Thursday, February 26, 2004

Another obsession.

I strongly suspect that of those with work intenet access, about 10% blog while the other 90% play scrabble online.

I fall into both camps. (The UB40 is apparently in the post). So, being susceptible to distraction, it's no surprise I've become slightly obsessed by the names people choose for their games. I don't know, it just speaks to me. I want to know what lies behind the game between "dejected doug and snow white". I like the idea of "Mistress and slave" taking time out from the rack to play a nice game of scrabble. I wonder what tension lies behind "Jealousy and Loyalty" (they're both 50 pointers, of course, but surely the names signify more than that) and i wonder at the scrabble discipline of poor spellers like "the sweetest thing and simply irristable"

One other thing. There are always loads of games running between mothers and daughters (mom vs judy or whatever), but barely any between mothers and sons or fathers and sons, or fathers and daughters. Why a maternal link with scrabble?

<< Home

Forget about Winterton, the real issue is being debated today.

While the media is up in arms about a backbench MP making a bad joke, I just want to point out that Jim Sheidan's Gangmasters licesnsing Bill is being debated in parliament tomorrow. I love political froth, but Ann Winterton's jokes are an irrelevancy while Jim Sheridan's bill is a serious attempt to deal with the issues that may have caused the deaths of the Chinese cocklers.

On the Winterton "scandal" I'd like to propose what I call the Norton/Davidson standard.

No Labour MP should face calls for resignation or public humiliation on the basis of remarks of private behaviour that would be considered as standard comic material for Graham Norton. (This might be called the Bryant clause)

At the same time, no Tory should be held to a higher standard for private behaviour than that applied to Jim Davidson's public appearances. (obviously, the Winterton clause)

These two are both apparently deemed acceptable enough to have major national TV shows, one talking about nothing but sex and the other having displayed public bigotry and bad taste on multiple occassions. If that's OK, then however distasteful to the rest of us, MP's shouldn't be expected to be any better.

<< Home

The shorter Clare Short (or ShortSquared)

I'm horrified to discover there is spying going on in our spy services.

The shorter shorter Clare Short.(or ShortCubed)

Our spies are spying- the horror

Actually, I wonder from the transcript whether Clare Short really cared whether Kofi Annan was being spied on or not. She clearly cared about whether the UK aid budget would be misused and whether the legal advice for war was well grounded, and she just seems to throw the Annan stuff on a whim. Certainly the only practical impact it appeared to have on her was a solipsistic reaction about being taped.

<< Home

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Fatties threaten to go on diet.

How can the Times sub-ed have missed that headline for this story?

"A boycott of top branded food goods is threatened by the Consumers' Association unless the Government and food industry take action to improve the nation's diet and tackle the obesity crisis."

I have a wonderful mental image of a boycott of meat pies complete with demo outside Asda.

Next up? a boycott of cigarettes by smokers and a boycott of drugs by Junkies.

<< Home

Sack the head of personnel at GCHQ

Just a thought, but if you're hiring people for our top secret spy centre, shouldn't you want to know if they had opinions like this and this:

"I'm just baffled in the 21st century we as human beings are still dropping bombs on each other as a means to resolve issues."

"Any disclosures that may have been made were justified... to prevent wide-scale death and casualties among ordinary Iraqi people and UK forces in the course of an illegal war"

Wouldn't the smart thing be to keep someone like that well away from secret work on a potential war?

And another thing, How come any part of the intelligence services loooks attractive to someone with those beliefs?

Comedy value aside, I'm glad she's not going to prison.

<< Home

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Stick this up your Daily Mail….

Let’s sum up.

1. The Prime Minister's pledge to halve the number of Asylum seekers has been met.
2. The numbers of Asylum seekers are down 41% year on year
3. The numbers of Asylum seekers are down 52% when comparing the last 3 months of 2003 with the last three months of 2003.

Any guesses what the Daily Mail's headline will be tomorrow?

This is the sort of success that many of us on the left are shy about promoting. It's as if we’re a little bit embarrassed that we’re not welcoming as many of the oppressed to our shores as we were a year ago. This year I feel no such compunction.

My personal pet theory is that the UK is a premier destination for asylum seekers for three reasons. One, we speak English, which is the global lingua franca. Two, we have a successful, open, liberal economy. Three, London is one of the great diverse metropolises of the Western world with communities of every type, from Afghani's to Zimbabweans. This is a result of our imperial history and of our past immigration policies.

This means that we are more susceptible to an upswing in asylum than most European nations (there are exceptions- Crises in Turkey and Algeria would lead to asylum surges in Germany and France respectively). Conversely, when Asylum applications fall globally, they fall more heavily here. The success of the falls of asylum applications is a double success. It represents a world that is at least temporarily a little safer, a little less destructive of homes communities and families.

This years fall in Asylum applications is also a managerial success, but can there really be any doubt which success is more significant? If Serbia were to erupt into civil war, or Iraq to lapse into anarchy, or the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan, can anyone doubt we would see an increase in asylum applications?

It’s understandable that the Government wants to salute their managerial success. After all, no-one else would do so without their prompting.

Yet the real credit for this success must go to those who understand that the root cause of asylum is economic crisis, totalitarian regimes and oppression and that by committing ourselves to the solution of crises in faraway countries we make the most important step in reducing the flight of the oppressed from their homelands to Britain. It's the same peole of course, but they seem a little shy about saying so.

<< Home

Monday, February 23, 2004

An odd thing

I was on one of my occasional trips to the mighty metropolis last week (Oh, you noticed my failure to post with my usual carefree abandon, did you? Many thanks. I was fine. No sickness, no family tragedy. But thank you for asking. All those messages of concern meant a lot. Humph).

As I may have mentioned before, being a man of meagre resource, I tend to get the bus into Central London and walk the little way required to reach my destination. After successfully fare-dodging (See posts passim for my moral laxness on this topic), I was striding along a street in one of the grander postcodes of the empire when the following observation struck me with the force of a Bentley at top speed. In fact the observation struck me precisely because I was very nearly struck by this very glory of our time.

At least a third of the cars passing me were chauffeur driven. I don't mean Taxi's or posh minicabs, I mean full-on 7 series', Bentley’s, top notch Merc SL's, Jaguar's, Daimlers and other marques of automotive excellence. All occupied by a driver and reclining man of importance in the back.

I recognise that I may be getting a few false positives in my assessment of the Cab vs Chauffeur question. After all, some posh minicabs are very posh indeed. Even so, this struck me as an incredibly high number of people being driven to work.

So I fell to wondering what is the standard requirement for a fellow to have a driver these days? I'd mentally limited it to Cabinet ministers (and bless 'em, junior Ministers in their Vauxhall Vectra's), CEO's, Bishops, High court judges, Company Chairmen and the landed gentry. Even in SW1, this demographic doesn't come close to a third of all passenger cars. So who are all these people?

Are you Chauffeur driven? Do you know someone who lets another put foot to clutch on their behalf? What does it mean that there are so many people following this trend in central London- or are we merely seeing a surge in chauffeur standard cabs as a result of the Congestion Charge? If so, is this a business that others should consider entering in our other major cities as Congestion Charging spreads?

<< Home