Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Why A Labour Government Would Be Like A Red Indian Attack

When one was a child one would, from time to time, take a moment away from Horace and allow oneself a short engagement with the "television" that sat in the corner of the library in the Eastern Wing. You probably did much the same. Quite frequently, on a wet Saturday afternoon, one would watch "cowboy" films featuring brave pioneers fighting off semi-naked "Indians" as they galloped about encircled wagon trains firing arrows and generally being beastly to anyone in clothes. Frankly, one never really took to the "Indians". Ghastly little people, seemingly determined to stop the progress so generously being thrown their way; the sort of chumps who never learned to speak English properly and whose idea of  'being industrious' was to sit about in deserts drawing graffiti on their tents. It is telling to note that before the arrival of the Europeans, the "Native" population in the United States had not erected a single Church, raised any skyscrapers or even built a decent parliament building. They were not called "RED" Indians for nothing of course.

One could draw a direct parallel with Labour. Indeed it would be perfectly fair to say that from the Fall of Major to the Relief of Gordon Brown, the Blair Years felt in many ways like an Indian attack on a homestead. A period characterised from the outset by lot of pointless whooping and wailing, interspersed with long haired men, sitting in circles smoking dubious tobaccos in oddly shaped pipes and asking each other:


"How" indeed. Very "New Labour" I think you will agree. It has long been one's opinion that the difference between a Conservative and a Labourite is that the latter asks "how" while the former knows how.

So to avoid another "Little Big Horn" on Thursday here are some reasons to vote Conservative:

  • A strong stable economy. The British economy increasingly resembled a sick labrador under the last Labour government. Where once it had stood proud and firm, pointing excitedly ahead at pheasants falling out of the sky, by 2010 it was limping along and barely able to pick up a parish magazine in its teeth. Frankly, if George had not become Chancellor when he did, a final visit to the Vets would have been necessary and we would all have had to put up with a lot of weeping children. 
  • A proper Prime Minister. Does Mr Miliband look like the sort of person one would trust to service one's Bentley? Of course not. So why would we trust him with our country?
  • Europe - if the Labour party are the Comanches, then surely the EU is a casino on a latter day Indian reservation. Rather shabby about the edges, a faint whiff of corruption in the air and a machinery adept at sucking us all dry of pennies.
  • Stopping the Liberal Democrats getting ideas above their station. Like overripe bananas this party is probably due its time on the compost heap. As with red telephone boxes and penny farthings they may once have seemed like a good idea, but they have outlived their usefulness. Only The Conservative party will keep this particular "yellow peril" in check.
  • The House of Lords. This necessary institution has been a dominant force in British politics for hundreds of years. Labour increasingly talks about its future with all the conviction of a Swiss gigolo accompanying a rich heiress to the Dignitas clinic.
  • A vote for the Tories is a vote for a party that still believes in doing things by sixes. Under Labour you will be at sixes -
  • And sevens.

And that my dear chums is it. There are less than forty eight hours to save us all from the chumps on horses.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The West Lothian Question and The Case for English Independence

It was Bob Southey who first noted that while the roll call of Scots who were architects, statesmen, economists, engineers and explorers accounted for nearly half of all the Great Britons of note, the list of those gifted with a sense of humour ran to one; and he had been dead for nearly 800 years.

The rise of Scots nationalism over the last quarter of a century has often felt as tiresome as it is unnecessary. While the English have consistently celebrated our Scottish kin across the Great Wall of Hadrian and welcomed their various "contributions" to British cultural life (however opaque they might be), it has invariably felt that the love and affection, like the traffic in so many of our lovely rural towns, has been increasingly 'one way'. Indeed, if it were not for Mr Southey's acute observation, one might almost be forgiven for thinking that the whole "SNP independence brouhaha" was nothing more than an elaborate "practical Jock".

In November 1977 Tam Dalyell posed his famous West Lothian question.

"How long will English constituencies tolerate members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on British politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

It was pertinent then, but in recent weeks with the SNP looking increasingly as if they might be able to tip the balance of power at Westminster, the question has become more so than ever. It does frankly seem quite ridiculous that vocally anti-Union chumps in skirts, who fought tooth and claw for an independent nation, should have the right to swan about the great halls of English power, putting their muddy feet up on things and telling the rest of us what to do. 

It is indeed, quite clear that in the event of a minority Labour government, The West Lothian Question would cease to be a parlour game altogether and become a matter of fact - and eventually, no doubt, a film starring some ghastly Americans. 

Given that Mr Miliband seems to have all the backbone of a lumbago riddled jelly fish, one can quite easily envisage a situation in which Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon and the rest of their pelagic friends get him cornered in the Commons latrines and flush his head down a bowl until all their demands are met. Tax rises will ensue and before you can say "Walter Scott once knitted me a sporran" we will all be turning out our pockets to pay for nail technicians from "Moffat" to go to finishing schools in Aberdeen.

I very much doubt that the good people of England will put up with that. I know for a fact that the good people of North East Somerset most certainly will not. Which is why I have come up with a rather good "Plan B". You might even call it a "modest proposal".

Should the unthinkable happen, let us the English declare UDI from everybody else (apart of course from the DUP). The economic case speaks for itself. The transport links are rather good and without Scotland and Wales the weather might even improve. It has long been one's opinion that a nation that does not have the need for a national costume and an instrument that sounds like a cat being drowned is really rather at ease with itself. Indeed an Independent England would no doubt rank in the very top tier of nations and we could all get on with our lives. 

My quill is sharpened, my ink pot is ready; is yours? 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Election Diary: On The Stump, "BlueKIP" And The Forgotten Saint of Thanet South

On the Stump

There are just two weeks to go until polling day and certainly in Keynsham and NE Somerset it feels as though "election fever" has pushed the mercury up to 95. As one goes about the place meeting 'ordinary' people and listening to their 'concerns' one is invariably struck by the realisation that most issues that bother constituents generally cut across party lines. Whether worrying about drunken neighbours taking pot shots with air rifles, or the threat of uncontrolled mass immigration into the hamlet of Stanton Wick, it seems that on a local level at least, most people simply want to 'get on with their lives' and eat occasionally. Oft-times one finds oneself rather touched by the comparative innocence of residents, fretting about minor things such as subsidence, bin collections, their healthcare and pensions, or imminent eviction, when the far greater threat to their lives and indeed those of their progeny sits, bloated and impious across the English Channel. As most people are slowly realising, the greatest issue facing this really rather lovely nation of ours is the European Union and our relationship with it. Indeed, until the good burghers of Britain are given a say in the matter, the question of our membership of this meddlesome bestial leviathan will remain unresolved. Only by voting Conservative will a referendum on our membership be guaranteed.


There has been much speculation about the role "UKIP" might play in forming a coalition if Nigel and his excitable chums win enough seats on May the 7th. It has long been my view that with their firm old fashioned values, hatred of "common" markets, fondness for the Commonwealth, dedication to our armed forces, disdain for political correctness and winning ways with white working class men of a 'certain vintage' UKIP members are natural partners of the Tory party. During the "dark ages" of the Blair years many of these voters grew weary of metropolitan politicians, prancing about the place, kissing each other and introducing unworkable legislation such as the "minimum wage" or "human rights and equality legislation". 

It was perhaps not surprising therefore that the early "noughties" saw a rise in extremist parties, as these chaps, fed up with limp, faddish and foppish policies drifted to the Lib Dems, the National Front or the BNP. It is to Nigel's considerable credit that he has wooed them back into the mainstream with  promises to close our borders, send back immigrants that aren't pulling their weight and generally return things to the way they were in the early 1950s, before interfering EU bureaucrats imposed petty legislation and the dreaded ECHR on us all. There is much to admire in the UKIP model and one trusts that if enough of these likeable eccentrics are elected, they will help form the next coalition government. A rainbow of two colours closer in hue than 'yellow' and blue.

St George's Day

Finally we turn to St George's Day. An annual celebration of all that is wonderful about England. Naturally we have all had to put up with the usual socialist yahoo nonsense about George being a Syrian sheep farmer called "Kevin" or other such balderdash. All quite irrelevant. The wonderful thing about patron saints is that they don't change with the fashion of the times. Having a dragon spearing, maiden ravishing knight as our protector and guide is a rather inspiring thing. However, in our devoted veneration of the great man, we should not forget that England itself has produced a rich and varied list of saints closer to home.   

One's particular favourite is Saint Eormonberg of Thanet, a Seventh Century Princess who spurned the overtures of a foreign king, intent on stealing her lands, by winning a miraculous wager with a leaping fawn and a bucket of cheese. Having fended off this French speaking barbarian she reigned happily over her people for many years before ascending into heaven on a fiery cloud.  If Mr Farage is reading, he would do well to take note.


Monday, 13 April 2015

The Welcome Return of The Political Duel.

On the morning of March the 21st 1829 two gentlemen, attended by their seconds, arrived at Battersea Fields intent on restoring their honour. One of those, the Prime Minister, Arthur Wellesley the First Duke of Wellington, will be familiar to you. The other, George Finch-Hatton the 10th Earl of Winschilsea, will not.

The great men had fallen out over the 1829 Catholic Relief Bill, with the chumpish Finch-Hatton spectacularly accusing the Iron Duke of "Popery". A remark, I am afraid, typical of a man who had an irrational hatred of all things 'Continental' and who had married three women called Georgina in quick succession. 

With steady hands, the two duellists, standing some twenty feet apart, slowly raised their flint-lock pistols, took careful aim, fired - and missed. The Duke was later to claim that he had 'shot wide on purpose' and as a Tory one is inclined to believe him; but Wellesley was a notoriously bad marksman, famed as much in his time for bagging fellow guests while out shooting grouse as he was for his victory over the diminutive Napoleon "Bonaparte".

Political duelling of course has a long and noble history. In 1762 the MP Samuel Martin peppered political rival John Wilkes with a brace of pistols. Wilkes died at the scene; Martin went on to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Thrice. In 1798, after a heated Commons exchange, William Pitt the Younger demanded satisfaction from George Tierney MP. Honour was restored on Putney Common the following morning and the two men forgave each other over a pie and a glass of warm ale, but theirs was not an uncommon clash.

Indeed, at one time sword fighting was so prevalent in the House of Commons that two red bands had to be painted between the front benches. The lines were calculated to be precisely two drawn sabres apart to prevent Whigs cutting off Tory noses. While some might see this as an early example of "health and safety gone mad" it did at least have the effect of improving debates and dispensing with the need for The Prosthetic Limb ante-chamber that now serves as a waiting room for visiting 'foreign dignitaries'. 

One was put in mind of all of this by the news that the rather magnificently named "Prince John Zylinski" has today sensationally challenged Mr Nigel Farage to a duel. At time of writing it would seem that Mr Farage has (rather meekly) declined. Perhaps Nigel has decided that he has better things to do with his mornings in the run up to a make or break general election than parry in Hyde Park with a member of the Polish aristocracy. I for one feel this is a missed opportunity. 

UKIP's "unique selling point" is that they are 'different' from the other parties and that they are the standard bearers for an older kind of Conservatism and a gentler England of the past. One in which one might very well call a spade a spade, or shoot a political rival in the chest before breakfast. UKIP are also of course the only party that openly calls for the restoration of personal firearms in Britain and this might be rather a good moment to demonstrate the positive consequences of such a policy. 

If Mr Farage were to rise to the occasion one can well imagine that the good people of "South Thanet", impressed by his swordsmanship, would be all the more willing to vote him into office and go along with his rather interesting agenda.

Indeed, if "Todd" Foreman wishes to take inspiration from Prince Zylinski and settle this matter in a simpler and perhaps more elegant way and to the satisfaction of all the good people of North East Somerset, I will be waiting for him by the bandstand in Keynsham Park, tomorrow morning - at dawn. I am even willing to lend him a spare rapier. 

Consider the gauntlet very much thrown "Todd".

Saturday, 4 April 2015

If The Party Leaders Were Fine Wines What Wines Would They Be?

It has long been one's opinion that good leadership is a little like fine wine. One might quibble over the more contentious vintages, but when one is offered a glass of say - 1982 Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande, then only a chump, or an Australian, might dismiss it as inferior. Fine wine, like good tailoring is "apparent". The same is true of great Prime Ministers. One only had to sniff Margaret Thatcher to know that one was in the presence of a truly great vintage. I am told that the same was true of Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

And so one's thoughts turn to our current crop of leaders. If they were to be rendered in liquid form, what shape might their bottles be? What grapes would be blended? What is their provenance? Should they be drunk now, or poured down the sink?

Mr Clegg. Limoncello
As a youth, I spent an ill advised weekend on the island of Capri with a group of school friends. Our A levels had been completed and we packed our lighter suits and 'headed south'. On the second night I was offered a glass of limoncello and in a moment of gay abandon drank it. The taste was filthy, the after effects catastrophic and one has never trusted yellow since.

Natalie Bennett. Organic Fairtrade Antipodean Wine.
If wine is labelled with any or all of  the above monikers it should not be touched. It may make you feel momentarily worthy, but it will give you a terrible headache.

Nigel Farage. Rioja.
Mr Farage has a certain appeal. With faint hints of tobacco and a certain depth he is, like a decent Rioja, perfectly drinkable. Indeed in some provincial towns a bottle of red Spanish wine might be seen as rather a sophisticated choice. Cheerful and affordable, Rioja is a grape that might certainly appeal to those who know nothing at all about wine; in much the same way that UKIP appeals to those who know absolutely nothing about politics.

'Ms' Sturgeon. Irn Bru.
I have never drunk it. I never intend to drink it. Let us all move swiftly on.

The Plaid Cymru lady. "House white"
Choose something else.

Mr Miliband. Camp coffee.
Camp coffee claims to be two things it isn't. Much like Mr Miliband and his "Labour" party.

David Cameron. 1985 Margaux
Approaching full maturity, this outstanding wine is both complex and dense. A deep plum/purple colour, sweet notes of blackcurrants and a delicate licorice after taste. Succulent and muli-layered it is good to drink now and should remain so for another five years.

In short, vote Margaux and ignore all inferior imitations.