Italian Elections

Piece written for an Italian paper about the elections…

Il Sole 24 Ore, a financial paper

Boris says:

“Why not bung it on the blog to show I am alive?

Yesterday we all climbed Vesuvius!”

[Ed: With our apologies as we have now been asked to remove this piece from the site]

140 thoughts on “Italian Elections”

  1. Boris

    I hear the unmistakable sound of po faces being assumed across the blogosphere. Put your tin hat back on!

  2. Boris, sadly your reasons for supporting Berlusconi read a little superficial.

    Democracy, the rule of law, not to mention the economy have all suffered in Italy under Berlusconi and all you seem to be able to think about is you your disdain for Brussels.

    I wonder if it is not all too easy to romanticise our country from your holiday villa, while you feed your Euro-scepticism ?



    PS- Did you think to ask the news agent whether in fact she was concerned that under a new government she would have to start paying the tax that Berlusconi has been turning a blind eye to. A predicted 45% of Italians are evading tax and in essence stealing from other Italians.

  3. I not a nutty-case.

    Omne ignotum pro magnifico est.

    Once again, thank you Boris for your moral support.

  4. Boris, dear boy, they can BOTH be rubbish, you know…

    And given that The Economist is one of the few places outside of your own column to inject something approaching light-heartedness into the soporific swamp that passes for political comment in this country, it seems a bit odd to pick on them for raging against Berlusconi for being a crook and for having a bit of a dodgy idea about what constituted a free press – you do believe a free press is a good thing, right?

    As for Prodi “Unfortunately there are reasons to doubt whether his centre-left opponent, Romano Prodi, would be a lot better.”

    Reading The Economist, they too like the fact that Berlusconi’s a bit of fun, but he will no doubt remain a bit of fun on the sidelines – he can let someone else screw over the country in the meantime.

  5. “Why not bung it on the blog to show I am alive?

    Yesterday we all climbed Vesuvius!”

    If climbing Vesuvius doesn’t show you’re alive, what does? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

  6. Letter to George Bush

    Perhaps I’m getting bigheaded, but I want to write to George Bush.

    ” Open letter to George Bush.

    I’m just a comic and you are a great president at the head of a great and powerful nation. Furthermore, you are also a great friend of our former President of the Council with whom you have many points in common: the Atlantic vision in place of the pacific one, great riches, the exportation of democracy with or without weapons, the personalisation of politics.
    Allow me, very humbly, to ask you for an account of your behaviour in relation to Italy and the Italians.
    Prodi has won the elections. Heads of State of many nations and the President of the European Community have sent their congratulations to him.
    You are almost the only one who hasn’t done this.
    And, in this situation, our former President of the Council does not recognise the election result thanks to your support.
    You continue to not recognise Prodi as the legitimate winner, elected in free elections.
    They were elections managed by the Minister of the Interior as a member of the Government in power.
    They were elections in which voting went on according to a liberticida (liberty killing) election law guided through Parliament by your friend and in this case, your voice as a defender of democracy has not been heard.
    You are not showing yourself to be a friend of our country and you are probably not even acting in the interests of your country.
    If you don’t recognise Prodi, why should Italians recognise you? I believe and hope that your behaviour is simply a temporary institutional distraction. If this is not the case, Italians should ask themselves a few questions.

    Why should we allow American Military Bases to be in our country?
    Why should we tolerate the presence of American atomic weapons at Ghedi Torre, Brescia and at Aviano, Pordenone?
    Why should we allow CIA agents to move around our country as though they were visiting your great ranch in Texas?
    Why should we provide finance to a country that at this moment is hostile to us by buying American products, eating in American chains, supporting American companies in Italy?
    I’m sure the Italians will know how to find the answers.”

    Vik (guerrilla radio)
    italian blogger from Milan

  7. I’m also a Euro-Sceptic so it saddens me deeply to say this.

    But have we now reached the the point, where with all the pointless piffle that gets debated in Parliament these days, that the EU are now actually drafting better laws than we do?

    Unfortunately I believe we have.

    Is this why we never debate any important laws anymore and introduce them via the back door under the European Communities Act?

  8. PS

    And who is this ‘Frank Johnson’ who took over from Boris in the Telegraph today?

    Any relation?

  9. “Boris Johnson” is a pen name of course, his full one being “Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson”. It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it but is somehow more fitting.

  10. You learn something new every day.

    (Do any of those HTML tag thingys at the bottom of the page make my post sound sarcastic?)

  11. With Kofi Annan stepping down at the end of the year there is now a vacancy at the UN. Silvio would make a fine replacement and liven the place up a bit – get him in there!

  12. ‘Did you think to ask the news agent whether in fact she was concerned that under a new government she would have to start paying the tax that Berlusconi has been turning a blind eye to’

    Can we have him as chancellor?

  13. Vik, do you really think Shrub can read?

    I know about the “Alexander” bit; I heard his family calls him “Al,” which would make it much harder to get away with all the Latin and such in the articles. Although “Boris de Pfeffel” has much to recommend it as a pen name, it’s awful for a Euroskeptic. Self-hating and all that. He is, as we all know, a Turko-American immigrant, and is to be congratulated on elevating himself to the position of journalist.

  14. I’m not the only sad little man sitting on the PC in the early hours on Good Friday waiting for someone to reply then.

    I’m trying to write my dissertation, what’s your excuse raincoaster?

  15. I live in Canada and keep strange hours anyway. NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!! The gods are watching.

    Slightly OT: my blog died for two days and has now arisen. And I posted about a hooker recently, too. Anybody planning a trip to Damascus soon? It’s just odd, is all. Will the New New Testament consist of things like “The Blog Comment to the Canadians,” “The Gospel of Guido,” and “Podcasts?”

  16. Hmmm, the paper requested that the article be cut from the site…and it hasn’t been? Looks shorter, though, as far as my scrambled brains can recall.

    Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!

  17. guerilla

    I synpathise. It really is horrid of those Americans to make their marines frog march Italians into Levi shops and MacDonald’s, there to force them to buy and consume those ghastly American products.

    I guess it’s due our special relationship with our former colonies that the same does not happen here. I am allowed to swan around in Stephen Fry type cords and buy bacon sandwiches from a little caff in the market.

    This Proddy guy – is he not of the Church of Rome then? We have politicians called Proddies – the Rev. Ian Paisley springs to mind. Actually he has big ears so maybe there is a Noddy connection.

  18. Sorry Mr Johnson, but the stimulus on your website has gone downhill since you’ve been on your travels.

    So I’ve decided to post my blog from the private group discussion board at uni from 8th February. It’s not much worse.

    Do hope you’ve had a good time though.

    Blunt Razorblades

    Pristis pectinata, the Smalltooth Sawfish, can sometimes be found basking in the clear tropical waters off the coast of Ceylon. Graceful, majestic and sacred to some, this predator from the Jurassic period hunts down shoals of small fish, which are injured, stunned or killed by dozens of ‘teeth’ that protrude bizarrely from her prehistoric snout. The rather sluggish Sawfish then simply gulps up her prey from the bottom of the sea bed. Back in the shores of Blighty, Exos lucius, the Pike, with its rows of tiny, but razor sharp teeth, waits patiently beside the bull rushes, waiting for a lone straggling fish, of agreeable size and variety, to unwittingly swim past. Those of us who have had the privilege to meet face to face with the Pike and look her in the eye appreciate the awe inspiring mystique and beauty of this amazing creature. Another survivor from ancient times, the Pike is a true predator. The new born shoal of Pike will swim in the sanctity of their mother, for fear of their father’s insatiable appetite for anything smaller than him. Whilst small crustaceans and insects form the staple of the pikelings diet, it is not long before they realise that their mouths are of sufficient proportions to swallow each other, whole. And so the Pike evolves, the most audacious of the litter devouring their siblings in a race to the top of the food chain. Only once a Pike reaches fifteen or so pounds in weight can she relax. For this magnificent creature is not only a cannibal, but a large cannibal able to swallow whole around a third of her own body weight. Changing the subject slightly today’s meeting was a more relaxed affair than usual. Gossip flowed from unchastised tongues, discussion was pleasant and constructive, and the team began to gel.

    Of particular note was Miss Roberts’s motivational pep talk, six months is a long time to go without such luxuries as an ironing board, shoe polish and a sharp razorblade. Inspired by Miss Roberts get up and go attitude to life I found myself walking to work, making mental notes to visit my local convenience supermarket that very evening, purchase some washing powder, some boot polish and something to shave with that would not seek to transform my chin into something capable of worrying even John Merrick’s mother. Unfortunately memories of whiling away summer evenings playing mickey-mouse cricket in division two of the Cardiff mid week league coupled with a closed season sale at Sophia Gardens mean that the ironing board and the shoe polish have been put on hold. This cruel combination of events means that I am now the proud owner of a lovely new cricket bat and one-hundred pounds the poorer. The usual optimistic knees-ups around the feast of St Valentine are cancelled and that wild sea bass is off the menu until the daffodils are once again in full bloom.

    I did however manage to replace my blunt razorblade, and it was good to have a nice close shave for the first time in what seems like a year, even if I did slice my top lip open. Perhaps this was the first step towards getting on top of such activities as washing my work trousers, cleaning my bedroom, making those delta weights, reading all that metrology stuff I missed at the start of the year, writing up half a dozen workbook exercises and beginning my dissertation. Perhaps I will find the willpower to withdraw my continued sponsorship of Kenny Clark’s pension fund and quit the wicked weed. Perhaps in the same way that our good friend, Exos lucius’s razor sharp teeth have helped her survive the ice ages, to become the most fearsome creature on our small island, my sharp razorblade will help me get to grips with the cold, dog eat dog (or pike eat pike) world that we call home. Then again perhaps Pristis pectinata, with her primitive and bizarre blunt-toothed snout has the right idea, basking off the coast of that jewel in the ocean; Ceylon. Warm seas, sunshine, the blending of rum with fresh fruit juices, long summer evenings and the crack of leather upon willow.

  19. Come off it Melissa – there’s more Johnsons than you can shake a stick at in the Spectator/Telegraph cabal. Rachel, Frank, Paul, Boris, Daniel – don’t tell me Dan Brown isn’t writing a book about it!

  20. Hey, waitaminit. Surely the article was originally published in Italian. And equally surely Boris didn’t sell all rights to the article, did he? He’s, like, smarter than that? Right?

    If he sold first publication rights and the article already ran, no prob. If he sold first Italian rights, no prob at all.

    If Boris wants to prove he’s alive, how about a pic of him on the top of Vesuvius, holding up today’s newspaper? That might just about do it. And if he goes into a rant about the Great Satan, so much the more entertaining.

  21. You’re right about the prolific eloquence of the Johnsons, you cool dude Jack Ramsey!

    I like the Johnsons’ writing style (and I include Marina Wheeler too) because they appeal to all types – even to me, a ‘non-intellectual-highbrow-but-far-from-stupid-type’.

  22. raincoaster

    How the blazes do you get to be such a whizz at firing off all these amazing posts on this site? That’s something you and Boris have in common: outstanding overachievers !

  23. Melissa

    I enjoy all the Johnsons’ writings. I must say that I think Paul is my favourite. I always save his piece in the Speccie until sundown and the first tincture of the day. If the Cosa Johnsonostra want to take over the world of journalism that’s fine by me (as long as they also let Howard Jacobson and David Aaronovitch stay on).

    Could you let my daughter know what a cool dude I am?

  24. * Clap, Clap*

    Attention Jack Ramsey’s daughter:

    “Listen: you’ve got to believe that your Dad is a real cool dude!!!”

    cool dudes rule

  25. Actually Melissa, right now I’m looking for work. If the Johnsons do take over journalism, do you think they can give me a job? Would I have to give them a loan or something? I haven’t got any money, but I’ve got a very impressive comic book collection!

  26. raincoaster

    I think anyone is allowed to comment and summarise and quote a few lines… that is how the web has grown. I did take it off then return with a different product.

  27. Like I say, much political apathy comes from the fact that so many important changes in law are introduced by the ‘back door’ without a debate in Parliament.

    Does anyone out there own a business that trades with consumers? Is anyone out there a consumer?

    Did you know about this then?

    Given, Parliament have no power to alter the directive. They can however debate the issues that are left to member states to decide upon themselves.

    These issues include protection for small businesses from rogue traders and scams, enforcement, criminal offences, penalties and how to actually introduce the changes best.

    Something we are choosing not to do.

    And what do we debate in Parliament? Fox hunting!

    Is it any wonder that we are politically apathetic? A consultation is all well and good, but is no substitution for a debate and a vote.

    what does the Shadow Minister for Trade think? He’s very quiet!

  28. I don’t think Melissa is either a man or a mouse, and I wasn’t being tongue in cheek when I said it was a nice editing job. It’s quite legal to do this.

    Which does not protect anyone from being sued, alas.

    It is a fact universally acknowledged that an independent blogger in possession of a decently summarized article from an aggressive original source, must be in want of a lawyer. Quite often, the originator of the material (or even, more malevolently, the SUBJECT of the material) threatens to sue or actually does file suit, hoping thus to bully the blogger into submission. They very seldom actually win those cases, but that’s not the goal; it’s to tie the blogger up, intimidate them, and cost them money they can ill afford. An all-too-common technique, and far too often successful. I’m waiting till someone defines this as racketeering and hits them with criminal charges. But I might be waiting a long time.

  29. Anyway I don’t think they can sue Melissa, she is only doing her job. Vicarious liability old chap. They’d have to sue Boris, but what for? What damamges have they suffered? He’s actually advertising their rag! Do you have to pay to view the original online?

  30. They can indeed sue.

    Suing isn’t the same as winning; as I said, they probably can sue (all you have to do is get a judge willing to hear the case) but they probably can’t win. I’m not saying they’re going to sue. I don’t think they are. But they could, and people often do. And you don’t have to prove damages, just theft of intellectual property. Insert xenophobic Italian joke here.

  31. And theft (in UK law) is:

    A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and ‘theft’ and ‘steal’ shall be construed accordingly.

    Are you implying Boris is a thief?

    He could sue you for defamation!

  32. Steven, get back to work on that thesis!

    I am not saying that any transgressions have taken place. As far as I am aware, none have taken place. I am using the “take it down” imperative from Italy to go off on a riff about how companies use the threat of lawsuits and charges to bully bloggers into silence or, more damagingly, self-censorship.

    BTW: Theft of intellectual property does not require the owner to be deprived of the property itself, just of the value derived from control of that property, ie exclusive rights.

    If Boris wants to sue me, I say bring it on. God knows I’ve had no luck getting my name in the papers on merit. This might just do it, particularly if I send out a press release naming myself as the “anonymous” source for the Mirror’s very damaging quote. I can just see the headlines now…can’t you?

    Hey, Toby Young is famous. It must work!

  33. Done with the thesis for tonight, I’m off home to see what sort of a mess that useless, dole-welling, perma-stoned flatmate of mine has made of the house today.

  34. Oh, I had one of those! Just make sure his cheques are made out to “Cash” and dump him in the river. He’ll never notice, and you’re saving him from a life of suffering. It’s a service, really.

  35. A propos Intellectual Property.
    I believe Google has successfully argued that the service which they offer , i.e. quoting verbatim, huge chunks, ( even if not the totality), of other people’s writings and other intellectual property, is essential to their fulfilling the service they apparently legitimately offer.

    I hear that pending law suits will be withdrawn.

    Has anyone any update on this ” information”. It might be interesting to draw parallels between BJ & Google.

    Incidentally. I don’t think that someone “doing their job” , as someone put it , is an adequate defence ,in law, against actual involvement .

    Eichman found that out.( Not that I draw any similarities here). It is , after all, a normally matey exchange of views, however weird sometimes.

  36. Are we all talking about UK IP law or Italian IP law? Remember some countries have no copyright law at all.

    If someone sues you in Italy and wins so what? Why bother to cough up? It’s hard enough to get money out of someone you’ve got a CCJ against when you’re both in the UK!

  37. …..and the ‘doing your job’ point is that it is not reasonable, when Boris just emails Melissa to say ‘put it on the blog’ for Melissa to have to check that Boris has obtained the correct permissions for to put his work on his website.

  38. I think you’re getting into some very complicated arguements about Google Macarnie, other people actually publish the work on the net, Google provide software that allows you to search the web.

    I’m sure there’s lots of plagiarised stuff on the web but Google does not exist to regulate that, it is just a private company providing a service.

    When someone publishes on the net they are in effect putting whatever they publish in the public domain. Don’t you have to register sites with Google and other search engines?

    I think Boris is stuffed if he argues that ‘Google do it, why can’t I?’ He is after all a professional journalist and public figure who (it could be argued) derives personal benfits from publishing work on this site.

    Best bet has to be to get that Italian ‘laywer’ Saddam wanted who can’t find his qualifications in, sure he’ll come up with something better.

  39. I have no doubt that what you say holds water, Steven L.

    I merely quoted from the report which was case which was recently in the national press.

    It would logically follow that if Google were not to be sued, then neither would others in the same, or similar general web information service business.

    As for journalists making their reports on whichever event or events current at the time ; they are, I understand , in cases of any doubt, via the conscientious vetting of their reports by the legal department of their particular newspaper, made aware of what could, or might, form the basis of a suit for libel on behalf of any alleged ” victim” of any ” alleged ” libel.

    I believe Boris , amongst other serious journalists, is fully cognisant of all aspects thereof, and acts accordingly.

  40. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

    Putting something on the web IN NO WAY means putting it in the public domain. The web is simply the most effective publishing tool we have; its use does not negate copyright in any way.

    Italy and the UK (and Canada and, for the past several years the US) are all signatories to the same copyright treaty, and thus bound by the same laws.

    Google has some very good lawyers, but they are treading on dangerous ground. They do not merely direct people to works online, but also archive them; it’s this service, along with their proposal to digitize and publish every book in the English language online, that has them in court. Archiving a site’s contents does mean copying all of it without permission. And no, you don’t have to register with Google. I didn’t, and my blog is all over Google thanks to my ruthless campaign of famewhoring.

    I was once employed by a prof at a local university here to do a how-to book on hosting a conference for teenagers. I worked away on the material happily for a couple of months when I came across a copyright notice at the bottom of one of the pages. Apparently all the material I was putting together for this book belonged to the federal government. If, knowing this, I proceeded with the book, I’d have been liable. I stopped and by stopping I protected myself from prosecution. The woman apparently tried to hire other writers to finish the book so she could sell it for profit, and was quite frustrated that they all turned her down. Her defence was “Oh, I’m just a mathematician, I don’t know anything about rights!” which was true enough. I never did get paid for that, either.

  41. Thanks raincoaster: your having had first hand experience of the pitfalls should be enough to settle any differences of opinion.

  42. I’m just totally shocked he didn’t reserve “first English-language rights” or suchlike. I’ve never signed an “all rights” contract and would be surprised if Boris had, what with him being all smart and stuff.

  43. psimon, Mac and I have put a lot of thought into our pedal driven airships. Have we lost IPR or whatever? Perhaps we should write in Anglo-Saxon?

  44. Alas, copyright is not patent. I’d definitely run down to the patent office with this.

    Perhaps you should write in Latin? At least that way I could keep up.

  45. Here is an interesting look-and-feel lawsuit. Actually, reading it over, I’m wondering if they were able to force a settlement, because it looks pretty iron-clad to moi.

    To: Microsoft Lawyers, Inc.
    From: Azathoth, Nyarlathotep and Hastur, Elder Attorneys.


    Our agents among the mortal herd have brought to Our attention your
    recent product entitled Windows ’95. Therefore We now give you
    statutory notice of intent of proceedings to be taken against Microsoft
    by the Many-Angled Ones.

    With this suit We will show that Windows ’95, and to a lesser extent
    all of the Microsoft range of products, infringe upon the recognised
    “look-and-feel” of the Elder Gods, for the following reasons:

  46. Jack : far be it from me to disagree with your idea about the writing in Anglo Saxon, but my keyboard is a tad short in the post runic Anglo Saxon symbols department. Since these are hardly reproducible, excepting perhaps by laboriously hand scripting with my calligrapher’s pen, and then copying, it’s all too much for an Easter Monday for this old timer , I’m afraid. ( Besides , I really would have to swot).

    There’s nothing for it but to get back to the oars.

    Aelfred kyning hateth gretan Ramsey Johannes.

    Alas I have no ‘thorn’ and ‘feoh’,
    So you are forced to bear with me.

  47. Steven L

    I went to a bloggers conference once where an international web lawyer spoke about how someone in an eastern europe village(a middle aged lady) was sued successfully for spying on all her neighbours while doing a ‘project’ for the community – she had been filming and taking photos of them day and night and posting comments on her website about their movements. She was found guilty. But how manic is that – not the norm, heh?

    We live in a sue and be sued culture and the suer can come down hard I bet – all I would think of them is that they belong in the sewer and I would not descend to that level.

    For avoidance of any doubt, however, the whole piece above has now been clean removed. I respect you guys and I can’t just wipe the slate clean immediately if a piece had been announced earlier – bloggers would complain vociferously and I couldn’t take that.

    Peace be with you all – let’s get the ball rolling again soon on another hot topic!….

  48. Dear Boris,
    How many watches has Silvio promised you? How many holidays in his villas have been flashed in front of you? Or have I been wrong about you all the time? Berlusconi is one of the worst things that have happened to Italy, a nasty demagogue, a man that will insult, has no political thought except how to enrich himself and his friends. You dislike Blair, how can you like Berlusconi? He uses the against Europe talk just to please the crowds, but he has not got any plans to liberate Italy from Europe. He cannot, because he cannot save the Italian economy, since it needs drastic measures, like fighting tax evasion, but since Berlusconi ha been evading tax for years, how can he do it? Boris, do you like him because you consider him funny? Would you like to be governed by such a man? Why should Italy be treated like an operetta? How can I trust a politician that likes Berlusconi? How can I vote for a party that has one of its members that is a Berlusconi fan? You are creating problems for me as a voter in the UK. After all, the man that accompanied you in the infamous Berlusconi interview a couple of years ago is the man that lives in Predappio, and I need to say no more, do I? If I am to trust the Tory party, I must know that it keeps away from such figures, as friends and in Europe. Mr Fini was the man how said that Mussolini was the greatest figure in Italian history, Mr Bossi is the leader of one of the most xenophobic parties in Europe. I do not want the Tories near these people at all.

  49. To be honest I don’t know much about civil copyright law. I’m just an arguementative sod. Anyone interested the the link for the relevant UK Act is below. I don’t know how many times its been ammended or what caselaw there is.

    Also I don’t care if anyone sues me, I’m a debt ridden skint student. In fact every time the bank phones me to ask me why I ain’t paying them no more I tell them either to give me back all my penalty charges and recaluclate my bills for the last six years so I’m not paying interest on them or to sue me.

    Do they do either? Do they hell, once they realise they can’t scare me they hang up and phone the next unfortunate debt ridden person any try to scare them.

    Suing people is for mugs and wealthy fame seekers.

  50. In fact if someone sued me for a million pounds I’m just admit the claim to annoy the barristers.

  51. We had this conversation a few weeks ago Psimon after Boris’s FABULOUS article about shared appreciation mortgages.

    If I sue them they will counter sue me for money I owe them in default. I can just wait for them to sue me then defend the bank charges which means if I win they probably will not get any costs awarded.

    I go on the OFT’s interpretation (they do have very good solicitors) which is available here:

    I have actually been in court once on this and I would advise extreme caution. Although the District Judge told the credit card co’s solicitor that saying ‘its in the contract he signed it’ is not good enough and that she had to justify the charges, he would not award judgement that day. He sent her away ordering her to serve on the court and I in 2 weeks a justification of the charges and a recalculation if the charges and interest on the charges were discredited.

    Of course they didn’t do it (because the banks refuse to make this information public) so I called the court (I was now back at uni and in a different city 150 miles away from the court and because of a fault in the student loans computer only had £6 in my pocket) and was advised that if the claimant had not served the infomation the judge had requested that I would win and that I could write to the court to explain my absence.

    Now either the first judge didn’t write good notes, the next judge didn’t bother to read them (because the claimants solicitor didn’t bother to turn up either!), he didn’t know what to do about recalculating the bills or was completely gutless.

    Yes he awarded them full judgement with the charges.

    Now that the OFT have pulled their finger out and made public a strong legal arguement it should be a lot easier though.

    I only took this course of action because I have nothing to lose and when I start work in London in June will not even be able to afford a mortage on a parking space due to the horrendous price of housing.

    If you have something to lose be very careful and take some advice. If you are like me and don’t, are young, annoyed about the cost of housing and annoyed by the way banks try to get you so deep in debt you will be paying them for ever then it’s perhaps OK to get militant about it all, and treat them how they treat you.

    Believe me, my generation is very bitter about bank charges and house prices.

  52. Psimon, that website you put up, some of the facts are wrong. Here’s a quote from it:

    ‘This is also a breach of the 1999 Consumer Credit Act (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts – the OFT is already investigating the charges levied by Credit Card Companies) and possibly the Sale of Goods Act, and many others.’

    There is no 1999 Consumer Credit Act, the CCA was 1974, judges will not rule the charges ‘extortionate’ under CCA1974

    There is the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (an example of excellent EU consumer protection law) available at:

    The Sale of Goods Act 1979 has nothing to do with bank charges, this is complete rubbish.

    The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 requires providers of services to consumers to provide services with ‘reasonable care, reasonable skill and at a reasonable cost’ but you should never try to educate a District Judge on the law in the small claims court.

    All you need to do is accuse the banks of using the charges to make a profit and the judge should do the rest.

    (Remember they refuse to make the information they need in their defence public!)

  53. For the record, I hope none of my posts contributed to the decision to take down the newer version of the post. It didn’t violate any laws of which I am aware. My big theme in this thread has been that large companies bully bloggers into silence and self-censorship with the threat of lawsuits, or even pre-emptive self-censorship. It would be perverse indeed if my statements had contributed to the effect.

  54. Like I say, no-one sues a man of straw.

    Man of straw hair with a nice house, job and bank balance, maybe.

    By the way Raincoaster do I detect you are feeling a bit guilty or sorry for yourself tonight?

  55. No. raincoaster does not feel sorry for herself; she only feels sorry for her victims, long afterward.

    Quite frankly I’m feeling frustrated at what I perceive as the gratuitous capitulation of a blogger to the request of a large corporation.

    Assuming the paper owned ALL rights, they could ask for the original article by Boris to be taken down and be within their legal rights. It was indeed taken down. A new article, covering much of the same material and authored (I believe) by Melissa was posted. This was, by all standards, legal. It was by all conventions of the Internet perfectly A-ok.

    We then got into a discussion of lawsuits, corporate bullying, racketeering by lawsuit, etc. I did manage to refrain from deploying the expression “chilling effect” but I may have to unleash it now.

    The new article disappeared.

    If my posts, which were designed to convey nothing more than my disgust at systematic bullying by corporations and equally systematic capitulation and self-censorship by bloggers, contributed in any way to the conclusion that taking the article down was a good idea, then obviously I need to be somewhat more direct when making my points.

    This is all hypothetical. It’s perfectly possible Melissa took it down for other reasons. I do not for a moment dispute her right to post or delete anything on this website. I’m just saying if anything I said contributed to the decision, I’d like to state that such was the opposite of my intention.

  56. Well we’ve got to blog about something don’t we.

    If there were threatening to sue you Boris just tell them I did it! I’ll take the rap, admit the claim and when the judge asks me how I’m going to pay suggest I might have to start playing the lottery.

  57. Hmmm, the paper requested that the article be cut from the site…and it hasn’t been? Looks shorter, though, as far as my scrambled brains can recall. (raincoaster)

    I remember the whole article vividly.

    It was all about Boris and Berli climbing Vesuvius. They stopped for lunch half way up and discussed the importance of opera singers in politics, over a plate of pasta and olives and Chianti. Berli said that opera singers were anthropologically fatter than normal humans. Boris replied that he had always wanted to be an opera singer, but wasn’t fat enough. Boris then fell asleep and had a dream about Rome, while Berli went on up and got into a fight with Prodi (who happens to be a Roman), and fell into the caldera, and hasn’t been heard of since.

    That’s the gist of it, anyway. But since the article has disappeared, there is no way for anyone to check the veracity of my account. But since only my account of the article remains, it is de facto the definitive account.

  58. Would it be possible to have some sort of roundup of what everyone is on about like on Lost, which is what I am?

  59. well, no – no one looks their best as a garden gnome but Boris gets extra points from me for being out cycling in what have been less than ideal weather (if the hat and coat are any indication). At the merest HINT of less than ideal conditions, I immediately find something else to do.

  60. Ok all you copyright experts!

    I have to admit I felt a twinge of guilt as I re-shaped the article to circuvent the suers. And as the discussion progressed I feared I could be getting into hot water and hence wiped it clean to remove all ambiguity. I may put up another condensed version again

  61. Honestly Melissa, you’re totally, TOTALLY fine with what you put up. The whole issue has an ability to generate second-guessing like nothing else I’ve ever seen. What you did is perfectly fine, regardless of the rights the paper bought.

    Besides, if anyone’s going to have lawyers on their tale for blogging, it’ll be me.

  62. Slightly off topic but I can’t contain myself. I am apoplectic.

    Re: Recent modifications to compensation for miscarriages of justice

    I am outraged.

    The Labour government and, more specifically, Charles Clarke is the greatest threat to liberty in the United Kingdom since the Battle of Britain.

    Not only can the government detain anyone they please for 30 days (they would have preferred 90) on the thinnest of suspicions, they are now entitled to bang you up for an indefinite period on trumped up evidence and, when this is demonstrated in the court of appeal, do not suffer the dreadful inconvenience of having to compensate you for your trouble.

    This is immoral and against every historic principle of British law.

    I used to be anti-Labour because I felt they were incompetent; now it is a matter of survival because they are dangerous.

  63. “they are now entitled to bang you up for an indefinite period on trumped up evidence and … do not suffer the dreadful inconvenience of having to compensate you for your trouble”

    I heard this on the News and my jaw hit the floor. Amazing what a good GWOT can bring about by way of new rules for our ‘protection’. Blair ‘understands’ these things and realises that ‘the rules of the game have changed’. Funny how we didn’t think they needed changing.

  64. One of the reasons given for the aforementioned, utterly outrageous principle was that our wonderful government believes it unfair that victims of crime are given less compensation than victims of miscarriages of justice; this change aims to rectify the apparent imbalance. This former statement is a perfect example of a ‘specious’ argument. i.e. something which, on the face of it, sound reasonable and sensible, but on proper examination is a pile of &%*$! (pick expletive)

    The government is in no way obligated to compensate victims of crime. Such ‘victims’ are covered (one hopes) by insurance or, depending on the circumstances, by the mechanisms laid out in the civil courts (assisted, if they are poor, by legal aid). Thus, unless the government is the criminal, (more and more feasible these days, I’m sad to say) they are unlikely to pay anything to said victims except dole money while their kneecaps grow back (perhaps). In the other instance, however, where some unsuspecting member of the public has been wrongfully thrown into chokey on the basis of evidence procured by the government’s representatives (the police) our illustrious and learned government seems to wish to evade its responsibility to compensate this poor individual.

    Apparently, all this only applies if our ‘victim’ wins their appeal at the first attempt. WHAT SORT OF LAW IS THAT!!

    You’ve now proven you’re innocent, spent 18 months slopping out and/or getting buggered, and, on almost effortlessly proving that you shouldn’t been there in the first place, get told: “Sorry pal, even though it’s obvious to a retarded slug that the evidence was a pile of shizen, your appeal went through far too easily so we’re not going to compensate you. Sorry about the house, car wife kids, job and all that. Ta, see you around. Drop us a line sometime, maybe.”

    When, oh when will it all end?!? It’s getting to the point where you can be arrested for wearing a loud shirt in a residential area after 11:00PM. I mean, we already know that you can be shot for wearing a padded jacket and fiddling with your mobile phone in Stockwell tube station.

    Boris, you and your mates are cocking this whole thing up!! For Christ’s sake, tell your school chum to stop fannying around with this prat at Prime Minister’s questions and stick the boot in.

    Preferably before we live in a police state which would put Stalin to shame.

  65. Just found this on the Sky News website (where I heard about this travesty)

    “…The changes have been described as “awful” by the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation, which said it can take up to 10 years to get an appeal hearing.

    “Are we then to say (victims) cannot get a penny?” its spokesman asked.”

    Apologies for all the expostulations and swearing, I can’t remember the last time I was as angry about a government proposal (and this is up against some pretty fierce competition, recently)

    I’m starting to think, the only way to stop the Labour government from eradicating all of my hard won civil rights is to become a terrorist!

  66. Is it only me or does anyone else think that Charles Clarke looks like the alien villain in a science fiction movie?

    A ‘Vogon’ perhaps.

    Imagine the time they’d save by not having to do any of the usual makeup.

  67. You know, it’s a sad state of affairs for Britain when the most powerful positive statement we can make about our government is “Our home secretary is uglier than yours!”

    Labour consistently chastise David Cameron for being a “political chameleon”. I readily concede that Labour invariably maintains only one colour in all of their policies, unfortunately it’s bilirubin.

  68. Their colour has caused me , several times over the years, to become nauseous.

    The present bunch no less than the previous emetic crowd of red flag waving champagne swilling, so called,Labour Party.

  69. I used to be anti-Labour because I felt they were incompetent; now it is a matter of survival because they are dangerous. (Joe M)

    I agree. And I’m not a fan of John Pilger, but he’s worried too.

      Freedom dies quietly

      People ask: can this be happening in Britain? Surely not. A centuries-old democratic constitution cannot be swept away. Basic human rights cannot be made abstract. Those who once comforted themselves that a Labour government would never commit such an epic crime in Iraq might now abandon a last delusion, that their freedom is inviolable. If they knew.

      The dying of freedom in Britain is not news. The pirouettes of the Prime Minister and his political twin, the Chancellor, are news, though of minimal public interest. Looking back to the 1930s, when social democracies were distracted and powerful cliques imposed their totalitarian ways by stealth and silence, the warning is clear. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill has already passed its second parliamentary reading without interest to most Labour MPs and court journalists; yet it is utterly totalitarian in scope.

      It is presented by the government as a simple measure for streamlining deregulation, or “getting rid of red tape”, yet the only red tape it will actually remove is that of parliamentary scrutiny of government legislation, including this remarkable bill. It will mean that the government can secretly change the Parliament Act, and the constitution and laws can be struck down by decree from Downing Street. Blair has demonstrated his taste for absolute power with his abuse of the royal prerogative, which he has used to bypass parliament in going to war and in dismissing landmark high court judgments, such as that which declared illegal the expulsion of the entire population of the Chagos Islands, now the site of an American military base. The new bill marks the end of true parliamentary democracy; in its effect, it is as significant as the US Congress last year abandoning the Bill of Rights.


    The Conservatives and Liberals really ought to be declaring as an election manifesto priority that they will revoke every single piece of Labour’s totalitarian legislation. They ought to be shouting very loudly about it. They ought to be damn well screaming.

    But, of course, they aren’t…

    And we still have as a Prime Minister a man who lied his country into war, who shows not one iota of regret for this, and who has said that he will step down, but shows absolutely no sign of doing so.

  70. I’ve been discussing this in various places for some months now (including here!), but there is such apathy in this country it has proven a waste of time. Democracy is dead, accept it, and leave the country – taking as much wealth with you as you can. Seriously. This is going to be no place to be very very soon.

    Blair claims to be a socialist. Wasn’t Hitler a “socialist” too? It isn’t just the banning of smoking the two of them have in common, or the invading of other (sovereign) nations.

    You may feel there is no comparison between Blair and Hitler. I can see it, though, as Pilger has. And we are hardly alone.

    It is also worth remembering that the economy in this country is screwed (despite Brown lying to the contrary), and it will become very apparent very soon. Sell up now, you will get the best price. Delay, and you will be trapped in the 21st Century equivalent of pre-war Nazi Germany.

    I am not kidding.

    I’m even selling my shares in tin-foil helmets, inc.




  71. Oh, and whilst on thread topic changes, and taking into account The Bozzer’s stand on ID cards, I paste the following:

    <No2ID is calling for mass passport renewals next month to create a spike in
    the system that shows the government how unhappy people are with its plans
    to have everyone clocked in an identity database.

    Guy Herbert, general secretary of No2ID, said: “If everyone renews their
    passport now, that inconveniences their plans to get everyone on the

    The May renewal date is also good for people who want to delay having the
    government store their fingerprints, mugshots and eye-scans.

    Biometric passports of a sort are being rolled out already in time for an
    August switch over. From then on all passports issued will include chips
    that store a scanned photograph of their holder. By October, the US will
    insist people apply for visas if they want to cross its borders without a
    photo-chip passport.

    By 2009, when the government hopes its identity card system is up and
    running, and just a year before the compulsory imposition of identity cards
    on anyone who renews a passport, the EU will require fingerprints on
    passports as well.

    The system set up to record people’s biometric details for the new
    passports, including 69 interview centres across the country later this
    year, will become the basis of the identity card system.

    A Home Office spokesman said there were no plans to use passport information
    to populate the national identity register (NIR), the database that will be
    the engine of the ID system. “The NIR will be a clean database,” he said.

    Yet there is growing concern about a host of government databases that No2ID
    said in the Scotsman today was creating a system of “cradle-to-grave

  72. I have an extensive ‘comic’ collection (graphic novels to the cogniscenti) one of which is a seminal work in this field, “V for Vendetta” which, I understand, has recently been made into a movie.

    The backdrop to this work of utter genius, by Alan (we are unworthy to speak his name) Moore, is a dystopic future England in which the loony left got back into power during the 80’s and effected their promises for a nuclear (missile) free Britain. The consequence of this was that when the nukes were flying about during another world war (started by some lunatic Yank), Britain was ‘mercifully’ spared any direct hits although subjected to famine, disease and all the rest of the aftermath.

    Enter stage left a super right wing, neo-fascist party who turn Britain into something that would make Stalin weep with envy. More or less the only thing Alan got wrong was the laterality.

    It’s a left wing party.

  73. There IS no leftist party in British politics. They are all, to a greater or lesser degree, Yuppieist, bourgeois, or capitalist; take your pick, they all mean the same thing in practice. Tony Blair’s Labour Party is essentially a market-based entity. Every few years the market switches from dollars to votes, but it’s the same mindset. There is no collectivism in these people’s brains or hearts; none whatsoever. If the current scandals have clarified anything, it is this.

    The failings are the failings of a party that will sell (or rent) itself to the highest bidder; they are not the failings of a socialist party. So I’m still blaming this on the Torys!

    (want to see the math? To beat the Torys, Labour moved to the center, dropped its socialist ideals and became a slavering vote-whore; subsequent to the election and right up till it feels the next coming on, it turned into a slavering cash whore. See, it’s all the fault of the Conservatives)

  74. Democracy is dead, accept it (Psimon)

    I don’t see it as entirely dead, myself. Unlike in America, we still have a fairly honest electoral system (although Labour’s push towards postal voting threatens that as well).

    Blair is a neocon loony. And the Labour party are a bunch of spineless no-goods. But what bothers me most is the absence of outrage in the Tory opposition. Is this because they are quite happy with all this totalitarian legislation Labour are pushing through? I wrote to my Tory MP to tell her I thought the anti-smoking legislation was ‘totalitarian’, and she didn’t even bother to reply.

    Our parliament is an uncanny reflection of a US congress and senate which rubber stamps everything Bush wants, and whose Democrats mount only the feeblest of opposition to him.

    Is this a coincidence, or are we already the 51st state or something?

  75. ‘For Christ’s sake, tell your school chum to stop fannying around with this prat at Prime Minister’s questions and stick the boot in.’
    (Joe Mental)

    Love it, absolutely love it Joe.

  76. This isn’t the first bit of draconian legislation they have introduced.

    What about the Crime and Disorder Act 1998?

    ‘1. – (1) An application for an order under this section may be made by a relevant authority if it appears to the authority that the following conditions are fulfilled with respect to any person aged 10 or over, namely-

    (a) that the person has acted, since the commencement date, in an anti-social manner, that is to say, in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as himself; and
    (b) that such an order is necessary to protect persons in the local government area in which the harassment, alarm or distress was caused or was likely to be caused from further anti-social acts by him;
    and in this section “relevant authority” means the council for the local government area or any chief officer of police any part of whose police area lies within that area.’

    ALARM OR DISTRESS? What does that mean? If we do move much futher down the present path of becoming some kind of weird, authoritarian, socialtist, soft on real criminals, police state imagine all the things they could ban you from doing (or saying) because it causes some lefty ‘alarm or distress’!

  77. “Lefties” are alarmed and distressed, I assure you. By Blair and his bloody legislation. Not by mini-delinquents!

  78. Why do they keep voting for him then? Maybe they should hold their noses next time and get this lot out of power. I have nothing against trade unions or a labour party that represents the interests of normal working people (like me) but this lot seems more bothered about people who can’t be bothered to work and think its OK breed like rabbits while everyone else picks up the bill!

  79. <Why do they keep voting for him then?<

    From what i can understand (from talking to people), it comes down to two things:

    1. People still resent Thatcher, and seem to be under the impression that she is still running the Conservative Party

    2. There are a lot of VERY stupid people with a vote.

    Didn’t I read somewhere that, in terms of most votes actually received, the Conservatives actually WON the last election? It’s only some stupid system that allows 4 sheep worriers in Scotland to have an MP each that let the Liebore party in again. Or something.

    The Scots have their own parliament, the Welsh and the N. Irish have their assemblies…it’s only England that isn’t allowed to have a say in how it is governed.

    As the Welsh, Scots, and Irish ALL hate the English…

    Also, I expect my elected Member to stand up for what he/she believes – that being why I vote a particular way. Party whips should all be hung, drawn, quartered, marinated in sewage, and flung into the sea. Party politics is NOT democratic politics!

    Furthermore, if a party is elected on a particular manifesto, they should not be allowed to push that manifesto further. (eg. Liebore calling for a partial ban on smoking, then making it a total ban AFTER they are elected)

    Furthermore, politicians who deliberately lie to the country (eg. Bliar, WMD, Iraq) should be liable to prosecution and imprisonment. THEN we’ll see how many honest people there are in Parliament!

    Still waiting for Bliar to sue me for libel for calling him a lying murderer. I assume it’s because he knows he will lose…



  80. He wouldn’t want the publicity of suing you Psimon.

    I heard that the Tories polled more votes in England as well, but I think you’re going a bit far saying all of the Scots and the Welsh hate us.

    They do however seem to hate the Tories, and what you say about regional assemblies is very true. It is unfair the government can push through laws that only affect England on the strength of votes from parts of the UK that are not affected by said law.

    I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of people voted on the strength of their house prices as well. It strikes me as mad that a chancellor can blatantly say that there will be no inflationary pay rises before an election, at a time when household bills are rising so fast, and not suffer a backlash.

    Surely wage inflation would solve a lot of our problems at the moment. It’s simple enough, you sack all the people in public sector non-jobs, give all the proper public sector workers a higher than inflation pay rise. Eventually the private sector has to give bigger pay rises to compete better, yes the price of food, clothes etc goes up a bit, but it will not affect oil prices. Next thing you know more people can afford houses, their gas bills, petrol etc.

    All this talk by labour of ‘boom and bust’ has made people afraid of inflation. I’d love to see some wage inflation myself. Perhaps some higher interest rates to encourage saving and let average salaries catch up a little bit with property prices. The pound becoming a bit devalued against the Euro and the Dollar would mean exports and manufacturing would not be too badly affected either, whereas the higher interest rates might attract more investment. I’m no economist, far from it, but I can’t see why a bit of inflation from time to time is such a bad thing.

    What I really can’t believe is that people still voted for him after he plagiarised that 10 year old students thesis about Iraq’s weapons.

  81. Psimon is a very bright boy:

    People still resent Thatcher, and seem to be under the impression that she is still running the Conservative Party

    2. There are a lot of VERY stupid people with a vote.

  82. I believe the primary reason people still keep voting for Labour is, simply, that when they put their votes behind Bliar, they don’t see a twisted, mendacious, authoritarian warmonger; they see a nice affable sort of chap who they would like to have round for tea.

    Hague didn’t get elected directly for the reasons Psimon cites. Howard was (and is) a pompous, inflated, self-righteous buffoon (as Boris himself discovered). Cameron is in with a chance if he becomes firm about issues and I don’t mean the recent tawdry posturing about NHS finances. Debating the state of the NHS is an indoor sport for politicians and the NHS will always be delinquent in some aspect no matter which government holds the reins.

    Three things are destroying Britain at the moment: Political Correctness (cultural Marxism), the inexorable erosion of our civil rights and the complete lack of any real support for small to medium enterprises.

    This recent Bullsh*t about not compensating the victims of state incompetence is iniquitous. The other 700 odd acts of repression formulated and enacted by this (evil) regime need to be re-examined by any subsequent government and dealt with appropriately. As idlex states “The Conservatives and Liberals really ought to be declaring as an election manifesto priority that they will revoke every single piece of Labour’s totalitarian legislation. They ought to be shouting very loudly about it. They ought to be damn well screaming.” This is a concept which enjoys my wholehearted support.

    And raincoaster, I would actually blame the Yanks for Labour’s recent success. According to Sir Christopher Meyer (ex-British ambassador to the US), Bliar hijacked a few of Clinton’s campaign staff for his first election and bought heavily into US electioneering. This finally ushered in the age of spin and Vaudeville to British politics.

    If the Conservative party can’t drill these utter w***kers at the next election I’m leaving the country.

    I’m serious.

  83. It seems to me that the only ones screaming their rhetoric an all fronts is the Lie boor Party.

    We are approaching the local elections, in fact there are but few days left for electioneering; however, not one word , either spoken or written , have I heard or read from the Conservatives.

    In contrast ,the others, almost daily, either knock on my door , or bombard me with more & more shiny faced , expensive paper, extolling their virtues , and telling me what ‘they’ are going to do for my ward. whereas in reality,all they seem to do is waste the revenue from the Council Tax on unnecessary projects.

    Despite all this, where once, for years and years ,this whole borough was true blue , now the quickly mutiplying Pauls of this area, are more than happy to rob the rapidly diminishing number of Peters; thus keeping the incompetent leeches in power.

    When will ” Dandy Dave ” come up with a believable, wholly Conservative policy manifesto , radically opposed to this Government’s taking away the last vestiges of self respect from the man / woman on the street, and allow an adult to be responsible for his / her purely human foibles?

    It is time to stop rewarding the greed of those who WILL not work, and make a start towards rewarding the wealth makers; the savers, and generally normally independent citizens.

  84. raincoaster
    (want to see the math? To beat the Tories, Labour moved to the centre, dropped its socialist ideals and became a slavering vote-whore; subsequent to the election and right up till it feels the next coming on, it turned into a slavering cash whore. See, it’s all the fault of the Conservatives)

    I dispute your assertion that Labour have dropped their socialist ideals; they’ve only mutated them into something more appealing to the proletariat. Unfortunately they had to start an ideological war with the middle east to make it more appetising.

    Socialism is founded on inter alia the state controlling anything bigger than a Hoover. 20th century greed has made this unpalatable to our ravening consumers (inconveniently, the voting public) who demand their DVDs and home appliances and in no way see these as less important than dialysis machines or trains. So, our heroes have stealthily introduced three cunning vehicles to implement the desired control levels under the radar so to speak:

    1) Political correctness (cultural Marxism) by which mechanism we are obliged to mind our P’s and Q’s and not speak openly; Further, this allows them latitude to dictate what is or is not politically correct. Nice! And the best part is our community and friends become the regulators of the party line. This is so cunning it you could stick a trench coat on it and send it to MI6. It’s Orwellian in the truest sense of the word.

    2) Authoritarian (nanny) legislation: No smoking, don’t eat too much fat, don’t say anything nasty about anyone else’s religion or you’ll get a smacked bum!

    3) Greater powers of arrest, detention and public scrutiny. All introduced under the guise of protecting us from terrorists who are the spill over of a war they (Labour) started. Brilliant, a stroke of genius. If I didn’t want to personally disembowel Bliar and his cronies I would have to admire them.

    It’s absolute, uncontaminated, refined, 24 carat CRAP! And it has to stop. There is a line, and they have reached it; it’s time to move onto the offensive, with pickaxe handles if necessary!

    And, just for the record, it’s mathS over here.

  85. Yeah Raincoaster, if you had to pay tax to this lot and what it get re-distributed New-Labour-style, you would be in no doubt that they are on a far left agenda.

    They love people to become solely dependent on the state so they cannot vote any other way but for them.

    Earlier this year, before he did a runner without paying rent or bills, my flatmate was explaining to me about ‘tax credits’.

    Check this out: I was working a 32 hour week at £6 per hour. He was working a 40 hour week (which he managed to keep up for all of 6 or so weeks) at £5.15 per hour. So he is earning more than me, but because he spends at least 6 months a year on state benefits (working cash in hand) and his declared income is lower than mine he gets ‘tax credits’.

    Give or take a few quid, all the tax I pay went straight in his pocket. Where did he used to spend this cash? Getting stoned! Did he vote Labour? You bet!

    He doesn’t have kids or anything, just makes sure as far as the revenue are concerned he earns as little as possible. He even explained to me that now you can have sickness benefit paid directly into your bank account, some people he knew would work 6 months, get tax credits, go on the sick and bugger off Thailand (where UK sickness benefit is a good wage to live on) for 6 months!

    He picked his things up and left (with his pregent girlfriend, yes he is bredding chaps) soon after a magistrates court bailiff came looking for some unpaid fines.

    ‘He can’t arrest me, he explained, so they can **** off, they’re getting nowt’

    I’d support a coupe d’etat to get rid of this lot, they are ruining the country. If only they hadn’t sent the army abroad!

  86. There is nothing new under the sun apparently: read what that waspish dwarf,(in body only),Alexander Pope wrote:

    Prophesy of pension theft???

    Pope, who died in the first half of the 18th century, although no Nostradamus, must, I believe, nonetheless have had the power of prophesy. He wrote what amounted to a vision of possible happenings in later centuries.
    Pope wrote:-
    “When we are young, we are slavishly employed in procuring something whereby we may live comfortably when we are old; and when we are old, we perceive it is too late to live as we proposed”.

    I would say that his prophesy was correct .

    Precisely what he prophesied came to pass when Prudence Brown , the New Labour Assyrian , descended, like a self satisfied , but nonetheless ravening, wolf on the ‘fold ‘, raiding pension funds, thereby depriving future pensioners of their savings by means of legalised theft.

    Conversely, it seems almost ironic , that those who do not save ,having gone through life , as it were, according to a ” carpe diem” concept, live in comparative comfort.

    Labour obviously live by the concept , ” carpe argentum”

  87. Before I (reluctantly) returned (more or less) full time to the UK, I spent an extended period in South Africa from where I am writing this right now (in a hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg). I probably spend about 20-40% of my time here now, in my twilight years, and take the super-taxi back to the UK every couple of months. I have to say that, over the past year or so, I have dreaded the inevitable return flight more and more as it draws ever closer. Unfortunately, the dreadful weather is the least of my concerns these days.

    But I digress. The point I wish to make, with reference to Simon L’s posting about his scrounging ex-flatmate, is that I believe in a welfare state; I believe that those with wealth, power and education have a responsibility and, more importantly, an obligation to assist those less fortunate through the difficult periods of their lives. That is, to assist people to get back on their feet when times are tough. This, contrary to popular opinion, is diametrically opposed to going out of one’s way to help them stay flat on the backs/arses in the pub by (basically) paying them to stay out of work!

    In South Africa, there is virtually no machinery for a ‘welfare state’. If you’re out of a job you are up the proverbial creek sans paddle. Everyone knows this, and consequently, in the event of retrenchment (redundancy) or unemployment it’s necessary, as they put it here, to “make a plan”.

    I met a guy yesterday afternoon working in a car park. He had a degree in mechanical engineering and 20 years experience in mining equipment design, however, the company he worked for had just been bought by some Chinese consortium which immediately kicked out all the incumbents. So, was he crying into his beer? No! He was working 18 hours a day watching people’s cars (because of the inordinate crime in SA) while they went shopping. He got paid about +/-20p per car. I reckon he might have pulled about 20 quid per day (on a good day). Was he complaining? Nope, just got on with it and spent what little free time he had writing job applications. I know there’s there’s a slight overlap here with Norm Tebbit’s (tawdry) bicycle homily, for which I apologise. My story has the advantage of being true.

    Conversely, an ex-employee of mine just e-mailed me to say that he’d quit his job (in Britain) and gone back on the dole because he had more spare cash when he was on benefit than when he worked full time. For interest’s sake I add that he worked as an administrator in a government department.

    Britain’s economy has moved almost entirely to agriculture and service industries. We don’t make anything anymore (because the Japs do it better and the Chinese/Indians do it cheaper). The only thing the British seem to do well these days is run up debt; speak English (I may be wrong) and sort out paperwork; a service we seem to be offering to the rest of the world to the exclusion of all else.

    I can only think of three words to describe this state of affairs: “imminent economic meltdown”. After the inevitable implosion, the Labour party will be free to dispel the last vestiges of democracy and introduce full blown Marxist Socialism unencumbered. After all, by then, Britain will resemble the communist Soviet Union by then far more than the Britain of memory.

  88. To some extent I agree with your comments about welfare Joe.

    But if you had lived with the three complete and utter wastes of space I have this year you’d feel more inclined to agree with Herbert Hoover about welfare.

    The way welfare is administered now encourgaes state dependancy, it does not encourage individuals to better themselves.

  89. I agree completely Steven, and if that isn’t the message my missive conveys I will need to rewrite it.

    My concept of welfare revolves entirely around assisting people who need help to get through a bad patch, not pandering to indolent slackers who can’t be bothered to make an effort and, regardless of how much assistance they receive, will simply ‘sponge’ it up with no nett benefit (no pun intended).

  90. Psimon said:“As the Welsh, Scots, and Irish ALL hate the English…”
    Steven L said: “I think you’re going a bit far saying all of the Scots and the Welsh hate us.”
    And nobody commented otherwise. 🙂

    But more to the point:
    Why has nobody mentioned that, under the Irish system of proportional representation, Blair would not be in government now? Surely it’s daft to have a party in power that got only 36% of the vote, and you’re all debating why people voted Labour??

  91. All this talk by labour of ‘boom and bust’ has made people afraid of inflation. I’d love to see some wage inflation myself. (Stephen L)

    I think it was Enoch Powell who declared that inflation was ‘a fraud upon society’ (or something to that effect). About that, at least, I agreed with him.

    Macarnie says we should be rewarding, among others, savers. And I am one of those savers. Partly because I am not particularly acquisitive, I have always managed to set a little aside for the proverbial ‘rainy day’, and when those rainy days have come, I’ve always fallen back on my savings, rather than look for a state handout. I’m actually eligible for a state handout at the moment, but I’m not taking it, because I don’t need it.

    But inflation makes nonsense of saving. As the value of money dwindles away, your pile of savings grows steadily more worthless. And so, save as I might, I’m always seeing my savings becoming slowly worthless.

    Our society is, it seems, made up more of borrowers than savers. And there’s a simple reason for this, which is that in inflationary times, it’s rather smart to borrow and spend money now, because you’ll only be required to repay it in worthless money in a few years time. So our credit card society depends on inflation, but it’s an inflation which destroys savings, and makes nonsense of saving.

  92. Can’t agree with you, when I was a kid under Thatcher and we had high inflation I got 14.5% on my Post Office savings account. My bank now? 0.1%, what a joke!

  93. Idlex : the rainy day you mentioned is not , (and indeed they plan it that way), an issue for those about whom I rant so often.
    This rather stark conclusion includes, amongst others , certain politicians , about whom we have already heard too much.
    Eat , drink and be merry, tomorrow is our retirement from the dole queue, we’ll be looked after by Nanny State.

  94. We only maintain a small team in the UK, most of our sites are overseas; we do have a few vacancies in SA and possibly one in Australia if you are genuinely interested.

    Getting a work/residency permit for the former is tricky and for the latter nigh on impossible.

    We do banking systems (and charge like wounded buffalos, so our customers tell me)

  95. Joe:

    Genuinely interested.

    Don’t want to put my contact details on here, but hopefully Melissa can put us in touch?

    Not hugely interested in Australia, but Africa has always felt like home (although, of the 10 countries i have spent time in on the Dark Continent, SA wasn’t one of them…)

    Melissa…can you pass my e-mail on to Joe? (Damned cheeky of me to ask, as i’m sure you are very busy! But if you don’t ask…!)


  96. JOe: Shockingly, we again disagree.

    Who saw THAT coming?

    And yet, as with your very first post, we also agree.

    Labour is completely America’s whore. Absolutely, in every way and to their very toenails. And the current American government, which is right-wing if it is anything, is the largest in history. More Americans are employed by the government to administer America than at any time in history.

    If you define lefty-ism as “living off the people” then the US is way deep into lefty-ism. And yes, absolutely, ever decision that the Blair government has made comes with the bald eagle stamp of approval.

    I don’t consider them leftys; I consider them opportunists.

  97. JOe: Shockingly, we again disagree.

    Who saw THAT coming?

    And yet, as with your very first post, we also agree.

    Labour is completely America’s whore. Absolutely, in every way and to their very toenails. And the current American government, which is right-wing if it is anything, is the largest in history. More Americans are employed by the government to administer America than at any time in history.

    If you define lefty-ism as “living off the people” then the US is way deep into lefty-ism. And yes, absolutely, every decision that the Blair government has made comes with the bald eagle stamp of approval.

    I don’t consider them leftys; I consider them opportunists.

  98. Delighted though I undoubtedly am regarding your disagreement raincoaster, I have to concede that I’m a bit blank on what you disagree with.

    I define “lefty-ism” as socialism and this should not be confused with the tree-hugging community.

    I heard someone comment the other day that “Not all Moslems are terrorists, but all terrorists are Moslem.” I would say, not all lefties are tree-huggers but all tree-huggers are lefties. By the way, before I am corrected, Prince Charles doesn’t hug trees he talks to them.]

    All governments are, by their very nature, parasitic; a necessary evil until humanity at large grows up and stops subcontracting its responsibilities to vague metaphysical forces. I don’t associate “living off the people” as a unique characteristic of left-wing governments, they all do it to a greater or lesser extent (I’m intrigued to know why “living off the people” is in quotes, by the way, because I didn’t say it).

    What I do associate with left wing governments is a weakness in dealing with (dare I say it) the scummier exponents of our society (the scroungers and the indolent) because, it appears, that it’s this group that provides the backbone of Labour’s support. Heaven forefend that they tell these scamps to get off their ring-pieces and get on with some honest toil, they might not get elected again!

    I’m not as right wing as Boris. I believe that making everything based on supply and demand is ultimately dangerous because of criminal psychopaths such as Milken and other piranhas of his ilk. I do believe commerce, industry and entrepreneurs deserve as much support as the government can reasonably give because these institutions create wealth and (for better or worse) money is the only tool by which one can build schools, hospitals, public transport systems and utilities.

    As I hope I’ve made abundantly clear, I firmly believe that there is an obligation to assist people who are out of work. This shouldn’t ever be confused with people who do not want to work. I also believe that the future of Britain lies with well educated (and well disciplined) school children. Whilst I’m not an advocate of bringing back the birch, I don’t think there is anything wrong at all with corporal punishment in schools (providing it isn’t administered by the same set of sadists who set about me on a number of occasions). Labour, it seems, has done everything in its power to create a generation of the most unruly thugs since the last Viking incursions into East Anglia.

    I don’t have a problem with immigrants, they add life, interest and colour to a bland society. I have an enormous problem with multi-culturalism because it leads to a ghetto mentality which invariably engenders fear and distrust in the rest of the community. Again, Labour seems to wholeheartedly support this blight.

    These are the problems I associate with ‘lefties’. One of the fundamental things the Conservative Party needs to address in forthcoming elections in this country is the eradication of the concept that Labour represents a caring society and Conservatives are a bunch of money grabbing, self-centred elitists.

    It’s the other way around.

  99. Ah, Joe, you will be distraught to hear that we are as of one mind. The indolent, the welfare mindset-throngs, are the LEAST LIKELY to vote, and so they are the most ****-over-able of any group of voters. And this has not gone unnoticed by Labour. I put it to you that Labour has seen this, has taken advantage of this, and is moving forward in the knowledge that none of these people will do a goddam thing about it.

    Back in the sixties the French government commissioned a study. They were worried that having an extremely educated, yet under- or un-employed class would cause instability. What they found, instead, was that the state of unemployment itself caused apathy and depression so that the unemployed could not be effectively mobilized.

  100. Psi

    Have linked you up with great pleasure and with great reference too! Let me know how it goes

  101. the scummier exponents of our society (the scroungers and the indolent) because, it appears, that it’s this group that provides the backbone of Labour’s support. Heaven forefend that they tell these scamps to get off their ring-pieces and get on with some honest toil, they might not get elected again! (Joe M)

    You and the Ancient Submariner are clearly of one mind on this. Set them to work!!! Make them Do Something!!

    I’d like to put in a good word for the scroungers and slackers of the world. They at least are the minimal contributors to the global warming which is, in part, due to our feverishly hyper-active society, in which everybody must work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, doing some pointless job simply to justify their existence.

    I leave you with this quote:

      We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980s jobs in their cars and buses, spending trillions of dollars’ worth of petroleum daily to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn’t take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home.
      (Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path 1982)

    If I read that right, it’s a call to pay people to stay at home, which is all that these scroungers and slackers are doing.

  102. It doesn’t take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home. (Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path 1982)

    This is interesting ; not so much for what it says ; rather for what it does not say.
    The people about whom this was written went to work in cars, and bought petroleum products with which to power them. Not the description of the layabout parasites about which, almost daily , there are horror stories in the press.

    The ones in the quote, exhorted to stay at home for the sake of the planet, would, in this electronic age, more than likely be able to work from home , especially since the decline of the British manufacturing industries.

    If not , from which fabled source are the trillions of dollars to be garnered? I stopped believing in the money tree at the same time as I stopped believing in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.

    Like someone said; the inevitables of this world are death and taxes.

  103. Now that this thread no longer has any subject, I do believe that it is what is called an ‘open thread’, and you can post whatever the heck you feel like posting.

    Not that the subject has ever deterred us anyway.

  104. Well this is so off-topic, it’s off-continent.

    The Canadian Tory government has just abolished the policy whereby the flag was lowered on the Peace Tower to mark the deaths of Canadian soldiers overseas.

    They appear to have done this solely to differentiate themselves from the previous Liberal government.

    I’m not exactly sure what specific language is permissible on the site, so I am just going to confine my remarks here to those above. I have been wordier elsewhere.

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