A silly enemy can make a perfect friend

By way of disclaimer, I must state that, though I intend to vote UKIP every chance I get, I’m neither the party’s member nor indeed unqualified supporter. In fact, I’m constitutionally incapable of being an unqualified supporter of any political group.

However, if I didn’t suffer from this innate personality flaw, the current criticism of UKIP would turn me into the staunchest flag bearer. In fact, the conspiracy theorist in me suspects that UKIP is so devious that it’s paying The Times to keep up its relentless offensive against the party.

Yesterday anti-UKIP diatribes appeared on several pages, including the editorial. Today it’s Hugo Rifkind’s turn to pick up the relay baton and do his level best to promote UKIP by ostensibly attacking it.

He starts out by endorsing Dave Cameron’s 2006 description of UKIP as a party of ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.’ Then he half acknowledges that this may no longer be completely true: ‘It’s different now’. Exactly how?

‘They’re against some arguably restrictive things, such as the EU, employment protection…’ Arguably? That means that the opposite view is still correct, if not exactly unassailable. Amazing what a little adverb can do to hedge one’s bets. What is unarguably rotten, however, is this: ‘…but also against gay marriage, building on the green belt, wind farms, immigration, out-of-town supermarkets and travellers concreting over fields.’

My hair stands up on end. How much more fruitcake, loony and closet racist can a party get? Wind farms, gay marriage, free-for-all emigration and travellers setting up camps in someone’s back yard are all articles of faith. Any infidel against any one of those is fair game for any kind of insult, from fascist to racist to… paedophile anyone?

‘How they square all this with “libertarianism” is anybody’s guess, but I suspect it’s largely done by not reading books.’ Among UKIP supporters (and my friends) one finds Britain’s leading writers, philosophers and theologians, each one of whom reads more books in a year than Rifkind has clearly read in his, admittedly short, lifetime. But hey, he’s a writer, not a reader, and it’s his column.

He’s right about libertarianism though; it’s an unfortunate choice of self-description. One suspects that UKIP publicists went for it because the word ‘conservative’, which would describe the party more accurately, is already taken and thoroughly perverted.

Now comes the capital charge against UKIP, one that ought to make every progressive man hold a cupped hand to his mouth and rush to the lavatory, making gagging sounds as he runs. ‘The dominant philosophy, if you can quite call it that, is one that holds that there is a true, right and commonsense way of doing things and that Britain, through the shrillness of special interest groups and the Machiavellian scheming and moral bankruptcy of its political class, has strayed from this path.’

One of UKIP’s proposals is the revival of grammar schools, a long overdue idea amply supported by the cited sentence. Yes, I realise Hugo must have been educated at an independent establishment, but grammar schools have been shown to have a positive knock-on effect on education in general.

But style aside, what causes Hugo’s ire in this ‘dominant philosophy’? It’s ‘the way it can end up sounding a bit… well, racist.’ Right, I get it. Belief in the existence of truth is ipso facto racist even if ostensibly it has absolutely nothing to do with race. Is it also… well, paedophiliac, Hugo? …fascist? …kleptomaniac? Any term of opprobrium would do, take your pick.

‘The UKIP strategy is to suggest that politicians are the problem; that a smug and entitled political class is not just irritating but actively damaging to the national interest.’ Perish the thought.

People like Ken ‘Kenneth’ Clarke strive to promote the national interest by making sure that Britain is governed from Brussels, while people like the Cameroons and the Milibandits know only one cure for our troubles: more of the same. If that doesn’t prove their commitment to the national interest, I don’t know what would.

Actually, UKIP’s suggestion, so abhorrent to Hugo, is true not only of British politicians but of all Western ones, with the possible exception of Angela Merkel. She is irritating all right, but at least she tries to promote Germany’s national interest, as she misconstrues it.

This whole affair reminds me of the Soviet Union, where the only way for a writer to introduce the public to political ideas different from Leninism was to heap abuse on them. Those clever chaps would trick the censors by attacking, say, Berkeley for being a reactionary idealist in the pay of the ruling classes. In the process, they’d explain in considerable detail every aspect of Berkeley’s philosophy – much to the grateful readers’ delight.

Hugo Rifkind and other hacks from The Times must harbour a secret affection for UKIP. It’s only by seemingly attacking it that they can get around the watchful eye of their editors and owners and carry the UKIP message to their readers. The party ought to be ecstatic: this kind of publicity would cost millions if they had to pay for it.





It is the worst of Times

Throw a veil over a shark, and it still won’t look like a turbot. Put the odd bit of conservative phraseology into The Times, and it’ll still sound like The Daily Mirror minus the intellectual subtlety.

Today, the paper has decided to join the battle on the side of our faux Tories taking a last stand against UKIP before the Thursday council elections. One detects genuine desperation in the invective unleashed by Ken Clarke, for UKIP threatens the political survival of the so-called Tories possibly and their left wing, championed by Clarke, definitely.

The desperation evinced by The Times is less obvious but more profound. As far as the paper is concerned, UKIP threatens more than just the electoral prospects of this or that party. It imperils our toxic modernity, the ethos that encourages formerly respectable papers to turn into illiterate, irresponsible rags.

“It is hard to avoid the impression,” laments The Times, “that UKIP has taken one look at the open, modern world and said ‘no thank you very much.’”

And specifically? That dastardly party would “consign to the dustbin” such “new-fangled ideas as ‘multiculturalism’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘climate change’”, to say nothing of ‘social engineering’.

I’m scared, aren’t you? Just thinking that such monsters could possibly win a few votes is guaranteed to give any sensible individual sleepless nights. Pursued by nightmares of a world with no multiculturalism and social engineering, he’d wake up every half an hour hoarse from his own screams.

And even more specifically? “Nigel Farage is an adept populist, skilled at touching the issues that concern large parts of the electorate.” Crikey. A politician who’s a populist. Whatever next. And touching the issues that people care about – what does he think he is, a statesman?

Of course, Ken ‘Kenneth’ Clarke, the paper’s darling, is the very opposite of all that. He hasn’t had an ounce of populism since last night, probably spent pressing lager-reeking flesh in a pub, dripping foam off his pint glass onto his hushpuppies and doing a bit of karaoke for good measure. Some may say that a septuagenarian referring to himself officially by a three-letter abbreviation of his Christian (well, agnostic) name is the populist teapot calling the kettle black.

Lest you might think I’m being unfair to the paper, it also includes some substantive criticism of UKIP, most of it consonant with Ken’s and Dave’s diatribes anchored by words like ‘fruitcakes’. For example, the party is accused of not vetting all its candidates, which laxity leaves an opening through which a few BNP creepy-crawlies can sneak in.

Fair cop. UKIP still lacks an extensive national organisation capable of keeping the odd extremist out, and it would be surprising if it didn’t, considering its size, experience and funding. The two main parties, by contrast, have been around for yonks, and they’ve honed their vetting techniques to the sharpness of a cutthroat razor.

As a result, it’s only by subterfuge that any real conservative can get through the fine filter of his grassroots organisation. Conservatives being congenitally bad liars, most get found out and blackballed in the first round.

At the same time Labour’s selectors are so vigilant that the party’s parliamentary fraction is bulging with ‘former’ communists and members of transparent KGB fronts, such as the CND. I readily agree that even a former BNP member isn’t fit to be a politician in a civilised country. Would the Milibandits agree the same thing about a CND functionary? Fat chance.

Another criticism levelled at UKIP is that it’s “very easy to be against things in politics. It is against immigration, the European Union, the notion of Britain going to the dogs and the existing British political class. It is much harder to be in favour of anything while maintaining credibility and coherence.”

Again I agree – and doff my hat to the ruling coalition and its twin the Labour party. Contextually, they’ve maintained credibility and coherence by being in favour of all those wonderful things that UKIP is against, along with ‘multiculturalism’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘climate change’, to say nothing of ‘social engineering’. How much more sound it is to make the country go to the dogs than to protest against it.

Better the devil you don’t know then, and both The Times and Ken ‘Kenneth’ are right that UKIP is a protest party – we do have an awful lot to protest against. True enough, the party’s positive proposals, though far from nonexistent, could be thought through more deeply, their numbers added up more accurately.

However, would The Times suggest that the mainstream parties are in any position to cast the first, indeed any, stone? If so, the paper ought to take a quick look around – even to the point of reading its own factual reports on the economy, education, justice, healthcare and so forth.

Attacking UKIP members and voters as some sort of insane village idiots only succeeds in making the teapot take another look at the kettle – and find it considerably blacker. In any case, such claims are also a lie.

I for one have several UKIP supporters among my friends. Every one of them has more intelligence, not to mention integrity, in his little finger than Ken ‘Kenneth’ has in his whole beer-bloated body – with enough room left over for the combined wits of The Times leader writers.














Premature ejaculation can get you convicted for rape

Generally I don’t use the word ‘surreal’ in a context that doesn’t involve René Magritte, but this early in the morning no better modifier springs to mind.

A High Court panel led by Britain’s most senior judges has decreed that a man can still be convicted of rape even if the woman agreed to hanky-panky.

The landmark case involves a Muslim woman whose husband broke his promise not to ejaculate inside her. According to our top legal minds, the poor thing was therefore raped as she ‘was deprived of choice relating to the crucial feature on which her original consent to sexual intercourse was based’.

So a simple ‘yes’ from a woman is no longer sufficient to keep the man out of pokey. Consent must now include a list of ‘crucial features’, and any deviation constitutes a felony that women are these days conditioned to believe is worse than murder.

I wonder if Their Lordships have considered the full ramifications of their ruling. Suppose for the sake of argument, and I know this may not be a safe assumption, that intercourse between husband and wife takes place in private. How can the court be sure that a breach of contract occurred? How can the prosecution prove that the non-consensual spouting off resulted from malicious intent rather than a common malfunction?

After all, oral contracts, according to Sam Goldwin, aren’t worth the paper they are written on. Her word against his is often insufficient to convict even in a case of common-or-garden rape, defined by my trusted Chambers as ‘unlawful sexual intercourse (usu. by force) with another person’. When sex is consensual and therefore archaically defined as lawful, rape may become even harder to prove. Yet proved it must be for, as we know, underneath it all, and I’m sure Germaine Greer will agree, any sex is implicit rape.

Since, for old times’ sake, the burden of proof is still on the prosecution, there’s only one solution to the problem: consent must be stated in writing, by filling in a standard form made up of many rubrics. A stack of such forms, translated into at least 20 languages, must be issued free of charge to every couple, married or otherwise, and also to every man, woman or other looking for some action on a Saturday night.

To become legally binding, the form must be signed by both parties and then officially notarised, which may present something of a problem. You see, the decision to have sex frequently and irresponsibly involves no long-term planning. Not only can it be spontaneous but, even worse, it may be taken at a time when most notary offices are closed for the night.

The problem is serious but not insurmountable: supply, as we know, generates demand. Before long all-night notary offices will appear in every neighbourhood, with the officials also licensed to dispense condoms and offer advice on various ballistic and contraceptive possibilities inherent in assorted sexual variants.

As to the form itself, I’ll leave it to our Lord Chief Justice to compile. By way of suggestion, however, the document must be exhaustive to the point of being exhausting. Nothing ought to be left to chance.

Definitely specified before each erotic encounter must be a) position(s); b) duration; c) orifice(s) utilised; d) method of contraception; e) financial responsibility for any medical problem transmitted therein; f) any extras, e.g. S & M, B & D, other; g) presence and/or number of observers and/or other participants; h) use of any audio and/or video recording equipment; j) any resulting contractual obligations, e.g. the man does the dishes and/or mows the lawn tomorrow, in case of separate residences conveys the woman home in a taxi, sends flowers and/or chocolates the next day – well, I’m not a High Court judge, and only such a qualified person could be relied upon to draft a vitally important document like this to provide for every eventuality.

Whether our top jurists ought to busy themselves with such rank idiocy is of course a different matter. Yet in a way I sympathise with them. Like any other functionaries they have to justify their keep by being seen to do something. Since about 80 percent of our new laws come courtesy of the EU, their Lordships have to find new areas in which they can apply their keen intellects.

For the same reason, our PM Dave finds time to attend book launches and offer rather imperious advice to the Football Association. I count on his support in this initiative, and I know Samantha will agree that it’s long overdue.







‘Listen, play, love, revere – and keep your mouth shut’

This, according to Albert Einstein, himself a competent amateur violinist, was the best approach to Bach’s music. Little did he know that the same approach would do wonders for today’s classical radio stations.

Broadening the scope of Einstein’s advice and following it would make our own BBC 3 infinitely better, though it would still fall far short of being good.

Yes, we’d be spared the gasping, inane, often illiterate comments the station’s announcers typically deliver with shit-eating mirth, as if it were all a knee-slapping joke. It would be a huge improvement if these utterly objectionable persons simply introduced a piece by saying, ‘Here is such-and-such performed by so and so,’ and then just played the damn thing.

Yet this couldn’t be more than a good start. For they’d still be in a position to decide what is played and by whom – so ultimately their ability to inflict harm, though diminished, wouldn’t be neutralised.

It would be almost bearable if those announcers simply suffered from a deficit of mind and taste. After all, these commodities, especially the second, are now so rare that expecting them from radio presenters would be bucking statistical odds, a bit like selling all one’s worldly possessions to buy a pile of lottery tickets.

The real problem is that their mindless, tasteless comments are proffered in the service of an ideology or, to be more precise, a subversive bias.

Much has been written and said, correctly, about the BBC’s political bias, but few have commented that the same bias, mutatis mutandis, pervades its cultural programming as well. In both areas the objective seems to be subverting anything that is traditionally associated with Western civilisation, be it in its political, religious or cultural manifestation.

Music is the prime target, for nothing else this side of Scripture expresses the transcendent nature of our civilisation with the same poignancy. Great composers, from Bach down, translate the metaphysical essence into physical notes, but these are merely a vessel. The contents are the drama, subtlety, noble spirit, grandeur, creative energy of the Western soul.

The greater the composer, the more powerfully are these attributes conveyed in his music. The greater the performer, the more precisely he interprets them for his listeners. Music is thus consummated in a threesome of composer, performer and listener – it isn’t just a literary document written down on a score sheet. If it were, we’d have not recitals but recitations.

How can a radio station ostensibly dedicated to promoting the West’s greatest artistic treasure, its music, undermine it? By 1) playing much inferior music 2) performed by grossly incompetent musicians and 3) indoctrinating the audience into believing that this is what music is all about.

I can’t vouch that this is indeed BBC 3’s aim, but one is hard-pressed to see what they’d do differently if it were. For example, every morning (and I only use them in lieu of an alarm clock) they have to play some demotic stuff, like the Khachaturian or Gershwin today.

I have nothing against mindless entertainment if done well, and works like The Sabre Dance or An American in Paris satisfy this requirement. They are still mindless entertainment and, as such, belong in some mindless-entertainment station, not the flagship of the BBC’s expedition into ‘culture’.

Gershwin in particular falls between two stools, that of jazz and that of real music. Hence his buttocks are securely planted on the floor of popular taste, and more power to him. Better Gershwin than rap. But playing his music in a slot that could otherwise be taken up by, say, a Schubert sonata contributes to the general diminution of aesthetic, and therefore spiritual, standards. That must be the intent, if only an unwitting one.

Speaking of Schubert sonatas, I’d have to qualify my previous statement. Such music can only be good for the soul if it’s played by a performer who has one. Such musicians are almost extinct these days, and some of BBC 3’s darlings are cases in point.

One of them is Paul Lewis who this morning regaled us with an anodyne, mechanical rendition of the scherzo movement from the Schubert B Flat sonata. The presenter’s subsequent gasps were emetically effusive, the smug self-satisfaction unmistakeable: job done. Another work of genius has been pulled down to the level where the masses weaned on easy listening can feel comfortable.

Lewis is on the wrong side of 40, so he can no longer plead youth as an extenuating circumstance. Another BBC pet, Benjamin Grosvenor, has this excuse, but nothing in his playing suggests that it’ll get better with age. In all likelihood it’ll get worse.

Young Ben treated us to his version of Chopin’s Scherzo in E Major, today evidently being the Scamp-the-Scherzo day on BBC 3. Like his older accomplice Paul, Ben is blessed with the kind of fleet fingers that’ll do any pickpocket proud. The mirthful woman presenter shared an insight that this gave his playing a ‘champagne-like effervescence’. Stale urine would be a more accurate simile.

All these youngsters slide over the surface of music, which means they don’t convey it all. For the pay dirt of real music lies underneath the surface, and digital dexterity alone, though a sine qua non, won’t carry a performer to that kind of depth.

Chopin, for example, can be played in any number of ways, but one thing that’s absolutely indispensable is to convey his noble, aristocratic spirit. To do so, the performer must have some of it himself – along with the other attributes I earlier listed as essential to our civilisation.

Grosvenor’s unmistakeable facility is just as unmistakeably facile – he isn’t, nor can be, at one with the music he plays. If he were, he’d know where, for instance, to play rubatos and where they sound vulgar. As it is, he reminds us that ‘rubato’ is a cognate of ‘rob’ – he robs Chopin of his beauty, vicariously committing the same larceny against our whole civilisation.

BBC 3 occasionally plays records of great musicians of the past, but inevitably adding snide comments, along the lines of Schnabel being ‘dated’ or Gould ‘eccentric’. They could do a great public service by explaining why all those Bens, Pauls, Imogens, Mitsukos and other cultural aliens wouldn’t be fit to turn the pages for those giants. After all, not every listener knows the difference between really good and digitally competent.

Alas, they themselves don’t know the difference. Or, which is more ominous, are deliberately trying to destroy what’s left of our civilisation. If so, they’re doing a good job.




















The Labour chap is right: it would be nice to have British hotel receptionists

Chris Bryant, shadow immigration minister, has belied his party affiliation by getting the facts right: ‘I have very high levels of youth unemployment in my constituency; it has risen by some 200 per cent in the last year,’ he told Newsnight.

Having diagnosed the problem, he then vindicated his party affiliation by misrepresenting its aetiology: ‘I do get quite angry with some British employers, who’ve decided not to bother train British youngsters to work in the hospitality industry or the construction industry.’

Instead those unpatriotic fat cats hire all those Johnny Foreigners from Latvia, Estonia and other low-rent parts of Europe. Young Etonians clearly aren’t seeking jobs in Mr Bryant’s local trades, so here come young Estonians instead.

Why are British employers so virulently anti-British? Mr Bryant hints, perhaps inadvertently, at some of the reasons: ‘…often people from Estonia and Latvia have so much get up and go they’ve got up and gone.’

That’s half of the problem but, spurning strictly arithmetical logic, I’d suggest it’s the smaller half. Of course those immigrants have get up and go: they have to make a new life for themselves in a new country. Some of them have figured out that working hard is still the best way of achieving this, even though the lure of welfare is sometimes hard to resist.

The bigger half of the problem is that the British youngsters from Mr Bryant’s constituency in southern Wales, or indeed from most other constituencies, lack the much needed get up and go. And that’s not the only thing they lack.

Also manifestly absent from their prospective CVs are any kind of educational and social skills required for working not only in ‘the hospitality industry’ but even in construction. Not to cut too fine a point, they are savages, which is to say people completely disconnected from our civilisation.

Today’s reports show that children enter school simply unable to communicate with humans in anything resembling human language. Gone are the days when most five-year-olds could read, write and add up. Today’s lot can’t even speak.

‘It is a very sad fact,’ says education minister Elizabeth Truss in her impeccable education-ministerish, ‘that 33 per cent of children arrive at school without the requisite communication and language skills to take part in school education’.

Like little Mowglis they communicate in some semiotic messages barely comprehensible to themselves and not at all to those who rely on words and sentences. But the original Mowgli was raised by wolves, so until he rejoined the human community he could only communicate in lupine interjections. These youngsters were raised by, well, us.

More specifically, they are products of our society, which Mrs Thatcher, as she then was, said didn’t exist. The lefties have been dining on this turn of phrase ever since, but all she meant was that collective ‘society’ shouldn’t be used as the scapegoat for individual failings.

By and large that’s true – but what about the little ones? A five-year-old isn’t responsible for his upbringing; his parents are. So is his school. So is his social environment. So is the whole ambient ethos. Without joining the debate of nature versus nurture, a child isn’t just a product of his DNA. He’s also a product of his society.

Our society actively promotes a situation wherein children grow up in an environment that more closely resembles a wolves’ lair than a human family. Our tax laws take a lion’s share of a man’s earnings, making it hard for a woman to stay with her children.

In any case, our welfare state often makes it futile for a man to seek work – effectively the state assumes the father’s role, making him redundant. So he ups his sticks and goes – leaving the missus in her council-estate squalor, where she subsists on handouts. Most of those arrive in the form of child benefits, rewarding her for every nipper she produces by numerous tattooed savages.

These poor children, and I’m not using this adjective in its strictly fiscal sense, grow up surrounded by crushed beer cans and syringes. And when they do go to school, they’re taught that they’re anyone’s equals and hardly anything else. Our comprehensive education is custom-made for promoting comprehensive ignorance and barbarism – all in the name of equality.

In the unlikely event they eventually try to enter the job market, what chance have they got against those young Balts who at the same age used to read more complex English texts than the Brits? Who grew up in countries where the only handouts one could ever receive came from one’s family? Who had the courage to leave their own homes and try their luck in a foreign land?

Blaming British employers in ‘the hospitality industry’ for preferring these youngsters to their British counterparts is spurious. What sort of training does Mr Bryant suppose those malevolent bosses are denying young Brits? Let’s face it, a hotel receptionist isn’t a brain surgeon.

Any personable and literate youngster – especially if he’s also literate in languages other than his own – can learn the required skills in a week. An illiterate savage can’t, but it’s not a hotel manager’s job to bring people to civilisation. It’s his job to bring guests to his hotel.

Yet mention to Mr Bryant that the god of equality at whose altar his party worships is really the devil, and he’ll recoil in feigned horror (every emotion evinced by today’s politicians is feigned). It’s much easier to be cross with bosses and foreigners.

Poor George Osborne gets it coming and going

There’s just no satisfying some people. In fact, as our Chancellor is finding out, there’s no satisfying any people.

 The Right of his party are accusing him of not being sufficiently like Margaret Thatcher, God rest her soul. The Left of his party and both wings of Labour and LibDems are accusing him of being too much like Margaret Thatcher, may she rot in hell. Presumably for fear of libel litigation, no one is accusing George of just being George.

The Labour Party has the balls, or rather Ed Balls, to claim the economic high ground. The words ‘teapot’ and ‘kettle’ immediately spring to mind whenever they give it to poor George in the neck. What Labour must be congratulated on, however, is their ingenious, far-sighted electoral strategy.

A century of unabashed socialist propaganda has conditioned the British to feel well disposed to Labour’s cherished central idea of redistributive justice. That’s why, come election time, our electorate gets its finger out, jerks its knee and votes Labour without thinking twice about it – unless, and this is an important proviso, the Tories provide an irrefutable argument of why they must not do so.

When the government robs Peter to pay Paul, its electoral prospects depend on the relative numbers of Peters and Pauls. Writing back in the 1930s, way before our welfare state blossomed, R.G. Collingwood described the fall of Rome in a way that presaged our own:

‘The critical moment was reached when Rome created an urban proletariat whose only function was to eat free bread and watch free shows. This meant the segregation of an entire class which had no work to do whatever; no positive function in society, whether economic or military or administrative or intellectual or religious; only the business of being supported and being amused. When that had been done, it was only a question of time until Plato’s nightmare of a consumers’ society came true; the drones set up their own king and the story of the hive came to an end.’

Labour strategists must have read this warning and liked what they saw. Their task was clear: they had to make sure there would be enough drones to set them up as kings. Coupled with the general, if relatively recent, leftward inclination of the populace, ensuring a preponderance of dependent Pauls over robbed Peters was a blueprint for cyclical electoral success.

The cycle is as simple as truth itself. First a socialist government (sometimes masquerading as a Tory one) takes over, robs the ‘rich’ (those who work for a living) and gives to the ‘poor’ (those who won’t). This transaction predictably runs the economy into the ground, but this doesn’t necessarily spell an electoral disaster.

The trick, and Tony-Gordon must be elevated to socialist sainthood for having devised it, is to destroy the economy so thoroughly and for preference irreversibly that, even if the Tories won the next election, they wouldn’t be able to straighten out the mess in their five years. Even if they managed to improve things slightly, this wouldn’t provide a strong enough argument for the electorate to override its natural instincts. Back in comes Labour, smug smirks on their faces, their hands on the handle of the printing press.

Margaret Thatcher, God rest her soul, broke that cycle for a while by displaying a courage and decisiveness seldom seen before her and never since. In that sense she was an aberration, a one-off deviation from the norm. The norm rebelled against Maggie and kicked out, after which normalcy returned. The drones have since been electing the kings they like.

Lady Thatcher didn’t eliminate the drone class. She didn’t even reduce it, for the numbers were already stacked against her. What she did do was show the drones how they could become fully fledged, hard-working bees. However, most of them heard her out and then just buzzed off back to dependency.

Then Labour took over, first in the crypto form of John ‘Classless Society’ Major, then without even such a thin pretence. And now Balls and his real Labour are accusing George’s crypto-Labour of not being able to do what ever variety of Labour has made impossible: restore the economy to health.

Caught up in the emotionally charged event, George wept at Lady Thatcher’s funeral. Perhaps his tears  came from the realisation of his own impotence – he has neither the qualities nor the mandate to do what needs doing.

Given that state of affairs, arguments pro and con his cosmetic ‘austerity’ are purely onanistic. The only way for Britain to return to economic health is to follow, as we did in the past, St Paul’s dictum: ‘…if any would not work, neither should he eat.’ That means not trying George’s phoney austerity on for size but eliminating the welfare state altogether. Those who can work must either do so or give up the habit of eating – it’s as simple as that.

Then there would be no need to run a suicidal debt-ridden budget. Welfare recipients will have to go to work. Even those drones who have managed to land in mock, which is to say government, jobs will either find productive employment or starve, which would also improve the quality of the environment by ridding it of particularly noxious effluvia.

With state borrowing declining precipitously, banks could only stay afloat by lending to small businesses and private entrepreneurs – and these are the groups that make economies grow. Recessions, triple-, double- or single-dip, would become a nightmarish memory.

Mention any of this to George and he’ll agree, adding mournfully that alas something like that wouldn’t be politically feasible. Meaning that our thoroughly corrupted populace would revolt at the polls the next chance they get. Labour would take over and demolish the economy even more thoroughly. They’ve got Balls for that.

Let’s welcome all those little angels from Chechnya

This is from my Russian correspondent: the Chechen Embassy in the USA has delivered a note to the White House, requesting that Chechnya not be confused with the Czech Republic whenever the origin of the Boston terrorists is discussed.

One can understand that Chechnya doesn’t wish others to claim the distinction of having raised such upstanding youngsters. But considering that the Tsarnaev brothers never actually lived in Chechnya, perhaps we ought to give credit where it’s really due.

Some acclaim must go to Russia that launched two criminal wars in the North Caucasus, devastating Chechnya and turning many of its denizens, such as the Tsarnaevs, into refugees. Let’s also not forget the international proselytisers of Islam who succeeded in turning what for 200 years had been a struggle for Chechen liberation into an Islamic jihad. And finally, let’s praise America herself, particularly her intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.

It’s not as if they are deaf to the threat of terrorism. In fact since 2010 the FBI and other security agencies have been running a powerful programme snappily called Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative. The programme constantly monitors Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin and blogs, scanning them for 380 key words, such as ‘jihad’, ‘suicide attack’, ‘conspiracy’ and so forth.

Yet none of those services became curious about some items the elder brother Tamerlan had posted on YouTube. For example, he created a page of songs by the famous Chechen bard Timur Mutsurayev, including his big hit To Jihad We Vow Our Lives. Even Russian courts have banned some of those songs for their extremism, but of course multicultural PC isn’t as big in Russia as in the US.

Tamerlan also uploaded Appeal to Recruits by the Daghestani militant Amir Abu Dudjan. This chap’s terrorist operations are regularly reported on extremist websites, such as Kavkaztsentr. In addition Tamerlan’s site included subscription forms for various militant and extremist information services. Some of those were removed by Google, but the FBI couldn’t be bothered to take an interest.

Lest they be accused of negligence, police did pay a visit to the younger sibling Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after he had attended a mosque service, which must have been deemed more dangerous than openly advertising jihad. This raises a few uncomfortable questions.

Some of them involve the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which proscribes any infringement to the free exercise of religion. Presumably this means any religion, not just those we like. So how come an angelic young man, if his father’s description is to be believed, was interrogated by police simply for attending a religious service?

The only possible explanation is that US security services regard any centres of Islam as ipso facto clear and present danger. This view isn’t wholly indefensible, considering that many, perhaps most, mosques in the West like to preach jihad and even recruit potential terrorists. If that is indeed the case, then surely any country not bent on suicide would be within its right to put in place powerful pre-emptive measures. Such as, for example, shutting down all mosques that have been found to preach things other than that there’s no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.

Drastically curtailing Islamic immigration would be another perfectly logical measure, along with deportation of any Muslims who don’t hold the country’s citizenship. Such steps appear draconian, but only out of historical context.

After all, if the US administration felt justified in interning all Nisei Americans for the duration of the Second World War, and the British government to do the same to all German immigrants (including Jews), then holding large groups as factors of danger solely on the basis of their ethnicity isn’t unprecedented. We are at war, aren’t we? If only against terrorism? If we are, then wartime laws should be in effect.

If, on the other hand, Islam isn’t regarded as inherently hostile to the West in general and America in particular, then harassing a young man for mosque attendance can only radicalise him – and in this instance make him susceptible to his elder brother’s influence.

These vile acts may have been perpetrated by the Tsarnaevs acting alone on the day. But surely anyone can see that they were backed up by some support infrastructure? I for one wouldn’t know how to convert a pressure cooker into a bomb, would you? But the Tsanaevs did, which can only mean that they had been trained. Indeed, Tamerlan had travelled for six months to an unknown destination some time before the attack. It’s a reasonable bet that he was trained then.

But the younger ‘angel’ also acted like a trained commando, and yet he hadn’t travelled anywhere. Where did he learn to use grenades and fire handguns with laudable accuracy? I used to practise at a pistol range regularly for a few years, and I was still rubbish. Where did Dzhokhar practise? How did the brothers get their handguns in Massachusetts, which has some of the toughest gun laws in the world? Connecticut next door is more liberal that way, but one needs to be a resident to purchase a pistol legally.

There’s clearly an organisation operating illegally in the United States and presumably elsewhere. But any such setup has to rely on the moral and physical support of a silent majority within a certain group, in this instance Muslim communities everywhere. You know, those chaps who danced in the streets when the Twin Towers were destroyed or when Londoners were murdered on buses and the tube?

Any reasonable country would instantly deport any such dancers and shut down all possible places where they might have acquired their choreographic skills. But Western countries are no longer reasonable. So terrorists can derive their sustenance from millions who are in broad sympathy with murderers, even if they aren’t murderers themselves.

Such beautiful-sounding words as democracy, human rights and multiculturalism are all fine and well. But they have a rich potential for turning into a suicide pact, and not the kind that entails merely a trip to a well-appointed Swiss clinic.


The Proms should be called the Promos

Carrying musical ‘culture’ to the masses sounds like a good idea. But it isn’t.

Those in favour claim that classical performances will lift a cultural innocent up to their level. In real life, rare exceptions aside, he drags them down to his.

Real music can’t be financed by the workings of the mass market. If it is, it stops being real music. There are, and always have been, very few people in His creation who can grasp the subtleties of, say, a Bach prelude – and fewer still who can appreciate the quality of its performance. It was for those small groups that Bach, Mozart and Beethoven played their music, and it was those highly cultivated groups who paid for it.

Apart from liturgical music, only the light, operatic end ever reached broader audiences, and the lighter it was, the broader its reach. Serious music was performed only for the typically refined ears of aristocratic patrons, not for anyone willing to play the price of admission.

When the situation changed, so did the performers – and performances. Just as unchecked democracy in politics eventually brings to the fore photogenic spivs rather than statesmen, so does the parallel development in music produce herds of stars who have as little to do with musicianship as Dave Cameron has with statesmanship. The public always gets what it pays (or votes) for.

Of course this observation, though true, can only be perceived as heretical these days. Democracy is based on the supposition that common people are capable of uncommon refinement, and egalitarian democratic orthodoxy has long since spread way beyond politics.

It was Aristotle who warned that democracy fosters a mindset wherein those who are equal in one respect are deemed to be equal in every respect. Now we can see how amply he has been vindicated.

The Promenade Concerts have been a feature of the London musical scene for over a century now, and their history has unfolded in parallel with what Ortega y Gasset called the ‘revolt of the masses’. That process has an accelerator built in, a bit like a snowball rolling downhill, getting bigger and bigger until it goes over the edge and disintegrates.

The idea behind the Proms had facile appeal: using low ticket prices to attract to the concert hall those who were normally happier in a music hall. Not to make the transition too abrupt, the public was encouraged to act in an uninhibited manner: go walkabout during the performance, talk to their friends, stamp their feet on the floor while applauding.

This precluded right from the start anyone acquiring higher sensibilities: real music requires almost as much concentration from the listener as from the performer. Thus even in theory the Proms have always had a rich potential for turning perhaps the most sublime achievement of our civilisation into mindless entertainment.

Those attending the Proms this year will see how successfully, how devastatingly this potential has been realised. For real music, even though these days it’s hardly ever performed by real musicians (Nigel Kennedy, this year’s highlight, is a case in point), will find itself side by side with such cultural delights as punk and rap, not to mention jazz.

Real music was born in churches, whence it moved into palaces. Jazz was born in brothels, whence it moved into nightclubs. Punk and rap were born within the confines of the drug industry, so it’s hardly surprising that they aren’t so much decadent as degenerate, not to mention devoid of any musical content.

That sort of barbaric stuff and real music simply don’t belong in the same world, never mind the same hall. It’s like trying to fit rap lyrics into a Shakespeare sonnet: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day and then carve thee up, thou bitch.’ Doesn’t quite work, I don’t think.

One can understand the commercial appeal of such omnivorous gluttony. What better way to promote the Proms than to give the paying public what it really craves? I don’t know, perhaps public hangings of the organisers might have even a stronger pulling power.

Next time I’m in Holborn I’m going to drop into St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the Musicians’ Church. Sir Henry Wood, the founder of the Proms, is buried there and I’d like to know if he’s spinning in his grave.

If he is, I’ll do my best to put his soul to rest. Even though in a way he has brought this onto himself.










Let’s ban pressure cookers, nails and ball bearings

These days most people don’t know the difference between sentiment and sentimentality, and even those who do still seem to favour the latter.

Hence the reaction to the tragic death of Martin Richards, the eight-year-old boy killed, along with two others, in the explosion at the finishing line of the Boston marathon.

The papers are full of moving but utterly irrelevant information about little Martin’s disposition (sunny), school record (enviable) and views on world peace (commendable). The implication seems to be that if the boy had been a morose, bellicose underachiever his death would somehow have been less of a tragedy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if acts of random violence only ever affected rapists, child molesters, tax evaders and people who despise sentimentality? Our, and especially the American, press would then – well, not exactly condone such outrages but perhaps be less emetically indignant about them. The feeling would be that justice was done, lamentable as the method of exacting it could have been.

The Boston bombs seem to have been made of pressure cookers packed with nails and ball bearings, designed to kill as many as possible and maim more. Indeed, quite a few limbs, in addition to the three lives, were lost in the explosions.

Displaying his usual perspicacity, President Obama belatedly described the incident as ‘an act of terror’ and vowed to bring the perpetrators of ‘the vile and cowardly act’ to justice. That much was par for the course. In fact, to save valuable presidential time such stock speeches ought to be pre-recorded directly after inauguration: ‘Our thoughts and prayers go to the families…’

What surprised me is that the president also displayed a most regrettable lack of logic. After all, after every mass shooting, most recently the one in Newton, Conn., Obama would immediately call for gun control laws. One such measure, the Toomey-Manchin bill, was defeated in the Senate earlier today, which result Obama described as ‘a pretty shameful day for Washington.’

Fair enough. Barak Hussein is entitled to his opinion, in this instance that the tools used in the perpetration of ‘a vile and cowardly act’ are to blame for it. So far he has been unable to twist enough voting arms to turn this opinion into law, but that mustn’t be allowed to interfere with his principles.

Therefore, to follow exactly the same logic, he ought to propose a ban on pressure cookers, ball bearings, nails – and also possibly on saucepans with tightly fitted lids, coffee makers, blenders and any other kitchen appliances that could conceivably be turned into explosive devices.

He then must find legislators with enough persuasive powers to bring both Houses around. The anti campaign should rally behind a catchy slogan, such as ‘Pressure cookers cost an arm and a leg.’ One can just see photographs of the Boston marathon aftermath with this slogan superimposed. Voting hands would go up as if by themselves.

The tragedy at Boston represents yet another failure of US intelligence and law enforcement. These agencies have, to put it mildly, a spotty record in preventing acts of terrorism at all times. However, lately they’ve also been lulled into indolence by neoconservative war propaganda, with its smug boast that since the invasion or Iraq no acts of terrorism have been committed on US territory.

The response of the US administration and, come to think of it, the press should be much lighter on cheap sentimentality and much heavier on beefing up security and reassessing the country’s strategy in dealing with terrorism.

I don’t know if there are any foreign countries or organisations involved in this new version of the Boston Massacre. But if there are, as seems likely, the response should be swift, merciless and massive punishment – not idiotic and doomed attempts to ‘build’ tribal nations by making them democratic.

That, in my view, is the proper sentiment to be displayed under such circumstances. But when sentimentality gets into the act, sentiment has no chance.







Dear Dan, thank you very much…

…for submitting your most impressive novel Robinson Crusoe for our consideration in view of publishing. We at Shoddy Heightened found it highly inspiring and, at base, bordering on genius. What impressed us most is the courage with which you tackled the issues of multiculturalism, racism and, implicitly, sexual diversity.

We at Shoddy Heightened also admired your well justified criticism of capitalism, with its accent on, at base, capital. It was so right, we at Shoddy Heightened thought, the way you emphasised the moral and economic value of honest, if not yet unionised, manufacturing compared with inherently corrupt financial services. At base, money has no intrinsic value and, in today’s world, not much of any other. So your parable of Robinson finding money worthless struck a chord with all of us at Shoddy Heightened, as it did with our financial consultant and especially his wife.

At base, as we at Shoddy Heightened understand the story line, it revolves around Robinson’s parallel relationships with Friday and the goat. At base, we found the parallel motifs persuasive if somewhat lacking in focus.

However, I don’t think our readers will take lightly to your implication that, at base, Robinson is culturally superior to Friday, a person of different racial and gastronomic persuasion. Yes, it’s true that persons of different gastrosocioeconomicoracial backgrounds can learn much from one another.

But we at Shoddy Heightened don’t believe this should be a one-way street. For example, we wish you had made more of Friday refusing to add salt to his diet. At base, considering the effect of salt on blood pressure, Friday was right to emphasise the benefits of healthy eating. Rob (we do prefer the shorter version of his name), on the other hand, with his insistence on salt consumption was clearly in contravention of the NHS Health and Safety Policy Statement (see attached).

Ideally, Rob should have been as open-minded about adopting Friday’s culture (yes, including the consumption of human flesh, provided it’s low-fat) as Friday was about the culture of his white coloniser. In the absence of such even-handed fairness, we at Shoddy Heightened feel that some readers might take out an endorsement of colonialism, which both you and I know wasn’t your intention.

Also, we at Shoddy Heightened wish you could have been more upfront about the homoerotic aspects of the relationship between Friday and Rob. It’s natural, indeed commendable, that these two young and vigorous male persons would have had to adjust their lifestyle to the situation and be drawn together (yes, perhaps to the point of declaring themselves husband-wife and wife-husband). At base, our readers expect honesty and openness (yes, perhaps to the point of a graphic scene depicting the wedding night of Friday and Rob).

We at Shoddy Heightened don’t feel that the time has come quite yet to depict interspecies love with the same candour and integrity. However, provided you don’t refer to the goat as ‘kid’ (at base, this may imply paedophilia), some hint at the romantic possibilities wouldn’t go amiss. After all, in many ancient religions a goat appears as an embodiment of healthy, if somewhat unrestrained, sexuality, and we at Shoddy Heightened believe that our readers are ready to relate to human-haedine relationships as mature adults.

While we’re on the subject of religion, we at Shoddy Heightened are concerned about the stress you place on Rob’s Christianity. For example, Rob repents the sins of his youth. Frankly, Dan, I’m shocked that you approach lifestyle alternatives in such a doctrinaire, narrow-minded fashion. At base, this implies value judgment, which is bound to appal our readers.

Rob also seems to believe in Providence, and I don’t mean the city in Rhode Island. We at Shoddy Heightened believe that karma would be more appropriate and multiculturally sensitive.

We also wish you didn’t overstress Rob’s insistence on reading the Bible. Understandably his choice of reading matter had to be limited, but surely the tide didn’t necessarily have to wash the Bible ashore? We feel a copy of The NHS Health and Safety Policy Statement (see attached) would have been more consonant with our time. Had Rob devoted more time to perusing this document rather than the Bible, he would not have indulged in moral absolutism, such as describing the consumption of low-fat, low-cholesterol human flesh as a ‘national crime’.

I’m sure you’ll appreciate that, at base, publishing is a commercial business. We at Shoddy Heightened have to regard every new submission from the bottom line up. Up the bottom line, as we say. Therefore, much as it pains me to say so, we don’t feel that, at base, your borderline work of genius in its present form is quite right for our list. Keep up the good work, Dan.


Yours sincerely,

 Wee Shoddy

Commissioning Editor