In Mourning for Mac

We sadly announce the death of Macarnie (Arnold McGregor) last Thursday 26.10.06 ~ Relieved of pain at last.

Mac we salute you for your friendship, support, scholarly thought and imaginative verse over a number of years.
You were matchless.
We sorely miss you.

Here was Mac at his best:

General Election May 05

IT’S TIME.

——————-

The hour hand; slowly creeping, is nearly at high noon

The minute hand is catching up, they’ll be meeting very soon,

It’s time to name the polling day when Britain’s battle starts,

And Champions of different Parties fight, to win the voters’ hearts.

It’s time to rally round the flag, and this time not the red one.

Let’s make The Labour Party sick, or better still, a dead one

It’s time for change, in every sense; not merely in direction

It’s time to clear the streets of crime, and wards of all infection

It’s time to give the teachers back, their authority in class

And not allow the classroom thugs to bully and harass.

It’s time for lawful burghers to live in blessed peace

Let’s put the Bobby on the street: that’s where we want police

If these are your priorities, and yes, I do mean YOU

Be sure to put your voting mark in the box which means true blue

Macarnie

For more Mac see here

And here:

Setting the pre-election tone:

One hears of happy families, where children don’t do wrong,
This isn’t one of them I fear: it’s not that kind of song.
If that were so, there’d be no point, in telling this, our saga.
We’d all be happy, baking bread, and sitting round the Aga

BBB Macarnie [BBB as in best blue blog regards…]

And here is Jaq’s tribute to MacFortean Times

Appointing a new Researcher

clever%20student.jpg

Talking about their generation: Britain’s golden youth

By the time we had been interviewing for three solid hours I was like a limp dishrag. I was wrung out with the hopefulness of it all. It was the talent, the energy, the sheer brilliance of these young people, all of them beaming ‘Pick me, pick me’ into my befuddled skull. We were only trying to hire a new researcher, and it was as though we were auditioning the next prime minister. They could write. They could talk. They could do anything. They had Grade 8 piccolo/flute and Grade 8 viola and awards for the top GCSE marks in the entire country.

Their A-level results cascaded down the page like a suicidal scream. They were magazine editors, union presidents, champion mooters, and they had blues for everything from rugby to lacrosse. They had prestigious New York awards for their film-making; they had been semi-finalists in University Challenge 2004-05. They had already published important articles in the Guardian and served internships throughout the FTSE-100. They had fluent French and confident German and unblemished driving licences and they had managed to secure the top firsts in disciplines from English to Engineering to History while playing squash to county standard.

This article appears in this week’s Spectator magazine.

Continue reading Appointing a new Researcher

Burden of Taxes

When you’re surviving on £102 a week, tax cuts make sense

Oh, I know we can’t promise tax cuts. I know we can’t say exactly which way we would crank the great levers of the Treasury, if and when a Tory government were to get in.

I know that George Osborne is bang on when he says that stability is the number one priority, and I know the public would rightly doubt the value of whatever we said so far from an election.

And I also know that, as soon as we gave the very ghost of a tax-cutting commitment, the great Labour lie machine would chunter into action. Ed Balls would start boggling indignantly from your screens. Gordon would begin his nasal dronathon about closed hospitals, axed nurses, cancelled heart operations and mutilated stumps.

But in case there is anyone out there who doubts the evil of how Gordon Brown taxes the poor, let them hear the ill-effects on those in our Armed Forces who slave to put bread on the table for their families, and who are walloped for their pains by the Chancellor.

Last week, I met a woman who works for the RAF. It is fair to say that, without her efforts, and the efforts of thousands like her, our helicopters would not fly. Our Army would not be victualled, our soldiers would not be shod or armed.

She works 45 hours a week in RAF supply, and receives from the MoD £11,500 per year, as well as a small London weighting. She pays income tax at a rate of £116.01 per month, National Insurance at £61.45 per month, and her pension contributions are £37.92.

And then of course there is council tax, good old council tax, and for the privilege of having her bins emptied and travelling on well-lit streets, she has to cough up about a tenth of her income — that is, £118 per month, on top of her rent, which is £366 per month for a three-bedroom house.

Continue reading Burden of Taxes

English Music

A land without music? Parry, Holst and Elgar to you, Schmitz

Of all the wounding things that foreigners have said about the English people, it is hard to think of an insult more savage than that directed at this country in 1904. They have called us perfidious. They have called us a nation of shopkeepers. They have said that we are in love with our nannies. Nowadays they tell us that we are the fattest, drunkest people in Europe, and that our children leave primary school with the vaguest understanding of reading and writing.

At all these barbs, we just take a deep breath. But when a German critic called Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz composed a dithyramb of abuse of the English cultural scene, just over 100 years ago, he included a jibe from which we have never really recovered. It stung. It made us blink like puppies suddenly kicked, and until now we have never had the nerve to fire back at Schmitz — because we have a terrible feeling that he may have been on to something. England, he said, is Das Land Ohne Musik.

Continue reading English Music

Iran

Give Iran the bomb: it might make the regime more pliable

You see, if I were an Iranian politician, my mind would be made up. If we were all sitting in Teheran and puffing our post-breakfast pipes and pondering the question of Iranian nukes, I am afraid that we might come to a very different answer.

Continue reading Iran

Party Conference Choice Debate 06 – Jamie Oliver

Wednesday 4th October 2006

Conference choice debate.

Chaired by Theresa Villiers MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

Panel:
Anna Soubry, + Gedling PPC in 2005, Conservative PPC for Broxtowe
Matthew Parris, Journalist
Boris Johnson MP, Shadow Higher Education Minister.

The debate choice was:

1. Road pricing is the future
2. Is Jamie Oliver a national hero?
3. Supermarkets have too much power.
4. We like the new look conference.

The choice made by the audience was #2: Is Jamie Oliver a national hero?

The panel was introduced and the Chair focused immediately on Boris Johnson in the light of the furore surrounding his alleged comments regarding Jamie Oliver at the conference. Johnson embraced this opportunity with gusto and declared himself to be not only in support of the motion but, in response to a muttered comment from the panel, that he is a determined member of the pie-eating liberation front. Also that the BBC had told him they were at a loss as to how his comments had been reported upside down.

Boris had pointed out that while schools are going to the often unfunded expense of ‘providing alfalfa or what have you’, as long as the children have the choice of crisps and junk food then it will be ‘difficult’ to persuade them to chose the healthy option and what is needed is a completely paternalistic approach. With not enough funding from central government, Boris simply voiced that he didn’t know how the initiative would work without parents’ support and an ‘eat what you’re given approach’.

Matthew Parris then told us he had bumped into William Hague and, as a short notice replacement, had asked him for advice on this issue. “Support the issue” was apparently Hague’s advice, “and if Boris was suggesting otherwise..”, “I wasn’t” added Boris. “But on personalities” continued Matthew Parris, ” support Boris” to loud agreement from the audience. Parris then made a serious point: In politics we want politicians to speak their minds and when they do we shoot them down in flames. Parris then recounted the press feeding frenzy over Boris and that Boris had been subjected to a circle of ‘about 200 photographers’ whilst he wrote an article.

Comments in favour or against the motion were then invited from the floor.

Continue reading Party Conference Choice Debate 06 – Jamie Oliver

Party Conference 2006

I shouldn’t be pelted with pies for asking difficult questions

‘But what was it all about?” said a kindly woman on my left as I arrived late for dinner last night in Bournemouth. “I mean, what did you actually say?” she asked, as I slumped into my chair.

I felt like a wrung-out dish cloth. It was like being a survivor of the Jalalabad gulch. For a whole 10 minutes I had been dandled before the maniac eyes of the media King Kong. This way and that it had prodded me as it roared its incomprehensible roar and bathed me in the terrifying afflatus of its nostrils, and at the end of the experience, frankly, I was just as baffled as my friend.

Continue reading Party Conference 2006