Friday, November 30, 2007

St Andrew's Day

The Scotsman has invited a number of people, many of whom you have probably never heard of (for good reason), to say what it is about Scotland that is worth celebrating.

Personally, one of the things about Scotland that I used to think was worth celebrating is that we didn't go in for the ghastly kitsch that is St Patrick's Day.

I'm concerned that this isn't going to be the case for much longer.

Also, I'm concerned that we're talking more shite than at any point in recorded history.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Free speech and fascists

There have been a number of post written to give guidance to the confused who imagine the right of free speech somehow creates an obligation to provide fascists with a venue but this one is the most beautiful.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lost: two discs and one mojo

I normally eschew the business of attempting to predict the future - except when it suits me. Or to put it another way, except when I think I'm right. And I think I've been right about Gordon Brown. It's just this feeling I get about him: the Force is not with him; his Ying is all out of kilter with his Yang; his mojo definitely ain't working. Had to laugh at Matthew Parris's column on Saturday because he was saying the same sort of thing.

Anyone want to argue that it was such a bad idea to call a snap election now? But I think there's a rational explanation behind this sense that Gordy's Feng Shui's all fucked up.

One is that people are discovering what those of us from the North have understood all along: being grumpy and Scottish doesn't make you left-wing. One gets the sense that people have begun to realise that Brownism is just Blairism without the smiles.

Being grumpy and Scottish doesn't make you more competent either - and this is the core of the issue. What happens when you play the politics of personality, only to discover that the personality in question isn't a) anything like as attractive as you thought it would be and b) irrelevant anyway? No, not irrelevant - rather it has the opposite effect than the one suggested for it. Brown's been able to get away with this son o' the manse crap for quite a long time. Why it should have lasted this long is beyond me. He's a gloomy presbyterian, so he's careful with money? With his own, I dare say - but that this is not so with public money has been obvious to everyone who has being paying attention.

Gordon Brown's government has lost your money - and, if you're a child benefit claimant, lost your information - because in his desire for control he has set tasks for his government that it is simply not capable of achieving. Johann Hari was way off mark in suggesting that our Gordon's present difficulties represent a crisis for "small government conservatism". Conservative he is, what with his 'British jobs for British workers' crap and his regressive fiscal policies - but the problem is that he's trying to do too much. I dare say he's trying to do it on the cheap, but that's a secondary point - it's the scale of his ambition that's the problem because he's setting his government tasks that it is intrinsically incapable of achieving. I'm reluctant to provide a list of the things Gordon wants you to do for fear of being accused of being a 'bloggertarian'. Suffice to say that when any government talks about 'changing the culture', understand that they have a) replaced moral socialism for social moralism b) set for themselves a goal that they are necessarily incompetent to achieve.

Which brings me to the unfortunate business of Gordon slipping his discs. I'm not enough of an anorak to follow the ins and outs of this story and I may be wrong but I would have thought that even without civil service cuts, something like this would have happened anyway. Can you really centralise all this information in this way that requires thousands of people to be able to get access to it in order for them to do their jobs and simultaneously guarantee that something like this can never happen? I doubt it. How much more, then, is this government doomed to fail if it continues to assume control over decisions that should never be considered the preserve of central government in the first place?

Add to this the personality problem in relation to the Cabinet. Brown didn't control the economy for the simple reasons that Chancellors can't control the economy. But with the fiction they can, he would have taken the flak if the Blair government had experience a Black Wednesday-type senario because no-one doubted that he ran the Treasury almost completely independently of Blair. Not so with Prime Minister Brown because what is Alistair Darling but a creature of the former Chancellor? Gordon Brown is discovering that one of the problems with having no 'heavy hitters' in your Cabinet is that there's no-one around to take the hits for you.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Watching Football Annoyances

Not so much the usual triumph of hope over experience thing - some of us remember this, and haven't really recovered.

No, it's the spectators shouting out advice. It's not so much that the advice isn't any good - although I think most people would agree it's rather obvious and/or pretty goddam vague. ("Get in amongst them!", for example. Yes, I'm sure they never thought of that.) It's just that the game's in Hampden - and we're in a pub in Partick watching it on the telly. They can't hear you, ok? So shut the fuck up.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fantastic teachers - Ed Balls wants YOU!

Who could disagree that to hear Sir Cyril Taylor speak is to hear the sound of a nail being hit on the head? He has identified the key problem in education today - sub-standard teachers who are not fantastic. The obvious thing to do is to get rid of them and draw from the deep well of latent fantasticness out there. Recruiting the less than fantastic ones was, in hindsight, something of a mistake.

These sub-standard wretches are a rash on the scrotum of our education system - only working in the comprehensive system, as every well-informed reader of the blogosphere knows, because they were unable to get jobs in grammars or private schools. They are harming your children. They are making them fatter and more stupid than they were already!

Our new uber-heads will be given powers to wipe this stain from the copybook of educational history. There are competent to do this because there are no sub-standard heads. Well, there are but don't worry, we'll take care of them. We know what's best. We know what's best for your children too - even when they aren't really children anymore. This is why one of our spokesmen was pleased to announce today that the school leaving age is being raised to 25.

We are confident that this, combined with a raft of other measures - including ecologically-sound faith-based academies with no playgrounds and lots of glass - will raise the hoodied delinquent that is our education system from being only marginally better than your average third world country to Quite Good Really status.

Friday, November 09, 2007

If you believe this...

cash advance

You'll believe anything.

Because there's a fine line between genius and insanity.


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