken that trust. And now I have lost my goat.

Bill: Well, you know what they say, don't you? Easy come, easy goat.

(Please note, this is not the anniversary of Weimar Germany. If you are approached by anyone claiming otherwise, please call our hotline and leave a message after the tone.)

Friday, 26 February 2010

Exclusive extracts from "The Devil and Downing Street."

The Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson have been interviewed by broadcaster Nicky Campbell for an edition of The Heaven and Earth Show, now being dubbed "The Twilight of the Gord". The extract below says a lot about the mood at No.10

Campbell: So, Prime Minister do you pray before going to bed?

Prime Minister: Yes I do, Nicky. In fact, as someone who has always championed diversity, I pray to a number of deities - although normally just God and the Devil.

Nicky Campbell: (Shocked) The Devil, Prime Minister? You're kidding?

Prime Minister: No, I'm not. I am the Prime Minister and my task is important enough to justify it. Every night I pray to God and the Devil. I ask: Help me destroy my enemies and rule this nation with a rod of iron.

Nicky Campbell: I see...

Lord Mandelson: (Looks worried) If I can just step in... Gordon was not saying that he prays to the Devil as such. More that he has some tough calls to make in this job. Sometimes he must be merciless. Put it another way: The end justifies the means. Isn't that right, Gordon?

Prime Minister: Yes, indeed. Matters not to me whether it is God or the Devil. Just that they crush my enemies. And of course, they both have form in this area.

Nicky Campbell: Perhaps. But people will be a little shocked that you pray to the Devil, won't they?

Lord Mandelson: Listen, we shouldn't be getting hung up on this Devil business.

Nicky Campbell: Frankly, Lord Mandelson, I think that most Christians might get hung up.

Lord Mandelson: Gordon was simply using a turn of phrase.

Nicky Campbell: Were you, Prime Minister? Sounded like more than that.

Lord Mandelson: (Interrupting) Look, Gordon has a tough job running this country. Sometimes you have to crack eggs to make that omelette, yeah? Fine, so we know that God can be pretty mean, when he wants to be. But Gordon just wants to make sure that he has every weapon he can in his armoury. In other words, every possible er,... contender. Understood?

Prime Minister: Right, Peter. Absolutely. I will, if needs be, slash and pulverise those who stand in my way, I will torch the opposition front benches, I will grind down those politicians and journalists who brief against me and scorch the earth on which they tread. I'll show no mercy as I flatten and...

Lord Mandelson: OK Gordon, that's fine for now. (Whispers) Some of those tasks are mine, remember.

Prime Minister: Yes, of course, Peter.

Lord Mandelson: (Still whispering) Why don't you try accentuating the positive? You know, dish out a bit of positive spin, positive gloss. Tell how you saved the banks, why don't you?

Prime Minister: Saved the world, Peter. Saved the world.

Lord Mandelson: (Wearily) Yes, Gordon. Saved the world.

Prime Minister: Yes, Nicky, on the positive side, I scraped together what little wealth this country still had and with all my courage and determination, I chucked it all on red.

Lord Mandelson: You bailed out the banks, Gordon, don't you mean?

Prime Minister: Yes, of course. I bailed out the banks. And in doing so I saved the world. Now, on that particular occasion, I prayed to the Devil and to Mammon. I'm not saying, by the way, that bankers do the Devil's work. Or Mammon's for that matter.

Nicky Campbell: Even though in fact they probably do.

Prime Minister: Yes, even though they probably do. And yes, as a Labour Prime Minister I had reservations about the bail-out, I can tell you. But then I had a revelation: Bankers were also doing my, I mean, God's work.

Nicky Cambell: How so?

Prime Minister: The banks were in a position to prop up an ailing Labour government, create the illusion of wealth, the semblance of activity, and, most important of all, they could redefine, rebrand, hide our debt. They reinvented the balance sheet for New Labour. They let Labour achieve goals that once seemed impossible. We could spend, spend, spend like there was no tomorrow, whilst appearing to be prudent. And that is why I prayed to the Devil and Mammon... and, as always, God. All three of us working together in harmony.

Lord Mandelson: And if that isn't synergy, if that isn't win-win, what is?

Nicky Campbell: But, isn't that really a case of the ends and the means becoming indistinguishable?

Prime Minister and Lord Mandelson: (Together) We'll worry about that kind of detail. Nicky. You ask the ethical questions.

Nicky Campbell: I thought I was, actually, gents... Anyway, I must say, this is a revelation. We'll have to see how our viewers respond. Praying to the Devil... (Pauses, then addressing Lord Mandelson again) And turning to you Lord Mandelson. You kindly agreed to come on this programme alongside the PM. You're clearly interested in the ethical dimensions of politics. So... Who do you pray to, to help you perform your vanquishings, or conversely, your win-wins? (Chuckles) Do you also pray to the same Pantheon, to God and the Devil?

Lord Mandelson: Nicky, you've seen me making things happen, both in Westminster and, before that, in the European parliament? You have seen the respect that I command both here and abroad, have not you?

Nicky Campbell: Of course.

Lord Mandelson: So, don't you think that it is a bit of a strange question to be asking me? WHO do I pray TO?

Nicky Campbell: I'm sorry, I'll re-phrase it. To whom do you pray?

Lord Mandelson: (Shaking his head) Oh dear, oh dear. Nicky. Wakey, wakey? Do I pray? To anybody? Hello?

Nicky Campbell: Oh, I think I see. You don't do the praying?

Lord Mandelson: I should hope not.

Nicky Campbell: Sorry, I should have asked: So,who prays to...

Lord Mandelson: (Cuts in swiftly) Nicky... I don't think you really need to ask that question anymore, do you? I think we know the answer.

Nicky Campbell: Yes, I think we do, Lord Mandelson.

Prime Minister: (Glum) I think we do.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Health Warning!

The public is being told to avoid the Amis-Ford-Hitchens altercation. This display of 'animosity' is simply an attempt to win peer group recognition. In order to dominate the hierarchy, these creatures must fight one another in a public ritual that to outsiders appears terrifyingly real. It is in fact nothing of the sort. Genuine spats are never conducted so openly. And the proximity of "The Guardian" is evidence that the contest is purely attention seeking. Members of the public are warned to keep their distance from all such rituals, as they can lead to drowsiness and, in rare instances, coma. The phenomenon will pass rapidly if denied the oxygen of publicity.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The root of all politics

(The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, is on Radio 4 explaining why schools should be allowed to preserve the right to teach their pupils about sex and relationships in accordance with their own religion despite new legislation making sex education compulsory.)

Humphreys: So, Mr Balls, if the government takes this issue seriously enough to make it compulsory, why the exemption?

Balls: John, this is about the need for a policy on sex education.

Humphreys:  On compulsory sex education. Isn't that the point?

Balls: Not really John. This is simply about having a policy. This government passionately believes in policies.

Humphreys: Yes, and we've had a lot of them over the years. And this particular one is compulsory in schools.

Balls: Yes.

Humphreys: So why not faith schools?

Balls: Because what really matters is that there is a policy.

Humphreys: No matter what that policy is?

Balls: Well yes, it does matter what it is. And faith schools have a very clear policy. They don't want to teach sex education. But that is still a policy.

Humphreys: Well, of sorts. But one based on religious belief.

Balls: We're well-disposed towards religious beliefs. Remember: Labour owes more to Methodism than Marxism.

Humphreys: This is not just Methodism. This is all religious organisations.

Balls: Yes, but that is a secondary issue. For us, the point of policy is policy. We must set the agenda, create a policy platform, if you like. That is why we're in power. It's what power is all about.

Humphreys: So its all about power now is it? And no doubt you want to stay in power. And that means not ruffling too many feathers.

Balls: No one wants to ruffle too many feathers.

Humphreys: And so what is the object of this power then?

Balls: That should be clear by now, John. Just as the object of policy is policy, so the object of power is power.

Humphreys: Really?

Balls: Yes, John. We have been in power thirteen years. I don't need to tell you that. Do I?

Humphreys: So in fact this whole debate isn't really about sex, or sex education at all, is it, Minister?

Balls: I suppose not, John. Not entirely.

Humphreys: It's really just about power. That's all you care about. Staying in power.

Balls: Not all we care about. But you can't do anything without power.

Humphreys: (Ponders) So then, in a roundabout sort of way...? Maybe sex does come in to this debate in the end.

Balls: Sorry John?

Humphreys: Well, they say, do they not, that power is the best aphrodisiac.

Balls: Yes, John. And you know what? We have a policy on that too.

Humphreys: I'm sure you do, Minister.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bullying: What they are saying

David Cameron - Did New Labour put an end to fagging? I don't know. You'll have to ask them. What I do know is that Brown looks the kind of fellow who could do with a damn good thrashing now and again.

Ed Balls - I can't remember the last time I threatened to kick the shit out of anybody. My wife takes care of that kind of thing nowadays.

Harriet Harman - Can I just make it very clear that there is a wealth of difference between bullying and the kind of pressure a working mum has to put on her partner in order to make the relationship work. I'm sure my husband Jack would agree.

Tony Benn - Well, of course m'father introduced me to a number of famous bullies: Lloyd George, Herbert Morrison, Mosley. And I worked with one or two m'self - Ernie Bevin and Jim Callaghan, to name but two. And y'know what? To a man they said to me "This is going to hurt me more than it will you." And they were right, y'know.

Ann Widdecombe - The Catholic Church should never have dispensed with torture. All it's led to is an orgy of sado-masochism and self-pity. Of course you'll get bullying if you're always telling people that they must 'turn the other cheek'.

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Monday, 22 February 2010

Neo-Liberal Laboratory

Transcript -

(Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been discussing the implications of a hung parliament and the kind of coalition they might join.)

Nick: We really need to think ahead, Vince. We need a working title, a name. One that says: We'll be calling the shots.

Vince: Isn't it a bit early to worry about that kind of thing, Nick? The actual election should be our primary concern right now.

Nick: Bit early, Vince? Not really. This is crucial. A coalition is the only way we'll ever get our hands on power. That we know. I believe we must set the agenda for that coalition early on, before the election, by constructing some kind of a narrative, some kind of pitch... Before the other parties try to hijack it.

Vince: Hijack it?

Nick: Hijack the agenda. In the event of a hung Parliament, they'll be out there briefing and spinning, telling everyone what a coalition can achieve - whilst basically pushing their own agenda. We must get in there first. Give people our perspective - and this is the point - before the election's begun. Look it can't hurt at least to consider what that narrative should be? Can it? Prepare a vision?

Vince: I suppose, maybe not... You've obviously given this some thought. So what exactly have you come up with so far?

Nick: Okay, so it was actually the name that I considered first. I thought, how do we convey something positive, something that says this is a good thing for the country, not just some cobbled together deal. And I thought... how about calling it the 'Coalition of the Willing?'

Vince: (Uneasy) Not sure about that. Echoes of the Iraq war. Bit of a risky one, don't you think?

Nick: Ah, that's what you might think at first. But who is actually going to war? We're not, that's for sure. However, the name will remind people of an unpopular policy that we opposed. So that's good.

Vince: I see. Yes... well, perhaps it could work if you were to look at it like that... Its all down to the detail ultimately. Are you able to fill me in on that at all?

Nick: Yes, Vince. I was thinking, why not adopt the best of what the old Labour and the old Conservative parties had to offer. It would make us more attractive to the grass roots supporters of both parties - The guys who have felt let down over recent years and want someone to listen.

Vince: I see. In principle it sounds a smart move, but how would Liberals achieve that? Can you be more specific? What do you mean by the best?

Nick: Right, now here's the really important part, I reckon. What was it more than anything else that used to distinguish the two main parties, something you don't get nowadays?

Vince: (Chuckles) I suppose that they were actually different.

Nick: Precisely.

Vince: (Surprised). Oh, sorry, I was being facetious. I thought that was too obvious. (Composing himself) But, yes, it is a serious point too, I admit. And what are you saying? We would be offering something different?

Nick: Got it in one... But more than that: our 'Coalition of the Willing' will in fact be different precisely because everything is so similar nowadays. I know that sounds like sophistry but I am just trying to develop a strategy.

Vince: I see where you're coming from, Nick. But slight problem: This is the Liberal Democratic Party. This isn't what liberals, small or large L, do, surely? We'd effectively be adopting the New Labour and the New Conservative consensus approach to politics whilst, paradoxically, embracing the polarised politics that they'd abandoned.

Nick: Bit of a mouthful that, eh, Vince? Sure we can find something snappier. And don't worry, we will. But the point is, through our 'Coalition of the Willing' we can do what the other two parties cannot possibly do anymore.

Vince: And what's that, Nick?

Nick: Shift sideways. They have moved so much to the centre, that they cannot go any further.

Vince: I see, Nick. So we are shifting our political standpoint? That is what you're saying?

Nick: Well, we're going to have to anyway if we join a coalition. So let's start getting used to that fact right here.

Vince: What are you saying. Moving left? Right?

Nick: Doesn't have to be left or right. Could be left and right.

Vince: That sounds like political schizophrenia, Nick.

Nick: No, Vince. It is all about playing the two sides off against one another. Oldest game in the book.

Vince: Oh its a game, is it?

Nick: (Frowns) Where have you been? It is a game of sorts.

Vince: Is it a solution? That's what concerns me.

Nick: Of course. Left and Right have been invading our territory for years. But here, we will be able to play left and right off against each other because neither has anywhere to go, no more territory to invade.

Vince: Okay, Nick. All very sophisticated, at least in theory. And I am wondering where these ideas are coming from. Hours of reading? Smoke filled rooms?

Nick: (Shrugs) Nothing that new, you'll find.

Vince: But leaving all of that aside... I'm still not sure whether it is really liberal, be it small or large L.

Nick: Well ok then maybe it is time for a brand new name for the party as well.

Vince: What? A name to replace LibDems? I'm not sure that's worth embarking upon, Nick. Not now at least.

Nick: It is and I'll tell you why. We must show people that we are still liberal, but with a slight name change, we will also be offering this new narrative?

Vince: (Looking weary, the penny drops.) And so have you by any chance decided what that name might be, Nick?

Nick: I have indeed, Vince.

Vince: And will you enlighten me?

Nick: Of course, Vince. I'd love to. The new name will be... well, how about The New Liberal Party?

Vince: (Sighs) Yes, Nick. Funnily enough, I thought it might be something like that. And that will encapsulate everything that we have just been talking about, will it?

Nick: Indeed it will, Vince. Indeed it will.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Breaking (Update): Brown asks Rawnsley "do you want some?"

The storm generated by the publication of Andrew Rawnsley's new book, The End of the Party, has taken a dramatic turn. Rumours are sweeping Westminster that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said to Rawnsley "Do you want to get involved? You hard enough?"
More as it breaks....

Breaking News: No.10 staff deny head-butting Prime Minister | Mandelson election planning

Number 10 staff have been forced to deny that they regularly head-butted Gordon Brown's fist. A new book about Brown claims that staff at Number 10 regularly bullied the Prime Minister, ridiculing his 'clunking fist' and even head-butting it on more than one occasion... More Later....

Also, Lord Mandelson has revealed that the 2010 general election will be the slickest ever held. "Labour's operational planning will be so sophisticated, so efficient that people will wonder for some time to come whether there really ever was an election..."

Saturday, 20 February 2010

New Labour, Reloaded

Douglas Alexander, Labour's election campaign co-ordinator today unveiled the party's new operating system. Labour has in recent years received a barrage of complaints about its 'clunky software' that regularly seizes up and crashes, frequently leaving the user unable to work, frustrated and out of pocket. Alexander hopes the release of the operating system will demonstrate that the party deserves a fourth term, on the basis that 'this time we won't screw up the IT'.

"Essentially, we know that we deserve a fourth term. And deep down so do the British people. We have much work still to do - like consolidating power. To quote Gordon, when he was asked for his assessment of the New Labour Project: "It is too early to say. Ask me again at the end of our ninth term. Although it will be too early then as well."

"Historically Labour has used technology as a form of control. And we always will. Forever and ever." he said. He went on to discuss election strategy: "We learnt from studying Obama's campaign how to use technology to empower your supporters. And that is what we want: To empower the people to support Labour."

Asked whether Labour's approach to technology smacked of 'Big Brother', Alexander replied: "The only 'Big Brother' that gets discussed in Labour circles is the reality TV show." He then added, "There is nothing to worry about - assuming you are innocent, that is. And anyway, we'll probably lose all the information in the post."

He concluded: "Don't call us, we'll be watching you."

Friday, 19 February 2010

Breaking News - Bank Exodus

Mayor Boris Johnson's worst fears were realised last night when it was confirmed that an investment banker has moved to Switzerland. Mayor Johnson had been warning for some time that new taxes would spark a frantic exodus from the City of London as bankers headed for "the charms of yodelling, cuckoo clocks and the sparkling dreariness of the Swiss."

The banker, Rudi Euler, who works in 'stock lending' and actually originates from Zurich said, "My bosses say they won't pay me more money because I am always making errors. Then the tax man takes what little that I have. So I am quitting and returning home."

Mayor Boris said, "This is our worst nightmare. Bankers have said for some time now that they would leave these shores if they had to pay new taxes. We must listen to them. These chaps are not crying wolf, you know. Except, of course, for the ones who are."

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Public Private Partnership

(Cabinet meeting ends. The Foreign Secretary approaches the PM.)

FS: Prime Minister, wonder if I could have a word with you.

PM: Can't stop now.

FS: It is a matter of some delicacy. Need to get something off my chest.

PM: What is it?

FS: (Cautiously) I'm sorry to say that I've been... I've been sleeping with your wife.

PM: No, no, no. For God's sake! This isn't right.

FS: I know, Prime Minister. And all I can say is how sorry...

PM: No, I mean, this is not how I find out.

FS: I don't follow.

PM: Why has this not been leaked, man?

FS: Leaked? But, I thought....

PM: I don't care what you thought. You know the procedure. The first I should hear of this is via a third party. You don't tell me this kind of thing to my face.

FS: Oh, I see. Are you saying, I leak it? And that is how you find out?

PM: Of course, man. I shouldn't have to tell you that. And while we're at it, what of Anne? How does she intend to tell me?

FS: How?

PM: Yes, how, you idiot? Will I find out through an intimate, sofa based chat with Fearne Britton, or with Piers Morgan, or possibly Kirsty Wark - I hear she's trying to break into this kind of thing nowadays?

FS: (Puzzled) I see. I'm not sure. I had assumed Anne, I mean your wife, would come clean, this evening.

PM: Come clean? Sorry, is this some kind of a joke? Enlighten me. What is 'come clean'?

FS: I suppose, what I am getting at is... She'll tell it as it is, to your face.

PM: Where have you been? (Grabs the Home Secretary who is hovering nearby). Moment of your time, Al.

HS: Yes, Prime Minister?

PM: Right, can you tell me, Al, what you think of my wife? And please give me the so-called 'straight answer'.

HS: (Awkwardly) Prime Minister... I desperately want to sleep with your wife. I am head over heels in love with her and long to dress her in lace and be tied...

PM: (Grimaces) Yes, that will do, Al... Right, now how would I get to hear about your seedy fantasies?

HS: Well, I suppose that... Andrew Marr would interview me next Sunday. After a long discussion on the subject of ID cards, he will slip in a question - he'll ask whether I want to sleep with your wife and perform certain, shall we say, acts with her. I will naturally reply: "The Prime Minister has a lovely wife who is pure of heart. I can without hesitation say that I have no designs on her at the current time, and moreover I have no knowledge of the acts that you describe."

PM: Very good. Thanks, Al. Talk later, if that's ok. (The Home Secretary nods and leaves the room. The PM turns to the FS.) See. He knows how its done.

FS: Well, yes, of course, I do understand... but, you know, I thought that when it came to one's private life, it was a little more... er...

PM: Oh dear oh dear oh dear. You've spent far too long in the Foreign Office, haven't you? You need to move with the times, you really do! Let me remind you: Correct procedure will be followed at ALL times, and I mean ALL times. Is that clear? No allowances to be made for one's 'private life', whatever that is.

FS: So sorry, Prime Minister. I understand. How foolish of me.

PM: OK, now go and do this properly. (Foreign Secretary nods and nervously leaves the room. PM smiles then calls after him). And just one other thing.

FS: (Looking back) Yes, Prime Minister?

PM: Since on this one occasion we have thrown all caution to the winds, I may as well tell you now that I will be recording an interview with Piers Morgan later this week. He will be asking me some very, very searching questions on the subject of my private life... about possible marital difficulties. He'll also ask whether there is any truth whatsoever in the rumour that my Foreign Secretary is about to resign - and leave the Cabinet for good... I will, of course, look sombre, but reply that there is no truth in any of these allegations - and that what we should really be discussing is this party's vision for a fourth term. I will add: It is not the role of politicians to address these kind of issues in the public arena.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Better the devil you know - Section15a Part43c

(After a few drinks one night, Oliver Cromwell and Fairfax discuss "legacy issues")

Fairfax: So, Ollie, what now? Where do we go from here?

Cromwell: Where do we go? We don’t go anywhere. I’m running the show now.  And I’m not into this, “Carry forward the revolution” thing.  Bit of order is what we need right now, I reckon.

Fairfax: Yeah, right. Of course, Ollie. I’m right with you there. But I was thinking, you know, we’ve started something. And I was wondering whether in years, in centuries to come, will all this, this change, still be relevant? What will happen two, three hundred or more years from now? For example, do you think that the peasants will ever get their hands on power?

Cromwell: Peasants? Not if I have anything to do with it, they won‘t. I tell you what, those Levellers… Do they have the any idea what would happen if we let a load of sheep-fondling half-wits decide who’s in charge? Bloody anarchy, that's what. These peasants would vote a dog into Parliament if they were given the right narrative and the animal looked cute enough.

Fairfax: Dog, yeah, right… And what about women, Ol? Do you reckon there'll ever be birds in parliament?

Cromwell: Women? Are you having a laugh? Who the hell would want women in Parliament? They already try to run our lives enough as it is. They’d come in and want to ‘smarten the place up’…  encourage us to ‘be in touch with our ‘feminine sides', but just end up giving us more grief. The thought of it!

Fairfax: I don‘t know… ‘Cromwell’s Cuties’… might brighten this place up.

Cromwell: Don’t even go there.

Fairfax: But you reckon that what we’ve achieved will live on? Parliament will go from strength to strength?

Cromwell: Sincerely hope so... As long as Parliamentarians don’t get above themselves, don’t get greedy. As long as they don’t use their power to line their own pockets, to further their own interests. Then I reckon that things'll be fine.

Fairfax: Yeah, right. Last thing we would want, that: Greedy Parliamentarians.

Cromwell: Just think how crap that would look. We put the kybosh on the ‘divine right of kings‘, only to have, couple of hundred years or so down the line, a bunch of chiselling little crooks claiming the ‘divine right of Parliamentarians‘, and filling their boots and taking bribes and saying, “Oooh, you can‘t touch me. I have Parliamentary immunity. I have special privileges, you know."

Fairfax. Yeah, right. That wouldn’t look good, would it?

Cromwell: It wouldn’t look good at all.

Fairfax: Cos, otherwise… you sort of, might as well just invite the monarchy back, have them back running the show, mightn’t you really… you know, when you think about it?

Cromwell: (Contemptuous, dismissive.) Well that isn’t going to happen, is it?

Fairfax: (Nervously) Bloody right, Ollie. Bloody right …Well, at least, I bloody hope not.

Cromwell: Yes… I bloody hope not either.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Hacker... Humphrey... 20 Years on...?

Hacker:  You know what, Humphrey? When I look back and I think of the frustration I used to feel, when the likes of you and Bernard blocked or stalled what I was trying to do... And when I decided eventually that the only way to make things happen was to clip the wings of civil servants, and the wings, for that matter, of the other institutions that wanted to keep things just as they were... And when I then consider how we positioned our chaps above civil servants and concentrated power in No.10 - because, of course, we were elected politicians - When I think about how we used that power to force through certain policies, to respond swiftly, more dynamically to certain events, to act decisively, to act sometimes ruthlessly... when I think about all of that, and I then weigh up what it actually achieved, what it made better, versus how divisive it might have sometimes been, when I see that politicians did not become better people, they became worse... greedy, grabbing, sleazy... When I consider all of those things, and recall the rows that you and I had back then, in the good old days, about change... You know, I do rather find myself thinking from time to time that... this change we introduced, this sweeping away the old orders, without creating a more moral environment... well, Humphrey... perhaps... it wasn't quite such a good thing after all...

Sir Humphrey:  No... Prime Minister.

Better the devil you know - Section23a Part9

(Buckingham Palace - Elizabeth and Philip sit at the breakfast table. Phil studies the tabloid newspapers, Elizabeth stares into space.)

ER: Philip?

Phil: Yes?

ER: This Parliamentary privilege... It was designed to protect politicians from the likes of us, am I correct?

Phil: Likes of us? Whatever do you mean, woman?

ER: Kings and Queens. It was designed to stop Kings and Queens from victimising Members of Parliament.

Phil: Don't ask me, woman. I'm no King, nor Queen, for that matter. Of all people, you should know that.

ER: I know, Phil. But, it was supposed to stop us, the monarchy, from banging them up, this act. Am I right?

Phil: Suppose so. Not really up to scratch on the whole thing.

ER: Of course. Nor am I really. But, I am pretty certain that that's what it was all about.

Phil: If you say so.

ER: Yes... and am I right in thinking that my MPs are currently thinking of using it, quite unashamedly, to protect themselves from the people? From the electorate? Is that right?

Phil: Wouldn't put it past 'em. Pretty rum lot, current crop. Wouldn't be surprised if they overstepped their mark occasionally. Seem to have rather a high opinion of themselves, in my view.

ER: But that was not what it was really meant to do, was it Phil? Protect them from the people?

Phil: I shouldn't think so. Although it wouldn't stop them trying, I'd have thought.

ER: No, I'm sure it wouldn't. They're not known for their forbearance, are they? But the thing is, if they are now thinking of using it to defend themselves from the people, doesn't that mean that they are out of touch with the laws, those very laws that shifted power from the monarchy, that slowly drained our influence in the first place?

Phil: I suppose so. Why? What are you getting at, woman?

ER: Well I was thinking that maybe 'the people' who are baying for the blood of these MPs might want to, perhaps, get rid of that particular law and, who knows, other similarly self-serving laws, now that MPs are using them in this way... the wrong way, in a self-serving way.

Phil: And your point is, dear?

ER: Well, I was thinking. This expenses scandal... Do you think that if people became so completely disillusioned with these 'elected' representatives, they might, I don't know, do something about it, cut them down to size, strip them of many of their powers and privileges, and we, the monarchy, could end up perhaps taking up the slack and being.... well, like Kings and Queens used to be... Much more important, more powerful, you never know, more feared and respected?

Phil: By God, why would you want that, woman? It would mean having to be responsible, having to make decisions, and having to make some very difficult decisions at that. The kind of decisions that we don't have to make right now. Is that what you want?

ER: I don't know, really. But I do get bored sometimes. I'm not really terribly stretched. And I just sometimes wonder what it would be like to play a more active role, to feel, once more, like a proper King or Queen. Like a Henry... or a William... a Charles? Ok, perhaps not a Charles. But, I don't know, perhaps... like an... Elizabeth?

Phil: Elizabeth? Elizabeth? What? As in, off with your head, Elizabeth? Have you gone mad?

ER: Phil! Really!

Phil: I'm sorry old goose, but, but, well... it just ain't going to happen. Not a hope in hell. You really might as well drop this one now. I mean, can you imagine? Us... you and me, absolute power? An active role? The boys, idiot Charles deciding to declare war on a whim... because... because some country hasn't adopted his carbon trading strategy? Can you see him? 'Un-Enlightenment Charlie'? Having to persuade all those other nations? Making the case for war? Can't see him addressing the UN, can you? Unless the UN had suddenly been commandered by elves and pixies.

ER: Phil, please!

Phil: I'm sorry, Goosey. I really am. But you must be dreaming if you envisage anything like that. It's a fantasy, a whim. There isn't a hope in hell of it happening. Influence? Really! The thought!

ER: Oh, well... I suppose you're right, Phil. I probably am dreaming. But... we all have to have our dreams, don't we? And, you know... it's just that you can't help wondering sometimes. You know. What if? That is all I'm saying. What if?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman...

"Having read yesterday's faintly amusing but rather pointless attempt to ridicule my equalities bill, it is probably a good time to outline some of the proposals that we are currently drawing up for that corner of the Internet known as 'the blogosphere'.

This government is duty bound to ensure that the equalities bill applies in equal measure to 'blogs' and to mainstream journalism. And here we would include the comments sections of those blogs. It is indeed here that some of the most ill-informed and bigoted political views are currently aired causing offence to more moderate and reasonable commentators.

This government will be expecting the moderators of the various blog sites to play a major part in ensuring that there is a balance within these comments section. A post relating to gender equality for example would be required to publish a suitable amount of comments with an unbiased perspective in order to ensure that less constructive, anti-social views were drowned out.

It is important that even in this relative backwater of opinion and policy formation negative and reactionary attitudes are not allowed to spread unchecked. Therefore the onus will be on the moderators to offer a balance of opinion, even in cases where none is actually available. We will of course leave it up to these moderators themselves to decide how they go about this, as it is not our intention to interfere. We also hope to see the introduction of ground breaking 'all-women comments sections' - especially in matters such as gender equality for example where the views of women are undoubtedly more pertinent and more poignant than those of other genders.

These are exciting times and we hope to cultivate an environment within the blogosphere where equality and freedom of speech can co-exist. And we look to a future where, if we are diligent, these same entities can, if you like, be 'Harmanised'.

And when it comes to freedom of speech finally let me add this: I am capable of tolerating this old chestnut freedom like the next person. But there's one thing we all know and one thing we should always remember: Freedom of speech might well have a place in modern Britain. However it can never and will never mean that you have the right to shout 'Vote Conservative' in a cinema. Or, anywhere else, for that matter.

By Harriet Hormone, Minister for Harmanisation.
(This post is sponsored by Harmany Hairspray - Giving you firm hold and long lasting control.)

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

How to achieve equality - in nine thousand easy lessons

Lesson 6b - Try not to be economical with the truth

It is impossible to achieve equality unless you are impeccably honest and view facts objectively. If you allow religious or political inclinations to influence your judgment then you might end up seeing inequality where none exists and overlooking equality where it does exist. How is it possible to guarantee equality, if your application of the truth is unequal?

Consider this scenario: Harriet criticises David's Party because last year David and his colleagues voted against a bill designed to make MPs more honest. However she does not mention that John and Margaret, who belong to her own party also voted against it. What she is trying to do is make David's party look bad, without her own party also looking bad.

This is what some in Whitehall call being 'economical with the truth'. Harriet has given an account of events that is incomplete. And by doing so, she has in effect generated another form of inequality. This is because it is still generally accepted in Britain (at least for the time being) that truth is not something that you can bestow on some and withhold from others - just because it suits your beliefs or prejudices. It must be applied equally. Otherwise what you in effect end up with is something that people like Harriet often like to call 'discrimination'.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Post-Gordon planning

Conservative leader David Cameron has been responding to criticism of his lack of preparation for the aftermath of a general election. Commentators on both left and right have criticised Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne recently for lacking a clear coherent economic strategy in the event of 'regime change'.

Mr Cameron admitted that the Conservatives had been primarily "focused" on how to deal with issues caused by the general election, but that that did not necessarily mean that the aftermath was not properly planned for.

"There has been an immense amount of Conservative post-election planning, but we must accept that the post-election situation might well be different to the one that we are currently expecting."

Standing by his intention to rid Britain of an "arrogant, incompetent leader who has deceived his people and bled his country dry," Cameron hinted that 'regime change' was perhaps in itself sufficient justification for wanting to attack Gordon. He concluded: "But if people ask me about the morality of fighting Gordon, I will state once more: His is an appalling regime. And I will make no apologies for liberating the country from his great clunking fist."

Sunday, 7 February 2010

John Terry - Correction

In a 3rd Feb. post on John Terry it was suggested that Mr. Terry's private life was not simply his business. It was also that of tabloid journalists, proprietors and their readers, as well as that of publicists such as Max Clifford, The Premier League and, of course, the football supporters.

There was however a serious omission which we would like to correct. Mr Terry's private life is, of course, also the business of libel lawyers. Without these brave men and women, the private lives of celebrities would be incomplete. In fact the difference that libel - and of course divorce - lawyers make to the rich and famous and their cherished private lives is incalculable. It is safe to say that their greatest contribution to date, the super-injunction, is considered a 'must-have' item for these jet-setters - and that includes those simply coming to London to sample the wonders of our celebrity-orientated legal system

Sadly, it is not possible to amend the post in question to include the specific details of the business that the lawyers undertook in the John Terry case. Our learned friends have stated in no uncertain terms that whilst Mr Terry's business might indeed be their business, their business is most certainly not any of our business. And we might just add, we're bound to agree. Totally bound.

(Shaun, are we actually allowed to say all / any of the above? Please check.)

Friday, 5 February 2010

Best little whore-house in Westminster

Prime Minister Gordon Brown evoked the spirit of Margaret Thatcher today as he tried to repair damage caused by the expenses scandal.

He announced: "It is fair to say that, were Mrs Thatcher around today, she could reasonably expect to be a member of my Cabinet. And it is with her in mind that I state:-
"Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we vote Labour."

The Prime Minister wept briefly then added: "This speech is brought to you by MPs-R-Us - Preserving traditions and keeping Parliament 'The Mother of all Whore-Houses'."

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Careers Handbook

No.86 Member of Parliament

Why become an MP? The common answer is, "I want to give something back to the community." And for most MPs this means generously lavishing policies generated by think-tanks and focus groups on communities that want solutions to simple problems such as crime and anti-social behaviour. In certain instances policies might be the product of long cherished beliefs, although this is becoming less common nowadays.

An important reason for becoming an MP is of course the desire for power, though this is not always possible for those MPs who languish for most of their lives on the back benches. It is generally accepted that high office is best achieved through frequent displays of sycophancy. An ability to jettison one's conscience, or better still, to have it removed before entering the House, is prerequisite as only those who vote consistently with the government are in with a chance of reaching Cabinet.

Finally, what of the financial rewards? These can vary from the large to the staggering, depending on the individual MP's greed and selfishness. Anything from pornographic movies through to duck-houses and non-existent mortgages can be claimed on expenses as are any similar items that are essential to the MP in the day to day performance of his duties. A great perk is the freedom to undertake non-parliamentary employment. Many MPs are owned by multinationals, lobbyists and other organisations that simply seek a better understanding of parliamentary business. It is generally accepted that the vast sums they pay to the MPs have no effect whatsoever on their voting behaviour. This is because these companies are totally opposed to bribery, and probably have no idea what bribery is anyway. Therefore no significance should be attached to the commonly heard cry of lobbyists, as they approach Westminster, "I'm gonna buy me a Member."

After Parliament they can continue working in industry and commerce, but, as before, not in a way that is prejudicial to the parliamentary process. Parliamentarians, both serving and former, cherish the privileges that come with the job, and will do all that they can to protect them. And it is generally accepted that they are on the whole an honest bunch of men and women, except, of course, for those who are not.

Members of Parliament are well aware of the old and venerable institution that they serve and they will always strive to ensure that its standing remains above that of prostitution, drug smuggling and other ancient practices that have similarly stood the test of time.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Live by the sordid, die by the sordid - Abridged version

(Two football supporters sit in a pub discussing the fate of John Terry, football captain, and his extra-marital affair.)

Melvyn: Bloody disgrace. As long as he does what he needs to on the pitch, I couldn't give a toss. What he does with his private life's his business.

Mart: Yeah. His business... Although then, you could say, its your business now.

Live by the sordid, die by the sordid

(Two football supporters sit in a pub discussing the fate of John Terry, football captain, and his extra-marital affair.)

Melvyn: Bloody disgrace. As long as he does what he needs to on the pitch, I couldn't give a toss. What he does with his private life's his business.

Mart: Yeah. His business... Although then, you could say, its your business now.

Melvyn: How do you mean?

Mart: Well, its your newspaper; you bought it. So John Terry's affair is your business as well now.

Melvyn: Yeah, well it is now, I suppose.

Mart: And its the business of that newspaper.

Melvyn: You what? How do you mean, the business of the newspaper?

Mart: That's what the newspaper is in business for. To investigate stories like that. That's it's business.

Melvyn: Well, I suppose, when you put it that way.

Mart: And it's Max Clifford's business.

Melyvn: Wait a minute...

Mart: That's how he earns an honest crust. By getting involved in stories like this.

Melvyn: Yeah, but business. When I said business...

Mart: And its the Premier league's business...

Melvyn: Hold on...

Mart: Only a Premier League gets premier publicity, premier coverage.

Melvyn: But, but, I didn't mean it in that sense.

Mart: And it's the supporters' business.

Melvyn: What? Supporters' business? You can't say that. They didn't want to hear about his affair.

Mart: Which is why they didn't bother reading about it, did they?

Melvyn: Fair enough, so once it was out there, they did read about it. But even with all that, it doesn't automatically mean he deserves to have his private life investigated.

Mart: But this isn't any private life. This is a Premier League private life. That's why you pay so much for your season ticket and your football shirt. You're up there with the best of them. But even when you fly first class, you don't get to choose which passengers you fly with.

Melvyn: You what? Listen, I'm just saying that everyone deserves their bit of privacy. That's like the most precious thing you can have. Even more precious for someone who has so much publicity in their everyday life already.

Mart: Which is precisely why everyone wants a piece of the action... Because John Terry's privacy is... big business.

Melvyn: Yes. But that's doesn't make it right. Does it?

Monday, 1 February 2010

Culture and Entertainment News

The greatest joke ever written - Martin Amis has shown that even at sixty he hasn't lost his touch. In advance of his 12th novel, The Pregnant Widow, he has written what some critics are calling 'the greatest joke ever written'. In an interview to the Guardian newspaper today he claimed: "I am probably the biggest feminist since Norman Mailer. I have been a feminist as long as I can remember. Salman Rushdie showed me what to do. And it only took a day."
The joke was so brilliant and the laughter so intense that the interview couldn't continue. Although Amis did manage to squeeze out one last utterance as he left: "Dad always said that I was probably the best writer since Kingsley Amis."

Geeks bearing gaffes - Apple Corporation has pointed out that it is in no way connected to the apple mentioned in Genesis: The Garden of Eden. A spokesman said, "One is the quintessential temptation of man and has generated billions of gullible followers worldwide. The other is just a religious parable written long, long ago."

I Claudius - The estate of Robert Graves would like to point out to anyone who knows what a book is that the Apple iPad is in no way connected to Graves' historical novel. "The Emperor Claudius lived two thousand years ago and we still know of him now. What's more, his name might still be around in two thousand years time."