Archive | May, 2014


29 May


Not just that. I’m bored rigid with the discussions making a one issue, no policies party dominate the debate. Change the record, Nigel #ChangeTheRecordNigel


I’m bored

27 May

Don’t think that I will smile at it

I’m not a weak-willed hypocrite

I’ll say, “I’m bored!”

The European Parliament elections in the UK have returned the largest number of extreme right MEPs ever. All are from the United Kingdom Independence Party. Alright, this was with a 30% voter turnout and will not be repeated in a general election, with one due next year. But it still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

Most UKIP voters have no idea what UKIP’s policies actually are. There has been only one message from the party. Foreigners are bad. This makes UKIP anti-immigration and anti-EU. But these are negatives and we want to know what they actually stand for. In their last manifesto UKIP stated that they wanted extensive privatisation of the NHS, further public spending cuts, oh, and the easier ownership of handguns.

There is actually no point in telling UKIP supporters any of this as they don’t listen. It is all a plot to do down their hero, the UKIP leader, Nigel Farrage. The man who has, single handedly, revitalised politics for the working man (and woman?). Someone who is the only fresh thing in the political shop. The cult of personality around Farrage is worrying and nauseating. Oh, is he your boyfriend? Do you want to lick his (supply phrase of your own here)?

The “facts and figures” used by Farrage and UKIP are distortions, selective representations, unattributable quotes, meaningless statistics and downright lies. They are a huge pile of fetid dingo’s droppings. None of these can be verified or trusted.

Where UKIP and Farrage have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams is to have their vision become almost the sole topic of political conversation. A one issue, no policy party is dominating a meaningless debate. Bald men fighting over a comb. Enough, already. There are many interesting and important debates to be had, but this isn’t one of them. For months (years it feels like) this is all that has been talked about.

I’m bored, bored, bored!

Change the record, Nigel!

(If anyone wants to start a Twitter feed of ‘change the record, Nigel!’ you have my blessing. I would do it, but it is just too boring)

European Parliament elections and UKIP

23 May

Yesterday when there was a vote for the elections to the European parliament. It is a strange way to hold an election. A party puts forward up to seven candidates and a voter can select one party by putting a single cross against the name of that party. So, in this region, seven MEPs are selected by the proportion of votes cast for the parties. This has led to a plethora of parties standing for election. Yesterday there were eleven parties represented. There were the usual suspects, Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Greens and British National Party. Besides these there were six “parties” with a single objective, to pull the UK out of the European Union. Which means that the majority of the parties were campaigning on a single issue. And none of these six parties have any detailed plans for what they would do if they ever achieved a measure of power. The quotation marks around the term Party were because some of these are purely notional and will disappear without trace when the results show they have next to no support. Only one of these parties has a measure of popular support, and that is the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). This is in part due to the wall-to-wall publicity for the party that has been going on these several months. Most of this publicity, the vast majority , has been for the party leader, Nigel Farage. He is put forward as a social salon bar debater, a maverick who is untainted by the dirt of the other parties. This spin is widely believed. So when the media and the established parties start to question Farage’s history and beliefs they are seen as throwing dirt and trying to keep the common man down by UKIP supporters.

An interview on LBC exposed all kinds of nasty truths about Farage’s history and beliefs. It demonstrated unequivocally that Farage is a racist. Proved. Not open to argument and no excuses. A later interview with Jeremy Paxman on the BBC was far more gentlemanly but no less effective. All the “facts and figures” used by UKIP were shown to be selective, fallacious or downright lies. But none of this matters when the bulk of UKIP supporters believe none of it. And why should they if it is all a conspiracy by the establishment against the maverick newcomer? My experience is that I have yet to find a political conspiracy which holds water. Conspiracies make good fiction but lousy fact. Farage has regular columns in two national newspapers, was educated at an expensive private school and worked in the financial sector as a commodity broker. He is much more a figure of the establishment than he is an outsider.

The British, especially the English, have a sceptical view of most calls to nationalism. As Samuel Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. It is too easy to wave the flag when you have no other point to make. It is too easy to blame the knavish foreigners of doing old England down, while ignoring the true causes of our problems. Like all plain and simple explanations it is almost completely wrong. The truth in such issues is rarely plain and never simple. But it is such an attractive call in times of economic hardship and widespread discontentment with the status quo that many scoundrels have made the clarion call and many have answered the call.

The politics of prejudice is always dangerous. History provides us with many examples of minority groups being singled out for abuse and mob action, and none of it is defensible. When the genie of hate is let out of the bottle it is very difficult to put it back. To blame immigrants, the EU and foreigners in general for all that is wrong is the first rung on the ladder of extremism.

Next year there will be a General Election. Many people are predicting that the next government will be a coalition of Conservatives and UKIP, or wishing it so. I pray it does not happen. History shows that extreme right wing parties should never be given even a small share of power. Look what happened in Germany in the 1930s.

Meanwhile, back to yesterday’s election. Many people who generally do not vote came out to support UKIP. There is a very low turnout for European elections and these new voters represent a significant proportion of the vote. The problem is that the real power lies not with the European Parliament but with the Council of Ministers. At best UKIP will be a minority party within the UK group. Even allying with other extreme right wing parties from other nations (they do that already), they will have little influence. At the very best they can make themselves disagreeable and obstructive. They might be voted in, but they can do almost nothing to achieve their ends and are unlikely to represent their constituents in any meaningful way. When this becomes apparent to the voters the reaction can go in one of several ways. Apathy and disgust is the most likely one. Others are even less desirable.

The sheer number of monomaniacal parties standing in the election show that the movement is already splitting into factions. This may well be the high water of support for UKIP. If they achieve any form of success they will become the establishment and will become open to even more scrutiny. UKIP have many secrets to hide and many deeply unpleasant members. There are racists, xenophobes, homophobes and sexists among their membership, and in significant numbers. Their declared policies, almost universally unknown to their supporters, would be very unpopular with most people when examined closely, even among the majority of their supporters. The popular press and media takes a delight in knocking down those that rise too far. Nigel Farage is overdue his comeuppance, and not in the heavyweight newspapers, but in the gossip and scandal sheets. It will happen, and soon.

And now, relax …..

19 May

It has been a very busy week, so please excuse the lack of new posts. We had organised a party to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary and, (belatedly), my 60th birthday. If you didn’t know it, the 20th anniversary is the ‘China’ one. On a scale of 1 for Paper to 60 years for Ruby it is not so far in, but it is my 2nd time around. Anyhow, we organised a meal for 26 people and a ceilidh (barn dance) for the evening for up to another 70. I did all the catering, and it took me days of preparation and shopping.

To coincide with the China anniversary we had visitors from China from Wednesday to Sunday. My son came over with his wife and 3 year old son, the delightful and bi-lingual Milan, AKA Mei Shu Lei, Lei-lei for short. So lots of driving and organising of rooms and facilities, such as booster seat, small bed for small boy and trainer toilet seat for small backside.

James and Milan

Lots of old friends and near neighbours came to the meal, and it went very well, considering that I had to call on the help of a guest to help plate up the starters. It over-ran slightly and the band were setting up as we had our puddings. Then we had to greet other guests and receive presents we hadn’t asked for but were delighted to receive. As hazel hardly drinks the bulk of the presents will be appreciated by me. Then we danced and I had to bring Milan and his mother, V back to go to sleep, dive down, sing a few songs, bring out the supper and so on. I’m sure I never thanked enough people for coming and for their presents, but I was flying around just trying to keep up.

On Sunday some of our guests who had been staying locally came for coffee and a chat. Then I had to take James V and Milan to the station to catch their train at mid-day. After I got back I was in a zombie-like state for the rest of the day. Today I am starting to recover a little, and should be back to normal by the end of the week.

Special thanks to my daughter Katie and her husband Tom for decorating the Village Hall so beautifully. Have a look at Katie’s website for quirky and original bags and purses. Surely you could use a handbag that looks like a sushi roll or slice of Battenburg cake!