Friday, September 30, 2005

Cigarettes and Alcohol

Originally posted by The Realist

Oh yes, I have fond, childhood memories of seeing Ken Clarke as chancellor. Pledging not to raise tax on spirits and raising his whisky glass to wild applause. Oh yes, I remember his raincoat, his cheeky face, his wife’s ‘challenged’ appearance, his two-fingers up at the anti-smoking lobby, his waiting-in-the-wings-and-smirking at the astonishingly flawed Pitt The Younger, IDS et al.

Watching. Watching. Waiting. Waiting and then: "Ta da!!! Yes, yes, yes. Fear not. Here I am! The solution to the problems of British Democracy!!!"

All fun and games, but complete nonsense of course. This is his third and final attempt to gain the right to lose the next election. His previous efforts were scuppered by the xenophobic rank and file, just as the homophobic rank and file scuppered Snr Portillo and, despite his spine-shattering u-turn on (what I understand he now calls) ‘filthy foreign mainlanders’, retired Colonels will simply not plump for him. I recently bugged the association meeting of the Somerset Conservatives in the Churchill Community Centre in Taunton. The following verbatim report highlights much of what I am referring to.

Colonel White: That Sir Malcolm Rifkind is a nice chap. The Queen knighted him, for goshness sake!

Grandpa Oats: At least he hasn’t committed unspeakable beastliness like that Spaniard, isn’t in bed with the Germans like that ugly-wifed Northerner and can bear unbroken children unlike that… that… that… Metrosexual!

Mavis White: Agreed that we go with the nice family man?

All: Agreed! Rah rah rah!

Colonel: Gentlemen! The Queen!

All: The Queen!

{descends into drunken morris dancing, then incest}

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Past his prime

"Call it a day? Darling, that's a long way off."
Thus spake Cherie Blair yesterday, uttering words that no doubt sent Gordon Brown into fits of apoplexy. Having hogged the news recently with his leader-elect speech, he's been knocked sideways by Tony Blair's commitment to spending four more years as Prime Minister.

I think Blair's looking more and more like an ageing boxer these days. His best fights behind him, he's now destined to get older and fatter and less likely to go the distance, but insists on getting in the ring for one more shot at greatness. All this Reaganite talk of "four more years" is a bit distasteful too, seeing as he promised at last year's conference to step down. OK, he never actually set a date, but the general consensus surely favours sooner rather than later. As an advocate of electoral reform, this just makes me pine even more for fixed term elections and a stipulation of maximum tenure for our premier. Even Russia has this concept enshrined in its constitution.

So we have a strange situation for the three main parties in the UK. Labour faces the prospect of an increasingly drawn out battle of wills; the Conservatives are looking at yet another bitter and divisive leadership contest and the Liberal Democrats have an internal whispering campaign against their leader's ability.

In the meantime, democracy loses. We'll have a government eating itself whole; a weak, divided and rudderless opposition and a third party consumed with self doubt.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Let me tell you how it will be…

Originally posted by The Realist

So, with unremitting support from senior colleagues, it looks as if Gordon Brown is going to be crowned King Gordon the First, come 2007. Should we be worried? Well, no, not really. He’s wise enough to know that he needs to please those around him first, the electorate second, the party third and the Unions well, not at all really. Considering what his Granita–dinner–date did to them, he doesn’t need to enter them into the equation. He can get away with anything. But does he want to? Probably not. Conversely, I think we can dismiss any notion of him being a socialist Trojan horse. He’ll merely continue to pursue his slightly left of centre agenda, continuing his subtle redistribution program.

If he’s wise, he’ll take a course in Alastair 101 and use the New Labour stalwart of five pledges. Something along the lines of:

1) No increases in income tax
2) No re-nationalisation
3) Continued independence of the Bank of England
4) No increase in national insurance contributions
5) Radical reform of the Civil Service

will be enough to reassure me.

Mind you, I’m still having warm, slightly moist dreams about flat taxes (‘That’s 22 for you, 78 for me’)

Never a frown with Gordon Brown

So Gordon Brown wants us to know that he likes a “laugh and a joke” as much as other people. Hmmm. It’s never a good sign when somebody has to personally impress on other people how much fun they are, is it? Like saying “I’m cool, me”: when somebody has to describe themselves as such, you can bet your mortgage they're not.

Perhaps now that he can finally see the light at the end of Tony’s tunnel, we will be treated to a new, jovial Chancellor? One that tells mother-in-law jokes and puts whoopee cushions under Cabinet members’ seats at executive meetings. A sort of cross between Benny Hill and John Maynard Keynes. I’m looking forward to hearing the one about the Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman walking into the pub and debating post neo-classical endogenous growth theory.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Help! I'm addicted to political quizzes!

So I did the World's Smallest Political Quiz, as recommended by mAc Chaos. It stuck me on the borderline of the libertarian left, just like the other one. Except this only took 20 seconds.

Does this one place anyone else more accurately?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)

As "exclusives" go, "Supermodel uses cocaine" is probably up there with "Pope prays on a regular basis", or "Teenage boy has a wank". Not really much of a surprise. We'd probably be equally unsurprised to find out that she makes herself sick every now and then, or that she smokes cigarettes to "stay thin". Here's hoping this boring woman disappears to South America with that talentless fuckwit Pete Doherty in tow, where they can both snort the whole of Columbia up their noses for all I care. Twats.

Loved the official response from H&M (for whom Kate Moss offers her services as a professional clothes horse) though:
"We are very anti-drugs and insist all our models are healthy, wholesome and sound."
Healthy, wholesome and sound? Models? Survivors of Japanese prisoner of war camps came out with more meat on them than some of these freaks.

Where we all stand. . .

So here we all are then on the Political Compass. I am shocked and horrified to see that both PH and DW are more left wing than me (economically, at least). Although I did the test again this morning and came out a little more to the left than originally. I can only assume that having a hangover makes a man more of a leftie.

Thanks to all who took part, it was interesting to see. I'll add any other newcomers to the chart as and when they do it.

(Additional: the image is much easier to view if you click on it for an expanded version.)

Key: CS = Citizen Sane; Cess S = Citizeness Sane; TR = The Realist; PH = PH; DW = DW; S = Sam; AB = Andrew Brown; TWD = Thin White Duke; St = Steve; J = Joe; LJ = Laura; McC = mAc Chaos; GB = GB; R = Ravi; PP = Artist Formerly Known As Purple Parrot; G = Graeme; H = Hobbzee

Friday, September 16, 2005

Where is your political compass?

Concepts of "left" and "right" in politics are increasingly meaningless. Nothing is that linear or simple. So I found this test from Political Compass very interesting. As well as the traditional left and right horizontal scale, it also measures vertically from libertarian to authoritarian, allowing for a more complex understanding of political opinion.

Obviously nothing can plot these things exactly, but it was interesting to see where I came out after answering the questions: virtually bang in the middle of the left to right scale, with libertarian leanings. Almost exactly where I would have placed myself if asked outright. The Realist, meanwhile, came out more to the left with stronger libertarian instincts. Those "string 'em all up!" rants of his must be caused by the beer then.

I'd be interested to know where our readers (yes, all three of you) come out on this. Please give it a go and give us feedback about the outcome. It only takes 5-10 minutes. If I'm feeling particularly geeky I might even plot all the outcomes onto one graph so we can all see where we stand.

Take the test!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Grapple In The Big Apple

Hitchens versus Galloway went ahead and, by all accounts, didn't disappoint. The whole thing can be streamed in video here. It's just under two hours long, so I haven't had time to watch it all yet, but the hour or so I did see was gripping stuff. Hitchens was characteristically authoritative and articulate; Galloway was his usual grandiloquent self. Honestly George, can't you deliver any speech without shouting? Those Oswald Mosley comparisons just seem more and more appropriate. Nice tan though. No doubt picked up from your recent bottom-kissing jaunt around the Middle East.

Still, it was an education. I hadn't realised I was living in an "international rogue state". Can you work out who the other one is, according to GG's retarded line of argument? First person to guess correctly wins a fish.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Gone fishin'

The Realist will be taking an extended break from the blogosphere until further notice. But fear not, I will hold the fort alone. Although (hint, hint) if Devil's Advocate wants to write something else the invitation is there. And I'm sure ph promised something not so long back. . .

Monday, September 12, 2005

A conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words

Long time, no speak. Time for a bullet point blog.

  • How could anyone, anyone, have any faith in the leadership qualities of George W. Bush in the light of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the subsequent response? Bumbling incompetence on a massive scale from the top down. This man is clearly not suited to the highest office in the world - I wouldn't trust him to sit the right way round on a lavatory. Four years on from 9/11 and the US government is still totally unprepared to cope with any major catastrophe. Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Bush played the guitar while New Orleans flooded. Clinton was impeached for getting a blow job; Bush floundered while people died. Shame it's not an election year. . .
  • By barely beating Wales and losing to Northern Ireland, the England football team have once again shown themselves to be a collection of vastly overpaid, underperforming, prima donnas. Sven, meanwhile, has the tactical nous of beef dripping and all the passion of a pumice stone. Doesn't give us much hope for Germany 2006 does it? If we even get there.
  • Still, there's always the cricket, which seems to be bursting everyone's hymens at the moment.
  • Christopher Hitchens v George Galloway, NYC, Sept 14th. Oh, how I would LOVE to see this. Hitchens is a legend. I hope he wipes the floor with him.
  • By considering a flat tax for the UK, the Conservative Party have put me in hitherto unexplored territory: being genuinely interested in one of their potential policies. This is something that, if done right, really could benefit everybody. Except, perhaps, several thousand public sector accountants at the Inland Revenue. But I can't see anybody weeping for them, can you? Then again, Will Hutton begs to differ and has subsequently contradicted every positive thing I've ever read about it.
  • Excellent - a new look Guardian, in Berliner size. Now I no longer have to plump for The Times or The Independent for my morning read on the train. Broadsheets can at last be consigned to the dustbin of history. Unless you're a Daily Telegraph reader, that is, in which case you can be consigned to the dustbin of history.