It is hard to know where to begin. This story has everything. Facepalm-inducing levels of stupidity; obviously unworkable policies; nannying; doctors who would rather control people than patch them up; meaningless statistics; government interference in minutiae; this old chestnut:
Ministers have suggested that if companies fail to sign up to the Responsibility Deal voluntarily the government could legislate to force them to act.
So far these are plans “seen by The Telegraph” to introduce more control over food by, say, making biscuits smaller. In a sane world it will never happen but it is an insight into the direction that those in power would like to see things go. I have noticed how quickly what once would have seemed unbelievable can become normal: would a smoker on a plane in 1998 have believed it would be banned in pubs nine years later?
A week ago, a friend of mine, a retired journalist now living in France, stayed with me for a couple of nights, kipping down on my living room sofa-bed. He arrived on Sunday, and on Monday he journeyed forth at midday, to have lunch, with a big gaggle of his old journo pals. The lunch was quite liquid and very prolonged. Although I should add that when he got back to my place around midnight he behaved impeccably, his only slight infringement of good manners being a tendency toward repetition.
All of which got me a-googling the phenomenon of Lunchtime O’Booze, that being the soubriquet that was bestowed upon journalists of a certain vintage by Private Eye. The words explain themselves.
This caused me to encounter some bang-up-to-date observations about the Lunchtime O’Booze generation of journos, and the disdain with which they are now often treated, in a piece entitled In Defence of Lunchtime O’Booze, by John Dale.
In characteristic journo style (from which I dare say I could learn) Dale gets straight to his point:
Alcohol is a truth drug. Reporters use it as the weapon of choice to breach the carapace of lies erected by prime ministers, politicians, police and anyone else tempted to become tinpot Hitlers.
With drink you don’t hack with a keyboard. You hack with the clink of a glass and then download your personal malware and intellectual trojans directly into someone else’s brain.
Occasionally you get inside their heart as well, which is a cruel bonus. Alcohol, when applied by good reporters, brings the powerful and the pompous crashing to earth, face down in the gutter right in front of the paps shooting for posterity at 40 frames a second.
Next morning the prototype tyrant wakes up a nicer, gentler human being. …
And now for the bang-up-to-date bit:
… So, for me, the most alarming feature of the Leveson Inquiry was that it turned anti-alcohol, as if coveting the pulpit at a temperance meeting.
Any moment I expected Leveson to raise a placard saying: ‘Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine.’
Leveson’s point is that the Police should beware getting too pally with journos, and especially of drinking with them too much. But Dale’s point is that although the Police would be wise to shun alcohol, journos who do the same are missing a big trick. Journos taking it in turns to tell Leveson that they abjure the demon drink should instead, says Dale, be willing to stand up, as best they can, and defend alcohol as a vital tool of their trade.
Dale follows with a character sketch of one Noel Botham, with a photo of Botham holding a drink and involving a drink-lubricated interview:
He raises his glass, giving it a tilt as if it were a journalistic rapier. …
A youthful 72, Botham is relevant because he is a lifelong bon viveur who has used his taste for the high life to pursue a form of free-range journalism which is the antithesis of that promoted by most Leveson witnesses, the reborn PCC and various journo professors. He’s the last cavalier in a world of roundheads. He symbolises free range against the battery farms of Canary Wharf and other media plantations.
But drink has not now stopped working its truthful magic, despite what Dale says. Botham is not actually the “last cavalier” by any means.
Guido Fawkes is often talked about as a challenge to traditional journalism. But when it comes to drinking and as a result learning stuff, Guido is no challenge to regular journalistic ways. He is booze and business as usual.
We appear to find ourselves in something of a Catch 22 situation. Nobody will invest in the new generating capacity that the government wants because nobody believes that the government policy of institutionalised insanity will last – taxpayers will not bear the kind of price rises that Davey wants to impose on everyone. But while the government is insisting that insanity is the way forward, nobody is going to invest in the UK energy industry at all.
- Here. From one of a number of recent Bishop Hill postings on the insanity of UK energy policy.
The UK version of the Huffington Post reports that Ukip’s ‘NRA-Esque’ Gun Control Comments Described As ‘Inaccurate Upsetting Drivel’. Furthermore, advises the author of the piece, Felicity A Morse,
Farage’s support for relaxed gun control is particularly controversial given there is a cross-party consensus that restricting firearms helps reduce gun crime and protects communities.
Emphasis added. Consider yourselves warned.
An unexpected pleasure, leftists chocking at the sight of people celebrating Margaret Thatcher, has just got even better.
The Daily Mail informs us that the “Thatcher haircut” is the rage in central London, with one salon claiming to be overwhelmed by demand.
Italian-born Christina Bellucci, 37, a digital consultant, said she felt the look reflected a modern attitude.
‘This is a strong style and gives me authority,’ she said.
‘When I walk out the door I feel a few inches taller, it gives me power without sacrificing any of my femininity.’
When I read this…
A supermarket chain has withdrawn bags of nuts – after failing to declare they may contain peanuts. The Food Standards Agency issued an allergy alert saying the presence of peanuts was not declared on Booths’ own brand packets of monkey nuts. [...] Booths technical manager Waheed Hassan said: “It is our responsibility as retailers to accurately record allergy advice. [...] In a statement, the supermarket said it had identified the labelling error and issued a warning to customers.
“If you have an allergy to peanuts, please do not consume this product and return it to your local store for a full refund. No other products are affected by this issue and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
So the packets of nuts labelled as… nuts… are being recalled for not telling people allergic to nuts not to eat the nuts.
I would have much preferred if Mr. Waheed Hassan had instead issued the following statement:
“If you are allergic to nuts, do not buy anything labelled as… nuts. And if you do, then either you are illiterate or cannot read English, in which case an additional label telling you not to eat the nuts that you are allergic to from this packet labelled as… nuts… would not help.
But then again, anyone suffering from a nut allergy eating from a packet labelled… nuts… and which, when you open them and see them prior to stuffing them into your gaping maw, look exactly like the… nuts… that you are allergic to, well, such a person is so stupid that we feel that we are providing a public service assisting with their choice to remove themselves from the gene pool. No need to thank us and remember to always shop at Booths! Kthxby.”
But sadly, he did not say that.
Dave is going to wake up one morning and find that the Conservative Party website, and any other right-of-centre source of information, is going to be shut away behind an “Over-18″ “hate-and-porn” firewall and he will be too stupid to work out what happened.
- Samizdata commenter Rob
Say it ain’t so! Accountancy firms ‘use knowledge of Treasury to help rich avoid tax’ – MPs
Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s chair, said the actions of the accountancy firms were tantamount to a scam and represented a “ridiculous conflict of interest” which must be stopped. “The large accountancy firms are in a powerful position in the tax world and have an unhealthily cosy relationship with government,” she said, calling for the Treasury to stop accepting their staff to draw up new tax laws.
In other news, Margaret Hodge called for tighter regulation of the consumer credit industry… civil service procurement… welfare to work schemes… academies… and tax avoidance… and Guardian commenters demanded tighter regulation of the press.
Remember citizens, Get real – get regulated.
“Yesterday the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that they think the economy is growing again – by 0.3% in the first quarter of this year. You should take these statistics – good or bad – with a pinch of salt. But the breakdown of growth by sector does undermine lazy claims that the economy is in trouble because of cuts in government spending. Whereas the ONS data shows that manufacturing has shrunk by nearly 7% since 2008 and construction has shrunk by more than 15%, “Government” has grown by 6.9%. The real austerity has been in the more efficient private sector, not a still bloated public sector. Is it any wonder that the economy isn’t growing?”
- Matt Sinclair, chief executive, Taxpayers’ Alliance.
The dismal David Cameron wants to block people from accessing ‘porn’ from WiFi in public places and ‘semi-public’ places. Which presumably means all WiFi as almost every WiFi in the world is capable of being picked up in a ‘public’ place, such as the side walk in front of your house.
And the usual coercion addicted statists will smile and nod that ‘the children’ are being protected. And once the slope has been created, these are the people who will be working to make it as slippery as possible.
So of course once the notion that protecting ‘the children’ from stumbling across porn is accepted, next will be protecting them from seeing ‘hate speech’… and then from anything that is held not to be in ‘the public interest’. Held by who? Why by people like them, of course.
It is not about porn, it is about control. It always is.
Today, at 1.54pm in the early afternoon, a friend of mine took this photograph at Oxford Circus, in London W1. We were talking on the phone and she mentioned that there was this important looking hearse driving by. I said can you take a photo of it? She managed just the one, and this was it:
Not having paid much attention yesterday to the Thatcher Funeral, and being a very inept Googler for information about such things, I am unsure about just what this is a photo of. The internet is full of news about what happened yesterday, but seems (to me) to be silent about any Thatcher related activity happening in London today.
Thatcher was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium yesterday afternoon:
Baroness Thatcher was this afternoon cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in South-West London.
After a reception for the guests at her ceremonial funeral, the body of the former Prime Minister was driven from St Paul’s Cathedral to the suburban district.
Her ashes are due to be interred next to those of her beloved husband Denis, who died in 2003, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
The hearse in the photo that my friend took certainly looks like the hearse on duty yesterday, as featured in the pictures at the far end of the link above. And who else, besides Thatcher, would merit a Union Jack?
So I’m guessing that this was indeed the Thatcher ashes, on their way to Royal Hospital Chelsea. If so, by a somewhat circuitous route, back through the middle of London.
But am I right about what this was? Or is egg is even now assembling itself on my face?
“As we mourn the passing of a remarkable Prime Minister, we should reflect on the lessons we can learn from Lady Thatcher. She showed courage, conviction, determination and placed great faith in the wisdom of ordinary men and women. We should celebrate her legacy, but also consider how to emulate her today.”
- Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs. That think tank has played a legendary role in developing some of the ideas that influenced Margaret Thatcher, whose funeral was held today. RIP, Maggie.