Monday, 16 April 2012

Ed Milliband's Comedy Turn

Labour leader Ed Milliband must be running out of ideas. His latest suggestion, that the cap on party donations from individuals be lowered beneath what the Coalition suggested, is just hilarious

Not because it isn't a good idea in itself; it is. But it's comedy gold coming from  the leader of a party that happily accepts millions in donations from the membership of trade unions such as UNITE. Who then, of course, have a stranglehold on the party and its policies. Do us a favour, Ed. Do you think we've not noticed where your party gets its money from?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Incorrect English usage #1: "Begging" the Question

Prepare for the pedants' revolt!

I've lost track of how often I've heard journalists, both in print and on screen, incorrectly using the phrase "it begs the question...." or "which begs the question...."

This, ladies, is what plastic surgery is for:

It's not for stuffing silicone into your boobs. If you want to do that, pay for it yourself. And if it goes wrong, don't expect the taxpayer to fund new ones!

The Government is spot-on to say the NHS will fund the removal of dodgy French implants if they represent a danger to health....which apparently they might. But that we will not fund cosmetic, vanity surgery which there is no medical need for.

My brother is a doctor and he has signed off female patients for breast augmentations on the NHS - but they had to convince him that they had a psychological need in some way. The example he gave me was of one lady who was too ashamed (apparently) to let her husband see her naked. Well, fair enough. Maybe.

For everyone else, pay for new ones yourself. You make your bed, you lie on it!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Mansion Tax: only the Lib Dems could think of something so dumb

The vagaries of the British housing market have thrown up many anomalies - one of which is that it has produced lots of people in London who are asset-rich but cash-poor. There was a time when having a house valued at £1million marked you out as being successful; now it seems it just points to a little luck over where you bought, and when.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Three Days in May - a review and historical perspective

I went down to Whitehall last night, a stone's throw from the seat of Government power, to see a play which dramatised on one of the most crucial, but little-known, strategic decisions of The Second World War.

The theatre, Trafalgar Studios, was modern by central London standards - for once there was adequate leg room. And although fairly short and with no fancy sets, the acting and the sheer enormity of the subject matter being acted out made it worth the £30 ticket.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Spain's new government - for now

Congratulations to new Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain's "People's Party" on ousting the Socialists and winning a decisive victory. The question is: will it make a difference?

In Italy and Greece democratically elected leaders have been booted out by bureaucrats in Brussels because the European elite didn't like their policies. In both cases Berlusconi and Papandreou have been replaced by what the media have coined 'technocrats'.

It is symbolic - if not indicative - of the EU that democracy can be so subverted in the interest of a project. The Euro project: the project that failed.

Austerity measures will follow in both Spain, as they have in Italy and Greece. Now in times of yore, when the IMF parachuted in to rescue countries like this they would impose austerity measures but balance it with the promise of devaluing the currency and making it more competitive. But of course with the Euro that's not possible. the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) should never have been allowed to join the Euro since they patently lacked the fiscal and monetary discipline. They didn't play by the rules (of deficit, etc). But they were allowed to join anyway!

Now the hubris. The PIIGS are trapped in the Euro straightjacket and there are no good options. Default and withdrawal from the Euro seems the least bad option; then the Euro can revert to what it was really designed for : Germany, France plus the Benelux countries. Keeping out of the Euro has saved Britain from even greater financial disaster but we are so exposed to the bad debt of the PIIGS that we won't get away with it. And who knows, could France be next?

So enjoy your victory, Senor Rajoy. Just make sure you do what your masters in Brussels do. Otherwise you'll be out on your ear.

Monday, 13 June 2011

You say tomato, I say health scare

Another year, another health scare. And the usual over-reaction and hysteria. When will people get a sense of perspective?

A very small number of people have fallen ill, and an even smaller number have died, from e-coli poisoning. Man the barricades and reach for your tin hats, the end of the world is nigh. We're doomed I tell you - doomed!