Nation’s favourite painting

theorgy.jpg A Rake's Progress III: The Orgy by William Hogarth Britain's Greatest Painting BBC's Radio 4 Today Programme in association with the National Gallery are asking the public to vote for Britain's favourite painting. The hundreds of paintings nominated have now been whittled down to a final shortlist, drawn up by Today's panel of experts (Jonathan Yeo, Deborah Bull and Martin Gayford) each backed by a celebrity advocate. The ten paintings in the frame are: The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan van Eyck The Fighting Temeraire by Joseph Mallor William Turner The Hay Wain by John Constable A Rake's Progress III: The Orgy by William Hogarth The Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca A Bar at the Folies-Bergere by Edouard Manet Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh The Last of England by Maddox Brown The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Lock by Sir Henry Raeburn Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy by David Hockney Comment on the Today programme: Hogarth is a peerless 18th C painter and the reason he is peerless is because he is so honest and so truthful about human life. This Rake's Progress is a satire of what happens to this chap, Tom Rakewell, and the various scrapes he gets in to. We see him here in an orgy where he is being fleeced by a prostitute who is reaching her hand into his bosum and stealthily passing his watch, which is set at 3am so you can see how late it is, to an accomplice behind him. Meanwhile another girl is about to take her clothes off and dance naked. All the human characters you can imagine turn up in Hogarth's work, every human frailty, every human vice is depicted here and above all satirised here and the reason I want everyone to vote for Hogarth is because he so represents this English tradition of satire and irreverence. If all countries had the same ability to make fun of people's frailties and foibles then the world would frankly be a lot less terrifying, because, in a way, what you see here in the Rake's Progress is the essential concommitant to the enlightenment. How about that eh?! The polls close on the 4th of September, with the winning painting announced on the Today programme on the 5th, so get your skates on, get out there, vote early and vote often here till closing date! See comment on the result

113 thoughts on “Nation’s favourite painting”

  1. Interesting selection. The BBC really like these ‘greatest’, ‘best’, favourite’ etc. competitions. Not sure they really help people appreciate the arts etc.

    The National Gallery of Scotland recently announced that the Raeburn is not by Raeburn – not that that matters.

    Anyway, two votes here for the charming Manet barmaid. She must be a strong contender.

  2. Blimey! you are on the ball again vis-a-vis Hogarth, isn’t that a Tory Cabinet minister in the background?
    I only know of Hogarth from presenting the News Quiz on Radio 4, and from opening the bowling for England. Thanks for the tip.

  3. There’s not 72 of them and I’m not sure that all those prsent are intacto! That guy must have had the odd bacon butty or Carlsberg Full Strength but otherwise been a good martyr!

  4. Well Hogarth certainly deserves wider appreciation. INteresting, as someone else has remarked, that this most English of painters should be so interested in narrative. We are really a nation of authors rather than painters (French) or composers (German).

    As for voting in a Today poll surely after the recent debacle – whereby the SWP activists and assorted others who no doubt despise real philosophy voted Karl Marx as the best philosopher of all time (laughed? cried? despaired? I could have done all three)- is that really wise? Why allow the Left-Liberal establishment an inch since they keep taking 1.6 kilometres? Partaking in their polls just gives them credibility. (Mind you – I;ve just recalled that amusing incident when SOMEHOW the Today voters voted for capital punishment or some such when it came to being asked to make suggestions for Stephen Pound’s private member’s bill – I really did laugh then!)

    My prediction is Van Gogh will sweep it with Hockney coming in second with the all-important Gay Vote.

  5. Given the limited choice (errr… Canaletto? Monet? Gainsborough? Paula Rego?) I’m completely with Boris. The Hogarth is a wonderful thing. And I agree with Vicus – it does remind one somehow of the last Tory government at play…

  6. Mark Gamon

    I can understand your point of view though it is hard to imagine such an orgiastic and bawdy scene at the heart of our Westminster village.

    It’s all very civilised here …really – come and visit sometime

  7. These Top 10 lists are completely vacuous (as Tom Paulin would say). Remember Lord of the Rings winning the Britain’s Favourite 100 Books?

    How about Victoria Beckham’s Top 10 Books? (A shortlist indeed.)

    As for Our Favourite Painting, the list is inevitably arbitrary and stupendously dull and unimaginative, reminiscent of students’ default choice of Athena posters circa 1970/80s. (Lord of the Rings is of course a perennial student fave. Sheer torture.)

    It’s as if people’s cultural tastes have been frozen in their adolescence or student years before the World of Work claimed them and they stopped reading, going to galleries, etc. Why only Hockney in the C20th? Most Top 10 Film and Biook litsare heavily modern in bias – whu is art different? Where’s Picasso, Rothko, Matisse etc? All very popular posterboys.

    Another curious aspect of the list is not only the exclusion of non- representational paintings but also that so many are narrative-based, telling the viewer a story through a frozen moment in time: a marriage, the final voyage of a naval ship, and most obviously the Hogarth. This has also been the curse of our national cinema, which historically (with honourable exceptions like Hitchcock, Jarman, etc) is insufficiently visual and too rooted in conventions derived from literature or the theatre. We seem to like having our hand held by the Artist rather than be challenged.

    Another rant, another Friday. Who wants to devise an interesting populist alternative Top 10? (As usual cannot be arsed to do it hence outsourcing.) How about starting with one of Rembrandt’s self portraits in old age?

  8. kevinb – Rothko!!!!!!!! Thank you for reminding me. Can’t remember its name, but the one in the middle on the North wall of the Rothko room at Tate Modern does it for me… Come to think of it, there’s Anselm Kiefer’s ‘Lilith’, too… And a coupla Picassos… And and and and and…

    This is bloomin’ difficult, folks. Couldn’t we petition the BBC to get on with some decent drama rather than inventing pointless parlour games?

    Melissa – I jest, I jest. The Palace of Westminster is a wonderful thing, if a little fussily decorated by the Victorians for my taste. Mind you, I’d visit Westminster Hall every day if I could.

    Meanwhile, I believe the Rake’s Progress depicts a bawdy house in the vicinity of Covent Garden. I expect the Shadow Cabinet are down there as we speak ;)…

  9. Good old Kevin! There’s nothing like revolutionary elitism! Possible the LoR was number one in the nation’s Favourite Books because it is – well – quite a Favourite. The mass of we cultural dullards don’t seem to have the wit to be challenged by books and films about angst laden North Korean lesbian outreach workers, though I’ll own that they don’t get mentioned much by Tolkien.

    Incidentally I recall a remark by Paul Johnson to the effect that it bodes ill for Britain when Tariq Ali heads the list of the top 100 British Intellectuals. Dead right Paul! Some hope might remain if he only got there because his name began with an A.

  10. Kevin b: “the list is inevitably arbitrary and stupendously dull and unimaginative’

    Delighted to see everyone agrees about this.

    It would be good to challenge the BBC over this (and many other things). Does anyone know a good method of doing this?

    It seems the Beeb are literally impervious to criticism. There is a complaints page (with the inevitable “Your complaint is important to us”) at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ I tried this once and got a reply from the aptly addressed pleasedonotreply@bbc.co.uk.

  11. Mark – I love your assertion that “I expect the Shadow Cabinet are down there as we speak” – not since his Borisness was booted out they aren’t – all too busy plotting the return of the OE clique (aka Cosa Etona) to have any touristy-themed pub crawls…

    @ – “It’s all very civilised here …truly and honestly”. My mum once told me not to trust anyone who said either “trust me” or “honestly”. Or “would you like to see my puppies”. Which leads to some uncomfortable situations when purchasing a new family pet.

    As for the “Greatest Painting In Britain” topic – I have a little issue with the “specialist panel” who came up with the rather limited shortlist – who chose/voted them in as the Privy Council of Populist Art? The Cabal of Aesthetic Favouritism? The Naughty Hellfire Club of Dubious Daubings? Did I miss the premium-priced text vote on BBC4? Was Jordan in the running? Or Vicus?

    And what about the Wallace Collection’s “Laughing Cavalier” (who isn’t laughing). I want that one.

  12. Re the panellists… I was at school with Martin Gayford. He knows a lot about art. And jazz, which makes him a good egg in my book (to say nothing of a completely confused metaphor). He does however write about art for the Telegraph, which may go against him. On the other hand, we all need a gig, don’t we?

  13. Merkin

    Very shrewd comments – of course we all fall short of perfection but the scene depicted is not at all commonplace in Westminster I can assure you.

    You really have got to come and visit to see for yourself!!! come on Merkin – when are you next passing this way?

    …in the meantime the talk is all about…the leadership…oh the leadership…the leadership…It should all become clearer after the Party Conference

    What are the bets then? Davis – Clarke – Cameron – Fox – Willetts – Rifkind? Or will we just sigh and let Labour walk all over us for ever and ever. Ok, I’m for Willetts, but as it may seem that he is quieter and less flashy than some and therefore not able to reach the pinnacle who is the next best? Clarke possibly with Fox or Cameron in tow?

  14. Davis seems to be a strong contender for now. At least that is the consensus. Personally, we need younger blood on the front line. Where are all the enthusiastic young women that can overhaul our image? The sooner we take action and stop floundering over who’ll be next leader the better. For now, the enemy is flourishing and we, the opposition are sleeping…

  15. Beethoven was British, born in South London! Oh, actually that was Gary Oldman, the actor who played him in the film. Same thing innit? No?

    Hollywood rewrites history and the BBC and the tabloids tailor just about everything else. Everything seems to come down to a panel of ‘experts’ nowadays. Just how expert they are seems never to be questioned or justified except here maybe. Pardon the downbeat message folks but I know enough about art to make up my own mind given that it’s subjective and purely ones own taste. The panel of ‘experts’ that take perfectly able parents children away from them is FAR more sinister and worthy of concern in my humble opinion.

    On this point the tabloids seem to be the only people fighting, or able to fight, for these poor peoples rights. Blair has caused this and the opposition seem emasculated. I have no interest in the leadership until there seems to be an opposition to lead.

    I would recommend visiting Westminster, it was such a thrill for me, but mind your P’s and Q’s – Blair’s stopped free speech too.

    As for Kevins: “It’s as if people’s cultural tastes have been frozen in their adolescence or student years before the World of Work claimed them and they stopped reading, going to galleries, etc.” I agree – my poster needs updating Kev and if Boris will agree to wear a tennis skirt and scratch his arse then I’ll be there with my brownie and no mistake!

  16. Jaq

    Decorum, dear. You mean scratching his derriere.

    Perhaps Boris could also be snapped holding a baby – perfectly normal thing for a politico – whilst displaying his manly well-oiled chest.

  17. Decorum? Speaking french rather than English? I think not – there’s nothing wrong with warm beer, well cooked meat and a nice arse! Don’t object to the baby picture though, I’ve got some baby oil somewhere….or how about Boris smeared with a bit of motor oil if he can’t find a new mother ready to deliver her precious offspring to any passing politician? (remembers picture of william Hague kissing bald baby)

  18. Unfortunately all the candidates – declared or not – seem to be missing essential bits.

    I can’t help but feel Davis is lazy. Might just be perception, but there you go, perception is important.

    Kenneth Clarke, though he now appears to think London is worth a Mass, has in the past signed up to all the Left-Liberal pet notions and was keen to run up the white flag and surrender British sovereignty. What a shame, since he is a first class act.

    Boris is perhaps lacking a little gravitas for all his analytical skills.

    William Hague – big in debate in the House, but small in comparison elsewhere.

    Malcolm Rifkind – has raised political cowardice to a high art.

    I think the Tories simply have to accept that no one is going to press all the buttons and they should concentrate on policy and collegiate leadership.

    In my view they have not a hope in hell’s chance of winning back power without a radical agenda.
    They need to roll back crime (not so very difficult). Eliminate welfare dependency (not so difficult with young people). Neutralise the Jihadis in our midst. Reinstate a sovereign parliament. Develop a referendum democracy. Regain control of our borders. Revive and create a sense of national identity – without the Scots if necessary. Completely reform tax – flat rate for income tax. Dismantle the left-liberal mediocracy. Encourage a vibrant, celebratory, freedom-loving anti-PC culture which allows people to enjoy themselves.

    The task for the Tories is of a high order. The consituency system is weighted against them. The media and the higher education citadels are against them. Every year, probably another 50,000 ethnic minority voters join the electoral rolls and hardly any of them will ever vote Tory.

    Only an appeal to the broad mass of the people will work and they will only get excited enough to vote if the agenda is radical enough to engage their interest and support.

  19. “I want everyone to vote for Hogarth is because he so represents this English tradition of satire and irreverence. If all countries had the same ability to make fun of people’s frailties and foibles then the world would frankly be a lot less terrifying, because, in a way, what you see here in the Rake’s Progress is the essential concommitant to the enlightenment. How about that eh?!”

    Well at least you wrote English and not British – correct! it is a very English work -even though it was painted circa 27 years (1735 )into the existence of the new state of Great Britain which came into existence as a result of the Act of Union of 1707 – an Act , by the way , in which the rights of the English , as such , were completely ignored – although not those of Scotland , needless to say . The Act , which brought about the abolition of England ( although not of Scotland ) and her parliament – the parliament of the new state was NOT the same parliament although quite a lot of people have been conned into believing it to be over the years –
    – was bounced through with only minimal consultation with even the elite who had access to political power in those days – it was a total stitch up . Despite the fact that there is vast confusion in England between “British” and English , not surprisingly considering that we were never consulted on this quite important matter , the English have never forgotten England – and have continued to use the word despite the last 298 years of propaganda against it more intense now than ever .

    As for the Enlightenment , it has always struck me as odd that Scotland has tried to claim this whole movement for themselves . It did stimulate great interest in Scotland but also , and on a much greater scale , in England – we just don’t go on about it so much .

  20. Simon Heffer has written a stimulating book proposing the dissolution of the Union and a clean-break divorce between England + Scotland. The man may be a ginger right-wing loon but notwithstanding that gratuitous ad hominem an interesting read.Do not forget that Scotaland hasits own legal system whereas England shares its system with Wales. Cue comments on rugger buggers, male voice choirs, Welshing, etc.

    Field’s dissection ofthe Tory hopefuls is strangely compelling. Perhaps best to accept that the Tories are toast. That will certainly be the case in Scotland, where they are likely to come fourth next time round – after the Scottish Socialists. Donald where’s your troosers?

  21. Field’s got some good points there.

    Though I’m not sure about vibrancy – round here that means the summer hiss of burglar and car alarms and the local authority subsidising junkets in the park to support small local industries like cannabis and crack salespersons. Also I’m against celebratory – usually the adjective applies to a form of enforced whooping it up for something that the general population of all classes and ethnicities couldn’t give tuppence about. Vibrancy and celebratoriness are of course two important parts of the payroll vote industry giving a wage, if not quite employment, to the otherwise unemployables with media studies certificates so some purpose is served.

    Mediocracy is an excellent word. Just reading it now, I suddenly wondered if that meand rule by the mediocre or rule by the media. Then I tried to work out the difference.

    If the Tories could take on the enervating PC culture that seems to seep into everything, like an old fashioned London fog but not so wholesome, and present a genuine liberal alternative, wherein progressives and conservatives could argue the nature and rate of change, then I would seriously consider voting for them for the first time.

    I’ve spent all my voting life voting Labour and was a member for many years. I hated, and still do, what Priestley described as the ‘waste of human beings’. This is the raw material of positive socialism. Somewhere the hatred of an evil became the hatred of institutions and people with no thought of achieving any good. Crosland’s famous remark about the grammar schools shows this. Yes they were crudely divisive and selection at 11 is very blunt. But the limited chance they offered to poorer people has been completely thrown out because our schools have to run to all sorts of targets either nebulous or negative – ‘Inclusiveness’ and ‘non-elitist’ for example.

    Listening to the Radio 4 chat shows I get the feeling of an, admittedly rather elderly, Islington urchin listening at the windows of a dinner party. These people have an ‘artistic’ project and the people had jolly well better fit in!

    Old Labour was wrong because state ownership and control does not deliver, in general. New Labour is fragmentary. Some elements of capitalism are ‘sexy’ for the Islingtonites. I don’t like Tony Blair’s style but he deserves credit for seeing that the use of military action against rogue states is not just justified but at times obligatory. Well you may disagree with that but perhaps you might like to examine the motives of all the prominent anti-war types. They are all Islingtonites, or equivalent. They are not for Iraqis or Palestinians or anyone as people but as counters in their ‘intellectual’ games of doing down Bush, Blair, Western civilisation (pace Gandhi), science, art (unless of the unmade bed variety) and a host of other things that might do more to lessen the waste of human beings than their own shallow, egotistical vapidities.

    I think it would be useful to junk the references to seating arrangements in French revolutionary assemblies of the 18th century.’Right’ is now Islington code for ‘bad’ and ‘left’ for ‘good’.

    Look at the time! Must be off!

  22. I think ‘New Labour’ is another word for fascism. Considering the Labour party is traditionally of the left and expected to be at least leaning towards socialism then yes, Tony Blair has to be congratulated for the biggest con-trick of the modern age. That being said I think the others in politics should be ashamed if they engage in petty squabbles and fail to form an effective leadership, not least Michael Howard. C’mon Conservative, pull yourself together.

  23. Jack –

    Agree with most of what you say about Labour/New Labour. Blair is probably the most effective Prime Minister since Churchill (pre 1950s) in terms of delivery e.g. on youth unemployment and the economy in general. It’s a shame he hasn’t harnessed some of that energy of direction to eliminate welfare dependency rather than feeding it.

    We need a radical alternative.

    As for the celebratory bit – I meant the real stuff. The PC hordes would love to dismantle Christmas, drinking, Guy Fawkes Night, football etc etc. A radical Tory policy would be to reduce the tax on alcohol and cigarettes and cut some of the non-jobs in the NHS promoting “healthy lifestyles”. The best way to improve people’s health is to improve their education – but TB seems not to have really delivered on that yet.

  24. Field – what on EARTH is the left-liberal mediocracy? Please elaborate – I fear there is some kind of conspiracy threatening the very soul of the nation that I must have missed…

  25. Jaq – sorry mate. There’s an awful lot wrong with New Labour. I’d never vote for them myself. But if you think they’re fascists you really need to read a bit of history…

  26. If Jaq thinks New Labour is fascist what happens when s/he meets the real thing? Red, Black or Islamicist, they all have a pretty clear idea of how they want things to be and how their ideology will be imposed, eliminating undesirable elements. Language will be corrupted, contorted, stretched and finally betrayed to how they need it so that opposition would be inexpressible even if any were brave enough.

    Nanny Blears or Hodge might cause you to lose the will to live but they are not in the business of industrial style dehumanisation and murder.

    The term ‘politically correct’ was if I remember rightly, first used by the Marxists to denote an action or attitude that fitted in with the ideology. It would promote any such action or attitude ‘for the good of the cause’ another Marxist phrase I believe.

    Open societies often have to judge between a number of mutually exclusive and exhaustive courses of action, each resulting in some evil. (Leaving things be is a decision).

    For example in WWII Churchill had to reluctantly have the Soviet Union as an ally to defeat the Nazis. This resulted in the evil of the conquest of Eastern Europe by Red fascism, replacing Black fascism, whilst freeing Western Europe from the Black fascists. There is a grim utilitarianism in a way. Freedom and a liberal society was redeemed for some but not all.

    By contrast Facsist societies carry out crimes for the good of the ideology – the triumph of the workers, the supremacy of the master race or the caliphate rule of God over living believers and dead kaffirs.

    Of course there is a danger in much stuff emerging from the mediocracy because they use ideologies, albeit in a velvet form. The danger is that is softens our brains so we find it difficult to say what is.

    A good example is the current hoohaa over stop and search. Unless things have gone further than I feared, most people realise that when searching for Islamicist terrorists you are more likely to get a result when you stop soemone of Asian appearance. No, this is not to say that an Asian person is likely to be an Islmacists terrorist, but as things stand at the moment an Islamacist terrorist is likely to be Asian. Put it the other way round, when the police are searching for NF racists operating against Asian people then they are, quite rightly, not going to waste their time stopping and searching Asian people.

    I am white. If I were stopped by the police investigating the London bombings then I would be annoyed, not because I would feel demeaned or my time was being wasted, but because, from an operational point of view, the police would be wasting their time! By contrast if my description seemed to tally roughly with that of some NF terrorist then I would cheerfully accept it as my duty to assist the police with their inquiries, to use the old phrase. Since the central role of the police is to protect us I want them to do this efficiently within the bounds of an open society.

    The point of this is that we seem to have let ourselves be bamboozled to the extent where I suspect many of us wonder if perhaps the police should do the politically correct thing even if hinders the real work. (Maybe this isn’t so much the betrayal through corrupting the language as replacing grown up morality, where we have to think for ourselves, with neat little formulae from the ideologies.)

    The fatheaded thinking of many New Labourites and Guardianistas seems to make it difficult for them to argue against the fascists they rub shoulders with in the ‘peace’ movement. Apologists for Stalin and North Korea and shoulders with Islamacists, who agree that the Holocaust did occur and was a terrible thing because not enough Jews were killed, seem to have some sort of fatal fascination for these fatheads. (Do you remember Peter Mandelson having a good laugh with good old Gerry Adams?).

    We won’t beat the real fascists with just having ideas. Rather we need to constantly criticise their ideas and ours so we don’t become fatheads who say ‘Errmm – OK’ when the fascist in, not very convincing ‘right on’ clothing, asks us to take the next step in self loathing and self betrayal. It’s easy to see the white racist fascist and what line he or she is trying to peddle under a superficially reasonable front. Those in the ‘peace’ movement ought to look more carefully at the lines from SWP (Don’t mention the gays AND SWP sisters WILL wear headscarves when out demonstrating with Muslim sisters), George (several virgins short of a paradise pack) Galloway, Communist Party of Britain (Why do you keep going on about Stalin and North Korea) and ‘moderate Muslims’ (Rushdie should only have his book banned and allowed to top himself rather than being burnt alive).

    So New Labour isn’t fascist. Nor are most of the people in the ‘peace’ movement. The Conservatives are not fascist. Mrs. Thatcher was not a fascist. Ray Honeyford was not a fascist. Norman Tebbit is not a fascist. However any of these people might have or could still conceivably become a fascist if they did not constantly subject their ideas and those of people they come across to honest scrutiny.

  27. Jack,

    I don’t see any link to you on the web? I’m wondering why you don’t have your own blog or website, since you write such vast tomes here.

    And this:

    “you might like to examine the motives of all the prominent anti-war types. They are all Islingtonites, or equivalent. They are not for Iraqis or Palestinians or anyone as people but as counters in their ‘intellectual’ games of doing down Bush, Blair, Western civilisation (pace Gandhi), science, art (unless of the unmade bed variety) and a host of other things that might do more to lessen the waste of human beings than their own shallow, egotistical vapidities”

    is a disgusting generalisation.

  28. Nora

    Calm down dear, it’s just a commercial for Jack’s grumpy obsession with the gilded denizens of Islington.

    Perhaps Boris could now have a go at the Mediacrats of N1 – at least they’re close to home unlike the scallies, although having once sighted him in the Waitrose on Holloway Road he might be cautious about micturating on his own doorstep? Wouldn’t do to be roughed up by the deli by a posse of irate Guardianistas…

  29. Nora

    Calm down dear, it’s just a commercial for Jack’s grumpy obsession with the gilded denizens of Islington.

    Perhaps Boris could now have a go at the Mediacrats of N1 – at least they’re close to home unlike the scallies, although having once sighted him in the Waitrose on Holloway Road he might be cautious about micturating on his own doorstep? Wouldn’t do to be roughed up by the deli by a posse of irate Guardianistas…

  30. Nora, I didn’t know netiquette prescribed I should have a blog, besides which, apart from my disgusting genralisations, I have little to say about favourite music, paintings or anything else of significance.

    As to my dg – it’s certainly a generalisation but remember the slogan ABB, Anybody But Bush. Really! Saddam, Kim, Frank Dobson……

    I recall that prior to the war a number of ‘peace’ activists took a load of well intentioned citizens to Iraq to act as human shields. When the party of the second part found out that the party of the first part were less interested in peace but more doing the west down by supporting Saddam then they returned, sadder but wiser. Communists, Nazis and religious fanatics all see their followers as cannon fodder whose sacrifice for the cause is justified for the utopia, although very often their own sacrifice has to be postponed for the good of the cause.

    Just now the family of the Brazilian killed by the Met are apparently in the ‘care’ of various Marxists. I suspect they are much more interested in doing the police down when they, the police, already have a tough job, than in providing any comfort or indeed justice. I think if you study the methods of famous Marxists such as Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky you will find that the schooling of cadres in agitation goes very much along these lines.

    (Of course not all such are Islingtonites. And not all Islingtonites live in Islington. Any town or city of any size has its Little Islington, where the denizens sit around their dinner tables demanding the closing of all independent schools, before proceeding to the discussion of good relaiable private tutors.)

    How does a genralisation get to be disgusting? It may be ill founded or something. Enlightenment please!

    Kevin dear! I may be a grumpy old man but I am a free grumpy old man – errm well not free as in John Inman’s “I’m free” but – I wish I had never started now.

    Nora – if I had my own blog I could post nice recipes for dinner parties – now there’s a thought!

    Happy Thursday to all, even in Islington! I hope that everyone’s GCSE results are good enough to save the embarrassment of thinking about “alternative provision”.

  31. Well, having put in a decent couple of hours on the wage slavery front in the bunker and replying to Nora I wandered back to the kitchen for a rasher or two. Being an old fashioned liberal I buy the Telegraph, which often emits pleasing signs of sanity, and either the Independent or the Guardian, which reveal a whole new exciting world of goofiness. (This is a desperate attempt to present more than one point of view to the descendents who ignore anything I say anyway). Anyway I opened the Guradian and my eye fell upon an article by Saint Polly of that parish.

    Dear Polly has clambered on the licensing bandwagon. I couldn’t really follow the argument, although I got the picture that Brits are pretty much of a bad thing generally. But I found some interesting comments.

    “Alcohol related deaths…have soared by 18% over the past 5 years. Those figures [18 and 5 presumably] are dwarfed by the 22, 000 violent drinking deaths in car accidents and pub stabbings,..”

    I stand to be corrected on my figures but as I understand that the number of road deaths per year in the UK is about 7,000, call it 7,500. Of those I understand that 1/3 are due to drunken drivers (if I had the Guardianista hold of statistics and wanted to prove the opposite case to the Sainted lady I might quip that 2/3 were caused by sober drivers etc. etc.). Anyway call that 2,500 deaths fron drunk driving. So 19, 500 are due to drunken stabbings. This is roughly 50 drunken stabbings, every day of the year. Most if not all of these are murders presumably. Let’s leave out the murders by all other means. There are about 60 million people in the UK to share about 20,000 murders around (I’ve upped it a bit to make the arithmetic easier but do the calcs on your abacus). This gives an annual murder rate of 1 in 3,000. I had previously understood that there were fewer than 1,000 murders per annum or a rate of 1 in 60,000. Have I got my base figures wrong or have I lost the ability to do arithmetic? Or is it conceivable that the Madonna of National Self Loathing has not checked things out?

    Anyway the Blessed One’s solution is to push up the price of the sauce. That should keep the working classes out of the pubs though other more essential members of the community such as journalists and the self unemployed living off tax paid by the workers will take it in their stride.

    From a previous comment of mine you may see that I do think we have a serious problem here. I don’t see any solutions emerging from starting at the position that Britain and the British are terminally degenerate. If you feel so then bagger awf to France (NF vote 17%), North Korea or Syria. Incidentally an Iranian chum of mine told me that before the Islamic revolution there were 5 breweries in Iran. After the revolution there were 5 million. The figures may be indicative (but probably more accurate than Poll’s).

  32. Good to hear from you mates! Jack and all

    The news these days seems to be terribly ‘silly season’ – just wait till Party Conference – this mood is obviously set to continue for a while … with MPs only returning from recess in mid October!!!

    Sit back and enjoy

  33. Dear all

    I’m a bit confused. Who are the Mediocracy? Am I to understand they live in Islington? Or is that the Guardianistas? Should I be worried about the PC Hordes? Does a Nanny State mean a PC Culture? Or vice versa?

    Yours in search of a little less ‘witty’ generalisation,

    Mark

  34. I need to read a bit of history do I? Well maybe, I’m not exactly an expert on Mussolini. However, “By contrast Facsist societies carry out crimes for the good of the ideology” is exactly what I meant. Tearing children away from perfectly able parents for the good of the ideology is a case in point. Withdrawing the right of spontaneous demonstration, however reasonable, within earshot of parliament because one bloke got on thier nerves is another. LYING to parliament and causing people to DIE because of that lie, I could go on.
    I think I will, changing fair laws to be unfair for the good of thier ideology, pensions, Foot and Mouth cover up, the list is endless.

    Hitler was a fascist was he not? He was a charismatic leader and the great hope of his people. He subjected his ideology on the people with authoritarian force. So has Bliar but thankfully he’s not as good at it as Hitler was. Look at communist countries, historically. To me, the line between extreme left and right is pretty blurred. You have bullies in power and people who pay, and if they don’t toe the line then really dreadful things happen. In this society, ours, today, really dreadfull things are happening all over and rather than arguing semantics I’m just saying it’s wrong!

  35. PS: Mediocracy and Meritocracy are ginger haired twin brothers that run a joke shop in Islington. The Guardianistas are a group of muggles that like to think they are the muggle equivalent of the Order of the Pheonix, more like the order of the parrot. PC Hordes is the love child of Nanny State and PC Culture, but don’t tell anyone, they’re trying to keep it quiet. Walter Mitty, or ‘Witty’ for short, is in goverment.

  36. Jack,

    “Well you may disagree with that but perhaps you might like to examine the motives of all the prominent anti-war types. They are all Islingtonites, or equivalent. They are not for Iraqis or Palestinians or anyone as people but as counters in their ‘intellectual’ games of doing down Bush, Blair, Western civilisation (pace Gandhi), science, art (unless of the unmade bed variety) and a host of other things that might do more to lessen the waste of human beings than their own shallow, egotistical vapidities”.

    A bit strong… You got a hangover or something?

    I am a conservative who has (what I think are) fairly good reasons for oposing the Iraq war and I can’t tick many of the above boxes. I posted my reasons for opposing the war on my own blog.

    It’s true I don’t lose sleep over the fate of Iraqis but neither do the people who support the war. They have intellectual reasons to be for it, I have intellectual reasons to be sceptical. I just hope it all works out in the end…

    GM

  37. Kevin,

    On occasion my blood boils. However, given your (highly articulate and often very funny) comments, I will take your advice.

    As for Jack, the notion that he considers himself so ‘au fait’ with the inner workings of the minds of others that he can spout such judgemental garbage is depressing, but ultimately unimportant. He’s off again now. I presume Gareth Peirce is a Marxist, and that explains why she took on the Guilford Four. No matter. She did a bloody good job.

    I’ve off for some R&R. More power to your elbow.

  38. Boris,

    I tried to follow the very unparliamentary advice in your final sentence. It was too late to vote early but I commited the other six on the way home.

  39. Nora: You are too kind.

    George has returned this post to sanity by reminding us that we’re supposed to be voting about some top daubs, not indulging in speculations about the next Tory leader or Why Oh Why the dreadful Islingtonians are PC fascists who run the whole bally show through mind control.

    Rather than continue to whinge about the shortlist (I really don’t want to vote for any of this lot – a dilemna familiar to democracy, the least worst system) I’ll nail my colours to the mast. Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergere gets my vote. Lovely colours and Hello my dear, pint of absinthe.

  40. Happy Friday one and all! Poets day at last!

    Thank you for all your kind comments and interesting questions. I was hoping to deal with them yestereve but I fear that an Islingtonite virus laid low my machine and I am pushed for time today.

    I have voted (once only) for The Fighting Temeraire because I like it more than the others.

    Hav a good weekend!

  41. Jaq – thanks for clearing that up. About Islington, I mean 😉

    I take your point about Brian Haw. But I wouldn’t call it fascist to try and silence the man. Just clumsy. And the fact that he’s still there demonstrating despite the law being changed proves the right hand doesn’t know what the left middle hand is doing.

    Hitler would just have had him ‘removed’ in the night. And that’s where i think you have to be careful using words like fascist. Personally I’ve always despised Labour and loathed the Tory party, but I’m not going to accuse this or any administration in my lifetime of being evil. Blair may be an egotistical bungler with a worrying religious streak, but his idiot heart is probably in the right place. Government does weird things to principles.

    Oh, and as for ‘changing fair laws to be unfair for the good of their ideology’, may I refer you to the Poll Tax? Or the Miner’s Strike?

    They ALL lie to Parliament if they think they can get away with it. British politics is a dirty business conducted by people who once had good intentions. You and I, we’d be exactly the same if we got ourselves elected.

  42. Nope, not me, yes I know it sounds trite. But ask anyone who’s even been aqainted with me, ask Boris, ask Mel! I’m incorruptable. It’s an affliction that does me no good I know but I advertise my principles and try as I might am incapable of deviating from them. I was once refused an elected post as union leader by the boss because I’m “too honest”. It wins me no friends I can tell you and has even come close to loosing some, oily charm works better. I’m a nice person with all the good things but can be as stubborn as the day is long where a principle is concerned and sometimes honesty just isn’t the best policy in government I admit. Of course, I’ve never been presented with temptations like Boris naked and wanting but as that’s never going to happen and I find the opposition as sexy as last weeks milk I’m confident of my statement. The poll tax was the result of a much needed overhaul of the rate system and was rushed and ill advised. I wrote to Thatcher and received a reply. Write to this government, even your own MP, and they haven’t the good manners to acknowledge you exist.

  43. Poets? Here’s an offering:

    In the land of the Bumbley Boo
    The People are red white and blue;
    They never blow noses,
    Or ever wear closes,
    What a sensible thing to do!

    In the land of the Bumbley Boo
    You can buy Lemon pie at the zoo;
    They give away foxes
    In little Pink Boxes
    And Bottles of Dandylion Stew.

    In the land of the Bumbley Boo
    You never see a Gnu,
    But thousands of cats
    Wearing trousers and hats
    Chorus
    Oh, the Bumbley Boo! the Bumbley Boo!
    That’s the place for me and you!
    So hurry! Let’s run!
    The train leaves at one!
    For the land of the Bumbley Boo!
    The wonderful Bumbley Boo-Boo-Boo!
    The Wonderful Bumbley BOO!!!

    — Spike Milligan

    I hope EVERYONE has a great weekend.
    I’m off to vote now. 🙂

  44. Jaq

    Score one point Mrs T. Replying to you was a lot more than at least one member of her party whose replies to me (on other issues) were about as discourteous and disinterested as you can imagine.

    Pity she couldn’t turn that politeness into an ability to amend her position. I’ve always thought ‘the lady’s not for turning’ is about as categoric a recommendation for getting rid of a leader as I’ve ever heard.

    I admire your commitment to your principles. Just don’t get stuck with them. There’s always something new to learn. Meanwhile, let me know when you publish your manifesto and I’ll give it serious consideration…

  45. Agent Markgamon I indict you on the charge of failing to heed the rules of correct puntucation. If it had been A miner’s strike as you put it, well, we all know where you’ve gone wrong there. One miner on strike? Surely not? What was his name? Must be a famously tyrannical gentleman. The plural of miner is miners. The correct place to insert your apostrophe is after the s. Thank you.

  46. OOOOPS!!!

    I stand corrected, with my bowed, shamefaced and sheepish to boot. They’ll be throwing me out of the Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe next.

    Pass the sackcloth. No need to bother with the Ashes – I expect I can borrow some from Flintoff and the boys after we win ’em back.

    (My last apostrophe was entirely appropriately placed, if a little lowbrow).

  47. Punctuation was indeed my intended spelling. But my haste in pointing out the error of apostrophe placing was pressing : -)

  48. I would like a young blonde thing with attitude and a vision of the future to be voted in as leader. A new face, someone to take the media by surprise and be propelled to Tory Cover girl or boy status! That’s what we need.
    Some fresh air breezing down the corridors of corruption in a whirlwind of blonde positivity, ammending crazy laws and passing bills to remedy our woes

  49. I too would like a young blonde thing with attitude. Oh hang one….here they come. (that’s not quite what I….oh, gotta go they’re trying to headbut the wall!)

  50. I agree with Nora about the wall, but I voted for Turner, more for the painter than the painting, as I prefer some of his other works.

  51. I enjoyed the recent tribute to Spike Milligan on tv.

    I particularly liked his cure for sea-sickness: sit under a tree.

    I’m afraid, however, that since he wrote it, some cruiseliner has probably installed a jungle of trees in its foyer. Perhaps even plastic versions.

  52. Yo Mark, I didn’t vote, sorry. For reasons see above. I thought we were being directed away from the original subject matter by the powers that be. I confess I’ve been a little distracted this week by an excellent film I found called ‘Prick Up Your Ears’ starring Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina. A very useful and very welcome distraction from people chasing me for money. And to think what I used to be chased for…. Oh well, seems I’m not ageing as well as a Hogarth!

  53. Jaq: Prick Up Your Ears (biog of playwright Joe Orton) is a v good film, a great book, and a top title which was probably immensely popular in the Mid-West Stateside: they’re funny and unpredictable that way.

    (Name Drop Alert) I met the biography’s author, John Lahr, a few weeks back – at Giraffe of all places, you know, the United Colours of Benetton fusion restaurant? Oh, please yourselves and titter yet not, noooooo… – er, Anyway.

    Mr Lahr was suitably and modestly appreciative of my gushing encomium (?)of his book but slightly pissed off about the film when I mentioned it. Perhaps it was the portrayal of Mr Lahr in the film by the screenplay writer, a certain Mr A Bennett.

    It would be nice to see some Joe Orton on the telly with some big names – Entertaining Mr Sloane perhaps, with David Jason et al. A reanimated Orton would have a field day with our New Labour/Big Brother/ Celebrity culture, just as he ripped the piss out of Britain in the 60s. Shame about his early encounter with the Ruffian on the Stair (the Grim Reaper, aka his lover Ken Haliwell with a hammer).

  54. Markgamon asks what is the left-liberal conspiracy dominating threatening the soul of the nation.

    Well I don’t think I used the word conspiracy. I said establishment, because they are the establishment now, well ensconced in nearly all the centres of power, including the courts, the Police, the media and the education system.

    The left-liberal establishment was born out of a reaction to the conservative, deferential, hierarchical, imperialist, racist establishment that preceded it. From that point of view people are quite right to “look back in anger” at the iniquities and inequities of the past. I don’t want to go back there.

    But the modern establishment has replaced the old hierarchy with a kind of sub-Marxian pseudo-meritocracy. There are now certain ruling orthodoxies. Key among them are the following:-

    – that all cultures and religions are of equal merit

    – that there are no gender differences of any significance for society

    – that the monogamous marriage-based family has no special status

    – that material deprivation is the sole or overriding cause of social deprivation

    – that all differential performance of ethnic minorities must result from racial or cultural discrimination by the majority group.

    These ruling ideas are indeed of great danger to our country. We have already seen how they have led to a situation where millions of people have been let into this country from abroad without any sought of check on their loyalty to our values, so that we are now actually harbouring thousands of people who hate us and want to overthrow our consitutuion and do us harm.

    So – our consitution is threatened by the left-liberal establishment.

    We also have a situation where people are regularly being harrassed by the Police for expressing opinions that differ from the ruling ideas. These aren’t horrible hate-filled racist opinions – simply opposing bogus asylum seekers has been enough to bring on visits from the local constabulary. The Government is now introducing legislation to ban criticism of Islam which Rod Liddle described recently and quite correctly as a primitive and cruel religion.

    So the left-liberal establishment threatens our
    free speech.

    Lastly (for this brief survey), I would say that the left-liberal consensus has created a whole sub-culture of welfarism involving millions which has pernicious effects through out society – seen in terms of criminal and anti-social behaviour, economic depression in large parts of teh country, high taxation, drug use and mental illness.

    So left-liberalism really does gnaw away at the moral fabric of society. Of course the establishment’s beneficiaries are mostly protected from the worst consequences as they live in middle class enclaves in the big city or in pleasant country villages. They don’t inhabit our huge council estates where the worst is to be experienced.

    The cure for all this is to subject these ruling ideas to thorough-going criticism.

    If you still aren’t convinced about the reality of the power of this left-liberal establishment how about posing yourself these questions:

    – Why do we never hear on TV from the residents who are forced out of their homes by the Notting Hill carnival for trhee days every year? Are they happy to be deprived of their homes in this way?

    – Why whenever lower average pay for women is mentioned do we never hear of one possible explanation: that women (on average) prefer to concentrate time and attention on family and home and therefore take a conscious or unconscious decision not to compete for top jobs that demand complete commitment to the work organisation?

    – Why did it take 50 dead in the tube and on the streets for the establishment to admit that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to allow these Islamonazis freedom to spread their poison in our society?

  55. Hi Jaq

    Blimey. Lots of food for thought there. Let me try and respond to some of it…

    Re: your ‘ruling orthodoxies’:

    – that all cultures and religions are of equal merit. I agree with you that all cultures are not of equal merit. Not sure how you can say the same about religions. In my experience they’re all dangerous, but pretty much equally bad.

    – that there are no gender differences of any significance for society. Well. After thinking about it, I agree with you. And yet somehow disagree too. Women are better at certain types of task, drive differently, and know how to have babies. They’re also entitled to earn the same money as men. Men on the other hand are physically stronger, usually logical rather than intuitive, and aggressive. Which makes them responsible for 99.9% of the wars we fight, and the global conflict between Pepsi and Coke. On balance, I’d pay women more. They do more useful stuff.

    – that the monogamous marriage-based family has no special status. Nor should it. It’s an archaic institution kept alive to feed the marriage industry’s profits, prop up the legal profession, and generate profitable paperwork in the financial services sector.

    – that material deprivation is the sole or overriding cause of social deprivation. Errrr. Pass. What are we saying here?

    – that all differential performance of ethnic minorities must result from racial or cultural discrimination by the majority group. I agree. The ‘establishment’ does tend to fall back on this kind of thinking. So do a lot of people who have nothing to do with the establishment.

    Our constitution. What constitution? Can you tell me where I can buy a copy?

    The one I really must take issue with is your ‘sub-culture of welfarism’. Seems to me this establishment is just as keen as the previous one to blame welfare for crime, drug use, and anti-social behaviour in general. But welfare is just another symptom. The cause of crime is poverty. Which is why there’s less of it in East Herts, Kingston, and Harrogate. Yes, I know we’ve all got fridges and TVs now. But poverty is also relative, and exacerbated by the economic freedom that allows those TVs to be used to bombard people with reasons why they’re being left behind.

    You may have meant something else when you indicated your concern about welfarism. Please ignore the above para if I’ve misinterpreted.

    As to your questions, I’ve been posing them to myself.

    Re: Notting Hill Carnival. Pass, again. I wasn’t aware of the problem.

    Re: pay for women. When I say women should have the right to equal pay, I’m thinking in terms of remuneration per unit of labour. Measuring ‘commitment’ and ‘competition’ is a tougher call. But then I find myself asking why competition is seen as such an admirable quality. Or whether a life committed to increasing Coca-Cola’s sales figures (say) is worth the extra money our culture seems to think it merits, or even worth the living.

    Re: the fifty dead, and the Islamonazis. I share all your concerns/despair/disgust at the rabid end of Islam. I really do. But I think you’ve contradicted yourself here. You can’t complain about the state picking on people for ethnic criticism unless you also complain about picking on people who voice fundamentalist islamic views.

    Personally, I’d stick with full freedom of speech, and keep the Islamic clerics here where we can keep an eye on them. In fact I’d insist as a precondition of their residence in the UK that they attend compulsory ‘doctrinal colleges’ (preferably lasting many weeks) where they’re forced to argue their case rationally with leading Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist clerics.

    Something of a mish-mash of responses there. Hope you’ll forgive me for not constructing a coherent argument. The thing that always makes me see red in an argument is a catchall phrase like ‘left-liberal establishment’. It suggests order and control where there is none.

  56. Try and talk it out? Rationalised debate with other religious leaders? What? Talk it over? It would simply state the case for extradition even more strongly.

    We CANNOT be tolerant of this nonsense situation, and we must not be reasonable. We are in a totally UNreasonable scenario. We are being hounded and silenced and scared and murdered by people who come here with HATE in their veins.
    Make that reasonable.
    To tackle an unreasonable scenario we do not take the “moral” highground. Forgive me, not even that, I mean the politically correct ground. We must take action.

    It is such a similar thing to burglary. You must use reasonable force. When a stranger breaks into your home, invades your property, your four year old daughter is asleep upstairs, he thinks he can rob and assault you. Totally UNreasonable. Act accordingly.

  57. Good God. I go away for a week and Boris’ blog about pretty pictures has become a place to rant about Guardianistas, fascists, Islingtonites and random misspelt entries about apostrophes. If this were a real live conversation in Boris’ living room, he’d have gone to bed by now and angry Telegraph readers would be drunkenly shouting phrases such as “no no no no” and “but how far do you go?” and “and another thing” at each other. Whilst spilling cognac on Boris’ lovely sheepskin rug.

    Where’s the lovely @ to keep us on track? I’m betting she’s given up on this one and joined an elite society of punctuation recluses in Wargrave.

  58. Markgamon –

    It was me – Field – rather than Jaq who took you to task over the left-liberal establishment.

    Seems though from your reply that you are not so sceptical about its existence as I at first thought.

    Just to pick up on a few points:

    1. Constitution – constitutions don’t have to be written. As it is though, a lot of our “constitution” is written down in various laws taken to be fairly fundamental. But even in countries like the USA, the consitution (i.e. the system of government) is not to be found purely in the founding consitutional document. Much of teh American constitution can now be found in judgments of the Supreme Court and histroical events – e.g. the Civil War which put paid to the idea of a voluntary union of states.

    2. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard that hundreds of thousands of residents affected by the Carnival are pissed off by it because they either have to leave their homes or be held prisoner in them. That fact is not allowed to be communicated in the left-liberal media. I’m pleased to see that this year’s carnival was relatively peaceful. Let’s hope it stays that way but in any free society it should be possible to debate the merits of such street festivals openly and freely without fair of intimidation.

    3. You are obviously wedded to the left-liberal analysis of social deviancy – crime etc. as resulting from relative poverty.

    Clearly there is some relationship. But equally, it is quite clear that at times of extreme relative poverty e.g. in the Victorian period and the 1930s crime actually reduced. Similarly in New York crime has been greatly reducedin recent years even though relative poverty has certianly not declined much and may have been reduced.

    Crime could be said to involve motive, means and opportunity.

    Under the left-liberal establishment all three have flourished:

    – Motive: people have been encouraged to think of themselves as victims if poor, rather than to focus on self-improvement.

    – The means to commit crime has been occasioned by failure to imprison criminals and by disempowering the law-abiding.

    – The opportunity to commit crime has been brought about by a failure to patrol on foot as well in vehicles on a 24 hour basis.

    A worrying trend has been for the left-liberal establishment resorting to gimmicks liek ASBOs which some authorities are only too hjappy to use in a way which undermines our free society.

    Crime is clearly a complex problem – one can’t do it justice (no pun intended) here but I think the links between crime and unstable family background are clear to all except those so blind as will not see. The issue then is shoudl the state subsidise unstable families or should it rather marshall all its resources to require people to behave responsibly.

    My view of humanity is a generous one. I think people are generally pretty rational. Most girls of 17 won’t get pregnant if they think there’s nothing in it for them, if say the state had a modern (more humane but not attractive) version of the workhouse rather than providing a flat and a regular income.

  59. Apostrophe –

    Agreed. Action rather than debate is called for although I would also stress that a responsible media would be making sure there was also vigorous debate, ensuring that teh apologists of Islam were obliged to state and defend their opinions, rather than hide behind devious generalities and careful bromides. The Panorama programme on the MCB was at least one example of what should be done. (Incidentally I ahve always argued against some other bloggers that the left-liberal establishment will not necessarily roll over for Islam – some will, following Galloway’s lead, but others, motivated by their secularism and atheism will go on the offensive as John Ware obviously has – it’s not unliek the situation in 1939 when leftie pacifists suddenly mutated into anti-Nazi war mongers).

    As for the action the key would be to have again a serious sedition law, so that actively campaigning for the replacement of Parliament with Sharia law (or any other non-democratic system of law) would be defined as the sedition it is and seditionaries would be arrested and imprisoned for long terms or deported.

  60. Heartily concur with the Merkin. This post is now out of control, Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world etc. Melissa needs to crack the whip. Ah, that’ll just encourage the Tories…

    Order! Order!

  61. Once again I think Field has points that require some consideration, although I think every time he uses the word liberal it should be in quotes – which look very much like apostrophes but I’m not going there!

    Maybe we ought to look at how we are using the word establishment. The idea of an establishment was first mooted – I believe – in the late 50’s or early 60’s. It suggested a loose network of almost entirely males in the upper reaches of the aristocracy, universities and – even – business, meeting at London clubs and so on. There was no explicit conspiracy, as in the same sense as the Communist party, rather a shared and unquestioned understanding of what was right and what was wrong.

    Today in the universities, BBC, some sections of the press, the arts, politics and the public services there is a loose – and more heterogenous network of people – with a shared and unquestioned understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Earlier I stereotyped these punters as Guardianistas and Islingtonites, but they could be Luton based Independent readers. They buy into the great semi-socialist utopian experiment. Every time an aspect of this runs into trouble the underlying premises are not questioned, rather it is seen as a cse for more money throwing. Not all of this is entirely philanthropic, albeit with other people’s money.

    Many of these people are employed by the state, nationally or locally. Just as the ‘old establishment’ would close ranks against threats to their way of life, so does the ‘new establishment’. When a university professor says ‘Gosh – my post-modernist media studies course is actually not very useful culturally, economiically, socially or individually. I must resign my post so that they can have a professor in engineering or history instead’ then I might be convinced of the self sacrifice of the ‘new establishment’.

    There may well be lots of the ‘old establishment’ left. But I suggest that there is now a pretty vigourous ‘new establishment’.

    (Maybe Dawkins’, Dennet’s and Blacknmore’s ideas on memes might be useful here?)

    Mark is being disingenuous. He neatly bundles up ‘on this side.. on that side..’ arguements without looking at the premises. For example Field said

    ‘We also have a situation where people are regularly being harrassed by the Police for expressing opinions that differ from the ruling ideas. These aren’t horrible hate-filled racist opinions – simply opposing bogus asylum seekers has been enough to bring on visits from the local constabulary. The Government is now introducing legislation to ban criticism of Islam which Rod Liddle described recently and quite correctly as a primitive and cruel religion. ‘

    and

    ‘Why did it take 50 dead in the tube and on the streets for the establishment to admit that perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea to allow these Islamonazis freedom to spread their poison in our society?’

    to which Mark responded

    ‘Re: the fifty dead, and the Islamonazis. I share all your concerns/despair/disgust at the rabid end of Islam. I really do. But I think you’ve contradicted yourself here. You can’t complain about the state picking on people for ethnic criticism unless you also complain about picking on people who voice fundamentalist islamic views. ‘

    Sorry Mark. I think Field is referring in the first place to – for example – people who rightly or wrongly perceive that some folk get a preferential break because they are from an ethnic minority and complain about it, and in the second case to people who are calling for jihad against this country. The state has no business threatening people in the first category, though it does have an obligation to explain just where the benefit system is allocating tax money. If it is distributed without favour to those in need then it needs to make this clear to people who object and not threaten them. In the second case the state has its primary role of defending the realm.It may be unfashionable to say so but if the country goes down the tubes then everyone’s human rights get hit bigtime and not even Gareth Pierce can sort that one out.

    OK I went into that diversion just to highlight how people often make ‘neat’ and ‘symmetrical’ points without stopping to question premises of their argument.

    I’m not picking on Mark here – I’m sure he is robust enough not to worry if I were. I find his stuff somewhat more challenging than what I hear in well known newspapers and areas of London. I’m even thinking of buying his book (how many pages Mark – I want to get to get an idea of reading enjoyment per pound (sterling)).

  62. Field – sorry. Don’t tell me we’ve got a ‘constitution’ unless you can show it to me. Or recite it, if you prefer not to have it written down. The way you describe it, the thing we like to call a constitution is just a bunch of disparate laws, created piecemeal and without thought. I know the US Constitution has grown and developed, but the point is that they sat down and analysed what they were trying to do, then stated it simply in language that anyone could understand. I’d like to see us do that here, and I’m not happy with our constitution being an airy abstraction.

    Crime – yep, I’m wedded, if that’s how you prefer to see it. I don’t have access to your stats, though I bet I could come up with an equally impressive list to prove the counter-argument. I’m just looking at where the crimes take place.

    Curiously, I agree with some of your thoughts about the causes of crime.

    Of course we should be patrolling on foot. Should have been for the last three decades, now I come to think of it – and long before the ‘left-liberal establishment’ arrived on the scene.

    Ditto ASBOs, which are nonsensical.

    I can’t see how sending more people to prison to learn more about crime actually helps reduce the crime rate, but I do recognise that this is a matter of figuring out how to define an incarceration offence. Of course the really bad guys should be locked up.

    And I’m entirely with you on disempowering the law-abiding.

    The part that really rankles is your link between crime and an unstable family background. What exactly IS that? Are we talking about physical/sexual abuse? Unemployment? Redundancy? Drink? Crack? Disability? Divorce? Single parents? Aren’t all families unstable to some degree? Where do you draw the line?

    In the old days (and perhaps in saloon bars up and down the land today for all I know) coming from a ‘broken home’ was always considered the first step on the long slide into depravity. I’m divorced. So were my parents. So were my grandparents, come to that. None of us has ever committed a crime, beyond the odd speeding fine. Yet I’m awfully worried that without a meaningful definition, we’d all be considered ‘unstable’.

    Can I also put in a word for teenage girls? You’re right – most teenage girls won’t get pregnant if there’s nothing in it for them. I’d go further than that: most teenage girls DON’T get pregnant if they can avoid it. The ‘single teenage mother sucking the state dry’ is the hoariest old saloon-bar cliche of them all. Count the cost of all the single mothers on benefit in this country and you could probably cover it by not ordering the next couple of jet fighters. Let’s get our bogeymen in perspective, please.

    Jack – thanks for bringing a little analysis to what constitutes an ‘establishment’. It’s not the existence of an establishment I’m challenging – only the stereotyping of it as ‘left-liberal’.

    Re the free speech thing: I’m taking a step backwards on that. I still think you have to be even-handed, but I’m not sure now that I understood what Field was saying. I took it to mean that he was (rightly) objecting to proposed legislation to ban criticism of Islam, whilst at the same time calling for legislation against people who criticise a non-Islamic way of life. If I musunderstood that, beg pardon.

    Field – can you advise on the above?

    To tell the truth, folks, there are so many debates running in parallel here that I’m inclined to give up the ghost. Or concentrate on just one. I’m spending so much time scrolling up and down to remember what people said half a dozen posts ago that my head is spinning. I better get out of here and do some real work for a while…

    Enjoying the cut n’ thrust, though…

    PS: Jack – it’s just over 300 pages. And I can guarantee there’ll be nothing in there about free speech or the British constitution. Though there is one single mother, now I come to think of it. But only in passing.

  63. Merkin: “Where’s the lovely @ to keep us on track? . . .”

    keVin b: “Heartily concur with the Merkin. This post is now out of control, . . . Melissa needs to crack the whip. . . .”

    Melissa will be back from holiday next week, I believe.

    I am hoping we can discuss the Tory leadership contest – too important a matter to just leave to members of the Conservative party!

  64. Anyone who has read the Lord of the Rings probably appreciates why children of all ages (inc 50something middle-right Tories) need discipline. And this thread is now the island from Lord of the Rings of blogging. Until headmistress @ returns, I’m taking Jacinta and Tarquin away from the Seychelles (for that is where it was, apparently) and renting a B&B in Kingsley instead.

    Very interesting though, nonetheless. Esp about the constitution – my only ever published letter to a broadsheet was about the lack of a need for a written constitution. But that’s for another time, on a thread not about pretty pictures…

  65. Mark –

    I can see why you might feel aggrieved about the point about welfarism. Of course, a two parent stable family background is no guarantee of virtue and the absence of stability carries no stigma. I am simply making a statistical point which can be readily if you compare the family backgrounds of the prisoner population and that of the general population.

    Incidentally you completely underestimate the financial burden created by single parent families. I looked into the figures. There are 11 million dependent children in the country and now one in four families is single parent. So let’s say that we have about 2.5m children in one parent families. I also found that only 57% of single parents work. Let’s ignore the fact that many or most of those are doing part time work (which means they will still be receiving substantial state subsidies) and let’s assume that half the 2.5m children are in one parent families where the adult doesn’t work. That leaves 1.5m. Each family will be receiving at least

  66. Surely I’m not the only one to be unworried by the eclectic content of this thread? It beats the OU.

    Mark – I have no problem with the many single mothers I know socially and through work. Quite honestly I take my hat off to them and how they manage against the odds. The major problem is single motherhood or rather zero fatherhood. Where are all these guys who think it’s OK to have a bit of fun and sod the consequences and why do they think like that? The good thing about the traditional (but evolving) family is that it incorporates the duties of joint parenthood. No suitable state substitute has been found for this imperfect arrangement.

    Should have realised from the sample text that it wasn’t a slim volume! Shall order a copy forthwith or at least when the mother of my children tells me where the credit card is.

  67. Field – I had a hunch you might come back with some maths on that one. I didn’t say it wasn’t a lot of money. I did say that you could probably cover it with a couple of jet fighters (OK, maybe a few). Or the annual redecoration bill in Whitehall. Or the Civil List. Or the army, or the air force, or the navy. Or the war in Iraq. Why, morally, should one section of the population expect another to pay for all these activities that serve no useful purpose and of which they fundamentally disapprove?

    The point is, we do pay. And we also pay to help young kids who screw up their lives. Of course some of them do it because it guarantees a free ride on the state. A lot more do it because they’re stupid or they believed what the boy told them or because they live in a rubbish place they can’t get out of or because they never took any GCSEs and can’t see any way out so they might as well do the one thing they think they might be good at or because they’re really really stupid and they saw some celebrity adopting a baby in their copy of Heat and that triggered off a daydream about how they’d love to be a bit – just an everso little bit – like that celebrity. And they’re 17 years old and they got it wrong.

    They’re the symptom, is what I’m saying. Just like the economic migrants posing as asylum seekers. And what we should be doing is shouting about the causes.

  68. Jack – that’s very decent of you. I do hope the credit card shows up. Let me know if you have any trouble with the mechanics of the ordering website.

    You have a good point about two-parent families. Two always does the job better than one. I just get hacked off when ‘family’ is equated with ‘marriage’. Thanks for making me think.

  69. Jack –

    Yes I like that – “zero fatherhood”. Certainly sums up part of the problem. There are a lot of young men determined to evade their responsibilities.

    But again, a lot of young mothers calculate quite rationally that they will generally better off without a father on the scene. Without a father there is a guaranteed income from the state and housing as well; one has a definite status as a full time mother; one doesn’t have to worry so much about violence from the father or whether the father will be an off-on parent – appearing and disappearing and creating emotional turmoil in the children.

    And a lot of young mothers deliberately become pregnant without the father’s explicit consent.

    We can’t solve all these problems immediately but we need to send a message to teenage girls that there will be no easy passage as a single parent. I don’t think society would stomach children being taken away from those incapable of supporting them materially, but I think there could be a consensus that immature girls who get pregnant do NOT get preferential treatment on housing. Either they stay with their parents or they go into some kind of supervised accommodation. It doesn’t have to be low standard accommodation. The key is that the mother is not a free agent and there will never be a separate family home provided by the state. I think further that as the state will be paying for the children, the state has a right to monitor the effectiveness of the teenager as a parent i.e. the mother’s performance will be subject to regular assessment and review.

    Coupled with incentives to marriage (let’s say at age 21 or above), I think the above would be enough to encourage most sensible young women not to get pregnant. I don’t really agree with Mark about the large number of silly girls who don’t think things through. Most people I see otu and about seem perfectly able to exercise intelligent free choice when ordering meals, going on holiday, buying shoes etc. In my view they are doing jsut at teh moment with our crazy welfare system.

  70. Field: “A LOT OF YOUNG MOTHERS DELIBERATELY BECOME PREGNANT WITHOUT THE FATHER’S EXPLICIT CONSENT”

    Wonderful. I would like to nominate this as the quotation of the week.

    Imagine the scene at the Henley-on-Thames Young Conservatives ball:

    Damian: Coming back to my place, then? The Porsche is just outside, you know.

    Gwendolyn: Well I shouldn’t . . . and I promised Mummy I would be back by 11.30 . . . and actually I don’t usually do this (giggles) . . . but you’re a w fu l l y cute (giggles) . . . but I’m not on the pill, you know, uh, would you mind signing one of Mr Field’s ‘Explicit Consent Forms”?

  71. This HAS been a most extraordinary string of comments. I hope we haven’t upset Melissa.

    Field – I’m backing off really. But there was one thing in your last post I couldn’t make sense of. What did you mean by ‘incentives to marriage’? I’m not querying it, just don’t understand.

    Anyone fancy chatting about Hogarth for a bit?

  72. Simon – What you are indulging in is SPIN not argument. Presumably you had a think about it, saw you couldn;t come up with any rational counter-argument and so invented some fanciful scenario, which – Spitting Image style – is supposed to substitute for argument.

    Nowhere did I suggest that anyone fill in forms. Quite the contrary. In fact it is the creation of irrational incentives (irrational from the point of view of society but not the individual single parent) for out-of-wedlock births under the current welfare system that leads to form filling – see the Child Support Agency or whatever it’s called. I am calling for incentives to give birth after marriage, which will precisely avoid the need for form filling and bureaucracy.

    Mark –

    Happy to return to Hogarth – one of my favourite painters! As for what I meant by incentives, I was referring to such things as tax breaks, advancement on council housing waiting lists (I would suggest for instnace that all young married couples born in the UK should be given priority over single mothers and asylum seeker or immigrant families). I think we should also reintroduce mortgage relief for young married couples and baby payments for the children of married couples.

  73. Field: “What you are indulging in is SPIN not argument”

    No, it was just a quick bit of satire.

    I shouldn’t really be here, but let me say that, quite apart from the male chauvinism in your statements, you are overlooking the universal facts of sexuality and the need for love which drive young people, and have always driven young people (and often older people), in frequently chaotic and irrational directions. You are also making assumptions about marriage and illegitimacy.

    I suggest that there are a number of different social problems operating here, and in different communities. No doubt all of them represent some kind of failure in the educational system which should be turning children into responsible adults, but that brings us back to poverty and deprivation.

  74. Field – thanks for the clarification. I’m all in favour of cleverly applied tax breaks too. I’d give them to cyclists, and people with no more bedrooms in their house than the number of people needed to occupy them, and people who install solar heating in their roofs. So I’m with you on tax breaks to help young couples.

    The only part where I’ve got to ask you to be a bit clearer is where you keep saying these couple have got to be married. Can’t they just be couples?

  75. “Universal facts of sexuality” That’s a bit exclusive of asexuals isn’t it?

    From the dim recesses of the memory of my adolescence I seem to recall, from my experience and the reported experience of those somewhat more successful that the “need for love” was seldom conjoined with the “universal facts of sexuality”. I was a webby footed East Anglian so maybe things were different in Isli- sorry – the big city.

    Satire and wit are seldom very useful in trying to track truth and often destructive of the process. I recall a discussion on TV with the follicly challenged punter who used to play Kojak and Ian McLellan (he’s the Gandalf man not the writer – hope I got that right). Anyway McLellan put forward a well crafted argument against Section 28 (I think it was 28 about “teaching homosexuality in schools” – correct me if wrong please). There was silnce and then the Kojak man made a witty comment which said nothing but the audience loved it. They had been let off the hook of thinking about a then unpopular argument (philosophical sense). I was uneasy about getting rid of section 28 but McLellan convinced me to look at my own reasoning again.

    Now for some real culture!

    Ofttimes you will hear that stuff is witty
    Beware its rhyme says my little ditty
    Oh stuff may sound smart
    But take it apart
    You may find you’ve been fed something s****y

    Apologies to Melissa whose dainty ears should not have to listen to locker room language.

  76. Mark

    It might sound like the sort of thing Harry Enfield’s Kevin would say but children don’t ask to be born. The participation in either role of the process of becoming a parent I feel imposes a duty on an individual as part of a partnership because you are in a position to cause great suffering and would not have been had you not participated. The “universal facts of sexuality” are rightly not a defence of rape. I think they should not be a defence of causing children to suffer either. You may argue “but hold on these two people agreed to this so that is not as bad as rape”. Of course the mutual act of intercourse is not in itself wrong whereas the act of rape as a violation of another is clearly wrong. However the mutuality without thought for the future which could bring about the unnecessary suffering of a child is wrong.

    The point about marriage is that part of its traditional contract was to be for the care of children of said marriage. Like the family, it was an imperfect institution and many people, mostly women, got rough justice from it. But there was on the whole a much greater degree of protection for children within it.

    Now I get the impression that a lot of contributors aren’t over enamoured of capitalism. Chacun a son goat, though what goats have to do with it..

    One thing that is important for the capitalist system is that punters stick to contracts. Capitalism doesn’t do so well if people fiddle. All you Marxists and anarchists out there should be applauding the Enron crooks etc. They are screwing up the system like you couldn’t dream of!

    I could try an emotional witty slight of hand and say if we can put up with contracts to keep money circulating then we can put up with contracts to make people think carefully before they have children. Oh I’ve just done it!

    Anyway I think that contract is crucial. It can’t really be part of the law because of all sorts of reasons about what penalties would apply and that wouldn’t work. The proliferation of laws is usually an indication that the rule of law is not doing so well.

    Mark is right in the sense that many unmarried couples have a perfectly good unofficial contract. But since marriage is no longer seen as necessary prior to becoming a parent, people of good will should press for general realisation that **usually** children are better off with two parents, one of each type and, in the same way that you should not cause unnecessary suffering by acts of omission, so you should not cause unnecessary suffering in this situation.

    If we look at racism then, despite all the self loathers, there is a good deal less racism nowadays than when I was a teenager. This has come about more because of a feeling that racism is wrong than because all of the laws. Sensible people can ignore all the PC stuff and get to the nub. What we could do with is a general feeling that having children without regard for their future is also wrong.

    I think my bolognaise is about to burn and my tribe return from the seaside.

  77. Jack said: ” “Universal facts of sexuality” That’s a bit exclusive of asexuals isn’t it?”

    Please consider the expression as inclusive.

    ” . . . from my experience . . . the “need for love” was seldom conjoined with the “universal facts of sexuality” . . .”

    Well, we were talking about young women, rather than young men.

    “Satire and wit are seldom very useful in trying to track truth and often destructive of the process.’

    (Without wishing to make any claims whatsoever for my little paragraph above), satire has a distinguished history in European literature. There are innumerable examples I could point to, from Cervantes to Voltaire to Orwell, where satire illuminates the truth far better than laborious tomes refuting boring and silly arguments. In many cases the satire lives on (e.g. Candide), when no one any longer reads the relevant tomes.

    Satire is economical. That is a wonderful virtue. Long live satire!

  78. Satire only works where the statirist’s target is upholding an absurd position. There was nothing absurd about what I was saying. It is a fact that many young men become fathers as a result of an act of will on the part of young women and without the young men ever expressing any consent to the process. So what is absurd about communicating that fact? I never suggested that we should have a system of form-filling to establish consent. That was Simon’s invention. If you have to invent targets for your satire you are not a satirist. George Orwell didn’t have to invent the Soviet Union.

    Mark asks why I refer to married couples rather than just couples. It comes back to the child. On the radio this evening I heard part of a programme on how schools are dealing with behavioural problems among some students. The special unit in one school dealt with 40 problem students in a year. We were told that of those only five came from two parent families. The rest came from single parent families. (Even if only 50% of the students came from two parent families that would still suggest single parent families performing 8 times as bad as two parent families).

    Now, I’m prepared to have a debate about whether reducing the number of single parent families would lead to improved behaviour but what I cannot accept is the left-liberal establishment’s attempt simply to ignore the issue or pretend that there is no difference in outcome. Whatever indicator you look at: child poverty, school behaviour, crime, educational achievement, life chances – we find single parent families perform appallingly. That has to be the agreed starting point for a sensible debate.

    Without marriage (or some sort of binding lifetime contract – whatever you want to call it) there is no commitment to the long term care of children by the two parents – as Jack rightly points out.

  79. I have lost the will to live.

    Oh well. Triangles vs dyads. The Triangles have it. OK.

    Can we move on? Per-lease?

    I thank you.

  80. Sorry folks, bit squiffy (NOT binged) when I posted the above, hence monomaniacal bid to curb free speech and befuddled obliquity. Triangle = the Holy Family (Mummy, Daddy, young Tarquin, Dyad = the Evil Single-parent Family. Sorted.

    All I have to add is Go Ken! Nice to see him rough up Blahr. Once bumped into Kenny + good lady wife in Sainsburys in Nottingham – similarly Boris in Waitrose. Just proves they both have the common touch eh? (Not too common tho – Morrisons would be non-u, Aldi unthinkable. Tescos? Hmm.)

  81. Simon

    Surely the only way that “Universal facts of sexuality” could be inclusive of asexuals would be by seeing the complement of such facts as being about asexuals. Neither useful or simple. Is not asexuality something in its own right rather than some form of deviancy?

    OK I concede that satire may illuminate the truth. It can hold up a brief flashlight to a darkened scene. Well done it can breach the ramparts of accepted ignorance. Often it is done by brave people who risk at the least ostracism, Orwell, or possibly imprisonment or death – I think Cervantes might have. But the process of tracking and illuminating that truth for the first time is not done by satire. More or less along the lines of Field, truth must be already arrived at, perhaps tentatively, by other means. By all means use satire to loosen up the intellectual logjam but there’s still work to be done by reason.

    Unfortunately satire seems to now include any form of rudeness that is directed at hate figures of our old friends the Gs and Is. GWB, TB, Daily Mail Readers, the dear old CofE, East Anglians – all are grist to the mill of Radio4 ‘satirists’.

    For example on one of the R4 ‘comic’ shows a ‘satirist’ characterised the Tory MP who told the distastful joke about Chinese cocklers as ‘a stupid racist’. Probably true on most reasonable definitions of racism. But fummy or satirical? Later on in the show the ‘satirist’ suggested that for every asylum seeker the UK admitted one Daily Mail reader should be dispatched to a Zimbabwe farm. At that time there was an upsurge in murders and rapes of, mostly but not exclusively white, farmers. If the Tory MP’s joke was unacceptable was not this?

    Next time you listen to a ‘satirical’ show ask yourself whether the ‘satirist’ is illuminating truths or just churning out button pushers to a fairly self selected studio audience.

    I have a personal grudge here. About the time Boris was dispatched to meet the grim faced Scouser scallies, another ‘satirical’ show suggested that we East Anglians were webby footed and the males amongst us went to barn dances to be introduced to our sisters. Was the DG of the BBC ordered off to the Fens to be humiliated by a bunch of locals? No way Jose!

    POETS day again for Mon-Fri wage slaves. Have a nice weekend. I see Boris is back in the dear old Telegraph so perhaps Kevin will get his squiffy wish. I think Melissa has despaired of us all and gone to be a nun or a merchant banker.

  82. Just pushing this string over 100 comments.

    Nothing further to say on marriage. Clearly there are people out there who need paperwork to prove their commitment. Who am I to argue?

  83. Jack: Considering your disapproval of satire, there were a lot of amusing moments there. I enjoyed it. Of course there is good satire and bad satire, like everything else. (In the case of my own Damian/Gwendolyn dialogue, I thought of a lot of improvements after I posted . . .)

    I don’t really get your point about asexuals. Why are they relevant here?

    Everyone seems to be concerned about Melissa, but she is a sensible young lady and I am sure she won’t waste her time reading these 100+ meandering comments when she comes back. This has become a kind of superdome of stranded blog commenters waiting for some action. I just hope Ken Clarke can shake everything up.

  84. Simon

    If I can cause the lightest chuckle I consider it adds some meaning to my brief existence between two slabs of dull eternity.

    I foresee a new play about the interactions of half a dozen stranded bloggers in August. If you start now you should have it ready for next year’s fringe. I’m sure we shall all come to see it!

  85. The Welsh are also considered fair game – alleged sheep shaggers although as someone of all Welsh descent I can honestly say the sight of wool on four legs does not goad the blood to my loins.

    As for this Superdome of a blog, surely it is commendable that we are doing something for ourselves in a reasonably orderly fashion, rather than expecting someone else (aka Melissa) to come and rescue us.

    Sometimes I suspect the fond repetition of the name, Me-liss-a, cloaks less noble inclinations
    than a desire to see this blog well regulated…

  86. Thought I’d catch up on what y’all been discussing while I’d been on holiday and I’m with you kevin, I nearly lost the will to live!

    Field: “It is a fact that many young men become fathers as a result of an act of will on the part of young women and without the young men ever expressing any consent to the process.” (hope I’ve got the qoute right) Aw honey has no-one ever explained the facts of life to you? Can’t say I’ve seen news of many men being forcibly raped! They have a choice – they could be gentlemen!

    You seem to hold single mothers as responsible for societies problems, they are not. Mostly they are literally left holding the baby and doing the best they can. For very young mothers it is often the grandparents left holding the baby and bringing up the child as they did their own so your argument breaks down. Not all single mothers are young or badly educated, and why do you think that unmarried always means no male! Like the man said – a couple’s a couple, however long that lasts. You may now blame women for ending relationships but I can assure you that the days of being 2nd class citizens and having to prostitute yourself for a roof over your head are long gone and should stay that way.

    Maybe the answer to reducing the number of single mothers is for men to get with the programme and either choose to STAY around or make women actually WANT to be with them.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t MAKE him drink. And by the way, it takes two to screw up a relationship – and sometimes you just can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear, however hard you try.
    The cause of societies problems are that of attitude and behaviour generally not of geography. They are not confined to single mothers or absent fathers, look around you. It is the culture of Britain today, we have always had single mothers and absent fathers, we have not always had this culture. After the great wars there were a great many single mothers and they did just fine and so did their children, many struggling in poverty. Find the difference between then and now. You are currently looking in the wrong place.

  87. Jaq –

    You seem almost adept – or unscrupulous – as Simon when it comes to misrepresenting my views.

    I note firstly you don’t seek to deny the mountain of evidence showing the statistical connection between single parenthood and disastrous outcomes for the children of single parents in terms of poverty, involvement in crime and drugs and low achievement.

    Secondly I note you nowhere provide any argument for why we – the taxpayers – should fund these disastrous lifestyle choices. Take away the financial subsidies and I believe the behaviour would also disappear.

  88. Jack

    Not so sure! good challenge there

    Have now jack-knifed myself back into action following a few days of lazily meandering along in floral rural Normandy.

    So who’s for the Leader of the Conservatives then ? see latest post today and make your stand!! take a shot! all to be amplified at the forthcoming party conference stage

  89. Oh well. The ‘Fighting Temeraire’ won the greatest painting contest.

    You remember the greatest painting contest ?;)

    ‘The Haywain’ came second.

    Boris should take heart from this. In our visual tastes at least, we’re a deeply conservative nation.

  90. Field: what’s the point in arguing statistics? You can make statistics say anything: Let’s say the colour white is the highest volume of cars sold, ergo you are more likely to have an accident if you drive a white car as statistics could show. However, the most difficult colour to see is grey or light blue and white is more visable so the statistics could be used to illistrate a misleading conclusion. Similarly single parents are more likely to live in poverty and drugs and crime are more likely to stem from deprived backgrounds ergo etc… But it is the society in those backgrounds that fosters drugs and crime not the fact of single parents. Drugs and crime aren’t the exclusive lot of children of single parents. Perhaps if the absent fathers hadn’t f****d off in the first place and left the poor woman in poverty she wouldn’t be a single parent. Ergo it’s entirely the fault of the arrogant tax payers who seem uncomfortable with thier responsibilities.

    Oh, and not all absent fathers are irresponsible. Boris’s parents were divorced when he was 14 and he turned out just fine, they all did.

    You say “Secondly I note you nowhere provide any argument for why we – the taxpayers – should fund these disastrous lifestyle choices. Take away the financial subsidies and I believe the behaviour would also disappear.” Why lifestyle CHOICES? Not every single mother is lucky enough to have been married to Stanley Johnson. But if he wants to divorce his wife and marry me I’d stay married, believe me. Then again I couldn’t marry a man who was clearly out of his wits and given the choice of someone so clearly beautiful and accomplished as his wife even I’d marry her! What I mean is, there’s that little thing called love.

    Sometimes relationships breakdown and can no longer continue. Are you saying that divorce should only be for the rich? That every battered wife should stay for the sake of your selfish bloody principles. That every single parent has never worked? That no single parent is disabled? That people should live in misery and pain instead of moving on when asylum seekers can come into this country and get everything having given nothing to this society? One rule for foreigners but our own women and children can rot? Get back to the sink woman and know your place?

    I’m sorry Field but on this issue your archaic misogynous views just stink.

  91. Jaq: I understand where you are coming from, and sympathise, but you really can’t take your frustration out on a poor guy who is legitimately expressing the views of an innocent bystander. I don’t think that Field was making any statement apart from the one which states , not every father is cognisant of his fatherhood ,due to his not being informed of a pregnancy. Each case is of course different, and someone who has been abandoned, whilst with child, or even after having borne children, is not the same as someone for whom casual sex resulted in pregnancy.

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