Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Stand by... Stand by

The election will be called this week. And already politicians are tying themselves in knots . Earlier this month the Justice Secretary Jack Straw stated Labour would reform the upper chamber - a promise first made around 1997. Two weeks later the idea was shelved once again.

Now the parties are blowing hot and cold over the economy: First it's tax rises, then tax cuts. They'll tackle the budget deficit, then it's, not straight away.

None of this bodes well for the high point of the campaign - the publication of the manifestos. Will anyone believe a single word that's in them? Will voters find themselves choosing between one set of fragile promises and another?

Sometimes it's hard to be a party, giving all you've got to one campaign. But, with respect for politicians at an all time low, it's crucial they win back our trust. There can be no ambiguity, no hesitation. People will want an unequivocal "YES!" when they ask the question: Will you stand by your manifesto?"

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Shit Creek

A General Election looms. Westminster is already ablaze. But for some out there it's going to be grim: All sound and fury, signifying... disillusion.

Most Brits are too apathetic to vote - or have forgotten how to. A hard core have been loyal to one party all their lives and don't intend to budge. But the aspiring middle classes - men and women of no fixed political abode - are all at sea. These are the floating voters, and this time they don't know where to dock.

Their vote isn't about who they are, but who they want to be. But there's little to aspire to right now. The future's bleak, and neither party's offering a killer narrative. But maybe that's good. People should take a long hard look at politicians and their narratives. Are they just fairy tale manifestos? And the reason democracy's hamstrung?

Politicians know they must win over the 'aspirational classes' if they are to form the next government. In a week or so's time, they'll go into overdrive with spin and hype, offering initiatives, promises - the stuff that tends to constitute narrative. Best bet is to ignore it all. Maybe it's the politicians who should be hamstrung.

And right now there's only one thing for it: A hung parliament. Of course you cannot vote for it. But you can hope for it, as you ignore that spin, those empty promises. Plus you might consider this: How might such an outcome refresh, renew, re-orientate politicians... and make them do what they're supposed to do - that is, work for you?

When it comes to uncertainty, is there an upside?

Friday, 26 March 2010

Votes for turkeys!

Lord President of the Council, Lord Mandelson will block Jack Straw's plans for a wholly elected upper chamber. Parliamentary reformers cannot fathom why the Lord, who has a seat in the chamber, opposes a policy that most consider to be a vote-winner.

The Prime Minister's stance is also unclear. One fifth of his cabinet sit in the Lords - more peers than there are women. And it is accepted that his government would not have survived the last year without them. Like Brown though they have little to say on the matter, although most have been making unambiguous statements about turkeys and their acknowledged reluctance to vote for Christmas.

Jack Straw has had to qualify what he said earlier this month:-

A couple of weeks ago I said: "We promised reform fifteen years ago, and this time we mean it, as we do all our promises."

I would like to modify this: "We promised reform fifteen years ago, and this time we mean it, as we did fifteen years ago."

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Self-Hating Search Engine

BREAKING: The world's most popular search engine Faustus is a disgrace, its founder claims. And in a statement that will shake Silicon Valley he says, selling your soul is no longer okay - even in the world of tech.

"We used our search engine to look up Faustus," said the founder Dr. Faustus at today's press conference. "And frankly, we were horrified. We'd assumed it would give us entries for knowledge and truth and the free flow of information. But all it came up with was filtering and censorship and selling-out. It was distressing."

"This company has principles, so there was only one thing for it. We called in the image consultants. They said we were no longer hip, cool, trendy. And, as everyone knows, those are our core principles! Consider the jukeboxes."

"We also learned that these days people associate us rather more with advertising than learning and knowledge. They reckon we sold out. Can you believe it?"

Faustus said the company will also end its controversial dealings with Lucifer. "A nightmare from start to finish. Selling your soul? It should be a piece of cake in this day and age. What globalisation's all about, right? But no. In the end we decided, if the devil won't take us seriously and deliver easy money, then on principle, if nothing else, we won't hang about. It is for others now to decide whether they wish to burn in hell for all eternity... Which they will, unless they do what we've done."

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Whoring for the people

No.57: Democracy - The meaning of this word should be unambiguous. Derived from the Greek Demos (people) and Kratos (government), democracy should mean one thing: government by popular mandate.

Although MPs enter politics to serve the people, conflicts of interest are bound to occur at some point. They might wonder, are they in Parliament solely to serve the people? Or do they also have a duty to help out the lobbyists who hang out in Westminster. These lobbyists will often encourage MPs to see the world through their eyes. They might wave cash in front of them, thinking this'll help them focus. But instead the cash can cloud the judgment of these tired, overworked souls, leaving them listless and confused. Many become so disorientated they find themselves unwittingly working for the lobbyists, occasionally even influencing legislation in their favour.

This trend has inevitably altered the original meaning of the word democracy. And it is high time modern dictionaries reflected the fact. Here is our own breakdown of past and present definitions:-

Earliest definition:

-  Athenian democracy - voting rights for all who are deemed 'citizens' - a relatively small proportion of the population by today's standards.

Later definitions (between C17th and C20th) :

- Government of the people, by the people, for the people. Ideally a contract (or compact) between the people and those governing on their behalf

Current definition:

- "The People's Government!! Whatever we do, we do it for you!" (Please refer to the Government handbook, Terms and Definitions for more about how it defines "The People".)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Why MPs are NOT whores

Channel Four's Dispatches has revealed Senior Labour politicians are willing to offer their services for cash. Despite the outcry this has caused, it is nevertheless wrong to liken MPs to whores simply because they are 'for hire'. Here are some points worth considering:-

- Whores are by and large willing to adopt any position - relative to pay. MPs are by contrast principled men and women who enter Parliament having adopted a specific position, and from this they rarely shift. It therefore follows that no amount of money would encourage an MP to, say, role over and "take it from behind" - unless, of course, that were already their adopted position.

- Whores NEVER give money to clients, whilst MPs do freely. We saw for example how the Chancellor Alistair Darling handed billions of pounds to investment bankers from 2008 onwards despite the "dangerous games" they wanted to play. The average whore would almost certainly expect a premium in return for such games, and some might even refuse to offer their services altogether.

- Whores can be unreliable. They can also leave clients with "nasty surprises". The shame of going to the doctor or explaining a rash to a partner can often make a client wonder whether the visit was really worth it. An assignation with an MP is an altogether pleasanter experience, with the client being entertained in the Houses of Parliament, treated to to the best food and receiving stellar treatment courtesy of the UK taxpayer. Very rarely are such clients disappointed - and very few will feel the need to see a doctor.

- Prostitution is illegal for both the client and the whore. Whereas being an MP - albeit an MP for hire - is not.

- For whores, prostitution is the sole source of income. MPs, as we all know, have many sources, all of which are considered highly respectable.

- MPs often pay visits to whores, and as legislators they will gain a rare insight into the nature of the client / whore exchange.Therefore they are bound to know the difference between prostitution and being an "MP for hire". Are they not?

Friday, 19 March 2010

What good did drugs ever do anybody?

(Conversation heard in pub - two guys discussing the dangers of "mephedrone".)

Dave: I don't understand why these young people need drugs, Paul. What do they get out of them?

Paul: (Raising glass) Well, this beer is a drug, isn't it Dave? You take it for granted because you grew up with it. You like it because it gives you a glow and makes you more sociable. But drunk in excess its as harmful as any other drug. That doesn't stop you having a pint or five at the end of the day now does it?

Dave: Okay, I grant you that. Wine, beer, you can call them drugs. But they're also part of a meaningful culinary experience, Paul.

Paul: Yes they are Dave. But you like getting pissed at least once a week. And that's when it becomes a drug, I'd say.

Dave: OK, Paul. Say I accept the point you're making. Alcohol's a drug. But why can't people stick with alcohol then? What more do they need?

Paul: Well, Dave. You also like to pop out for the odd fag now and then, don't you? That's a drug as well. You don't smoke for any other reason. And smoking kills tens of thousands of people each year.

Dave: But it was okay to smoke when we were growing up, wasn't it? We didn't know it was bad back then.

Paul: But we do now. And anyway, we always knew smoking was addictive and made us smell horrible.

Dave: Okay, okay, Paul. Cigarettes are also drugs. But apart from those two, what more do people need. Can't young people be happy on those?

Paul: Happy? Good question. Those pills your daughter Deidre's taking, they're basically happy pills, aren't they? She needs those drugs, as do millions of other people.

Dave: But the doctor gave them to her. She doesn't get high on them.

Paul: Wouldn't be happy without them, would she?

Dave: They're therapeutic, Paul. She got depressed with her last job and what with all the stresses of becoming a mum and all that.

Paul: So anti-depressants are ok if a doctor gives them to you, but not if you just want to get happy yourself, that's really what you're saying, Dave.

Dave: I suppose...

Paul: But even then you've got to admit, mate, that's still a reason why people take drugs.

Dave: Well, I'm not sure I'd agree with that - but even say I do - then apart from alcohol, cigarettes and antidepressants, what do people get out of drugs? What more do they need?

Paul: What about the tranquillizers my doctor prescribed for insomnia? Valium. Couldn't live without them, Dave. And very, very tranquillizing they are too.

Dave: Yeah, but that's another one people've been taking for years. I accept its a drug...

Paul: A mind-altering drug in fact.

Dave: Okay, a mind-altering and also a necessary one. But even if I concede that people get something out of those drugs, then apart from alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants and tranquillizers, what other reasons can you possibly have for taking drugs?

Paul: What about those pain-killers you said Marge's sister takes all the time? They've got all that codeine in them. That's a very addictive drug.

Dave: They were for her headaches, Paul.

Paul: But then she started taking them all the time. She started abusing them, didn't she?

Dave: Alright mate, I catch your drift. The thing is though... what I was really thinking about all along was street drugs.

Paul: Street drugs? That mephedrone was bought on the Internet; its not a street drug. You said: why do people need drugs? Not why do people need street drugs? And anyway, drugs are drugs, when you're asking what people get out of them.

Dave: Okay. Fair enough. All those things you mentioned are drugs and people need them. But just let me finish where I was going to...

Paul: Where were you going to?

Dave: I was going to say... that apart from alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants, tranquillizers and pain killers...

Paul: (Quickly breaks in) ... And weight loss drugs, beta-blockers, statins, steroids, triptans - to name a few others that aren't exactly without their consequences.

Dave: Struth... Okay Paul, so apart from things like alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants, tranquillizers, pain killers, weight loss drugs, beta-blockers, statins, steroids and triptans, what do people actually get out of drugs? Why do they need them? That's basically what I'm asking.

Paul: (Puts glass down) Dunno, Dave. You'll have to ask your doctor that sort of question.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Coming tomorrow - The BIG DRUGS debate.

We ask:  DRUGS! Why do young people take them? Are they nice? Are there any 'side-effects'. And, most important, has anyone told young people that the Daily Mail and its readers DON'T approve?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Yes, money DOES grow on trees!

(Transcript of speech from last year's Wealth Narrative Conference. Speaker: Dr. Willie Lehman)

You heard it a thousand times, right? Money doesn't grow on trees. Well I can tell you now, folks, it does. Because we're talking family trees and, as I'm about to demonstrate, if your name appears on one you've got a major head-start in life.

Now, have you ever suspected that meritocracy isn't all its cracked up to be? Have you asked yourself whether its really that revolutionary? Because, if you have, here might be why: Once the "meritocratic" pop star / entrepreneur / crime boss has made his fortune, what follows next is less about meritocracy, more about something we tend to dislike nowadays. Know what I'm talking about? Yep, it's aristocracy. Yuk, we thought that'd gone for ever.

But no, 'fraid not. You see, that meritocrat pop star, he went forth and multiplied. And what class of person did his kids become?

I'll tell you: Those witless, talentless boys and girls who are always appearing on TV and in popular magazines, well, they're essentially 'aristocrats'. And how do I know? Let's just say they didn't earn that money and the connections and those slots on TV. It was down to their rich and famous mothers and fathers. That's what some might call 'proto-aristocracy'.

Of this you can be sure: From the seeds and acorns, from the stumps we call "meritocracy", will grow trees that are, in effect, "aristocracy", that engender dynastic wealth - The lucky, loaded money-laden trees.

And remember: Family trees are the same as any other - hardy, solid, enduring. That's how they'll always be. No doubt about it. Unless maybe... I don't know, you take a chainsaw to them, wherever you find them and you saw and chop, and chop, chop, chop down every last one of them and replace them with some kind of modified, engineered foliage... Ha, just kidding, folks... We certainly don't want that, do we? That is what people used to call Bolshevism... Correct?

Anyway, boys and girls, I hope the thrust of my argument doesn't upset those among you who are still sold on meritocracy. But you couldn't really have thought it something new, a break from the past... something the benign political classes conjured up to help out the little guy, give him a chance in life? Or, could you? Well, I'm sorry. But, its just plain untrue. The family you are, or were, born into is as relevant to your life now as it ever was. Nothing's changed.

I'll say one thing though: some of these singers and celebs and entrepreneurs, they're not so bad.... It seems many worship really cool ideas like peace, and love, and the future of the planet - the kind of ideas that make everyone feel good about themselves... and feel good about the celebs of course! Although, I'll tell you one thing they really don't worship, these guys. And that's taxes. Oh, no! They don't like taxes. They make it clear that taxes are not cool. They tell everyone: Who'd wanna be seen paying taxes? Because that'd be like really uncool - not to mention it'd be like chopping away at your family tree. Okay, maybe not quite as bad as actually chopping it down with a chainsaw. But a bit like cutting off the branches and the pretty leaves and precious flowers and the, er money and... well, it would definitely, most definitely, be UNCOOL.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the freest of them all?

The 20th Century engendered seismic social change - not least womens' liberation. But who, in 2010, are the main beneficiaries? Who appears most empowered? Whose lives has it enriched? The list below is not definitive, just a start. It is broken down into categories - to make pigeon-holing easier, of course:-

Academia - Germaine Greer, Camille Paglia, Susan Greenfield

Politics - Hilary Rodham Clinton, Angela Merkel, Sarah Palin

Literature - Margaret Atwood, Fay Weldon, Naomi Wolf

Entertainment - Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey

Popular Culture - Girls Aloud, Lady Ga Ga

Rich Bitches - Martha Stewart, Paris Hilton, Victoria Beckham

The 'People' - Working mums, man-eating sex maniacs, Chardonnay-swilling thirty somethings, teenage girls on a Saturday night too pissed to stand, tattooed dykes living in squats, shopaholics, wannabee pop stars.

Business - Simon Cowell, Ralf Lauren, Sir Philip Green

Monday, 15 March 2010

Second Chamber

Justice Secretary Jack Straw has promised that if re-elected, Labour will transform the House of Lords into a democratically elected second chamber.

"We know we promised this fifteen years ago, but this time we really mean it, as we do everything else we promise."

Two wings and a prayer

Gordon Brown appears somewhat disingenuous in his handling of the BA strike dispute. The Unite union, which is behind the action, is a big Labour donor and its Deputy General Secretary is a prospective Labour MP and the husband of Harriet Harman. But yesterday transport minister Lord Adonis openly condemned the strike. Votes maybe?.

Planes need two wings to fly. And perhaps the same goes for political parties in this day and age. There is one problem: Two wings make planes fly straight, but tend to make political parties fly round in circles."

The PM is probably muttering at this very moment: "Lets hope we can just land the damn thing before the election."

Mens rea? Or medium rare?

105: Hiding bankruptcy through creative accounting

Do some lawyers and bankers think that they're above the law?
Of course not. Nobody is above the law.
But if a particular law hasn't yet been drafted does it really matter?
Later this week we'll be looking at legal 'loopholes' in banking, finance and accountancy, and will be asking whether they are in fact an affront to justice.

You see chaps, if that little accounting wheeze that distorts your balance sheet seems a bit dodgy, and you have to consult your shit-hot lawyer for advice, then it's like saying you're above the law (or at least above questions of right and wrong). And are you really that different to criminals - the only difference being that they simply don't waste their time looking for the 'loopholes'.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Equalities Minister Harman to call time on Woman's Hour.

Harriet Harman intends to call time on Radio Four's Woman's Hour. The Minister wants to widen the scope of her equalities agenda and broadcasting is seen as the logical next step. "There's no room for single sex broadcasting in a modern Britain. The BBC must axe this dinosaur."

Also on the watch list: BBC3,  Dave; celebs; lads mags / chicks mags; sexist tweets; excess newspaper coverage of leaders' wives (Brown, Cameron, Sarkozy etc).

The Minister also intends to appoint a Tsar for women - who will be known as a Lady Tsar Tsar.

A double-think tank will announce more pathetic initiatives in the coming weeks.

Friday, 12 March 2010

The New Adventures of Robin Hood

(It's 2010 and Robin returns to England. "Redistribution of wealth" is once more on people's lips. Robin and his rotund friend, Friar Tuck, pop to a 'cybercafe' to see how it's done.)

Friar: (Scanning a news archive). Nothing has changed. Taxes seem to hurt the poor more than they do the rich.

Robin: There's a surprise.

Friar: Rich men say that, if they're asked to pay more, they'll simply go and live in the land of the cuckoo clocks and strange cheeses.

Robin:  Cuckoo clocks eh? These rascals get everywhere.

Friar: So it appears.

Robin: But still, there can't be much business to be had in this land, if rich men are only here because of lower taxes.

Friar: That is partly true. Manufacturing has gone down the pan; farming's a struggle; and there are few other natural resources... Most wealth comes from money-lending - they call it banking.

Robin: How strange. Men usually borrow and lend to achieve some particular end, not as an end in itself?

Friar: So one would assume. Although, it says here that wealth is also generated from the buying and the selling of houses and from the love of 'toys', from a game called football, and from wine. Oh and one other thing - from 'shopping', presumably for said items.

Robin: A people obsessed with possessions and pleasures of the flesh, it seems

Friar: And if the rich men leave, so it goes, the common folk will lose jobs and houses will be less valuable. Everyone will feel poorer and will cease buying possessions. Then the country will grind to a halt.

Robin: (Scanning another article) It looks as though the country has already ground to a halt, if this piece is anything to go by...

Friar: I was coming on to that, Robin. It seems that these banks stopped lending of their own volition... no fault of the rulers. And then the rich stopped spending.

Robin: (Still engrossed in the article) Yes, but have you seen what happened next?

Friar: What, Robin?

Robin: The rulers gave money to these 'banks', and then yet more money.

Friar: You jest.

Robin: I jest not. They did it even though the banks made the country grind to a halt.

Friar: I don't understand. Why?

Robin: The rulers thought the banks would collapse otherwise. And then ordinary people, who keep their savings in those banks would lose everything.

Friar: How terrible. I keep my money under the mattress

Robin: As do I, much safer... (Turning back to the screen) But look, it says here that these savings will be siphoned off anyway.

Friar: How can that be?

Robin: The government has printed more money to 'revive the country'. That is the same money that constitutes these savings. Therefore the savings will be diluted.

Friar: Dreadful! Taking that money from ordinary folk.

Robin: It gets better. Then government officials have used the printed money to buy their 'debts' back from the banks. And this transaction has made these bankers yet more money.

Friar: So the banks ruin the country. And the rulers reward them by taking money from ordinary folk and giving it to them. Then the rulers take yet more money, this time from the savings of ordinary folk and they give them that as well. These officials are worse even than the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Robin: Indeed, Friar. Indeed

Friar: So there are none here who take from the rich?

Robin: There is this one fellow

Friar: Do tell.

Robin: Goes by the name of Madoff. He stole much from the rich.

Friar: Excellent, this is a start. Did he give it to the poor?

Robin: No one knows. Much money vanished. He perhaps kept it, though he is rich. So this does not look good after all.

Friar: How sad. None like us in 2010, it seems. In fact quite the opposite. All are greedy and on the make.

Robin: There is one good thing, Friar. Folk, even ordinary folk, have the right to change their government. They eventually made good what de Montfort started back in our day: Indeed the men they choose are called 'Parliamentarians'. Therefore, however bad things are now, however much the rulers steal from the poor and give to the rich, the ordinary folk can change things and choose new rulers from among these Parliamentarians.

Friar: How marvelous. There is hope yet for this country.

Robin: (Scanning another article) There would be hope... but it seems that even these Parliamentarians steal from the ordinary folk. They call it 'fiddling expenses'. And more, they are in the pay of rich men and companies even as they make the laws. And they hope one day to work for these rich men - when they have left Parliament. So perhaps they will not want to change anything really.

Friar: How dreadful, Robin. So, in fact there is no hope, whatever folk do?

Robin: Not a lot of hope, Friar. It would seem that we have much work to do here.

Friar: Indeed, Robin. Much to be done.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Class War - Gordon and Hattie's key moments

Part One - Sloane Ranger, no danger. Gordon and Hattie smile as power and influence shift from the old elite (the aristocracy) to the 'new money' (bankers, property developers, party donors etc). Here are the key events:

- Gordon sits back as cheap credit and rising property prices fuel an overheating economy.

- When the market collapses, Gordon bails out millionaire bankers from the public purse. His sidekick Hattie rants incoherently about 'the court of public opinion' and 'judgement day for greedy bankers'.

- Gordon dilutes the savings of low to middle income earners through QE (quantitative easing).

- Gordon sits back whilst millionaire bankers profit from QE-based trades. Bonuses are huge, even though no real value has been generated.

- Newly enriched bankers can continue sending their kids to Eton, St Pauls, Harrow or any other school that will give them a major advantage in life.

- But Gordon really hates Eton - It symbolises class privilege and the Conservative leader, David, went there. His sidekick Hattie hates Eton - she went to St Paul's Girls School. Together they try to persuade the electorate that Eton is synonymous with Tory Party elitism.

- But... bankers love Gordon - he made them rich. Eton loves Gordon - Thanks to Gordon's largesse, it is business as usual at the top public schools.

- Everyone loves Hattie. She's so terribly earnest about her 'equalities agenda'. And that's really funny - because, by and large, it is self-deluding twaddle that'll never address the real problems facing the UK.

- Gordon and Hattie's 'class warfare' has a whiff of 'Bullingdon' about it.

- Gordon and Hattie's 'class warfare' was probably conjured up on 'the playing fields of Hogwarts'.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Coming soon: Equality - Is it all balls?

In the big debate, we'll be asking:

- Is Harriet equal to Gordon? And if so, has she told him yet?

- Why does the government think religion and equality don't mix? Could God have had something to do with it?

- Who would have been worse off in olden times? A rich bitch with no right to vote? Or a penniless git with it?

- Is anyone equal to investment bankers? Or are they more powerful than the Harriet Harman and can tell her where to go?

- Are all women equal? Or do Jimmy Choos make some more equal than others?

- Is Victoria Beckham what Germaine Greer had in mind?

- Organised crime? Should there be more women running these kind of outfits?

- Eton. Is it just 'toffs' who go there? Or have they let 'new money' in?

- Money? Apart from buying the best start in life, does it really make a difference?

- Or rather... money. If I've got it, do I give a f*** about equality?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Protection for donkey voodoo.

(The Equalities Tsar, Baroness Harmony, summons her docile legal flunky, Willie, to her office. She plans to extend 'access to justice' far and wide and wants to run a few thoughts by him.)

Harmony: As you know, Willie, I am of the opinion that everything that can have rights should have rights. Right?

Willie: Yes, mistress.

Harmony: And if big government is about anything, it is about offering protection not just to the larger groups like women and gays. We want legal protection for the smaller groups, even the tiniest ones.

Willie:  But, it must be groups, not individuals, right?

Harmony: Absolutely. Never individuals - they're out. Society has no reason nor obligation to protect those who are without some kind of social classification. This is about protecting groups of people, classes... collectives. And of course they must be people who together, who united can demonstrate their understanding and appreciation of our policies at election time.

Willie. Unite and rule, as they say. (She looks mystified, so he clarifies) As in, they unite and we rule.

Harmony: I see, yes Willie, very good... Anyway moving on. Religious groups. We're fine there, are we not?

Willie: More or less. It'll be illegal to discriminate against religious groups, but religious groups can discriminate against women and gays, as you know.

Harmony: Yes, not great of course. But, as we know, Rome wasn't built in a day. So don't you worry, one day there'll be a Lesbian Pope, you"ll see.

Willie: I can't wait, I really can't.

Harmony: Me neither.. Now who's next?

Willie: Vegans and teetotallers?

Harmony: Yes, vegans... So I assume we're saying it'll be illegal to discriminate against a vegan who applies for a job in a steakhouse... or against a teetotaller who applies for one in a wine bar.

Willie: Assuming they would want to apply.

Harmony: You never know. This is not about probabilities. It's about leaving no legal stone unturned, it's about sending out a message... Anyway, who else? ...

Willie: Pacifists, humanists, environmentalists...

Harmony: Cyclists?

Willie: European Court is probably taking care of that. Motorists will always be in the wrong - even when they're in the right.

Harmony: Good. Think we'll add cyclists to our group anyway... What about agnosticists, altruists?

Willie: Still seeking clarification on those 'ists'. I think that people with philosophical views such as pacificism and humanism will get protection from discrimination. But the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has suggested that scientific or political beliefs such as Marxism and fascism should not be covered.

Harmony: Good, so no protection for Darwinist evolutionary beliefs, or that other horrid phallo-centric concept - rationalism. Yuk!

Willie: Rationalism... who needs it, eh?

Harmony: Now the Swiss are considering protection for dogs and cats. Worth considering? I'm devoted to my purring beauties - my gorgeous Persian Blues. If anyone so much as considered calling them 'moggies', I'd want to throw them in jail.

Willie: Waiting to see how the Swiss referendum goes. But it's certainly on the agenda. Maybe other animals too - horses, donkeys and other beasts of burden. Anything that can be maltreated. Obviously the money to prosecute wrong-doers would need to come from somewhere. But then it also would for other groups.

Harmony: All we can do is give people the laws. Whether they use them or not is up to them...

Willie: You can lead a horse to water etcetera...

Harmony: Indeed... Right, that list covers a wide spectrum. But our political adversaries will not be protected, which is the most important thing.

Willie: Yes... no protection for conservative groups of any sort, even conservationists, NIMBIES etc... or, as you said earlier, rationalists. None for phallo-centric objectivists and scientists... but subjectivists and relativists will be okay - they're very personal views, you see. Oh, and of course, most important... solipsists will be covered.

Harmony: Marvellous. We really are going to build our new Jerusalem, our new 'solipsist collective'!

Willie: We are indeed, mistress.

Harmony: So, one last thing, Willie. Assuming that we might be a 'minority' after the next election - a minority government, that is. Could we also protect ourselves against discrimination?

Willie: I suppose it's possible. The apparatus would be there - Surveillance, national databases, identity cards - all things designed to ensure people have the right sort of rights, not the wrong sort of rights

Harmony: And let's face it, people like myself have convictions, principles, policies that need protecting. We can't have them being ridiculed and trampled under foot. It would be good if we could legislate against attempts to subvert, or even just criticise the government and its policies. Just think... the next time Fathers for Justice trespassed on my land, we could have them on two new counts - one, upsetting the Persian Blues and two, expressing opinions designed to cause offence to a cabinet minister.

Willie: It might be possible to extend the law in that direction.

Harmony: Could you do some probing, Willie?

Willie: Right away, mistress. Right away.

Harmony: Thank you so much, Willie. That'll be all for now.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Coming soon - Will dogs, Gods and electronic lizards have rights?

Tomorrow's post will look at changing attitudes to legal rights. At a time when government is accused of eroding hard won human rights and freedoms, why is it lawyers are asking whether legal rights should be extended to domestic pets? And where will this lead? Could intelligent robots have rights one day? And could the government that introduced the 'Religious Hatred' bill one day try and argue that... even Gods, Saints and Icons have rights?

Faith Value

Following reports this week that public forums on the website, Dawkins.net, have been closed, there has been a swift response to one of the questions that had caused a problem: How do I persuade religious believers to believe in black holes?

Question - "This question has two parts. It's to do with your average, poorly educated member of society. He’s the kind of guy who could believe in anything and everything. But for now let's just say he believes in God. So first, how do I, a physics teacher, get that kind of individual to take on board esoteric ideas like "black holes" and "wave-particle duality", when - and this is key - the mathematical proofs behind those ideas are beyond the reach of ordinary folk? And second, if I ever do get this guy to grasp these ideas, how can I really be sure that his grasp is actually what we call knowledge?”

Answer - “Well, we all need faith in some things.”

Friday, 5 March 2010

Financial news in brief

Banker "gives back".

An investment banker has announced he'll stand for Parliament. This comes after the revelation this week that bonuses prior to 2008 could have paid for the entire - taxpayer funded - bail-out of the same year.

"I did a lotta soul-searching, and decided that after what Gordon Brown had done for us in 2008, it was time I gave something back. That's why I've decided to enter politics."

He was then asked: "In view of the fact you lot pocketed your bonuses but never paid a penny towards the bail-out, do you also intend to give your bonus back to society?"

The prospective candidate, who has "flirted with politics for some time", demonstrated that he is already familiar with procedure on such occasions and responded: "No comment."


Robert Mugabe has corrected the statement he made yesterday praising David Cameron.

"I did say that I admired Conservatives like Mr. Cameron. But I neglected to say that it was Mr. Brown and Mr Darling who endorsed my economic policies when they rolled out "quantitative easing". Maybe I should now endorse their approach by hiding my print-run in scientific mumbo-jumbo."

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Class Wear.

Politicians of all parties have been paying tribute to the former Labour leader Michael Foot who died yesterday. The great political orator and academic famously sparked off a class war in 1981 when he forgot to wear a designer suit to the Cenotaph.

One former Tory grandee recalled reaction at the time. "It was appalling. There we were trying to rebrand the Conservative Party - to make it appeal to the "loadsamoneys", the self made men. And then along comes this lofty old socialist, arrogantly wearing a donkey jacket - and not a designer label in sight!"

The grandee dismissed claims that the Queen Mother complimented Foot on his choice of jacket. "Well she would, wouldn't she? You're talking about someone who asked me on one occasion: "Tell me, what do you do, Signor Armani? Are you a novus homo?" I had to point out that the "Giorgio Armani" on my lapel was the man who'd created the suit that I was wearing, and that it was the current fashion for men like myself to display their designer labels. She replied by telling me how dreadfully vulgar I was and strolled off to talk to some other people."

He added: "People like Michael Foot and the Queen Ma'am had a totally different approach to the whole retail experience, I'm afraid... They were the kind of people who'd never be happy buying their own furniture for example - something about which I am totally relaxed."

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


The Pundorans hear that a precious mineral called capitalium is abundant on Earth and send an expedition to investigate. Capitalium, it is said, circumnavigates the planet at the speed of light. It has immense value, making men powerful and societies abundant. It pays for cities and the vulgar new earth colonies called Dubai - which are naff, built on sand and uninhabited. It also funds 'wars' where humans dispense with 'virtual reality' and kill each other for real! And some even say that it can buy you love.

But expedition leader, Porker, is worried. He has heard of something called globalisation, and doesn't know whether it will help or hinder Pundoran plans to mine capitalium. Reconnaissance has hinted that globalisation might have made the earth stronger, because it means that the different tribes - called countries - now co-operate. Could the global business and capitalium flows benefiting the rich and powerful also mean a united front against the Pundoran expedition?

He calls in his trusted adviser, Kis'Inger who has been looking into this:-

Porker: Kis'Inger, I really need to know. Globalisation - is it a problem?

Kis'Inger: Not a problem, Commander. My research is exhaustive. It will not affect our mining.

Porker: Even though rich and powerful companies like Microsuck and Moregain possess more capitalium and more power as a result of globalisation?

Kis'Inger: Globalisation, it is good only for enterprises and not for wider cooperating between the countries. Example is this: Two years ago the 'banks' that move the capitalium caused it to overheat, nearly occasioning global meltdown. After this, globalisation might well have helped governments work together to harmonise tax and financial regulations. The banks and other businesses couldn't then have played all the countries off against one another. And this would ensure that the overheating never happened again. But certain selfish leaders rejected this, preferring to stay friends with the banks instead. Thus global agreement could not reached

Porker: That is illogical. This would be an obvious benefit of globalisation, surely?

Kis'Inger: Could be. But all it takes is one stubborn leader and the agreement falls apart. It proves that globalisation only really benefits enterprise, and is not much use when it comes to legislation. The leaders of the various countries prefer to be repeatedly sodomised by the bankers and the powerful business men, rather than make global alliance with other countries.

Porker: Prefer being sodomised, eh? I wonder why.

Kis'Inger: (Shrugs) Who know? Probably something in it for them.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

"F*** the Rich!" - says senior politician.

A high-ranking politician has proclaimed that, despite "flirting with the filthy rich" for some time, he now believes that they are in fact parasites who exploit society, who assume that all politicians are for hire, and who have totally shafted this nation over the past decade.

The politician, speaking strictly off the record, said today: "When I started out in politics, I viewed the rich as greedy bastards who exploited the masses. But I soon realised that they had to be understood if we were ever to achieve power. I went to great lengths to see the world through their eyes. I moved in their circles, ingratiating myself as I went. I even accumulated my own moderate cash pile, just to get a sense of what made them tick. And I liked what I saw. These guys were cool. They had yachts and houses and all kinds of fabulous possessions. They were the new "rock and roll". And I wanted to be a part of it.

But sadly all was not quite as it seemed. After the financial meltdown, it was obvious what had really occurred: They had cleverly persuaded fawning politicians to turn this country into their playground, promising in return that they would provide jobs, stability and a monetary 'trickle down' to the rest of society. Then they proceeded to bleed the country dry, spirited their cash away and left the rest of us to pick up the bill.

The politician made this announcement against the backdrop of the non-dom row that has embroiled both Labour and Conservatives of late. Lord Ashcroft yesterday resigned his post as Conservative Party Chairman after admitting that he had held the post despite his non-dom status. Labour is similarly coming under criticism for its colourful array of donors that includes Lord Paul and Ronald Cohen.

"Politicians like myself feel used, you know, rogered. I trusted these guys when they said that wealth would trickle down. But instead they buggered up our economy with their financial voodoo, hid their ill-gotten gains in off-shore bank accounts, and when the balloon went up, were nowhere to be seen. And so where do I, a conviction politician, now go from here? Well, lets hope its a well paid job - for services rendered - with one of these complete and utter bastards."

Monday, 1 March 2010

A-Z of Sexual Allusion

In this article, also published in the Journal of Sexual Hermeneutics Vol.4, we will demonstrate how economic events can be rendered in terminology more readily accessible to those with little understanding of economic theory. The sexual allusion is a useful one, as most people, irrespective of class, race or gender, will encounter sexual activity, perhaps on more than one occasion, during the course of their lives. We will start with a phrase on many peoples' lips nowadays:

End to Boom and Bust -

Throughout the last decade, the Chancellor of the Exchequer claimed that he had "put an end to boom and bust". Of course, we now know that he had not. The bust was simply delayed. And when it did occur, it was far more severe than anyone had imagined

How do we understand this set of circumstances without the usual recourse to financial or economic modelling - i.e. retail prices index, credit bubbles, Monetary Policy Committee etc etc? Well, using our preferred sexual allusion, we will say that these events are akin to the occasion when two lovers choose to delay orgasm in order to heighten the very quality and range of the climax - an approach that anyone familiar with the Kama Sutra will recognise.

Now applying the sexual references to the aforementioned 'Boom and Bust' this will give a fair picture of events:-

During the period of the activity the participants chant a mantra - doesn't have to be yogic - for example, "End to boom and bust, end to boom and bust." The mind will detach itself from what is actually happening, to avoid reaching climax too early. It will concern itself with the mundane, with dreary detail - such as economic activity, interest rate policy and inflation. One of the two lovers, often the male, might even find himself talking freely and openly to his lover about the latest MPC decision to keep interest rates on hold. This can continue for some time.

Eventually the lovers will return to reality. They recognise once again that they are dealing with the forces of nature and that they can hold on no longer. They now yield to the climax and the proverbial 'bubble' bursts. The participants will lose themselves in the ensuing maelstrom of raw animal passion, before crashing into a state of inactivity, recess, and even mild depression sometimes referred to as post-coital tristesse.