Saturday, 24 December 2011

Why the time has come for Wales to lay claim to Argentina

The Falkland Islands and why Argentina rightfully belongs to the Welsh. 

In the last few weeks the irksome Argentine government under the mendacious, although admittedly extremely fragrant Mrs Kirchner has once more laid claim to the Falkland Islands. David Cameron has quite rightly rejected this tiresome claim stating that the sovereignty of the archipelago is not open to debate. I would go further and argue that perhaps the time has come instead, to debate the sovereignty of Argentina and whether we and specifically the Welsh should lay claim to it.

Allow me to explain. The Falklands were discovered by an Englishman, John Davis, who in 1592 claimed  them as a British possession. West Falkland was settled by a few dozen Frenchmen in 1764 and the first British came a year later. The two groups lived cheek by jowl, quite contentedly, until the typically trouble-making Iberians threw a Spaniard in the works by buying out the French in 1766 and illegally expelling the British. Happily English speaking islanders returned in 1771 and the land has been a dominion of the crown ever since. 

The Argentine claim on the 'Malvinas' therefore seems to stem from the brief period in which their former colonial overlord Spain, wrongly and maliciously laid claim to the rocks. Coupled with a frankly tenuous argument concerning geographic proximity, their twisted logic would presumably allow the polo playing, corned beef munching twerps to argue that any former Spanish holding in its vicinity from Chile to California is rightfully theirs. Should such demands be upheld under international law, Britain could well claim that Normandy, which belonged to the British Crown from 1066 to 1449 be returned forthwith along with Indonesia, Malta, South Africa, Ireland, the United States of America and approximately one third of the land surface of the planet Earth.

The only other conceivable claim Argentina has is that some of the Falkland island folk are descendants of the tiny group of Spanish settlers who arrived there in the mid eighteenth century. This logic, perversely, might offer a solution to the 'Malvinas problem. As I am sure you know, Argentina boasts the only Welsh speaking community outside of Cymru. Based on the Buenos Aires government's apparent logic that the land belongs to the ethnic origin of some of its current settlers, in spite of their own feelings on the matter, Wales might very well claim that as Patagonia is largely settled by the people of its delightful valleys, everything south of the 40th parallel is rightfully Welsh. As this area is particularly rich in Uranium, oil and coal, one is tempted to argue that the time has come to do 'swapsies'. They can have the Falklands and we (or more specifically the Welsh Assembly) shall reclaim half of Argentina. 

Glad Tidings

I am afraid that that is all we have time for in 2011. It has been my great honour to chat with many of my on-line followers over the last few months. One hopes that 2012 brings you all rich tidings whether working man, working woman, Conservative, socialist, psychopath or Liberal Democrat.


Friday, 16 December 2011

The PM, 'Professor' Dawkins and why we should bring back the Groat

David and Goliath

We witnessed last week what one is tempted to describe as a "Falklands moment" in the Prime Minister's term of office. David's bold leadership faced down an attempt by Mrs Merkel and the increasingly nettlesome Sarkozy, to drag this country into closer union with France and Germany, at the precise moment that the European 'project' looks certain to collapse.

The EU's false economy has long resembled the sort of sports day one reads about in progressive secondary moderns, where all the competitors are awarded first place in every race, thus rendering the prizes themselves worthless. It is time for the UK to prove itself as 'scholarship material' once more and return to the playing fields of 'gentlemanly competition', free markets and 'gold'.

As our party's poll rating shoots toward the heavens, those of us who have long argued the anti-EU cause can allow ourselves the chance to bask in a little reflected glory. More importantly, David's actions have ensured that the City, the power house of the British economy, can at last be left to its own devices. 

'Professor' Dawkins

In the build-up to Christmas, professional atheist 'Professor' Richard Dawkins has been out and about insulting people again. This time his target is the Prime Minister, who he accuses of being an 'agnostic' who 'believes in belief' as a means of controlling the populace at large (or some such rot). David has very sensibly dismissed this balderdash and at the same time pointed out rather wittily that 'Dawkins simply doesn't get faith', a superb retort to a bitter man who one pictures as a seven year old whispering in the ears of his school chums that 'Father Christmas doesn't exist'.

Frankly were I to have my way this dangerous, out of control buffoon would long ago have been prosecuted for blasphemy and sent to the Tower. Unfortunately we live in times when such actions are frowned upon and so my advice to Mr Dawkins is as follows: By all means refuse to celebrate 'Saturnalia' or 'Winterval' or whatever you wish to call it, but please do not expect the rest of us to wallow in your pitiful 'empirical evidence', your Darwinian self righteousness or you Grinch like determination to spoil the magic for everyone else. Having said that, were it true that we are indeed descended from 'apes' one look at the 'Professor's' photograph would appear to provide the evidence he so desperately seeks.

Children's Corner

In February 1971 the UK 'went decimal'. A system of currency that had existed since the time of Henry II was discarded overnight, as Britain kow-towed to the demands of the EU (then known as the EEC) and instigated a 'continental style' monetary system of 100 pence in a pound that we have suffered to this day.

Frankly the lack of imagination and backbone displayed by Ted Heath and his government, which I am ashamed to admit was of a Conservative bent, dis-spirits one almost as much in 2011 as it did when one was two. Generations of Britons have been raised under the false impression that the 'old money' was fiendishly complicated, but even the briefest perusal of the facts knocks that debate into touch.

The pre-decimalised currency was based on the 'Troy System' wherein a pennyweight of silver was equivalent to one old penny. A pound thus weighed 240 pennyweight and was equivalent to 'one pound', with two farthings being a ha'penny. With twenty four ha'pennies in a shilling and twenty shillings in a pound that meant that two shillings and six pence were equivalent to one half crown, the crown itself being worth (of course) five shillings of which there were four in a single pound. If anyone has ever come up with a simpler way of devising a currency I would be very glad to see it.

It is my sincere hope that as we drift further away from the European project and the idiotic euro the chance to reinstate our old system dawns ever closer.

I believe that is all we have time for this week. My warmest Yuletide Greetings to you all.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bowler hats, Eurocrats and Quails

Eurozone Crisis Summit

As David Cameron flew to Brussels today to take part in the crisis summit, I found myself meditating on the EU and asking one very simple question: What is it for exactly? Is it a trading block? Is it a union of states, seeking closer harmonization for the peace and prosperity of their collective inhabitants? Or is the question itself as elusive as Professor Heidegger's search for a definition of 'being'; is it in essence 'a great unanswerable'?

After much cogitation over a reasonably priced luncheon of quail, hare and gratin dauphinois, I had to admit that I had quite given up. I suspect in the end anybody asking the same question would, just as I did many years ago with regard to the foolish ideas upon which Mr Heidegger based his life-times work.

However, this I know: The EU is doomed and it is so for one very obvious reason. Since the beginning of civilization, no successful 'trading block' has ever been hewn from the rib of peace. From the Akkadians to the Persians, from the Byzantines to the British all 'trading blocks' have in essence been empires and no empire was ever created from anything so disagreeable as 'compromise'. One only has to think of the Romans who built harmony across their considerable domain, only after they had crushed inferior weaklings beneath the sandals of their all conquering legions. The EU, by contrast, has been a piecemeal affair from the very beginning, full of damp squibs, sops to French farmers, 'worthy' human rights acts, sops to Italian cheese-makers, minimum wages, sops to Belgian waffle salesmen, health and safety acts, sops to Spanish fishermen, curbs on bankers trying to make a decent living and sops to the Greeks (full sop). No blood has been spilt, no slaves have been driven before it, no elephants used to intimidate barbarians, no christians executed for sport.

Worse still, the Union has provided us with not one single great unifying figure. No Ghengis Khan, no Earl Grey, no Nebuchadnezzar or Alexander; not even an imitation Napoleon Bonaparte, just the suggestion of one.

As H hour approaches, the closest we are offered by way of an Otto Von Bismark is a Herman Van Rompuy, a man who would seem to personify that old gag about 'the problem with political jokes is they get elected' were it not for the fact that he has NOT been elected.

Bowler hatted council workers

Regular readers of this 'blog' will not have been in the least bit surprised to have heard of my calls in the House this week for council workers to wear bowler hats. This is part of my on-going campaign to 'spruce up' sloppy sartorial standards in the public sector. Some weeks ago I argued that HM Customs and Revenue staff, who present a lamentable first impression for visitors to these islands, should sport crisp 'military style' uniforms and possibly pith helmets. On reflection I have come up with some other 'workers' who might benefit from a 'make-over'.

  • Latrine staff at railway stations in ruffs
  • Leather jerkins for 'road-sweepers'
  • Striped suits for prisoners (with matching hats)
  • Frock coats for Railtrack staff
  • Top hatted toll booth operators
  • Starched wing collars, robes and mortar boards for all teachers in secondary moderns
Although one fears such suggestions will be dismissed without a thought, I feel convinced that they would at the very least offer a wonderful sight to behold.

As ever I welcome your comments and contributions and wish you all a hearty week-end.

Ego vobis valedico


Monday, 28 November 2011

Of Pippa Middleton, Idiotic Strikes and my Aspidistra

Public Sector Strikes

On Wednesday, as you are no doubt already aware, Midsomer Norton, Bath and indeed the rest of the country shall grind to a halt while 'Public Sector Workers' engage in yet another bout of unnecessary 'strike action'. The inconvenience caused by this outbreak of self indulgence shall affect many lives, leaving thousands of parents whose children are 'state' educated, no option but to 'keep the kids at home'. In turn there shall inevitably be a knock on effect as countless others, who have opted to privately educate, find that nannies, cleaners and other domestics are unable to turn up for work. Quite apart from forcing respectable women up and down the country to cancel luncheon and hair dressing appointments, it seems unfair that 'private sector workers' shall be missing out on pay. For my own part, one of the gardeners has already called to say that he will 'not be in' on Wednesday. It seems that for this week at least I shall be pruning my own aspidistra and while it shall save me some thirty pounds, Derek and his family will no doubt be having to cut back on the weekly shop at 'Morrisons'. I suspect the largely 'middle class' strikers involved had not 'factored in' the losses that shall now be suffered by Derek and his working class ilk.

But should we be surprised? As with many modern inconveniences this whole brouhaha is about little more than 'selfishness'. In spite of the global recession caused by New Labour it appears that people simply want 'more, more, more' even while the rest of us are struggling with diminishing portfolios and ill thought out boundary changes.

Boundary Change

The Boundary Commission is currently taking submissions on proposed changes to the size of constituencies and unfortunately North East Somerset, in it's current incarnation at least, is almost certain to be for the chop. One of the more worrying proposals on offer is to take Keynsham, Saltford and Chew Valley and add them to Kingswood (Glos.), thus breaking a historic precedent of county representation that stretches back as far as the reign of King Egbert in 834 AD. Many of my constituents have written to me expressing concern about the effect this could have on house prices and all I can say is that I shall be presenting the Commission with a lengthy appeal, more probably than not including a large dollop of middle English, should such an eventuality occur.

Children's Corner: The 'Tolpuddle Martyrs'

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were a bunch of 'work-shy' farm labourers who, in 1834, brazenly threatened their hard put upon employers with 'strike action' unless their pay and working conditions were guaranteed in writing. Happily the lazy rabble rousers were swiftly tried and found guilty of 'administering unlawful oaths' whereupon they were transported to Australia, wherein to have a good hard think about the upset they had caused, while breaking rocks in the outback. Sadly liberal 'campaigners and pamphleteers' (the early 19th Century equivalent of the 'Polly' Toynbees of  this world) managed to overturn the sentence and the whole shower were 'pardoned' and returned to England. The only happy epilogue to the whole unfortunate shindig was that within a year all but one of the 'workers' had 'emigrated to Canada'; a consequence, one imagines, that their descendants are living with to this very day.

Pippa Middleton

Being the offspring or sibling of a famous person can be a burden or a privilege or a bore. To this day I am oft accosted at social functions by women of a certain age, desiring to talk to one about Pa and his doings. It is, frankly, only a very special kind of person who can rise out of the shadow of a close family member's greatness and with the exception of William Pitt the Younger, Peter Hitchens and Sir Mark Thatcher, one can think of very few who have managed to pull off the trick. To that delightful list one can now add the sublime Miss 'Pippa' Middleton. That she has managed to escape her sister's bushel and pen a definitive guide to 'party-planning' is to be applauded. That the publisher deems this to be worthy of a six figure sum is a considerable testament to her undoubted talent and one looks forward in earnest to reading the tome when it 'comes out'.

That is all for now. I wish you a hearty week and trust that you are not too inconvenienced on Wednesday.

Ego vobis valedico.


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Of Pig-Sticking Patrick Mercer, Tie-less Border Controls and Bagpuss

When Two Moggs Met - by popular request

One was delighted to be able to visit the "Pop Up" Bagpuss shop in Whiteley's Shopping Centre last week. It was a superb opportunity to 'catch up' with the famed, much loved, saggy old stuffed cat and one suspects that Bagpuss felt very much the same.

"To be Omnipotent but Friendless is to Reign"

Anyone fortunate enough to have attended an exclusive all male public school will have fond memories of hiding pathetically in the rhododendrons from chumps wishing to pig-stick one. Inevitably, as one learned often and to one's cost, those leading the braying charge were frequently the same scholars who, that very morning, had been sharing one's toasted tea cakes over a butter stained copy of Shelley. Once caught, one would be 'poked and flushed' and having recovered sufficiently would thank one's tormentors with a manly shake of the hand before retiring to one's cot for a well deserved whimper. To the layman, such debasing experiences might seem 'old fashioned' or even 'perverse' but those of us lucky enough to have suffered them understand the very real bond of trust that was hewn between victim and perpetrator; for although the practice was frowned upon by the beaks, one learned the hard way that it was wrong to 'tell'.

This week Patrick Mercer, the very clubbable Member for Newark was reported to have described the PM as 'the worst politician since Gladstone'. Patrick wishes to comment no further and frankly neither do I (apart from pointing out that clearly this was an utterly foolish, factually inaccurate and wholly idiotic statement made by a man who quite possibly had been enjoying the 'hospitality' a little too much) - no the real concern here is that Mr Mercer allegedly spoke these words at a 'private function'. One assumes therefore that those leaking his words to the gutter press were 'guests who told'. Whilst not wishing to re-introduce pig sticking onto the National Curriculum, one feels that something, somewhere needs to be done to remind our nation at large of the old Eton adage that: 'sneaks to the beaks, get kicks in their sleeps'.

Pushing One Over the Borderline

In the week that 'Brodie' Clark 'stepped down' from his post, over the small matter of allowing hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers to flood into the country over the summer, one has been reflecting generally on the way in which we might be able to better improve our Border Agency.

In my other life running a 'Capital Management Business' (hooray for small firms!) I have had extensive experience of the world's airports and 'Customs Officers'. In Singapore, upon arrival, one is ushered off the plane into a delightful First Class Lounge where tea, coffee (or even something a little stronger) are served to passengers while delightful young women settle the tiresome business of stamping one's passport and checking one is not an 'international jihadist'. While it is true that in New York one is often subjected to lengthy queues and invasive 'searches', it is all done in such delightful sing song accents and accompanying incantations that one should have 'have a nice day' that it matters not a jot that one is being body scanned, interrogated or relieved of one's shoes.

In London, by comparison, even the heartiest challenge of "Look here, do you know who I am?" is unfailingly met with tie-less gawps and gum chewing insolence. It often feels indeed that one has arrived not in Great Britain but rather 'Little Britain'. One hopes that Mr Clark's successor, ably abetted by Theresa May, shall address this stain on our 'front door' as his first priority and speed up the whole irritating sham in the process.

I wish you all a hearty week - and bid you Salve.

Yours aye


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy: Amateurs do it better I was invited last week to a production of a new musical based on the cult British film "The Wicker Man" written, d...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Of 'G' spots, Wicker Men and Sarkozy

Amateurs do it better

I was invited last week to a production of a new musical based on the cult British film "The Wicker Man" written, directed and starring Keynsham resident Kenneth Pollock (in costume above). I must confess that I had never seen the original, but Kenneth has done a superb job of dramatising this timely theatrical treat. The story takes place on a small island, much like our own, which has its own ways, customs and idiosyncrasies. The people live an idyllic life, bringing in the harvest, dancing around Maypoles, maintaining a healthy tradition of ritual human sacrifice and working hard to ensure the success of the island's economy. Inevitably 'bureaucrats' across the sea become increasingly suspicious of this happy go lucky, living, breathing example of the 'Big Society' in action and dispatch a tiresome apparatnik to impose 'order' where they perceive there to be none. Happily, the locals are having none of it and through a process of 'collective decision making' (you might be more familiar with the term 'referendum') decide that the best course of action is to burn this oaf in an enormous 'wicker man' (hence one assumes the title of the piece) while singing delighful sentiments in Middle English. The musical was characterised by sparky performances from the Keynsham Amateur Dramatics society and special mention must go to Mrs Edith Orton, whose lively depiction of a 'sex obsessed  nymph' (clearly meant to be some years younger than the good lady herself) must surely have set many elderly hearts racing. One found oneself whistling the show-stopping "Burn the Pig Alive" for many days after. Frankly, with talent like this, who needs the West End?

The Rights of Succession, G20 and the Commonwealth

I was delighted to read last week that the Commonwealth Heads of State meeting in Perth, decided unanimously to overturn the frankly outdated 1707 Rights of Succession Act, finally allowing female offspring of the monarch the same rights of succession as their male counterparts. The act shall also of course afford the future King or Queen the option of marrying a Catholic if they so desire. Henceforth no-one shall be able to accuse the House of Windsor of being anything but a very modern hereditary monarchy (in the line of descendants of Henry VIII in accordance with the third succession Act of 1543).

By sharp contrast one was thoroughly under-whelmed by the 'G20' meeting in Cannes(not 'despots' but 'G spots') Like some mid nineties boy-band I would challenge you to name any but the star players of this expensive and short-lived bun fight. The sight of Mr Sarkozy strutting about, put one in mind of a decidedly 'New Money' acquaintance, who held her late eighties 'coming out party' in the grounds of a 'rented' castle.

Happily, her father was to later lose the lot in some ill thought out 'dot com' investments. A fate which brought a wry smile to the lips of many of those who had been unfortunate enough to suffer the aforementioned party and the intolerable non-vintage 'Lanson' that was served.Whilst wishing no ill on the diminutive Mr Sarkozy, one shall be watching the passage of his 'austerity' package with interest.

That is all for now. My lunch of quince and cheese is calling. I bid you all a hearty Ave and look forward to enlightening you further soon.


Friday, 28 October 2011

The Bagpuss Rebellion.


One has had a most extraordinary week. Calls to stand as Mayor. Appearances on BBC Somerset and grillings from the 'rottweiler' himself, Mr Jeremy Paxman as to the nature of one's relationship with 'Bagpuss'. In all of this one does fear that one's original message has become a little 'lost'. 

It seems to me that there are three key issues that need to be addressed vis a vis the Referendum debate. Firstly, the last time anyone in this country voted on the issue was in 1975. Even a simpleton who had been on a thirty year sojourn to Mars would realise that the EU of today is very different to the EEC that we joined in the 1970s. Secondly, it is no exaggeration to say that the Eurozone itself increasingly resembles one of those 'Facebook' parties one reads about in the Daily Mail. Too many people have been invited and of those that have tagged along few have bothered to 'bring a bottle'. Worse still, certain 'party goers' have broken into the cellar glugged Ma and Pa's vintage Krug, vomited on the tapestries and then sued the home owners for negligence. 

My final point is this. It is very obvious that the people want it. Democracy is about trusting the voters and treating them as grown ups, not only when it suits one but all the time. Vox populi! Vox dei!

Eton Mess 

Fresh from my very own 'Jacob-lite' rebellion in the chamber, I bumped into an old chum who, during a very reasonably priced meal in Belgravia, reminded me of a dark chapter in my younger and more vulnerable years.

During the late eighties 'change' was in 'vogue' across the globe and even Eton was not exempt from the winds of 'Perestroika'. 

In 'eighty seven' a new beak arrived. 'Wetty' Williams was a man enamored of floral ties, dappled 'lounge suits', brown shoes of dubious provenance and a disregard for the poems of Southey that aroused both distrust and anger in the English 'Common Room'. However these outward displays of affectation were but the hors d'oeuvres for what was to follow. For 'Wetty', it turned out, was a fan of 'American' literature and it was his avowed intention to inculcate us with its interminable merits. This, in spite of a promise that I had secured from his predecessor (in writing) the previous year, that our syllabus would consist mostly of Dryden and in particular of his 1681 masterpiece 'Absalom and Achitophel'.

'Wetty' stood his ground and in doing so he lit a touch paper in the darkest recesses of my soul. For three long weeks during his 'lessons' I recited the Dryden poem under my breath, while he countered my stand with increasing irritation that eventually, spectacularly erupted into a four letter tirade of abuse and an admission of utter defeat. Within days, he had applied for a sabbatical in 'Auckland' and within weeks Dryden was firmly back on the syllabus.

Eton has had many famous rebellions in the past. Most notably in 1768, when prefects led an uprising against a progressive headmaster who wished to stop them caning the other children. Then, as in my day, the pupils won out and 'pop-tanning' continued merrily into the 1970's.

There are 20 Old Etonian MP's in parliament and one would, with all due respect to his remarkable talents, advise the PM (one himself of course) to remember this the next time a three line whip is imposed.

And finally:

Last weekend's bunfight at The Orchard Tree in Keynsham was a 'big' success. Thank you to the many constituents who attended. My medley of vintage hits was most kindly tolerated and I would like to thank Daphne Spragg for her wonderful accompaniment on piano. Rumours that I shall be releasing a 'double A side' of A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square and I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues in time for the Christmas 'hit parade' are sadly quite unfounded. I long ago chose the path of public service over that of the performing arts and my dabbling in 'musical theatre' must remain no more than a hobby.

I bid you all a hearty 'Valete' and fare thee well, 


Sunday, 23 October 2011

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of Blood lust, The Beano and the EU

World Wide Mogg Blog: Of Blood lust, The Beano and the EU: Habeas Corpus: On The Death of Gaddafi On a frigid January morning in 1649, Charles I was led to the scaffold. Permitted by Cromwell himse...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Of Blood lust, The Beano and the EU

Habeas Corpus: On The Death of Gaddafi

On a frigid January morning in 1649, Charles I was led to the scaffold. Permitted by Cromwell himself to wear two shirts for the occasion, in order that his shivering might not be construed as cowardice, the King had fulfilled his final wish and had spent the morning walking his dogs in St James's Park. The executioner's blade rose high in the chill winter air and in a split second the monarch's head tumbled from the cadaver and the nation committed an act of collective regicide. From a vantage point above, the venerable Archbishop Usher swooned and collapsed into the arms of an accompanying Deacon. The bloodied locks were held high and a voice cried out: "Behold the head of the traitor." Thus began Britain's short and ignoble experiment with 'Republicanism'.

Almost twelve years later to the day, following the Restoration of the deposed monarch's son, Charles II, Cromwell's disinterred body was (on the King's orders) dragged from its resting place in Westminster Abbey, hung for a day (much to the displeasure of local costermongers) and decapitated. The by now rotting skull was shoved unceremoniously on a spike and placed at the top of Westminster Hall, where it remained some twenty five years, until one night, during a dramatic storm, it was blasted to splinters by a bolt of lightning. That a man so obsessed with humility should lose his head in such an ostentatious way, is but one of the many quirks of this unfortunate story.

'Regime Change' has, in short, always demanded both sacrifice and degradation. From the schoolyard execution of the Ceausescus to the Youtube lynching of Colonel Gaddafi; from the arrow riddled corpse of the noble Harold Godwinson, to the public abasement of Mussolini and his mistress. In our own time one thinks of the blurred pictures of a weeping Margaret Thatcher being driven from Downing Street, or the humiliation of Gordon Brown and his family taking the long walk from Number 10. These events might seem cruel, might make one blanche, but they are a necessary line in the sand. A blunt message from the new regime to the mob that the order has changed, the dragon has been slain and that all is well - until the next blood-letting is required.

Go Compare

Talking of 'heads', the PM came in for some quite unfair criticism this week when he very sensibly suggested that members of the public might want to save money by using 'comparison websites'. For my part I managed to reduce the car insurance bill by several hundred pounds earlier this year when I combined the Bentley and the Audi in a single package. One fully intends to do the same with one's utility bill. In the meantime my advice for those of you worried about rising prices is this: shut off unwanted rooms or even whole wings for the winter and always purchase good quality vests.

The EU debate

Many of you have written to me about this. Yes, it is an important and very worthwhile 'conversation'. Having said that, while one is in no way intimidated by the Whips Office, one did manage to get through five years of Eton without ever being caned and I fully intend to achieve the same during my tenure in Parliament.

BBC Question Time

Thank you very much for the many delightful comments on twitter regarding my performance on Thursday. The long and frankly tedious hours spent watching 'Billy' Connolly videos seem to have paid off and I had little trouble understanding the highlanders present in Glasgow. One does, however, have to confess at one's disappointment surrounding the many quite unpleasant 'tweets' comparing one to a character in the children's comic The Beano. Although never having read the said organ, one can still guess from the tone of the comments at the implications being made and my response is this. Inverted snobbery is no better than 'racialism' and often in my experience far worse.

In spite of that I wish you all a hearty week-end. An earlier version of this blog appeared yesterday, but happily one of my children deleted it while looking for 'CBeebies' on my computer. As I am sure you can imagine this act was met with trills of gay laughter that resonated long and loud in Mogg Towers.

It is now time to take Aristophanes for his morning constitutional.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Newsletter: St Paul's 'demo' and what we can learn from Battleship Potemkin

Question Time

One is delighted to confirm that one shall indeed be on the 'panel' of the popular 'Current Affairs Show' Question Time this coming Thursday in Glasgow. One relishes the chance to meet ordinary 'highlanders' and discuss the issues closest to their hearts. Although it is impossible to predict exactly what will be asked on the night, one is already 'brushing up' on the historical inaccuracies of 'Braveheart', the porticos of St Mungo's Cathedral and the glaring paradox of the West Lothian Question. Geographers among you may have noted that Glasgow is some distance from Somerset, but my interest in Scotland and its affairs goes back some years. Indeed my old chum Bertie has a delightful 'holiday castle' near to Gleneagles where one has spent many an enjoyable Hootenanny and done many a spot of outstanding grouse shooting.


Many of you will have noticed that Question Time is but the latest in a plethora of 'TV' appearances by yours truly over the last few months. It has also been noted that my vote to allow 'twittering' in the chamber seemed to go rather against the grain of what was expected of one. In my defence, Moggs have long been drawn to the bright lights of 'show-business'. Although one does remember with sadness a great uncle who died of exasperation during a recital of Ivor Novello 'b sides' at Wigmore Hall.

Children's Corner

Ave Discipuli. You are all no doubt familiar with the delightful film 'Battleship Potemkin' made in 1925 by the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein. The film tells the story of a bunch of work-shy sailors and their land lubbing chums, who try to upset the rule of the superb Tsar and his hard working government, by lazing about on some steps in Odessa while the rest of Russia tries to get on with the job of putting their country back on its feet. Happily all ends well when the whole stinking shower are evicted from said steps by a group of loyal soldiers and their shiny steel bayonets. While one is in no position to instruct the Lord Mayor's office on how best to proceed with the chaps currently encamped outside St Paul's, they could do worse than 'check out' the example set by Russian Imperial guards in 1905.

Brain Drain

One was lucky enough to help some local volunteers clear a 'storm drain' in Midsomer earlier this year. The opportunity to 'rubber up' is one I rarely miss and I was delighted to be able to break in a new pair of Hunters. Unfortunately a long standing luncheon appointment  with an old chum in London did rather creep up on us. Still, it was a great opportunity to meet some hard working volunteers one of whom bestowed upon me the great honour of addressing me with the popular moniker 'Mate'.

Helping clear rubbish from the stream in Midsomer Norton

Lunch is upon us and I must away. I am afraid that is all we have time for this month. I trust you are all well and bid each and every one of you a hearty 'adieu'.


Friday, 14 October 2011

Fox, Letwin and why 'Tory Hunting' should be banned.


Those of us familiar with the bear pit of political life knew that it was only a matter of time before the 'socialist fringe' of our press, reverted to type and set about 'bagging' Ministerial 'scalps' in their race to sell their tawdry titles.

'Tory hunting' has a long and ignoble history. As far back as the nineteenth century quite false rumours were circulating with regard to Disraeli's fondness for root vegetables and by the time of the Profumo 'Affair' it had become nigh impossible for a Defence Minister to cavort with naked young 'starlets' in a swimming pool, without some newspaper or other making lewd and insinuating comments.

Sadly of course, 1963 was anything but the high water mark in this cruel and utterly pointless sport. Throughout the eighties and nineties, Tory after Tory was tracked, trapped and polished off. One thinks of poor Jeffrey Archer, whose career was cut so cruelly short when out of no other motive than charity, he lent a young woman, of admittedly dubious pedigree, a large bag of used bank notes. Or of Jonathan Aitken, whose attempt to bring probity and fairness back into public life with the trusty sword of Damocles backfired so spectacularly. Nowadays Mr David Mellor is perhaps better known as a 'wireless presenter' on 'Classical FM'. Once he was talked of as future Welsh Secretary or even a Minister without Portfolio, but, sadly the career of this latter day Pitt was brought crashing to the ground by a mixture of envy, spite and a woman with a Spanish sounding name hiring 'Max' Clifford.

Dr Fox's 'crime' seems to have been nothing more than bumping into his chum on 18 different occasions in some delightful exotic locations, allowing him access to some tiresome high profile meetings with world leaders and employing him to run his superb charity (sadly now barred from its charitable status). Much has been made of Mr Werritty's youth and lack of funds, but rather than delighting in the fact that Dr Fox has been helping a young unemployed acquaintance 'network' the press has hounded the Minister from office.

Having nailed their prey, the cross-hairs are now coming to settle on poor Mr Letwin. Oliver has promised unequivocally to stop dumping state secrets in park litter bins and when a man of his integrity makes such a promise I for one am inclined to believe him.

In short and quite frankly this whole business is a brouhaha of rot. If one were Cornish instead of Conservative one would no doubt be contacting the Race Relations people, but sadly, for the moment at least 'Tory bashing' is not recognised as a crime by the public, the state or even the (despicable) 'Human Rights Act'. Perhaps it is time that changed.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Why optimism is needed in the coming Armageddon.

When I was four a telegram from my father arrived unexpectedly in the Nursery. Sent from his Fleet Street office, it informed me in no uncertain terms, that the time had come for me to put away my infantile toys and embark upon the adventure of  what is nowadays, rather faddishly referred to as 'education'.

Within days I had been dispatched to St Aethelred's Preparatory School in Muffings-on-the-Crumpet with a formal contract counter-signed by father's solicitor, agreeing (on my part) to not apply for leave (or 'pocket money' or chattels pertaining thereto for a period of 9 years) or until such time as I had mastered Horace.

Later one appreciates the sacrifices one's parents have made. At the time, rather selfishly perhaps, the grey barbed wire topped walls, ice cold baths at day-break and 20 mile cross country runs in ill fitting plimsolls conspired to fill one with feelings of misery that today make one shudder at one's youthful spinelessness.

Thank heaven's for Miss Jenkins. Miss Jenkins was one's Matron. Some years later her career in Matroning was to end spectacularly when her involvement with a Geography teacher called Boggis, who got his 'kicks' from batting toads while naked, made the centre pages of the now (sadly) defunct News of the Worlds.

But this was before that. A more innocent time. And Miss Jenkins was a wondrous cure for all of our schoolboy weaknesses. Whether one had scraped an elbow, or suffered 'frost bite' in the dorm or lost a knee cap in the scrum, Miss Jenkins' approach was the same. She would gather one up, push one's head firmly into her chest and mutter sweetly 'There, there Pet. There, there. All will be well.'

It was not unknown for boys and even some of the Masters, to self-inflict a 'blighty' in order to receive this treatment. There is, after all, something very primitive about being comforted. In recent days I have often thought of Miss Jenkins and her approach to crisis management and how similar in many ways the PM was in his Matron-like address on Wednesday.

Like many of you, I have suffered most dreadfully in the crises of the last few years. One's share portfolio is at 2008 levels, the second gardener has had to be 'let go' and the weekly lunches at Claridges with my old chums William and George have been cut back to once fortnightly affairs consisting largely of 'house' wine and the 'set menu'. But at each calamitous junction - just as the worst has seen to be on top of me - I have summoned up an image of Miss Jenkins - stroking my hair, adjusting my glasses and whispering her words of reassurance.

This is not the fall of Rome. Nor is it the Blitz. It is not the Battle of Stalingrad, or the shambles of Waterloo. It is a great deal worse - and the PM is absolutely right to tell us that now is the time for optimism, resolve and gold futures. As this terrible crisis worsens and Western Civilization collapses around us, I would exhort you all to find a Miss (or Mr) Jenkins - to nestle close to her (or his) chest and be comforted by her (or his) empty words of reassurance.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Monday, 3 October 2011

Hey EU get off of my cloud! (and why one should never leave a puppy with a hungry Korean)

A rich seam of rebellion has run through the Rees-Mogg veins ever since my great uncle Bernard refused to give up the railings of his Eaton Square 'town house' to a Scout Group eager to turn them into a Spitfire. Pa, himself was of course a seminal figure of the 1960's, whose Times leader in defense of Mick Jagger ("Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel") inspired Eric Carle to write a thinly veiled biography of the Rolling Stones and led millions of hippies to realize that if father was defending it, taking 'Mary Jane' was simply not "hip" any more. The resultant increase in heroin 'experimentation' from 1970 onwards has long been credited to him and whilst not always a source of pride, he did feel badly let down when his Spectator review of "Trainspotting" was spiked on grounds of irrelevance.

During the late eighties, while my peers were "getting high" to the musical stylings of Dire Straits, Chicago or "Flock of Seals" I was content to sit a little apart from the maddening crowd, endlessly translating Bachylides into German and von Eschenbach into Greek. And in the process, I suppose and certainly more by accident than design I did indeed become something of an 'Outsider' myself; one who increasingly said what others thought but dared not utter; one who questioned the dress sense of the naked Emperor and the growing ubiquity of 'ready made' bow ties at Young Conservative events.

This 'rage' reached its apotheosis when members of my party openly praised 'Tony' Blair shortly after his elevation to power.

There is an old phrase much beloved of former British residents of Hong Kong: 'never entrust a beloved spaniel to the care of a hungry Korean - however much he may smile and reassure.' I felt much the same way about Blair. Others, sadly, including many in my own party were more than happy to let 'Tony' look after the dogs. As more and more concessions were given to Brussels a great silence fell across the constitutional kennels of our land and I felt increasingly as Thucydides must have done after the debacle of 424 (BC).

Over the last few weeks as the Prime Minister has spoken of the benefits of the 'European Union' the old sense of rebellion has returned. I have nothing but admiration for David and yet, his words have driven me reluctantly to the barricade. The time has come to speak up. The time has come to throw out the squatting Koreans and seize back our puppies. The time has come for noble men (and women if they're not otherwise engaged) to rebel against the European 'project'.

As far back as the treaty of Bretigny-Calais in 1360, our nation has benefitted not one jot from anything 'Continental' - indeed our involvement in matters across the Channel have brought us nothing but blood-shed, taxation and cheap Gorgonzola. The Union is a shower and it is time we turned the knob to 'off'.

To quote Sir Mick Jagger himself one might very reasonably sing: "Hey EU get off of my Cloud!"

NEXT WEEK. The Prime Minister's marvelous speech to Conservative Party Conference.

(with thanks to @zatzi for lending me her Compact Discs)

Monday, 26 September 2011

World Wide Mogg Blog: Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons fo...

World Wide Mogg Blog: Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons fo...: In the spring of 1990 I reached my majority and was duly called into father's study for the 'facts of life' discussion that we had, until th...

World Wide Mogg Blog: 'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dresse...

World Wide Mogg Blog: 'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dresse...: There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the legendary cricketer W.G. Grace being bowled for a duck by a brash young upstart at a show ma...

'FootBalls' and why Alec Douglas-Home never dressed in rubber

MP's playing football: Ed Balls at Labour MP's v Press Lobby Party Conference football match

There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the legendary cricketer W.G. Grace being bowled for a duck by a brash young upstart at a show match at a minor public school. As a stunned silence fell across the ground, the great man put an arm around the fresh whipper snapper and whispered: 'Young man, you see that crowd? They didn't come here to see you throw balls.'

The sight of Mr Balls on a 'soccer pitch' is part of an unfortunate trend in British politics whereby cabinet and shadow cabinet alike feel duty bound to make asses of themselves in the sporting arena. It has long been the case that anyone wishing to reach the front bench must parade themselves at a football pavilion, feigning interest in whichever team their 'spin doctors' have advised them to support. With the exception of our Prime Minister who has been a keen 'footy' fan since his days at the old alma mater, the spectacle is rarely edifying.

One can hardly imagine the great Statesmen (and woman) of our country's illustrious past, lowering themselves to the bear pit of the 'terraces'. Try for one moment to conjure up a mental image of Lord Palmerston playing 'table tennis' or Gladstone partaking in a game of 'extreme frisbee' or Lady Thatcher playing netball, or Alec Douglas-Home, dressed in rubber, engaging in a spot of 'water sports'. These men (and woman) knew that the British public did not give two figs in a pie-crust as to whether or not they could explain the off-side rule, all they want and ever wanted is good, sound leadership.

It is a great pity that Grace is not around today; were he, one can imagine him putting his arm around the sweaty shoulders of the robust shadow chancellor and whispering: "Young man, you see that electorate? They didn't come here to see you kick - Balls."

Monday, 19 September 2011

Eric, Zsa Zsa, my father's knee and the lessons for Liberal Democracy

In the spring of 1990 I reached my majority and was duly called into father's study for the 'facts of life' discussion that we had, until then, so artfully avoided.

Pa peeked out from behind his copy of Gibbon's Decline and Fall and beckoned me onto his lap.

"There are three things that every man should know as he goes forth into manhood" he began. "Always avoid people called Eric, clean your flannels weekly and never invade Russia in the month of June." My father had rarely shown such intimacy, but more was to follow, for as I climbed from his knee he fixed me with a stare so beguiling that for an instant I was not sure if he was still of this earth. "One final thing Jacob" he roared "remember this! It is perfectly acceptable to invite a Liberal to tea or even on a week-end shoot to Lancashire, but under no circumstances should you ever consider marrying one."

I have lived my life these past twenty two years according to the strictures of my father's advice. It has served me admirably and indeed my wife informed me on our wedding night that the comforting fragrance of Lenor that had come from an early visit to my flannel cupboard had, as I suspected, been the deciding factor in her acceptance of my hand in marriage.

Unfortunately, there was not room enough upon my father's knee for the cabinet, the Prime Minister, or the country at large. My beloved party, to which I have given so much has indeed embarked upon a relationship with that tautology that styles itself as 'Liberal Democracy'. Watching these 'folk' publicly deride my noble party this week reminds one of the sort of man who marries a girl called Zara on a Saturday and is photographed 'canoodling' with a blonde 'actress' the following week-end.

'In brief' as 'Vince' Cable might say, this marriage is doomed. The Lib Dems are the Zsa Zsa Gabor of politics. They pout, they preen, they work the crowd, but in ten years their contribution to our times will be a footnote to a footnote to an asterisk and people will mutter darkly: "Yes, I remember the name..... but what did they actually do?"

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lessons in the Big Society from The Smurfs (3D)

One of the many drawbacks of a life dedicated to public office are the enforced absences one's family are inevitably subjected to from the pater familias. Subsequently it was decreed last week-end that a trip to the moving picture house in Bath was somewhat overdue and I dutifully set off with several young Moggs in tow to a three dimensional cinema presentation entitled The Smurfs.

Sine ira et studio, I was parted from the best part of a fifty pound note and duly took up my generously proportioned seat armed with a pair of spectacles, which my wife later commented made me look not unlike a young Ray Charles.

After several false starts, we were eventually transported to the land of the diminutive gnome-like creatures of the title. Initially unmoved, as the story unfolded I became more and more drawn in, as it became translucently clear that the Smurfs, with their protestant work ethic, close knit co-operation and refusal to kow-tow to accepted norms regarding state hand-outs and 'big government' are the very definition of the Big Society in action.

As with Margaret Thatcher's superb and much maligned concept of 'Care in the Community' the weaker inhabitants of 'Smurfland' are not consigned to asylums or 'day care centres' but are instead looked after by the other members of their clan. Rather than using his clear lack of co-ordination as an excuse to scrounge 'benefits' off the other villagers, 'Clumsy' seeks to rise above his disablity and is ultimately (like Prometheus) unbound when he overcomes the evil Gargamel (a hideous individual clearly based on Gordon Brown). The other characters are similarly motivated in their determination to climb out of the pit of their limiting epithets with Papa Smurf defying his his five hundred and sixty years (no early retirement for him!) and the delightfully sexualised 'Smurfette' refusing to be tied to worn old stereotypes about female emancipation by gleefully stealing a designer wardrobe from an up-market toy store.

In short, The Smurfs work hard, while adhering to a clear hierachy in a world in which each of them knows his place. They are blue for a very good reason and it seems more than appropriate that their greater homeland of Belgium appears to be taking 'a smurf out of their book' by riding out the global economic crisis via a combination of non interference, small government and thrift. To misquote George Bush Senior we should perhaps be 'more like the Smurfs and less like The Gallaghers'.

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Return of Jake Rees Mogg


One is often asked what one gets up to during the unrelenting weeks of the summer recess. Quite apart from the endless fetes, bring and buys and 'photo ops' with youth workers who insist on calling one 'mate', the answer is that I have an ever increasing backlog of post ranging from insane missives from widows in Utah imploring me to commit bigamy, to badly spelt hate mail from Aberdeen. Happily this has now been dealt with, largely by the very efficient shredder by my desk.


One is always thrilled to meet some of the very ordinary people that 'ginger up' the local community. Our last get together in Keynsham Community Centre was a tremendous success and it was simply misfortune that the first face through the door was an old chum from school days. As I did point out to the waiting throng at the time, Monty's holiday Manse is firmly within constituency boundaries and to ignore his frankly compelling problem (a spot of bother with jobsworth councillors over a planning application for a second pool) simply on the basis that he is my daughter's godfather would have been tantamount to discrimination. Something I am very much against. That said, it was unfortunate that our subsequent lunch date did rather catch up on us and consequently I missed the chance to see anyone else. Our next surgery shall be held in Petersleigh Methodist Hall (who says North East Somerset isn't diverse?) on the 10th of September and I hope as many of you as possible will come along with your usual range of delightful 'problems'.

Children's Corner:

The Second Servile War of 104 BC started after an unfounded rumour spread across Rome that imported slaves were getting a better deal of it than the local chaps. The situation soon spread to other provinces as  the work-shy peons ran merrily amok, looting and pillaging and generally upsetting everyone a great deal in the process. All ended happily, however, when the Roman Consul massacred the ungrateful shower in a glorious display of imperial strength. One wonders what the Mayor of London might have achieved with 20,000 well disciplined Centurions during the recent unpleasantness in the 'inner suburbs'.

Working Hard for the People of Somerset:

In the last session, I acted decisively to protect the interests of an elderly immigrant whose family business was under threat from resentful Fabians, nit-wits and so called victims of 'phone hacking'. Whilst we were sadly unable to save the News of Worlds from closure the good people of Keynsham are still able to buy their copy of the fun Sun, which we managed to rescue from the very jaws of the braying mob. One hopes very much that Mr Murdoch will now be left alone and that our collective ire might be better spent on someone more deserving of it - like Mr Brown.

Who's Who?

Finally. Identity theft is a growing problem across the country and it would appear that no-one is above falling prey to this heinous crime. I would once again like to distance myself very firmly from the comical creation who calls himself 'Jacob' and who appears on popular news 'shows' with those Hamilton people. Thank you all very much for your collective support during this difficult time. I wish you all a hearty Ave and shall now return to the concerns of my constituents. 

Jake Rees-Moogg

(As told to Zoe Patterson)