"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Classic Hegelian Dialect in Practice

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas. Things brightened up around here yesterday when we recovered from the norovirussy-lurgi-thingy. Bathroom duties, if I may be so indelicate, lasted a whole week but getting over the weakness and starting to eat properly again is a gradual process. Anyway, it looks as though all is well now :)

From time to time I dipped into the online press and rarely has anything given me so much amusement as the jostling for position by EU luminaries as they vied to grab the most ridiculous headline. "If Britain leaves the EU... wolves will eat your children; chickens will poop on you from a great height; the seas will rise and engulf you all; your men will become pox-ridden and your women gin-soaked..." Yes, we get the message.

Two days before Christmas Wolfgang Schauble gave us his thoughts and then, on the 27th, Haiku Herman popped up swiftly followed by Jacques Delors and Vivian Reding. I've been disappointed today to see there's no follow-up by Verhofstadt or Barroso on the basis that one can never have too much merriment.

A couple of hours ago, whilst having nothing better to do I thought I'd stick my nose in where it wasn't wanted and I wrote this comment under the Reding article:
If there is a UK-wide referendum on EU membership, specific legislation will have to be enacted by Parliament. This legislation will also determine who is enfranchised, ie whether to extend the vote to 16/17yr olds or to all EU foreign nationals currently resident in the UK. We shall have to keep an eye on it. For the avoidance of doubt, current legislation regarding the enfranchisement of EU nationals only extends to local elections or devolved parliaments/assemblies and not to UK General Elections, nor to referenda.
My! Has that stirred up a mini-storm. I hadn't taken account of The Political Parties, Elections & Referendums Act 2000 - I have to say that piece of political fineigling passed me by. However, I'm not the only one to be confused:
Lord Wallace, a fellow Liberal Democrat, replied that it was his party's policy to extend the franchise to this age group, but it was not part of the coalition's plans. He also told peers that each UK-wide referendum had to be individually approved by Parliament.
On each occasion, that meant setting out specific criteria for those able to take part, he added. Lord Wallace, a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland, added: "If there was a referendum on the European Union, it would be a matter for Parliament to determine what that franchise is."

I rest my case.  16/17yr olds voting in an in/out EU referendum? EU foreign nationals voting in a British in/out EU referendum?  Sounds more like loading the dice to me. We need to keep a very careful watch on the specific legislation that will be introduced with any referendum.  Scrub that: we just need to keep a very careful watch on ANY legislation this government introduces. For example, something so apparently simple as enabling the first-born royal to inherit the throne is fraught with anomalies and means that more than one piece of legislation must be amended.  Who knows what advantage these snakes-in-the-grass will take to tinker with our Constitution while we're looking the other way?

I listened to a radio phone-in this morning. Ken Livingstone and Stanley Johnson were the hosts of the show and their guest was someone whose name I missed, a British Civil Servant who had been 'influential within the EU'.  These three patted each other on their backs, congratulated themselves for their common sense and all agreed with each other that disaster would lie ahead for a Great Britain outside of the EU.  They trotted out the same old lies about trade, about jobs, about law and order - I tire of tweeting them the truth because they never correct themselves.  I was beside myself.  Two of the three are in receipt of an EU pension providing they toe the line and support the project - talk about vested interests - except they didn't.  The callers were overwhelmingly anti-EU but were dismissed as idiots for 'not understanding' the real issues and in some instances were lied to.

There will be much more to come and if we think this is bad  wait until, if, Cameron declares an in/out referendum. We ain't seen nothing yet.

As for Hegel, the well-publicised conversations between David Cameron, our Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the institutions of the EU as reported in our national media are a classic example. Inch by inch, increment by increment, two steps forward, one step back.

And a Happy New Year to us all!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Eve

George Sims (1847-1922)

'Twas Christmas Day in the workhouse, and the cold, bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly, and the place is a pleasant sight;
For with clean-washed hands and faces in a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the table, for this is the hour they dine.
And the guardians and their ladies, although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers to watch their charges feast;
To smile and be condescending, putting on pauper plates.
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet, they've paid for with the rates.
0h, the paupers are meek and lowly with their 'Thank'ee kindly, mums'
So long as they fill their stomachs what matter it whence it comes?
But one of the old men mutters and pushes his plate aside,
"Great God!" he cries, "but it chokes me; for this is the day she died!"
The guardians gazed in horror, the master's face went white;
Did a pauper refuse their pudding? Could that their ears believe right?
Then the ladies clutched their husbands, thinking the man would die,
Struck by a bolt, or something, by the outraged One on high.
But the pauper sat for a moment, then rose 'mid silence grim,
For the others had ceased to chatter and trembled in every limb:
He looked at the guardians' ladies, then, eyeing their lords, he said;
"I eat not the food of villains, whose hands are foul and red;"
"Whose victims cry for vengeance from their dark, unhallowed graves."
"He's drunk," said the workhouse master, "or else he's mad and raves."
"Not drunk or mad," cried the pauper, "but only a haunted beast,
Who, torn by the hounds and mangled, declines the vulture's feast."
"I care not a curse for the guardians, and I won't be dragged away;
Just let me have the fit out, it's only on Christmas Day...
That the black past comes to goad me and prey on my burning brain;
I'll tell you the rest in a whisper, I swear I won't shout again.
"Keep your hands off me, curse you! Hear me right out to the end.
You come here to see how paupers, the season of Christmas spend;
You come here to watch us feeding, as they watched the captured beast;
Here's why a penniless pauper, spits on your paltry feast."
"Do you think I will take your bounty and let you smile and think
You're doing a noble action with the parish's meat and drink?
Where is my wife, you traitors, the poor old wife you slew?
Yes, by the God above me, my Nance was killed by you."
"Last Winter my wife lay dying, starved in a filthy den.
I had never been to the parish, I came to the parish then;
I swallowed my pride in coming! for ere the ruin came
I held up my head as a trader, and I bore a spotless name.
"I came to the parish craving, bread for a starving wife
Bread for the woman who'd loved me thro' fifty years of life;
And what do you think they told me, mocking my awful grief,
That the house was open to us, but they wouldn't give out relief."
"I slunk to the filthy alley, 'twas a cold, raw Christmas Eve
And the bakers' shops were open, tempting a man to thieve;
But I clenched my fists together, holding my head awry,
So I came to her empty-handed and mournfully told her why."
"Then I told her the house was open; she had heard of the ways of that
For her bloodless cheeks went crimson, and up in her rags she sat,
Crying, 'Bide the Christmas here, John, we've never had one apart;
I think I can bear the hunger, the other would break my heart."
"All through that eve I watched her, holding her hand in mine,
Praying the Lord and weeping till my lips were salt as brine;
I asked her once if she hungered, and she answered 'No.'
The moon shone in at the window, set in a wreath of snow."
"Then the room was bathed in glory, and I saw in my darling's eyes
The faraway look of wonder, that comes when the spirit flies;
And her lips were parched and parted, and her reason came and went.
For she raved of our home in Devon, where our happiest years were spent."
"And the accents, long forgotten, came back to the tongue once more.
For she talked like the country lassie I wooed by the Devon shore;
Then she rose to her feet and trembled, and fell on the rags and moaned,
And, 'Give me a crust, I'm famished... for the love of God,' she groaned.
"I rushed from the room like a madman and flew to the workhouse gate,
Crying, 'Food for a dying woman!' and the answer came, 'Too late!'
They drove me away with curses; then I fought with a dog in the street
And tore from the mongrel's clutches a crust he was trying to eat."
"Back through the filthy by-ways... back through the trampled slush!
Up to the crazy garret, wrapped in an awful hush;
My heart sank down at the threshold, and I paused with a sudden thrill.
For there, in the silv'ry moonlight, my Nance lay cold and still."
"Up to the blackened ceiling, the sunken eyes were cast
I knew on those lips, all bloodless, my name had been the last;
She called for her absent husband... Oh God! Had I known--
Had called in vain, and, in anguish, had died in that den alone."
"Yes, there in a land of plenty, lay a loving woman dead.
Cruelly starved and murdered for a loaf of the parish bread;
At yonder gate, last Christmas, I craved for a human life,
You, who would feed us paupers, what of my murdered wife?"
"There, get ye gone to your dinners, don't mind me in the least,
Think of the happy paupers eating your Christmas feast
And when you recount their blessings in your parochial way,
Say what you did for me too... only last Christmas Day."
Our home has been struck down by the dreaded dried-toast lurgi so Christmas has been postponed for a while but I hope everyone who passes by will have a wonderful, peaceful and contented Christmas with family and loved ones. I'll see you on the other side.

Monday, 17 December 2012

In the Bleak Midwinter

Christmas is almost upon us and another year draws to an end. Here's one of my favourite Carols:

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Government by fax - really?

Government by fax - really?

A stonking piece of investigative blogging that gives the lie to Cameron's weak, pro-EU soundbites.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

فقط أقول

I wasn't going to blog this - I tweeted it this morning and naively thought it would set the Anglo-twittersphere alight.  Perhaps I'm missing something, perhaps it isn't really important after all and it's just a case of my mountain being someone else's molehill.

The headline in today's DT is: 'Victims to choose from menu of out-of-court punishments for offenders'.  Now, I don't know about you but the first thing I thought was: 'Hold your horses, steady the buffs, Susan, that's an aspect of Sharia law.'

And so it is.  We're further informed that:
The range of options will be decided by the new Police and Crime Commissioners consulting with members of the public and Chief Constables under plans to give victims their voice back, Jeremy Browne, the Home Office minister, said.  ... each force area will be free to come up with its own options for punishments which should be “proportionate but meaningful”, rather than a “slap on the wrist”. 
Governing under Sharia  is a Council on Foreign Relations publication which is either even-handed or pro-Sharia, depending on your view:
"There are so many varying interpretations of what sharia actually means that in some places it can be incorporated into political systems relatively easily."
"Western countries are also exploring the idea of allowing Muslims to apply Islamic law in familial and financial disputes. In late 2008, Britain officially allowed sharia tribunals (NYT) governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance to make legally binding decisions if both parties agreed. The new system is in line with separate mediation allowed for Anglican and Jewish communities in England. Criminal law remains under the gavel of the existing legal system. "There is no reason why principles of sharia law, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation," Britain's top judge, Lord Nicholas Phillips, said in a July 2008 speech (PDF). Supporters of this initiative, such as the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, argue that it would help maintain social cohesion (BBC) in European societies increasingly divided by religion."
I really don't understand why I seem to be the only one concerned about this adaptation of English Law under the guise of helping victims, Big Society and Localism. The UK governments since WW2 have either been stupid, incompetent, corrupt, traitorous or all four.  We're so far down the road to Nowhere and looking towards Gonesville that I hardly dare believe we can pull ourselves back, but pull ourselves back we must.

There's more on Sharia law HERE.

For future reference, my daughter is the one on the left:

One other point: I'm so glad our newly elected PCCs are on the ball and following in ACPO's footsteps by forming their very own, no doubt expensive, taxpayer-funded Association. You can see a list of those elected if you click the link and you can also find this pic there; it's a wordle of the PCC's most pressing concerns *ahem*:

Oh, the post title?  'Just Saying'. What else? ;)

Saturday, 8 December 2012

A Doctor Advises

Are you feeling detached from reality? Is your throat slightly tight and feeling rather sore? Perhaps you have a twinge or two in your shoulder area?  Do you feel a vague, debilitating ache in your stomach?  If any of these symptoms apply to you, please don't worry your GP unnecessarily because these are merely symptoms of being hanged, drawn and quartered.

Being hanged, drawn and quartered isn't particularly pleasant but I always find my patients pick up when given a dose of Common Purpose and a jolly good arse-kicking combined with a prescription for apathy and a guilt-trip.  It's normal to experience a twitch or two so don't be alarmed; it's only the death-throes of a Nation and nothing to worry about.

My patients occasionally exhibit flights of fancy.  For example, they might think that they're 'English' or that society rots from the head down. I re-iterate that this is an aberration and the local chemist is always pleased to dispense medication to deal with cognitive dissonance.

I advise my patients not to tell anyone of their symptoms lest they become the object of bullying and derision in their neighbourhood. Under normal circumstances I prescribe a darkened room with blinds drawn and on-demand access to the television News (the state-funded, EU-funded BBC is only available via your prescription); in that way they can more readily understand the reason for their vague aches and pains and finally accept reality.

We have blue pills, red pills, white, pink and yellow pills so, please, make an appointment soon so that the State can make your nasty nightmares go away.

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