The pursuit of happiness

The Spectator – Boris Johnson

You’ve got to realise they would have done it. They would have gone right ahead and swept another priceless heirloom from the mantelpiece of history. They were revving up their bulldozers, ready to roar into the ancient and irreplaceable ecosystem. Another great tree would have been felled in the forest of knowledge, and the owl of Minerva would have fled in terror from her roost. Had it not been for a few romantic reactionaries, then the technicians who run our reductionist system of education — with the complaisance of the Labour government — would by now be halfway to the demolition of the ancient history A-Level.

The children of tomorrow, children less fortunate than our own, would have been deprived forever of the chance to get to grips with the emergence of Athenian democracy, or the transition of Rome from republic to empire, and future generations of 18-year-olds would never again have spent any time in systematic study of the events and personalities that have been programmatic of our modern European politics and civilisation.

When a new Dark Age falls, it is not always to the sound of Viking battle-cries and the tinkling of church windows. Sometimes it is the very governments themselves that go mad, and start disembowelling their own culture. If you inquire whimperingly how they can do it, how the ‘department for education and science’ could have allowed this mutilation even to be proposed, the answer is not just that they are barbarians, though that is certainly part of the problem.


The real trouble is that our rulers are Puritans — especially Gordon Brown, the man who has set the tone of government for the last ten years; and what I mean by Puritans is that they cannot see the beauty and point of an academic discipline unless it adds, in some crashingly obvious way, to the Gross Domestic Product of UK PLC. They are Puritans in the sense that they exalt WORK with all the mania of 1930s Soviet agitprop extolling the virtues of TRUD, with meaty-forearmed hammer-wielding women rolling up their sleeves and preparing to join the men at the lathe.

It is an axiom of Gordon Brown’s speeches, a point to which he endlessly returns, that work and work alone is the means by which people can raise their self-esteem and the esteem in which they are held by others; and though he is obviously right that unemployment is wasteful and cruel, Gordon continually forgets the objective of work. His trouble is that he is stuffed with Maxton and Marx, and shows no sign of having read Aristotle, and if he would only stop devising new taxes, and take down the Nicomachean Ethics, he would see from the first five pages that the objective of every human economic and political activity is not work; it is not money.

We do what we do because we hope to achieve happiness. Every skill and every pursuit and every practical effort or undertaking seems to aim at some good, says old Aristotle, my all-time hero, and that goal is happiness — not Gordon’s wretched TRUD. In his worship of work, and his Marxist obsession with money, Gordon Brown continually mistakes the means for the end. He does not understand that an educational system can be a eudaemonic triumph even if it encourages disciplines that add not a penny to national output.

It seems to be beyond him, and beyond Labour ministers, that the advantage of study can consist in the happiness engendered by knowledge itself; and though you can certainly argue, as I do, that we are likely to have a much stronger economy if young people have the intellectual and emotional satisfaction of understanding their civilisation, and how it evolved, that is not the point. The point is that these subjects are a joy and an end in themselves, and Gordon is presiding over a gradually more brutal Treasury-driven system of pseudo-utilitarianism in which the point is being lost.

That is essentially because he and his Brownites are Puritans, posers who turn up in suits when the dress is white tie. They dislike ornament, or anything that looks as though it might be lovely in itself and for no other purpose. They hate anything that looks like frivolity and pleasure, and that is why they have spent such huge sums, over the last ten years, trying to trammel and constrain the rest of the population. The Puritan mind likes control, and conformity, and rigid adherence to codes, and it likes wherever possible to substitute its own discretion for the judgment of individuals.

That is why Gordon Brown’s Whitehall — and who shall deny that for the last ten years he has squatted like a vast octopus over government? — has criminalised courses of human conduct at twice the rate of previous administrations, with 3,000 new offences, all of which must in theory be policed and punished if the law is not to be held in contempt. It is not just the obvious attacks on discretionary activities such as hunting, smoking, snacking, smacking, etc. This government is constantly on the sniff for anything that looks cavalier, or freebooting, or risk-taking, and of the hundreds of examples of Puritan bossiness I have noticed in the last year I would cite with especial plangency last week’s ghastly and draconian plan to tell cyclists they must keep to their cycle lanes or face fines.

The road is ours, Gordon, and don’t you tell us what to do. And stuff your laws on booster seats for 11-year-olds, and to hell with your ludicrous plans for Home Information Packs, a system by which the vendor must pay an official to confirm to the buyer the evidence of his own senses that yes, that is a garage, and yes, that is a tree in the front garden. As for the ID-card plan, my strong advice to the incoming Prime Minister is to can it before he faces a jacquerie of protesters objecting to the cost to the taxpayer and themselves.

It does not take much imagination, if you look at the recent explosion of legislation, to see the fiscal disaster that follows. There is a new law, for instance, against the import of Polish potatoes (Lord knows why: I thought we had a CAP). There is a law that says you must appoint a local key-holder if you install a burglar alarm. Whatever the rationale of these edicts, they require monitoring and enforcement; and enforcement means officialdom. It means, inter alia, a new race of burglar-alarm invigilators and publicly funded potato prodders poking around in our supermarkets in search of rogue Polish potatoes, and new officialdom means an increase in public-sector spending, to the point where 60 per cent of the employment in Newcastle is now in the state sector, and while that is electorally valuable for Labour it means higher taxes for everyone else.

The paradox, therefore, is that Puritanism leads to profligacy; and the only way we can supply Gordon with enough money to satisfy his Puritan obsession with regulation and control, is to scamper ever faster on our hamster wheels and thereby attempt to satisfy his Puritan obsession with work. We work ever longer hours to service the interest rate on our mortgages, an interest rate pushed remorselessly higher, incidentally, by the markets’ suspicion of the expansion of the public sector.

We work so hard, in fact, that we completely forget the point of our work, and we drift in a daze from the Tube or the train to the TV set, pausing only to raid the fridge, and British children become so obese and generally stressed that the government is now driven to the demented expedient of introducing ‘happiness’ classes in school, and thereby leaving less and less time in the curriculum for anything that is truly happiness-inducing, such as the study of Aristotle or advanced mathematics.

These Puritans genuinely seem to believe that our happiness will be just a function of the cash produced by our work, and so in the last 30 years an ever-growing proportion of British women have been ‘incentivised’ or socially gestapoed into the workplace, on what seems to me to be the dubious assumption that the harder a woman works, the happier she will be, when I am not sure that is true of women or anyone else. The more closely we identify our happiness with our work, and the more we rate our achievements by the size of the numbers on our payslips, the more depressed we are likely to get, because the wretched truth is that differentials have been rising under this government, and status anxiety has been growing.

The colossal expansion in the numbers of female graduates is in many ways a marvellous thing; but it has boosted the well-documented process of assortative mating, by which middle-class graduates marry middle-class graduates and thereby entrench their economic advantages, pooling their graduate incomes to push up house prices and increase the barriers to entry for the rest. The result is that in families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole — in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner.

Of course I am in favour of women working, and the world would be far nicer if women ran it, but I sometimes wonder if they — we — really want to work quite so hard. Far from reminding us of the limits of money, and work, in the production of happiness, the New Labour Puritans have encouraged us to value nothing else, and that is why it is now time to have done with them.

Po-faced, pompous, prudish, pedantic, they are simultaneously money-grubbing and obscenely profligate. They have created an economic system whereby families are bullied to work ever harder to generate the tax revenue needed to service the vast and growing Labour vote-bank in the public sector, so that one way or another we are all working for the state.

They just do not understand that the point of work is not to add to Gordon Brown’s tithe barn, but to have the time and freedom to bunk off, read a book, play with the children, do a picture (no matter how useless), write a poem (no matter how bad), draw up plans for your expedition to the Mato Grosso or just sit and get sozzled in the sun. They do not understand the point of economics or the point of life. They have no concept of the limits of government, and in their narrow GDP-obsessed way they are a threat to the transmission of the glories of our culture from one generation to the next. In the words of Hesiod, who will be rarely off the lips of the coming Conservative government, they are fools who know not how much the half is greater than the whole, nor what blessedness there is in mallow-grass and asphodel. In fact, I doubt these Puritans would even know what an asphodel was, and the real scandal is that they are not giving the rest of us the time and the chance to find out.

105 thoughts on “The pursuit of happiness”

  1. A quick scan reveals a most interesting post (as ever), which I will digest later. I have to agree and will say here that “These Puritans genuinely seem to believe that our happiness will be just a function of the cash produced by our work” The cash produced. The work in the home still has to be done, but by whom?

    I can’t resist it – Boris you can persue my happiness any time 🙂

  2. You’ll have to take up the details with him, but Alex Callinicos has recently been saying that Marx’s metaethics are directly descended from Aristotle…

  3. Being a Geordie, I didn’t have a clue who Hesiod was, let alone what an asphodel is. I’ve looked them both up though and now I’m really confused.

    < ‘It is an axiom of Gordon Brown’s speeches, a point to which he endlessly returns, that work and work alone is the means by which people can raise their self-esteem and the esteem in which they are held by others’ (Boris)<

    < ‘In the words of Hesiod, who will be rarely off the lips of the coming Conservative government’ (Boris)<

    < ‘Hesiod wrote a poem of some 800 verses, the Works and Days, which revolves around two general truths: labour is the universal lot of Man, but he who is willing to work will get by.’ (Wikipedia article on Hesiod)<

    The guys sounds a bit like ancient Greece’s answer to Karl Marx. Then again, perhaps if I’d studied ancient history I’d have a better idea what you’re talking about. Having said that, the noises about excessive regulation and public sector employment are encouraging. Mind you it’s the tax credits I’d really like to be shot of, the savings added to the 0% allowance.

  4. I once commented that Ben Franklin saw the trees but counted the lumber … it sure appears to be the Protestant Ethic at work once again. Broon sounds both Stalinist and New England puritan in this, but of course, the work rule tends not to apply to the higher echelon, and never did. Chomsky is fairly good on this, describing the way he works and what he’s paid and contrasting it to unskilled labour. Unfortunately the wealth of Republican Athens that allowed philosophy to be regarded as the highest achievment, followed by poetry and the other arts, was about as much based on slavery as trade.

    On the other hand, zen monastries reputedly say ‘No work, no food.’

    Anyone remember back when it was predicted that the electronic machine age would produce a leisured society?

    Marx’s theories on alienation would counter the accusation that Karl is responsible for much of this … I’d look more to Uncle Joe and post revolutionary expediency. It’s also outdated agitprop street theatre thinking, certainly the likes of the Duke of Westminster still exist, but this notion of toffs in top hats and downtrodden workers is somewhat past its sell-by date in the UK. Although the unrestricted import of cheap foreign labour has tended to reintroduce the unremitting daily grind at the lower social levels. And remember that by 1900 one third of the male working class was unemployed at any time, and there was no benefit. Marx is influenced by the social situation he had to deal with.

    It also sounds as if more ‘target driven’ absurdity is likely to spring forth where Broon walks.

    Boris … if I remember correctly (it wasn’t something I was looking into, a mate of mine was some years back) … the bulk of female graduates between the ages of 21 and 35 tend to vote Labour.

  5. Errr, yeah.

    But the main reason everyone has to work so hard is because of a booming British economy wherein house prices have recently bounced off the moon on their way to Alpha-Centauri and most have my neighbours have three jobs just to keep up with their credit card debt.

    While I suppose that Brown must take some of the ‘credit’ for a forty hour week being classed as a part time job, I must regretfullly admit that it isn’t all Labour’s fault this time.

    Greed’s to blame.

  6. Excellent and thought-provoking ariticle by Anthony Seldon in the Telegraph – Headmaster of Wellington College who has teamed up with a Wellbeing organisation in the US teaching ‘happiness’. See here

  7. Steve … with Eton looking like it’ll have to share its teachers etc with the local comprehensive, we’ll soon all be able to quote Hesiod, probably in the original language. We might even learn what an asphodel is (I think it indicates that the Ancient Greeks were really all flower children).

    Some popster commentator said that while The Clash represented the right to work, the Sex Pistols represented the right not to work.

    Not too sure about teaching ‘hapiness’ Melissa, but perhaps it’s an unfortunate choice of names for a combination of psychology/sociology/philosophy that might be worthwhile. There’s some good comments there on education in general. I tend to believe that this idea that one should always be happy is a part of the problem, it’s never been human experience previously. The US constitution guarantees the right to pursue happiness, it doesn’t guarantee a citizen finding it. Can we also kick out this absurd US import the ‘cult of the individual’, where individual perception is seen as more valid than objective truth (or the closest approximation to it we can achieve)?

    But like the new Lakes Tourist version of the poet says:

    “What is this life if full of beer
    We have no time to belch and leer.”

  8. Spot on, Boris. Almost. You’re really a bit of a hippy, aren’t you?

    The ‘almost’ arises from the following:

    1/ Smoking. You’re wrong there. Banning smoking isn’t a matter of civil liberties, it’s about human rights. We no longer allow men to beat their wives, or sugar cane planters to enslave Africans, or local warlords to freely murder members of the tribe over the hill, because we rightly see these things as inhumane. Smoking is another example. It kills smokers, and it can kill the people near the smoker. Get over it, and go stand in a field.

    2/ It’s NOT ALL LABOUR’S FAULT. Derrrrrr. We’ve been working increasingly hard, for increasingly pointless purpose, as long as I can remember – and at least back to the dawn of the Holy Thatcher’s economic revolution.

    Keep up the good work. But drop the party politicking. It’s unattractive and silly.

  9. You wrote – “the world would be far nicer if women ran it”. This country was run by a woman once. She saw little more humanism in the world than Brown with his head full of pound signs and hard work. In today’s society, women and men are turning into, or have turned into, the same thing. It might, possibly, have been nicer if the women of 40 years ago ran it – but that was only because most were more humble on account of the fact that they didn’t run it. Today, the humility necessary for good leadership has all but evaporated. Men or women – take your pick. A woman in a 4×4 tried to mow me down in cold blood yesterday! She must have been in a hurry. Aw.

  10. < ‘You’re wrong there. Banning smoking isn’t a matter of civil liberties, it’s about human rights.’ (Mark Gamon)<

    After July 1st, we no longer have the right to buy a pub and let people smoke in it. This ban has nothing to do with ‘human right’ it is simply an authoritarian draconian measure that is reducing people’s choice. Being fat kills people too, by your logic we should be ban people from eating what they want.

  11. I should oppose and contradict your arguments, being something of a puritan myself, and a workaholic in that most economically-desirable of disciplines: computer programming.

    And yet… I enjoy my work, and I love my chosen subject for the unending esoterica and the absurdity of it, for the intellectual delight of pure logic, and for the pleasure of contributing to our own strange folklore. This is far removed from the daily pursuit of economic advancement and enhanced shareholder value, and entirely unknown within the Department of Education and Science: I doubt that they – or my employers – would put such vast resources into information technology if they knew how little we care for their utilitarian policy goals.

    Is that so very different to a ‘useless’ subject, like Ancient History?

    I have a confession to make: I suspect that anyone who has mastered the politics, history, art, literature and philosophy of our predecessor cultures – in at least two foreign languages and a different alphabet to boot – is probably as clever as a programmer. Possibly more so: it seems that they have studied rather more subjects than I did, and my experience of working with these people is that they have acquired the rare and precious clarity of thought that separates the Analyst Programmer from the code-monkeys in the development lab.

    But I digress. Let us return to the DES.

    Would it surprise you to be told that these dismal New Rounheads are as destructive of a ‘useful’ subject as they are of Ancient History?

    The modern curricula in the sciences have become dull and worthy and entirely devoid of the excitement that drew us, as teenage schoolboys, into deeper study. But the new curriculum in Information Technology is an order of magnitude worse. I shall quote a friend of mine, who is reduced to tears by teaching this talentless drivel:

    I swear they have gone through it and taken out everything that might make students think computers are cool and amazing, and replaced it with endless grey screeds on how employers can profit from computer use, and the Eight Rights and Four Requirements, or hang on it’s the Four Rights and Eight Requirements, of the Data Protection Act. No wonder students think people who are enthused about computers are sad.

    The full text of her blog post is here: http://bluedevi.livejournal.com/151997.html#cutid1

    Perhaps some scholar of the classics could provide an example of the wicked being dismally incompetent and ineffectual; for some reason, I am only able to draw on examples from popular culture, which generally portrays powerful and evil men as being clever and very clear indeed about achieving their goals.

    Of course, it could well be that there is some James Bond villain within the Department, stroking his cat and applying his sisnister genius to some horrible revenge upon the Classicists. Be warned that he may have the weapons to hand: they could do the same as they did to my chosen subject, and more, to yours.

    I would prefer not to sign off with such a disagreeable remark, and I am happy to say that I do not need to, because there is a great deal of encouragement to be had in reading today’s Boris Johnson blog. Your comments about puritanism and the desire to control are a theme worth developing: there is no single goal or cohesive ideal in New Labour, and therefore no grand theme of opposition to their plethora of petty follies. But you, sir, have identified a pervasive weakness.

    Would that this had been articulated earlier! Among other things, it offers a clear statement of principle that marks you out as a modern Conservative. In a decade where vague principles and vague policies have succeeded in producing nothing worse than vague and diectionless dissatisfaction – and vague opposition – such clarity will go a long, long way.

  12. This is a complete digression but I have chosen to interpret the title of Mr. J’s article “The Pursuit of Happiness” to allow a passing reference to the USA.

    I have just read on Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org) that there is evidence to support a theory that Dick Cheney is conspiring with AIE (American Enterprise Institute) to create a situation whereby the US has no choice but to nuke Iran.

    Surely that puts an entirely new slant on the study of ancient history particularly when it circumscribes humananity. The only question remaining is: would it be cockroaches, scorpions or ants doing the studying?

  13. It might be worthwhile considering J. S. Mill’s 1864 ‘Inaugural’ and the attack on British universities contained in it before retreating to Roman poets and ancient Greek philosophers (and worth remembering that the Greeks didn’t send their kids to the gymnasium to study ancient Egyptian, they sent them there to study Greek).

    Mill was highly critical of universities as a ‘certifying mechanism’ and as providing a ‘passport to the professions’. He wasn’t opposed to vocational training, but believed it a post graduate function, not something to make ‘men most resemble machines’. He stated that universities should not ‘teach the knowledge required to fit men for some special mode of gaining their livelihood’ but should ‘counteract the debilitating influence of the circumstances of the age upon individual character, and send forth into society a succession of minds, not creatures of their age, but capable of being its improvers and regenerators’. He decribed the Oxbridge of his day as ‘intellectual imprisonment in the prescribed dogma of a favoured set of propositions’ … that would seem to be true of all of today’s universities.

    I do like the idea of quoting Mill at what little is left of the Labour Party, but I guess the very thing that attracts the likes of me to Boris and Co is the very thing that, according to the Telegraph article Melissa has posted a link to on the grammar school thread, alienates the traditional grassroots Tory.

    Not too sure about a nuclear attack on Iran Sausage, but the neo-cons would sure like to attack, otherwise why have three fleets in the Gulf? They probably figure that it might just save their fading electoral chances, after all, it worked for Maggie. Perhaps they need to find somewhere more on the scale of the Falklands or Grenada to deal with.

  14. Gosh, what a fabulous rant! One of your very best, Boris.

    Of course, it makes no logical sense at all, but it’s a thing of beauty and a joy forever nonetheless.

    It takes real genius to mix up Marx with Calvin, but by golly you’ve proven that you’re just the man to do it!

    Really, though, the man for the hour is not Hesiod: it’s Heraclitus.

  15. As a bash against puritans i think coming this ban on smoking i shall purchase a huge big lord of the ringsesque pipe and smoke it straight down the middle of town..stick that in your ….
    a simble against the legislation which is smuthering us all!

  16. Hello from Down Under. It’s the same miserable situation here. Everyone seems to be following the American model and seeing money as an ends to itself, rather than as a means to pursue leisure. This manifests itself by everyone working harder and harder in order to make more money, rather than doing what the sane parts of the world do and earning money in order to have more time to enjoy oneself.
    ANd so it follows that all the wonderful things it’s possible to do if you’re Australian – camping in an ancient wilderness, swimming with a lover on a deserted beach, drinking with a gang of friends at a friendly pub – are being swallowed up merrily by junk American tv, and booze company-endorsed alcoholism. Meanwhile, sniveling governments (state and federal) drone on relentlessly about the economy economy economy without ever pausing to consider the need to be human. Bleh.

  17. Steven…

    Please. Not again. Read the science. The reason we’re banning smoking from the workplace is not because it kills the smoker, it’s because it’s unpleasant for non-smokers, and probably kills them too.

    If smoking produced no carcinogenic smoke, I’d be delighted for you to smoke anywhere you want, no matter if you are shredding your lungs in the process. They’re your lungs, after all. Similarly (to pick up your point), if you’re fat I’m delighted for you to carry on eating. The amount you stuff yourself doesn’t hurt me.

    Smoking hurts OTHER PEOPLE. It’s less obvious than slavery and murder and rape and tipping chemicals in the river, but it does so just the same. It’s got nothing to do with cliches about draconian measures and the nanny state, and EVERYTHING to do with human rights.

    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Could not be simpler.

    Sorry if you’re a smoker, but no-one’s telling you to give up. Go stand in a field. And get over it.

  18. So does the same logic apply to heroin and crack?

    And can cyclists and pedestrians shoot car drivers to protect themselves from the emissions? Or perhaps we should thank terrorists who blow up planes, they’re cutting down on the carbon footprint to protect our human rights.

    OK … ridiculous examples, but ‘human rights’ does seem to be somewhat selective in application.

    ‘Ere ‘Raincoaster’, wasn’t Karl baby dead by the 1930s? And I don’t think he was ever in Moscow, it’s a long way from Highgate and dinner with Engles.

  19. Go stand in a field. And get over it. (markgamon)

    Whenever I see “get over it”, I am overcome by loathing for the person who said it. Another cheap, lazy expression from the modern lexicon used by people who have given no serious thought to the subject and who are deaf to other people’s views – in this case the views of a quarter of the population.

  20. To which I would add: You, Gamon, and your clever-dick put-downs are not worthy of appearance on the same page as the perceptive, highly original and brilliantly expressed article which kicked it off. Have you learnt nothing from it?

  21. Now now boys, play nicely.

    On the subject of standing in a field and setting fire to things – did y’all know the scouts are celebrating their 100th anniversary? Apparently Baden-powell’s attitude towards the pursuit of happiness was to have plenty of fresh air and exercise and to empty ones bowels every day and generally be useful in society. Can’t disagree with that, although Ian Hislop assures us, with great affection for his subject, that the man was quite bonkers.

  22. Apparently there’s a long waiting list to join Scouts and Guides in some areas. Health & Safety, insurance, child protection pollycees and other nonsense has made it extra difficult to recruit leaders.

    Right, off to evacuate the bowels…

  23. Smoking

    M Gamon last time I saw you were improving but I `m sorry to say you have slid back into your silly old ways .what do you mean from the work place its banned from the recreation place ie the pub in a profoundly illiberal measure . Science has nothing to do with it .
    Risk
    The risks associated with passive smoking are negligible and for those working behind the bar whose risk is most they still work in an environment, hugely less dangerous than almost any industrial and certainly any construction process . You misunderstand the multi dimensional nature if risk . About the most dangerous thing you can do is work on a one drop explosives demo site and this activity is rated at something t like 20% of wages by actuaries ( Deep sea Oil well diving / maintenance the only one I can think of that’s worse) . Bar staff for all its ( debatable ) disease risk is about 0.75% . Clearly we should be banning demolition and therefore we will have to bann building things as it is almost always involved. Absurd. It is more than obvious that we should bann driving and absolutely certain that drinking should banned from pubs forthwith. Running down the pavement of quickly ascending your stairs are better candidates and coughing in a public place should be punishable with an on the spot fine. In wartime many of these measures have been thought necessary along with the suspension of democracy.

    Science
    I like your touching faith in the objectivity of science which for the general public will never be seen in that light again after the climate change debate .There is no limit to the amount of legislation that can be justified by safety and yet at some point it must be balanced . Many of the 3000 laws Boris sites are in themselves not bad ideas and for those of the left that is enough for them to proceed onto the statute book. We need a far more rigorous test.

    New Laws
    Can you demonstrate that this new piece of authoritarianism will improve the existing situation bearing in my that it is intrinsically wrong to stop people doing what they like and that it will cost money to administer and that it will detract from the limited respect people have for laws and parliament if the nett value is weak. Is this in any case an area is which he state has any mandate to enact legislation. Furthermore does it still seem reasonable in the light of the prescriptions wish to remove from adults the right to set their own level of risk or indeed society as a whole’s. Why not for example place governors on all cars restricting them to 70mph we are already going down the road of restricting car journeys to the rich and air travel will follow. This is , in my view a far trickier balance to strike as I broadly accept enough of the green argument to allow a measure of mutual responsibility to be encouraged. It will be harder to enact such legislation if good will is wasted on pointless bossiness. The Police made very much this complaint recently . In Iceland , it being at that time verbal culture ,a new law could only be enacted if the law sayer could drop an old one from his repetoire and still remeber all the laws….

    Brave New World

    Boris was making quite a subtle point actually, that if we have an NHS that keeps us alive and an economy that keeps us working and a house we can live in and we die quietly having been no more than a placid bovine cud chewer then it is not enough. We have never become adults we have never become what we can be spiritually and cerebrally and after ten hears of Blairite loathing of the free human spirit all our resources , the family the church our traditional culture its literature and deep roots communities are being stripped away leaving us simply economic units , like battery chickens . In the end it was always Huxley that really saw the future and Orwell who was stalking about the present . Welcome to this brave new world where a grown man cannot walk into his own pub and smoke a cigarettes if he wants to. Welcomer to a world where child/ people like M Gamon are so deluded by state propaganda that they want what they are given.

    BTW
    Hallo Paul D nice to see you around ! Incidentally I bought the Spectator as I always do and read this then . It reminds you how far downhill it has come now it is edited by that apppalling brown-noser D `Anconna . Did you know his wife works for Blair as a paid PR spin mistress. Sadly New Statesman is an infinitely better read . Wonderful to see Boris in action in these pages

  24. Newmania said

    We have never become adults we have never become what we can be spiritually and cerebrally and after ten hears of Blairite loathing of the free human spirit all our resources , the family the church our traditional culture its literature and deep roots communities are being stripped away leaving us simply economic units , like battery chickens

    I agree Paul but this argument sometimes sounds like ‘we don’t want the brave new world, we want the old gnarly one back where men were men and women were grateful’ I like your argument but would like to emphasise that it’s not simply a choice of throwing out ‘then’ to get a modern ‘now’. I think it should be a case of keeping what was good from then, because some of it was good, and changing some stuff because some of it wasn’t that great actually.

    I agree with your viewpoint on attitude. I notice that people are being subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) trained by the State; not to care, not to think, not to take part. To be battery chickens.

    Take pelican crossings – drivers are trained not to consider or even care who is on the pavement or whether they wish to cross the road. In America you are expected to stop at a junction and then whoever got there first moves away first. In this country we are not expected to make decisions on our own at all. We are always told what to do, with signs, with signals, with legislation, with policemen telling us what’s acceptable to say or to joke about. We are now not expected to decide for ourselves what we can talk about – it’s NOT a free country.

    But having syphoned power to Westminster and trained a people to be subordinate, will any other leader, who benefits from these powers, want to give them back?

  25. Hello, Newmania. I haven’t been away but tend to gravitate towards the Boris forum where the standard of discussion is at times breathtakingly good.

    It’s a shame Gamon doesn’t look there before wading in with comments like “read the science”. He would find more than 1,000 posts on the subject, exploring every nuance of scientific and political evidence behind the smoking ban.

    Sorry if I got carried away, Jaq. A comment like “get over it” is the mark of someone who swallows whole the prevailing orthodoxy, apparently proud to accept the lies and spin thrown at us from every direction in today’s political arena. Such complacency has no place on a Boris blog.

  26. Yes “Read the science” , is a chilling phrase which reminds me of Swifts “Reasonable proposal”. Pseudo scientific arguments have been used on behalf of the most appalling crimes I can thing of ……ooops I `m heading the way of Godwin’s law.

    Weren’t there some good things about the days when men were men and women were grateful Jaq . I`m not sure that I see a great deal of happiness about the current arrangements ( mess) amongst women and men . Looking as I do at quite how different my little boy is to little girls at the age of under two I begin to wonder if the effort to pretend the genres are interchangeable is quite right in its modern form. One of the other joys that is no longer allowed is to frankly find women attractive . Or indeed make any judgment soft is sort. Oddly women seem more obsessed with their appearance than they were before.

    Perhaps everything is not the fault of men?( he whispered )….

  27. PaulD – yes the forum is a truimph but I’m glad you pop back here too 🙂 Always good to read your comments.

    Newmania – you do know how to catch me out don’t you? You know very well I can’t disagree with you at all.

    When men were Men and women were grateful? *sigh* (bosom heaves)

    Boris for PM!

  28. Newmania – I took Gamon’s “Read the science” to be an instruction, not a statement of his reading habits. Clearly he has not read the science, nor has he considered that it would have been perfectly possible to accommodate smokers, non-smokers and staff in most pubs by means of segregation, ventilation and market choice – the method preferred by the public at large when offered a full range of options.

    Sadly, this government doesn’t understand ‘choice’ either.

  29. PaulD – I think you have a good point: in olden days there were different rooms for different things and it worked much better. The smoking room could easily be found by the words ‘Smoking Room’ beautifully etched into glass on the door.

  30. i have been wondering where it was all leading
    and decided to refresh with a general history
    having also read ragged trousers
    have passed the greeks and have arrived at the union of italy under rome, have begun to wonder but having seen your words can confidently say yes nowhere have i read of the GDP of athens nor rome,our world was built on their
    trials and tribulations but within a generations it shall
    all come to naught if we fiddle whilst it burn.
    will none beat the drum

  31. i have not read the whole script
    but have browsed some of the posts
    even sadder now
    it has taken centuries to attain our liberty
    i will not yeald to slavery thrugh the deminuision
    of laws nor the yoke of economics i would rather starve than be servile.
    I WILL NOT BE AN ECONOMIC SLAVE

    AND WILL REMAIN A SOVIREIGN PERSON

    and you can tell that to the spartans

    keep up the rant boris

  32. Every skill and every pursuit and every practical effort or undertaking seems to aim at some good, says old Aristotle, my all-time hero, and that goal is happiness… Boris

    They just do not understand that the point of work is not to add to Gordon Brown’s tithe barn, but to have the time and freedom to bunk off, read a book, play with the children, do a picture (no matter how useless), write a poem (no matter how bad), draw up plans for your expedition to the Mato Grosso or just sit and get sozzled in the sun. Boris

    Aristotle is my hero also, in large part because of the following quotes:

    Also it is commonly believed that happiness depends on leisure; because we occupy ourselves so that we may have leisure, just as we make war in order that we may live in peace. Aristotle. Ethics. book X, vii

    …for peace, as has been often repeated, is the end of war, and leisure of toil. Aristotle. Politics. book VII, 15

    …nature requires that we should be able, not only to work well, but use leisure well; for, as I must repeat once again, the first principle of all action is leisure, but leisure is better than work and is its end. Aristotle. Politics. Book VIII, 3

    But wasn’t it Thatcher who started demanding that universities start producing people with more useful and productive skills than could be gained from the study of Classics? At least that’s what Professor John Brignell keeps saying. He should know.

  33. The Spartans were great until others learnt military tactics and strategy from them, then their power rapidly waned … and, being foot-soldiers, they were useless when they first encountered cavalry. Not sure that this has anything whatsoever to do with any of the issues, just thought I’d toss it in to muddy the water … well, it is getting late. Perhaps there’s a message in there somewhere.

    Harman on Newsnight admitted the decision to go into Iraq was wrong. She’s only the second politician I’ve heard do so, Boris being the first. Boris … you haven’t been giving her private coaching, have you?

    Dean Swift … ah, there’s a man I do like. But it ain’t ‘men’ that’s to blame Newmania, my ex-wife assured me that I was personally responsible for every disaster that had ever befallen the human race … I think she may have been correct.

  34. Smoking. You’re wrong there. Banning smoking isn’t a matter of civil liberties, it’s about human rights.
    Mark Gamon

    Quite so. If there are any human rights at all, then smokers have a perfect human right to smoke.

    Please. Not again. Read the science. The reason we’re banning smoking from the workplace is not because it kills the smoker, it’s because it’s unpleasant for non-smokers, and probably kills them too. Mark Gamon

    Yes, let’s look at the two largest scientific studies that you would have no doubt cited if you’d read them:

    Enstrom and Kabat 2003 and WHO 1998

    Neither turned up any significant danger from environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). The same is true of most other studies.

    So no danger from ETS, unless you ignore most of the studies. That only leaves the “It’s unpleasant for non-smokers” argument. In the first place, by no means all non-smokers dislike the aroma of tobacco, any more than vegetarians dislike the smell of sizzling bacon. But more importantly, whether they like it or not, should we be making laws to prohibit what we don’t like? If we can do that, then a whole floodgate can be opened, banning absolutely anything and everything. I don’t like celery. Anyone mind if I campaign for it to be banned?

    But I forget. That floodgate has already been opened.

  35. by no means all non-smokers dislike the aroma of tobacco, any more than vegetarians dislike the smell of sizzling bacon. idlex

    Come to think of it, I bet vegetarians really hate the smell of sizzling bacon. There have been quite a few times when I’ve heard vegetarians say that they’d really, really love to sink their teeth into a steak, or a bacon sandwich. And it’s precisely because of this that vegetarians hate the sight or smell of grilled steaks or frying bacon: it bitterly reminds them of what they are missing with their self-punishing diets.

    Exactly the same applies to tobacco smoke. It is – like steak and bacon – a rich and glorious smell. And as such it reminds ex-smokers of the pleasure they have foregone, and that is why they so hate it, even if they never give this as the real reason for their peculiar venom.

    The same also goes for the sexually repressed. They are disgusted by the sight of a nipple or a crotch or a thigh because it too strongly reminds them of what they’re missing, what they have forbidden themselves. So they want nipples banned. And not just for them, but for everybody.

    And vegetarianism, anti-smoking, and sexual abstinence are all just examples of the same thing: a puritanical loathing of pleasure in all its forms.

  36. I don’t like celery. (Idlex)

    Interesting. I don’t care for it either. Celery, coriander leaf and goat’s cheese – bleaarch. Everything else, fine.

    Whenever my curry appears smothered in coriander leaf I am sorely tempted to start a crusade to get the filthy stuff banned. Certain friends also loathe its aroma, variously described as burnt rubber, metal polish and Fairy Liquid. But then I reflect that others enjoy coriander leaf, so who am I to stop them eating the Herb from Hell?

  37. It is being mentioned that the resignation of Brady might offer an opportunity to advance Boris onto the front bench . I do have that right don’t I ? How interesting that the objections I see in comments are that he is not serious enough. Just shows does it not how much Brown dullness has infected the nation, even the Conservative Party . I would dearly love to see Boris given more responsibility and I frankly think the Conservative Party need him there is a real problem as we have seen from the Willets debacle explaining to the core vote what Cameron is up to. Boris made a good stab at it and I was delighted to see the telegraph actually admit that David Cameron has transformed the Conservative Party this morning. Recent Polls have been none to clever and the Boris effect is urgently required.

    Go on Mel tell us the whispers is there promotion in the air

  38. Apparently Boris is not alone in his thoughts on pursuing happiness, roughly 1.6 million Britons have felt the same since 1997 and have left these shores in the belief they’ll find it elsewhere.

    I don’t think it can be found nowadays though, as it would require time travel to return to the days when people had very few rights to speak of, but managed none the less to rub along quite nicely with each other without the ‘right’ to complain bitterly about a whisp of cigarette smoke, the barking dog across the street or the size of their neighbour’s leylandii.

  39. And you know what, Twizzler? I bet there are plenty of NuLab devotees who are pleased by the disappearance of these malcontents. “Not the sort of people we wanted living here anyway”.

  40. Paul D- Nearly twice the number arrive here to replace them and the fact that Keen Multiculturalist Billy Bargg has relocated to Dorset with a demographic typical of 1950s |England tells me all I need to know about that.

  41. < ‘I would dearly love to see Boris given more responsibility …’ (newmania)<

    I second the motion.

  42. I think you meant Billy Bragg, Newmania. From a BBC interview:

    Keen to find a happier balance between his family life and his work, Bragg now calls a picturesque village on the Dorset coast home.

    It is the land of cream teas and retirement cottages. Socially and geographically, the “Bard of Barking” is a long way from home.

    “Why Dorset? Because it’s not Devon or Cornwall – everyone from London goes to Devon and Cornwall. And because you have to go past Bournemouth to get past the social and cultural reach of London.

    “I joke with people that I sold my house in London and moved to England.”

    How very socialist of him. It’s the old “Why shouldn’t working class people enjoy the finer things in life?” tack. Which is fine if there are enough finer things to go round.

    Sadly, with NuLab’s passion for overpopulation, only the wealthy can enjoy chocolate-box cottages. The rest have to live cheek-by-jowel in “housing”.

  43. I see that Mark Gamon (aka Mark Sizzly Bacon) has not replied to my cited scientific papers that dismiss the danger of ETS. Perhaps that’s because he’s actually reading them for the first time.

    I don’t like celery. (Idlex) Interesting. I don’t care for it either. (PaulD)

    I think we’re in the majority here, Paul, for a total ban on celery. All we need do is produce a couple of papers correlating celery consumption with outbreaks of gout, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and pyromania, and we’ll have it banned in next to no time.

    (bosom heaves) (Jaq)

    Stoppit! It sets my mind wandering here, there, and elsewhere.

  44. Hear! Hear!

    More Boris!

    Less celery!

    I’m in favour of the heaving bosoms though. Chemotherapy has left me with a breathing difficulty and I’m trying to recall how it should be done, I think it has something to do with in and out … or is that sex that I’m starting to remember?

    Very sorry to hear that you have to live by Tessa Jowell PaulD, and you’re not even an Italian mafiosa. But don’t despair, Bragg moving to Dorset should significantly lower property values in that vicinity … mind you, you’d have to put up with his so-called singing … or telephone those nice noise pollution police.

  45. Sadly I am well acquainted with Mr. Brag and devoted an entire post on my now dead blog to his many failings as a human being including membership of the fatuously named Charter 88 luvvies against Thatch, “group”.

    Dorset has a population of 407,217, plus 165,370 in Bournemouth and 137,562 in Poole (total 710,149 — mid-year estimates for 2006.91.3% of Dorset’s population were born in England and 95.2% were born within the United Kingdom. 98.8% are indigenous, an extreme example of the disproportionately small ethnic minority population in rural areas.78% of the population are Christian, 13.7.

    It is standing complaint of mine that the people who regularly tell of the great joys multiculturalism bring to this country virtually never send their children to schools where the teachers fight an unequal battle against the needs of eight languages. I daresay Dorset enjoys few of these problems. Nonetheless I was fairly horrified to see La Hodge sucking up to the BNP vote recently in Barking. Did you know that the second Party of 35% of Labour voters is the BNP. Boris would remember her well from Islington which she turned into the Social dumping ground it is ” To this very day”, when she ran the iconic Loony left Council. I can think of few people I detest more .

    Idlex – I have been wondering if it is possible to have an atmosphere heavy with the langurous scent of sexuality and at the same time not be oppressive to women. Marina Pepper was the leader of the Liberal Council in Lewes until recently this is her web site . I think it is fair to say her previous career has not been a help to her . I offer this in the spirit of research and strictly for the sake of the political input . I think it rounds out Marina Peppers electoral appeal……

    http://sexy-witch.blogspot.com/2006/07/marina-baker.html

    Perhaps you noticed all the trouble they had at Web Cameron recently over a competition as to who was the sexiest female Labour Poltician. Caroline Flint who I have long admired ( To look at ) was exceedingly cross to win the competition which I though was a bit miserable of her. I can’t see exactly what she was complaining about . I would love to voted most sexy anything..

    What is the matter with women Perhaps its all the celery ?

  46. … the people who regularly tell of the great joys multiculturalism bring to this country virtually never send their children to schools where the teachers fight an unequal battle against the needs of eight languages. I daresay Dorset enjoys few of these problems. (Newmania).

    It may be 60 years old, it may have been quoted to death, but at times like this Orwell’s prophetic line has never been more true. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

    Curiously, he also went to Eton.

  47. coriander leaf and goat’s cheese (PaulD)

    I agree about the latter – noting that I never buy it, and remembering a holiday in Greece, many years ago, in which every dish seemed to arrive adorned with with a dispiriting square or two of the rancid stuff.

    Coriander leaf I’m not sure about, because I have at the moment no clear idea of what it actually looks like. However, whenever a dish is served up decorated with nameless green sprigs of vegetation, they are almost invariably bitter and inedible. I have come to suppose that this is done simply to add bulk and colour to what is usually a small and colourless dish beneath, and if anyone makes the elementary mistake of eating the stuff, the chef comes out and laughs at them.

  48. I offer this in the spirit of research (Newmania)

    A little too, um, full frontal for my delicate tastes, I think. But for some time I was much smitten by Bettany Hughes, who presented a series of TV history programmes (I forget what about).

    The reason I forget what they were about was because she she was so utterly flirtatious in front of the camera, with flashing sideways glances and knowing come-hither smiles and wild tosses of her long, lustrous dark mane, that I was so captivated that she may as well have been talking about growing potatoes or buying stock options or rearing battery hens. What she actually said simply went in one ear and straight out the other, particularly if delivered with her legs invitingly parted – as they regularly were. Nigella Lawson was a presenter of a similar kind, but lacked the full non-stop repertoire of Bettany Hughes, and could have done with a graduate course in advanced on-camera flirtatiousness from her.

    I have not seen Bettany Hughes for some time now. She was certainly a tremendous pleasure to watch, and that won’t do in our grim, oppressive age. So I expect she has been banned.

  49. Mouth watering Nigella Lawson often looks in Idlex and is even now considering ditching her sybaritic Eaton Square life amongst the shimmering plutocracy for a simple fag and a pint with your good self.

    Can there be any doubt which way she will fall?

  50. Excellent research material Newmania, what with this and the Cheeky Girls the LibDems are obviously becoming a viable alternative, not for government of course … suggestions as to what they’re a viable alternative for on a postcard to Ming please.

    The whole ‘Wicca’ thing amuses me. It was started by Gardner so he could ogle naked women (not that I’ve anything against ogling naked women, I just think founding a religion to do so is going a bit far). He cobbled it together from stuff he ripped-off from Eliphas Levi and Crowley (OK, he did give Al £50 for a charter, but by then Al would have sold anyone anything for fifty quid), and mixed in some Borneo experience transposed to a British offshore island. It has no relation to pre-Christian Britain, despite the erroneous claims, and yet all these women fall for it. Perhaps a career as a mysto high priest is beckoning me.

    Celery certainly has a lot to answer for. US black activists, such as belle starr, decided some years ago that the simple ‘men oppress women’ was wrong. They concluded that yes, black men oppressed black women, but were themselves oppressed by whites, the women conspiring with the men in that oppression. Similarly, middle class white women were oppressed by middle class men, but conspired with them to oppress the working class. [I doubt this will go down too well here, it sets NuLab so-called feminists twitching when I say it, and I’m not agreeing with it, but I do regard it as a sounder analysis than the simplistic ‘oppressive men’ cliche].

    The Dorset data doesn’t surprise me, it’s why I had to give up allegiance with the British working class … I don’t even speak Polish. Allowing an influx of cheap manual labour, as NuLab have done, damages the wages and conditions of the lumpen proletariat, this in turn creates a recruiting ground for the likes of the BNP.

    I had a flat in Eaton Square once … well, it was only on loan for the weekend … and it was bloody Paul and Barry Ryan that lived next door … which lets you know how long ago it was. Not sure about Nigella, there’s all those roast potatoes cooked in goose fat to consider.

  51. There was a girl group called the Belle Stars . Actually her thoughts seem pretty sensible to me

  52. < ‘Allowing an influx of cheap manual labour, as NuLab have done, damages the wages and conditions of the lumpen proletariat, this in turn creates a recruiting ground for the likes of the BNP’ (Agent Provocateur) <

    What an out of date attitude. Decades of economic development, privatisation and new technologies have made us a far richer society than the days of the ‘lumpen proletariat’. I’m quite happy to describe myself as ‘working class’, but I neither see Labour as my representatives nor trade unions as particularly useful entities. The overbearing employment legislation they demand just makes life harder for people that want to work, something I’ve experience first hand myself. The high tax burden and Labours inflationary borrow and spend policies make me poorer than a traditional Tory tax-cutting agenda would. Look at Ireland, apparently they’ve overtaken us in the GDP per capita stakes. I work full time, for not a massive amount of money, and I think it makes sense in this day and age to vote Tory.

    Labour just seem to more interested in taxing me heavily, paying non-working people to breed and regulating my working life to an unacceptable level.

  53. In East Kent the influx of cheap labour has resulted in either lower wages or no wage increases in the agrarian and related sectors. Many of the lads I used to teach used to work in these areas either seasonally or when they couldn’t find other employment, they don’t any more, but there’s often little other work for them. Steve, I think it’s regional rather than general, but to manipulate wages in this manner to increase profits and maintain a supply of popular cheap food is hardly ‘development’, nor is it dependent on ‘new technology’. If you want to reduce the benefits bill, you’ve got to provide worthwhile work … or is that too old fashioned for you?

    If you asked the lads in a secondary school in the 60s what they were going to do when they left 80-90% responded that they’d do what their fathers did, today that response rate is approximately 10%, only the sons of contractors in the building trade tending to say it. If you don’t want the burden of ‘non-working people’ you’ve got to ensure that there is reasonably paid work in all areas and all sectors (personally I’d go further and maintain that if you want a society that is capable of competing then you’ve got to ensure on-going training and skill development in all employment where it’s possible).

    Steve, by your logic the ‘underclass’ can’t possible exist. And Marx used ‘lumpen proletariat’ to distinguish unskilled manual labour from skilled labour, nothing more.

    I would suggest that Eire’s boom, as Spain’s, is largely funded by the EU contributions made by Germany and the UK, and that it has more to do with the absurd common agricultural policy than by sound economic management.

  54. PS: Steve … I certainly wouldn’t advocate voting for NuLab either, for different reasons. I’m disgusted by the cash for honours sleaze, by the pension raid, by the PFI deals, by the spin and target driven insanity that all services are subject to, by the centralisation of power and the rule by dictat, by the amounts paid to consultants and the rewards given to favoured companies, by the lies that I regard as treasonable that took us into an illegal war, and probably for a host of other reasons, but that’s enough to be going on with. The question is whether I would advocate voting Tory or not. Judging by the present leadership, most certainly I would. Judging by the rank and file … ‘no way Jose’ … I reserve my decision making to a later date.

  55. AP said

    The question is whether I would advocate voting Tory or not. Judging by the present leadership, most certainly I would. Judging by the rank and file … ‘no way Jose’

    AP, do you mean you like Cameron but not his ‘kitchen cabinet’?

  56. < ‘I’m disgusted by the cash for honours sleaze’<

    Welcome to the real world, if this gets used to bring in taxpayer funding I’ll be pretty annoyed with the SNP, although I can’t blame them ,quite a coup.

    < ‘by the pension raid’>

    Yes, but this comes under my point about taxation of the working classes.

    < ‘by the PFI deals’<

    I don’t know much about it, but it started before 1997, probably dreamt up by some bowler-hat in the Treasury if you ask me.

    < ‘by the spin and target driven insanity that all services are subject to’<

    Me too, symptoms of our media dominated world and big government.

    < ‘by the centralisation of power and the rule by dictat’<

    That’s another good reason I don’t think I’d ever vote for the left.

    < ‘by the amounts paid to consultants and the rewards given to favoured companies’<

    Symptoms or the tax, borrow and spend mentality of Browns economic policies.

    < ‘by the lies that I regard as treasonable that took us into an illegal war’<

    I disagree with the ‘illegal’ bit, but let’s agree to disagree rather than debate Iraq yet again.

    < ‘The question is whether I would advocate voting Tory or not …’<

    To many people who can’t stand this government are asking the same question – the question is do you want a PM Brown and sycophantic New Labour cabinet until 2015?

  57. Jaq … it’s the old guard party membership, particularly in the shires, that bother me, not the leadership (provided Letwin and Redwood can be held in check for a first term). A lot of them don’t seem to realise why they lost elections but cite Maggatory as if that were a positive factor. I’d say her first term brought positive and necessary change, but second and third terms went too far and created too much human suffering even where the social changes were necessary. If one is going to go in for social engineering, one needs to undertake it in a more humane way … I think the likes of Dave Cameron and Boris understand this. Furthermore, whilst no lover of nationalised industry, I think there are some projects that are so large that only the state can undertake them. Has rail travel really improved through privatisation? And wouldn’t a cheap, safe, fast, efficient rail system make sense if we are to takle green issues? [I leave potential structuring an open question]

    Steve, Brown is the main advocate of PFI … it’s his baby.

    I don’t really regard this present NuLab shower as ‘left-wing’ … the only one in the deputy leadership race with any left-wing credibility is the one who doesn’t stand a chance of winning, Cruddas. They are statist and centralised, which is reminiscent of Stalin’s Soviet Union, but by then the revolution in Russia had been sold out. This self-serving lot are far too deep in the pocket of certain selected corporate capitalist companies, accountancy firms and consultants to be regarded as left-wing in any real sense. I don’t really think there is a left-wing in the UK anymore … nutters like the SWP and CPGB seem to represent immigrant labour and absurdly claim the Tehran bus drivers as the ‘vanguard of the working class’ … hardly the way Marx would have defined it … right wingers on Guido’s shout ‘Trotskyite’ and ‘Stalinist’ at NuLab in the same breath without ever realising the total contradiction contained in this.

    Since we have a great Tory candidate in Laura Sandys, I imagine I’ll be voting Conservative for the first time in my life, but I’d probably vote for Hitler to get rid of Ladyman (that may be a slight exaggeration!). I hold my judgement for the time being as to whether I’d advocate the same all over the country. I’m tending to judge MPs by the individual at present, rather than by party allegiance. And I want to hear some solid policy statements from Dave, not just ‘feely’ sound-bites.

  58. AP everything you say is right but the main reason not to vote for the Labour party is that they wish to take more power into the state and away from the individual ever increasing taxes and a Public sector a useless and swollen as a prize Marrow. You reasons are drifting formless Liberalism which in the end only allows the Socialists in. I see that there are strong rumours Ming will be offered Foreign Secretary and Clegg the environment either before or after the election and electoral reform will follow such as to never allow the voter a chance to get rid of regime again. I do n`t know what you have against the ordinary Conservative especially but as virtually all of then are earning a living and not bothering anyone it scarcely matters . Its only the Left that want your money your Liberty and your identity. Conservatives just want to be left alone , to be free and to value the cultural capital of the country .By the way its pretty far fetched to argue that the low tax economy in Eire had nothing to do with its economic Renaissance there Globs of government money have been ineffective elsewhere in creating wealth . I also disapprove of your appeasement of fascism and traditional anti Americanism. You may yet get your wish in that the pressure in the States to withdraw support for the despicable UN is mounting .

    Personally I have grave doubts about the Conservative Leadership`s obsession with Liberal hobbies like “The Enviroment”. Thus far it has been a convenient ” area of agreement” in a nebulous way but now battle is about to commence it is not good enough.

  59. It’s more the lies told to parliament and the knowing use of forged documents that bother me over Iraq Newmania, rather than war itself. War is never a pleasant business, I predicted the present disaster before they went in. I’m not ‘anti-American’, but I am anti-oil corporate neo-cons and the evangelicals, they’re as bad (or nearly as bad) as the Islamists. But a lot of urban Americans feel the same way I do.

    I don’t think this Blairite cohort can really be called ‘socialist’ either, they’re more interested in socialising than socialism, though I will admit that you have a point over Eire … I just hate the absurdity of the common agricultural policy, and it is us and Germany that fund it.

    I agree that the public sector is bloated and inefficient, and I’ve nothing against reducing taxes once it can be demonstrated that services can be maintained and improved. Prior to that it’s probably electoral strategic suicide. And there you have one of the factors that worries me where some traditional Tory support is concerned.

    As someone who has been forced onto state benefit due to ill health, and someone who has undergone the hell of 48 weeks chemotherapy, I’m very aware of the need for services and of the inept inefficiency of the present incumbents (we have the highest paid doctors in the world and they still seem to be fairly useless). I await policy statements … it was conservative administrations that created this monstrously inefficient and costly PCT ridden NHS, with private health care feeding off it like a pack of jackals, Blair just continued and accelerated that downward spiral.

    The science for global warming is certainly a bit iffy … the question I always find myself asking is why it always comes down to punitive taxes against the individual whenever any such issue is raised? No political party ever seems to consider dealing with the vested interest that has milked fortunes for years while creating the situation (regardless of the reality of the science). Same as smoking … I’ve nothing against freedom of choice, but why shouldn’t the tobacco companies pay for medical treatment necessitated by their product?

    On Question Time last night Woy Hattersley (not one of my favourite people by any means) said that he liked a lot that was being said by the Conservative leadership, but that it was the same old Tories underneath. I’m not so cynical on this issue. I think Boris is right and that there have been changes. I want to see those changes carried through.

  60. Woy Hattersley once said I don’t believe any women ever gave a thought to acquiring council housing when she decided to become pregnant . You have to have a nasty Conservative mind to think such things. Guilty as charged not everything that is true is very nice . The main area to look for saving is in the colossal social payments sector which is about the same size as income tax revenue . Blair and Brown actually agreed with this and tried to solve the dependency problem by the tax credits scheme. By this means they rightly introduced a work related benefit but like all benefits shifted the disincentive along. They were trying to follow an American model but is America tax returns are common here it is about 30% of us and not the ones collecting credits. Noone here understood it an in anycase dependency is so ingrained that overpayment was assumed to be someone else problem. Partly this was to keep the whole thing under the control of the Treasury and it really is the typical New Labour failure. The cannot drag their support the way of breaking into this sink but know enough to know the disaster of creating more non contributing communities and in parts it literally is a whole community. In the end the delivery of a flawed Policy was what really did for it though the tax system was entirely inadequate to the burden placed on it and the incompetence of the performance.

    A really good demonstration of some of the goodish by self deluding intentions of labour the Stalinist Brown and the utter misunderstanding amongst the Labour elite of the working classes they have long since ceased to know . For these reason tax credits has been disastrous as has Public Housing Policy and much more. In the meantime increasingly regressive taxes and the failure of the educational system have created gaping class divides and immigration has been allowed to get out of control because of the political groups in the Labour Urban Elites squeamishness . Did you know that 75% of the country want immigration sharply reduced. Rightly or wrongly there is a clear democratic deficit here perhaps because the political class are elsewhere.

    If Brown scrapes in I believe he will do so with Liberal coalition offering PR and we will never have the chance to dismiss the government again. There are only two sides and choices must be made along “Least Worst ” lines.

    ( Don`t get me started on the “Science” of climate change)

  61. < ‘it’s the old guard party membership, particularly in the shires, that bother me, not the leadership (provided Letwin and Redwood can be held in check for a first term).’ (Agent Provocateur)<

    Why does John Redwood need to be ‘kept in check’? I thoroughly enjoy reading his insights. I do not always agree with everything he says, but he’s perfectly entitled to say it. For a start he doesn’t talk to people as if they are stupid. He is also one of the few people who dares challenge Gordon Browns economic policy from a non-Keynsian point of view. Shutting him up would be counterproductive. If his constituents want to elect him again so be it, if Cameron disagrees with his analysis he should just say so, say why, and tell us what he would do instead.

    < ‘This self-serving lot are far too deep in the pocket of certain selected corporate capitalist companies, accountancy firms and consultants to be regarded as left-wing in any real sense’ (Agent Provocateur)<

    I’ve never studied politics, but I was educated to believe that the two dimensional left-wing / right-wing theory related to one’s perception of people. Right errs towards meritocracy, left towards equality. On the extreme right you have the belief that some people are such a waste of space they should be forcibly exploited or disposed of. On the extreme left you have the belief that people should be forcibly ‘equalised’, told what job to do as all jobs are equal and dissenters should be oppressed or exterminated. In this respect I would argue that New Labour are truly a centre-left government. Tax credits are a prime example, another is their obession with monitoring and engineering equality of outcome based on perceive differences such as crude racial stereotypes. They are the modern day equivalent of the skull-measurers.

    You are talking about being economically ‘left’ or ‘right’ which is a whole different kettle of fish, private ownership versus public ownership, low tax versus high tax. They lost the battle on private ownership, just like the right lost the battle over having an NHS. In this respect I see them as statist, I also see them as a party of high taxes. Economically speaking New Labour are a centre-left government in my view.

    < ‘but I am anti-oil corporate neo-cons and the evangelicals, they’re as bad (or nearly as bad) as the Islamists.’ (Agent Provocateur)<

    You are anti-oil? Is it our main export, BP is arguably our best company. If you are anti-oil you might as well be anti-British.

  62. < ‘Woy Hattersley once said I don’t believe any women ever gave a thought to acquiring council housing when she decided to become pregnant. (Newmania)<

    Wikipedia says this about Hattersley’s early life:

    < ‘His mother, Enid Hattersley, became a city councillor and later was Lord Mayor of Sheffield (1981). He won a scholarship to Sheffield City Grammar School and went from there to study at the University of Hull.’<

    I doubt many girls he knew at Grammar school and university did want to get pregnant and get a council house. In the South-East Northumberland comprehesive I went to it was a different story. The main motive girls have to get pregnant is maternal instinct, boys are quite happy to provide the means, council housing and the benefit system provides the opportunity. Girls like babies and security. Some girls look to men for security, some look to themselves or their family, others expect the council (i.e. everyone else) to provide it.

    Incidently I saw Hattersley last night on QT, he was talking about how grammar schools segregated and disadvantaged people. What poppycock, some people like intellectual stuff, some don’t it’s as simple as that. I’d be a lot richer than I am now if I’d left school at 16 and become an electrician. However I don’t regret going to university one bit, it was great fun and I enjoyed learning. How horrible, a man who found fulfillment thorugh academic education spends his life trying to stop others from having the same opportunities and in the process realising their own inner needs.

    I blame it on his Mother, apparently she (who was once Lord Mayor of Sheffield) had him electioneering for Labour at the age of 13. My parents never tried to force their opinions down my throat, for that I truly am grateful.

  63. I wonder if AP is talking about a polarity that it entirely contemporary . For him in the middle are nice Liberals and Cameroons and at the dangerous edge there be ancient dragons with attitudes that predate the 60s social revolution . It isn’t quite like that there is a new libertarian Market driven input to the Conservative Party taking its cue form America but decidedly not from the Religious right. These are many of the younger people joining the Party Meanwhile the Liberal Party have become a Socialist Party in all but name , more so perhaps than the labour Party taken as a whole leaving many traditional members supporting a decidedly illiberal Party and yet still unwilling to admit to being a Conservative. At both ends of the political spectrum there are anti European feelings that converge and in the Labour Party some Blairites to the right of Cameron. The party remains committed to wealth redistribution , public housing and thoroughgoing state solutions to everything. The reinvention of nationalism is also not an old thing to be overcome by “Progressives” and is of a piece with the idea of cultural capital important in judging outcomes from education for example.

    I wonder of AP is still talking about oppositions of his careless Hippy days wandering the earth seeking adventure with his guitar ,Bong and bandana

  64. I like it Newmania … good one. And I agree over the Tax Credits shambles, another mess that Brown is responsible for at a cost of over £5 billion.

    Steve, I don’t want to shut Redwood up, just stop him talking about tax cuts until savings can be demonstrated. I did comment previously about how pleased Ed Balls appeared last time he opened his mouth on this. I’m all for tax cuts, but I believe that savings have to be demonstrated first … given the inefficiency and waste it shouldn’t be impossible. Were tax cuts in that simple form the vote winner that you seem to think then the Tories would have been in power for the last 10 years.

    Why has Tory support grown? I would suggest it’s partly to do with disgust with NuLab, and partly to do with growing support for the views expressed by Cameron, Boris and Co. It would seem to have little or nothing to do with the backwoodsmen, even though they don’t seem able to believe it.

    I agree with you about the dependency culture Newmania, and I speak as one who has been forced to become dependant. But although not entirely the case by any means, a lot of those dependent communities are the very same ones where industry was smashed. I don’t advocate propping up industry, but I do advocate a more humane approach to social change. We’re still counting the social costs of the Thatcher years, consider how many of these ‘dependent communities’ used to be thriving communities that serviced the iron and steel and the coal industry. But I’m not blaming Maggie, NuLab has had long enough to do something to solve it, but has failed miserably. My being forced to be dependent has turned me into an expert at fighting the DWP and Medical Services … absurdly they give those of us on chemo a hard time while paying disability to vast numbers of non-deserving cases.

    The libertarians (although I would class many as ‘libertine’, not ‘libertarian’) seem to be declining in influence in the US. I do regard the old left/right polarity as somewhat out-dated and have suggested that libertarian/authoritarian might be more appropriate for our present age. But to be truly ‘libertarian’ one has to respect the liberty of all, not allow gross exploitation by the few.

    I have no problem with immigrants, but I do find problems when the wages and conditions of the lowest paid sectors suffer for it.

    Whilst it’s a frightening thought, I can’t see NuLab doing a PR deal with the LibDems. Such political alliances are notoriously short-lived and they’d end up with PR egg all over their faces.

    Have to leave it at that, my favourite football team is on the telly … Brazil. And if you don’t like the glorious game guys … have you ever seen those Brazilian girls dance?

  65. Turned out to be a dull game AP. Cameron and Boris are really traditional Conservatives and Boris is quite right wing in some ways. The ‘Backwoods men’ account for the vast majority of Conservative support. Its the significant minority , the 800,000 Centrist swing voters that are the battleground. They are only strategically important not numerically

  66. Turned out to be a dull game AP. Cameron and Boris are really traditional Conservatives and Boris is quite right wing in some ways. The ‘Backwoods men’ account for the vast majority of Conservative support. Its the significant minority , the 800,000 Centrist swing voters that are the battleground. They are only strategically important not numerically

  67. < ‘Steve, I don’t want to shut Redwood up, just stop him talking about tax cuts until savings can be demonstrated.’ (Agent Provocateur)<

    Last time I saw him talking about tax cuts he did make points about savings. In fact Gordon Browns own Gershon Review recommended civil service cuts. Labour are losing countless local elections to opposition campaigning on council tax freezes or cuts. If he thinks that there’s a sound economic case for tax cuts he should say so. You don’t want his to shut up, you just want to restrict him to making noises you approve of. I’d rather hear a healthy debate within the Tory party, and then a clear policy pronouncement from the leadership. I’m sure John Redwood is old enough to understand that people, including the party leadership, might not always agree with him. He should be free to communicate his opinions to voters however. Just what sort of country do you want to live in exactly?

    < ‘We’re still counting the social costs of the Thatcher years’<

    Oh what rubbish. I live and work in a ex-mining area. Over the years I have had many jobs in the privatised utilities sector. Indeed now I work for a telecoms company. Many of the new jobs here were created through privatisation, much of the money used to attract industry here was EU money from the Thatcher negotiated rebate. Labour opposed privatisation in opposition and Blair has handed back a chunk of our rebate. I’ve never met anyone up here that says ‘I wish I was down a coal mine right now’. Change didn’t happen overnight, but believe me it was for the better in the long run. Can you say the same about Brown’s debt-funded public sector meddlers?

  68. It was a bit dull, wasn’t it? I think that you’re essentially correct there Newmania, but I suspect that it needs to be broken down by constituencies to make more sense of it. It was whole swathes of traditional Labour voters that switched allegiance and put Maggie in power, particularly in the New Towns, they switched back and put Blair in, without stopping at LibDem in between. Can the Tories win them back? It seems to be so in the south, but not anywhere else. If NuLab are left-wing then I must be somewhat right-wing in some ways myself, but this may well come down to the libertarian/authoritarian dichotomy; I don’t like that statist centralisation of power or the nanny aspects of government legislation, any more than I like the utilitarian approach to education and learning (to briefly get back to the beginning) and like they say ‘politics makes strange bedfellows’. As I’ve also said previously, given NuLab’s recent record the Conservative Party should be doing better than it is. There shouldn’t be a question hanging over its ability to win a general election, but there most certainly is.

    PS: I never did carry either a guitar or a bong, and there wasn’t much hippie left in me when I first came out of the Australian bush … hippies hated me, and I regarded them as a waste of space unless one wanted to eat muesli or lentils.

  69. And check out the rates of heroin consumption and related crime on estates that once housed workers in these industries Steve.

  70. So Newmania, are you telling me that Boris is a liar when he says that the Conservative party has changed? Surely he wouldn’t go in for that Bliar type spin, would he?

  71. < ‘If NuLab are left-wing then I must be somewhat right-wing in some ways myself’< (AP)

    It’s not a dirty word you know! I describe myself as centre-right, but am not a member of any politcal party. If people don’t like it tough, stick around and better still get in the forum. Explore the conservative blogosphere and arm yourself with ammunition to gun down anti-tory blind labour supporters who don’t know their backside from that nobbly bit on their arm with.

    < ‘check out the rates of heroin consumption and related crime on estates that once housed workers in these industries’ (AP)<

    I can’t help but feel a lot of them wallowed in being unemployed during Thatchers economic reforms. I accept that there was more unemployment in the 80’s and early 90’s than there is now, and in many cases people were looking for work. However I still hear young people up here today whinging about the closing of the coal mines. When I ask them if they’d want to work in one, and give them a list the health risks, they invariably say ‘no, but…’.

    I’ve re-trained for all sorts of jobs over the last 9 years. It’s just a fact of life. On the other hand I know people who spend a lot of time on the dole who say ‘I’m a painter, I’m not doing that’ to every new career opportunity that presents itself. Some people just have a bad attitude to life, the estates you refer to often have high concentrations of these people, they expect everything on a plate, including subsidised jobs and housing.

  72. “I’ve re-trained for all sorts of jobs over the last 9 years. It’s just a fact of life. On the other hand I know people who spend a lot of time on the dole who say ‘I’m a painter, I’m not doing that’ to every new career opportunity that presents itself. Some people just have a bad attitude to life, the estates you refer to often have high concentrations of these people, they expect everything on a plate, including subsidised jobs and housing.”

    The shift from benefit dependancy to low paid employment just isn’t rewarding enough. Whether we introduce more carrots or sticks to encourage the shift is largely irrelevant(although I favour a light regulatory touch, which would imply a big hike to the zero rate tax bracket, funded perhaps by an increase in basic rate and abolition of tax credits)

    If people coming off the rock ‘n roll were going to be significantly better off than if they stayed on (maybe with even more generous tax codes to pull the ‘long term sick’ off their sofas) the lure of filthy lucre may achieve what endless government initiatives has failed to do. It’s not that there are no jobs, we’ve sucked in the fat end of a million immigrants in the last 5 years to do them, it’s just a lot of people calculate they’re better off not doing them.

    I find the current reality – poaching the skilled & motivated from other countries to pay the benefits of our own feckless underclass – absurd.

  73. < ‘I favour a light regulatory touch, which would imply a big hike to the zero rate tax bracket, funded perhaps by an increase in basic rate and abolition of tax credits’ (Captain Badger)<

    Abolishing the tax credit would give you over £20 billion a year to raise the 0% rate with. No need to hike the basic rate at all.

  74. Plus it would put it all back into the pockets of the taxpayer instead of wasting 40% in administration, and then giving the remainder to the wrong people anyway? You are preaching to the converted.

    But: Just exactly how much more would we need so people working a normal year on minimum wage paid no tax at all? 20bn may sound like a lot, but I think it would be more like 30. (1 million people gaining 3000 in tax reduction)

    On top of that, I’d like to see an even higher 0% rate for people with kids (they are the future you know) so it wasn’t a choice between kids or holiday for most people.

  75. AP I don`t think you can understand the shifting voting patterns of that time without some memory of the 197os . Galloping inflation , the three day week , the dead unburied and the rubbish rotting uncollected. The unions seriously bidding to run the country and the Labour Party shifting radically left among its rank and file…imagine Foot Scargillland Benn in serious politics now .. Additionally in the 70s the post war consensus of ratchetting leftwards broke down and our sense of national self esteem became irreconcilable with the fact we were a nothing country. There was a revolt against the 60s in every way. Cameron faces very different problems . The irony is that it’s the Tiger economies in Asia and the US and Anglo sphere that are driving the world economy through successive years of spectacular growth. Our high tax regime and the protectionist EU mean that we missed out but nonetheless following Conservative union reform and ( admittedly) relinquishing interest rate control we have been in a period of economic fair winds . In these decadent fat years the baby boomer Liberal power nexus , especially in the BBC and cultural sphere ,have regained ascendancy perpetrating their lies For example , that Margaret Thatcher was unpopular and the further myth that it was she that cause the caused the unemployment which was in fact growing through the previous decade and a half , so called stagflation.
    Polly Toynbee still repeats this nonsense and it was a constant diet especially in Scotland emanating from the BBC…” This industrial wasteland …this sad betrayed country..blah blah “. That is why Cameron has to inoculate the brand by engaging in a cultural battle . I don`t object to this , call it spin if you like but it is also recasting policy and gathering a new consensus. An important part of this consensus is the right of the party. With New labour the spinning tail wagged the dog and speaking of which the dangerous dogs act about sums up the sort of ad law we have had

    The problem with abolishing tax credits is that , assuming you don’t want to very poorest to starve , you will immediately create what use to be called the poverty trap. Keith Joseph that most Thatch rite thinker recognised this and began to try to solve the problem with the Family Income Supplement (FIS). With any means tested benefit you will create a disincentive along the way somewhere but tax credits were meant to smooth the transition to work and were based on the “Negative Tax ” thinking of Milton Friedman , more immediately on Clinton’s success. The delivery of the idea was sensationally wrong but I feel it is a good Policy in conception. Guess who had to keep in the treasury which was the rot of all the problems. The idea was to associate the means tested hand out with work .It has had a beneficial effect and the Conservative Party will not drop it .

    BTW have you seen the Boris GQ interview ? I `ll get it,

  76. An interview by Piers Morgan with Boris Johnson. GQPM: Are you a politician or just a greedy little mercenary bastard?
    BJ: You mean there’s a contradiction interms there?
    PM: Do you see yourself as a politician or a journalist?
    BJ: Why do I have to choose?
    PM: Do you think you will be Prime Minister one day?
    BJ: It is highly unlikely.
    PM: Thats’ bollocks. Inside you, you think you can be, don’t you? Why bother with it all otherwise?
    BJ: Well look…we’re all in a …I think…listen, David Cameron is going to be an absolutely fantastic Prime Minister.
    PM: I don’t mean now, I mean one day. Is there any reason why you shouldn’t be?
    BJ: What, biological, Intellectual? Moral? Aesthetic?
    PM: Do you think you can be PM and a buffoon? That’s my point really.
    BJ: I think it’s very difficult to be both. I agree. Mind you, there have been quite a few Prime Ministers who’ve done a pretty food job of it!
    PM: Can you host HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU and be a Cabinet Minister?
    BJ: I don’t see how I could, no. I want to win and I want to be in office.
    PM: And you want to be taken seriously?
    BJ: The awful truth is that people do take me seriously. I judge that by the amount of rage I seem to inspire with my casual remarks.
    PM: I dont really buy this buffoon thing. I think you play it up all to make money and charm the public, when underneath it all lurks a calculating, ambitious and very serious brain.
    BJ: That’s very kind of you but you must consdier the possibility that underneath it all there really may lurk a genuine buffoon.
    PM: How much will your image have to change as your political career develops? You cannot go on playing the buffoon if you ever aspire to be leader of this country.
    BJ: Very true. And that may be why I am finally prohibited from getting very much higher. Because it may be that the psychological effort needed to haul myself around into a more serious gaffe-free zone proves too difficult.
    PM: Do you expect a Cabinet post if Cameron wins?
    BJ: I don’t know. Statistically speaking I am due to be fired again. My grandmother always said, “It’s not how you’re doing, it’s what you’re doing”. And I think it will get easier when there is a big job to do and I can get on and do it. These points you make about buffoonery will fall away.
    PM: You do want to be Prime Minister one day, don’t you?
    BJ: Well, of course. In an ideal world.
    PM: [what do you think of] Cherie Blair?
    BJ: I stick up for her. I think people are too nasty about her. I like her energy.
    PM: Do you fancy her?
    BJ: Well, erm.. I like her. I suppose I… I suppose I do a tiny bit.

    Iain dale was saying that Boris had better buck his ideas up if wanted to be taken seriously. I have replied and i `ll get that to …( less interesting I must admit)

  77. Sure, they won’t just shoot it where it stands, but since it’s a given that means tested benefits just encourage fecundity (why work or save, It’ll just knack my dole?) it needs to be seriously rethunk.

  78. So , if anyone is interested , which is doubtful this was what i had to say to the iain dale reproof. I actually think its entirely in keeping wioth the Spectator piece

    Oh no Iain not you as well , you have not really understood the strain of Conservatism that Boris stands for and why so many people love him . Gordon Brown is a sort of twisted Round Head Puritan. Boris is a Cavalier (who were courtiers never kings ). He is a man comfortable with himself not always seeking to improve himself and others He has too much humanity and humility to presume everything that has gone before was utterly wrong. A man who can be humorous , not satirical but “humorous ” , that state of mind that denotes proportion and and adjustment , not a magisterial sweep of his mighty compass . Boris stands for a gentle correction guided instincts for rightness , and a due heed for what has gone before . The very antithesis of the Brown and the year Zero automatons .How we have missed this sort of instinct while New Labour disasters detonate all around . Take Tax Credits for example . The idea was not a bad one , building on Keith Joseph s efforts to avoid the poverty trap and based on thinking from Milton Friedman it had much to be said for it . It did not however understand anything of the delivery and the people it was aimed at. When there were problems the mad god Brown wasn`t listening . This dysfunctional relationship with the past and specifically the civil service was more in evidence on Iraq . Again not a bad motive but the devil of the detail all well known to the experts might have told New Labour how it would go. Boris refuses to adopt the reductio ad tedium manner of the Puritan and in so doing like the Cavalier poets he is describing an approach that was once highly valued in this country . A country that preferred David Niven and Robert Donat to Arnold Schwarzenegger . How crude we have become that we think levity and wisdom are opposites , how repellent that we think the “Leader ” should be removed from work life and laughter.

    Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying:
    And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying.

    It does not requires pages of prolix Brownian guff . It seeks a balance and does so with style . I cannot understand how we have reached a point where Boris`s critics are not laughed into silence .How badly we need Boris Johnson who is the epitome of English style and a true Conservative . Front bench please Mr. Cameron.
    Shame on you Mr. Dale.

    I thought Boris fans might like the GQ bit anyway

  79. Whatever has happened to the freedom loving England.I thought it was Chesterton who fought off the Puritans. Is it not perhaps that modern socialism has rediscovered spiritual values in Puritanism
    as it lost its own belief in material equality? Or maybe it is higher state of Nanny state? I´d love to know.

  80. < ‘Iain dale was saying that Boris had better buck his ideas up if wanted to be taken seriously.’ (newmania)<

    Iain Dale is an aspiring politican, a wannabe MP, who is not really in any position to advise Boris on how to manage his successful career. I think such people get jealous of Boris’s popularity and can’t but help have sly digs at him. A bit like those Portsmouth councillors that were calling for him to resign or be sacked, their motivation is spite and envy. It’s the job of the public to approve or disappove politicans, not other politicans or wannabe politicans.

  81. Good Boris interview, though not too sure about Piers Moron, as the Eye puts it … and thank God for some humour in the face of dour Brownism. Critics fail to realise that true wit requires high intellect.

    There’s a picture of an animal loving Boris stroking bunnies on Guido’s. And with those references to dope and coke he’s obviously going for the inner-urban youth vote.

    But Cherie Blair … that’s going too far. Boris, she’s put on weight and now looks like the wife of a cold-war soviet politician.

    While I know from experience that there’s many false incapacity claimants, as one who is stuck on that proverbial couch with serious breathing difficulties I get a bit tired of hearing that brand of puritanical pig-dung from fit healthy imbeciles … ‘have claw hammer, will travel!’ I assure you I’d love nothing better than to get off it and back out there, apart from anything else I can hardly move in this house for marketable antiques and I’m bored with eBay, then again perhaps I shouldn’t take it personally. But when one was infected by an incompetent medical profession and has done 48 weeks chemotherapy hearing that kind of neo-fascist claptrap gets a bit much. Yes, we need to get the false claimants off incapacity benefit, but don’t forget that some of us are very genuine. Such issues, important though they are, also tend to mask the more serious problems that need tackling. As a certain German gentleman realised in the 1930s, it’s much easier to blame a minority for economic/social problems than to really deal with the root causes.

    The stick and carrot approach seems the only way to me … if we want people in work the incentive has to be there, and if we don’t want abuse of the system we’ll need that stick. I agree that the problem is delivery with Tax Credits, not the principle.

    If we use the old left/right parameters then Cameron would appear to stand slightly to the left of NuLab on certain issues. In an earlier pre-Marxist tradition individual freedom was a leftist cause.

    I think Maggie started off popular, but that popularity waned until describing her as ‘the most hated Prime Minister since Lord North’ ceased to be an exaggeration. In a similar way Bliar was once popular, though it’s difficult to remember it now.

    Steve … I don’t deny the lack of motivation and the dependency culture, the point I was making was that it’s better to socially engineer more carefully and to try and prevent it developing in the first place. I’ve no sympathy with attempting to prop-up defunct industries.

  82. < ‘I agree that the problem is delivery with Tax Credits, not the principle.’ (AP)<

    Well I think there is a problem with the principal. It is a system of wealth redistribution, from one section of society (people without children) to another section of society (people with children). My taxes already pay for their education, why should I also pay for their designer trainers, games consoles, parents mortgage and summer holidays? I do have a problem with Brown’s obsession with means-testing. Why should an 18 year old with moderately wealthy married parents have to pay more to go to university than an 18 year old with a single not so wealthy working parent? Why should should I pay towards other families mortgages, at the same time pushing property further out of my own reach? The tax system should be the same for everyone, a 0% bracket, a 20% bracket a 40% bracket as it is soon to be. The debate shoudl be where to set those brackets not how we can rob Peter to pay Paul.

  83. AP I disagree on Thatchers Popularity sort of She would have won another election , Major went on for seven years remember . She would then have been chucked out which would have been good for the Conservative Party which felt , like the German Army of the Great War , they were never defeated really .

    Steven you surely don`t want to live in a country where people die for lack of any safety net . What would you suggest ? I`m not out of sympathy with what you say but the idea is to get away from dependency

  84. …thank God for some humour in the face of dour Brownism. Critics fail to realise that true wit requires high intellect.(AP)

    So very true. However, I do worry about someone who fancies The Witch. Legs like a pair of gasometers. He can’t be that desperate.

    Probably the sense of humour kicking in again.

  85. < ‘Steven you surely don`t want to live in a country where people die for lack of any safety net. What would you suggest?’ (newmania)<

    This was happening before the introduction of tax credits was it? I’m suggesting abolishing tax credits and going back to the situation before we had them. We’re running a budget deficit every year, Brown, based on his own growth forecasts, predicts we will be over £700billion in the red by 2011. We can ill afford to be spraying free cash at people.

  86. Sadly, I think the reality is we all get to pay more tax however much less gravy goes on that train.

  87. I reckon no more than 12 is actually wasted. (assuming 40% is wasted in administration, and of the remainder 1/3 given to the undeserving)

    See Tim Congdon’s piece today? Quickest way out of a credit boom is high inflation, it gets the pain over quite quickly, and teaches the punters fire is hot. Shame the dollar looks so shaky.

  88. We need a high-tech high-paid economy to compete, not a low-paid low-tech one. If we don’t achieve it, and we ain’t exactly doing as well as we should be, then this country will continue its downward spiral. That means educating and developing skills in as many of our population as we can, and providing on-going development in the much talked about ‘learning society’. Student debt already puts off many from the lower classes from attending higher education, and that’s before any moral consideration is taken into account.

    We could do with some redistribution of wealth. In the UK 10% own 90% of the wealth, in Germany and Scandinavia we get to a third of the population before we reach that 80-90% figure. Not Brownite ‘equality’ notice, but redistribution, and not from the middle class and lower middle class, which is where the tax burden usually falls. Since this would increase the numbers of middle class households, such a redistribution should be of benefit to the Conservative Party and to the society as a whole. This is something that Maggie saw and tried to address with the sale of council houses and the sale of shares in privatised companies, unfortunately it didn’t really work long-term.

    Of course, if we can’t achieve this, we could return to the very red analysis of how that 10% came by their wealth in the first place … force of arms, the slave trade, the opium trade and sex with monarchs included.

  89. < ‘We could do with some redistribution of wealth … and not from the middle class and lower middle class, which is where the tax burden usually falls.’ (AP)<

    So what you are basically saying is tax the rich. It wouldn’t work. They all went abroad last time we did it, now that globalisation has kicked in it would be even easier for asset managers and their ilk to relocate to Switzerland or Germany. Premiership football clubs would just ramp up the prices of season tickets and shirts to meet new wage demands. We’re probably lucky to be getting 40% off them.

    I’m not sure about this redistrubution lark, and I only earn about £18 – £20k and am at zero with the bank. I agree with the minimum wage and I’d like to see it continue to rise in line with earnings. The main problem people have these days is the cost of housing, there is too much money chasing too little property. Brown and the rest of us have been printing money like there’s no tomorrow, with so many goods imported from nations pegged to a weakening dollar, the likes of Tesco keeping prices down and free movement of people keeping wages down, all this inflation has gone into house prices. The British are mad for it, more money gets printed and we use it to compete for bigger and better housing, creating more speculation and ramping up the cost of housing in general.

    What lower income people need is more affordable housing, not an inefficient bureacractic system to tax one section of society and hand it out to another. A higher 0% bracket would help too, funded by tax credits, which by their very nature also prop up the property market. I don’t want Gordon Brown to top up my salary, I want him to tax me on a level playing field with everyone else and stop wasting so much of my money on things like paying council officers to lecture me about buying Fairtrade coffee.

    < ‘we could return to the very red analysis of how that 10% came by their wealth in the first place … force of arms, the slave trade, the opium trade and sex with monarchs included’< (AP)

    Codswallop, read the rich list, you including JK Rowling in this? Yeah, there’s a few aristos on there, but judging by the stories I always hear about the beahviour of Newcastle footballer and other ‘new money’ I don’t think it’s the old money that’s the problem when it comes to setting an example for young people to follow.

  90. AP the tax take from the rich cannot be increassed they just move it .It actually goes down. Heres a simple idea why not look at which economies are performing well , allowing for natural resources and do what they do .This would entail reducing state managed expenditure by about 10% to get down to the US level. Our rich are of a very diffrent sort to the Germans it is international and trade related. Its to do with our history …slave trade , opium , spreading civilisation ..that sort of thing
    Even the Labour left are not daring to mention ppen wealth redistribution as a Policy goal in itself ( well it gets whipered)

    I quite like what I take to be the motives behind what you are saying but European models generaly do not work here

  91. Steve: Try correlating the ‘rich list’ with land ownership, and subtract the land that houses are built on. And I’ve no intention of defending the absurdly high earnings of entertainers, in which category I place footballers. However, new wealth tends to ape old wealth once it manages to legitimise itself. The Sun used to continually carp on about Beckham’s earnings, strange that it never mentioned Murdock’s.

    I don’t know how we achieve it Newmania, but I feel fairly certain that such a redistribution would be socially desirable and, while I’m less than certain that the US is a sound model, I agree that there’s a lot to be said in favour of reducing public sector expenditure (I’ve indicated previously that given the wastage, the top-heavy management/consultant insanity, and the over-manning and inefficiency, this should be possible without reducing services). I generally try to avoid taxation issues because they are so contentious and I’m fiery enough without adding that to the mix. The whispers from what little remains of the Labour left isn’t really the same thing I’m talking about, as you seem to have realised. To get back to the beginning, Plato had something to say about wealth and stable societies, and if Boris is going to cite crusty old Greeks in terms of education, there’s a lot more in Plato and Socratese than in Aristotle.

  92. PS: Upon consideration I don’t think I should have used the term ‘redistribution’, being lazy I took it since it had already been used on this thread. ‘Redistribution’ implies taking from one and giving to another, I’m happier with ‘a more eqitable distribution’.

    I think we do have a problem in that the old-guard left tend to have claimed ownership of most terminology that is to do with radical social issues, it’s difficult to not sound like them if one wants to discuss these things, but we have to take some of them back, they don’t own them, even if they think they do.

    JK is worth every penny. Not for the Potter books as literature, but for getting kids to read again and to want to read again, that’s more than any government has managed in the last thirty years.

  93. < ‘I’ve no intention of defending the absurdly high earnings of entertainers, in which category I place footballers.’ (AP)<

    It’s the market that decides their wages. I can’t get over the number of football season ticket holders I’ve met that whinge about how ridiculous Premiership pay is. If consumers want to support celebrity millionaires let them.

    < ‘… but I feel fairly certain that such a redistribution would be socially desirable … I agree that there’s a lot to be said in favour of reducing public sector expenditure ‘ (AP)<

    I think you’ve found the solution. South-Tyneside council were advertising for a couple of ‘Smoking Enforcement Officers’ a few months back at £24k a year. Most councils now employ people who spend time promoting Fairtrade goods to business and the public. The best thing for the lower-paid working classes would be to repeal all of New-Labour’s pointless legislation, get rid of their silly intitives and sack the people that deal with it. This money could then be used to provide a tax cut for the lower paid. Of course you’ll then damage another group’s wealth, that of lower-middle class council workers, civil servants and quangocrats.

    The things that damage the economic interests of the poor working classes the most are positive net immigration, taxation and inflation. Immigration and taxation keeps public sector workers in business, they also get pay rises every year that usually take into account inflation, often the low paid do not. These groups have competing interest’s in my view. I don’t think the poor do have a competing interest with the rich, who are basically free to go anywhere and do anything, that’s why we call them the ‘jet set’ isn’t it? If anything it is in the interests of the working classes to have a system that attracts wealth and investment to the nation.

    This would mean low tax, low regulation and low inflation, not the other way around. Gordon Brown’s solution is to make everyone dependent on him and his system of Tax Credits, what a hideous thing to do to people. There are millions of previously independent people out there now who can’t keep up their financial commitments and lifestyle without relying on Gordon Brown. Is this really what we want a government to do to us?

  94. When we have monopolies, cabals, states providing subsidies for selected industries, and protectionism, I’m not too certain about ‘market forces’ Steve. I note that The Eye is on to the foreign non-domicile millionaires in this country who pay no tax whatsoever (though several have made donations to NuLab). Just what benefit are they to the economy of this country? Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as total ‘free-marketeers’, such as Guido, I have some sympathy in that direction. And how about closing tax loopholes that allow many that earn vast amounts in this country to avoid taxation? Broon claimed that he would do so, but still hasn’t acted.

    The examples you give are all from local government (and yes, there are plenty from national government too). The solution at the local level is simple, vote them out. I don’t want somebody telling me what coffee to drink, any more than you do. If there are still people employed to do so, I can only surmise that the majority do want to be so instructed.

    As stated previously, I’ve no objection to tax cuts provided it can be demonstrated that services can be maintained. However, paying a decent living wage in the first place would also benefit the unskilled and semi-skilled working class.

    Yes, by all means let’s clean out this quagmire at the bottom and lower middle, but can we please clean out the top end too? Let’s stop the ludicrous rewards paid in bonuses to the City and senior management executives for failure (as I’ve also stated previously, I don’t object nearly as much to payment for success, that is of benefit to the country as a whole). And let’s get rid of the consultant and accountancy firms that feed off the state, as well as favoured companies that receive government contracts.

    Immigrants per se aren’t a problem. It’s the exploitation of said immigrants as cheap labour by certain elements of corporate capital that can cause social problems, what we might term ‘the unacceptable face of capitalism’ in Britain today. But it is only certain sections that depend on this cheap labour to the detriment of our own low paid workers. It’s hardly ‘market forces’ when the market is deliberately swamped with cheap unskilled imported labour.

    Nothing is fixed, it’s not carved in stone; today’s ‘jet-set’ might be pedestrians tomorrow. As Nietzsche said, “Over the hills, some other time, we see things differently.” I’m sure that the Tsar felt that things would always be the way they were in 1916 (sorry, I’m being deliberately provocative again … Newmania noticed it before). OK, invested wealth is of benefit, that wealth that isn’t invested in Britain is of no benefit whatsoever.

    There’s an easy answer to property/mortage problems, but it smacks far too much of old time socialism for me to advocate it here. It is done in other European countries, and would certainly be of benefit to first time buyers, if not extended to the rest of the market (hell of a potential vote winner too!). But it would mean involving the state.

  95. < ‘I note that The Eye is on to the foreign non-domicile millionaires in this country who pay no tax whatsoever (though several have made donations to NuLab). Just what benefit are they to the economy of this country?’ (AP)<

    They consumer for one and spend for over a dozen in our businesses that employ our people.

    < ‘And how about closing tax loopholes that allow many that earn vast amounts in this country to avoid taxation?’ (AP)<

    Yeah, let’s shut down the Caymann Islands etc and let France have the monopoly on tax-havens. Whilst we’re at it let’s ban short-selling in our little off-shore retreats and let some other country pinch that little niche off us too!

    < ‘The solution at the local level is simple, vote them out. I don’t want somebody telling me what coffee to drink’ (AP)<

    It’s politically popular and politicans love the image it gives them Tory councillors included. Local government policy is also highly centralised through professional bodies, civil service departments and quangos. Often the problem is that there is no-one better to vote in, councillors don’t get paid remember, but there’s plenty of scope for corruption.

    < ‘paying a decent living wage in the first place would also benefit the unskilled and semi-skilled working class.’ (AP)<

    The imbalance in the market is housing costs if you ask me,, not wages.

    < ‘Let’s stop the ludicrous rewards paid in bonuses to the City and senior management executives for failure’ (AP)<

    That’s one for shareholders to call, the logical conclusion to Thatcher’s economic reforms would be small shareholder unions of some sort I guess.

    < ‘It’s hardly ‘market forces’ when the market is deliberately swamped with cheap unskilled imported labour’ (AP)<

    I’m not convinced the Polish are unskilled, malemployed perhaps in a lot of cases. EU enlargement is about continuing the drive to improve civilisation and repair the damage the USSR did to our fellow people. We’re back to building more houses if you ask me, creates work and increases supply of a basic commodity and need.

    < ‘today’s ‘jet-set’ might be pedestrians tomorrow’ (Ap)<

    Dream on …

    < ‘invested wealth is of benefit, that wealth that isn’t invested in Britain is of no benefit whatsoever.’ (AP)<

    Complete tosh, if your pension fund had been invested in China and India the last few years and made, let’s say, 100% in 3 years, would that benefit you? Would you spending the profits benefit British business?

    < ‘There’s an easy answer to property/mortage problems’ (AP)<

    Well share the idea then!

  96. Steve … Karl baby would have said that you suffer from a ‘false class consciousness’ … me? I’m just a trouble maker.

    ‘They consume’ … less than a drop in the ocean as far as the British economy is concerned.

    I think ‘dream on’ was what the cossaks said to the bolsheviks … this time it’s more likely to be the Islamists than the reds, though the way Putin is going I wouldn’t be too sure of it.

    What effing benefit are tax havens if no taxes are paid? Or do you want to maintain them for the benefit of the international cocaine trade?

    Uuuummmm …. if it’s ‘politically popular’ isn’t that democracy at work? Or do you have something against democracy?

    Maggie didn’t extend share ownership other than briefly, the vast majority of people who bought cashed them in for a quick profit and they ended up in the hands of the usual culprits. Though the idea of extended ownership was in the right direction, it just didn’t work.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think the Poles, who do tend to be skilled, are the only immigrants in this country.

    OK … ‘investments that don’t pay dividends in this country’. Not too sure about the stability of the Chinese regime long-term despite the booming economy, there’s a lot of potential contradictions there. Not too sure about the morality of a regime that uses forced prisoner labour in the way China does. Not too sure I trust that regime either. And, as several senior Americans now seem inclined to think, I’m not that convinced with shipping work/investment to these economies for a quick buck. Nor am I sure about the continuing breach of safety regulations in many of the factories, or do we want another Bhopal? I remember when the main road into Tehran was lined with western factories. Hey Steve, are they still there?

    Please check how other European countries manage mortgages for yourself Steve.

  97. PS: Steve, it wasn’t actually the ‘islands in the sun’ that I was thinking of, but you seemed to want me to take a pop at them …….

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