A Statement on Belief:
Some people believe that as an OLD ETONIAN I have a narrow concept of life and the everyday concerns of ordinary people. What nonsense. However I confess I do have a firm set of prejudices and I am happy to tell you something of them.
Empire, Monarchy and Neo-Colonialism
Charliechops has criticised me for a narrow nationalism. Let me be clear. I am proud to be an Englishman (or should I say Briton, however to my mind there is no difference). We Brits have colonised the world and brought our belief in parliamentary democracy, the rule rule of law, and a benificent British monarchy to vast numbers of ignorant people in other countries. I am proud of that. Today we have to be a little more careful but nevertheless we assert our right to depose rulers throughout the whole of Africa and the Middle East in the name of economic trade and investment. And why not? Better for us to get a share of unexploited wealth than the Chinese. Do you get my point? Get in first and give it a whirl.
I am against ‘Johnnie Foreigners’. If I had my way I would keep them all out. Well not quite all of them. There were some jolly nice foreigners at Eton from good families. Their Dads often had proper sorts of houses in the West End and invested in Britain. Good for them. No I mean the others living off Benefits in places like Southall, Leicester and Wolverhampton. We can do without them. On reflection not those who own restaurants snd convenience shops. Jolly useful those. I like a good currie. Oh, and I forgot, nuclear scientists, doctor and nurses. I’m in favour of those – so Vince Cable tells me.
Capitalist and Entrepreneurs
I like capitalists and entrepreneurs and make no secret of it. I want them to get very rich and to invest and create jobs in Britain. I know a lot about this. Many of my best friends are capitalists and I like to boast to them that in my government we shll reach unparalled heights of assistance. I want these people, some who I am proud to acknowlege as my very best friends, to get seriously rich. In this I speak for other members of my Government, in particular my close friend George Osborne who you may have heard of. Ring a bell?
Anyway I hope you get my drift. I am a man of many firm convictions and I intend to stick with them. I hope you do not mind if I remind you of them from time to time.
Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Benefits, Cameron, Colonialism, Conservative Home, Egypt, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Home, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, Libya, Public schools, Syria, Treasury, UKIP, Wlliam Hague
Oh, its you Charlie! You do dog my steps. Can’t you find something new to talk about. I’ll help you if you like. A world exclusive, specially for you. Thanks Dave, but no. I think we all need to know what you’re up to in Libya.
That’s a good expression Charlie. What am I up to.That’s a good way of putting it. Well, I’m not sitting around waiting to fail because fail we shall if it goes on like this, locked into a military stalemate and no worthwhile diplomatic way out. I’m not a loser Charlie, remember that. The playing fields of Eton are a good training ground for life. They breed winners, Charlie. I’m a winner.
Well from this point, Dave, how do you win? It’s easy Charlie. Step by step you change the rules of engagement. No single move in breach of the UN Resolutions but accumulatively amounting to such pressure on Ghadaffi that he cannot resist us. Remember this Charlie, I loath the man. Years ago I vowed that if ever I was in a position of authority I would get rid of him. Give him a good kicking. Get him off the playing field, so to speak. Yes Dave, I do understand. Assad you could share a room with but not Ghadaffi. Completely, understandable. I wouldn’t fancy an emergency meeting in a tent with him, myself. Precisely that, Charlie. Blair could kiss him in the hope of reform but not me. Oh, dear no.
Let’s cut the crap Dave. What are you going to do to get us out of this mess? Well you would call it mission creep Charlie. We are going to flood Misrata and other places with humanitarian assistance workers. No fighting while they are there. You infiltrate these places with SAS in plain clothes. They tell you where the Ghadaffi lot are positioned. Zapp, zap, zap Charlie from the air. a bit of bang, bang, bang on the ground. You beef up the rebels by advisers and special forces. Down the road with close air support. Bang, bang bang again and you’re on the road to Tripoli. Come to think of it there’s a good song in this. There usually is.
You’re mad Dave. You can’t get away with that. Emergency meeting at UN , heated debates in the Commons where you would lose the vote, to say nothing of the Lib Dems. I’m not a loser Charlie. Remember that. Things were going badly for Margaret Thatcher until the Falklands. Then she became a heroine. Very patriotic the British working classes. Come on board HMS Victory my lads. We all love a winner. If you can pull that off Dave you will deserve to win. I may even vote for you myself. Now I know you are joking Charlie. But I’m not joking. Just you wait and see.
Filed under Arab League, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Commons, Eton, Ghadaffi, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Libya, Middle East, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Sarkozy, SAS, Syria, Tony Blair, United Nations, Yemen
Thanks Charlie for dropping in. I’m glad of the opportunity to clear up some things about our diplomatic incident in Libya involving the SAS. Instinctively, as you know I am on the side of the rebels. Britain should stand up for democracy in the world and we wish to do all we can to help the rebels achieve it in Libya. But as for the stories that I am addicted to James Bond films on the mere evidence that I land a unwelcome helicopter in the territory of a soverign power without clearance or telling anyone with eight men dressed in black carrying guns together with a spy. Well I ask you Charlie. What a flimsy objection. It is true that I have an extensive library of James Bond films but I have not watched one in the last seven-ten days. So much for addiction.
Dave, I am surprised by this. If you want to make contact with rebel leaders, have you thought of telephoning them? I have Charlie, I have, but do they tell you what you wish to know? Perhaps Dave they tell you what they choose to tell you. Have you thought about that? I don’t understand you Charlie. I don’t think you have really studied James Bond films. What you need to do is to drop your agent in and he sorts it out for you, get’s into trouble on the way out and we rescue him. This time somewhere in the Mediteranean sea. Get it?
Dave, Dave, Dave, come on. This is the real world. Apart from diplomatic and humanitarian help best orgonised through the EU (sorry to use the term) and the United Nations, surely there is nothing we can or should do. To me it looks like a civil war to be fought out between two Lilliputian sets of soldiers. At the heart of this conflict there is nothing for us to do. We don’t want to behave like an Imperial Power, do we? Colonialism has come to an end, or didn’t you notice that? Charlie, sarcasm doesn’t suit you. Britain is an important Imperial power and I am proud of it. I suspect that you were taught in one of those miserable state schools with a twisted sense of British history. The evils of the British Empire and all that. Michael Gove is turning back this unpatriotic tide. Was the British Empire a good thing? I say, yes. And it was governed by Old Etonians to boot. And long may it continue.
Dave, if I publish this you will find that you have opened yourself up to derision. That would be a shame. Some people admire you for your energy and commitment but they are not going to vote for the return of the British Empire. Charlie how little do you know. Did you not observe that in Burnley more people voted for UKIP than for our Conservative candidate? What nonsense this is. Does UKIP stand up for British interests as well as we Tories? How many of them were educated at Eton? Well then, you get my point. And another thing you fail to notice, James Bond is much admired throughout the world. Why not the British Coalition Government, the Tory party and me?
Filed under Arms dealers, Army, Barnsley, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Education, Eton, Europe, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Liberal Voice, Middle East, Politics, Public schools, SAS, UKIP
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming today in such vast numbers. This is a big stadium but not big enough to accommodate the numbers clambering to come in. I want everyone to come in, to join in a scheme to get people into the world of work. To get you into work, no less. Some will say slaving away in a soul-destroying job for a miserable wage is no way to live a life. I profoundly disagree. I am not the first person to say this: but never mind the slavery of it, work will save you and advance the best and true interests of you and your family.
Some will say, ‘I should talk. Born with a silver spoon and a comfortable home life.’ I have to tell you that my life has not been a bowl of cherries. Far from it. My parents insisted I do my homework every night before the computer games. There was voluntary work in the Army Cadet Force and the Boy Scouts and an anxious period of seven days before uncle Jack gave me my first job.
Here I am going to say something difficult for you all. There is not enough money to go round. People like me are tired of having to support you all through the payment of high taxes, You must do more to help yourselves. The way to do this is to get a job. Vast numbers of you have given up on work. Pull yourself together. There are jobs out there waiting for you. You may not wish to do them BUT you must. There is no more money to keep you in fags and beer.
Now I am here to help. Before I came into this stadium I persuaded some corporate friends of mine to create some jobs. There are 167 of these jobs. As you came into the stadium you received a numbered ticket. These tickets are to be chosen at random and 167 of you will be offered a job. I cannot say where or what these jobs are. You may have to move home, retrain, go back to school to take advantage of them BUT they are jobs. No don’t thank me. It’s the least I can do.
I know some of you, despite government payouts, are hungry. Don’t despair. There are 21 exits to this stadium. At each of these will be an official with a basket containing loaves, fish and chocolate, They will give you something as you go out. It may seem to you that this is not much given your circumstances. But is not a portion of bread, a small fish and a tomato better than nothing at all? I believe in miracles. I think you will find that the food is enough for you all. And good luck with the job lottery. You deserve a little luck. Go quietly now and in an orderly manner. Britain is not North Africa and will never be so while I am at the helm of the ship of state. (Cheers and some boos. It starts to rain.) Well that turned out well.
Filed under BBC, Benefits, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Disabled, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Housing Benefit, Ian Duncan Smith, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Nick Clegg, Politics, Poverty, Schools, Treasury, Universal benefits
Today David Cameron will play the immigration card. He will tell a distinguised European audience that multi culturalism in Britain has failed and that Britain must advance a stronger sense of national identity. A literate national audience will reach for references to the most famous poem ever written on the subject: Daniel Foe’s scathing poem The True Born Englishman, published in 1701, that halted the notion that there was someone who be called a True Born Englishman and that we were all, if you dug deep enough, foreigners. He wrote: ‘From this Amphibious Ill-born Mob began, That Vain ill-natur’d thing, an Englishman. The Customs, Sirnames, Languages and Manners, Of all these Nations are their own Explainers. Whose Relicks are so lasting and so strong. That ha’lefta Shiboleth upon our tongue, By which with easy search you may distinguish Your Roman-Saxon-Danish- Norman English. Or more briefly as I would write, ‘Scratch an Englishman and you will find a foreigner’. ‘I am one and so are you, your neighbour is a little dark, his children of a lighter hue, And in the market place you hear the laughter of a thousand tongues, Of me, and them and you.’ If multiculturism in Britain has failed it has taken two thousand years to do so.
I find David Cameron beguiling. Whatever Nick Clegg might think or say he is in union with A True Born Tory. What do you get if you scratch a True Born Tory? You get a person absolutely convinced of certain social and political values which he regards as inalienable and true. It is a narrow vision of the world. Being an intelligent sort of chap Our Dave develops evidence to support theses values and naturally he can gather it in. He has certain powers to communicate these values to us. He does so with clarity, energy and certitude. He is heading for the rocks and his crew will watch and cheer as he heads there. They know too that they stand for something vital to our national well-being and survival. They are willing, and even enthusiastic to accompany him.
The truth is that David Cameron is playing the national identity card. Eventually all Tory leaders do this in one form or another. I remember sitting next to Enoch Powell on a plane to Belfast. I studied him carefully and even dared to speak to him. This is a man who advanced the notion that the streets of some of our cities would soon be awash with blood (metaphorically speaking of course). Where is this blood now other than in David Cameron’s imagination. Relationships between people of differet ethnicity have, in my humble opinion, never been better. I like my neighbours I enjoy a rich selection of foods and recipes, I enjoy playing cricket with people from Barbados, and how about a curry this evening.
I have always believed this sort of creature, A True Born Tory, to be dangerous. David Cameron has embarked on a difficult and potentially disastrous path. Of course he will sound reasonable. Ideas will be advanced which 30 percent of the population readily agree with. Recruitment to the English Defence League and the BNP will rise. The Tory vote will strenghten in the Tory shires. However, someone should tell our Dave that speaking your own mind is a dangerous activity.
Filed under BBC, Beyond Belief, BNP, Cabinet, Cameron, Conservative Home, Defoe, Ed Milliband, English Defence League, Enoch Powell, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Immigration, John Martin, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Vision, Liberal Voice, Multi Culturalism, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Pakistan, Religion, Thatcher, Turkey
In England we do not do Revolutions. They are for foreign countries denied freedom of expression and parliamentary government. Is that right? It seems so but the belief in social cohesion and solidarity of purpose is about to be tested. Our beliefs may turn out to be illusory. In 2011/2 real incomes are likely to fall at a faster pace than at any time since the 1920’s a decade followed by slow growth and high unemployment. At that time we took it all very meekly. Then, as now, some thirty percent of the population was doing very nicely. They were in employment and enjoying steady increases in real wages. Unemployment and poverty was concentrated in foreign places: Scotland, Wales and the frozen North. Of course, the unemployed protested, but in a orderly fashion: hunger marches, dole queues and long lines of working people not at all like us. Men, and families, to be pitied, consciences to be stirred, but largely to be forgotten on golf courses and at bridge parties.
Over the last two years citizens, you know the ordinary folk who pay the wages of the political elites, have wondered whether ‘that lot’ at Westminster are really representing us at all. While hardly anyone wishes to resurrect class war, many people must wonder whether these Old Etonians with their posh accents and monied interests really ‘get us’ the people. Do we wish to pass back to a Victorian condition of poor public sevices and a Samuel Smiles concept of self help and charity to all (sorry some, the deserving poor).
Well, what can we do about it? Those who object We could start by admitting to ourselves that we are responsible. We allowed this lot to gang up against us, cobble together an agreement that no one voted for, and are busy changing the rules so that it is extremely difficult to get rid of a government in the short term.
I can hear some of my readers objections at this point. Come on now, they say, this is a parody of the truth. Every citizen knows that the huge public deficit must be reduced and the sooner the better. Personally I agree: drastic problems require drastic remedies. But just suppose that the economic strategy being imposed upon us is wrong. It doesn’t work. What if we are destroying a valued social structure and welfare state for nothing? What then? Why, you say, in all reasonableness . if we are proceeding for the rocks we can change course Can we? Boy George and our Dave say. ‘Not on your Nellie’, or words to that effect, Like the Blessed Margaret before them these Old Etonians warming themselves in the last rays of an August sunset across their playing fields are not for turning.
Well Boys, then we must get rid of you by the means at our disposal. They know it, you can see it in their faces. and the panic measures they advance. Can we the people do it? Can we the people save ourselves? I don’t know. But I do pose the question
Filed under BBC, Big society, Coalition Government, Commons, Conservative Home, Deficit, Economics, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, House of Lords, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Parliament, Politics, Poverty, Public schools, Revolution, Take Back Parliament, Treasury, Unemployment, Vince Cable
It used to the case, pre-internet, that a gentleman’s affairs were his own business. No longer. For some weeks now, or so we are told, rumours were circulating on the internet that William Hague was gay and was having an affair with a young man he met during the General Election campaign. Further we are told that rumours about his sexuality had been in existence for a much longer time.
Who cares, might have been the response. A person’s sexuality is his own business. Various studies in recent years suggest that 7-10 % of the population is gay in some sense of the word. In a Cabinet of 25 people 2-3 members may be gay. Given the predominance of a boarding school, single sex, education in a Tory Cabinet, perhaps half a dozen. Should they all be outed?
It used to be thought in the days when a homosexual act could be a criminal offence that a Cabinet Minister who was a closet gay posed a security risk. William Hague is the Foreign Secretary. But a Minister only became a risk if he did not admit to being gay. Of course to admit it at times of repression presented difficulties. Even today David Laws preferred to keep silent about his male partner on an important matter and suffered a political price for his need for discretion. Men will behave differently according to their upbringing and sensitivities.
Is William Hague’s sexuality of any interest (other than prurience) to anyone? It may be. If his partner obtained a job paid for directly or indirectly by the taxpayer which, but for William Hague’s friendship, he could not have obtained (that in some sense he had jumped a queue) that makes it a matter of public interest – but not of much consequence.
There is a broader issue. Is William Hague a dishonest man. Does he pretend to be one thing and turn out to be quite another? Is he, or has he, in his public attitudes to homosexuality, acted hypocritically? Is he still pretending to be one thing while being another? If this is so, a tolerant British public might become annoyed. Be honest with us, William, might be the plea. Now William Hague has been categorical about his position. If he has told the truth the door has been shut. The public will know the outcome of this drama soo enough. What is it worth for a 25 year old man, his mum or his school chums to give an exclusive story to the News of the World? A cricketing scam might cost £150,000. What is the price of a lurid political drama in September 2010? Whatever the price, and it will be a high one, who should we blame for the publicity? Is it ‘the internet’, the Red Top rags, or the public school system of all-male education? Is it our fault? If you think the latter, shame on you for reading this blog.
Filed under BBC, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Conservative Home, Eton, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Nick Clegg, Oxford, Politics, Public schools, Schools, Wlliam Hague
I was educated at each stage in the state education system. It is my belief that the Tory inclination to seek diversity in schools is prompted always by, to my way of thinking, unworthy motives. They wish the state system to mirror their own fee-paying private schooling: to reproduce throughout the land a series of little Etons, Winchesters and Westminsters – they are all different you know! These fine schools, it is felt, shoud be replicated throughout the land: independance of governance, the very best teachers (no third class graduates acceptable here) , supportive parents (no one from sink council estates need apply), selective entry systems to weed out the tidy and dutiful from the insubordinate (no dirty nails in this school) – you know the sort of thing. It is easy to make fun of it. I shall resist the temptation.
There is no good reason that I can think of for discouraging private education BUT every reason to discourage its growth by penalising state schools. The Advanced Level examination results underline the success of the last administration in improving education standards throughout the country and signal an end to disparagement of its achievements. We on the left should be proud of these dramatic improvements in our schools. Over the coming weeks the extent of the cutbacks in school budgets will become clearer. Forget the Coalition’s fine words and announcements of good intentions. Our schools are facing hard times. Their future development will be frozen and money will be ciphoned off to finance the so-called Free Schools: capital funds which would have continued the modernisation of our state schools and revenues that would otherwise be available to them are to be diverted to an expansion of school places in areas that do not need them. These rightwing, and doctrinaire attacks on state education, are periodic and underhand; they occur whenever an opportunity presents itself. The Coalition knows that it dare not tell the whole truth about its intentions for the public does not support them. What the vast mass of the Britsh public want are fine state schools in their neighbourhoods and available free to everyone. This aspiration, which is constant and true, cannot be rejected by any government whatever its hue. But the public can be deceived. We are deceived.
As I write the dispiriting contest for the Labour Party leadership rambles on in a welter of explanations and justifications for the past. Please wake up as soon as you can. The public knows that Labour is their education spokesman and the best guarantee of a high-class education for all. Speak to them, please. Speak to them now in unequivable terms: hands off our state schools.
Filed under A Level Results, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Education, Eton, Free Schools, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Vision, Liberal Voice, Michael Gove, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Politics, Schools, State schools
High Office can be very cruel to a man. Shakespeare has shown us something of what can happen. He presents a mighty figure new to his task. As you look, a small crack can be seen in the edifice and under the pressure of high office one can see it widen until suddenly it splits asunder.
Are we witnessing this coming apart already in David Cameron? I do not suppose Cameron will repeat the mistakes of seeking to curry favour with some countries by insulting their ‘enemies’ and neighbours in public. At least not in the exactly same way. We shall write that down to learning from experience and the influence of others. But he will continue to be himself and he has told us so. Many hundreds of thousands of people will have seen the complicated expressions on David Cameron’s face when qustioned by journalists on his recent gaffes in Turkey and India: puzzlement, obstinacy and a degree of stupidity. After all when he shouted crude insults at Gordon Brown (of beloved memory) across the floor of the House of Commons people laughed and cheered. There must have been many similar moments in the Eton and Oxford debating societies: no one objected there. So why do they object in Pakistan and Israel?
This whole business of exposing oneself in public is fraught with difficulty. At first the crowd is amused and taken-in by one’s idiosyncracies and there is a welcome in the novellty of it (sorry, Gordon) but then the mood changes as we quickly grow critical and bored with the constant exposure. We try to modify what we do. It makes things worse. Have you noticed a change in our Dave’s intonation? His speech pattern has been altered. He has always , of course, spoken very quickly, as a child speaks and as politicians do, in order to get his point in and evade critical questioning, but now he shouts. Quite suddenly in a speech he seems to take a breath and bellows. You think I exagerate? Listen and make up your own mind. Our Dave is weak on detail. Harriet Harmon has revealed this for us. In the Commons she has sought policy detail from Dave on numerous occasions. He doesn’t answer. He does not know. In a debating society it is not desperately important to know what you are talking about. Succeeding is a matter of style, wit and combativeness. Dave certainly has what it takes to be popular and thus successful there. But in a wider world where most of what occurs is not of your making and liking. It is a question mark. Will we see the public edifice crumble piece by piece over the coming months?
Filed under Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Commons, Conservative Home, Eton, Guardian, Israel, Labour Blogs, Labour Home, Liberal Vision, Nick Clegg, Oxford, Pakistan, Parliament, Shakespeare, Turkey