Local Elections


The essence of the Tory approach is that there are still plenty of ways of beautifying the world and sparing the taxpayer

Fed up with feeble Labour? Only you can put the boot in

Not so long ago, there appeared in these pages one of the best letters I have ever seen. It was a letter from a retired lieutenant-colonel. I have a feeling he lived in Gloucestershire and, even without having his precise words to hand, I can still feel the incandescent heat of his indignation.

It was one of those letters that smelt of the freshly spilt coffee and still echoed to the sound of the freshly smacked breakfast table. You could almost hear the air coursing from his nostrils in a great double-barrelled parp of rage that sent the crumbs of egg and toast scattering from his moustache, over the discarded edition of the morning paper and into the lilac-scented lap of his adoring wife of 50 years.


He spoke with the authentic voice of Telegraph man and, like so many Telegraph men, he spoke for England. “Sir,” he said (and if I paraphrase or abbreviate, I hope he will forgive me), “isn’t it time the Tory party stopped pretending to be some namby-pamby crochet club?”, and he went on to wring the withers of the Opposition before kicking it smartly in the fetlocks and slapping it in the girth.

He didn’t want any more of this bunny-hugging nonsense. He didn’t want this green what-have-you. He didn’t want to see any more of Her Majesty’s oh-so-loyal Opposition poncing about on bikes. He wanted to see this Labour lot turfed out on their ear. He wanted to see Tory MPs fix bayonets and close with the enemy; or, failing that, he wanted the Government swiftly decapitated with a sharpened shovel. So would the Tories kindly cease their obsession with organic marrows and solar power and get on with opposing, which, after all, was what the taxpayer was paying them to do.

As soon as I read that letter, I not only felt a surge of pleasure at the splendour and violence of the lieutenant-colonel’s language, I also knew that across Britain thousands of Telegraph readers would be gurgling assent, pounding their own tables with approval and immediately firing off sympathetic e-mails to whichever Old Rectory in Gloucestershire he inhabited.

That brilliant correspondent had contrived, in his cosmic yawp of irritation, to express the growing sense of unreality that is felt by the voters at large. Here we have a government in a state of Babylonian decadence, with three of the most senior ministers teetering on the brink of a richly deserved oblivion. After nine years, the Blair administration would seem to lie on its back like a wounded beetle, feelers feebly waggling, and yet the Tory party seems unable to bring down the gumboot of fate.

How come they are still there, people want to know. How can Charles Clarke possibly remain in office after he has allowed more than 1,000 foreign criminals to roam the streets when they should have been deported, and when those criminals have now been shown to have used their time at large to commit further sickening crimes, including rape and, it is now suspected, the murder of a police officer?

All I can say to the lieutenant-colonel is that I know how he feels, that Opposition is deeply frustrating, and that he, and everyone who agrees with him, has their very own chance, today, to put their boots in, to vote Labour out wherever they can, and do themselves what we Tories are unable to do, since the physical task of removing the ruling party from power is left to the people and the people alone.

Of course it is maddening to see Clarke and Patricia Hewitt still clinging to power; but if anything their performance is now an electoral advantage to the Tories. And as for John Prescott, there seems no point in the Opposition trying to elaborate on the magnificent efforts of the Mail, a newspaper that pays hundreds of thousands of pounds for smut and then snarls with splendid disapproval of the pornography it has procured. What could anyone hope to add?

I urge the lieutenant-colonel to be of good cheer, and to vote Tory, because I also think there is some misunderstanding of the great green Tory transformation.

There are two ways of thinking about the environment, and taking an interest in the future of the planet. The first is to be endlessly steeped in moral disapproval, to dislike growth, spending, Ferraris, Solero ice-creams and everything that makes life worth living.

These sorts of greens don’t really care about the environment, or at least they don’t primarily care about the environment. Like those who oppose hunting, they are really actuated by hatred of the mental states of others. They want to parade their consciences, to control and to inhibit.

That is not the Tory approach – or at least not as I understand it. We don’t believe that you have to live on tofu and rear goats in order to be good to the environment. We are optimists, and we believe that there are more solutions in technology and progress than in mass self-denial and new regulation, and that you can still aspire to drive a Ferrari, except that one day it will be a beautiful clean green Ferrari powered by a hydrogen fuel cell developed in the labs of South Oxfordshire.

We don’t want to coerce and constrain; we want to help people in their very natural desire to improve the world around them, and sometimes you can achieve this by removing controls, not imposing them.

Every morning I come out of my house and am bathed by a great horrible gust of gas-smelling vapour from the boiler. Wouldn’t it be better if there were no planning restrictions on the completely inoffensive solar panels I want to install; and wouldn’t it be a good thing if these panels consequently became far more affordable for everyone?

The essence of the Tory approach is that there are still plenty of ways of beautifying the world and sparing the taxpayer. Tory councils have done it up and down the country. Vote Blue, go Green, save money.

181 thoughts on “Local Elections”

  1. And then I read the article.
    Usual twaddle, Bozza. Yes, you represent the party of Telegraph readers, with their affection for hunting, capital punishment and the policies of lord Salisbury. Lieutenant Colonels from the counties can spit their breakfasts all over their carpets for all I care. They have as much to offer the modern world as Caxton’s original printing press, serving to remind us how crap the world was for our predecessors.
    I am the sort of green (maybe they would accept me) who does care about the environment. I don’t want to end your fun, but your bloody policies are morely likely than not to end my planet.

  2. We haven’t any elections in my area, but I am hoping that there will be huge gains for The Conservative Party. We really do need to put the boot into them, Boris. You’re absolutely correct. Though, they don’t seem particularly bothered by the opinions of those whom they are supposed to represent!

    Well done last night, Boris. What a brilliant tackle! The legend of Boris Charlton lives on. Boris, Boris, Boris!!!

  3. But what is the point in voting them out when you are replacing them with wishy washy clones, either Liberal or Conservative.

    When the conservatives abandon policies in a mass rush to the centre, policies which have been the core of belief for generations then really, what is the point? It looks to me as if Cameron is nothing more than a populist, choosing votes over standing up for policies.

    Of course the green labeling is just another example of popularism, with no backbone behind it. I have the worry that as soon as a survey comes out with the general public in favour of whaling Cameron will be there on Westminster Bridge, harpoon in hand and all the while decrying Labour for spin. It’s sickening.

  4. Dave Thingy ., that well known poewerhouse of radical ideas, can hardly expect anyone to give green credence to his methods of tranport; neither his bike with limo in tow, nor his extraordinary expedition to Norway; (in a private plane, no less), to view a rapidly melting glacier the melting of which was, and still is, caused precisely by such outpourings of pollutant as he caused.

    I voted today , of course anti Labour , but where was the alternative?

    There has to be a difference in policy between the various Parties, and it has to be clearly stated what that difference/ those differences is/ are. What are the policies of the Tory party ?

    At present it seems to me that we are served with one amorphous mess of indecision and PC claptrap.

  5. I would have voted anti-Labour too if there had been local elections round here. I hope they get thoroughly trounced, and Blair announces he’s stepping down. Some hope, the latter.

    And I always seem to vote anti-something. I’m not sure that I ever wholehearted voted for any party. It’s always been a hunt for the least worst. Sad.

  6. I have never voted Lib Dem in my life but they are beginning to say what I want to hear, i.e those things that used to come from a Conservative mouth. Labour’s longevity has largely been due to a weak opposition and it seems that the Lib Dems are now more effectively filling the vacuum.

  7. In the best, and time honoured, interests of Thread Hijacking I would like to propose some sort award for Boris as the single worst football player ever to (mostly) stand in an England football squad; even a comedy eleven.

    Boris, whilst, no doubt, your virtues are numerous and (probably) unusual, if you ever came into physical contact with a successful, professional footballer I suspect there would be some sort of explosion.

    Meanwhile, back on topic.
    In my, admittedly, humble opinion, contemporary Britain has far more serious issues than bleeding green house gases and the environment and if that ponce of a schoolmate of yours can’t come up with anything more salient and compelling then this is an evil day for Conservative politics.

    If you Tories carry on like this you shouldn’t be too surprised if you get thumped at the next general election too. (or general erection if Prezza has anything to say about it)

  8. I’ve dutifully voted Conservative this morning Boris.

    But never mind the serious issues, THAT tackle was sensational bravura.
    I haven’t seen anyone tackled so CONCLUSIVELY since three rushing, ruthless Chicago Bears’ linebackers descended on an unsuspecting Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback.
    That moment made the entire boring event worth watching.
    Bravo. [Late arrivals thought it was a robust-looking Boris Becker – well there are numerous similarities].

  9. “The essence of the Tory approach is that there are still plenty of ways of beautifying the world and sparing the taxpayer”.

    Exactly, Boris in Red neutralising the pesky opposition head-on in true lieutenant-colonel ordered fashion! BRILLIANT!

    Note to Tory election campaign managers: Don’t bother “borrowing” millions to make a glossy and glitzy advertising campaign. Just air Boris’ tackle again, and again, and again! (Maybe in black & white to avoid wavering voter colour confusion though).

  10. As usual, I completely agree with everything that Boris says, but what he says doesn’t seem to correlate with what his party says.

  11. Dan-
    And we completely agree with you.

    Boris-
    Form your own party and become PM.

    The rest of us-
    Vote for Boris!

    Sorted!

  12. Tony Blair’s government is on the brink of collapse, but the Tory leadership remains grimly determined to stick to the environment as the main theme of its local election campaign.

    David Cameron has given tips on growing prize-winning vegetables and party chairman Francis Maude has come up with a novel solution to global warming – self-irrigate your compost heap.

    “If you pee on your compost heap, it has a double environmental whammy. It speeds up decomposition and it also saves water,” he advises.

    Talk about piddling while Rome burns.

  13. I would loved to have helped put the boot in here on Tyneside, but Big Dave’s promise to change the party hasn’t reached the ears of our local association. As yet I have still not received an election leaflet from the Conservative candidate for my ward. Big Dave was up in Newcastle recently (where there are, regrettably, no Conservative councillors) urging us to return to the party, how are we expected to oblige, if the party is so unable to engae with us? Not even a leaflet!

    Is it any wonder Labour enjoys such an easy ride in these parts?

  14. For years I’ve enjoyed the ideological purity of opposition; but now I’m a bit sick of it. I just want to win the next election. If that means flying to Norway to look at glaciers, refusing to talk about taxation, and becoming cuddlier than your average stuffed bear, then fine. I have a degree of trust that these policies aren’t being pursued for fun; they’re being pursued because vast, vast amounts of research all say that this is the way back to number 10. And when we do finally get back to power, whatever changes we’ve made to do it, I’m going to cry tears of joy, for there will be essentially Tory politicians governing the country, however restrictive manifesto commitments might seem to be.

    Also – minor niggle – when people say that they have no idea what Conservative policies are, has it never occured to them to look at the website? Even where there are no concrete policies, one can get a pretty good feel of the direction nonetheless. If they only reverse the bloody hunting ban and half the civil liberties stuff, that’d be something.

  15. Also, great tackle. Looked like he might have tripped, but I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt and decided it was intentional. Boris beats bosch. Brilliant.

  16. “Boris-
    Form your own party and become PM.”

    …and then talk to the youth of this country… you would be amazed how much support you have amoung the student population…

    oh and the tackle was indeed classic…

    Keep up the good work ūüėÄ

  17. OK, it’s get out the popcorn: the BBC election night broadcast has just started.

    Anyone for a minced, roasted and charred Labour kebab?

  18. I’m a hardcore leftie who used to work for Greenpeace, but still I’m with idlex, Mac, Barry, and most of the other commenters here. And Boris, up to about two-thirds of the way through the article, as usual.

    You can’t vote Tory if the party isn’t Tory, regardless of the official name. Casting my brain back, wasn’t it Labour itself who started this process of moving to the centre to undercut the opposition? And it was certainly effective for Clinton in the US.

    I’m surprised to note the comment on the LibDems and how they’re embodying what used to be considered the Conservative spirit. I have a lefty friend who’s disgusted with Labour and is voting LibDem because she feels they represent her better. Dark horse comes up the outside while the Tory is fondling the fetlocks of Labour.

    And yeah, even an old Greenpeacer like me thinks y’all have more important issues to discuss than whether you should pee on your compost. Talk about fouling your own nest!

    More important topics: Like a war which is such a radioactive topic nobody will go near it.

  19. I live in Portsmouth, which today was having an election of one third of councillors. The council has been a ‘noc’ for as long as i can remember but i am pleased to say as a Tory member and voter that even though the result means ‘Pompey City Council’ remains noc, the Tories are up 3 seats and labour down 2. This is good.

    I must say the Lib Dems in my council ward are complete middle of the scale, namby-pamby politicians with a tag-line “Don’t vote labour they can’t win here!”. Well it’s nice to see the boring yellow’s encouraging my fellow residents to put an ‘X’ in for the blues!

  20. Whilst, I’ve no doubt, the Tories are going cock-a-hoop about last night’s elections results I must confess to being less optimistic. Given Labour’s recent, and rather appalling, record, it’s hardly surprising that the electorate have registered a protest vote in the full knowledge that local elections have little impact on the real governance of the country as a whole. I grieves me to concur with John Hutton in his comments to the effect that, had there been a general election yesterday, Labour would (probably) still have won it. I am fast losing confidence in David Cameron and the apparent ‘fight for the centre’ is becoming banal, predictable and politically unconvincing.

    The party I vote for at the next general election will be that one which most closely presents the following manifesto promises:
    1) Re-assessing and consolidating certain legislation introduced during the course of Labour’s tenure (particularly those measures which have curtailed our civil liberties under the pretext of prevention of terrorism)
    2) Re-assessing the NHS and cutting the administrative overheads of this organisation (oxymoron though this is in the same sentence as NHS)
    3) Providing for fully tax deductible private health care schemes (or even top up schemes to provide for specialised medical treatment on the NHS such as Herceptin etc.)
    4) Providing incentives for small and medium businesses and cutting the administrative burden in such organisations (a new type of limited liability company perhaps)
    5) Putting targets on investment returns on pension funds (which will stop ‘looting’ of said funds by the likes of Brown)
    6) Putting every effort into sorting out the issue of Palestine and Israel (the real source of Islamic inspired terrorism)
    7) Creating production centres (probably hi-tech) in Britain or the country will economically implode within fifty years when China and India etc. up to full steam
    8) Putting the R back into university R&D programmes
    9) Sorting out juvenile hooliganism and anti-social behaviour effectively and not sweeping it under the carpet. Bring back the birch or something more compelling than ASBOs.
    10) A commitment to sorting out the real causes of crime i.e. poverty, unemployment and poor education. Recent studies suggest that only 5% of those incarcerated have not been victims of one or all of these disadvantages. One group can be sorted out with money and the habitual criminals fixed up with psychiatric assistance. Or, if that fails, a lobotomy/crucifixion.
    11) A commitment to reduce public debt which is a time-bomb waiting to go off. Credit companies in the UK are going wild just as they did in 1987 before black Monday.
    12) Raising school educational and examination standards so you don’t get an ‘A’ for having a pulse. Then Britain can go back to government university grants because not everyone qualifies academically.
    13) Sorting out immigration regulations once and for all. The US had Ellis Island, maybe we could use an old aircraft carrier as a staging point.
    14) Sweeping back the ideology of political correctness and going back to common courtesy and practicality.

    (You’ll be pleased to note that I’ve not added banning all public religious observances because it’s far too much to hope for)

    This recent, US marketing inspired bollocks about position is ultimately pointless. Countries are governed by policies not political geometry; whether voters are bunny hugging hippies or a fascist nutters they are fully aware of this. With the possible exception of melting glaciers I have yet to discover what David Cameron’s policies actually are.

    I am under no illusions that Cameron would utterly fail to support any of the aforementioned manifesto promises (regardless of their political suitability) because they require balls and, whether one agrees with her policies or not, Margaret Thatcher was the only British politician in modern history to be equipped with a full set.

    Probably Dennis’s, and kept on the mantelpiece.

  21. No1: Joe! Agreed, and with the following additions.( I must be going soft , I actully agree with many more than I thought).

    Now that the elections are over (at least for the miserable total of 36% dutiful citizens who have bothered to move their carcases from the couch), it leaves open a devastating vista for the future of our Democracy.
    Indifference to any results of any election is a total waste of effort for our ancestors, who struggled for a say in how we were / are governed. Having said that , I am still surprised that Labour did not haemorrhage completely. There are obviously lots of Pauls still about.

    The Tories winning over 200 seats ;the result of taking ~40% of the votes cast;( for which , I rejoice), whilst seeming to be a huge plus, translates in regard to a possible overall vote share, to a mere 14.4 %of the possible electoral total, due to the apathy of the other~ 60%

    I for one am not surprised at the BNP winning so many seats. Those seats rightly belong to a Party which has the perspicacity to see the potential harm of ignoring the majority. It should be the Tory prerogative to represent and be seen to represent, in equal measures, ALL of the population equally fairly. In the event , no Party, other than the BNP, made any attempt to assuage the fears of those, especially those in heavily populated urban areas, demanding the proper respect due to them as the indigenous population. The scales of fairness, even if not in fact , are seen to be tipped by the shopkeeperly governmental PC thumb, in the favour of anyone but the same majority of indigenous people.

    EVERYONE living legally in this country has the same right to vote, freely and without prejudice: it might merely be an impression which is commonly mistaken as fact, but why does it seem that the rights and wishes of certain minorities are given precedence over the majority?

  22. why does it seem that the rights and wishes of certain minorities are given precedence over the majority?

    I suggest that the reason it appears so is twofold:

    1) There has been an actual, and unsuccessful (see here) attempt to enshrine special rights for certain minorities. Note UNSUCCESSFUL. It is the attempt, not the success, which is resented. Hear about enough of these and it does start to feel like an onslaught.

    2) The uK is, for the first time since the Norman Invasion (and wouldn’t you miss Boris if you had to send him back across the Channel?) a major destination for immigrants. You just aren’t used to dealing with people from other cultures in the way that more mosaic-like societies have been. Look at Rome: there was a period where on any two-block stretch you could probably hear ten different languages. I would not say that the larger part of the UK is used to that. So it’s change, and uncomfortable change.

    That’s why it feels that way.

  23. Depending where one is domiciled in the UK , the polyglot babble is certainly noticeable raincoaster. Where else has one the freedom of choice, when it comes to the crunch, of at least 12 language translators , paid for by public funds.
    I read recently that
    The Netherlands have now made it Law that only the netherlandse tal shall be spoken in public, and they have a history of a facility in speaking other languages , not least of which , English ,being spoken by a very large majority. Here, as far as I can see, a working knowledge is not ( yet ) even a requirement.And the Romans were a different kattle of fish anyway!

  24. Either “Dave” is extremely naive or very clever. Like Joe (above), I have little idea what the Tories stand for at the moment but have a sneaky feeling the glacier-hugging bit is a way of marking time.

    Unfortunately it’s not as harmless as it looks; the thought that Dave is preoccupied with something Boris himself shot to pieces recently (“Climate Change as a Religion”, Feb 2006) is worrying. Does anyone understand what’s going on?

    Let us hope this is part of a cunning plan where the real issues, the ones we want to hear, will emerge after he’s cooled off about glaciers and won over some wavering supporters.

    Let’s also hope the patience of the loyal – and of everyone who wants to see the back of the NewLab traitors – will not have given out by then.

  25. Well… Shuffle underway…

    Clarke.. gone, Kelly.. gone, Straw.. gone

    Reid, Johnson and Beckett (who I thought was unusually dignifies on question time last night) in respectively.

    Prescott has lost his department (whatever that means) I think its a bit like a slimming plan..

  26. From what I heard his department wasn’t as large as he’d have had you believe anyway.

    And Mac, we have translators available for over fifty languages here in Vancouver. Twelve. Is. Nothing.

    That’s what I mean about a relative change. That there are areas where white people are a minority is really only a surprise in few places in the world.

    Have you heard Australia is trying to put up some sort of test for immigrants: they’ll have to know a certain basic level of English and have a certain awareness of cultural values. Now, when they put the entire populace through the test and deport the ones that fail, that will be fair.

  27. Joe hit it on the head by wanting to ban political correctness. The attraction of the BNP is their willingness to say what is unsayable by the large parties because political correctness will scream “racist”. I’m somewhat surprised Boris hasn’t had his knuckles rapped for some of his postings here, because he’s trying to say what Cameron should be saying but is too scared to.

    Political correctness was a wonderful win for the left, it’s thought crime at its most perfect; you can’t say what you may be thinking because of the fear of public vilification. Of course as the BNP are vilified anyway they can say what they like.

    (Oh, and I want to add more grammar schools to the list of policies that should have been kept, but were thrown away by the cowardice of a leader who is so desperate to appeal that he’s had his political spine removed)

  28. Local elections? I did something I’ve never done before and it felt very strange, almost heretic. But, after careful consideration, I believe it was the only thing to do and in the end, I voted with my conscience.

    Layering law on law and reshuffling a bad bunch won’t solve anything. Once again it’s distraction politics – the kind that Bliar does so well, he really is a brilliant front man.

  29. Glancing through Joe’s list, for me it missed two matters: one huge and one tiny.

    The huge matter is one that affects us all: Blair. Of the three scandals that broke over Labour last week, all are dwarfed by the hideous scandal of the continuation in office of a Prime Minister who sets personal conviction above democratic process, and who lied the British people and parliament into the Iraq war. What worries me most about Blair these days is that he is going to do exactly the same again with a looming Iran war, which is being planned by the Pentagon (we know because appalled US generals been furiously leaking), and which a great many US commentators think is going to happen. Asked about it a month back, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the idea of such a war was “nuts”. And, of course, it is nuts. So was the Iraq war, but that happened too. And so it’s very disturbing that Jack Straw has now been fired as Foreign Secretary: he was at least a voice of sanity in this respect. And now he’s gone, I fear that at least one restraint on Blair has been removed. The principal reason I want Blair gone, preferrably today, is to stop him from embroiling Britain in another catastrophic war – one which will make Iraq look like a picnic.

    The tiny matter is personal. When smoking is banned in pubs next year, I will be deprived of one of the last refuges that smokers have. I will no longer be able to go down to my local to relax and enjoy a pint and a cigarette. I will also no longer be able to meet up with friends to share the simple pleasure. And in addition there will no longer be any neutral ground where I can meet up with non-smoking friends who ban smoking in their own houses, but who are quite happy to spend an hour or two in a pub. This is a piece of legislation that reaches deep into my day-to-day personal life, and the personal lives of everyone like me. And far from inducing me to give up smoking, this little piece of dishonest and totalitarian legislation makes me all the more determined to carry on, and furthermore to completely reject all medical advice put out by what I now regard to be a corrupt and mendacious medical establishment. Indeed, my rejection of their pseudo-science is now beginning to extend beyond medicine into matters such as global warming: I increasingly don’t trust ‘experts’ with an axe to grind. And so while David Cameron is going green, I’m moving rapidly in exactly the opposite direction.

  30. I lumped the smoking issue under ‘1’ (revisiting all the dumb statutes/ammendments) idlex.

    Same with hunting and various other limitations of ‘rights’. I was trying to keep it as concise as possible in the interests of not putting everyone to sleep during my apoplexy.

    Re your proposal regarding the elmination of Blair; whilst it has an undeniable attraction I’m pretty confident that including it as a manifesto promise might breach a number of laws existing prior to Labour’s rampage on the British legal system.

    The cabinet reshuffle is reminiscent of Hitler at his most …errm… Hitlerish. All Blair needs now is Eva Braun, a large supply of morphine and coffee and a loaded service revolver. I reckon a shot of any cabinet minister with a lit spliff would bring the whole thing down. Paddy, you’re not bad with photoshop, how about it?

    And yes raincoaster, we do have patios in England but few know this because they [patios] are usually underwater.

  31. ‘We don’t believe that you have to live on tofu and rear goats in order to be good to the environment.’

    But you clearly DO continue to believe in peddling the same tired old stereotypes to back up a rather bizarre argument that some kind of ice cream makes life worth living. There is no such thing as an ice cream (or a motor car) that makes life worth living; and the sooner we all get over our product-centricity, the happier we’ll be.

    Come to think of it, there was something in the news about that yesterday: how we’re generally less happy about everything these days, despite our apparent financial wealth.

    Pity about the cliches, Boris. Right at the end, when you got to the planning laws, you almost had something constructive to say.

  32. “Like those who oppose hunting, they are really actuated by hatred of the mental states of others. They want to parade their consciences, to control and to inhibit.”

    I’m with Alan Clark on this one – oppose fox hunting but support hanging.

    (Nice tackle Chopper!)

  33. Never mind the local elections. Instead, there appears to be no shortage of those determined to make near martyrdom speeches about their ‘right’ to fill their lungs with whatever concoction of potentially lethal components , regardless of the prevailingly strong wish of a very large majority who do not wish to have theirs filled , involuntarily, at the same time..

    There should never have been the need for such a crappy law i.e. banning smoking, if the practitioners of the art had had more consideration for those who do not wish to smell like a long unemptied ashtray.

    Those who wish to smoke, by all means do it, I did ! But please; not wittingly or even unwittingly, into the airways of those not of your persuasion. Please don’t foist your dissatisfaction and even ire on those who are cured, (and no: not like a kipper); they are not to blame. Make your target the pub landlords and breweries: make them install properly functioning, highly efficient ventilation systems, and make the places more hospitable for all.

    As for this rump of a Government; I feel we must use that clich√©, “Forgive them; for they know not what they do”.

  34. I am very pleased with results for the Conservative party in the elctions last night, although I am dissapointed with the lack of seats up north. However, when you consider that the Party has taken Crawley for the first time since 1971, this is excellent. And what about the London Boroughs? There now needs to be a concerted attack by the Tories on the already unstable Bliar, although personally I prefer him to stay on until at least 2008,and as and when Gordy comes in, “his” party will more or less finished.
    One nil Mr Blair! P.S., anothe “former” communist as Home Secretary?? hahahaha

  35. Almost forgot Boris’s post in all the excitement. As usual, he hits a number of nails for me. This time it’s solar heating, a topical subject in our household as we’ve recently been looking at what’s on the market.

    What a HUGE disappointment. Most systems cost at least ¬£2,000 to bring a saving of about ¬£50 a year. I know it’s not being a good greenie to think in these terms, but they are the reality. In fact, if you take into account maintenance and terminal deterioration of components over time, I can’t see a system that comes remotely close to paying for itself.

    There are some elegant designs out there, including one high efficiency system needing no special tanks, cylinders or even power supply. But they are way too expensive for what they offer in savings.

    I think most of these companies are honourable enough, even though some smack of double glazing salesmen. The real problem is that prices will remain high as long as solar is seen as a specialist area with low demand.

    Why hasn’t someone gone into mass production to bring prices down and flooded the DIY market, where there must be considerable opportunities?

    Hells bells, I bought a pillar drill of near industrial quality from Aldi recently for £29. It contained as least as many finely-engineered parts as a solar heating system and probably as much metal.

    Sorry, I may have covered this ground before. Perhaps there’s not a lot governments can do about it, apart from ease planning restrictions (which of course add further to the cost) and offer subsidies.

    It doesn’t help when Prescott threatens to prosecute anyone who tries to change their socks without a qualification.

  36. PaulD – actually there probably is quite a lot that governments can do to encourage sustainable technologies. Subsidies for energy-saving measures, the intelligent and selective application of tax, and just plain getting up on the stump and telling the world that they believe sustainability is the way forward.

    Trouble is, it’s so much easier to sit back and ‘let the market decide’. Even when the market quite frequently makes idiotic decisions. In a free-market economy the best and most appropriate technolologies do not always rise to the top – it’s usually the best marketing that does that. Which is driven in turn by the company that punts out the best marketing budget.

    It’s an old example, but that’s precisely how we got VHS, which was rubbish technology, instead of Betamax.

  37. Mac, your logic is uncharacterically flawed. First you blame the smokers, then the brewers, then the government for passing bad law. I thought Idlex covered the topic well from a smoker’s viewpoint (being one too).

    The answer, of course, is ventilation, ventilation, ventilation, coupled with some segregation where necessary or desirable.

    If the government insists on getting involved, there’s no reason on earth why it shouldn’t require pubs to have a smoke monitoring device in shared areas to ensure the extractors are doing their job. Obviously they cannot remove every last particle any more than they can filter our Caesar’s last breath, but customers would at least have a relatively clean atmosphere. Most importantly, they would have the CHOICE.

  38. there appears to be no shortage of those determined to make near martyrdom speeches about their ‘right’ to fill their lungs with whatever concoction of potentially lethal components , regardless of the prevailingly strong wish of a very large majority who do not wish to have theirs filled , involuntarily, at the same time..

    A splendid example of the Political Correctness you spend half your time justifiably railing against, Mac! It is very PC to be anti-smoking these days, and to come out with this sort of nonsense.

    And once again, you misrepresent me, by saying that I refer to my ‘right’ to smoke whatever I like. I don’t think I have any right to smoke: I just think that the government has no right to prevent me from smoking.

    As for the ‘very large majority’ of people who don’t want to have their lungs filled with smoke, this majority are somehow or other not to be found in pubs, in which smoking has long been, and remains, perfectly acceptable to its customers.

    But if this majority exists, then the right thing to do would have been either to have totally separate smoking and non-smoking areas in pubs, or entirely separate smoking and non-smoking pubs. That would have been the liberal and tolerant and decent thing to do. But perhaps you are neither liberal nor tolerant enough to allow even this.

    But then, it doesn’t bother you, because you are a non-smoker. But in the bars I frequent, the regulars are – unsurprisingly and appropriately – absolutely fuming.

    And so am I.

  39. Surely the point is that, whether one smokes or not, it is reasonable to allow one’s opposite principle the appropriate latitude to pursue (or not) their vice with the reasonable provisor that their enjoyment doesn’t compromise anyone else’s.

    Whether anyone is pro or con [smoking] I cannot see any justification for banning smoking in all public forums where this is contrary to the express desire of the proprietor and his clientel. It is however, without doubt, sheerest hypocrisy to ban smoking in public and not prohibit the sale of tobacco.

    Whilst we touch on smoking (probably far too much) in this forum, it is this legislation which epitomises New Labour’s true philosophy and principles: A bunch of sanctimonious, self-righteous, puritanical, authoritarian c**ts!

    Got a bit carried away then; now I’ve got to wipe a load of spit off my laptop.

  40. Idlex : if you have taken up the gauntlet on behalf of ‘the smoker’,( I had no one particular in mind), I would ask you to read my scribblings more closely. I am not against smoking per se; to each his / her own. (I stopped, very suddenly, for a very good , indeed pressing, reason.

    I am however against the still prevalent practice of people crowding together in shop doorways,( and even hospital entrances), making smoke like a tribe of Iroquois.

    I do/ did not intend to be unnecessarily PC ,( as PC nearly always is); indeed , to do so I would have to encompass much more than my, and for that matter , your ,bete noir , the ban on ,( as you insist ),harmless pastime of smoking in public houses, and soon probably even other places .

    At least PaulD agrees that the provision of adequate ventilation is a step in the right direction.

  41. it is this legislation which epitomises New Labour’s true philosophy and principles (Joe M)

    Very true. But is any other party going to undo it? Dave-Cam’s first act on becoming Tory leader was to give up smoking, before rushing off to hug glaciers. And it was one of Charlie Kennedy’s awful vices – and one reason why I liked him. I can’t see either Tories or Lib Dems undoing anything right now.

    Anyway, it seems Bliar has been thoroughly spooked by the election result, and as a result has ritually slaughtered a whole raft of ministers in order to placate the gods of absolute power that he worships in the blood-drenched crypt beneath Number 10.

    But there’s been a sense of desperation about it. And I don’t think it’s going to help him. He is the one who has got to go, and firing ministers left right and centre isn’t going to change that plain fact. If anything, it only serves to underline it.

  42. I am however against the still prevalent practice of people crowding together in shop doorways,( and even hospital entrances), making smoke like a tribe of Iroquois.

    Why are you against it?

    Now I really am bewildered. The practice of crowding in shop doorways and hospital entrances is a relatively recent development which is a consequence of banning smoking in shops, hospitals, and nearly everywhere else. When the smoking ban in pubs comes into effect, exactly the same will happen outside pubs.

    But now it seems that when smokers are driven out onto the streets by anti-smoking legislation, people will then start complaining about people smoking in the streets.

    Where does this madness end? I suppose that when smoking is banned on the streets, and smokers confined to smoking concentration camps, people will start complaining about the concentration camps, and clouds of smoke drifting downwind of them.

  43. I am against it for the very good reason that I have to run the gauntlet every time I go into or come out if a shop or the hospital.

  44. What goes on here, Melissa? I just received a bouncer saying the last comment “was being held for approval by the blog owner”.

    Just because I said Boris should be hung, drawn and quartered because more women fancy him than they do me? Huh.

  45. The mass slaughter of ministers just makes me loathe the little creep Bliar even more. While I’ve no time for any of them, it does seem that Clarke was genuine in his wish to clean up the mess, and competent to do so.

    I bet they had a team of statisticians working on opinion poll returns to determine which sackings would be most likely to keep them in power. Not a principle in sight, of course.

    (Actually just testing to see if this one bounces too)

  46. Paul, your comment’s probably being held because it contains a few links. It’s a spam-prevention device, an automatic thing.

    Nonsmokers would go to pubs if we could do so without having to deal with someone else’s smoke. Pub business in BC is actually UP from when they allowed smoking indiscriminately, because of all the nonsmokers going YAY WE CAN GO TO THE PUB NOW.

    Pub owners are highly in favor of hyping this hysteria because, although perfectly adequate forms of ventilation do exist they are quite expensive. They’d rather have you do all their fighting for them.

    The fume rooms really DO work; nobody’s more anti-smoking than me, and they pass my test. But they’re costly.

  47. YAY WE CAN GO TO THE PUB NOW.

    If that were really generally true, raincoaster, pub owners with an eye for profits (and what pub owners aren’t) would have long since ejected smokers, and welcomed in the throngs of anti-smokers waiting outside. The UK’s J.D. Wetherspoon pub chain introduced non-smoking pubs a year or two back, only to find that trade fell 5 – 10%. It’s the same story in Ireland, where many pubs have simply gone bust.

    And I can see it for myself in my own local pub, where the smoking bar is always full, and the non-smoking bar is always empty.

    And I’m sure ventilation works too, even though Sir Charles George of the BMA declared that he had research eveidence that it didn’t ‘remove particles from air’. Sure, no big surprise there: ventilation doesn’t remove particles from air – it removes air.

    In Britain, if not in Canada, the smoking ban has not been imposed because there is a strong public demand for it, but because a powerful medical establishment wants to stop people smoking.

    And ultimately, underlying this medical crusade there is a moral crusade. Smoking tobacco has always attracted moral condemnation ever since its introduction into Europe in the 16th century, up to and including sometimes imposing death penalties on smokers. Exactly the same applies to every other drug, including tea, coffee, and alcohol: the puritans among us just can’t abide any of them.

  48. But I did not return in the dead of night to carry on the smoking war, but instead to point out something quite interesting to our ant-clerical Joe Mental.

      BELIEVING that God created the universe in six days is a form of superstitious paganism, the Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno claimed yesterday.

      Brother Consolmagno, who works in a Vatican observatory in Arizona and as curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Italy, said a “destructive myth” had developed in modern society that religion and science were competing ideologies.

      He described creationism, whose supporters want it taught in schools alongside evolution, as a “kind of paganism” because it harked back to the days of “nature gods” who were responsible for natural events.

      Brother Consolmagno argued that the Christian God was a supernatural one, a belief that had led the clergy in the past to become involved in science to seek natural reasons for phenomena such as thunder and lightning, which had been previously attributed to vengeful gods. “Knowledge is dangerous, but so is ignorance. That’s why science and religion need to talk to each other,” he said.

      “Religion needs science to keep it away from superstition and keep it close to reality, to protect it from creationism, which at the end of the day is a kind of paganism – it’s turning God into a nature god. And science needs religion in order to have a conscience, to know that, just because something is possible, it may not be a good thing to do.”

    I didn’t know that the Vatican had an astronomer. I’m not sure that this will stop Joe wanting to consign all religions to the bonfire, but it might give slight pause before he lights up.

  49. Joe is a nonsmoker.

    And we had exactly the same resistance here by pub owners and pub goers to the smoking ban. The increase in trade took two years to happen, but it did happen and it was entirely unexpected. What I’m saying here is look beyond the theories and justifications and look what actually happens in the long term to pub attendance: actual numbers indicate it has a net increase over a five-year period, although yes, there’s a big dropoff in the beginning after a smoking ban. All the smokers stay home and the nonsmokers won’t go in until the place has been well and truly de-fumigated.

    I’m going to a pub Monday or Tuesday to pester the owner into hiring me to write his monthly newsletter, and I’ll ask him how much it cost to put the fume room in and how the smoking ban affected business. And since he’s Irish and his staff smoke like chimneys, he’ll tell me. I shall report back.

  50. Joe is a nonsmoker.

    I know that. And has vastly expanded ever since he took up his letttuce diet, to the point where his doctors have said he may as well not have bothered giving up.

    And we had exactly the same resistance here by pub owners and pub goers to the smoking ban. The increase in trade took two years to happen

    Well, if it happens, it won’t include my own ¬£2000/year contribution to my local pub. And I am at present something approaching their best customer, given the respect with which I am daily received.

    I’m simply not going to be going to my pub once this ban is enforced, Macarnie or no.

    Indeed, I currently contemplate losing many friends through this law.

    If so, so be it: I know how to live without friends. But I will become a sworn enemy of our mendacious medical profession.

    I’m totally ruthless, raincoaster. I never surrender.

  51. I respect that idlex. Hypothetical question, though: what if, once the pub owners realize that their lives are desolate without you (and your money) they petition a presumably more desperate and appeasenik Labour government, get approval, and put in adequate ventilation? If you were legally allowed to go back into your favorite pub and smoke as much as you liked, would you do it?

  52. Yeah, sure I would.

    I love my pub dearly.

    But what you don’t understand is that this has got nothing to do with pubs, or the health of their customers or staff.

    This is all about a medical establishmnet, armed by big pharma, and with the close ear of government, deciding (over my head) that people like me must stop smoking.

    It’s not a purely economic debate about whether pubs win or lose. It’s a concealed moral debate, about whether smoking is right or wrong – just as it always has been.

  53. Very interesting idlex, thanks.

    I find it extraordinary that the church (the Roman Catholic world hate club in this case) is under the misapprehension that it can act as a conscience to scientists after murdering millions and causing more conflicts than a whole batallion of G Dubyas. Typical arrogance from an organisation that is the philosophical equivalent of the BNP.

    And yes, I am indeed an ex-smoker; when I smoked, I actually upset other smokers by smoking too much.

    I do have good news however, and that is that the rabbit food and pencil sharpenings diet is paying off and I am now merely clinically obese and not the only company director ever to have a symbol on Ordinance Survey maps.

  54. New Labour are seeing their twilight,
    and Blair’s looking shaky and ill.
    Sacking Clarke was a bit of a highlight,
    for what’s largely been run-of-the-mill.

    It’s time for old Tony to go now,
    with a twirl and a message of glee
    And Brown’s lackeys can finally say: “Wow!”,
    “He’s gone! Let’s have muffins for tea!”

    But their misery isn’t yet over,
    cause Tone’s left things in a terrible mess.
    From Hull to the white cliffs of Dover,
    the voters think Labour’s a pest.

    “They’ve done for the National Health Service!”
    “There are crooks everywhere but in jail!”
    These things make electorates nervous,
    I hope it’s Labour’s ultimate nail.

  55. Bravo! Excellent work!

    idlex, since when have politicians concerned themselves with morality? Big pharma makes far more off cancer patients than it does off healthy people; they would not oppose smoking. Same with medicine. You don’t go to the doctor if you’re healthy.

    What this might be is politicians deciding to get on an issue because they think it’ll get them votes. Because, really, why else would this particular group of politicians support anything? Maggie Thatcher got the country used to taking orders from Nanny, and Tony’s trying to step into her sensible shoes and attract the same warm fuzzies she inexplicably did.

    Or, there could actually be a real demand for the ban.

  56. Idlex, you may be reading too much into this smoking ban. I doubt if the medical lobby had as much influence as you think.

    The government has cynically calculated that a ban would win them more friends than it would lose. Morals don’t come into it. They rarely do. Blair-style democracy is a science of whipping up as many votes as possible in their desperation to cling to power.

    Everything, and I mean everything, is calculated by “popularity factor” with the possible exception of strategies to increase their own power base. Here, the cost and effects take time to filter through, so the populus hardly notice until it’s too late to untangle the mess.

    On smoking, they have crudely worked out that 1) The majority don’t smoke 2) Most of that majority disapprove of smoking. Answer – ban it. Net result – more votes. Easy!

    The hunting ban used a similar process of deduction.

    Another force at work is the big brewers. The gov may well have liked the ventilation / segregation / monitoring route – it suits their busybody mentality – but imagine the lobbying from the big pub chains wailing how much a ventilation programme would cost them. That’s another set of “friends” they could not afford to lose.

    PS Raincoaster – you’re right. The bouncer did contain links (to newspaper articles including the one about a nurse who was stabbed to death while sneaking out for a fag at a hospital wher smoking is banned anywhere on its grounds).

  57. Big pharma makes far more off cancer patients than it does off healthy people; they would not oppose smoking.

    So who’s making all these nicotine patches for smokers, to help them give up? Why, big pharma! Just think: tens of millions of smokers forking out $$ for their patches = $$0,000,000.

    I also think that it’s amusing that, for all the dire warnings about nicotine, many of these patches contain, well, nicotine.

  58. I doubt if the medical lobby had as much influence as you think. (PaulD)

    Well, I think it’s interesting that in November 2004, Sir Charles George, then President of the BMA, as well as the BHF, called upon the government to introduce an immediate smoking ban, on the basis of a single unpublished research report that ventilation didn’t remove tobacco combustion particles from air (virtually all previous passive smoking studies having turned up next to nothing). Within a year, Sir Charles was rewarded with a place on the board in, guess what, a big pharma company. And a few months later, the total ban came in.

    Also the government health officer threatened to resign if a complete ban wasn’t introduced, in place of the manifesto promise of a partial ban.

    And it’s outfits like the BHF and its like who have been bombarding us with anti-smoking ads for years. And, of course, repeat something long enough, and people will believe it. The medical campaign against smoking has been running for 50 years, so it’s not surprising if it has affected public perception.

    So I think the medical establishment is extremely influential. And influential globally, these days. They are a powerful lobby group, just like others.

    On smoking, they have crudely worked out that 1) The majority don’t smoke 2) Most of that majority disapprove of smoking. Answer – ban it. Net result – more votes. Easy!

    That would make sense, except that most smokers are working class these days, and therefore likely Labour voters. So they shot themselves in the foot.

  59. idlex, with respect you’re not aware that typical nicotine patch spending is less than $400 over a smoker’s lifetime. Typical cancer treatment is in the range of $60,000 to $200,000. And if you cure it and they go on to smoke, you can get them for another round later. Plus heart attacks, etc etc.

    Anti-smoking patches contain nicotine because they’re supposed to. It’s the most addictive factor in the cigarettes, and far from the most harmful. On a harm basis, it’s just a bit worse than caffeine, actually. It’s the other things that’ll kill you. Patches work by satisfying the nic craving. In the beginning, the person quits smoking but uses very strong patches, so they’re technically a nonsmoker who is still hooked on nicotine. The dosage is gradually reduced, and eventually the person becomes a nonsmoker who is no longer dependent on nicotine.

    And I do think, in a country with at least some semblance of public healthcare, that you need to distinguish between the part of the medical establishment with a PROFIT MOTIVE and the part without. Medical evidence is all in favour of the health benefits of not smoking.

  60. Everything, and I mean everything, is calculated by “popularity factor” with the possible exception of strategies to increase their own power base.

    I don’t think that this quite the whole story. These days, you set out to make something popular by first manipulating public opinion, and only then asking people whether they want Something Done about it.

    The Iraq war was an example of this. In order to get the public and parliamentary support he needed, Blair needed to talk up the threat posed by Saddam’s WMDs, because Saddam was not perceived to be a terrible threat. So he had to be made into one, with massaged intelligence, impassioned speeches, etc. Only then did Blair get the parliamentary votes he needed.

    The same sort of thing is happening with the entirely spurious War on Terror. A few bombs go off somewhere, and next thing the government is demanding identity cards, 90-day detentions, trials without juries, etc, etc.

    These days we are continually being scared and stampeded into supporting one or other totalitarian measure. Passive smoking kills. Saddam is armed with WMDs he can launch in 45 minutes. Al Qaeda is trying to destroy Western civilisation. Avian flu is coming. Global warming. Ice ages. Etc, etc, etc. And always it’s a case of: if we don’t act NOW, by surrendering some freedom, or by handing some huge contract to somebody, we’re Done For.

    Government by Invented Threats.

  61. Very true, Idlex. Another dimension to the popularity factor.

    I was going to mention the Iraq war but didn’t because it’s become a bore. No doubt Tone hoped for a Maggie-in-Falklands response from the public, with plenty of GOTCHA headlines in the Sun but, sadly for him, it didn’t happen.

    Dare I mention “Speed Kills” as the ultimate (and highly profitable) public brainwasher?

  62. typical nicotine patch spending is less than $400 over a smoker’s lifetime. (raincoaster)

    That much? And a huge customer base. UK population is about 60 million, of which 25% are smokers, which is 15 million, many of whom are now being driven to give up smoking.

    So that’s a potentially $400 x 15,000,000 market, or $6 billion.

    Nice racket. Helps to get legislation to drive it from ‘compliant’ politicians. Wonder what Blair’s cut is?

    No wonder there are people who make an entire career of running anti-smoking campaigns.

    nicotine …[is] the most addictive factor in the cigarettes, and far from the most harmful.

    Even better! So big pharma is selling smokers the most addictive component of tobacco. That’s exactly like selling cocaine rather than coca leaves. But I guess they’re not going to be prosecuted for racketeering and corruption, because they’re ‘providing a public service’, in helping all those poor smokers stop being addicted to tobacco, and instead becoming addicted to Nicorette. Just that the money goes to big pharma rather than those evil tobacco companies. Oh, and people do get addicted to Nicorette: I’ve met them.

    Hmmm… With a global population of of 6 billion, and assuming 25% smoking, the global market is potentially worth $2,400 billion, or about two and a half trillion dollars. That about four Iraq Wars!.

    (The Iraq war being essentially a racket as well, whereby the US congress votes huge amounts of taxpayer money to pay for it and Iraqi ‘reconstruction’ (ha ha), pretty much all of which goes into the pockets of no-bid US contractors, thereby creating Bush millionaires.)

  63. I can’t stand football, but Boris’s performance was definately the exception.

    All that and Nick Robinson naked in bed. Hahhhhhhhhhh

  64. I was going to mention the Iraq war but didn’t because it’s become a bore. (PaulD)

    So jaded already? Well, there’s most likely an new, exciting, fun Iran war coming soon.

  65. Iraq was a mistake, Iran should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

    Smoking in public places wouldn’t be a problem if old-fashioned pub layouts and laws were observed.

    Home schooling is up to the parents – thank God we still have some choices.

    I believe Idlex is correct about the popularity factor.

    I also believe that too much authority has been syphoned off from local to central government, but of course this is not a sexy topic, like wars. So I believe the local government issue was important, if only to discuss and highlight how unimportant voting was, if you believed it to be. Syphoning off so much power and decision making to central authority is another step in Bliars campaign for central dictatorship. I don’t believe THAT to be a small issue. I turned up and made my mark. Blogs like this are fantastic but if we don’t DO anything it’s just a virtual coffee table around which we chat. And if you want to change anything in this country then we all have to turn up and make our mark (as I think some have said previously, but it bears repeating). I don’t think it’s enough now to call for Bliar to go, we need ALL OF THEM to go. Deputy PM in all but name? I could do that – give me nearly a million to do sod all, I could easily fit that around being a parent.

    I think lots of people have got into the mindset, perhaps me too, that we can’t do anything about this government so why bother, lets think about some cutie naked (OK, some of us do that anyway). So we argue the toss. But perhaps we should think about meeting up at Question Time or at the debate in autumn on the Tories (any details Melissa??) Organising an on-line letter you can print, fill in and bug someone through the post. I don’t know, just a thought.

  66. Do you think the cabinet reshuffle was prompted by Question Time, the election results, both, none?

    So pleased SOMETHING annoyed ‘your mate Tony – a regular kinda guy’

  67. Jaq: I bet home schooling irritates Labourites. I mean really, really gets their goat – because it’s something they can’t control or tax.

    If it was a vote winner it would unquestionably have been banned by now.

  68. another step in Bliars campaign for central dictatorship. I don’t believe THAT to be a small issue. (Jaq)

    It’s a very big issue. There’s far too much power in central government, and too much power in the hands of the Prime Minister. But what’s most alarming, in some ways, is that it just seems to get accepted as ‘how things are’, and the next incumbent of Number 10 will carry on in the same manner.

    Blogs like this are fantastic but if we don’t DO anything it’s just a virtual coffee table around which we chat. And if you want to change anything in this country then we all have to turn up and make our mark

    I think that what I like about Boris’ blog is the refreshing diversity of opinions. And I love it when somebody has a good rant, even if I don’t happen to agree with them. I just love reading people’s opinions, whatever they happen to be. In many ways I prefer that to hearing their opinions at second hand, filtered through some newspaper of TV programme, where you know that that the editors have selectively decided to print or air this particular opinion, and not that.

    In some ways, it might be said that TV and newspapers have served too much to shape public opinion, in part by not allowing people to speak for themselves. It is a tremendous testimony to Boris that he and Melissa actively encourage (and indeed reward) people to speak up. The few other MP’s sites I’ve seen almost completely disallow comment. Boris puts them to shame.

    And before anything can be done, I think it’s important to know what people actually think, rather than what they are reported to think, or ought to think.

  69. Idlex: By allowing free comment, Boris, almost alone among MPs, has shown how well he understands the human race.

    I confess to being a follower, and occasional contributor to, Chavscum, that crazy website dedicated to slagging off Britain’s Chav “culture”. (Not the main forum, which is an impenetrable mix of TXT and bizarre graphics, but the picture bank where some intelligent discussion takes place).

    The site is dominated by anything-goes male banter free of censorship. The strange thing is that although it has all the makings of a BNP chat-room, people come down hard on any hint of racism.

    Given that much of today’s Chav-style patois is a corruption of black gansta speak, the site could easily have turned into a racist forum. But quite the opposite has happened. Serious contributors are out to destroy the stupid white kids who try, but fail, to emulate black rap culture. They realise that disaffected blacks are a different issue entirely and leave them alone.

    It’s called self-regulation. It works rather well. Boris is one of the few who understand that it can be more effective than regulation.

  70. PaulD, I agree about self-regulation: it happens all the time.

    I cut my teeth posting on CNN’s now-defunct message boards years ago, on one particularly highly confrontational topic, and I was always surprised how civil both sides were to each other, in what was otherwise pretty much a running street fight.

    I think people generally try to fit in with the tone and content of a message board. Somehow or other, when I come here I usually try to find my ‘inner Tory’ – although I would be the first to confess to abject failure in this respect.

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  72. But sweet Melissa is probably fast asleep right now.

    No blame.

    The great lines, that is, the light and strong lines, are powerful. Four light lines have entered the hexagram from below and are about to ascend higher. The upper trigram is Chen, the Arousing; the lower is Chien, the Creative.

    I Ching. 34. Ta Chuang / The Power of the Great.

  73. Have finally caught up with the video, now circulating on the web, of Boris’s moment of sporting greatness.

    Marvellous stuff, Boris. And I don’t blame you for one minute for becoming momentarily confused about which game you were playing.

  74. Hmnn

    Idlex – agree and good point:
    <

    >
    I just love
    reading people’s opinions, whatever they happen to be. In many ways I prefer that to
    hearing their opinions at second hand, filtered through some newspaper of TV
    programme, where you know that that the editors have selectively decided to print or air
    this particular opinion, and not that.

    In some ways, it might be said that TV and newspapers have served too much to shape
    public opinion, in part by not allowing people to speak for themselves. It is a tremendous
    testimony to Boris that he and Melissa actively encourage (and indeed reward) people to
    speak up. The few other MP’s sites I’ve seen almost completely disallow comment. Boris
    puts them to shame.

    And before anything can be done, I think it’s important to know what people actually
    think, rather than what they are reported to think, or ought to think.<

    >

    I was guilty of a mini rant there but I wanted the word ‘frustration’ kept out of my comment after a friend emailed his opinions recently. No, don’t ask.

    PaulD – yes, I agree totally:
    <

    >It’s called self-regulation. It works rather well. Boris is one of the few who understand that
    it can be more effective than regulation<

    >
    If only Bliar would understand that people tend to be terribly unhappy in a nanny state and want to kick back against even the most mild dictatorship. Well, the British do, the Russians some Russians are obviously barmier than a box of frogs

    (damn, can’t preview

  75. PaulD:
    You say, very aptly ” A Labourite nanny state gets peoples goat” , or words approximating mine. Perhaps here is the reason.

    I thought I’d mention, as a certain columnist did recently, in the Independent, the Satyrs ln Tony Harrison’s adaptation of Sophocles’ satyr play Ichneutai ,(which he called The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus), these were seen as “Tory” . In the play , the chief satyr, Silenus, was played by Barrie Rutter sporting a heavy Yorkshire accent and clogs.

    Might I suggest that it is in exactly such areas where these broad tones are heard that the Tories are not making much headway; at least not at the latest local elections.
    Satyrs have been with us , in legend , throughout history ; it has worn many faces; it even has the ability, it would seem, to change political colour.
    In the recent exposition of the latest satyr, the satyr, when asked to comment on his caperings, refused. This is hardly surprising, since only a privileged few are able to understand, at least in full, the satyr’s language, which was at one time thought to be a derivative of English.

    Here we have the case of a satire, or better still, a farce, disporting itself in the shape of a satyr, but, definitely in this case, not a Tory. The would-be satyr has so many homes, it would be difficult to prove which home he was playing away from. A dilemma indeed, if anyone were asked to solve it.

    And why cocktail sausages are such a taboo subject when the satyr is around is beyond my ken.

    Although there is no apparent role for the satyr to play, he enjoys all the trappings of his previous office. Why is once again a failed politician being vastly overpaid for doing nothing, or is that a rhetorical question?

    I would have thought that , even under this Government , having ones end away , no matter in how small a manner; how crudely, or briefly, is not yet a crime , but it might soon be taxable if Brown can only find a way for the IRS to prove the deed has added any value to the article.

  76. I see that the Lieutenant-General responded in the Telegraph on Friday saying something along the lines that the Tories yorkers were not getting through, that their balls were too slow and didn’t swing enough.

    I don’t agree with this. Dave C seems to be bowling a good line and length outside off stump to me. Labour don’t know whether to or how to play him. All they’ve come up with was a dodgy prodding shot (the chameleon thing) that produced a nice edge to first slip and the loss of 18 councils (and a few ministers to boot).

    After Boris’s legendary performance on the football pitch (went down a treat with Radio 1 listeners!) I think he should get involved in some sort of charity cricket match next up. Opposition v Labour with a couple of ex-pro / up and coming quickies on either side to rough them all up a bit? Seeing Labour’s spin bowling being slog swept for 6 on a bright sunny English summers day?

  77. RE: Joe Mental’s Manifesto

    ‘6) Putting every effort into sorting out the issue of Palestine and Israel (the real source of Islamic inspired terrorism)’

    Someone has to stand up and say that the 1967 resolution was a bad resolution; it hasn’t worked. This kind of separation might work with the USA, Canada and Alaska; it didn’t work with East Prussia and Germany and it certainly won’t work in Israel.

    As much as I respect him Sir Ming isn’t the man to do this, though we could export our rural payments system and perhaps they might all unite in hatred of Margret Beckett instead.

    ’11) A commitment to reduce public debt which is a time-bomb waiting to go off. Credit companies in the UK are going wild just as they did in 1987 before black Monday.’

    If you owe the bank ¬£100 you’ve got a problem, if you owe the bank ¬£100,000 the bank has got a problem; more fool them! When the crunch comes (and it will) the banks will make a bit less profit and those who have secured huge loans against their houses will have to rent for a few years. As someone who can’t afford a house and detests banks I have little sympathy for either!

  78. I have. I shouldn’t drink and press send I know. Don’t you find that some things seem terribly funny when you’re holding something alcoholic (mentioning no names) but in the morning I know I’m going to think Ohhhh God. Why don’t we ever have thoughts like that BEFORE we press send/post???

    I could never eat a cocktail sausage.

  79. I tend to think of myself as quite sympathetic to environmental issues and the pragmatic use of science to improve the world . One of the useful things that Vicus Scurra does is to point out and demarcate the difference between the professionally , sanctimoniously ANGRY greeny fanatics like him/herself( who always remind me rather of the Nazis – they were angry greenies too and were happy and eager to trample on people to impose their world view ) – there is a large element of the will to punishment in fanatical green thinking
    – and the rest , ie most people , who approach the whole topic of the environment much more soberly , though with postive interest .

    Another point Boris very carefully gets England and this place called “Britain ” mixed up – as do most politicians thus

    “He spoke with the authentic voice of Telegraph man and, like so many Telegraph men, he spoke for England ”

    and then , only a few sentances lapses back into 300 years of British brainwashing to say

    ” As soon as I read that letter, I not only felt a surge of pleasure at the splendour and violence of the lieutenant-colonel’s language, I also knew that across Britain thousands of Telegraph readers would be gurgling – – – ”

    England and Britain are not the same – nor are they shorthand for each other . The “United ” Kingdom is composed of four quite separate countries three of which have a large measure of self rule . The fourth , England , is still subject to direct rule by the British parliament . We need to rule ouselves via an English Parliament with only a very secondary attention paid to what should become the federal British parliament .

    Boris would then not be confused any more and would make that common mistake .

  80. I don’t think for a moment Boris was confused about the word “Britain.” He’s a good writer who knows when to pluck at a heartstring and which one to pick. At points you could almost hear trumpets in the background.

    and jaq, I must disagree about this:

    people tend to be terribly unhappy in a nanny state and want to kick back against even the most mild dictatorship

    People older than teenagers tend to be frustrated more by the demand to make decisions than by the demand to follow orders. I truly wish it were otherwise, but it’s just not. The vast majority of people are more comfortable on their knees.

  81. Re-posting this here, as this is the livelier thread:

    Vicus Scurra said:
    May 6, 2006 11:45 PM | permalink

    As there appears to be no specific link on the Red Cross site for the Boris Johnson Football Hero appeal, then please follow this link to make a donation Red Cross
    The other charity supported was the Bobby Moore Cancer Appeal:
    Bobby Moore

    (All gate receipts from the match went to these two charities).

    As there is no way of mentioning Boris in your donation, then you will have to be altruistic about it and give some money anyway. Conservative voters will have to look up the definition of ‘altruistic’.

    UK tax payers (I suppose that marginalises the Tories as well) please remember to use the gift aid option.

    Please do it now.

  82. All comments on Boris’ tackle so far have been laudatory (in good half because the girlzzz are in love with Boris’ tackle).

    I wish to register my dissent.

    I think that was a very, very bad tackle, and it merited the smack on the bottom that Boris got from one of his own players immediately afterwards. In fact, I think Boris should have been red-carded, and sent off.

    It’s no excuse to say that hat you thought you were playing rugby when you were playing football. If we are all to be allowed to conflate the rules of games, then absolutely anything goes.

    And, furthermore, that wasn’t a rugby tackle either.

  83. This is the bleedin’ obvious but I’m going to write it anyway.

    Most people don’t care about ‘nanny states’, or most of the stuff we keep bangin’ on about here, in the profound belief that this is merely illustrative of the government’s caring persona. Similarly very few are deeply concerned about the gradual eradication of British civil liberties due to the mistaken implication that only those with ‘something to hide’ will be compromised by stricter regulation; these people cannot conceive of a false accusation (by the police) of murder or pedophilia. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop it happening.

    It’s to these people that Labour plays its hand. Loudmouths like us (with all due respect) are simply an occupational hazard for politicians (naturally, with the notable exception of Boris himself) and predominantly something to be contained and glossed over’ where possible. It’s only occasionally when someone hits on an issue which resonates with the public that the disaffected minority (such as ourselves) are even slightly irritating to mainstream politics. Let’s face it, some people would complain about paradise “The ambrosia’s a bit cold Fred! And this nectar’s definitely from an old barrel!”

    So, much as it depresses me to admit it, people (in the main) like the status quo where the government controls virtually everything and lets them get on with watching Coronation street and vomiting in the high street on Friday night. That’s why authoritarian religions like the Abrahamic bunch are so popular; they invite the discharge of responsibility to a second (or third) party. “I mean, what’s the point of taking a responsible attitude when God (or Tony Blair) controls everything. Are you some sort of idiot?”

    Humans, in the main, like to be told what to do because, if they obey the letter of their instructions, they can’t be found wanting.

    Stop fighting it, become a robot. You’ll be happier in the long-run.

  84. PaulD: I haven’t been drinking, but I thought that since there were so many posts having nothing wharever to do with the local elections—- why not put in another piece equally devoid of too much logic.

    I might have written an equally asinine poem on the non-subject, but some of the words I would undoubtedly have used are those with which it is difficult or downright impossible to make a rhyme.

  85. Hey guys, calm down.
    There are far more serious issues to get wound up about and worthy of deep thought. For starters, how come Noel Edmonds didn’t get his gong!

  86. As I was re-reading my last post (and noting that paedophilia has two a’s in it) something else occurred to me about why I find Labour’s statute assembly line so distressing. It’s because I don’t trust the bastards at a deep and uncompromising level.

    I’ve never felt this way about a government before. I know some of them, in the past, have had a few dubious characters but, generally, I always felt the government usually wanted to do the right thing and simply had to pull out the odd bad apple. This one, however, not only has enough bad apples to make a decent vat of cider, it also seems to be trying to create systems to cover its own arse (legislatively and operationally) if they get found out.

    In a perfect world, where the police (and the government) are comprised entirely of perfectly honest and incorruptible individuals, there would be no (theoretical) problem with them having almost limitless statutary powers. My concern comes from the fact that I know a few police officers socially and, whilst most are pillars of the community (and anyone offering them a back-hander would find it quickly pressed into the small of their back while their rights were read) a couple of them are more crooked than a redneck’s teeth. And that, unfortunately, is the point. If we can’t trust all of them, individually, we can’t trust them collectively.

    Alas this same statement of common sense applies to each and every organ of the state. A number of very highly evolved survival traits contribute to this paranoia: trusting people get eaten, robbed or raped (or all three). Our Labour government seem to be trying to do this metaphorically en-masse, on the sly.

    So my ‘cunning-plan’ for the Tories a this week’s PMQs would be to introduce the concept that Labour cannot be trusted (enter stage left Prescott & Jowell), and yet they continue to propose laws which give them more power than any peacetime government but with no significant change in monitoring the application of these regulations to preclude abuse.

    Here’s hoping Blair chokes on his next communion wafer.

  87. Joe: agreed all along the line.

    The trouble, ( as you said), with those in charge, (of anything at all) is, that that they are a selection of mere humans, even those with all the flaws, including the 7 deadly sins, inherent throughout the human race. Here we seem to have a particularly slippery lot of customers, none of whom I would trust to run my bathwater, let alone the country, whose mission in life seems to be merely spending inordinate amounts of public money, without knowing if that money is properly spent.

    Meanwhile, to give the impression of having some sort of grip on the rapidly deteriorating situation, they continue making unnecessary laws to enable them to do what amounts to absolutely nothing about the multifarious problems which are now part of what seems to be a permanently despoiled political landscape.

  88. You know Mac, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages is to get a copy of the Chancellor’s last budget and do some number crunching with respect to employees and general population etc. (E.g. how many people are employed in a government sector, how many people they service, what is the net cost (including capital) of each and what is the proportion of operational and administrative staff.

    Cost-centres examined
    Health
    Defence
    Education
    Courts/CPS
    Social Services
    Police
    Utilities
    Government
    Infrastructure (capital – roads, bridges power stations..)
    Infrastructure (operational/maintenance)
    Misc
    Assets accrued
    Liabilities incurred

    Bet it looks ludicrous.

  89. Joe – yes yes YES!! That was the distinction I didn’t make and am probably going to make badly now cause I’m cold and my heads hurting. That is… the distinction between a dictatorship, however mild (for mild read nanny state) and a well run democracy where societies rules take care of most big descisions for the people. So WITH that confusion raincoaster is completely right and now I’ve hopefully explained my terms of argument it no longer stands. And what I meant was that people in a dictatorship that have no power to change or opt out like in Stalins regime were not only unhappy to the point of eating their own babies (couldn’t get over that one) but, hang on, they still want to erect statues to this twit who would have rather spent public money on statues than the welfare of the people. Yep raincoaster you are completely right. It’s such a depressing thought I’m going to think it through again

  90. They ate babies in the USSR? Is that true?

    A lot of crusty old local government clause 4 socialists still idolise Stalin (some seem to like that Cambodian guy with the skull mountain too).

    Makes you wonder!

  91. I was just watching Bliar’s weekly media brainwashing on Sky News. Picking up from a prior comment (regarding trust in the government or lack thereof) I have to say that nobody handles live media better than Bliar. This is what makes him so dangerous; he’s so nice and reasonable and almost apologetic when he tells us that there have to be tough measures against Iraqi insurgents (which may result in civilian casualties…) It’s like a parish vicar who runs the local mafia: “I’m so sorry to hear about your back problems Mrs Fotheringay but you’re 200 quid behind on the collection so I’m afraid Prezza here is going to have to break an arm. I’m awfully sorry but it’s the rules and if I make an exception for one, well, you know we’ll be up to our eyes in people being disrespectful. Thanks for the scone and see you at service on Sunday. Break the left arm Prezza so she can hold her hymnbook.”

    AND PEOPLE FALL FOR IT!!!! There are things living in our compost heap which could see through this facade of bullshit. I heard that a poll last week suggested the the Prime Minister’s personal popularity is currently higher than that of the Labour party as a whole for this very reason: everyone thinks he’s a nice man who has everyone’s best interests at heart. Maybe he is? Many ‘nice’ people are capable of doing untold harm to an abstract group which they never come into contact with but find it impossible to say ‘No’ to an individual directly. (Unfortunately the individual in Bliar’s case was G Dubya)

    There’s a term in systems development called ‘thrashing’. It often happens on Windows based PC’s when they are short of memory. This is where a multi-tasking CPU spends more time switching between tasks than it does actually doing useful work. Our government is thrashing but in a different sense; it’s getting to the point where they are spending more time covering up or explaining their cock-ups than governing the country.

    It’s time to upgrade.

  92. Loudmouths like us (with all due respect) are simply an occupational hazard for politicians (Joe M)

    I wouldn’t call us loudmouths. We’re simply expressing opinions. We only seem like loudmouths because so little real public opinion ever filters out in newspapers and radio. The real loudmouths are the politicians and pundits.

    At present, we only get our ‘say’ once every few years when we are permitted to mark a cross on a ballot paper.

    And in my experience of writing to MPs expressing my opinion about one or other issue of the day, they are not interested in my opinion, except if it happens to coincide with their own far more important opinion. In which event they will reply fulsomely, and probably show the letter to colleagues, and say: “See! They agree with me!”

    The British public is really something that politicians would prefer kept in a box in a locked and guarded room. It is only grudgingly that they let it out every few years to exercise its vote, and then only with a strong dose of propaganda to secure the desired result.

    They don’t want democracy. They hate it. Blair is utterly contemptuous of public opinion. It was a job and a half to get King John (or whoever) to unwillingly agree to Magna Carta, and it’s been a long slow uphill struggle ever since. And we are nowhere near the end of that road.

  93. “The [politicians] don’t want democracy. They hate it. Blair is utterly contemptuous of public opinion. It was a job and a half to get King John (or whoever) to unwillingly agree to Magna Carta, and it’s been a long slow uphill struggle ever since. And we are nowhere near the end of that road.”

    Public opinion? Magna Carta and democracy? Some geezer called King John? The end of that road (which road?). It’s incoherent twaddle like this that makes you wish voters really were put in box for four years at a go…

  94. That’s why authoritarian religions like the Abrahamic bunch are so popular; they invite the discharge of responsibility to a second (or third) party. “I mean, what’s the point of taking a responsible attitude when God (or Tony Blair) controls everything. Are you some sort of idiot?” (Joe M)

    You are at your best today, Joe, I see.

    I don’t see that there’s anything wrong, in principle, with subcontracting one job or other to some contractor. In general, I find most bakers bake better bread than I do.

    The problem comes when you start thinking: “Jeez! Even I could bake a bigger and better loaf myself than this half-baked semi-bap, and at half the price!”

    Most people simply don’t have the time to do their own moral thinking, so they subcontract the job to churches. Neither do they have the time to do their own political thinking, so they subcontract that to political parties. This works fine, until, as eventually inevitably happens, some crook takes over the contract, and fleeces everyone.

  95. Silly observation:

    Prezza has two jags

    Boris and Hitchens and Dave C ride a bicycle.

    BCSD??

  96. Come on you guys, Blair is electable, the rest of the labour party aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

    Seriously, who (apart from people who just vote labour regardless, a few million spongers and a few proud Scotsmen) is going to vote for the tax-man?

    Especially now that he is advocating sending all our money overseas. The guy is bonkers if he thinks he can win a general election. I think Blair is trying to drive him bonkers just for the sheer hell of it too.

    If I was Blair I would try to drive him bonkers along the rest of those clause 4 socialists that sit on the back benches. Why not; you’ve got to be able to have some fun at work after all, or whats the point in staying there?

    Either that or Blair is smart enough to know that once he goes Brown and co will ruin the country in about 6 months.

  97. Idlex – your explanation makes almost no sense in light of the original comment. Why should the long, slow uphill struggle along that road lead from inevitably from the Magna Carta and the restriction of the king’s powers over the aristocracy via democracy to anarchy? And is the struggle ultimately to anarchy an uphill or a downhill one? Or one that might more closely resemble one where we’ve been marched to the top of the hill and down the other side again? Or what?

  98. Stevie – “Blair is smart enough to know that once he goes Brown and co will ruin the country in about 6 months.”??

    where have you been for the last 9 years – the country under Bliars rule is pretty well f***ed already.

    (and yes to your question about Stalinist Russia, according to Jonathan Meades I think – always good to name sources I think.)

    My head’s just going very very silly so I think I should apply for a post in the New New Labour party – out soon at a venue near you. And source? Brown or red

  99. Fortunately, the country under the last Conservative government (John Major, PM, in case you’d forgotten his name)did brilliantly, apart form being utterly humiliated on Black Wednesday, when it was taken to the cleaners by a financier of Hungarian extraction. And our excellent Chancelleor – Norman Lamont, in case you’d forgotten his name – boasted that he was singing in the bath as Blighty went down the plughole. Ah, et in Arcadia ego – except it was a disaster…

  100. It’s becoming a branding exercise. New Labour may become one of the following options:
    1) New New Labour
    2) New Old Labour
    3) Old New Labour
    4) Old Old Labour
    5) Mostly new but with a few of the old bits Labour
    6) Well past it Labour

    Nice to have a democratic choice even if it has roughly the same net political effect as choosing a blue smartie over a red one.

    By the way Mac I do see anarchy as the ultimate destination of humanity (I hope) but it will probably take another couple of million years of social evolution (or mass reprogramming) before it becomes a stable and viable option.

    Anarchy means ‘without leaders’ not ‘without order’. As per my previous diatribe though, people are largely unprepared to take responsibility for themselves let alone anyone else.

    Democracy may be staging post on the road to anarchy but, by analogy, it’s about 20 yards out of Paddington station on the trip to Bristol.

  101. Saying that anarchy is 2 million years away just about puts this idea where it belongs – in the realm of fantasy. You might just as well argue that the earth will be run by semi-intelligent tubes of Smarties. Oh, perhaps you’re saying that’s already happened..

  102. Another thing that irks me these days (what doesn’t it seems) is when political commentators refer to various new cabinet appointees as “a safe pair of hands”. Now, presumably, this distinguishes these people from “an unsafe pair of hands” or, more lucidly, someone who is likely to cock up.

    So, with this in mind, is the proposition we are obliged to accept that there are (it would seem) ministers in government who, not being “a safe pair of hands”, are, by inference, incompetent? Either this phrase is a harmless tautology or it is indicative of a deeply disturbing phenomenon in British government.

  103. Joe,

    ‘The new-age vote red go green old labour party’?

    Jaq,

    I spent most of Blairs early reign in Northumberland. To be honest having a local PM has done a lot for the North-East. When I lived there I was very pro-Blair as opposed to having some southerner (or Scotsman) in power.

    Now I live ‘down-South’ I say ‘Get him out!’

    Manxcat,

    That guy who ripped our country out of god knows how many ¬£millions was Hungarian? Shouldn’t he be building them some new sewers then instead of us surrendering our rebate for it?

    WHY ARE THEY OBSESSED WITH SENDING ALL OUR CASH ABROAD?

  104. Couldn’t have put it better Mac.

    Anarchy cannot be a stable political system until no-one possesses anything that any one else might conceivably want. Now how long is that going to take?

    (Great movie title: “Invasion of the shapeshifting anarchist smarties from two million years in the future”. Better claim the film rights before Spielberg options it. or David Icke)

  105. You guys should get down to Speakers Corner on a Sunday afternoon, always a fre ‘anarchists’ there.

    Just make sure you keep your hands in your pockets though, that place is full of theives!

  106. Hmm,
    red smartie?
    Blue smartie?
    Brown smartie?
    Sir Orange smartie? (the futures bright? nah, he’s not in the running now really)

    smarties are bad for you, vote Boris!

  107. I believe the Hungarian in question has donated large sums of wonga to the land of his fathers. But who do you mean by ‘they’ in “WHY ARE THEY OBSESSED WITH SENDING ALL OUR CASH ABROAD”? The ‘they’ in question didn’t want to do it, but lost it as incompetently as if they’d placed it on one turn of the roulette wheel. ‘They’ were the Conservative government 1992-1997. RIP.

  108. They are , according to the papers today , about to make smarties really good for you. All the dystuffs used in future will be vegetable , in keeping with the rest of the smarties. including the brown ones.

  109. The ‘They’ I mean are Blair, Brown and co.

    £??billion for Hungarian sewers etc

    £8.5billion for African primary school education

    What right do they have to make charitable donations on our behalf whilst we have a deficit?

  110. Steven L. You’re a little confused – the Hungarians got their money from the Tory cock-up merchants of the 90s. Of course, you’re absolutely spot on about the Africans, however – a good Conservative should believe that the rich Western nations ought to keep their money while the Africans can go to hell. After all, what do we care about them? I’m sure caring-sharing Dave Cameron agrees with you…

  111. Semi-intelligent tubes of smarties could only be an improvement.

    Green policies are always sidelined because they are long term by definition- no fast buck politically or any other way usually. However, before you know it, the long term is here, the ice fields are melting and we’re all up to our arses in water. Quite a lot of London is sort of on a flood plain I understand.

    I would like to see technology, of which we are already quite capable, used to produce really efficient solar panels I can stick on my roof and two fingers to London Energy and their skyrocketing bills. I would have a bore hole in my garden for water as my father does (where it not for the fact that the groundwater in the aforementioned Thames flood-plain area is rather dodgy) so I could say two fingers to Thames Water’s even more highly skyrocketing prices and their hose-pipe ban (and why are we not getting a discount in our rates as they are not providing the service we are paying for and we are all supposed to stand by and let our much loved gardens die while Thames Water pressure wash their windows?
    Not to mention the leaks.
    I understand the leaks at least keep the street trees alive)

    In the short term I too am far more worried by the fact I can’t get the healthcare I need, or proper services of pretty much any sort, whilst paying sky high taxes and insurance’s for shoddy products, but I still want to see nice proper cars running on alternative fuels instead of iniquitous “congestion charges” (which seem to actually generate more congestion without noticeable improvement in air quality) and ever increasing petrol charges for a smelly, dangerous fuel.
    I would like to see as much consumer independence of large scale power monopolies as is humanly possible. I would like to see the end of the terms “consumer” or “customer” for that matter and an admission that we are actually people, not sheep to be fleeced, even when we do behave like it.

    It’s better for the environment. It’s better for us and it’s better for our children, if any.

  112. And your point is????
    We should perhaps be the ‘Nanny’ state for all the world?
    Accomodate them all when they get sick of their own country for whatever reason maybe?
    One problem with that I’ve always thought: we are a tiny little island, how are we going to fit them all in eventually?

    Maybe the work of Stanley Johnson should be given another look and the powers that be pay more attention to the global birth trends and control. Especially in HIV swamped countries.
    I know I may sound trite to some of you but those who know me better know it’s a genuine suggestion. The work of Stanley Johnson is always worth a look

  113. All this aside, why, why, why did Sven not name Bozzer in his World Cup Squad. Just the kind of midfield enforcer we’re crying out for in Germany.

    Draft Johnson ! Join the campaign, build the movement !

  114. Soz, I was replying to manxcat, Thalia surged in there while I wasn’t looking.

    I loathe football – good to see Boz is employing Blairite tactics: say you’re going to do something (like play football) then do something completely different and if anyone notices, hold up your hands and wait for the enquiry.

  115. Jaq – trying to get the rich nations – not just the UK – to help those people facing disease and death in Africa isn’t the same as letting them all in to our little island – your attempt to ratchet one idea up to imply the other is a trick of the BNP and similar groups around Europe. My point is that Cameron would not have the nerve to take the position on Africa held by charitable souls such as Steven L and yourself – and maybe good old Boris, though who knows what he really believes about anything, although we do know that he admires the political insights of retired Lieutenant-Colonels in the Home Counties. And I’m sure they are of one mind with you on this one…

  116. If this country’s resources had been properly husbanded, i.e. used to its proper and full potential during the time that this Government has been in power ,( and please ,not once again, the pointless exhumation of that old and long dead chestnut about Black Friday ,bad though it was), and not been wasted in showy gestures of pouring money into an unprepared hole or holes, (the walls and floors of which had not been designed to contain the influx, so it drained away), this country might well be in a position to play sugar daddy to the potentate exploited countries of sub Saharan Africa .

    Perhaps we might even have had the resources, and to spare, to support one illegal war, prepare clandestinely for the possibility of yet another, whilst, astoundingly enough, at the same time, somewhat reducing the sufferings of some of our own most needy people. By these, I do not mean those, who like leeches, exist on the fruits of other people’s endeavours; rather I mean those genuinely in need of temporary, and yes, sometimes even permanent, help from society.

    If your inclination is to ignore the status quo, regardless of how far into a political morass it is driving this country, so be it —-your choice, but allow other people to have their own views on the subject so obviously close to your heart. =Charity begins at home, and then, if the spirit of charity is still alive and kicking, ( and privately Brits give more, and more frequently , than any other Nation, I hear, based on individual donations. ,
    When it comes to Charity —–Apres nous , le deluge.

  117. It is a perennial mistake to underestimate the value of the “political insights of retired Lieutenant-Colonels in the Home Counties”. Quite often you find that not only are they older but wiser too.

  118. In my experience they are certainly older, but the ones of my acquaintance(including a charming ex-Gurkha officer, it must be said) are no wiser than retired dustbinmen or retired bank clerks – unless you think fantasies of military coups and wholesale floggings of wayward youth the pinnacle of wisdom, that is.

    And, might I add, Black Wednesday is far from being an old chestnut. It lost the Tories the election in 97, and the memory of true blue economic mismanagement lived on through two more elections – given that Labour won their third term just a year ago, largely based on voters’ satisfaction with the economy combined with a suspicion that the Tories were still a hopeless bunch of tossers, I’d say it’s as relevant now as when the boys in blue were chucked out 9 years ago. For all your claptrap about a failed economy, the Tories still have to prove that they aren’t the party of economic incompetence… and that problem dates directly from Black Wednesday.

  119. manxcat – perhaps you just weren’t paying attention to the older gentlemen. I can’t say in life I agree with everybody but I’ve usually found people have something interesting to say, if you listen.

    Labour won their third term with about 25% voting was it? England certainly voted for Conservative in the majority but the specific redrawing of boudaries and skewed voting practice ensured that Bliar, by all his inventive tactics, got in for a third term.

  120. Ah, the unfairness of the first-past-the-post system. It’s strange how people always reach for that one when they don’t like who’s won. Labour tried it under Thatcher,the Lib Dems try it every day of the week. But the argument has always been that it’s the bedrock of our stable political life. And if only 25% of people bother to vote, then so be it – the other 75% have also made a political decision by abstaining, or just being bloddy apathetic. We could of course plump instead for proportional representation, like our good friends on the continent – it’s the basis of excellent government in places like Italy, and that nice Herr Hitler certainly benefited from it…

  121. The one thing anyone learns from having ones chestnuts burnt, is to get them quickly out of the fire .

    As for the first past the post system of Government. we have it for good or ill , your choice .

    No result is really conclusive, when only a minority choose to get off their butts and vote. What is more,nothing is more nauseating than to have to listen to those who did not vote, crowing happily how much they think that voting is a waste of time . There is no such thing as a free breakfast.

    Let’s, for a change have the first past the post system used to elect an ENGLISH Parliament. Then it will be seen how many of the increasingly voracious breed of Pauls are still left crowing.

  122. And in whose manifesto at the next election do you think the issue of an English Parliament, first-past-the-post or otherwise, will be raised? The blue smarties? They were opposed to the parliaments in Scotland and Wales, and hate the idea of even more government, so are they about to do a volte face and go for an English one? I think not. The red smarties? They’ve had their fingers burned so much over English regional parliaments they’re no longer up for it. The yellow smarties? Well, they haven’t a chance of winning anyway… Tell us, how do you think this English parliament is going to come about?

  123. Your rhetorical question in re. English Parliament, is ,as are all such questions, posed without the remotest expectancy of a reply.

  124. The last question wasn’t rhetorical – “Tell us, how do you think this English parliament is going to come about?” It’s a direct question. Given that the main political parties in the UK haven’t the stomach for such a policy, I’m keen to know how you think your call for a first-past-the-post system for an English parliament is actually going to be realised.

  125. It will not ,in all probability, ever come about . This is due to the Labour Party’s insistence that we already have a perfectly adequate one in Westminster, (Gordon Brown said so,quite recently), coupled with the insistence of the other parties that we have too many subdivisions in the form of parliaments elsewhere already.

    An earlier, fairly recent thread dealt with this subject more than adequately, so despite there being grass roots support for said ghostly or imaginary Parliament,
    ” Nichts zu machen”

    I shall henceforth not be able to reply to this or any other point , for some considerable time. I am booked into a hospital bed later this afternoon. Hopefully : auf Wiedersehen irgendwann.

  126. So the Campaign for an English Parliament and all that sort of talk was merely so much balderdash. Glad we cleared that one up. Just remember,aus so krummem Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz gerades gezimmert werden.
    All the best.

  127. Vielleicht deswegen haben wir so ein ‘schoenen’ krummen Kabinett

    Wenn ich so ein Zimmermann noetig haben sollte ….. danke schoen!

  128. Vicus

    Re: The Legends Football Match

    At last news about the charities! Here is the message from the organiser:

    I’m sorry I haven’t got back to you sooner – we’ve had problems with our emails!

    This is great news about donations and I’m sure our two charities will be extremely pleased.

    Both The British Red Cross and The Bobby Moore Fund were our equal charities and their contact details are:

    The British Red Cross
    Attn: Anna Mothes (Corporate Partnerships Executive)
    UK Office
    44 Moorfields
    London
    EC2Y 9AL
    020 7877 7102
    amothes@redcross.org.uk
    http://www.redcross.org.uk

    The Bobby Moore Fund (Cancer Research UK)
    Attn: Rosie Hall (National Events Manager)
    Cancer Research UK
    PO Box 123
    London
    WC2A 3PX
    020 7009 8892
    rosie.hall@cancer.org.uk
    http://www.bobbymoorefund.org
    Registered charity No. 1089464

  129. In the hope you’ll see this before you go Mac, just wanted to say best luck. Hope to see you back on the keyboard soon.

    Jaq

  130. Good luck Mac, come back soon. It’s quite obvious you need medical treatment: you’ve lapsed into German! Seek treatment immediately.

  131. Mac: Good luck in your confinement and remember:

    Herr Wagner arbeitet in einem bureau. Die mutter arbeitet zu hause und Hans und Gerte in der garten. Am eins oder am halb zwei kommen die kinder aus der Schule und gehen nach hause.

    (The only thing I learnt from German O-level. Useful for doing Hitler impressions).

  132. Mac

    We need you to return to full health soon and hope for a speedy recovery.

    Look forward to hearing your next bulletin very soon.

  133. Manxcat,

    The British public give very generously to charity. I’m all for government encouraging this, especially through tax incentives, encouraging people to do voluntary work in the developing world, encouraging us to develop new products that will help the developing world etc.

    Do you really think that the government donating on our behalf all the time encourages people to donate themselves?

    Do you really think that the policy of getting young people in horrendous debt and trapping them here is helping voluntary organisations get more young volunteers (whose backs are still up to digging and carrying etc) to go to the developing world, get their hands dirty and help?

    I’m all for us awarding grants to people in the developing world to study nursing and medicine here, but do you really think that poaching them to practice nursing and medicine here after they are qualified and trained is helping the developing world?

    Do you really think throwing £billions at African dictators like Mugabe is going to help stuggling families in the developing world?

    There are pregnent women in Zinbabwe swimming across crocodile infested rivers to get away from him. How many more African leaders will turn the way of Mugabe if we just dish money to them?

    Helping the developing world is best done by ordinary people in rich Western countries, encouraged by Western governments, doing things that directly help ordinarty people in the developing world.

  134. OK, I’m gonna have to be careful what I say but everyone who doesn’t find four letter words offensive should look at this.

    Type a seven letter swearword (the first four letters are the ‘f’ word the last three ‘wit’) into google and hit ‘I’m feeling lucky’

    Those guys at google sure have a good sense of humour.

  135. A pretty incoherent rant. Are you a student by any chance? On a student loan, perhaps? Try to look beyond yourself and stop equating student debt with the plight of the Third World. And don’t think pregnant women, crocodiles and Mugabe are the sort of mix that negates the value of helping nations that don’t have the benefit of the great wealth of the Brits – like other comments I’ve seen here, that’s the type of emotive claim popular with some of the most unpleasant political groups around Europe. I’m sure the BNP would be delighted to have it on their next manifesto…

  136. Steven: Your Google tip took me to a site I’ve never seen before – the Prime Minister’s website. Fascinating.

    For a start:

    Tony Blair set up the Commission in 2004 to examine womens’ work experiences, the pay gap and the barriers affecting career progression.

    If she worked for me, one barrier that might affect her progression is an inability to use apostrophes.

    Anyway, the site is worth a look

    pm.gov.uk/output/Page8809.asp

    (address starts with a www. which I have omitted because Boris’s forum seems to bounce any post containing a link. Melissa?).

    The PM’s site has “initiatives” coming at us like a tsunami – and these are only the “big issues”! Are we supposed to be impressed? I am left overwhelmed, bewildered, angry at the abuse of my money, and wondering if we human beings are allowed to sort out any of life’s problems without the consent of New Labour.

  137. ATTENTION ALL!!!!

    As the more perceptive of you may have noticed, this government (i use the term loosely – pathetic dictatorial corrupt a***wipes is more appropriate) have BANNED all protest within a kilometre of Parliament. Boris himself almost fell foul of this on the recent C.H.A.N.T. march.

    This law was brought in to end the protest of just one man; Brian Haw.

    Brian has been protesting against the Iraq war since the very outset. His presence is a constant embarrassment to Bliar, so our murdering meddling PM had a law enacted just to get rid of him.

    Mr Haw appealed (and won) against this law. The government have just had this appeal overturned.

    Is it any wonder that people no longer take an interest in politics when the government goes out of its way to illegitamise any opposition or protest?

    I ask all readers of this post to contact their MPs at the soonest possible opportunity, protesting against the murder of democracy by this self-serving and corrupt bunch of thieving murderous war-mongering c***s who call themselves The Labour Party, our government.

    I have spent my life as a peacable citizen…but give me a rifle and i will shoot that bastard Blair. Not between the eyes (they are too close together – besides, his brains are clearly in his ar*e), but somewhere that will guarantee a slow and painful death.

    He steals freedoms, orders the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children, and smiles whilst he does it. And we let him get away with it.

    So, tell your representatives that we have a RIGHT to protest, and the seat of power should not be immune as a venue. Only a cowardly murderous liar need hide. As only a cowardly murderous liar IS hiding – in his anti-democratic protest-free zone.

    GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!

    BASTARDS!!!!!!!!!

    (rant over…anyone got a large towel i can borrow to clear up all the vitriol and spittle that appears to be drenching my keyboard?)

  138. Psimon, you old c***, what are you on about? Whose deaths did he ‘order’? The Iraqis’? It was interesting to hear the Conservative leader talking on last year’s pre-election Question Time on the BBC. When pushed, he said he’d have gone in with the Americans even if he’d known there were no WMDs. He was even more gung-ho than your pal Bliar. Would he have prevented the deaths of those innocent Iraqis? Doesn’t sound like it. And what of the MP for Henley. He voted for war and death to rain down upon the young and the innocent as well as Saddam and his henchmen. He may wobble a little now when it’s turned nasty, but where was he when it mattered? Would he have saved the hundreds ‘ordered’ to their deaths by Bliar? Howard, Johnson and the whole bunch of them were in thrall to big George W Bush; they loved his swaggering style. Read Johnson’s sycophantic comments on Bush’s rejection of the Kyoto Treaty – gosh, how he admires that mean ol’ boy from Texas and his disregard for world opinion – the same disregard shown in Iraq, in fact. No, when you take out your rifle, Psimon old chap, bring along a few hundred extra bullets for the other ‘criminals’…

  139. Manxcat: Just keep the rifle loaded for me, i’ll keep on with the shooting…

    ;o)

    But the point was more about the fact that protest has been banned…and i want to protest against that!

    Raincoaster: Thank you very much. I don’t have a net connection at home anymore, as i am too poor to afford it right now. If the economy is doing as well as our illustrious chancellor says, how come there are no blooming jobs round here and an increase in people out of work? Looks like someone in the labour party is lying again….

  140. And if they’re really lefties, howcum they don’t provide a service like the Vancouver Community Net? Sure, they’re incompetent ****wits, but they’re well-meaning incompetent ****wits who quite often manage to get free internet access to people who otherwise can’t afford it.

  141. Psimon, all these ‘jobs’ they have created are either public sector non-jobs or soul destroying call centre jobs on slave-pay.

  142. By the way Mac I do see anarchy as the ultimate destination of humanity (I hope) but it will probably take another couple of million years of social evolution (or mass reprogramming) before it becomes a stable and viable option. Anarchy means ‘without leaders’ not ‘without order’. (Joe M)

    That’s pretty much my view.

    And belated best wishes to the Ancient Submariner. I’m sure he will surface again soon.

    Been a bit too busy to post the last few days.

  143. Thank you each and everyone for all the good wishes.
    The procedure was a failure, and I now sit at home since yesterday, long face , short vista.
    Today they have summoned me into hospital again to try to kill the cancer another way.

    Watch this space, let’s hope it gets filled again.

  144. Mac, I beat that bitch and I haven’t a quarter the strength you do. You’ll take that f**ker down on sheer force of character. Do what your doctor says, ask the nurses to fill in the blanks (there are many) and take care of yourself. If you need help, ask Melissa to pass on my email. I’ve been there, I can help.

  145. Rock on, Mac.

    You’re the man on Boris’ blog, and I listen to you above everybody.

    But we all fade away in the end.

    So write us some more poetry, while you’re still around to write poetry.

  146. Idlex et al, I class you all much higher than mere co-correspondents. I class you all , in the real sense , as ‘distant’ friends.( I’ll ask Melissa, raincoaster, thanks).

    I might be down , but I’m not out yet, and to prove it to a chorus of groans: here is a ditty I composed for my surgeon, even before I got to know him intimately,( which was only last Wednesday).

    From a patient to his surgeon / doctor.
    —————————–
    The theatre is your stamping ground, my body is your stage.
    For you, one more performance; for me: my pass to age.
    I’ve no wish to make a fuss, I could do without the strife
    I need to know; with certainty, if I’ll survive the knife,
    If it is to be the scalpel; I’d need to weigh the odds.
    Never having been a gambler; the only law I trust is ” Sods”
    I know you’d do your darndest to save me; come what may;
    But you and I are actors, we didn’t write the play.
    The critics publish what they think, once the acting’s done
    But what’s the good of praise for you, if I, your stage, am gone?

    There is a German saying; I hope not cogent to this point :
    “Die Operation war einen kompletten Erfolg:
    leider, der Patient starb”.
    ( Operation a success , unfortunately the patient died).

  147. I’m ashmaed to admit that I have rolled my mouse roller button thingy over Macarnies poetry up until now (English was never my subject).

    But the above is a truely beautiful work of art.

  148. Idlex – cool dude – love it!

    >Rock on, Mac.

    You’re the man on Boris’ blog, and I listen to you above everybody.

    Sure Raincoaster and Mac I’ll get you two together.

    Mac, you really have been and continue to be a true friend/blog police/trusted adviser/inspirational writer and above all phenomenal poet! You cannot let anything stub out your overflowing energy we fervently hope and pray.

    And what a poem Mac – you ace scholar!

    We shall be rattling around this site looking for you while you are away Mac – please don’t be long. We shall be searching for you high and low and scratching away in every nook and cranny till you come back.

    xxMAC, WE AWAIT YOUR RETURN TO FULL HEALTH: COME BACK TO OUR LOVING ARMS SOONxx

  149. Manxcat

    It’s not racist to discuss immigration and foreign policy you know.

    There are parts of the commonwealth that we could actually make better, like Sri Lankan for instance. If we concentrated foreign policy and resources ending the civil war there and helping the country develop its tourist trade further it would really be of benefit to a lot of people.

    The UK can’t solve Africas problems. Africa is all but a lost cause if you ask me. We should be looking at what is within our capabilities in terms of helping people abroad.

    We could do a lot for our friends in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for instance.

  150. I am back out of the hospital, at least for now, and , fingers crossed, the tumours in my liver have been arrested in their growth. A CT scan next week will tell the latest chapter .

    I don’t feel too well , but I’m glad to be back amongst you lot again. I’ve missed you all. Will catch up soon.

    To Dr Bakir:

    Last week upon your table, the operation failed,
    With disappointment overwhelmed, I must admit, I wailed.
    But you Sir, in your own free time, worked out another way,
    There’s hope now, I, your living stage, will see another day.
    Your stage is part refurbished, and my perspective’s better.
    I promise, your instructions I will follow to the letter
    The story hasn’t ended yet; we’ll see, there’s more to come,
    I half believe in miracles, cogito ergo sum.

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