Saturday 22 February 2014


pulsating with vigor and energy: the vibrant life of a large city.

vigorous; energetic; vital: a vibrant personality.
I am prepared to apply this word 'vibrant' to a few places where one can feel the economic energy bubbling up but not to the following:

- a bus garage outside a station

- a gum-speckled area of block paving between shops which are half-closed because nobody wants to walk half a mile from the car park or pay £3 for the privilege of looking at a pile of plastic baskets. 

- a big supermarket, not even one the size of a dozen football pitches.

If you are trying to catch a train or pick up your dry cleaning or find packet of biscuits, what you want is to move smoothly from where you are to a position where you have what you are seeking.  Being waylaid by a samba band plays no desirable part in that.

Nor do I think that hanging baskets and incongruous mounds of 'planters' make Babylon in to hanging gardens.  Out of all the delusions modern planners are prone to, it is that sticking a basket of begonias in a tub will improve matters. They are the scatter cushions of the urban environment; leave that to the interior designers who understand how to dress a space for effect.

I don't want vibrant. I will settle for clean, adequately signposted, and without ankle-breaking smashed  paving stones. Thank you.

Monday 17 February 2014

How to Introduce Rationing

Politicians and civil servants have never forgotten the thrill of total war and the power it gave them to direct all the goods and services in the entire economy.  They created artificial shortages to magnify the effects of war so that when rationing was introduced the public saw the coupons as smoothing out supply and accepted them.  It was the manipulation of perception.  

But that war is over.  Without a permanent enemy, how is one to impose a parallel currency such as carbon credits, or manufacture the warrant to reach right in to every household and dictate that they must use expensive complex light bulbs which are not very bright,  or to insist that some irrelevant jobsworth must write an energy performance certificate for every house when it is sold?  How is one to dominate civil society and bring it under central European control?

Easy. Make the effects of bad weather worse by deliberately mis-managing the landscape,  then call it Man Made Climate Change.  Then demand even more power to deal with it.

It may be that Environment Agency simply bungled the management of the Somerset Levels. It may be that the land was inadvertently flooded on the instructions of people who do not understand how waterlands work and that if you drown a newt in sewage, it is just as dead as if you had dried its habitat out.

But it may also be that a perfect disaster was set up deliberately, with the intention it would panic the middle-classes, who tend to live in the prettier parts, in to handing over all the power necessary to 'save' them.

Watts Up With That has been looking in to how bad weather was made worse by the Environment Agency. 
"The real issue has to do with the lack of flow capacity in the Kings Sedgemoor Drain, (gravity drain, not pumped) due to silting and vegetation encroachment, as well as similar issues in the River Parrett...."

Sunday 9 February 2014

In which I agree with Peter Hain

At last. 
He [Peter Hain] told The Independent: “Ukip is hoovering up the anti-politics vote. It goes beyond Europe and even beyond immigration. Some of it is plain bigotry. A lot of it is deep, deep antagonism to the political class, of which all the major parties are part. Under New Labour – and it has still not been wiped away - there has been a big disillusionment with us as a party among white working class traditional Labour supporters.”
Labour has not represented the working classes since it voted for the party to continue the European project in 1974. Michael Foot objected on exactly the grounds that it would deny Labour the chance to protect its own core vote. He was out-voted.  No problem; since then, Labour has just changed its core vote to represent net beneficiaries of the welfare state, such as benefits claimants, immigrants, public sector employees, and the middle-class chatterati luvvies who think that there is a magic money tree.   It was shrewd political decision; put together this group can, and did, deliver electoral success.

Of course, it was helped by John Major also alienating the Conservative core vote.  A child of the aspiring working classes, an outsider, he made good and became PM.   He promptly squandered the legacy of Margaret Thatcher who had recruited 'Essex Man'; the folk who do not have local authority jobs and guaranteed pensions, people whose work ebbs and flows with the market demand, the net contributors to the welfare state.  Instead of helping them, Major shuffled that huge group towards benefits dependency and straight in to the arms of Tony Blair, where they have remained. 

This does not mean they like Labour.  Older voters remembers that the Conservatives did feck-all for them after an initial burst, but they also remember that there was a time when they thought they might get ahead, might be able to work their way upwards instead of seeing the likes of Tracey Connelly given child benefit, housing benefit and a refurbished house so that her boyfriend could  torture her children in comfort.

Moving below this like a vast lurking Jaws, ready to leap out and snap the ship of state in half, is the issue of immigration.  This does not signify crude xenophobia. Rather, it is that the minister for immigration found a cleaner whose status was queried from the beginning, then later claimed he left the paperwork in his jeans and his daily lady washed them.  Or something.
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, Paul Gallico, 1958
In the process, he denied that paying work to one of those 'Mrs Harris' voters, who used to make a living out of supplying domestic services to several modest households. Try paying £15 per hour and giving the contract to somebody with a British birth certificate - their own certificate - and she would be back in business.  But that would mean allowing discrimination in favour of British nationals.

I do not have a problem with this but currently it is against EU law as British and EU nationals must be treated equally. There is a way to fix that.