Posts Tagged ‘Old Etonian’
Hope you had a belting Christmas. Now all we have to bother us are dodgy digestive systems and credit-card repayments. The build-up to the great day started back in October and it was impossible for any one day to live up to so much hype, but we allotment codgers had a go. One thing that has to change in our nest next time is the placing of Christmas cards. Each year we stand them on every conceivable ledge or shelf, each year people keep opening the front door at which point every card in the place takes off for Manchester Airport. Suggestions on a postcard please, but no prizes for suggestions involving sellotape which is guaranteed to create a unwelcome demand from she-who-must-be-obeyed for redecorating.
Today’s papers return us to the real world, although how real the polls are is hard to fathom. The ones I have read suggest that David Cameron is now regarded by 99 per cent of the population as a posh version of Mother Theresa. Perhaps the polls were taken in Surbiton, I really cannot imagine that reading in Wigan where they use the Old Etonian for darts matches. But the story that really attracted attention on the allotments concerned Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem children’s minister.
As a member of the coalition’s top team Ms Teather gave vehement support to the austerity programme. She stood shoulder to shoulder with Theresa Cameron and the dashing Osborne in refusing to contemplate action against tax dodgers, bank bonuses, high-speed rail and Olympics overspend. Like her hero Nick she made clear that the people must tighten their belts and stop whingeing about such luxuries as libraries and meals-on-wheels.
And that is her right. But being a hypocrite isn’t. Having supported cuts in local public services she is now campaigning against the ghastly plan to close public libraries in Brent. Why Brent? Because that is her constituency.
And she is not alone in her incredible hypocracy. Jeremy Browne (foreign office), Steve Webb (pensions) and James Brokenshire (crime) have all followed suit. All have lobbied their fellow ministers to save their own patches!
With behaviour like this is it any wonder that ministers and MPs at large are now to be found at the foot of the table of trustworthiness. Even estate agents and journalists now leave them standing. With one exception!
David Cameron stands next to God, David Beckham and Lady Gaga in the ratings, a politician far removed from the riffraff that seek our votes. Funny old world isn’t it!
I never thought I’d live to report it, but this morning David Cameron received a unanimous round of applause on the allotments. A few days ago we scratched our ancient heads at his choice of the financial sector as the UK’s red-line for the EU negotiations. We still do, but what we hadn’t anticipated was his willingness to slug it out in the face of what amounted to bullying tactics by the Germans, French and almost every member of the EU. If this was a tabloid it would have Cameron asking ‘Just who do EU think we are?’. But it isn’t and I’ll content myself with admitting that he has surprised us all, not least those who saw him as a PR guru and little else.
Of course, given the attitude of his back-benchers, the Prime Minister had little alternative to doing what he did in demanding some return for his support, but a whole series of his predecessors have rolled over when ordered to do so by the EU big guns. He didn’t flinch and we all have seen pictures of the animosity shown by Sarkozy and others. Few of us will lay awake at the revelation that if we refuse to bend to their will, the French and Germans just won’t love us. One spokesman for the furious EU gang has said that we will face revenge. If my memory serves me well they have tried that before!
Apart from the sudden transformation of the Old Etonian into a David happy to take on the Goliaths, one new truth has dawned. Whilst it is difficult to forecast the future given that the problems of the Euro still look insurmountable, one thing is clear. In an attempt to win German financial support most of the other Euorpean countries are surrendering their sovereignty. The deal leaves Britain in splendid isolation and the time has surely come to ask ourselves just what are the benefits of being members.
Such Lib Demmers as still exist will insist that we gain from influence at the Brussels table. That has now gone and suddenly the ‘for’ column looks empty. Trade? Hardly since we currently buy more from Europe than we sell to it and, in any case, manufacturers on either side of the channel will never turn down orders. Indeed, the talk yesterday of the new EU bloc freezing out trade with China and the USA sounds like commercial suicide that we are well out of.
The ‘ against membership’ column looks a tall one. Our subscriptions exceed our recipts by a large margin, and our industry is handicapped by a mass of laws. Our island is over-populated and there is nothing we can do to prevent EU citizens pouring in. Our laws are repeatedly overridden by the European Court and our agricultural and fishing industries are at the mercy of unelected bureaucrats. Viewed objectively, rather than politically, it is hard to spot the advantages of staying in the EU that will now emerge.
For this gang of old codgers the most puzzling aspect of yesterday was the response of Ed Miliband. Clearly it is politically dangerous to shower your opponents with even faint praise, but his claim that Cameron has got it totally wrong automatically triggers the question as to what he would have done. So far we have heard nothing on that score and we are left wondering if he seriously believes that we could allow ourselves to become even more enmeshed in an authoritarian and undemocratic organisation that will progressively assume control for every sovereign nation’s affairs.
Inevitably today’s right-wing press is demanding a referendum. It is likely that Cameron would not be averse to that since being able to speak for the whole country would help him when he has to respond to the inevitable EU backlash. Little doubt about the nation’s verdict when asked whether we should remain in Europe, but it would spell the end of the coalition and, given the apparent view of the Labour Party, would trigger an election. At this very moment Mr Cameron is probably reflecting on the fact that Churchill took on external threats only to be dumped when the ballot boxes were wheeled out in 1946.
But would the Lib Dems and Labour seriously consider going to the country recommending that we sign up to a ’Merkozy’ regime? Do turkeys vote for Christmas?
IT’S TIME FOR YOUR FAVOURITE WEEKEND QUIZ!; 1. How many times did Joe Frazier fight Muhammad Ali? 2. What was designed and made in a variable form by Sikorsky in 1941? 3. The TV series ‘Spooks’ is about which organisation? 4. Who had hits with “One Night in Heaven” and “Moving on Up”? 5. Which “dog like” peninsula formed Canada’s tenth province in 1948? 6. What was Coco Chanel’s Christian name? 7. Quilp appears in a book about what kind of shop? 8. In which European country are the Pindus Mountains? 9. If a creature is demersal, where does it live? 10. In which county was the first Youth Custody Centre set up in 1908?
??????????? ANSWERS TOMORROW ??????????????
Yesterday’s blue skies are but a distant memory, today it was back to the wellies as we plodded about amongst the squabbling hens. Just as soon as conscience allowed we were back in the clubhouse for our brew. But there was little rejoicing over the news that George Osborne has sold Northern Rock to his pal Richard Branson for a knock-down price. Our beamimg lizard-like Chancellor pronounced it a good deal but we codgers tend to regard any sale at a price miles below what one paid as anything but. That apart, any excitement at the rare sight of the treasury actually receiving money was offset by the news that the good old MOD has spent almost the amount of the Branson cheque on unauthorised use of management consultants, whose services cost ten times that of the recently redundant boffins.
The fact that we seem to mess up near everything must weigh heavily on David Cameron’s mind as he sets forth to tackle Angela Merkel. His mood won’t have been helped by the publication of a leaked document in today’s Telegraph. Whilst it is reassuring to learn that even the super-efficient Germans are not immune to leaks, the content is disturbing. It appears that Germany is planning to allow financial defaulters in the Eurozone to go bankrupt, and then to take over their economy as a prelude to total political integration. Germany’s Iron Lady was already planning to clip Cameron around the ear before issuing a bulletin confirming positive discussions. Her proposed leniency was down to the Old Etonian having let slip that he is not, as demanded by his rebellious MPs, going to ask for the return of some powers to Britain.
But now Angela has to convince the king of spin that he will feel quite at home in a sort of second string EU group which she can ignore and thus not worry about. Now she has to instruct him that even though the treaty changes will be rather significant, he must not do anything so rash as hold a referendum.
The problem is that the German Chnacellor, like most of her countrymen, is efficient and as logical as Spok himself. Someone as earnest and transparent as David Cameron is easy meat for she can anticipate his every move and be there before he makes it. What is really needed is a UK representative capable of confusing even the most logical of minds. That is why we codgers have decided to nominate Andrew Lansley. Merkel would never be able to anticipate his moves since even he doesn’t know what he is going to do next.
The story of his reform bill has run for almost as long as ‘the Mousetrap’, and it is still being rewritten. Right now the Lords are trying to make head or tail of it and approval is still some way off. But Andrew Lansley has proceeded anyway and most of the Primary Care Trusts have been wound down, their staff paid handsome redundancy packages before being signed up by the commissioning bodies supposedly to be run by GPs who have no intention of doing anything of the sort. The NHS is in chaos and no one, including brother Lansley, has any idea as to what happens next.
To add to the general Bladrick-like air, Lansley abolished waiting time targets at the same time as he applied the largest financial cuts ever experienced in our health service. Surprise, surprise, there are now people in great pain who have been waiting for a year to even obtain an appointment. One such is Julia Hough, a 39 year-old from Dorset. She was diagnosed with endometriosis but when she saw a consultant gynaecologist was told that surgery would not be available for a very long time. She was off sick from work and was in acute pain. Her only possible course of action was to raise £1,400 for private treatment.
Now Mr Lansley has reimposed the waiting time targets that he abolished. To make the decision appear less bizzare he has announced that any Primary Care Trust Chair failing to meet them will be sacked. Sadly, he has forgotten that his bill’s proposal to abolish such posts has already been acted upon!
Never mind, most of us who feared the death of the NHS realise that it has happened. All we can do now is to firstly ponder on the cashflow implications of paying for private treatment, and secondly what to do with Andrew Lansley.
Luckily, the Merkel threat and Mr Lansley’s latest confusion have coincided. So send him off to Berlin and watch the fun. Negotiating with our master of mystery will surely break even the Iron Lady’s heart!
A FEW THOUGHTS ON THE WEATHER:
” It’s so cold I saw a politician with his hands in his own pockets”…Bob Hope “Better the chill blast of winter than the hot breath of a pursuing elephant”….Chinese proverb “It was so hot today I went to a cash point machine just to enjoy the feel of a cold gun aginst the back of my neck”…..David Letterman “Rain is one thing the Brits do better than anyone else”….Marilyn French “It’s spring in England. I missed it last year. I was in the bathroom”….Michael Flanders “One can always tell its summer when one sees teachers hangiing about in the shops , looking like cannibals during a shortage of missionaries”…..Robertson Davies
JOIN ME TOMORROW FOR THE WEEKEND QUIZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Some of my pals on the allotment have renamed their former hero, Nick Clegg, Big Chief Red Face. Given to using names from long past Westerns, they used to call him New Way but now that they realise that should an election take place his MPs could hold their meetings in a telephone kiosk the mood of the born-again Liberals has changed. For my part I see reason to believe their despair a little premature for young Nick is hitting back at his Old Etonian gaolers. Today’s wheeze has hit the headlines and sounds good to me, albeit slightly impractical.
Clegg has let it be known that were the Lib Dems in power the soft treatment of the Banks by the Conservatives would be a thing of the past. Meantime he is advocating a giveaway of government-owned shares in RBS and Lloyds, worth hundreds of pounds to British taxpayers. Such a move would create 46 million shareholders and allow a form of collective ownership of the Banks. In practice no one is likely to sell their loot in the short term since the bank’s share prices have not yet recovered.
Clegg is aiming at good psychology here. Such a move would demonstrate that the British public, which funded the saving of the Banks, has not been overlooked or ignored. Their money has been used to the tune of billions and billions yet at present they have absolutely no say at all in what happens when normality is achieved. Under the Clegg plan everyone on the electoral register would recieve an estimated 1450 shares in RBS and 450 in Lloyds. Such parcels would be worth £770 on the basis of the current share prices and holders would be free to sell when, and if, the level of the government’s rescue purchase price was reached.
Meantime the theory is that, at last, the public would be in a position to stop the appalling extravagence and greed demonstrated by those who led the Banks to destruction. How a collective voice could appear from 46 million shareholders is less clear, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that some bright spark would come up with a mass transfer of proxies for annual meetings. If they did the disgraceful sight of executives paying themselves millions at the public expense would come to a glorious end.
I may be in a minority of one here on the muddy plot, but I believe Nick Clegg deserves credit for at least trying something new and for recognising that most people are sick to the back teeth of suffering hardship, whilst the incompetent fat-cats that caused the disaster continue to line their already deep pockets.
If he has any breath left after this sudden and unexpected kicking-over of the traces, Clegg might well cast a glance in the direction of Network Rail. It also relies on the taxpayer for its funding and received £3.7 billion last year from the Department of Transport. Its chief executive, Iain Coucher, stepped dwon last year after a controversial 3-year reign. The period was peppered with complaints regarding performance, and even allegations of the misuse of public funds. A review concluded that “Network Rail has insulated itself from real-time economics and political concerns leading to criticisms that it is arrogant or out-of-touch with the reality for the industry, passengers, government and taxpayers”. Anyone using our unpunctual, dirty and overcrowded trains will say amen to that, although given the botched up privatisation of the railways it is almost impossible for the long-suffering passengers to know who to blame.
But one thing is for sure. They will not be impressed by today’s announcement of a £1 million payoff for Coucher. Even the Transport secretary, Philip Hammond, was moved to say that this will “stick in the gullet” of taxpayers and fare payers who have just suffered further huge increases in fares. Perhaps the only surprise is that Coucher was not included in the honours list in the way that Stagecoach boss Brian Souter was. In the week he was knighted thousands of commuters were stranded for hours on South West Trains routes out of Waterloo and communication was so poor that many broke out of stranded trains. Oh yes, he also took the Department of Transport to court, winning tens of millions in extra subsidy payments.
The truth is that under the coalition the rich and privileged, and often contributors to the Conservative Party, have flourished whilst the rest of the nation has been hammered. I at least draw some comfort from the sight of Nick Clegg at last speaking out for the man in the street.
Who knows, my pals may one day dig their ‘I agree with Nick’ sweaters out of the attic!
TODAY’S NEW EGGHEADS QUIZ; GENERAL KNOWLEDGE; 1. Mike Atherton played for which county cricket club? 2. Which were the initials of US President Jonnson? 3. In which county is Ashford International station? 4. Does a Pina Colada contain rum or gin? 5. Which word for a duty doctor is a Latin name for place holder? 6. Which country’s Rugby Union side are the Pumas? 7. Is a Dandy Dimmont a dog, a cat or a horse? 8. In which county is the stately home of Althorp? 9. Which controversial author used the initials for his first names David Herbert? 10. What sort of fruit flavour does Calvados have?
How different life feels on days like this. The allotments are alive with sunshine, every colour is enhanced and the path that has been covered in ice and then mud is suddenly easy on the feet. Even the dandelions, which should have no place in the home of gardeners, are throwing their heads defiantly in the warm air. If only this could last for ever! Mind you there is a flip side to everything, already the water suppliers are warning of a hosepipe ban. Just months ago there were extensive floods and what I don’t understand is the failure to build more reservoirs. But then again the things that I don’t understand would fill a Cyril Smith-sized book!
And right now the Alternative Vote is right up there. We all received a leaflet from ‘call me Dave’ Cameron yesterday. It even has a picture of the Old Etonian signing autographs with his left hand. perhaps he uses the right one for official business? Either way, he is urging us to vote no on May 5th.
The Alternative Vote, says ‘Dave’, is unfair, expensive and discredited. Discredited by whom? Pass, although he does mention that only Australia and Papua New Guinea use it, so maybe Shane Warne and co no longer see it as fair dinkum. He also mentions that countmg can take days which is a real no-no for those who enjoy a tension-laden booze-up on election night. And he underlines the fact that the candidate who finishes third can win.
And that is the feature that puts me off the Clegg/Miliband dream ticket. It’s as if after the 1oo metres final in the Olympics the spectators are asked to list their favourites in a sequence one to five and eventually we are told that Mr Bolt has been displaced on the winners rostrum by Bert Brown from Croydon Harriers.
That may not make sense to you, it scarcely does to me and I wrote it. But even more puzzling to this simple soul is ‘Dave’s’ claim that supporters of such odious people as the BNP will “get their votes counted many more times than everyone else”. I think I know what he means but it is an odd way to put it.
There is of course in all this an assumption that we all have alternative choices. But is this the case? My dear old Gran was what she called ‘a red hot Liberal’ and hated any candidate that threatened gorgeous Lloyd George and his mates. I suspect there are many who on the left and right who feel much the same and would only tick a second or third choice as a means of tactical voting.
I am open to persuasion on this. Right now, first-past-the-post seems more in line with my approach to life, I certainly disagree with Albert and Jack. they refuse to vote until such time as the ballot paper offers ‘None of them’ as an option. If everyone followed that approach it wouldn’t take long to count the votes, but it sounds a bit unpatriotic to me. And in extremis it would leave the loopy bloke from Bacup who always votes and always votes for the Monster Raving Loonies running the country. On second thoughts, that might be no worse than now!
I’ve just had a final thought. Why is PR guru ’Dave’ so keen to have a no vote? Presumably because he sees disadvantage for the Tories under AV. And I don’t even understand that !
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY: FASHION; “A dress has no meaning unless it makes a man want to take it off”….Francoise Sagan “The Pope. Great guy. But in a fashion sense, he’s one hat away from being the Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan”…..Jon Stewart “Her hat looks as if it had made a forced landing on her head”…..Harriet Cobb “A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat”….P J O’Rourke ”They should put expiration dates on clothes so we would know when they go out of style”…..Garry Shandling “Some women hold up dresses that are so ugly and they always say the same thing. ‘This looks much better on’ On what? On fire?”…..Rita Rudner “I don’t own a dress. I wear skirts but I look like a netball teacher”….Victoria Wood “you have no idea how much it costs to look this cheap”….Dolly Parton “A sweater is a garment worn by a child when his mother feels chilly”…..Nora Ephron “If the shoe fits get another just like it”…..George Carlin “Men who wear turtlenecks look like turtles”…..Doris Lily “The softer a man’s head, the louder his socks”……Helen Rowland “Some women think bikinis are immodest. Others have beautiful figures”….Olin Miller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Harold Wilson 2. Margaret Thatcher
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who wrote books about Inspector Morse? 2. In which city was Bertolucci’s Last Tango?