30 Oct

Shocking inequality

I have just discovered further shocking news about disgraceful inequalities in British society.

Private schooling was found to be an advantage in the graduate labour market UK graduates who went to private schools earn thousands of pounds more, on average, than their state-educated peers, research finds. The study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies says the pay gap is more than £4,500 a year, raising questions over education’s impact on social mobility. It says the privately educated are more likely to attend elite universities and study subjects that lead to higher pay. Ministers say reforms are closing the gap between rich and poor.The researchers gathered data from a cohort of more than 200,000 graduates who completed their undergraduate degree at a UK university in 2007.They compared the wages – six months and three-and-a-half years after graduation – of those who sat their A-levels at a state school with those who went to a fee-paying school.

Clearly to the crimes of racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia and Islamophobia, we must add thickism. It is shameful to note that few school-leavers with three GCSEs at grade two or lower become high court judges, while hardly any with “learning difficulties” find successful careers as brain surgeons. Why should only those who have received an education get these sorts of jobs? The excuse that such jobs demand intelligence and knowledge is yet another example of the scandalous elitism which is too prevalent throughout society, the main cause of discrimination and social exclusion.

There’s nothing wrong with dumbing down: the state schools have made an art form of it for the last forty years. 

There is discrimination on an epic scale in the world of sport too. Less than 1% of self-declared “non-runners” were entered in the 100metres in the 2012 Olympic Games.

And how many of you have noticed that it’s women who are having all the babies?

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28 Oct

Heavy traffic

The Italian people are renowned for their kindness, generosity and large humanity and currently they are demonstrating this spirit of charity and welcome on an epic scale as their navy has rescued from drowning at sea 150.000 migrants fleeing from instability, poverty and wars all across North Africa and the Middle East. I have just read a report in an Italian newspaper which claims there are 600,000 migrants massing on these African and Middle Eastern shores waiting to find a boat to take them to Europe.

When the migrants – most of whom are impoverished Muslims, of course – land in Italy, they are distributed among refugee camps throughout the country. Others. according to that newspaper report, “…simply wander off and try to make their way north.”

As far as Calais, perhaps?

Humanitarian acts are always gallant and praiseworthy, but there is another side to this tale. The migrations are not haphazard but part of a huge and hugely profitable trafficking racket. A typical scenario features the traffickers – or the migrants themselves on phones provided by the racketeers – contacting the Italian naval authorities, giving their position and asking to be picked up.

I wonder if this is the first time such a taxi service has facilitated a massive transfer of populations?

The newspaper reported that “the Italian right” is vociferously objecting to these mass rescues. I wonder also if one has to be a paid up supporter of “the right” to object to this criminal scandal which is in no one’s ultimate interest except that of the traffickers who are being wonderfully enriched?

Well, according to the BBC this morning, the Italian navy is to cease its rescue operations which are in future to be carried out “…in a joint operation organised by the EU.”

Thus racketeering is to be supported and the illegal immigration of tens of thousands officially legitimated by European governments, including ours.

Is this a good thing?

I only asked.   

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27 Oct

Welcome to the Superstate

Michael Fallon has been telling the truth, so naturally he is in big trouble with supporters of the lies factory which is the EU, The defence secretary says:

“In some areas, particularly on the east coast, yes, towns do feel under siege from large numbers of migrant workers and people claiming benefits. It is quite right that we look at that. The original Treaty when it was drawn up 50 years ago did not envisage these vast movements of people, and we are perfectly entitled to say this needs to be looked at again.”

The lies factory has been churning out its blatant untruths ever since the days of Edward Heath who assured the British people that our membership of the European project would never entail any dilution of national sovereignty – while at the same time he was working assiduously for exactly that. But the architects and founders of the EU were more honest about their intentions. The intention from the start was to create a political union: effectually one country Europe with the old nation states classified as regions. 

The German-French politician Robert Schuman (1886-1963) is sometimes called The Father of Europe for what became known as the Schuman Declaration in which he called for the formation of a supranational community and reorganisation of post-war Europe through treaties. And it was Schuman who began the post-war French-German co-operation that created the European Coal and Steel Community, later joined by Italy and the Benelux countries. The date of the drafting of the Schuman Declaration, 9 May 1950 has ever since been celebrated, bemoaned or largely ignored as Europe Day.

Then there was Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967). The first post-war Chancellor of West Germany whose main ambition was the reconciliation of Germany and its European neighbours after the Second World War. And Adenauer played a big part in the formation of the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) Crucial was the Elysee Treaty, signed by Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle in 1963 which papered over the rivalry between France and Germany – or, if you prefer, continued Hitler’s subjugation of France, once again with France’s co-operation. This is what made the EU possible.

Paul-Henry Spaak (1899-1972), three times Belgian Prime Minister, was one of the strongest supporters of European integration after the war. He led the committee named after him that produced a plan for what was then called a common market and a European Community. The Spaak Report was basic to the Intergovernmental Conference on the Common Market and Euratom in 1956 and the founding Treaty of Rome the following year.

Jean Monnet (1888-1979) a devious French diplomat, political economist and general apparatchik, never held public office but he was one of the main architects of the EU. Monnet plotted political union by gradualism and stealth. He was the master of the conspicuous art of saying one thing and doing the opposite. This is what made him so admired by such as Edward Heath, Roy Jenkins and Kenneth Clarke who, along with many others are faithful heirs and successors to their idol.

We shouldn’t forget Alcide De Gasperi (1881-1954), the Prime Minister of Italy from 1945 to 1953. De Gasperi was, I believe, the first man to argue for a common European defence policy.

If you wanted to create a European Superstate, how would you go about it? You would need a Common Agricultural Policy. Done. A Common Fisheries Policy. Done. A European Central Bank. Done. A single currency. Done. A customs union. Done. You would need a central authority to override the parliaments of the individual nation states. In order for this to work efficiently, it would have to be unelected and unaccountable to democratic processes. This we have in the European Commission.

Above all, you would need to ensure the free movement of nationals throughout the EU with the purpose of creating a melting pot of nationalities guaranteed gradually to obliterate the sense of national identity. This would also require a law to criminalise any opposition to this policy of free movement as “racist.”

Done. Welcome to the European Superstate.

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26 Oct

Halloween is a trick: All Saints is a treat

How typical of the hypnotised consumerism of our times that we habitually grandstand evil rather than good, and never more hysterically than on All Hallows Eve. All hallows means all the saints and the day after Halloween is indeed All Saints. Halloween was originally a vigil of preparation for the next day’s great festival.

What is it now except the licensed blackmail and generalised misrule of “trick or treating” and the celebration of vampires? And it’s notable that the mob which makes such a song and dance about Halloween doesn’t celebrate All Saints at all – if the mob even knows that 1st November is All Saints Day.

This is a season of the church’s year with profound connotations and a resonant theme. It is the Allhallowstide tridium and its purpose is the recollection of the dead and a reflection in the deeps of autumn on our own mortality. Naturally, today’s gaudy bedlam doesn’t like to be reminded of these things – unless by means of the escapist cartoon version featuring ghosts, ghouls, bloodsuckers and the horror films.

There is much to be gained from a celebration of this tridium, if you’re prepared to put a bit of thought and effort into it. All Hallows is the preparation when friends might gather in the home, have a light supper together and then say Evening Prayer or Compline, followed by silence. All Saints is a red letter day and we should hear Mass. All Souls on 2nd November is the day on which to commemorate all the departed and we have the opportunity to pray for the souls of those of our families and friends who have died.

There is an extension to the tridium in the commemoration of Remembrance Sunday a few days following. But…

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance,

All our ignorance brings us nearer to death,

But nearness to death no nearer to God.

Where is the life we have lost in living?

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?

Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries

Bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust

– from “Choruses from the Rock” by T.S. Eliot (1934)

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24 Oct

Three cheers for the EU!

How delightful and how timely is the EU’s decision to impose an extra charge of £1.7billions on Britain! This amounts to a 20% increase in our net contribution to Brussels.

Delightful and timely?

Of course. It is a terrific boost to Nigel Farage and UKIP just a few weeks before the Rochester by-election. UKIP is already well ahead in the campaign for that seat according to the opinion polls. To be certain of victory, all the UKIP agents need to do is to knock on every door in Rochester and tell all the voters the plain truth: our country is being fleeced by an unelected bureaucratic tyranny and there’s nothing Dave can do about it.

Actually, there is something he can do. He can tell the EU to stuff it. But he won’t do that. No, not for all his bluster about “Reclaiming powers from Brussels.”  We are in fact powerless under an agreement we signed up to in 1972 to set up a “mechanism” which calculates adjustments in member countries’ contributions according to how well their economies are doing. Britain is doing well – that is comparatively well beside the Eurozone.

On the other hand, the German economy is stagnant, so they get a rebate. France – thanks to Monsieur Hollande’s 75% tax rate and a sky high welfare budget – is a basket case. So they get a rebate too.

So, scandalously, good housekeeping is penalised and profligacy rewarded. But that’s the way it is with banana republics, African dictatorships and the EU

But here’s a queer thing: Greece and Italy are flat broke – yet, like us, they are being ordered to pay more too.

How’s all that for joined-up thinking? It’s not thinking at all, only EU doublethink.

There’s another twist in the tale. If a member country’s budget deficit exceeds 3%, a fine is imposed. And, as Dr John Redwood pointed out this morning on The Today Programme , the extra £1.7billions we have to pay will ensure our budget deficit is even higher!

The EU’s right hand doesn’t know what its left hand is doing – except that it’s got both its hands in Britain’s pockets.

Just carry on as you are Mr Farage. Don’t change a thing. Between now and the Rochester election, just remind the British public ten times every day that our country is paying through the nose to the centralised kleptocracy in Brussels. Remind us too that the EU Commission is an unaccountable gang of fraudsters who haven’t even signed off audited accounts for nineteen years.

Life is a whirlpool of delight this morning. For if – when? – UKIP wins Rochester, the party will be unstoppable and Dave will be finished.

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23 Oct

There is no justice

Harry Roberts, jailed for his part in the murder of three policemen in Shepherd’s Bush in 1966, is to be released. Police unions and some newspapers have expressed their outrage.

Others are saying Roberts has “paid his debt to society” and so it is right to free him and they add that he poses no threat to the public. Roberts’ release is an insult to the families of the victims and it indicates a betrayal of society’s contract with its law-enforcers.

But all this is to miss the point.

Whether he is a threat to the public or not has nothing to do with the matter. Of course public safety is part of the policeman’s job, but this consideration must be kept quite distinct from the main consideration which is justice. One purpose of a jail sentence is to lock the criminal away so that he can do no further harm. Another purpose is his hoped for rehabilitation. But the main reason for putting an offender in prison is because the judge determines that the sentence fulfils the demands of justice.

The notion that he has paid his debt to society is simply false. A murderer can never be said to have paid his debt to society no matter how long he remains in jail. The murderer used to pay the ultimate price which was the forfeit of his own life because he had taken the life of another.

That is the only justice possible in the case of murder.

A life sentence – which should, and when the death penalty was abolished, we were promised it would – mean life. A whole life sentence is actually an act of mercy: for the murderer deserves death. The punishment should fit the crime. Everyone knows this: it is intuitive. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This doctrine is itself an act of mercy and restraint, for it means only one eye for one eye or one tooth for one tooth. It is meant to curb excessive lust for revenge – the sort that would not stop at hanging the murderer but attempt to kill his whole family and burn down his house.

The fact that there is no death penalty for murder demonstrates that we live in a society which is fundamentally unjust.

After the injustice, the baloney…

We are told by the Parole Board that released murderers are “subject to the strictest controls” and that their lives are “managed” by Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). These are not to be trusted, as proved by the fact that the number of freed murderers who go on to kill again is not negligible and, as successive spokesmen for the Home Office have been forced to admit, many escaped or freed criminals have simply been “lost.”

Roberts’ release means there is no justice.

And it is not consoling to understand that one lives in such a realm.

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22 Oct

I’ve forgotten the name of that dementia disease…

We’re all going to lose our marbles – well, at least we’re going to be classified as all having lost our marbles. Why? Because the government – using our money, as usual – will pay your GP £55 for every case of dementia he diagnoses. Given the aging population, that’s quite a nice little earner for the doc. Expect the figures for Alzheimers and other modes of gaga-ness to go off the Richter scale.

This hasn’t really been thought through. I mean, it will put all those of us over a certain age in terror of booking an appointment at the surgery. You go in with your bad back or to get something for that cough, and in the twinkling of an eye you’re been asked what date it is, the name of the prime minister and the Queen’s eldest daughter. And when you can’t remember, the doc tells you to go home and start doing Sudoku and the crossword in order to preserve what little’s left of your dwindling wits. Fifty quid, easy-peasy.

You could just go in for your flu jab, and the next you know he’s referred you to an occupational therapy course at the day centre. But, wait a minute…did I say flu jab? That’s another thing the GP gets a sub for. While he’s at it, he might put you on statins. He gets an extra payment for that as well

So dementia test, flu jab and statins and the doc has picked up near on 250 smackers. Not bad for a ten minutes’ consultation. I still have enough wits left to work out that’s £1500 per hour.

Never mind the expense – the taxpayer will foot the bill as usual.

It’s outrageous making it so no one will dare visit the doc.

I suspect that’s the who point of the dementia diagnosis plot: to cut down the number of appointments and so put an end to all the GPs’ whingeing about their excessive workload.

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22 Oct

One of us, Madam?

Fiona Woolf is being interviewed by a House of Commons Select Committee concerning her eligibility to be chairman of a new enquiry into historic child abuse. Charities supporting the victims of such abuse have objected to Mrs Woolf’s appointment on the grounds that she is too close to the very Establishment which is suspected of covering up the abuse. They have singled out in particular the fact that Mrs Woolf was at five dinner parties with Leon Brittan, the former home secretary.

Mrs Woolf denies being a member of the Establishment. I suppose the next thing we shall hear is Bill Gates telling us he’s not rich.

Not a member of the Establishment? Of course she isn’t…

She was Aldermanic Sheriff of London. Now she is the 686th Lord Mayor of London and lives in Mansion House. Global ambassador for UK finance. President of the Law Society. Honorary member of Middle Temple and on the Court of three City of London livery companies. A governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Chairman of Chelsea Opera.

She is CBE and, when she’s completed her mayoral year, she will in all probability and following the usual pattern, be created Dame Fiona Woolf.

Nah – not a member of the Establishment – just an ordinary gel!

Not only is Mrs Woolf at the very centre of where it’s at in the traditional Establishment, she is also at the very centre of the new Establishment of Fashionable & Politically-correct Causes. Her declared project when she was elected Lord Mayor was the furtherance of women in executive careers. She is also a big noise in the Raleigh Trust which promotes sustainable development.

She said on the BBC this morning that she has to maintain her “network.” More dinner parties with cabinet ministers, I suppose, and fellow members of the Great and the Good. One of the ways in which she maintains her “network” – so she told us – is to send 3000 Christmas cards. She was asked if she sent a Christmas card to Leon Brittan and replied she couldn’t remember – which might seem to undermine the purpose of sending Christmas cards in the first place.

None of these things disqualifies Mrs Woolf from chairing the enquiry to which she has been appointed.

But not a member of the Establishment?

I must remember to ask her about that at the next Mansion House banquet.

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19 Oct

Is the Pope a Catholic?

Pope Francis nil; Believing bishops three…

If theological ethics were football, that’s about the result of the Vatican Synod on human sexuality. The Pope began his occupancy of the See of St Peter by sending out a questionnaire to all the world’s catholics asking them what they believe and what they would like the church to teach them.

It was a novel approach coming, as it did, from an historical and hierarchical institution.

Francis was hoping the bishops would support his desire to alter the church’s teaching on sexual morality. When, by a clear majority, the bishops refused, poor old Frank sounded quite miffed, denouncing, “…hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God.”

In other words, God forbid that bishops should take the Word of God as revealed in Scripture as in any way authoritative for the forming of their opinions.

I can’t imagine what the Synod’s discussions were all about. What is there to debate? The church has held the same truths about sexual morality since New Testament times. If it is supposed that this teaching has been in the wrong for 2000 years, on the basis of what is it proposed to amend it?

But what’s the back story, the real agenda?

Simply and horrifically this: The socialist, moral radical Francis is the Vatican Establishment’s revenge for the last two Popes – the courageous, vigorous John Paul II and the saintly scholar Benedict XVI. These men were two of the most gifted and capable Pontiffs in the history of the church

And they actually believed the Christian faith. The Vatican Establishment doesn’t believe it. They are modernisers and secularists in thrall to the libertarian ethics of the metro-political elite. And they use all the tactics of that elite. The Synod has said No to their demands. But they will be back after a year’s wrangling and infighting in incense-filled rooms. That’s what modernisers do. They won’t let it rest until they get their way.

Is the Pope a catholic?

Not much of one.

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18 Oct

Escape from the ideas factory

Recently I wrote a piece about the impenetrable pedant Peter Strawson and received a comment from a friend, a literary critic. He said he had some history with Strawson who had once told him he shouldn’t write about the jargonising linguistics guru Noam Chomsky because he, my friend, is not a professional in the study of linguistics. I shall refer to this as the Academic Fallacy – the notion that those formerly referred to as “scholars” but now as “academics” each has his own “field” or “specialism” and he should not stray beyond it. Well, I admit there are specialities: quantum physics for example or endocrinology. But if a man writes about the use of words – as Chomsky does – then anyone else who is a competent user of words must be allowed to comment on what is being said. The test is not based on what academic faculty a commentator hails from, but the sense of what is being said.

The definition of an academic is someone whose mind is so fine that it has never been penetrated by a single idea, and consequently academic prose is the death of thought. There is a widespread superstition that some people are so clever that no one can understand them. Rowan Williams’ groupies frequently give him as an example. But Williams deserves the Regius Professorship of Obscurantism or to be head honcho in the Circumlocution Office. It is said of him that he speaks ten foreign languages; and indeed he writes English as if it were one of them. This belief that some people are so clever that they are beyond our ken is part of the Academic Fallacy: for the mark of cleverness is the ability to make oneself understood. It is erroneously imagined that there are such objects as “ideas” which may subsequently be “put into words.” Not so. The words themselves, in the order in which they are spoken, are  the ideas – because the choice of words determines what is being said. There is no distinction between the substance of a piece of writing and the style in which it is written – as if style were some sort of additional ornamentation.  A good style simply means clarity and immediacy of expression. Style and idea are one and the same. the word made flesh. And you can achieve style only by the constant effort to think clearly. Williamsese exists because the former Archbishop’s mind is a muddle.

Orwell – he was talking about politics but what he says applies to literary endeavour in all its forms – satirised academic prose. He took the sparse line from Ecclesiastes: “I looked and saw…” and translated it into academy-spk: “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion…” Too many people aspire to write in the putrescent style of that translation.

The best writers never were or are academics. They were learned and wise, which is not at all the same thing. In better days, we referred to them as men of letters. Francis Bacon in his Essays; George Berkeley in Three Dialogues; Newman in his Apologia. T.S. Eliot, R.G.Collingwood and Ian Robinson in everything they produced. Women of letters too. Jane Austen; George Eliot (except when she is tempted to write the positivist utopia); Christina Rossetti; Janet Frame and Muriel Spark. But not Elizabeth Anscombe who complicates and so corrupts the obsessively subtle Wittgenstein or Hilary Mantel who renders Thomas Cromwell as if he were already the leading man in a Sunday night adaptation on BBC2.

In The Book of Common Prayer, truth is delivered with sublime simplicity: “With this ring I thee wed”; “Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live…” The divine economy in words of one syllable.

Here’s a bit of Robinson to end with:

“The world is not the same as planet earth; astronauts take the world with them. The world is made by and made up of human beings, in co-operation, I believe, with the divine. About that, Professor Hawking has nothing to say. He has therefore no grounds for declaring either any particular thing, or everything, either significant or insignificant.” Holding the Centre by Ian Robinson.

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