Appointing a new Researcher


Talking about their generation: Britain’s golden youth

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

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

This article appears in this week’s Spectator magazine.

As they prattled happily away, I sank lower in my armchair; and I reflected, not for the first time, on the amazing thing about the younger generation. It is not just that they are gifted. They just seem so balanced, so well-adjusted, so full of emotional tranquillity, when by rights they should be full of the opposite. These are Maggie’s children. They were born in the 1980s, and according to the think-tanks they should be seething with neuroses and resentment. Think of the burdens they face: student debts averaging £13,000; risible pensions; a housing market as forbidding as the north face of the Eiger; the prospect of coughing up till kingdom come for Gordon Brown’s PFI schemes; and the appalling task of paying for us 1960s baby boomers in our senility. According to a fascinating new pamphlet from Policy Exchange, ‘2056: What Future for Maggie’s Children?’, they are the most put-upon generation since the war; and yet they somehow radiate — how can I describe it? — a deep inner pleasantness. Does anyone know what I mean?

Even allowing for the exaggerations of the CV-packer, they seem to do good works on a scale unimaginable by my generation. They have manned suicide helplines and been out on cancer pilgrimages and fought against rabies in South Africa. They have been Oxfam festival stewards and worked with underprivileged and vulnerable children aged 11-16 in Streatham and Brixton, and almost every one of them has done something unheard-of in my day: they have gone to the poorer parts of our cities and evangelised about the benefits of a university education. They just seem so much nicer than we were, so much more feng shui.

In a desperate effort to sort them out, I asked them to do a 500-word essay on the Taj Mahal. We had some tidy pieces, but with none of the arsiness you’d expect from my generation, nothing sarky or me-me-me. No one pointed out, for instance, what a depressing comment it was on Hindu civilisation that its leading monument should be a Muslim tomb, and no one mentioned the unpalatable fact that the emblem of India had been designed by an Italian. Was it perhaps that they didn’t want to be needlessly offensive?

Now we must be honest about the scope of this article; when we talk about ‘young people’ I mean here middle-class university graduates, though there are obviously far more of them than there were; and when I talk about my generation I mean the bunch who graduated about 20 years ago, and what a sharp-elbowed, thrusting and basically repellent lot we were. We were always bragging or shafting each other, and in a way we still are, with our pompous memoirs and calculated indiscretions. When Toby Young began an article in Cherwell with the words, ‘I work harder and achieve more than anyone else I know’, we all chortled in approval of this ghastly ethic. But would any 20-year-old be quite so brazen today? On one side of the political divide we had Thatcherites, voluble or silent. When Gordon Gekko said ‘Greed is good’, we did not exactly cheer, but we smirked. When Tebbo said ‘On your bike’, we thought, yah, he had a bloody good point. When Ronald Reagan said the Soviet Union was an ‘Evil Empire’ we thought the language a bit strong but the analysis broadly sound; and though we were a bit sad for the miners, we thought they were cruelly abused and deluded by their leadership.

On the other side of the argument there was a symmetrical sense of engagement. Some of our girlfriends even went to Greenham Common or held hands outside South Africa House, and two decades later I know a prosperous barrister who still goes ‘oink, oink, oink’ and hisses ‘piggies’ whenever she sees the police. When poor Keith Joseph made his doomed attempt to reform university finance in 1984, he was so pelted with eggs that he backed off. What’s happened to today’s student body? Why don’t they pelt Labour ministers with eggs? They introduced top-up fees, for heaven’s sake. Just imagine the reaction if the scenes from today’s Iraq had been beamed into the JCRs of Thatcher’s Britain. How would 1980s students have behaved if Margaret Thatcher had been co-responsible for a war in which anything between 58,000 and 655,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed? It is true that large numbers initially turned out to protest against the war; but those protesters were not noticeably in the first flush of youth, and more people turned out to object to the closure of rural post offices.

Where is the anger? It’s all iPods and jeans around yer hips and chill, man. We had rock stars called Sid Vicious and people who bit the heads off pigeons and electrocuted their girlfriends in the bath. Nowadays we’ve got the beany-hatted James Blunt, pouring his genius treacle into our ears. He’s brilliant, but he’s not exactly a rebel, is he? My generation spawned loads of tub-thumping right-wing journalists, and we are all still at it, fizzing and puttering away. But where are their equivalents today? Where is the new Charles Moore, Noel Malcolm, Simon Heffer, Matthew d’Ancona, Andrew Roberts, Niall Ferguson, et al? That tree has stopped fruiting, which may or may not be deemed a mercy. But it is certainly a change.

The ethic of young people has changed, and in one sense the reason is obvious. The big divide has gone from politics. When I was growing up there were two opposing world views, colliding like mastodons. It was free market capitalism versus state socialism, and the threat from Russian nukes seemed real, and the danger of Labour’s 98 per cent taxes seemed real. A lot of that interest and drama has gone, clearly; and yet I can’t persuade myself that this wholly accounts for the zen-like passivity of the young.

One friend who agrees with my observation says that the boys in particular have become less angular, while the girls are more pushy. ‘It’s all about “What can you do for me?” and storing my number in their mobiles,’ he says, and that prompts the thought that it may be connected with the general feminisation of society, which starts with the overwhelming feminine influence in schools. The number of male teachers in secondary schools fell by 50 per cent between 1981 and 2001 and the ratio of female to male teachers in primary schools is now about seven to one. Could that have anything to do with it? Children are more mollycoddled, airbagged, booster-seated, risk-averse and deprived of male role models than they were, and that is a bad thing. But they also tend to respond to others in a way that is more intuitive and emotionally intelligent. Might that not be a good thing?

When I was at Oxford, there were 36.7 per cent women, whereas they now make up more than half the undergraduates; and women comprise a sensational 59.2 per cent of the national student body. That is a huge social revolution, and one can imagine the consequences for male psychology. The greatest competition of life has become appreciably easier for the modern male undergraduate: no wonder he sometimes has a languid air. Maybe the ubiquity of women accounts not just for the men’s greater tact and sensitivity, but also for all those funny string bracelets they seem to wear.

Or maybe, frankly, there is a much simpler explanation for the kindness and goodness of the twentysomethings. Maybe things aren’t really so bad for Maggie’s children, and maybe the reason for this temperamental difference between the generations is that we had more of a fight on our hands. Never forget that 1964, the year of my birth, was the year British motherhood punched out a record 875,972 babies, a feat of fecundity never equalled before or since, compared with a feeble 636,818 in 1984. There were far more of us thrashing and boiling around in pursuit of far fewer jobs — and no wonder our elbows were that little bit sharper. OK, so we had student grants, and free tuition, but then these guys and girls in their twenties have so much that is wonderful in their lives. They have gizmos that enable them to lead a fantastically rich social life. With a few little taps they can communicate with all their friends in a way that is instant and personal and witty and above all emotionally literate. Wherever they go they are cocooned in a little electronic womb of comfort and support. They just have to send out a few texts, wait, and sure enough, back they come, the little pipette drops of external affirmation, xxx, landing on their parched tongues and helping them get through the day.

They can travel so much more easily and cheaply; the food is so much better. There are coffee bars everywhere. The cars are faster and safer. No wonder they feel able to ‘lead with their values’, as it says on the tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, when the ice cream is so delicious and so relatively cheap and there is so much good TV to watch it with. And even if, in spite of all these advantages, they are plagued by some hang-up or perversion, they can always gratify it quietly on the internet.

Most important of all, they have no trouble getting a job. Of course, it was painful not being able to hire all the candidates for the researcher post. But then we have almost full employment in this country, and they will all go on to do fantastic things in this vibrant, low-inflation economy. And whom do they have to thank for that? Well, whatever the problems of Maggie’s children, and whatever the unpleasant stereotypes they may have seen in Billy Elliot, the truth is that they are very largely the beneficiaries of reforms that were put in place 20 years ago by Margaret Thatcher, and which promoted high technology, entrepreneurship and sound money.
Of course the 1980s were in many ways a nasty experience, but if it hadn’t been so nasty, Maggie’s children wouldn’t have turned out so nice. If these really are Maggie’s children, then she can’t have been such a bad little mother after all.

146 thoughts on “Appointing a new Researcher”

  1. Excellent article. I just disagree with one thing:

    “there is so much good TV to watch it [Ben & Jerry’s] with”

    Has anyone else seen this good TV? The BBC and ITV are pretty bereft of it… “Dumbing down” seems to be the phrase the media rather over use in reference to this state of affairs.

    But this is one small hair-splitting point. As I said above – excellent article.

  2. ‘They are very largely the beneficiaries of reforms that were put in place 20 years ago by Margaret Thatcher’

    Yeah. Like the Council Tax.

    Or deregulating the financial markets so that (after a brief fluster of populist share ownership) the very rich were free to continue amassing great and largely offshore wealth at a rate not seen since the 19th century.

    Or the use of ‘information’ technology by a financial sector that is now utterly incapable of making a decision about a customer without reference to two or three privately owned and incompetently managed agencies that deal in raw information and not sound judgement.

    Or the destruction of a perfectly sound (if a little costly) mining industry for her own selfish ideological ends, thus leaving ‘her’ children in grave danger of long-term dependency on gas pipelines from scarily unstable parts of the world.

    Or her patronising and largely useless attempts to reform ‘those inner cities'(they’re still there).

    Or her enthusiastic conversion of the UK economy from one based on manufacture to one based on service, said services now being rapidly outsourced to places in the world who can do it cheaper.

    The technology would have happened anyway. Most of it comes from the Far East and California, in case you hadn’t noticed. Or are we talking about that appalling plastic vacuum cleaner here?

    As for sound money, I’d remind you that one of Thatcher’s most enduring legacies (via deregulation and entrepeneurship) is a personal debt mountain of over a trillion pounds.

    I’m also appalled at your appropriation of today’s 20-somethings as being ‘Maggie’s Children’, presumably by some trick of political astrology. My experience has taught me that young people are most influenced by what’s going on around them when they first break free of their parents’ influence – from around 14 years old onwards. That makes ‘Thatcher’s Children’ around 35 by my reckoning – exactly the age group that is constantly paraded on our TV screens every night seeking easy money through ‘investment’ in property rather than actually doing something productive for a living.

    Apologies, Boris, for starting to repeat myself, post after post. Much of what you say makes sense, but you have GOT to stop looking at that woman through rose-coloured glasses.

    Please note I got through all the above without mentioning the Belgrano.


  3. Bit ranty Mark but I agree with this:

    “Or the use of ‘information’ technology by a financial sector that is now utterly incapable of making a decision about a customer without reference to two or three privately owned and incompetently managed agencies that deal in raw information and not sound judgement.”

    The Belgrano needed sinking. That’s war.

  4. Kids These Days

    If we ever met, I’m sure that Boris Johnson and I would have plenty of ideological differences. But I have…

  5. Beg pardon, Anon. I try to rant only when I’m angry.

    Also beg pardon re my statistics. Personal debt in the UK is now one and a quarter trillion, and rising by a million EVERY FOUR MINUTES.

    Let’s hear it for the gay entrepeneurs, eh? And the wonders that have come to pass since the brakes were taken off the financial markets.

    We can debate till kingdom come over whether we should have fought the Falklands War in the first place. There are good arguments on both sides. But sorry – the Belgrano did not need sinking. For the umpteenth time: it was NOT in the exclusion zone; and it was clearly SAILING THE OTHER WAY.

    She sunk it as a show of strength. Nothing more. A bit like the miners, now I come to think of it.

    We’ll get back to the banks some other time. That’s a subject so vast it probably deserves several websites of its own.

  6. This is an extremely interesting article, and written with relaxed brilliance. Personally, I have only been acquainted with, Telegraph “Borisian”, and I see that he benefits greatly from the space to develop subtler points.
    There is a nice acid under taste to the paragraph on the Taj Mahal, hinting that political correctness has dulled the intellect and that ,these people are, to put it bluntly, a sad collection of dull creeps. Of the many issues that spit out from the Catherine Wheel that is the mighty BJ brain, as manifested here, this is the one I want to comment on…

    What option do they have? They have huge middleclass minimum standards to acquire ,and might be called the “horizontally mobile” generation. House prices exacerbated by loans and taxes make this route towards respectability a perilous journey, and they will naturally cling to the cliff side of the path..The great gulf between those, snugly tucked into the bourgeois media ,and the Hornbyesque moochers has widened .The perverse effect of all this is those within it have become exceedingly bad at what they do.

    No doubt Boris expects us, for ourselves, to smirk at the supposed, “kindness and goodness”, of a desperate salesperson, I certainly did. These smarmy conformists infest every area of our public and media life, partly because it is so awfully respectable nowadays.

    The results are many. Risibly on-message politicians, who are seldom wrong but never right .Chatty scribblers who talk only to each other while the mainstream media boat sinks. A wearying uniformity of style so entirely un Boris that he scarcely needs to illustrate what a boring experience it was.

    Having started to read the book, he so very kindly signed, it reminds me of a certain young blond chap nodding of at a Management Consultancy teach in, years ago. How apt; management consultancy minds have darkened the world, and only sparks of genius like myself are left to light the way .

    Thank god for me (and for Boris)

    PS Sorry I didn`t know there were other posts. I like this Mark Gamon . Entertainingly wrong from start to finish. The Belgrano may have been unlucky, it was a tight offside decision but as with Henri, if you play on the last man’s shoulder you are going to get “blown up” on occasion.

  7. newmania, I had developed a newfound respect for you right up until the last paragraph. Put the metaphor down and back away slowly; the rest was good.

  8. So who did you actually hire? Can we see the essay?

    The one with the big tits RAINCOASTER.Essay incidental.

    ummm Mel trouble?

  9. Newmania – I wish I hadn’t mentioned the Belgrano now. It’s a red herring, on which none of us will ever agree. Let’s drop the subject.

    Thanks for your assessment of my post as entertaining. But if you do indeed think it’s wrong from start to finish you’re going to have to come up with some arguments to back it up. I’d LOVE to know what the Holy Thatcher actually did do for this country. So many people seem to think her contribution substantial, and yet all I can see is the destruction and damage left in her wake.

  10. RAIN COASTER- These brief dalliances are sometimes the most profound. It was a snowflake and its glittering moment of painful beauty is past . I will think on it . always ….always .

    ( Almost as brief was the Labour Party’s idea to screw up religious schools . Seven days and gone .Have you seen what Cameron is saying about the IRA.?)

    ( Oh and RAINCOASTER its a British thing called smut which you wouldn’t understand ; but also a very very old joke so best forgotten)

    Gammon :Yes sorry about that. Busy, will get back to you .

  11. Newmania – Mel is not trouble, Mel is professional. I’m sure we can all be professional given the circumstances, and yes jaq can be professional. But I like a bit of variety and those people who can let their hair down from time to time and not just wear the same expression whatever the circumstances. I’ll leave it to your imagination how Mel looks when she’s letting her hair down, in the right circumstances obviously. I think Boris would only cherish ‘trouble’ like that. Boris seems to have a good eye for the useful and beautiful.

  12. A superb read, Boris, closely followed by Newmania’s delicious “Of the many issues that spit out from the Catherine Wheel that is the mighty BJ brain…”. Thank you both.

    But I think this particular wheel’s beaten zone extends too far. The people you have been interviewing are an exception, quite atypical of the millions of twentysomethings who have emerged from school or college virtually unable to think, let alone write.

    I too have just done a round of interviews and was horrified by the 20 or so candidates we saw. Nice line in sharp suits, spikey hair and aftershave but not one with any depth of thought or satisfactory writing skills. I lie; there was one who could write properly (and by that I mean straightforward English with all the tiddlies in the right places) but she was a puddin’. The rest looked more like a .txt generation than a Maggie generation.

    A researcher for Boris Johnson is naturally going to attract some of the brightest and best, probably a high proportion benefitting from a private education (nowt wrong with that), top university and supportive families.

    The rest are not so lucky. I neither blame nor thank Maggie for their condition, or for the excellence of those in your interview room. The responsibility for this criminal waste of potential talent lies with the education policies of the last 20 years, which only now the self-righteous and all-knowing educational establishment is beginning to accept may have been slightly flawed.

  13. Dear Boris,

    Here is a seven word essay on the Taj Mahal: every latent discourse ends with a truth. I mislike having the current generation described as Thatcher’s ‘children’- they would rather be Thatcher’s ‘babies’. Those born in the seventies would be much more reasonably called Thatcher kids. Is is surprising that the babes have no politics, when there is so little conflict or debate at the highest level of British democracy? While the post-Empire generation had to suffer immigration and decimalisation and Europe and ungovernable Britain, from the eighties onwards one long government has succeeded another, gaining a greater police grip on the country at the expense of democracy, while our parties rival one another only for custody of the truncheon. Televising the House has reduced it to ‘vaudeville and rubber stamp’, populated by the clone ‘phonics coalition’. I doubt the current party leaders have the ability to restore the Commons to the health of the Thatcher era even if they wished to. How many of the current MPs could even make a speech?

    There’s another aspect to the absence of political conflict. Wilson and Heath may be seen as poor leaders, but they coped with both the oil shock and the Cold War, at a time when the danger of a nuclear exchange was the foremost threat to this country’s security. Blair is not only internationally reckless, with a policy on terrorism that is the equivalent of Steve Irwin’s approach to the study of nature, but has refused to face the danger of environmental degradation. If Macmillan spoke for Europe over Cuba, Blair is silent on Iraq and global warming. Pensions are only one threat to the lifestyle of the languid, protest-free generation- what are they going to do about the car?

    Art at its finest is a cathartic experience, which helps to realise anger. Boris, where is the good TV? Where are the equivalents of ‘Writing on the Wall’ or ‘Edge of Darkness’? Duncan Campbell’s series on secret government? Are there no new political satirists? When the Vietnam War was at its height, journalists sent televised reports every day that have only been matched by the recent YouTube videos made by military personnel- presumably out of frustration at the stock ’embedded’ rubbish produced by the media. Art in Blairite Britain is little more than a ‘movement’ constructing giant police gadgets to surround a Labour conference centre disguised as an opera house. It could be called ‘Blairite Realism’. The ideal is to create “Jackie Milburn told Tony all about Saddam’s weapons when they stowed away together to the Bermuda Triangle”, in plastic sheeting and reused art deco buildings.

    Lastly, to blame all of this on careerist women is hardly honourable. Girls are faithful, simple and gentle, as Marcus Aurelius stated of his wife. There’s nothing basically wrong with consumerist post-democracy, after all.

    ‘If he does really think there is no distinction between virtue and vice, why Sir, when he leaves our houses let us count our spoons.’

    Best wishes,


  14. clone ‘phonics coalition’.
    Anecdota . Could you explain what you mean by this ?
    I don`t , by the way, think that televising the H.O.C. is especially to blame, but anyway , Phonics. Do you mean bites of sound?

  15. I’m sorry I was trying to say that I’m sure Boris appreciates Mel but it seems that I need a nap real bad. Wake me up when half term is over?

    Anecdota said “Girls are faithful, simple and gentle” well that’s my excuse. night night.

  16. By the way, Newmania, I’m still recruiting for a whipper-in and Master of the Beagles if you’re interested.

  17. What Mark said.

    Plus, not that that particular lily requires any further ornamentation, Boris you can be such a silly bugger at times.

    As a treehugging, yoghourtknitting, flowerwearing, pinko commie puff I would like to place on record that I would put aside my pacifist convictions of over 50 years to have 10 minutes alone with Maggie and a baseball bat.
    Trouble is the old cow would probably win.

  18. PaulD said:

    By the way, Newmania, I’m still recruiting for a whipper-in and Master of the Beagles if you’re interested.

    I wouldn’t risk it, PaulD, he’d probably turn the beagles into a fry up.

    ‘a private education (nowt wrong with that), top university and supportive families.’ (PaulD)

    I can see an obvious flaw in this, one of my ex-husbands had a private education yet his mother used to hit him over the head with a frying pan, hardly supportive.

  19. If Macmillan spoke for Europe over Cuba, Blair is silent on Iraq and global warming. (anecdota)

    After listening to some NuLab clone intoning on Question Time last night that global warming was the greatest threat that we faced over the next 20 years, I could almost feel the scepticism flood through me, as I began to construct counter-arguments.

    The first argument was that we live in an age of mendacious authority – e.g. a government that lied us into war in Iraq, and a medical establishment that lied us into banning smoking in public places -, and we should no longer trust such authorities. Furthermore these mendacious authorities regularly set out to scare us into hasty action – usually involving some curtailment of our freedom – in the face of some newly discovered but actually non-existent threat (WMDs, passive smoking). We may ask whether those claiming that global warming is a looming threat seek to curtail our freedoms in some way. To which the answer is: yes, they do. They seem to have decided that we shouldn’t fly by jet to foreign holidays.

    Apart from scare-mongering in order to curtail our freedoms, a second characteristic of mendacious authority is that it usually bases its conclusions on some pseudo-science or other. Climate ‘science’ is at very least an infant science, and our meteorologists can’t yet accurately forecast what the weather will be like in 10 days time, never mind 10 years. If there is a consensus among such ‘scientists’ about the threat of global warming, one has to ask how they have managed to reach a consensus view at all, given the number of unknowns with which they are dealing.

    A third characteristic of mendacious authority is that it manufactures a consensus of ‘expert’ opinion along some party line, which is duly pumped out by newspapers like the Independent (sic). A month or two back, I read a report that some scientists believe that the Earth’s climate tends to oscillate between hot and cold states, and that it entered a ‘cold’ state in 1941 (to the surprise of Hitler’s army at the gates of Moscow), and returned to a ‘hot’ state in 1976. At the other extreme, no less a figure than James Lovelock, author of the Gaia hypothesis, has recently declared that global warming was now so far advanced that there was nothing we could do about it anyway. Do these dissenting views receive wide publicity? No, they don’t. In this manner a manufactured consensus of expert opinion is maintained and disseminated.

    So, I argue that the actions of advocates of global warming demonstrate all the hallmarks of mendacious authority:

      1) The discovery by some authority of a plausible but spurious imminent threat.

      2) The advocacy of a response of immediate drastic action which curtails ordinary freedoms.

      3) The threat assessment and the proposed response are based on either a poorly developed science or intelligence, or upon pseudo-science.

      4) Dissenting opinions are suppressed in order to manufacture a spurious expert consensus.

    One doesn’t need to know anything about climate science. All one needs note is the manner in which the threat of global warming is being disseminated as the established consensus view of reputable and authoritative scientists, and the restrictions upon our freedoms they propose. And then one need only note the similarities with Tony Blair and all his authoritative dossiers on Iraq’s imminent but non-existent WMD threat, with all dissent (e.g. David Kelly) suppressed and vilified.

    If something walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck.

    We should be able to recognise these ducks when we see them coming. And the threat of global warming is most likely as non-existent as that of Saddam’s WMDs or that of passive smoking.

  20. Vicus, Maggie wouldn’t beat you up herself: she’d either send a bunch of youngsters to do it or she’d get her son to hire a bunch of mercenaries to shoot at you from a Cobra.

  21. one of my ex-husbands had a private education yet his mother used to hit him over the head with a frying pan…(Flo)

    So that’s two private educations then.

    If you don’t mind me saying so, Flo, you seem to get through a lot of husbands.

  22. idex, a great post.

    You may already be familiar with the 14 defining characteristics of Fascism (I’ve probably posted them here more than once) but here they are again; you can just watch the news and tick them off one by one:

    Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

    3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

    4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread
    domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

    5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

    6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

    9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

    12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

    13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

    14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

  23. A good analysis, Idlex.

    To which I would add the driving force behind the actions of all too many politicians and academics: An insatiable urge to throw their weight about and a need to justify their existence by looking busy. The effect cannot be overstated.

    Our “democracy” has become a system of governance by people – administrative and political – with too much power and a dangerously overblown sense of infallibility. All the more reason for having a second chamber with real teeth.

  24. PaulD said:

    Flo, you seem to get through a lot of husbands.

    That depends on how you define ‘a lot of husbands’ – or wives – PaulD. Those who believe that divorce is morally wrong might view even one ex-husband (or ex-wife) as a lot, or too many.
    I have two ex-husbands and don’t view that as a lot. How many ex-husbands or ex-wives, do you regard as ‘a lot’?

  25. i think the reason why young people today have so much in their cv’s is at least partly due to pushy parents and schools.
    Schools and universities arrange voluntary work for students so that the students have full cvs and the competitive edge. At my university and schools most people who did voluntary work both here and abroad did so to improve their cv not to help others.
    Many parents today are pushing their children into extracuricula activities because they feel it will improve their childs chances later in life. It is not uncommon to see young children being carted off for music lessons one day, sports the next, language classes the next etc. The result I think is not a generation of well rounded individuals, but a generation of spin who have great cv’s, but who lack passion for anything other than collecting achievments for their cv.

  26. Have you heard of Aleksy Vayner, posterboy for CV-stuffing overachievers? It’s just too bad the charity he “founded” is non-existent, his book on the Holocaust was plagiarized, and he used a body double for some of his video resume sport sections.

    I’m sure the applicants for Boris’ research job were honest, but it’ so very entertaining to see what people will do to compete in the Bright Young Thing category. This guy makes Lucy Gao look like a shrinking violet.

  27. Dear Boris,

    I have asked my left-wing friends whether it was necessary or advisable to explain the meaning of the term ‘clone phonics coalition’ to you. The reply was ‘We haven’t any spoons, and neither have you. Leave Conservative politics to them as have.’ I’ve moderated the language. The term has its origin in the support Cameron gave to Blair’s 2005 education legislation, preventing a damaging government defeat. Cameron decided that it was tolerable to require schools to teach English using ‘synthetic phonics’. A good example of pseudo-science is the difference in competence in English produced by the teaching of synthetic and analytic phonics – a difference that may produce immediate gains at an early age while not revealing its drawbacks until much later. However, on the surface the dispute is over whether government has any business prescribing methods of teaching to schools in this sort of detail. The deeper reason for this manoeuvre has much more to do with cameras in the Commons, the Blair modifications to the legal system and the imminent transfer of Labour power to Brown. When the Commons begins to legislate on primary school education as a simple expression of factional tactics and ‘bite’, there is an enhanced need for a powerful second chamber to intervene to stop them. We are unlikely to get such a second chamber from Blair, Brown or Cameron. I might add that the term ‘clone’ has become much more prevalent when discussing MPs since the introduction of cameras to the Commons. Trust Baldwin.

    Marx observed that the modern world was pregnant with its contrary, and that ‘all that is solid melts into air’. There is obviously a need to reassure critics of global warming. Though photographs have doubtless been retained of the crowds at the demonstrations against clean air legislation and the Thames Barrier, even if there should be major damage to the ice sheets at either of the poles, the organisers will not be confined to their homes during the hours of darkness, nor deprived of access to the media, for their own safety. Unless the situation changes with the introduction of ‘Blunkett’s children’ ID cards, that is. Though to equate the threat to civil liberties from spurious anti-terror legislation with the threat to cheap Mediterranean charter flights from global warming may seem mischievous, authoritarian government affects us all. I am surprised, however, that a Labour spokesperson would do much more than mouth platitudes about the environment, since the ‘march on the motorway’ and the compromise on fuel tax increases. Incidentally, have any prominent skeptical scientists been hounded to death by the world media, using the threat to expose their religious cult activity as a front for an affair with an intelligence agent?

    The destruction of the commons is not the only Carmagnole in town. Slaughter Forum is far more concerned with the evil ‘Robinocracy’ scam, the latest unravelling of which was the Lord Chief Justice and his secret community service. Though it was perhaps a relief to him to get the wig off for a while, it would be difficult to credit his stated motives without resorting to a bland belief in the utterances of any political figure from any of the parties, not something that the forum is noted for.

    The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
    And God fulfills Himself in many ways,
    Lest one good custom should corrupt the world

    Best wishes,


  28. actually, thinking about it, in my essay I did make a comment on the irony of the Taj Mahal being a muslim tomb.

  29. Boris your article is genius, but you’re still looking in the wrong direction.

    Being 20 years old, I would probably lump myself in with those other young people you mention. And as an Oxford student, educated at private school, hailing from a supportive family and having worked with those 11-16s that you mention for a year, I might even count myself among the group you’re talking about. I’m also one of the most politically interested people I know my age, and the only one I know who’s a member of a political party.

    The problem however is that politics is now completely irrelevant to most of us. You highlight one of the main causes for disenchantment, the lack of any distinction between the main parties (which I have been loathe to admit for years, but must now concede is true), however that’s not all. The Iraq war was a turning point, when we finally realised that we have no influence on politics whatsoever. With millions marching and polls showing over 70% opposed to the war, the government still went against us. Short of a revolution it’s hard to imagine a clearer sign of opinion from the population than that. But more importantly than that, these decisions have no impact on us.

    I despise many of the measures Tony Blair has brought in, particularly those impacting on civil liberties, but in reality they have no impact on me. I think the war in Iraq is a disaster, but it has no impact on me (I know no soldiers, and neither does anyone else I know, let alone any Iraqis; and while it is a disaster, millions of other people are dying in the world constantly). The more intangibles may have more of an impact, health, education, the economy, etc. But ‘everyone knows’ that they will carry on in approximately the same way no matter who is in power.

    Oh and Top-up fees? Who cares? Isn’t it right that I should pay something towards my education? Don’t we want our universities to compete internationally? We get an interest-free loan for them anyway.

    As has been pointed out, we should not be called Maggie’s children because most of us were too young to remember anything of what she was doing. We would be more properly called Tony’s children, but in fact it’s that which misses the point. We’re not children of Maggie, Tony, or any other politician. We’re iPod children, technology junkies – raised by mobile phones, mp3 players, computer games, TV and the internet in all classes of society. I was working with some of the poorer children in North London from a local sink-school, and they had lives which included fairly regular violence, drugs and mugging, with some gang and knife activity thrown in sometimes too. And yet every one of them had a phone and TV, usually an mp3 player, and the internet and computer games at a friend’s house.

    In fact, if Tony Blair was assassinated, I know a lot of people who wouldn’t really care (I suggest at this point that you remind yourself of the fact that most of the people I know are likewise public school educated and at/from Oxbridge/Russell Group universities!). They wouldn’t actually mind that much if Parliament was the subject of a terrorist attack and suspended for a while, or if Britain was the subject of a military coup. If the internet crashed and was offline for a fortnight… then they would care. Likewise if the mobile phone or TV network was down for a week.

    This actually is something that David Cameron does understand, and is doing a passable job of trying to exploit.

    Politics has no impact on our lives, not any that people are aware of anyway, and so why should we care? Most young people can go months without thinking once about politics, and there are plenty who could not name the Prime Minister (though admittedly most know of George Bush). It’s yet another British institution for intellectuals to establish their place in the pecking order, and we’ll let them have their squabbles while we get on with our lives.

  30. Thank you PaulD for saying:

    The people you have been interviewing are an exception, quite atypical of the millions of twentysomethings who have emerged from school or college virtually unable to think, let alone write.
    A researcher for Boris Johnson is naturally going to attract some of the brightest and best, probably a high proportion benefitting from a private education (nowt wrong with that), top university and supportive families.

    That was going to be my point exactly. I love the Boris but the resounding upper-class naivity of this article is a bit unsettling.

  31. I was born in 1980, so I guess that makes me one of ‘Maggie’s children’ and indeed I am ‘seething with neuroses and resentment’ about having to cough up for all you old codgers for the next 40 years.

    I’m cranky about being banned from smoking, and this week I’m cranky about Patricia Hewitt wanting to increase the tax on my beer because a few young deliquents can’t handle their liquor.


  32. Raincoaster
    No sadly I did not win, but I did get to do a weeks work experience which was really great though.

  33. Ok, I am completly changing the subject now, which I know is obnoxious, but i am really fuming and have nowhere else to vent so I hope I will be forgiven.
    The lovely, oh-so-enlightened BBC have just been hosting a debate as to whether women should cover up more. I am sorry (actually I am not in the least sorry), but it is disgraceful that that should be up for discussion. If it was “should people cover up more” I might have more sympathy, but by just saying women they are basicly saying “should women have the same rights as men”. This is giving support to people, such as that Australian preacher, who incite hatred against woman.
    Incidently I have heard that this preacher was refering to a specific case when he said “and then you have some unmerciful judge who gives you sixty-five years”. Apparently (and do not quote me on this)this was a reference to the sentance that was given to a group of muslim men who gang raped australian women (who they refered to as pigs and pieces of meat).
    OK vent over, thank you all for your patience!

  34. Oh come on, the other side has a TINY bit of a case too. I’m not in anyway justifying it, but it’s clearly a problem for men that should be discussed. Sexual impulses aren’t the only thing men suffer from, violent ones are there too, and do you think it’s wise to sit poking some guy (or anybody for that matter really) for an hour? Would you be surprised if he hit you for it? Obviously he’s in the wrong, everyone can tell that, but it’s not as if there wasn’t something of a provocation.

    Ok, I’m prepared to have my head bitten off now.

  35. Jack Target
    lets get one thing straight rapists do not suffer from their sexual impulses their victims (male and female) do.

    Rape is when one person, knowingly, forces another to have sex with them against their will. By definition there can never be a provacation for rape.
    What you have basicly said is that a person who dresses in scanty clothing has provoked a rape in the same way as the person in your arguement provoked a punch? That is shameful! Would you think it was ok to hit someone you happened to overhear making political comments you disagreed with, because I think that is a better (and still not a good)analogy.
    Punching someone is wrong, but it takes a millisecond to lash out in the way you described. To rape someone involves a struggle against a, more than likely, physically weaker person. Nothing really impulsive there.
    Do you also think that homosexuals should not be open about their sexuality in case a passing homophobe cannot control their violent impulses?

    Do you think that a man who walks around in just shorts is also inviting rape? I did say I would have more sympathy if the disccussion was about the way people, not just women, dressed.

    Your arguement is insulting to men almost more than it is to women. Perhaps you feel unable to control yourself if you see a sexually attractive women, but most men, the vast majority of men, can and do. men are not animals, they can control themselves perfectly well, but people like you give rapists (who I do not consider to be real men) a good excuse and give all men a bad name.

  36. P.S PaulD and karen
    Boris does actually make a point of saying that he is talking about middle class educated twenty-somethings and he is comparing them to his own peers i.e middle class and educated at that age.

  37. idex, a great post.

    I’m a bit surprised at you, raincoaster. I thought you’d be one of the crew of the good ship Global Warming.

    And ‘fascist’ is a term almost devoid of meaning.

    Amd I’m trying to post my (bad) translation of Joaquin Sabina on the relevant thread, so far without success.

  38. Jack Target, it’s charmingly callow of you to believe (and I know you are not alone) that politics is irrelevant to you. There are any number of middle-class Americans languishing in jails who once felt as you did; I hope that your state of mind is never shocked into jadedness. Believe me, while it works very hard to appear irrelevant to young people (of which more later) politics controls most aspects of your life, from your education to your sexual expression. That it gets away with it so cleanly is the triumph of the mendacious authority that idlex so rightly pointed out, hiding behind the curtain and pressing all the buttons.

    As someone who used to work with Greenpeace, I’m familiar with CSIS (what’s yours called? SOCPA or something like that. The secret police) and the ways in which it sought to “bleed off” the activist strain that runs through youth everywhere. They did this in Vancouver, bastion of the Birkenstocked Sandalista Army, by running at least one major demonstration a month, often against their own headquarters. I dealt with the protesters on a daily basis, and each and every one of them though that by holding up a sign in front of a building they were doing their part to change the world. Then they went home and carried on as before, often not even bothering to vote, because they were “on the front lines, man! I was there!” Even after I showed them that the government was arranging these protests itself to prevent them from throwing their energies into actually changing things, they continued to do this, because they’d gotten accustomed to the complacency-boosting soma jolt it gave them, like taking a bong hit.

    Resistance can be the opposite of action.

    In the US and UK, however, we see different activities bleeding off the youthful urge for postitive change. Vanity Fair’s Essay Contest last year was won by Deirdre Sullivan, with an essay called Another Feitelberg Against the War, and it’s very much along the lines Jack Target talks about, but from the perspective of ten years further along in apathy.

    In the UK it’s pretty easy to see that the alcohol and drug abuse problem is out of hand, and is one of the things keeping the generation from rising up against, among other things, getting blown up in Iraq or Trafalgar Square. I’m not saying this from a position of snobbery: I live in the most desperate, substance-dependant neighborhood in the Western world, where the life expectancy is 32 years, and even here we do not have the issues that you do with public drinking or private alcoholism, particularly among the youth.

    One of the effects of alcohol is to significantly depress productivity and initiative. If a large percentage of the problematic generation is soused or hungover, they’re effectively put on ice. If another section is hooked into the electric teat, so much the better; we can sell them stuff that way!

    So why hasn’t the government actually done anything to prevent alcohol abuse by minors? This Alcopop Tax initiative will just go lie down quietly and die in the back rooms, as have any other potentially effective initiatives, because the government has, frankly, too much to gain from a depressed, hung over generation with vague unease in the presence of authority (don’t search the car, please god don’t let them search the car etc).

  39. Sorry did this yesterday. More great posts have appeared since and I `m a bit ( a lot) our of date .

    The Taj Mahal

    Buildings and their ( lack of) Importance

    I don’t see a problem with a culture that is not obsessed with leaving piles of stone. The French Medieval civilisation, of which England was part ,were responsible for our Norman Cathedrals. The Anglo Saxon heritage was , in many ways ,more sophisticated, including elements of common law , limitations on royal power, and greater sophistication in trade and agriculture. The witan was typical .In some respects it was a predecessor to Parliament. Admittedly it had some major limitations, like a lack of a fixed procedure, schedule, or meeting place, still ,pretty good going for the time.
    . Stone buildings were not a Saxon priority ,social interaction was . I think elements of this bias remain in our culture today, by means of a reverse takeover. The great symbol of the reverse takeover is the English language we speak. Parliament is another; unfortunately we seem all to eager to give this one back .
    This cultural legacy is a greater bequest than the cathedrals; although they are themselves , in my opinion , the most astonishing buildings ever constructed. A not dissimilar thing happened to the successive warlike migrants that ruled India. Indian culture eventually seduced the victors who nonetheless built some forts and things. Not all , of course, which is what led to partition.

    Coo isn’t it big !

    ( Or isn`t the Mona small…)

    Size ,in itself, is rarely important In the case of cathedrals it is vertiginous interior space and that is the achievement. The Egyptians discovered a rudimentary maths, by which they were able to scale up structures. I have gasped at the Pyramids, as the Romans did, but really, it is the religious fervour required for the endeavour ,rather than the achievement of thought ,one admires. A good illustration is Tenochtitlan, which was the capital of the Aztec empire; Tenochtitlan had over 200,000 inhabitants when it was destroyed in 1521 by Spanish conquistadors. I believe this is larger than any European City at that time .It is certainly much larger than Florence, then boiling with political and artistic faction and invention. How different are the haphazard streets where Michelangelo worked, to the uniformity of the Pyramids or any Roman City. The multiple connections of Florentine Renaissance life are key. We are living in an age in which connectedness is exploding right now

    Idlex and the Environment

    Yes we are in a constant, “state of emergency”, and it all sounds like the Braun Haus fire to me. On the other hand ,I have become convinced tha climate change is real , for all that ones instincts deny it. Scientists will say whatever they are paid to ,but a the changes of the 20th century do not require a scientist to be seen. The odour of mendacity I detect, is more apparent in the, “Plant a tree for London” initiative in which Cameron and Livingstone join in a festival of insincerity
    I have already droned on about the insignificance of domestic environmentalism. One figure; if everyone in the UK stopped driving altogether, the emission reduction would be replaced by the Chinese economies growth in about 80 days. We are “Breaking wind in a hurricane ” on our own as Boris trenchantly put it

    “David is re branding, but I have no doubt he is sincere in his concerns. The primary thrust of global climate change action has to be Global ,and this presents a real and serious problem for sovereign states. As pan-national agreements of all sorts are Banquo`s ghost to the Conservative party, I `m not sure where we go. Could you in any case justify keeping developing economies poor as enlightened self interest? Environmental issues have become yet another way of saying I believe in good. It is actually a much nastier political and economic question than that. I think David Cameron may be just the man for the job . My reasons for thinking so, may differ from others.

    Oh Goody Jack Target is back !

    Well how nice the see CS Lewis fan and all round good egg JT back in the saddle .I certainly took no active role in politics until I was about 38 but we all have different journeys. I rather disapprove of political obsessives that seem to have avoided life altogether. That ,most younger people than myself,, have vastly more pleasurable ways of filling their time, is something I find enormously cheering.


    I disagree with JT about the strength of opinion against the war, which had cross party support, and support, initially, in the country. I dispute the provenance of a survey showing anyone is against, any war in particular. Locally we routinely produce surveys to embarrass the Council and can easily obtain support for any opinion we choose. They routinely produce Consultations to the same end.
    I must have missed the millions marching, perhaps the BBC thought they were the Country side Alliance and ignored them altogether.

    Were this war many times the size it is and were the draft reintroduced you would have your Vietnam. Then, I suspect you would see we do have an influence on the Government. Figures comparing the two can be found in a recent article in the Telegraph .Personally I supported it along the Conservative party lines with or without the presence of WMD`s. Equally, I would like us out now , but that is because my view of foreign policy is mostly amoral towards other countries. Shocking ,I know, but then so is the prospect of sending British soldiers of to die in order to, “Make the world better”, in somebody’s opinion. This is old ground here anyway.

    New Media

    I am sorry top hear that the influence of liberating new media has been such as to such as to coarsen Mr. Target’s sensitivities, if that is what he means. I haven’t noticed such an effect on myself but then I probably have a vastly lower starting point. I have a horrible suspicion that the school he visited with commendable charitable zeal will be not unlike the one my wife attended in Bermondsey. I must say, I would be fascinated to hear more of this outreach programme, for the poor. I had no idea there were such things still in existence.

    The Priestly Language of Intellectuals and Politicians

    Sadly then, I cannot agree with much of the Target thinking on this occasion, although with his last point, I very much do. The separation of political life from its electorate gets worse all the time. Often, this is exacerbated by the use of deliberately incomprehensible language . High Priest Brown is the master of obfuscation, but I was disturbed ,last week, to read David Cameron following suit on tax cuts and public debt. Thank god for the new media. It is forming new flat alliances that will eventually destroy the Medieval Hierarchy we have returned to.

    Its Going to be Great !

    I like to imagine the new media as a return to our Saxon roots ,with egalitarian wooden long halls , full of poetry and music. I hope my son will live to see a Renaissance which, I think perhaps Rain coaster, is trying to keep up with. I remain a Gutenberg man at heart, and always wil,l but I am not delighted at the prospect of watching..

    I can’t wait for the future.

    Let all the world in every corner sing . The web is king .

    PS George Herbert was an ancestor of my wife’s , on the Welsh side, not the Trinidadian , of course. Cool or what? ( So was Henry Morgan , who may have shipped one of her fathers ancestors for all we know) Double Cool.

  40. idlex, whatever my feelings about Global Warming, the point you make about mendacious authority being the dominant political mode of the 21st Century is too valuable to be dismissed; it should be underlined.

    As to the rape question, I wonder why anyone still thinks rape is primarily sexual. Rape is primarily a crime of power, not of sex. Attractive women are no more likely to be raped than unattractive ones, and there is, in fact, no correlation whatsoever between clothing and rape. There certainly is a correlation between clothing and sexual approaches, but as I have said before, and as any cop could tell you, rape is not a crime about sex; it is a crime about power that uses sex as its expression.

    Should women forgo perfectly legal garment choices in order to prevent the crime of rape? Scroll up in this post to review the fact that the clothing makes no difference. That’s the practical aspects dismissed, then. Let us turn at this juncture to that great and kind philosopher, Miss Manners, and see what she has to say on the subject, for you’d be amazed at some of the questions a humble etiquette advisor is called upon to answer:

    If you’re looking for sensible takes on the subject, you can’t do better than the US’s Miss Manners, who was written to by a concerned reader claiming that he didn’t have a question of etiquette, exactly…

    See, he just felt that these “girls” who wear revealing clothing, go out on dates without chaperones, drive their own cars, live in apartments alone, etc, were making it really easy for some man to rape them. He wanted Miss Manners to lay out the exact restrictions that would properly prevent such an occurrance.

    I don’t think he was expecting her to say “it makes more sense to lock up the men than to lock up the women” but she did.

  41. newmania:

    Many valid points as usual! Some quick mentions: is the EOS Gallup poll reported on the BBC from before the war showing nearly 70% opposition in Britain (halfway down the page you reach the pretty graphical representation, which actually has all the data in it). It also worth noting that opposition would have been only 15% with a UN resolution.

    Agreed, if the draft were introduced to fight the war in Iraq, I think we would see a fairly drastic response…

    And finally, my apologies if I seemed critical of the new media, I of course have a mobile phone (2 in fact), a very nice new laptop with all the bells and whistles and so on. I do not think it is the fault of the new media that we are being separated from politics at all, just that technology is percieved as far more relevant to us than politics is, and despite what you say I suspect it is.

    It’s not actually politics which “controls most aspects of your life, from your education to your sexual expression.” (from raincoaster), it’s government. Couldn’t much the same effect be achieved by simply leaving the civil service to get on with organising my healthcare and education? After all it’s not like Tony Blair personally taught me anything (except that if you’re good with words you can do whatever you want and not be held accountable), in fact it’s unlikely that any politician played any role in my education beyond giving the nod to a civil servant’s syllabus or funding scheme.


    Your point about the government deliberately discouraging political engagement is well taken! I’ll have to think on that…

  42. RAIN COASTER is on the ball today , I am lagging behind .Rape is about power .I agree in the context you were discussing . Not in its most common form however, ie the invading army. Clearly power is involved but the effective cause is sex.The denial of sexulaity as a component in rape is a little to convenient. I daresay scientists have proved it

    K – Well having read through we have plunged of into the subject of provocative female clothing . I wonder what sort of world we would be living in Mr. Target had his way . He has profound religious convictions ,we know . We also know , now, that he would like women to cover themselves up. Its all heading down Burqa street again isn’t it so I `ll swerve aside.
    There have been some counter intuitive statistics ,in the press, about sex . This Summer , to my great delight there was a fashion for ultra short skirts . This coincided with a heat wave to produce the hundred year wave of gleeful peeking. Sadly it appears that not much sex was taking place except , god love their false teeth , amongst the old. Record numbers reported to the STD clinic in Tottenham Court Road( behind the opticians .. You can’t miss it.)
    Colin Wilson’s gift to the prurient , The History of Sex charts the odd displacement the sexual act from the centre of our preoccupations to the periphery . It is as if the savoury appetiser had replaced the main meal . The comparison with food strikes you forcibly if you read Boswell`s diaries . He has sex and then , the appetite sated , he moves on . Since the 19th century we are stuck in a perma-adolescence of unrequited passions .Sexual crime is not unchanging and Jack The Rippers are common today . Somehow it all connects up but I try not to think to hard about this last haven from the curs-ed mind .

    I hope to end my days gazing appreciatively at high breasted flaxen haired goddesses from beneath the brim of my sun hat , as they play tennis or something. I may take a book to pretend anything else is as important to me

    I greatly enjoyed Raincoaster`s Birkenstocked Sandalista Army. What a great sneer .We also have our political fashion victims often to be found in South America having packed plenty of Ginger beer for the big adventure. I am so glad I took the Birkenstocks I was bought for Christmas back .Some instinct told me they just weren’t me. Now I know why.
    There are some elements of this post that confuse me slightly .I was under the impression you were a denizen of Vancouver Rain coaster . Is this really a drugs hell . It did not seem so to me perhaps you would explain.

    I think there is no truth whatsoever in the idea that substance abuse of the sort you describe has anything to do with political apathy and it concerns me that one so young should be wagging a prescriptive finger . Fortunately Steven L and I will be able to test the theory by simultaneously drinking huge amounts and bitching at NU Lab. If we are still allowed to.

    I agree that reaction can replace effective action. I still cling to the notion that were I niot to discuss the all round performance of the Met in my regular motoring related chats , my soul would shrink a little

    K how fascinating so you were one of the applicants were you.? How did you dress for the interview ?Did you give it much thought.? I would have if I were you. I mean if i were a girl , I mean a woman .. you know what I mean. Do you think a man had an equal chance ? I like to think not .

  43. Oh, and about rape, there have been some interesting points here about rape not being sexual and so on. Although actually I suspect that many of these cases (perhaps not the one specified…) involve situations such as women getting horribly drunk at 3am while wearing next to nothing, and guys in close proximity acting on impulse.

    But it’s not actually really my point, the point in essence is this:
    If you knowingly put yourself into a situation which might be dangerous then don’t be so surprised or indignant when the worst happens.

    We take uncomfortable measures to avoid crime every day, from locking our front doors to having pin numbers for credit cards to not walking alone along dark alleyways in rough neighbourhoods. I’m not suggesting that much of the blame should be attached to the victim in these situations, but it can easily be argued that they did something stupid and suffered for it.

    It’s a shame that this particular example is a vulnerability to only one gender, perhaps giving it the illusion of sexism, but in reality it’s just another example of people taking risks.

    And in fact, I do know a few guys who’ve been raped (at least 3 come to mind), more than the number of girls I know. I don’t particularly worry about it myself since I’m not very attractive, but it’s a risk that’s there! And I wouldn’t put myself in a stupidly vulnerable situation, even if the chances were low, if I could avoid it.

    The chances are low, but the results are a big problem, and so consequently it should be avoided. A parallel here might be crossing railway lines – the chances of being hit by a train a very low, but the consequences of doing so are disastrous! As such I don’t do it.

    Obviously the blame is on the rapist, but the fact is that it’s only ourselves and our situations that we can control to some extent. Taking precautions is wise no matter what dangers you’re facing.

  44. lol, and incidentally newmania I’m not that religious at the moment, I’m reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and it’s proving to be very ‘challenging’ – right now I’m teetering on the brink between atheism and theism…

    Also, I’m not suggesting in any way that women should be forced to cover up, that would go against my libertarian principles, just pointing out that it might be a wise thing for them to choose. In the same way that I choose not to smoke (which is really also just aesthetic…) because of the potential risks.

  45. Your point about the government deliberately discouraging political engagement is well taken! I’ll have to think on that…

    I think about this all the time . The crucial event was the Poll tax riots . It was discovered that ,contrary to Jack Targets fears ,only a tiny proportion of the population could reject a law effectively if they were presented with the same bill and the same choice all at the same time. Since then taxes are hidden and phased by being linked to premiums pensions and house prices. Geographically staggered implimentation is another common ruse . The introduction of a House price progressive local, income tax in Northern Ireland is only the latest in a long line of ways to avoid accountability. It is coming to us soon , with attendant state cameras nosing into your house for things to tax. Policies are floated until a formulation is found with broad support, prior to any debate ( see faith schools seven day farce). Consultations at local level are a national joke .

    Blair began it and I desperately hope we can trust David Cameron to use the machinery to destroy it . The advancementof marketing skills and sophistication in opinion managing is , I believe , almost as great a threat to democracy as the EU and global law. There may be a need for Global law , there is no need for us to be treated like placid cattle. Were a supermarket to attempt such dishonesty it would be immediately actionable . We need a lot more ” It does what it says on the tin”..

    It is when I think of this sort of false reasonable ness that I regret the firm rule about language lovely Mel enforces. Polite debate will not work here . They know how to handle it . We need to get a bit Polish about it .

    I `m off to Guido to vent

  46. CS Lewis is a far more insightful spiritual writer than Richard Dawkins . I have not read this unsual Christams best seller but love his irascible popular science books.His anti clerical attitudes are weak ,weak weak. I would hate to see anyone taking this aspect of his work seriosuly .

    I feel the same way about Chomsky`s political gibberish . His Linguistics are breathtaking and both are far above Richard Dawkins who is a stocking filler.

  47. Idlex

    I read your observations about Global Warming with fascination. What a brilliant one-liner about the ‘good ship’.

    As a result of reading your post about the ‘number of unknowns with which we are dealing’, I henceforth resolve to stop worrying, consume as much as I possibly can in order to help grow the economy, and sit on my fat lazy butt reading brochures for cheap holidays in the sun for the rest of my life.

    As I write this, a new report from a coalition of UK aid agencies has just announced that climate change in Africa is now threatening to cancel out all our efforts to reduce poverty in the region. Fortunately I read your post first, and am therefore happy that these so-called aid agencies are actually in the pay of a mendacious government that seeks to restrict our freedom to smoke cigarettes, take unlimited foreign holidays, and install state of the art air-conditioning systems in our houses.

    I shall hencoforth ignore the alleged plight of the Africans (they are, after all, nothing but a bunch of Johnny Foreigners) and continue to save my pennies exclusively for the purpose of pursuing my inalienable freedom to buy, use, and throw away all the useless stuff the Johnny Foreigners are now labouring so hard to produce for us here in the West.

    My heart is currently set on a V8 turbo-charged 4×4. None of that hybrid nonsense for me, now I’ve read your comments. And a 4×4 will come in SO handy on the one day a year when snow and ice actually fall on North Herts. By my calculations, that means I’ll use the four-wheel drive TWICE before I exchange it for a new model!

  48. Another great Raincoaster “Charmingly callow “Jack T …feeling ever so slightly patronised at all?
    What are you talking about . You know three men who have been raped . Glad I missed public school .Three!

    Well we should all avoid dangerous low lifes but you are of the point. More importantly you are trying to stop women dressing in revealing and clingy clothing. Stop it now .

  49. Jack, I don’t understand how you can continue to blame the crime on the victim, nor why you advocate the wearing of duffle coats when, as I have said, revealing clothing has no effect on whether or not a woman (or man) will be raped. There is no correlation, therefore there can be no practical justification, therefore your continued advice to women to cover up to prevent rape is pointless. I am finding Miss Manners more and more relevant.

    There’s no question that drug and alcohol abuse contributes to high rape statistics, which is why it’s never a good idea to get totally blotto when you’re out. You don’t know what you’ll do; you don’t know what could be done to you. But that does not mean that anyone who does get wasted and who is raped is any less raped than anyone else, nor anyone who rapes is any less a rapist.

    And it’s useful at this point to mention date rape drugs; not all intoxication is voluntary. I aught to know; someone once gave me something I thought was vodka and tonic and I don’t remember the next eighteen hours. Thank God I was with my friends, who just took me home.

  50. ‘Fortunately Steven L and I will be able to test the theory by simultaneously drinking huge amounts and bitching at NU Lab. If we are still allowed to.’ (newmania)

    I’m actually starting to think Jack Target’s mates have the right idea, not giving a stuff about politics. I mean if I stopped watching the news and reading the papers maybe I’d be less cranky. Maybe politics is bad for you, they never say anything I want to hear these days. It’s all ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you’ve got to pay more tax on that’.

    As for raincoasters barmy idea that ‘the government has, frankly, too much to gain from a depressed, hung over generation with vague unease in the presence of authority’, I think she’s paranoid. Perhaps it is the result of her living ‘in the most desperate, substance-dependant neighborhood in the Western world’. Ever thought of moving house? I would!

  51. Steven, I’m active in politics. You’re not. Jack’s right that it’s the government that sets the controls, but the goverment is itself under the control of the politicians. It pays to become engaged. I’m not paranoid, I’m just more experienced than you are.

    “They never say anything I want to hear” isn’t a good reason to stop listening. It’s exactly the opposite.

    Utterly unrelated to anything: Is anyone else having difficulties getting to the site? For me it’s down more than 50% of the times I try to look for it lately.

    Oh, and more on the rape thing, because that’s just such an upper:

    A lot has been said about how to prevent rape. Women should learn self-defense. Women should lock themselves in their houses after dark. Women shouldn’t have long hair and women shouldn’t wear short skirts. Women shouldn’t leave drinks unattended. Hell, they shouldn’t dare to get drunk at all. Instead of that bullshit, how about:

    If a woman is drunk, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is walking alone at night, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is drugged and unconscious, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is wearing a short skirt, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is jogging in a park at 5 am, don’t rape her.
    If a woman looks like your ex-girlfriend you’re still hung up on, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is asleep in her bed, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is asleep in your bed, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is doing her laundry, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is in a coma, don’t rape her.
    If a woman changes her mind in the middle of or about a particular activity, don’t rape her.
    If a woman has repeatedly refused a certain activity, don’t rape her.
    If a woman is not yet a woman, but a child, don’t rape her.
    If your girlfriend or wife is not in the mood, don’t rape her.
    If your step-daughter is watching TV, don’t rape her.
    If you break into a house and find a woman there, don’t rape her.
    If your friend thinks it’s okay to rape someone, tell him it’s not, and that he’s not your friend.
    If your “friend” tells you he raped someone, report him to the police.
    If your frat-brother or another guy at the party tells you there’s an unconscious woman upstairs and it’s your turn, don’t rape her, call the police and tell the guy he’s a rapist.
    Tell your sons, god-sons, nephews, grandsons, sons of friends it’s not okay to rape someone.
    Don’t tell your women friends how to be safe and avoid rape.
    Don’t imply that she could have avoided it if she’d only done or not done x.
    Don’t imply that it’s in any way her fault.
    Don’t let silence imply agreement when someone tells you he “got some” with the drunk girl.
    Don’t perpetuate a culture that tells you that you have no control over or responsibility for your actions. You can, too, help yourself.

  52. ‘I’m not paranoid, I’m just more experienced than you are.’ (raincoaster)

    Well based on my limited experience of working local government, in the UK, I don’t believe there is conspiracy to keep the younger generation ‘depressed and hungover’. If you believe that there is such a conspiracy then I think you are paranoid and deluded.

    In fact if we can go back to your previous statement:

    ‘In the UK it’s pretty easy to see that the alcohol and drug abuse problem is out of hand, and is one of the things keeping the generation from rising up against, among other things, getting blown up in Iraq or Trafalgar Square.’

    Basically you’re saying that if young people didn’t get drunk and/or stoned they’d all be out protesting. This is nonsense, young people aren’t out protesting because they are by and large comfortably off and have nothing to protest about. In fact it’s usually the dope-smokers, trip-heads and other junkies that go on these stop-the-war marches.

  53. raincoaster, I’m not blaming the woman for being raped. But there are two stories, that of the woman and that of the rapist. For the woman, she went out for the night and was raped. For the rapist something clearly went wrong along the way and he raped someone.

    Clearly he should be put in jail to prevent it happening again, and if possible given treatment to deal with that sort of emotional complex. But to her that’s not especially relevant, the fact that she wasn’t responsible isn’t much consolation for her, she has still been raped. And if (IF) there is something that she could have done to prevent it, then she will be sorry not to have done so.

    And incidentally, yes, there are 3 guys I know personally to whom it’s happened, though all are much older than me, and none at public school! Admittedly one was a child at the time, which might sometimes be called being molested instead of raped, but is there really a difference?

  54. My heart is currently set on a V8 turbo-charged 4×4. None of that hybrid nonsense for me, now I’ve read your comments. (Mark Gamon)

    I doubt if it will make any difference, either way, what you buy.

    I’m not denying that climate change happens, and is happening. It always has. We are currently living in a brief warm interglacial period in a long succession of ice ages. On historical trends, we are much more likely to find the Earth entering a new ice age than anything else.

    If large scale climate change happens, as it has, regardless of human intervention, why should we suppose that we are causing climate change? No doubt our activities have some effect, but it is far from clear that they are the principal agency at work.

    But my general point is that I see no reason to believe the predictions of climate scientists, given the infancy of their science, and the vastness and complexity of their subject.

    I think that the only thing we can do is respond to events as they happen, as we always have, rather than respond to events that are predicted to happen by a primitive and most likely mistaken climate science.

  55. jack Target,
    Earlier you said a woman wearing clothing which made her attractive was provoking rape in the same way that a person who physically annoys someone for an hour provokes a punch. When a person can be said to have been provoked into committing a crime it immediatly lessens their guilt. The debate was not “are men too irresponsible to be allowed near women they find attractive” nor was it “does dressing in an attractive manner mean a person is more likely to be raped” it was should women cover up more. Big difference.
    rape is rape and the behaviour of the victim does not lessen the crime. By your reasoning the rape of any person who has tried to make themselves attractive is a lesser crime.

    Most rapes are committed by someone the victiim knows (in the UK most rapes are carried out by the victims partner or ex partner) so the clothes a woman wears have no influence on whether a woman is raped or not. They do however play a part in whether or not the rapist is found guilty and the sentence he is given.
    A case in point is the Lindsay Armstrong case. Lindsay was a seventeen year old girl who while wearing jeans and a winter jacket was dragged off the streets and raped. As she was questioned in court by the defence she was made to hold up, for all the courtroom to see, the red thong she had been wearing underneath her winter clothes. She was also made to read out the slogan on them for all the courtroom to hear. Despite the fact that this was of no forensic use to the case and the fact that Lindsay was crying and shaking so much during this that she kept letting go of them and found it difficult to speak loudly, the judge ruled that this was relevant to the defence and made her carry on. Lindsay killed herself after this.

  56. Jack Target – I too am “reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins and it’s proving to be very ‘challenging’ ” I would appreciate your comments about the book on my blog if you’d care to pop by? There is an appropriate thread here

  57. Raincoaster,
    I could not agree with you more about you views on rape. Incidently I also had my drink spiked (but lets be right drink spiking is poisoning) and like you I had friends to look after me, but it is frightening isn’t it.

    I applied, but i did not get an interview. Blub Blub 🙂 According to the work for an mp website though these posts normally have well over a hundred applicants so competition really is tough.

  58. idlex, whatever my feelings about Global Warming, the point you make about mendacious authority being the dominant political mode of the 21st Century is too valuable to be dismissed; it should be underlined.

    Thank you. I think a further question to ask is: why does it happen?

    I think that in part the answer may be that unquestioned authority tends to become delusional. The more that political leaders, or the medical establishment, or global climate researchers, or anyone else, remain insulated inside a bubble of self-re-inforcing doctrinal belief, the more convinced they become of their own rightness, however wrong they may be.

    The US Bush administration is perhaps a classic example of this. Bush himself is surrounded by a cabal of neocons who have been inhabiting a separate reality for the past few decades. They ignore, dismiss, or suppress contrary opinion, and even contrary facts.

    I think authorititaive claims must regularly be met with scepticism, if not outright disbelief. I think we should always be engaged in a discourse in which rival beliefs are freely and openly discussed. Once such open debate ends, and some dogma becomes established as the unquestioned and unquestionable truth, we are all in trouble.

  59. Jack Target said:

    Oh, and about rape…I suspect that many of these cases (perhaps not the one specified…) involve situations such as women getting horribly drunk at 3am while wearing next to nothing, and guys in close proximity acting on impulse…If you knowingly put yourself into a situation which might be dangerous then don’t be so surprised or indignant when the worst happens.

    What misogynstic claptrap. Did the 70 odd year old woman in my district who was raped by a 20 odd year old burglar in her own home put herself in such a dangerous position that she should not have been surprised or indignant when attacked, Jack?

    Your perverse logic could be used to suggest the absurd conclusion that she did – since elderly women’s homes are the chosen haunt of those who are sufficiently pathological to rape them.

    As raincoaster has said, rape is about power, not sex. Women do not invite rape by being less physically powerful or by putting themselves in any situation. Those who are sufficiently pathological to rape woman will take any opportunity and the only real provocation is their own pathological inclinations.

  60. ‘I think that in part the answer may be that unquestioned authority tends to become delusional.’ (idlex)

    Kind of like how the unquestioned moral authority of the Human Rights Act seems to have made our systems of government and justice institutionally delusional?

    ‘I think authorititaive claims must regularly be met with scepticism, if not outright disbelief.’ (idlex)

    The ‘authoritive claim’ that we were going to open up our borders to Eastern Europe, that it would be good for us and that only 13,000 people would show up was met with scepticism and disbelief. Not that it this scepticism and disbelief changed anything though.

    Now if anyone who’s been affected by the sharp increase in the supply of manual labour and demand for rented housing dares to complain about it they are tutted at by the liberal-left political class establishment. Anyone feeling betrayed is basically told that it is good for the economy as a whole (i.e. net tax receipts) and that’s that.

    Nor do I think that scepticism and disbelief about climate change will alter the fact that over the next 10 years everyone is going to be clobbered with a round of ‘green taxes’. In fact I don’t think it will be long before fixed penalty notices for not recycling household waste become commonplace.

  61. Steven L- The Migration watch chap said that all the EU migration was hiding the real influx from Africa. This will in the long terms be far more problematical. Migration outwards is also important and the demographics of London in particular are changing much faster than ever before ,excluding the EU influx. Nu Lab have , paradoxically relied on slash and burn, free market policies like EU Labour supply as they have destroyed the supply side of the economy and this cannot be fixed quickly. Such things as vocational training. ,ceasing to convert the working class into an underclass , allowing anyone to make a profit and throwing the bloated FSA into the sea , will take years to work through..

    (Very funny photo of a building site on Iain Dale concerning Poles who , lets admit it , are bloody useful )

    I agree with you green taxes and loathe the global dictatorship that is developing . On the other hand , how do you react to a global problem like climate change . Which is real . Al Gore said so and coincidentally is right. We never get into anything about enlightened self interest and the geo political can of worms global action would open. Its this pretending if you’ve bought Toyota Prius you’ve done something useful baloney I can’t stand

  62. I was referring to dogmatic belief systems, Steven, not government policies.

    And I heard tonight that there are indeed green taxes on the way that are intended to “change our behaviour”. We must all learn to conform to the reigning green dogma, it seems, or else.

    Funny that it seems it’s just cars and cheap air flights that contribute to global warming. Seems that fighting wars all over the place with tanks and jets and high explosive doesn’t contribute a thing to it. Nor does a universal policy of maximizing industrial production (and therefore maximizing energy consumption and waste). No. War and industry are fine. Private cars and foreign holidays are what’s really doing the damage.

  63. Ok, I think I’m going to have to concede on the rape issue. I object to Auntie Flo’ referring to my comment as misogynstic claptrap, but nonetheless I think I was wrong. If there really is no correlation between what women wear and who rapists target then that pretty much scuttles any argument on my (earlier) side.

    I do still hold to the theory of my argument, but concede that it bears no relevance to reality, and so is not grounds to compel or even suggest that women exercise restraint in choosing what to wear.

  64. Steven, I’ve obviously failed to express myself clearly. Do I think there’s a secret star chamber that meets to discuss how to keep the youth down? In BC, there is, and I know who it is and where they work, as I said. But this is a very small sample size, and Vancouver’s history of protests as mainstream activity make it an obvious choice; if you’re a government, you’ve got to do SOMETHING with all those protesters.

    But I did not mean to imply some kind of universal middle aged conspiracy against the youth. I believe, rather, that most of this can be explained by simple social Darwinism. What do I mean? Merely this: that governments who typically enact legislation that keeps people complacent and politically inactive tend to last longer than those which don’t. The ones who stay on top for any decent length of time have this in their very DNA. It’s not that they set out to keep you out of the loop and on the sofa; it’s that if that weren’t a byproduct of what they did, you would already have had a change of government. Does this make more sense?

  65. Idlex…

    Re: the turbocharged 4×4.

    Of course it makes a difference. Even if climate change turns out to be an enormous red herring, and the 4×4’s emissions have not one jot of an effect on the global atmosphere, owning such a thing without a good reason for owning it is just plain bloody wasteful. And an affront to every African woman who has to walk ten miles every morning just to get her family some water.

    It’s also an affront to common sense to suggest that any vehicle, of any size, pouring poison (which is what petrol fumes are) into the atmosphere is not going to make much difference.

    Cars. Count them, if you can.

    One thing on which virtually everybody seems agreed (even you, reading between the lines) is that the climate IS changing. I don’t give a damn whether it’s caused by an incipient ice age or not: we’re aggravating the effect, and we owe it to those who will come after us to TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

    Sorry to shout. I get angry round issues being ducked.

  66. Newmania…

    What’s WRONG with buying a Toyota Prius?

    Granted, it’s too expensive.

    Granted, there’s not much choice.

    Granted, a hybrid is only a partial solution.

    Granted, this isn’t something that individuals should be doing on their own. It will take that, and legislation, and political will on a global scale.

    Nevertheless, a Toyota Prius is a small step in the right direction. It helps to understand how small, but it’s better than carrying on with the V8 SUV.

    Me, I’m just hanging on for some manufacturer to figure out that what the world needs right now is a cheap, reliable, no-frills small hybrid, and not yet another gargantuan palace on wheels to prove how successful we are.

    A 2CV for the 21st century, if you like: I’ll be first in the queue.

  67. I thought I should introduce myself. I’m the new researcher. If you don’t mind, I’ll start contributing to the discussions. Just don’t take my opinions as official!

    Newmania, I’m not going to give you my measurements, so don’t ask.

  68. Hey Rachel,

    So I’m guessing you’re the top of that collection of hyper-intelligent, charitable and adventurous applicants who have Grade 8 piccolo/flute and Grade 8 viola and awards for the top GCSE marks in the entire country. Whose A-level results cascaded down the page like a suicidal scream. Who were magazine editors, union presidents, champion mooters, and had blues for everything from rugby to lacrosse. Who had prestigious New York awards for film-making; and had been semi-finalists in University Challenge 2004-05. Who had already published important articles in the Guardian and served internships throughout the FTSE-100. Who had fluent French and confident German and unblemished driving licences and had managed to secure the top firsts in disciplines from English to Engineering to History while playing squash to county standard.

    You must be a very impressive person 🙂 Nice to meet you!

  69. It is with great sadness that I inform you of the passing of Arnold McGregor, AKA Macarnie. He passed away on the 26.10 2006. Relieved of pain at last.
    Sincere condolences to his family.
    I miss you Mac.

  70. I’m very sorry to hear about Mac. He used to define the tone of these comments for upstarts like me.

    And welcome, Rachel. I expect you’re going to be doing some research into global warming, or passive smoking, or speed cameras. Something along those lines.

  71. Even if climate change turns out to be an enormous red herring, and the 4×4’s emissions have not one jot of an effect on the global atmosphere, owning such a thing without a good reason for owning it is just plain bloody wasteful. (Mark Gamon)

    Well, at least you allow the possibility that climate change – and global warming – is an enormous red herring.

    Personally I loathe 4x4s. They are particularly annoying on narrow Devon lanes. I assume people buy them to impress other people. But if that’s how they want to waste their money, so be it.

    One thing on which virtually everybody seems agreed (even you, reading between the lines) is that the climate IS changing. I don’t give a damn whether it’s caused by an incipient ice age or not: we’re aggravating the effect, and we owe it to those who will come after us to TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY.

    The climate is always changing. We only emerged, in Europe at least, from the Little Ice Age about 150 years ago. Was the Reformation a cause of this ice age, or an effect?

    And how do we know we are ‘aggravating the effect’, given we don’t know what the effect may be?

    If we are due to enter another deep ice age in a few thousand years, perhaps adding greenhouse gases might delay or forestall this eventuality, and 4×4 owners are doing their heroic best in this endeavour.

  72. we owe it to those who will come after us to TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY. Sorry to shout. I get angry round issues being ducked.
    (Mark Gamon)

    In a time when a steady stream of rules and regulations rain down on us from on high, the effect is that individual personal responsibility is being steadily removed from us.

    I heard last night that new green taxes on airlines and cars are being proposed, so as to “change our behaviour”. Anyone who is seeking to change my behaviour is trying to decide for me how best I should live my life, and at the same time trying to remove from me my own responsibility.

    The net effect of all these petty rules and regulations will not be to make people more responsible, but less responsible. The more responsible government becomes for everyday conduct, the more irresponsible the governed will become.

    You can’t demand on the one hand that people to behave more responsibly, while with the other hand you are busy taking responsibility away from them – even if you shout at the top of your voice.

    Try ducking that issue.

  73. Idlex…

    OK, I’ll try.

    I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.

    Back in the 18th century, it was considered perfectly reasonable for a man to beat his wife with a stick, provided said stick was no thicker than his thumb.

    We made a law against that. Took away some personal freedoms in the process. And lo and behold: on the whole, people took it upon themselves to behave in a more individually responsible way in the matter of wife-beating.

    Still in the 18th century (and many centuries before), it was once considered normal to enslave black people and work them to the bone, for life, for no remuneration.

    We made a law against that, too. Removed responsiblity from the plantation owners, and pretty much told them how to live their lives. I expect they were a bit upset about it, but they were wrong.

    For many centuries up to the 19th, it was considered reasonable for posh people to slaughter each other in staged duels, usually over a gambling debt or some such triviality.

    We made a law against that too. Dashing young rakes and their pompous elders alike were no doubt horrified at the infringement on their personal liberties, but there was less blood in the streets.

    Back in the dark ages, life was pretty cheap. People killed each other willy-nilly; mounted armed raids on each other’s homes to carry off their women; and condemned old and unsupported women to live out the remainder of their days going mad in the woods.

    We made quite a lot of laws about those freedoms, over the years. Now we look after old people, and frown on murderers and rapists. We don’t need government to remind us that these things are bad, because we’ve become personally responsible for our behaviour.

    I agree that bad government over-regulates. Good government gives a lead. And the moment we stop changing our behaviour (personally and collectively – they’re not mutually exclusive), we’re extinct.

    Who knows? Maybe we ARE just emerging from a Little Ice Age. Wouldn’t that be neat? It’s no problem, guys – it’s just God making the place a little hotter for a few centuries.

    Try telling that to Africa.

  74. Hi Rachel.

    ‘I heard last night that new green taxes on airlines and cars are being proposed, so as to “change our behaviour”‘ (idlex)

    Then there’s the ‘green’ taxes Richmond Council want to impose on people who park ‘gas guzzlers’. It’s all a con if you ask me.

    All governments of industrialised nations give subsidies to car manufacturers who move production to their country, in order to secure jobs.

    So suppose I buy a Jag X-type, which is made in the UK. It has a V6 engine, I have to pay extra road tax and extra parking charges for being so ‘anti-social’ and ‘polluting the environment’. Then as soon as Jaguar announce a replacement the government are going to be taking my tax monies and using them to bribe them to bring production of their next generation of ‘gas guzzlers’ over here too!

    It’s the same with budget airlines. EU governments have been giving them subsidies out of tax money. Then they have the nerve to start suggesting the consumer pays more tax for flying on them. Why? So they can hand it back to the airline to keep their operations based where they are?

    Look at the US, everyone is driiving around in great big 5 litre pick-up trucks. Yet over here buy a family saloon with an engine half that size and you get clobbered with extra taxes. We already pay 4 times as much at the pumps as they do because of extra taxes.

    The best bit is, list price for a 3 litre X-type in the UK is £30,020. In the US it is $34,995! Like I say, it’s made in Halewood, UK!

    Welcome to rip-off Britian, we pay more than anyone in the world for what we buy, now they want us to pay more tax for the privlege too!

    What are we paying all this extra for? To subsidise US consumption by the sounds of things. Now they want us to pay more ‘green’ taxes? Why? What’s robbing us out of more money going to do for the environment?

    It’s all claptrap if you ask me.

  75. Jack Target said:

    Ok, I think I’m going to have to concede on the rape issue.

    Then it looks as though I was wrong to call your post misogynistic, Jack, I concede that too.

  76. Back in the 18th century, it was considered perfectly reasonable for a man to beat his wife with a stick, provided said stick was no thicker than his thumb.

    We made a law against that. Took away some personal freedoms in the process. And lo and behold: on the whole, people took it upon themselves to behave in a more individually responsible way in the matter of wife-beating. (Mark Gamon)

    I have no objection to laws which make life better or easier for people. Banning wife-beating immediately benefited wives. Banning slavery immediately freed slaves. Banning duels immediately saved lives. The benefits were immediately discernible. And the effect of good laws, I would suggest, is an overall increase in freedom and wellbeing, not a decrease.

    However, in the case of global warming, we are about to be asked to shoulder a whole new raft of taxes, not to combat a pressing present day problem, but to pre-emptively act to avert a possible future one. The effect of these new taxes, and the hail of petty rules and regulations which will inevitably accompany them, will be to make everyone worse off than they now are, simply so as to alleviate a possible future problem.

    I’ve just finished watching a long section of Channel 4 news devoted to global warming. The threat posed by it was not described (except half way through, as a possible 20% decrease in GDP). It was simply asserted that if we didn’t do something about it now, and reduce carbon emissions, we’d have to do a lot more about it in future. The panel of assembled experts (including George Monbiot) included no dissenting voices. The experts were, if anything, falling over each other to demand ever more swingeing reductions in carbon emissions, and ever more radical “changes in our behaviour and lifestyle”. Also, rather tellingly, they questioned the validity of each other’s science – a clear indication that the infant science of global warming is far from settled. But I already knew that anyway.

    The whole report came across as rather hysterical. It reminded me of nothing less than the run-up to the pre-emptive attack launched against Iraq – which has left Iraq devastated and the whole world a much worse place. I have little doubt that attempting to pre-empt global warming will have much the same effect.

    There are any number of possible future threats we face. But it seems to me that we should in general deal with our pressing immediate problems rather than possible future ones.

  77. Steven_L said:

    …budget airlines. EU governments have been giving them subsidies out of tax money. Then they have the nerve to start suggesting the consumer pays more tax for flying on them. Why? So they can hand it back to the airline to keep their operations based where they are?

    It also gives aviation companies like BAA nice big chunks of taxpayers’ money out of which they can pay commission to politicans. They gave around a £million’s worth of freebies to MPs in one year a few years ago.

  78. Rachel: Newmania, I’m not going to give you my measurements, so don’t ask-

    No need to. Good old Boris, I like her already. I feel certain she has great things ahead of her.


    Gamon – You make the classic mistake of all bureaucrats . You assume that the reason for social development is because laws were made. Sometimes this is the case, but more usually it isn’t . Governments don`t exist to make us nicer people , they exists for the careers of the governors . Insiders are far worse than everyone else nowadays ,but its been better . I think in the 19th century they may have been ahead of the game. The main drive towards social improvement came from below .

    In Britain, in the Victorian period, it came from fear of the French Revolution ,and the various Liberal rebellions of 1845. The British ruling class were preserving as much of the old order as they could, in the face of, a loss of confidence within, and the possibility of armed rebellion without .

    Disraeli`s Great Reform Act was intended to hegemony of the Aristocracy ( of whom he had romantic ideas which informed everything he did ). Also, it had an immediate electoral aim which was to out flank Gladstone and his non conformist middle class support . The invention of “One Nation Conservatism ” was early spin . Disraeli , a dodgy pot boiler scibbler, and money grabber ,was always a bit of a genius and a bit of a Geoffrey Archer. His marriage was worthy of the “Producers ” ,(does anyone gets the reference?).Pressure from below forced him to act.

    The often quoted Factory acts were driven by the new non conformist conscience. They were fought by vested interests who were well entrenched in Government, as they always are. Opinion movers were outside . Notable amongst them were, Charles Dickens and the Romantic Poets ,none of whom , like me, would get on the Z list .This remember, I have accepted, was a good phase of government.

    Now, if we take other countries, the position is worse .Take a mental trip around Africa , which I gather you lose sleep about . I don’t think. It is a common-place that the “aid” cash ,that floods in ( 10% of the GDP on average in sub Saharan Africa) does no good whatsoever .It does extract torturous trading terms, in return for guns and dams and palaces . I cannot think of any African regime that has not added to the problems, with the possible exception of the South African one ;overall .

    Germany ,Russia Japan etc. ,I need hardly mention.

    Incidentally you , who no doubt think South Africa was evil incarnate ,might pause to wonder why we were so shocked at the racism of the White South Africans, and not by the rest of Africa`s racial genocides . I know why , can you own up to it?


    No it is not a “move in the right direction.” Perhaps you noticed today, that the Sterne report was out . I happened to see Ruth Lea discussing it with some green, jobs-worth, in a corduroy jacket . When Ruth Lea says something , we had all better start listening . She predicted, in detail ,the events leading to Black Wednesday ,which destroyed the Conservative Party for years . To my great pleasure, she recently dismantled the “reputation for economic prudence ” that Brown-nose found left in the desk, like an old stapler, as well She knows her onions . So indeed, does the ,under-tall but Leonine Boris , whose phrase ,”breaking wind in a hurricane “, I wheel out like the children in a Christmas single. It sums up domestic action on climate change exquisitely . It is a myth. Most of what passes for environmental policy would be better called “Tidying up “, and its mostly to employ more blood suckers in Brussels anyway

    With the Sterne Report , thank god , the subject can move onto an adult plane . Ahead of the mainstream media ,as usual, I was quoting figures like this last week.
    “If we all stopped driving completely the carbon emission slack would be taken up by Chinas growth in 60 days ” . This morning Ruth Lea added that if we shut down all the power stations, you could add 80 days . So basically, if we all , tomorrow ,went back the horse and cart plus wood fire and bodkin , we would have saved four months. Into this context you plop the Toyota Prius ;the acquisition of which we can now see is like pissing into the Grand Canyon.

    By the way the Sterne report is pro Green but in a realistic way . So am I .

    Meanwhile, back at the fort, Emily Thornberry our local Nulab, and the worlds most spherical hypocrite, sits in her mouth watering Georgian pad, with her kids safely at Grammar school . What does she think ?
    She thinks , hmmm, I `m far to stupid to provide anything worthwhile ,so what can I do that may impress a few and will look as if I am in that ideal position ;for good ,and against evil.
    Could it be ; risk my career by agitating for huge taxes on air travel ?
    Could it be; annoy the PM by attacking the US for maintaining petrol and about a farthing per tonne ? Could it be ;announce that we have to give up growth or better still apply cynical pressure to the emerging economies so as to pull the ladder up?
    Or….. Shall I buy a Toyota Prius which does nothing net for the climate ( actually). I bet she thought long and hard .

    It trivialises the debate , implies we can have our cake and eat it and distracts attention . Incidentally Thornberry weighs about 30 stone ,and claims to cycle everywhere, so she is a big fat liar in every way. Paul Newman, film star ,has a Prius and runs racing team . Prince Charles has one in his collection of posh mota`s requiring the oil output of Quatar to start in the morning. Typical ; and with these frauds you want to ally your self Sir Gamon.? Shame shame shame!

    The Chinese have a good point .Their emissions per head , to take one measure, are a bit over 2 . Ours are a bit under 10 . Why exactly should they care ,until they have quintupled their economy ? Tough negotiations will be needed , and as, in reality, neither you or I are going to go back to 1490 to save the world , this means twisting the arms of Asia and the far east. It also means stopping the poor from flying, and applying brutally regressive taxation to everyone.( Because Green taxes are indirect).

    I can understand the value of a pointless gesture , I liked the toga party in Animal House, but this is so stupid as to be damaging . Its only possible justification is symbolic, and as a symbol it is just wrong.

    Idlex is absolutely spot on with his concern that the green global threat will be used to brush aside freedom , so are all emergencies . As I have explained above, Governments are necessary evils at best . The trick is to organise things so as to have state intervention where it works best ,the NHS say, and by permanent vigilance, keep them from becoming the crooks they by nature are .

    As the only real green issues are Global it will require Global supranational action.. Years ago Boris , ,apparently, lurched down a Brussels street crying “Someone`s killed nanny” ..and then we pitched into the demos free democracy of the EU, disaster ! What on earth are the collection of chancers, crooks and little Hitler’s, worldwide going to do ,when their services are actually need . Sadly I `m afraid they are . The only possible stance is to believe nothing , find out for yourself and refuse to be befuddled by asinine gestures like a Toyota Prius. Are you with me Gamon , are you ready to cast childish things aside ?

    Hope so .

    PS I wonder what the various women who have been bopping ultra prude Jack target will actually be wearing this evening ? Tiny skirts , boob tubes and high high heels I hope . It’s the only way to show your rejection oh his misogyny . I `m with you sisters !

  79. Forgive me, Father Brown, for I have sinned. I beg your mercy and forgiveness…

    – For not recycling all my household waste, the bulk of which is plastic containers bearing the little recycle number (if you can read it) of 4 or more, which has to go to landfill.

    – For driving to work by car instead of waiting 2-3 hours for the village bus, with its sparse human cargo of pensioners and mouth-breathers as it grinds around the lanes belching soot from its aged exhaust.

    – For living in a nice house instead of “housing”

    – For underpaying my tax by £7.32 (My accountant must also be shown the error of his ways, for he cannot understand why).

    – For sending my children to private school, having already paid full fees at a state school.

    – For having private medical insurance, having already paid for NHS entitlement

    – For turning on a radiator in the conservatory last night

    – For travelling at 38mph on a clear, empty, straight road late one night, putting others at immediate risk of death or serious injury. How richly you deserve the 60 quid.

    For all these things, please spy on me, tax me and tax me more until I repent fully.

    Father Brown, Brother Blair, there is so much more to which I must confess and plead for your mercy

    – For thinking sinful thoughts like “This island is getting a tad overcrowded”

    – For having an ancestor who brought water and sanitation to impoverished people during the days of the British Empire.

    – For possibly having a distant relative who may, perhaps have taken part in the slave trade.

    For my manifold sins and wickedness I apologise.

    I apologise for being alive. I apologise for being born. I won’t do it again, honestly.

    (PS laid up with flu, hence miseryguts mode)

  80. so on the one hand labour are desperate to increase freedom of movement within Europe, but on the other they are trying to make it economically unfeasible for a great majority of the British to actually enjoy this freedom of movement. Great.
    The suggested extra tax on people who live in “good” areas is even worse. It basiclly means that those who commit crime in their own neighbourhood, thereby making it a “bad” area, pay lower taxes whereas those who do not commit crime or notch a string of ASBO’s are taxed for it.

  81. Well thanks, Newmania. You’re doing some great stuff too, along with Idlex, Flo, Steven, the amazingly perceptive Jack (is he really only 20?), and others.

    You assume that the reason for social development is because laws were made. Sometimes this is the case, but more usually it isn’t. Governments don’t exist to make us nicer people, they exist for the careers of the governors. (Newmania)

    Right on cue comes this gem from the DCLG, successor to Fatso’s preposterous ODPM. Have we finally abandoned all sense of proportion, or is it just me in flu-induced grumpy mode? Then again, is this exactly what you meant?

    I bet Gamon will find it all perfectly reasonable and justifiable. Here goes…

    Fire minister Angela Smith was in Northamptonshire today (October 24th) for the launch of a brand new national strategy which makes combating anti social behaviour and reducing the fire risk faced by vulnerable youngsters a mainstream Fire and Rescue Service activity for the first time.

    The new Children and Young People strategy puts existing work by the Fire and Rescue Service on a more formal footing and provides a framework for:

    * Engaging actively with children and young people and their families.

    * Preventing and reducing crime and fire-setting by children and young people.

    * Diverting children and young people from fire crime and associated antisocial behaviour.

    * Educating children and young people and their families in fire safety skills and responsible citizenship.

    * Ensuring that staff working with children and young people are effective and professional.

    * Identifying and disseminating good practice in working with children and young people.


    The new strategy feeds into over-arching Government initiatives by enabling the Fire and Rescue Service to make a stronger contribution to tackling disadvantage, reducing health inequalities and preventing crime, by targeting children and young people at risk of offending or in deprived neighbourhoods.

    In drawing up the plans, DCLG has worked in partnership with the Department of Health, the Home Office and the Department for Education and Skills. We have also worked closely with CFOA, ACPO, NACRO, the Youth Justice Board, the Health and Safety Executive, our practitioner and safety forums and many others with experience and expertise in this area.

    Full text on

  82. Jack (is he really only 20?),

    Yes that is scary isn`t it . I was also amazed that Churston Chappie was 73 . He seemed quite a groover. I thought Idlex was about 28 .

  83. JACK TARGET- Like your suicidal scream a lot ,but aren’t you being rather un-gallant. It is a worry, yes, that Rachel may be a bit of a swot, but given the Boris history, there is every reason to hope she was chosen on the entirely more rational lines , I have suggested . Why such a blue meanie , don’t you like girls?

    By the way eons ago my friends and I phoned through for A level results , and (drunk ) agreed to say the word they made. Mine were mediocre and sounded like a sob ( BBB ) , One was amazed he had anything at all(COO!?) . Of the two “clever ones , one was disappointed ( BAA!) and the other let out a sigh of infinite satisfaction ..AAAAA. . Nothing much has changed since

    I have the answer on climate change , dump oil , it could easily be done and solve the axis of evil problem as well . Remove taxes on Green products, helping the economy, get rid of the EU and Regional Authorities and plough the “peace dividend into ..some green thing . No doubt to the infinite satisfaction of Sir Gamon Brown-nose will go the high tax big government route. I will resist . You ( Gamon) will collaborate. There is a place for you on my list , oh yes indeed.

  84. Apologies for my comments to Rachel! I’m just feeling threatened to have someone who is probably a lot more intelligent than me on the scene, and yet who is probably around my own age, preventing me from using the excuse of youthful naivety…

  85. OK. Here we go. From the top…

    Idlex –

    Back in the 18th century, pretty much nobody saw the slave trade as a ‘pressing present-day’ problem. It oiled the wheels of the global economy.

    Campaginers like Wilberforce stood up and condemned it because they saw it as morally wrong and repugnant to enslave other human beings. They were right, as I’m sure you’ll agree, and they had to use the great debating chamber of Parliament to get their point across. Then they had to use the machinery of government to introduce the necessary legislation. Said legislation was no doubt cumbersome and an affront to some people’s freedoms, but with hindsight I’m hoping we can all agree they were right to do so.

    Fast forward to today. What I’m saying to you is that it is morally wrong to continue consuming and polluting at the rate we have been, when the people who are most likely to be affected – the people who ARE being affected – are those who have had the least to do with that consumption and pollution.


    ‘in the case of global warming, we are about to be asked to shoulder a whole new raft of taxes’.

    No, we’re not. Please pay attention. What we are all talking about yesterday, in the wake of the Stern report – and what environmentalists have been suggesting for decades – is repositioning taxes. Stop taxing income; start taxing pollution and waste.

    Of course, an irresponsible government COULD use climate change as an excuse to raise the overall tax burden. But do you honestly think they’d stay in power long if they did? There are far too many people like your good self out there, finely tuned to the merest whisper of a new stealth tax.

    Newmania –

    And you, sir, make the classic mistake of all conservatives in assuming that someone who believes in government also believes in bureaucracy. The reason we have an NHS is because forward-thinking people campaigned for it, and pushed it through Parliament, enshrining it in law. The reason the NHS is in trouble today is because it’s become hidebound by bureaucracy.

    Of course we could have sat back and waited for the natural laws of the market and trickle-down economics to take care of our health problems; and if we had poor people would still be dying for lack of the funds to pay a doctor.

    Let’s move on to Africa. I gather you DON’T lose sleep about it. I think that’s a shame, because I happen to believe we’re all in this together. But don’t make the classic mistake of the conservative in assuming that because I was appalled by Apartheid, I’m not equally appalled by Mugabe or any of the other hideously corrupt black African regimes. Of course some of the Aid doesn’t get through – this is an entire continent we’re talking about. A continent with as many political, social, and environmental dimensions as Europe or Asia. A continent that will be first to feel the effects of environmental catastrophe. A continent full of living, breathing human beings who need the same things as you or I: food, water, shelter, living in peace.

    How DARE you suggest we shouldn’t be concerned about Africa, because some African regimes are corrupt?

    Let’s move on to Toyota Prius…

    Nice wisecrack about the corduroy jacket, by the way. Welcome to cheap cliche world. ‘Breaking wind in a hurricane’ is much better, but equally stupid. Go back to the slave trade, if you will: a multinational industry of its time. Wilberforce stood up in Parliament and said it was wrong, and persuaded Britain to take a moral stand. We did not sit around waiting for all the other slave trading countries to catch up: we took the lead.

    As for that car, please go back and re-read my original post. I said it was a SMALL step. Not the solution, but better, in its likely impact on the environment, than a Bentley.

    At no point did I say anything in support of celebrities jumping on the environmental bandwagon and buying a Prius to prove how green they are. Please pay attention, and don’t use my arguments to reinforce your own prejudices.

    You might even find that I agree with you on some points – like the need for tough negotiation with the Chinese, for example.

    PaulD –

    Don’t be so bloody silly, suggesting I somehow approve of the Angela Smith thing. I’m genuinely insulted that you would think such a thing. You, sir, are making the same classic mistake of the conservative that Newmania makes.

    Since you’re all so narrow in your opinions, I’ll spell it out for you, once and for all:

    1/ I am NOT an admirer of the current government.

    2/ I believe them to have made made terrible mistakes, particularly in the matter of the Iraq War. I went on that march, and I’m proud of it. However, I’m always more inclined to see this sort of thing as a cock-up than a conspiracy.

    3/ Even Margaret Thatcher has her human side. She just tended to make more cock-ups in government than most. Worst, she never admitted they were cock-ups. Intransigence is a sign of stupidity, not moral courage.

    4/I do believe in government. It’s a sorry system, in need of reform, but it’s all we’ve got.

    5/ If you leave everything to the market, it has one effect and one effect only: the rich get richer, and the poor get more numerous.

    6/ I’ve been a supporter of whichever political party makes the most intelligent contribution to the environmental debate since the mid-70s, when I first became aware of the problem. It’s been a pressing problem for 35 years.

    7/ I believe in the human race. I have no rational basis for this believe, but I think we can get ourselves out of this mess. Stern seems to think so too. Good for him.


    List? What list? Is that some kind of weird conservative threat?

    PLEASE, everybody. Learn to read.

  86. Gamon- Busy earning money you wish to remove at the moment, but I have read your querulous squeaks . I look forward to pulling off your debating legs like an insect when I have a moment.

  87. Gamon,
    Britain has not abolished slavery, in fact labour have encouraged it, but it is called people trafficing now.

  88. Sigh.

    What money do I wish to remove? Au contraire, I’d like you to pay less because you live an ecologically friendly lifestyle.

    Go figure.

    K – people trafficking is illegal. If you think that’s something to do with the government, you’ve got a lot to learn about how parliament works.

    (And that is NOT an endorsement of the Labour Party)

  89. . Gamon , you are all over the place and answering you feels a bit like playing tennis with myself but………..
    “Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.”
    Woody Allen
    Perhaps it will be fun.

    On the slave trade, well quite obviously you pick this example because it is so very unusual . Wilberforce was ,an evangelical Christian and Tory gentleman amateur . This was exactly an example of an outsider, not a government. The circumstances are nothing like as simple as you suggest and have very little to do with our problem today. Gamon ..sigh… , this was before the invention of income tax …bliss.. , on the basis of a bought seat (£9000 actually a fortune then) . The envy of old money for new, the comparative ease with which the British were able to use wage slaves are factors and it was partly a move against the growing power of America.
    You say it shows governments are good. I say it shows even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and if anything is an argument for reducing governments to 18th century levels so as to allow privileged elite to act freely on the consciences (?). Irrelevant, unusual; and an argument against the modern state if anything
    Government can be hi jacked by religious based pressure groups, and the results can also be catastrophic ,as in the case of prohibition.The Wilberforce case has something in common with this.
    To be honest I think I gave you a better case with the factory acts .The green issue has religious traits that are highly suspicious .

    On your general point that all laws are an affront to someone’s freedoms ,and that nonetheless we need them, I agree, obviously. I `m a Conservative not an anarchist. This is , to me, a statement of the obvious and misses the point . This is the point:

    .Can we trust the worldwide collection of chancers freaks and little Hitlers required for greening trade and the gobal economy, to use powers they may acquire responsibly? Can we trust them not to use fictional emergencies to acquire powers and is their motivation chiefly power or the good of mankind ? NO

    To some extent it depends which government ,as I have mentioned ,but at the moment we in a phase where the spread of state power is at least as large a problem as the supposed apocalypse that we have been waiting for for about 1000 years .The correct response is “holocaust denial ” until the state makes this type illegal . The correct response is resistance. The wrong response is to leap like a silly lemming into the hands of a ghastly unaccountable world order like the faintly ridiculous gamon.

    There is a problem though. Even if you think top down solutions are the answer which I do not.A global trading frame work will soon be required at a minimal level , even wonderful Ruth Lea admits this . The ghastly prospect this holds out is why Libertarians are more than ever needed. Not Gamons

    I would accept though that there are examples where the government is right to ignore the temporary wishes of the people. Iraq is a good one . We have a democracy , not a rolling referendum . I think it is harder to justify the government ignoring the settled opinion of the electorate over a very long period , as in the case of the death penalty . Into the shallow lefty trap of pointing at public opinion only when it suits you , you have fallen .

    Moving from your safe ground, worn smooth with meditational repetition we get to taxes where , unsurprisingly , you start to babble like a child . The fact that taxes will not be ,”repositioned “, but raised , is precisely the problem. The only thing that will, prevent that is action outside the state

    The governing class tend to agree that they should have more power . I `ll admit it is a subtle point but we cannot go on without admitting the notion of the government acting to safeguard individual freedom. This they do only because they are to some extent the expression of right thinking individual’s, ( the Conservative Party), but also the insatiable appetite of the state for power and money ( New Labour) .

    Stealth Tax

    ” finely tuned to the merest whisper of a stealth tax” .. Well yes ; because it is the nature of these slithering beasts to try to avoid detection. Indirect taxes are now about the same level as income tax and this is about the same as the amount of Social Benefit . Every year brings new taxes which in a variety of ways are subsequently abused. The overall tax burden is the Blair era expressed as govt. managed expenditure has moved from 40 5 to 45%. This is a vastly larger move than it appears given the perimeters of 20% (Wilberforce minimum) and 60/65% , free country maximum.. Anyway as this is weakest point you make perhaps its unfair to dally .
    (n another occasion I`ll give you a lesson in the taxation system)Shall we have a small wager, gamon, as to whether VAT is to be scrapped on green products, . Not while brown – nose still draw breath. If the stealthy nature of green taxes, were to be offset from progressive taxation it would be a brutally it would be good? It will not happen..

    How long would such a government stay in power?. About ten years so far . An important ratio to bear in mind is that between tax payers and electors

    NHS ,is a poor example as their universal support for it in this country . You say the government did it , I say everyone else did it . there ceases to be a clear distinction and the govt. role has chiefly been to muck it up.
    The answer is to take parts of it out of direct government control.

    I agree the market will not act efficiently alone on health ,but the current problem is that it takes to much responsibility ,not the reverse. You are facing the wrong direction. In general if you thought of society and its organisation as a dynamic process and not a static contract you would fall into less error .

    Yes,the market is a garden not a wilderness, and the intervention of central control is quite legitimate., weeding out monopoly practice for particularly . The one monopoly we cannot weed out is the state itself, which is why constant vigilance is required. You are not helping Gamon

    Africa – Wring your hands as much as you like , I do not . It makes to difference, unless you wish especially to advertise your inner goodness .
    Corrupt people are usually very keen to strike moral attitudes where nothing much is required of them . Aid to Africa does not only, not get through, but is actually harmful by preventing the development of the economies and bulwarking existing inefficiency, and political despotism . It is very convenient for the West to do exactly this. We maintain unfair trade , and keep the continent a placid source of primary resources . This is rather a complicated subject but the simple statement that throwing money at it has not worked is a sound one.

    Have you been on a march against Mugabe then? Thought not

    The Toyaota Prius . You have not understood my point, and following your example I suggest you re read and this time make an effort to comprehend

    Ah yes . It is clear that it always right for the state to drag us into unilateral action ; especially on the basis of pseudo religious beliefs.

    Iran , for example , who began the politicisation of Islam and the export of terrorism world wide . They didn`t wait for anyone else, but others have certainly caught up since. Soviet Russia similarly. There is a balance, we have to better than anyone else to have the authority to make them catch up. As we already are your energies are focussed, once more, in the wrong direction.

    The market and the way it works or doesn’t, I have alluded to above, but the effectiveness of the Western Liberal markets has been to make everyone richer . That is why Poles come here and not visa versa . Perhaps we should keep free markets ? Someone tell Brown nose

    I `m sorry to hear you wasted so much of your life and amused at meaningless remark that you ,” believe in the human race”, .So what .
    Intransigence is indeed a sign of stupidity, and I trust that after a period of silence and reflection ,you will be able to demonstrate this by agreeing with me.

    List – just a little joke gamon , and I `m sorry about the reading . At our school we used the “expressing yourself with play dough ” , method , so what do you expect.

    Righty ho , must crack on … and the bloody Boris site is down again AGAIN!!! . What is going on , has it been taken over by the state ?

  90. Yesterday I had a lesson in saving the planet from Adrian (for it is he) from the local council.

    To set the scene, the council has gone eco and we’ve just taken delivery of three wheelie bins – one for food scraps (waste of time in our case as most of it goes on the compost heap), one for “dry recyclables” and one for non-recyclables. The council has opened a recycling hotline for idiots like me. Conversation follows…

    So All the plastic marked 1, 2 or 3 goes for recycling, right?


    But as far as I can see most of our plastic waste has a number four or higher. Or it’s too small to read. Or it has no number at all. Where does that go?

    To a landfill site.

    But this stuff makes up most of our waste. That’s a shame, isn’t it, when we’re trying to recycle everything?

    Yes, it does seem a shame

    So why can’t it be recycled?

    Because the recycling centre won’t accept it. They’ll take things like drinks bottles which are usually 2 or 3. So the rest can’t be recycled.

    Oh, I see. Ahem. Another question. I have a 5-litre engine oil can marked recycle code 2. Where does that go?

    Number two? In the dry recyclables bin.

    But it’s still got some oil residue, probably an eggcup full.

    Well if it’s number two it goes in the dry recyclables.

    But the oil is full of nasties, like heavy metals, and you say it’ll be turned into drink bottles.

    Oh, you may have a point there. Put it in the black bin (non-recyclable).

    Thanks. Another question. Your blurb says all foil should go in the black bin. Do you mean aluminium foil?


    But you accept aluminium cans for recycling, why can’t I put foil in with them?

    Because the recycling centre doesn’t take foil.

    Why not?

    Because it only takes cans.

    Sorry, that’s not a reason. Can you give me a technical reason why it won’t accept foil.

    Oh, hang on. (Lengthy muttering in background). Apparently it’s because the foil is too concentrated

    What, the foil is pure but the cans are an alloy?

    Yes, that’s it! Alloy.

    Seems a pity to bury the pure aluminium, then.

    Yes, it is a pity. But that’s how it is.

    OK, next question

    You have a lot of questions

    Yes, I’m an inquisitive sort of person. What do I do with light bulbs?

    Oh, they can go in the black bin.

    But the blurb says you don’t take light bulbs at all. I was wondering what to do with them. They don’t compost very well.

    Well the odd one won’t do any harm.

    Great. Thanks. And what about window glass? It says I mustn’t put window glass in the bottle bank. So what am I supposed to do with it?

    Well you could put one broken window pane in with the bottle bank if you break it up small. I don’t suppose that would hurt.

    Good. Now what about the dreaded microchip? Is there one hidden in the bin?

    Most of the bins we’re issuing have a chip. The government insists they come with a chip fitted.

    So are they activated?

    Not a chance. It’ll cost us a small fortune to install all the necessary equipment in the dustcarts to read the chip and weigh the bin, so we’re not doing it.

    Do you think it will come?


    OK, so in our house we tend to let newspapers and stuff pile up, then have a good clear-out. Say I didn’t use the bin for three weeks then put it over the limit. Would I get a rebate for the three unused weeks?

    Ha! I very much doubt it!

    Forget Toyotas, Stern reports and biofuel. There, my friends, is the future of planetary salvation.

  91. Newmania…

    RE: ‘The green issue has religious traits’…

    What on EARTH are you talking about, man?

    RE the ‘chancers, freaks, and Hitlers’…

    Of course we can’t trust them. Where did I say we could? We can’t trust them to administer Income Tax, and there’s no reason to believe they’d do a better job with Green taxes. That’s why we’re a democracy. If they fail you, vote to throw them out. Or give up the ghost, which I’d haqte to se you do.

    Re: the taxes I was babbling about…

    Please provide evidence that taxes will be raised as a result of Green taxes being introduced. I don’t think there’s even been a White Paper yet.

    Re: the current round of stealth taxes…

    I didn’t say they weren’t doing that. If we continue with a Labour government, they may just try to ‘stealth’ green taxes – I don’t know. Where did I write that I supported Labour’s current tax policy? A future Conservative or Liberal government would have to deal with climate change too. I think you’re in danger of projecting sterotypes onto a debate that has only just begun.

    Re: Africa…

    I take it you’re happy to maintain unfair trade and keep the continent a placid source of resources. You’re not clear on this point. If that’s true, there’s no point even continuing this discussion. If I’ve misuderstood, please explain how we disagree. I never said anything about aid: you bought the subject up.

    Re The Conservative Party being the expression of right thinking individuals, while New Labour express the insatiable appetite of the state for money and power….

    A moment ago you accused ME of being religious in my opinions.

    Re the Toyota. No, I don’t understand your point. I’ve read back, and I’m not sure what your objection it it is, apart from the celebrity bandwagon. But I do agree with you that it’s really not a big part of this debate. Let’s stop wasting our time.

    Re the Markets…

    The effectiveness of the Western liberal markets has been to make everyone IN THE WEST richer. I don’t suppose there’s any point me mentioning Africa again, is there?

    Re Mugabe…

    No, I’ve not been on a march. Didn’t go on one against Apartheid either. Are you keeping some sort of score? The only march I went on recently was against the war in Iraq. I stand by my opinion of that cock-up – though of course if someone comes up with a coherent argument for our presence there I’l listen.

    Re ‘believing in the human race – so what?’…

    So what indeed. I think it’s important. Perhaps you have other priorities. Perhaps you only believe in family. Or the Christian Church. Or self-interest. Or the fairies at the bottom of your garden. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. Whatever it is, it’s too narrow for me.

    I’m also deeply offended that you think I’ve somehow ‘wasted my life’, just because I disagree with you, and am prepared to debate long and hard about it.

    I’d like an apology.

    And the name is MARKgamon, not just ‘gamon’. I left school a long time ago.

  92. PaulD…

    They seem to be making a mess of it, don’t they?

    Of course, we could just STOP recycling, I suppose. That’d be easier for everyone.

  93. Mark Gamon, Newmania –
    MG said

    I’m also deeply offended that you think I’ve somehow ‘wasted my life’, just because I disagree with you, and am prepared to debate long and hard about it.

    I’d like an apology.

    And the name is MARKgamon, not just ‘gamon’. I left school a long time ago

    Mark I’m sure Newmania didn’t purposely offend and would be happy to apologise, Newmania?

    We value “long and hard” debate from both of you chaps. Please shake hands and come out writing..

  94. Gamon… I mean Mark: The council has, in my view, done a good job of introducing this scheme. The accompanying booklets were informative and the Environment Committee chairman’s message was mercifully free of political dogma.

    Don’t underestimate the impact – it’s the biggest thing to happen in our village for years!

    What worries me, apart from the revelation that most of our waste plastic will STILL end up in the ground, is the amateurishness of it all.

    The conversation I had is a frightening glimpse of what I suspect is occurring much higher up the chain of command. In other words, no-one really knows what they’re talking about. Can this really be the basis of “the most important document ever to have crossed my desk” (T. Blair)?.

  95. Oops, seems the blockquote doesn’t work if you include an [enter] in the text, and FYI folks, I’ve also found that only one URL link per post works, otherwise the post gets held for approval. Just thought I’d mention that.

  96. PaulD…

    I guess we just have to hope that everybody eventually gets the hang of it.

    One alternative I’d like to see is everybody lobbying the manufacturers to use less plastic (and foil, and aluminium) in the first place…

  97. MG said

    One alternative I’d like to see is everybody lobbying the manufacturers to use less plastic (and foil, and aluminium) in the first place…

    Good point. Do you think it is the fault of supermarkets?

  98. Mark Gamon then , if you`d like an apology you are very welcome . Sorry .

    I`d like to have [Ed: discreet deletion] with Beyonce Knowles.

    Your turn ?

  99. Newmania

    S’aright. I forgive you. I apologise for any harsh words I may have used to you.

    I’m not quite sure why the conversation has turned to the fragrant Beyonce, but I’d just like it put on record I’m more of a Kate Winslet man myself.

  100. Jaq – I’d blame the supermarkets, yes. And of course the great British public, that seems to value a thing more if it’s dressed up in hard plastic and four-colour printed board.

    A long, long time ago, my mum used to take me to a little shop in Saffron Walden where you could still buy rice and pearl barley and potatoes straight out of sacks stacked behind the counter and everything was given to you in a brown paper bag. Which was of course bio-degradeable, though we weren’t aware that was important at the time.

    The supermarkets would probably say they don’t do that any more because the market wouldn’t abide it. For which, read: because it would cut into our shareholder’s dividends.

    Thank you for the peacemaking 🙂

  101. MG – you’re welcome. This blog does have a deserved reputation for good debate and it’s all down to you lot. Keep it up!

    Not with Beyonce please Newmania.

    I blame the supermarkets for the destruction of markets and the availablity of fresh local produce. Agriculture has suffered and though farmers markets are popping up I think the meat and dairy industry has taken a slow but devastating blow which in turn has affected the general quality of food.

  102. Mark – well there’s a thing. Saffron Walden. I omitted geographic reference to avoid embarrassing the worthy Adrian (not his real name) but since you unwittingly established a connection…

    He was doing his best, and I have been very complimentary about the environment chairman! It’s the green hysteria that really gets me.

  103. I wonder how much has been achieved by all the debate on this page.
    I wonder how absurd the human race appears to anyone looking at it from outside.
    This is the blog of a tory gentleman. I do not expect to be in the majority when I come over here to post.
    I have a very simple, probably simplistic, view of capitalism. This view formed in my mind as early as I can remember. In order to function capitalism demands that we keep on making stuff, and sustain a demand for said stuff. There is a limited amount of stuff on this earth. Unless we curb our consumerism we are going to run out of stuff. Capitalism therefore seems to contain within it the seeds of its own demise. Further, as the sainted Mr Gamon suggests, if we keep polluting the planet in order to fulfill our perceived need for more new shiny stuff, then we will hasten its demise even further.
    I know that this analysis lacks the academic credentials of the works of Adam Smith, Marx and even Enid Blyton, but it is the point at which my perceptions begin.
    On the whole, why don’t we try being nice to each other. (Except I won’t be nice to Thatcher).
    love, peace and orgasms to you all.

  104. Phew! Able to post again. Thanks Melissa.

    Seems others have been having the same problem. And have been posting great long tracts to make up for it. I won’t join in.

  105. I read Boris’s article in the Speccie. I think that most of these hard working middle class people have been cushioned by wealthy parents and subsequently don’t have much experience of the real world. If Boris wants to see angry disadvantaged yet intelligent young adults he should go to one of the rubbish universities. They do have many intelligent students, many of whom simply hadnt got the money or support from their parents to get to one of the great universities.

  106. There is a limited amount of stuff on this earth. Unless we curb our consumerism we are going to run out of stuff. Capitalism therefore seems to contain within it the seeds of its own demise. Further, as the sainted Mr Gamon suggests, if we keep polluting the planet in order to fulfill our perceived need for more new shiny stuff, then we will hasten its demise even further. (Vicus Scurra).

    But can’t you see, Vicus, that quite a few “Tory gentlemen” feel the same way?

  107. Vicus – From what I gather aliens spend a lot of time laughing at our amusingly antiquated preparation of the potato so I wouldn’t care much what they have to say about it The green record of the developed free West is a lot better than its erstwhile alternative but I think you are right ,growth cannot go on forever .

    CS Lewis`s Hideous Strength Books and he other are an alternative spiritual imagining of space and Michael Moorcocks “Dancers at the End of Time ” is a quirky funny vision . The future that seems most relevant to me at the moment is Brave New World , where the people are engineered to be happy with what they can be given. K- Pax is worth a dip and Barry Unworth`s “Sacred Hunger” is tremendous on the development of early Capitalism and a good yarn

    People look down on Science fiction but I like it , especially short stories. Philip K Dick has been behind lots of films now but the first was Blade Runner (Ridley Scott ….he of Alien). Phillip K Dick himself saw none of his triumph and died in despair before the film and subsequent celebrity began. So did Gerard Manley Hopkins the Victorian Poet .Idlex has described the house style as courteous and poetic. As I am unlikely to master either how about a bit of Gerard Manley Hopkins;

    To Christ our Lord

    I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
    dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dáwn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
    Of the rólling level úndernéath him steady áir, & stríding
    High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
    In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
    As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl & gliding
    Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
    Stirred for a bird, — the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
    Brute beauty & valour & act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
    Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
    Times told lovelier, more dangerous, o my chevalier!
    No wónder of it: shéer plód makes plóugh down síllion
    Shine, & blue-bleak embers, ah my dear, Fall, gáll themsélves, & gásh góld-vermílion.

    I wonder how many did that one at school.I wonder if he is still such a staple

  108. Not that amazing, Mark. There’s more common ground than may at first appear between people with contrasting views. Misunderstandings become polarised. You sometimes come across as a fan of big, heavy-handed government, when you’re probably not. Newmania (and Vicus by the looks of it) has this idea I’m a flithy rich country gent when I’m not even a gent, let alone a flithy rich one. And so on.

    We all paint eachother with single hues and then discover there is, after all, quite a lot in common.

    Paradoxically, your traditional Tory hates rampant consumerism more than you might imagine. These are people who were brought up with a make-do-and-mend attitude and the notion that flashy displays of wealth and possessions are vulgar.

    Contrast with the other extreme, the Labour-voting council house chav family, mindless worshippers of brand labels who truly believe they deserve their mobile phones, widescreen TVs, designer sportswear, video players etc, want them all now, and quickly ditch them for a new model when boredom sets in, which is usually pretty soon.

    In between the extremes, I think you’ll find that an increasing number of people are questioning the disposible society. They know it cannot go on for ever but they are torn. When you can buy a well-made power tool for a tenner, the temptation is enormous. I know several builders who use nothing but this cheap made-in-China kit, happy that “if it does only one job it’s paid for itself, then you can just chuck it away”. They would also rather have a £20 drill nicked from the building site than a £200 one.

    So please, Vicus, don’t tar all capitalists with the same brush. Indeed I’m beginning to wonder what a capitalist is these days. If it’s someone who doesn’t believe in an all-powerful state, there are a lot of them around and they do have a conscience, you know.

  109. Gemma,
    I do actually agree with you to a certain extent. I went to a russel group uni. and know for a fact that they turned down a boy who had straight A’s in every examination he had ever taken and was passionate about the subject he wanted to study. The reason they turned him down was because he was deemed boring since he had very few interesting hobbies! The interviewer seemed to forget that the only reason most young people have so many outside interests is that they are lucky (??)enough to have pushy parents and schools who arrange for them to have so many ex. activities. It is unfair that a child who did not have this, but is intelligent and hard working should be penalised. Most of the people I know who have long lists of outside interests are not actually passionate about any of them, which is a pity as they are spending most of their time doing something that bores them simply to improve their cv’s.

  110. Aren’t there prof. people or organisations who groom children (and parents) for application to revered academic institutions? You have to pay.

  111. I think so, at any rate I have met people who have said they used them. But a lot of schools make it clear to parents that their child will do better in life if they take extra music lessons, extra sports lessons etc

  112. Better in life? That’s debatable in my opinion but I see your point k. Better in life if they gain the correct admission pass or social membership (half the shadow cabinet went to Eton was it?) But children who are dragged from mummies choice of activity to activity in some resigned passivity have never been allowed to be truly bored. What happens to their imagination? How often have they built a ship out of leaves in the garden or constructed something in their head? Children who are continually busied and entertained, expect to be busied and entertained. This is not dependant on income really but on parenting. I think orchestrated kids cannot find their own tune, they just arrogantly expect orchestration even to adulthood. Perhaps that is one reason why people are less inclined to say ‘I’m bored, what can I find to do’ but ‘I’m bored, it’s someone elses fault’.

  113. PaulD
    I have read your postings here, and usually my views usually diverge very early on.
    My definition of capitalism is as described above – the creation of competitive market forces in order to sustain society. I believe this to be deeply flawed.
    I define a Tory as someone who puts the market forces at the centre of their politic/ethical standpoint, and therefore is adopting a view based upon a faulty premise. By gentleman, I was merely attempting to be polite, not imposing a class judgement.
    The Conservative party have, in my view, adopted the pretence that any opposition to their view results in an interfering, bureaucratic and therefore tyrannical government. A somewhat quaint argument to disguise not having a very stable platform.
    I do not want a government that tells me what to do, but one that will, to some extent, protect me from those wishing to do me harm in an illegal fashion, and one that protects the interests and wellbeing of those unable to compete with the rich buggers – the weak, the poor, the infirm, the minorities.
    Because of this basic viewpoint I have never voted Conservative, have not voted Labour since the days pre-Kinnock, and mostly find myself effectively disenfranchised.

    I am sure I have more in common with you than we have differences.

  114. Agree with you one hundred percent Jaq. I do not think people bought up like this are actually more capable or interesting people (in fact they tend to be boring to speak to for more than ten mins). I do think though that this superchild attitude puts a lot more pressure on parents. I have a friend who feels guilty that she only lets her five year old go to a couple of cv enhancing activities a week whereas all the other children are at activities five nights a week.

  115. The Conservative party have, in my view, adopted the pretence that any opposition to their view results in an interfering, bureaucratic and therefore tyrannical government.

    Vicus, you know very well that anyone who questions the NuLab view is automatically a racist, homophobic, xenophobic, nationalistic, blood-sucking tyrant. One word out of place and they’ll have you labelled. I know – I’ve been there and it’s frightening.

  116. ‘But a lot of schools make it clear to parents that their child will do better in life if they take extra music lessons, extra sports lessons etc’ (k)

    I was always told a CV should be no more than 2 pages long. Is this correct? I’m 26, have attended 4 different educational establishments and and had 20 different jobs. I struggle to keep mine down to 2 pages and invariably miss out all the extra-curricular stuff, which I see as trivial.

    I never bother to write ‘grade 4 violin’, ‘three star skiing badge’ or list the various chess teams I’ve represented. This is partly because I haven’t played the violin for 12 years, partly because I fail to see how being able to ski or play chess will help me get a job and partly because it’s clogged up with the 20 different jobs I’ve had over the last 8 years.

    I do have a ‘hobbies and interest’ section where I mention the cricket team I play for and the fact I like fishing occasionally. Would my CV be better if I ‘forgot’ about a couple of the part-time jobs I’ve had during my time at uni, and instead included the fact I played a few games of chess for the local club team?

    I dunno, maybe I should use a smaller font? Is there a minimum size font you should use?

  117. When I was at St. Scruffs red brick university I thought I was much to cool to do any of the nerdy CV ish things I also didn’t come from the sort of background that gave me any understanding of what it might mean. I strongly suspect that CV stuff is used as code for selection of a very traditional kind indeed.

    This is why all teachers and all politicians know , any sort of selection will be the same sort of selection really. I certainly vouch for teachers on that

  118. I just finished uni the May. While I was there all my spare time was taken up either working in call centres (32 hours per week + occasionally overtime in my final year) or going out and spending my wages at various ‘student nights’.

    I was in the uni cricket club, but this was because I enjoyed it more that CV building. A lot of the sports students that were in the cricket club seemed to be loathed to be there at times mind you. I think they were pretty much forced to join a set number of sports clubs. Nets and fielding practice once a week was the only exercise I got though, they were always at it one way or another.

    I did a specialist degree for one type of local government work though. Any future employer is only going to at the fact I have that degree, have the appropriate professional qualification (which I hope to have by the end of next year) and what work experience I have in that field. The fact I’ve worked in a zillion call centres, used to be able to play the violin, am quite handy at chess or can ski is going to be largely irrelevant.

    Tell you what newmania, seen as I’m bored I might try and re-write my CV to include my on-piste achievements and unbeated record at Cardiff Chess Club. It’s tempting fate though, one day someone in HR will ask me to produce my 3 star ski certificate, then I’m doomed.

  119. In the Mayoral application ,( mine currently posted on some Dick Whittington pretext),you were supposed to describe a challenge you have faced .

    It looks like possession of a crippled child or something similar is a prerequisite of a really top job . I still find it hard to imagine the mentality of someone who use such a thing for electoral purposes .

  120. Steven_L
    I think it is better to tailor each cv for the specific job you are going for. Have you looked on the prospects site (

  121. I haven’t looked at prospects for a long time, thanks for reminding me K.

    ‘In the Mayoral application ,( mine currently posted on some Dick Whittington pretext),you were supposed to describe a challenge you have faced.’ (newmania)

    There was that time when you couldn’t decide what name to use for your blogging.

  122. I have many names .
    . What on earth made you plump for the ludicrously implausible” Steven”. I admit it has suggestions of the gay cavalier , the soldier poet , the wild eyed romantic but you have gone to far . In real life no ones name is so thrillingly evocative as Steven . The very sound of it whisks me away to exotic times and places. ” Steven” I am walking around the dead of Culloden in the pitiless moonlight . “Steven” In white morning frost light I watch the Tsar and hid family crumple in blood and snow. ” Steven “…to much….. to much.!
    The secret magic of the name Steven overwhelms my senses , Such powerful naming is for dreams and visions not for the prosaic life we have . Stevens leave that to their servants .

    What gorgeous exquisite could wear such name ? It cannot be real ; reveal the dowdy plumage of your true life !

  123. For having an ancestor who brought water and sanitation to impoverished people during the days of the British Empire.

    Perhaps you could give us further details. Considering that South India’s hydraulic civilization 2,300 years ago was of a standard the west didn’t reach till the second half of the nineteenth century (remember Fleet Street was a literal open sewer until one day in 1857 when the wind changed direction, and those assembled in Westminster decided they’d better cover it up), I can’t resist the suspicion that there was something rather presumptious in your forefather’s attitude.

  124. As for all the good deeds that Boris’s prospective interns have done, that is because of the modern phenomenum of the gap year. If Jasper or Priscilla told their parents they wanted a bucketful of money so they could spend a year touring the world, getting sloshed, fornicating, and sniggering at the natives, then the odds of them getting it would be small.

    However when they say they want to ‘connect with those less privileged than they are’ or ‘to make a difference’ then daddy’s cheque book flies open, even though the wash-a-leper brigade are not making any difference at all to anybody except to those who charge fat fees to organize the charade. Does anybody really tnink they need to import public schoolboys from the UK to look after the animals in Colombo zoo?

  125. … or indeed import public school boys to “visit the poor “, in London ,which they actually do .
    I suppose its degraded version of the Grand Tour. Most of the reactions to otherness could have easily been written in advance of the expierience.

  126. Stephen Jones said

    remember Fleet Street was a literal open sewer until one day in 1857 when the wind changed direction, and those assembled in Westminster decided they’d better cover it up

    reading some of the sunday papers, especially the columnists, it still is. And Westminster still tries to cover it up from time to time.

  127. Mark Gamon –
    Your comments reveal a deep distrust of power and any system that facilities or encourages its pursuit. This apparent concern for the plight of the underdog is somewhat undermined by the patronising assumption that people cannot look out for themselves. Take your comments on personal debt for instance. Yes it is piling up, but so long as people can pay it back, that’s fine and allows people to enjoy luxuries previously beyond the reach of ordinary folk. For some people debt is a problem, but I find the idea that some overweening moral guardian should protect us from temptation deeply offensive.

    This instinct to regard people as helpless victims or powerful oppressors is sympomatic of the left-wing control freakery creeping back into public life. It legitimises all kinds of illiberal legislation and encourages the wretched victim culture that is prevalent today. Like all enthusiastic socialists, you conveniently ignore the crashing failure of left-wing politics, and nit-pick at the failings of the free market. Tell the Chinese and the Indians that they are wrong to embrace capitalism; they are enjoying enprecedented levels of prosperity. By contrast, all Marxist theory has delivered is authoritarianism, inefficiency, poverty and suffering.

    I think that most socialists secret acknowledge this, so they’ve changed tack. Instead of claiming that Marxism is the best way to achieve a prosperous society, they’ve given up on the idea. Instead, they say that this aim is undesirable and brow beat us into regarding the pursuit of a better life as selfish and unfulfilling. At least in doing so they are showing their true colours as mean-spirited misanthropes.

    Of course the old left-wing political terms still have negative connotations. No one is going to garner much support for killing off wealth and aspiration under the banner of a Trot or a Marxist. But call yourself an environmentalist and you’re onto a winner. Mother Nature has simply replaced the working classes as the Left’s focus of concern – a new underdog to shout for. Many socialists feel betrayed by the working classes. They liked them when they were powerless and put-upon, but their empowerment over the past 20 years has seen them rise from victim status to little capitalists. They have been corrupted by the pursuit of wealth and power that they once counterpointed.

    I for one celebrate this shift in the balance of power. The cloth-cap-and-cobblestones worldview, with plucky workers battling rapacious fatcats, is an anachronism. It is telling that the people whose primary stated concern was delivering a better life for the masses seem disgruntled that this has been achieved through an ideology to which they are hostile. One might be tempted to believe that they are less interested in their declared goal than in the deprivations that the ideology they favour would have placed on everyone else.

  128. Tayles – A superb post which I will hang on my wall. Steady authority in every sentence .I only wish I could emulate it .

    How absolutely right you are.Please come back often

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