Too Young to Smoke but Old Enough to Vote?

I was about ten years old when I had my last cigarette and unfortunately my father caught me at it. Being a keen sportsman and wanting me to excel at sport the way he did, he beat me black and blue and that was the end of my cigarette smoking.

Mind you, seven years later, I wanted to look older than I was so invested in a pipe in order to give me some sort of gravitas. I have smoked and enjoyed my pipe ever since and in time of stress, it has helped me greatly.

Now it seems that a parliamentary committee has or is about to recommend that the minimum age for buying cigarettes and I presume pipe tobacco is to be raised from eighteen to twenty one.

I suppose the committee is vaguely sensible in suggesting that eighteen is too young an age at which to start dabbling in a habit that might cast a shadow over the rest of a teenager’s life but will this stop those kids who actually want to smoke – I doubt it. They will find a way.

All of which leaves me more than a little confused. I looked up the political website, Guido Fawkes who pointed out that no fewer than nine of the MPs on this anti-smoking committee – that is sixty per cent of them – have called for the voting age to be lowered to sixteen.

I wonder if I am alone in doubting the sanity of this. These turnips think that anyone under the age of twenty one is too immature to decide whether or not to buy a packet of cigarettes. At the same time, they are happy to entrust children five years younger with the most important decision anyone can make in a democracy.

Of course, it will come as no surprise that all nine of the committee members who back votes at sixteen belong to Left-wing parties – whether Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP or the Greens.

Clearly, they calculate that children are more likely than adults to vote for their daft ideas. What is more, they are almost certainly right, if we are to judge by voting patterns at recent elections, broken down by age. The younger the voter on the whole, the more likely he or she is to back the Left.

But is it unfair to ask for a little consistency? If people are too young at twenty to decide whether or not they should buy a packet of Silk Cut, then surely they must be too young at sixteen to make decisions that will affect the future of millions of their fellow citizens? Until 1970, Britons had to wait for the vote until they were twenty one. Nobody seemed to see anything wrong in that.

As for why younger voters tend to lean towards the Left, a part of the reason must be that they tend to be more naïve and idealistic, with less experience of real life than hardened old cynics of my advanced age. The fact that most eighteen year-olds do not pay direct taxes must also have something to do with it. It is always far less painful to see the Government redistributing other people’s hard-earned money than our own.

But I suspect that another crucial factor may be at work: the irresistible urge, felt by the young through the ages, to annoy the older generations. We have all been through it I suppose.

I have always been old for my age – perhaps it was the pipe – but just as many of my parents’ generation were exasperated by the hippies and long-haired layabouts they spawned, so people like me rise to the bait when young idiots tell us that the Queen is a symbol of racist oppression, that Chavez’s Venezuela was a model society or that Robert Mugabe was a freedom fighter who liberated his country.

The answer, I suppose, is that we grown-ups should try not to get angry – difficult though this often is. We should remind ourselves that young people have always said and done silly things, and take comfort from the thought that one day, most of them will grow up.

I often think we should not waste our breath on attacking these annoying young folk but should reserve our anger instead for the grown-ups who pander to them. Only this week some high ranking fool at King’s College, London, apologised for causing ‘harm’ to students by publishing a photograph of Prince Philip in a newsletter. 

Also this week one hundred and fifty Oxford dons have said they will impose sanctions on students from Oriel until their college pulls down its statue of the Cecil John Rhodes, who let’s face it was an enlightened liberal, by the standards of his day.

Or the woke warriors who decreed that all members of the House of Lords – including the likes of the venerable ninety one year old Betty Boothroyd – should be forced to take a course in sexual harassment training, whatever that may mean.

Sadly, people like these self-important idiots will never grow up.

But let me try and be tolerant of the foolish young. I do care about future generations – I have grandchildren of my own – and think they should be discouraged from taking up smoking, at least until they are old enough to make a sensible choice. So, yes, let’s try raising the legal age for buying tobacco to twenty one.

But while we are about it, for the sake of consistency and this country’s future, shouldn’t we raise the voting age to the same? Or would that be inverted ageism? After all there are so many ‘isms’ in this modern world that it must surely be offensive to someone.

The Time of Madness Has to End

A couple of days ago, Britain reached a milestone by recording no deaths at all from the Coronabug. This was the first such recording in well over a year and most scientists lined up to hail the vaccine miracle that has brought about this remarkable turnaround in this country’s fortunes.

Even so, that did not stop a hard core of experts – most of them from that weirdly acronymed body SAGE (surely it is anything but?) – continuing to call for a delay to the planned unlocking of restrictions on June 21. With grim faces and drooping lips, they warn of a third wave of infections fuelled by the Indian variant. Only we are now told that such descriptions are racist and the various mutations will in future be called by letters of the Greek alphabet instead. More politically correct madness I fancy.

But semantics aside, when will these scientific turnips who seem completely paralysed by paranoia, see the light?

There must be no further delays. No more hitting on the pause button. No more scaremongering about potent new strains. Lockdown must end for good on June 21, and every emergency restriction must be lifted right there and then.

We should be back to normal already dammit. The success of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine rollouts means there are now no reasonable justifications for prolonging the suspension of basic freedom that the lockdown represents.

The supposed ‘cure’ is now infinitely worse than the disease so it is time for victory to be declared and freedom to return.

The numbers show Covid-19 has essentially been beaten in the UK. Or at least it is about as beaten as it will ever be. Even before that day without deaths arrived, fewer than ten people were dying daily from the virus. In a population of well over sixty million that surely cannot be too serious.

Hospitals are not overrun. The more vulnerable have been jabbed at least once – unless they have refused – and the rollout of vaccinations continues with ever more speed and efficiency.

Even if the infection rate ticks upwards from time to time, the spread is likely to be among younger, healthier people who may get ill but are very unlikely to require hospital treatment and far less likely to die. I realise that none of this will be of much consolation to those falling sick or, worse still, losing a loved one, but the death figures are nowhere near high enough to justify any ongoing lockdown of the economy.

If we had not experienced the horrors of the past year and Coronabug had only just arrived on our shores, but with a huge proportion of the population vaccinated would even this panic stricken bunch of political prunes consider imposing a lockdown with the prevailing fatality and hospitalisation figures? Of course they would not. They would not dare.

If they are determined to keep restrictions in place until we can be sure no one ever again will die from Covid, then we will be in lockdown for ever and the economy will collapse. Then the death toll and the human misery involved will make the Coronabug seem like a particularly happy memory. I lived through the hell that was Zimbabwe when we had trillion dollar notes, so I have been there before.

Bunter J’s pathetic government can no longer ignore the toll their measures have taken, and continue to take, on our national finances. The further they extend restrictions on society and the economy, the worse the overall financial hit becomes. Each day is, in effect, more expensive and painful than the last.

Even if one is wildly optimistic that swathes of the private sector can somehow continue on the life support of furlough without a full ending of lockdown, the economic cost to the Government is jaw-dropping. And let’s face it, all of this accrued debt is simply a tax rise delayed. Sooner or later, we will all have to face the bill. Far better to start to do that sooner and to limit it as much as we can.

More than three million workers remain on the furlough scheme, at a cost to taxpayers of more than £3.5billion per month. We need them to return to work now – or to start looking for new jobs. Every day of delay is £100 million more to pay in tax – or to pass on to our children for them to pay in future.

This is not simply an argument about economic worries verses health worried. It goes deeper than that. Gearing the entire government’s efforts to the Coronabug problem has meant other serious issues have gone untackled. 

Take cancer for example. The number of people with suspected cancer getting a referral from their GP to a specialist within a fortnight has fallen to an all-time low. The country’s leading cancer charities fear we will now witness the first increase in cancer death rates for decades.

The same applies to many other diseases, far more serious than the Coronabug.

We have long since reached the point where we need to learn to live with Covid in the same way we live with flu, which also claims tens of thousands of lives in a bad year.

For many of us, Bunter J’s roadmap out of lockdown was always too slow and tentative. He claimed it was data against dates, yet he has stuck rigidly to the dates imposed either by him or the gloomy ‘scientists’ of SAGE, most of whom are behavioral experts rather that epidemiologists. Each set of data coming in shows we have been winning the war against the coronavirus more rapidly than many feared was possible.

When Bunter has been bold, it has paid off. Thanks to his decision to bypass the desk jockeys and thanks to Kate Bingham the bog snorkeller, Britain has had the most successful and extensive vaccination programme of any major nation.

More than thirty million people have had both jabs and have nothing to fear from the Nepal variant, Indian varieant or any other ruddy variant for that matter. We should be free to travel where on earth we like. It is surely time to tear up the green list, the amber list and, yes, the red list too. We are perfectly capable of assessing the risks for ourselves.

And if you do travel to a red list country and do not fancy forking out two grand to spend a fortnight locked up in a shabby hotel when you come back, just make your way to Calais and hire a dinghy. Thousands of others are doing it.

If Sage, or Nervtag, or any of the rest of the frantic scientists start squealing in Greek about the Alpha or Omega Variants, Bunter should reach for the NATO phonetic alphabet and tell them all to Foxtrot Oscar.

Come on Prime Minister, just get on with doing the job for which you were elected and that is not pandering to the quacks. We have all had enough dammit!

Government-inspired Fear, Doctors and The Beano

What is it about Bunter Johnson and the team of doom-mongering turnips who act as his advisers? Surely it is high time they were put in their rightful places. They are public servants dammit, not our lords and masters. Yet it seems that every day as the most successful vaccine programme of any major country moves towards completion, anxious voices are raised telling us we are still in grave danger.

I suppose there is no harm in caution, and overconfidence is probably foolish, but there is great harm in overstating risk and pointlessly keeping us all in confinement and under restriction.

Surely we have reached a point in this soggy little island where we really do need to recognise just how far we have come and to stop running in panic from every warning of a new variant of Covid. So far, once these variants have actually been investigated, they have turned out to be relatively minor new problems. The vaccine works well against them, and their ability to spread the virus is not hugely greater than before. And this is what we see in practice, with hospitalisations falling and deaths down to low levels.

Repeatedly crying ‘Wolf’ over such things does no good and a hell of a lot of harm but still it goes on. The new daft German ban on British visitors is surely a direct result of those loud voices in this country that made such a fuss about the Indian variant – which, in fact, is already widespread in Europe and by no means confined to Britain.

The vaccination copes well with it. Why talk ourselves into trouble in this way?

Fortunately – and it is to his credit – Bunter J fought off the latest attempt by doomsayers to get him to postpone the long-awaited reopening of much of the country on May 17. Now they will keep trying to get him to put off the even greater liberation planned for June 21. Surely, he must stand his ground again before we are all plunged into insolvency, mental instability and suicidal thoughts.

The vaccination is working dammit. The country longs to throw off its Coronabug chains and will benefit hugely from doing so. Only hard researched evidence, not panic-driven speculation, should be allowed to delay freedom.

The same mindset is also badly needed in the Government’s travel and holiday policy, where Bunter has not done so well. Why, when millions of people have had two vaccinations are we keeping so many holiday destinations off limits, even though we admit, by classifying them as ‘amber’ that there really is not much of a problem?

Imagine the absurd nonsense of travelling to an amber-list country – an expensive PCR test before you go. Another one before you return. Then five or even ten days’ self-isolation, punctuated by two or three more PCR tests. And of course, the likelihood of government-funded busybodies hammering on your door to check that you are behaving yourself.

First, there is the colossal profiteering cost of these tests, which the Government repeatedly promises to control and does not. For a normal family, it is close to being prohibitive. Next there is the bullying attitude that lies behind all this. And finally there is the complete lack of proportion. In a country where the vulnerable have long been vaccinated, what is the real likelihood of anyone either taking Covid abroad or bringing it back from, say, a Spanish or Greek island?

Like so many stupid things, it is quite funny as well as infuriating. A premier with a sense of humour should be able to realise this and end it once and for all but I fear that our revered leader has completely lost any sense of humour he might have had.

Britain needs a holiday dammit and so do government ministers if only to bring some common sense into their nonsensical thinking. I would not criticise any of them for taking well-earned breaks after more than a year of stress and hard work, preferably next to a sparkling blue southern seashore, with a glass of something crisp and refreshing close at hand. They should make this easy for themselves and for the rest of us, now.

The GP surgery in Yelverton with whom I am registered are reasonably efficient but booking an appointment to see a doctor nowadays is a laborious task. Yet a week or so ago, the GPs’ union passed a vote of no confidence in senior officials at NHS England, effectively rejecting calls to start seeing more patients face to face. Apparently, they are ‘incandescent with anger’ at the suggestion, accusing NHS England of ignoring ‘the needs of the profession.’ And there was me thinking the whole point of being a doctor was to serve the needs of the patient. 

As a boy, I loved reading the Beano yet now even that has succumbed to political correctness. Fatty from the Bash Street Kids has been re-christened Freddie by the magazine proprietors to ‘celebrate’ the fact that children come ‘in all shapes and sizes.’ That may be true, but the whole point of publications like the Beano is that they push the boundaries of what is acceptable. It is why children like them. Remove the subversion and you might as well just buy the ruddy Guardian.

A Victory for Common Sense and More Political Panic

Three cheers for Oriel College, which after years of dither and delay, has finally come to the only possible decision about its very small statue of Cecil Rhodes.

Having studied the history of my country, I am a great admirer of Rhodes but even I do not think he was a saint. Entrepreneurs and empire-builders rarely are, but as prime minister of the Cape Colony, founder of the De Beers diamond empire and the father of Rhodesia, he was a titanic figure in British and African history.

A sickly vicar’s son from Bishop’s Stortford, Rhodes became one of the richest men in the world, set up Oxford’s Rhodes Scholarships and paid for Oriel College’s grand Rhodes Building which stands on Oxford’s High Street. On that building, provided you flatten yourself against the far wall and look very hard, you might spot the surprisingly small figure of Rhodes himself – the statue at the centre of this ludicrous nonsense.

For Oriel’s governing body, the whole business has been a nightmare. After being harangued for months by mobs of politically correct nutcases, the college launched a ‘consultation’ about the statue’s future – which many people saw as the first step to bringing it down.

To anybody who has followed similar cases in the last few years, the pattern was very familiar. First, a handful of students, activists and ‘celebrities’ sob and scream about supposed injustices, most of them a long way in the past. Then, provided they had screamed long and loudly enough, the authorities would simply give in, choosing to appease the mob rather than to stand up for their own institutions.

But in Oriel’s case, the college authorities had reckoned without their alumni – the real heroes of the story. Almost overnight, charitable donations collapsed as outraged ex-Oriel students cancelled bequests or disinherited the college from their wills.

Perhaps only a few of the alumni are active Rhodes fans, but they clearly believed that a great Oxford college, with a history dating back to 1326, should have the guts to stand up for itself instead of bowing meekly down to a mob of smug, strident, self-righteous brats.

So now, at last, the college has seen sense. Its independent commission has recommended new scholarships for African students, fellowships in areas related to Rhodes’s legacy, an annual lecture and other initiatives – which seems reasonable enough to me.

And with rare and commendable courage, Oriel’s Provost, the former businessman Lord Mendoza, has ruled out removing the statue, blaming the ‘regulatory and financial challenges’ that an inevitable court case would bring. He argues that it is far better to focus on improving life for today’s students, especially in Africa, than to spend any more time squabbling about a statue of a man who died in 1902.

So Rhodes won’t fall, after all. And quite right, too.

Only a crazed fanatic believes that the way to build a better society lies in tearing down statues. Only an idiot thinks that the youngsters of today have a monopoly on moral purity and nobody who loves history would ever be in the business of vandalising old buildings.

If Oriel had given in to the mob, the backlash among their alumni would have been disastrous for their finances and they might have found it impossible to offer any scholarships at all.

But the statue is to stay thank God. The college has found a sensible compromise. And at long last, somebody has had the courage to stand up to the cranks and extremists of the woke movement. So good for Lord Mendoza. And good for Oriel.

Here we go again. The coronabug has mutated and our revered leader is again reduced to a quivering wreck, threatening to cancel the next stage in the so called roadmap currently due to happen on 21st June. The vaccines, this buffoon tells us, are not a hundred per cent effective. Of course they are not but that was never expected. We were never promised that the Coronabug will disappear completely. We cannot reasonably expect that and our inept political leaders should not be guided by any such aim.

The vaccines were supposed to deliver sufficient immunity to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and the death rate rocketing and to enable us to live with Covid as we live with flu or any other disease. They are clearly doing that and so long as the Indian variant does not fill the wards and the funeral parlours, it matters not that it is more transmissible.

What matters is that if we get the bug, we do not get it badly enough to end up in hospital or, worse still, as part of the death statistics.

To state the ruddy obvious, we cannot simply lock the country down every time a new variant comes along or we will have no economy left. We have to live normally unless and until there is a genuine threat to the NHS and at the moment there is no evidence that the new variant poses that. So why all the panic?

What on earth is the point of having one of the most effective vaccine rollouts in the world if we continue to act as if the vaccines had not yet been invented? If there is going to be an impact on hospitalisations or deaths from the Indian variant, it will become obvious soon enough but until then why cast further uncertainty over already struggling businesses or people with loved ones in care homes? Why strike more fear into the hearts of those already too timid and cowed by government inspired pressure to step outside their homes? Why encourage those who virulently deride the vaccine programme and who should those of us who have been vaccinated have to suffer for the few idiots who refuse the jab?

It is high time that Bunter J rediscovered the spirit that gave us that vaccine programme, even if the Bog Snorkeller, Kate Bingham deserves most of the credit. It is time he re-discovered what little courage he might have had when he took the job and above all, time he accepted the simple fact that the Coronabug is going to be with us for a very long time – probably for ever.

(Quite why two paragraphs above are in bold type, I really do not know but nor do I know how to correct that. Sorry.)

Collective Insanity or Is It Me

Am I losing my marbles or has twenty first century society lost the plot? Would you believe that a planned re-enactment of the D Day landings in Devon has been cancelled on the grounds of health and safety.

It was scheduled to take place on Saunton Sands and the dunes at Braunton Burrows, where ten thousand troops trained for Operation Overlord in 1944. However after a full risk assessment, the site has been declared ‘downright dangerous.’ Organisers and council officials blame ‘blown sand’ and ‘surface water.’ What else do they expect on a beach I wonder?’

A convoy of military vehicles, including Sherman tanks, Jeeps and half-tracks, has also been scaled back because of the Covid pandemic. I suppose that with the current restrictions on getting too close to each other, there might be a glimmer of logic in there somewhere but it is only a tiny glimmer.

During the war, this part of the North Devon coast was chosen for invasion preparations because of its similarity to Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy. Blown sand and surface water were the least of their problems. 

I cannot help wondering what might have happened if the military had attempted the D-Day landings under modern health and safety restrictions but I think we now have the answer to that.

In London meanwhile, a train operator has come under fire after it apologised over a complaint from a ‘non-binary’ passenger because the conductor greeted customers by saying ‘good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.’

London North Eastern Railway said in response to the complaint on the dreaded Twitter that ‘train managers should not be using language like this’ before promising to take action. 

The non-binary passenger, who goes by the Twitter name Laurence and uses the pronouns they and them also states that he – I am not going to use idiotic pronouns – represents the Rail, Maritime and Transport trade union – God help them and all their members.

 In his complaint, Laurence the Twonk stated: ‘”Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…” so as a non binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me so I won’t listen @LNER.’

That heinous threat obviously frightened a company spokesman into responding with ‘I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our train managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

‘Please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.’

The exchange sparked a fierce debate over whether ‘language like this’ should be banned by companies.

A colleague who was with Laurence at the time and is also believed to be a rail worker defended the complaint.

Jarley wrote: ‘Both Laurence and I were customers of the railway – being rail staff does not absolve an operator from the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive.

‘I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.’

I am not sure whether Jarley is or was male or female, but how long can this mass idiocy continue before the general public has had enough. There was absolutely nothing wrong with that friendly greeting and I am sure it was appreciated by the passengers.

A spokesman for the company confirmed that no action was taken against the member of staff who used the greeting. I should think not dammit. Politeness and friendly greetings seem to be going out of fashion and I would certainly have felt better for a cheerful conductor.

In their statement, the company added: ‘We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities, and encourage our onboard teams to welcome all customers onboard.

‘Our policies and procedures are reviewed regularly and we will review if any further changes need to be made.’

Up in Scotland, lawyer Aamer Anwar said that it was a ‘proud moment’ for him to be able to tell two asylum seekers who were being deported they were free after chaotic scenes outside a van in which they were being transported. 

Huge crowds cheered and applauded yesterday when the two Indian men, initially detained by Border Force officials, were eventually released by police following a stand-off with hundreds of protesters.

Border force officials had arrested the two individuals as suspected illegal immigrants but local people surrounded the enforcement vehicle with some sitting on the road in front of it, and one even laying underneath it, as part of a demonstration against an earlier immigration raid.

Campaigners hailed their release as a victory for Glaswegian solidarity and insisted officials had ‘messed with the wrong city.’

Basically this abject surrender to the crowd by paid officials and the police means that public opinion is more important than the rule of law and that must inevitably lead to anarchy.

Bunter J’s hapless government continues to insist that it is doing all it can to tackle illegal immigration but when officials try to do their job, this sort of nonsense takes place and the authorities meekly climb down. My worry is that incidents like this are becoming ever more frequent and Priti Patel’s efforts to sort things out are being hampered by the politicall correct mob.

A subsequent police statement said that Superintendent Mark Sutherland had decided to release the detained men ‘in order to protect the safety, public health and wellbeing of those involved in the detention and subsequent protest.’ Do your job Superintendent. Uphold the ruddy law as coppers used to.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was ‘deeply concerned’ about the incident ‘in the heart of a community celebrating Eid,’ but what does a religious festival have to do with upholding the rule of law?

Ms Sturgeon, who was sworn in on Thursday as MSP for Glasgow Southside, added: ‘My office is making urgent enquiries and stands ready to offer any necessary assistance to those detained.’

So having made fools out of officials legally doing their job, the Poison Dwarf is going to help the two accused men. How can this be justified dammit?

Let’s just stay in Scotland for a while and explore another instance of politically correct insanity. Lisa Keogh, a twenty-nine year old law student at Abertay University in Dundee was reported to university chiefs by her classmates for saying that women were born with female genitalia and are not as physically strong as men. For this completely factual statement, she is now facing a formal investigation by the university for ‘offensive and discriminatory comments.’

The mother-of-two said she had been taking part in a video seminar about gender feminism and the law when she raised concerns about trans women taking part in mixed martial arts.

After telling her classmates that a women who has had testosterone in her body for thirty two years would be genetically stronger than the average woman, the mature student was accused of calling women the ‘weaker sex.  ‘   

‘I thought it was a joke.’ Ms Keogh commented. ‘I thought there was no way that the university would pursue me for utilising my legal right to freedom of speech. I was not being mean, transphobic or offensive. I was stating a basic biological fact.’

The incident comes just a year after economics lecturer Dr Eva Poen was accused of transphobia by feminist and LGBT students over a tweet in which she said ‘only female people menstruate.’

Furious undergraduates at the University of Exeter condemned the lecturer accusing her of ‘openly singling out trans people’ in the posts.

The row erupted when Dr Poen responded to a tweet by a Twitter user which read: ‘Not everyone who menstruates is female. Not everyone who is female menstruates. Let’s shift our language.’

Dr Poen, who strongly denied accusations of transphobia, wrote back: ‘Only female people menstruate. Only female people go through menopause.’

She was perfectly correct but the PC fanatics cannot bear to listen to fact.

In 2018, student lecturer Angelos Sofocleous, who was assistant editor at Durham University’s philosophy journal ‘Critique’ was fired in a transphobia row after he tweeted that ‘women don’t have penises.’

Mr Sofocleous was sacked from his post after just three days for writing a tweet deemed ‘transphobic’ by fellow students.

The student lecturer re-tweeted an article by The Spectator on his Twitter titled ‘Is it a crime to say women don’t have penises?’ with the comment: ‘RT if women don’t have penises.’

I am not sure what he meant by RT but how long can this collective madness go on? Is the human race determined to wipe itself out or is there something in the atmosphere that is driving everyone insane?

Blair, Bunter and the Labour Party

It’s not often that I agree with the awful Tony Blair. Ever since he left office, he keeps sticking his oar into the political scene – from trying to overturn Brexit to pushing for vaccine passports – have put him on the wrong side of history.

But after Labour’s pitiful showing in last week’s elections, Blair has identified a key problem with his party: the whole ruddy thing is far too politically correct. A few days ago in the New Statesman, the former prime minister wrote that the party’s ‘cultural message is being defined by the ‘woke (I am never quite sure what that word actually means apart from everything with which I and many others disagree) left’ – which is a huge gift to the right.

‘People do not like their country, their flag or their history being disrespected,’ wrote Mr Blair. ‘Not because they are mindlessly nationalistic, or believe that everything their country has done is good. But rather because most people understand that it is unwise to impose the thinking of today on the practices of yesterday.’ That was his argument and for once, he hit the nail on the head. What on earth have the largely imagined wrongs of Britons who lived centuries ago got to do with modern living?

Ultimately, according to Blair, ordinary people are ‘suspicious that behind the agenda of many of the culture warriors on the left, lies an ideology they find alien and extreme.’ Worse, whenever the woke left loses ground, instead of reflecting on where it has gone wrong, it doubles down: losing ‘gives them a heightened sense of righteousness, like political kamikaze,’ He argues.

According to the former prime minister, Labour has now become so intolerant, its members so convinced of their own moral purity, that it has no place for liberal or moderate critics of extreme wokeness. And this is a huge turn-off for voters. ‘A progressive party seeking power which looks askance at the likes of Trevor Phillips, Sara Khan or JK Rowling is never going to win,’ he wrote and I fear he is correct.

Will any lessons be learned? I tend to doubt it.

The Labour Party at the moment is a beaten shower. There is no sign that it has learned anything at all from its catastrophic  hammering at the last general election in 2019 and Labour leader Keir Starmer is under huge pressure as a result. Yet it is all his own fault. Why does he allow the fanatical PC brigade to take control or is he perhaps secretly one of their number?

After all, Bunter J’s government should have been at their most vulnerable after their complete mishandling of the coronabug crisis and a series of corruption scandals swirling around the prime minster’s head, but the British people seem to like a lovable rogue and Bunter J continues to ride on the shirt tails of the vaccine triumph that owes everything, not to a politician, but to the bog-snorkelling lady, Kate Bingham

I am still waiting to see if she gets any reward for her efforts dammit!

But back to Labour. The party should surely be focusing on its working-class heritage. Workers are the people they need to support. Whether they work stacking shelves, in warehouses, driving taxis or buses, in factories, are skilled, semi-skilled or have no skills at all – those are the people Labour was formed to represent and help – not the wittering Lefties who brook no disagreement from anyone about their politically correct ideals. Labour has been moving away from the working people for years though, which is predominantly why the ‘Red Wall’ has crumbled and why those working people do not want anything to do with them any more. Instead of supporting the working class, Labour is re-examining the very identity battles that they went through in the 1970s.

If one thinks about it there is still a great deal of radicalisation going on in the Labour party and they are still hammering away at worn out themes. Their members are being urged away from the mainstream of public thought and opinion and instead of reading and listening to the mainstream media are concentrating on that awful social media instead. There, the ethnic minority groups are urged not to integrate into society and as a result they are being isolated. Can Starmer and his crew – whoever they may now be – do anything about that? They have to dammit! I have never been a Labour supporter – or Conservative for that matter – but if this country is to have an effective democratic system, it needs a working and effective opposition wherein its younger members have to ignore the current wide spread nonsense about Islamophobia, Racism and Trans whatever they call it and concentrate on just being upright citizens. At the moment, they are too distracted by their enforced victim mentality and if Starmer and Co do nothing to empower their young people not to be afraid and instead to see themselves as individuals who can progress, I fear the Labour Party will crumble into total obscurity and that will be another piece of British history gone for ever.

This is not really my country although it has been good to me but my children and grandchildren have their futures ahead of them and I would hate to see them living in a one party state as I have lived a goodly portion of my own life in a one party state.

I do not see Bunter J as a Mugabe or Mnangagwa – he really is not strong enough – but he does remind me of that other hapless buffoon, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and look what happened to him. He was bamboozled and thrown out of power by the British so be careful Bunter.

Government Virtue Signalling and a Parliamentary Icon

The British Government’s current policy on climate change does not even make sense on its own terms. And it is going to affect us all personally whether we have an opinion on it or not. 

For reasons that I am afraid are beyond me, Bunter’s Government is more rigid about this than almost any other. Unlike most advanced countries, this lot have written carbon-reduction targets into law, making it much harder to pull out of them if things do not work out.

So far, the main thing Britain has done is to close perfectly good coal-fired power stations. Well, you might say, so much the better for the atmosphere but this is virtuous rubbish. 

Let’s face it, China, with vast, newly discovered coalfields in Inner Mongolia keeps opening such stations. In fact, China’s coal-fired power generation is more than ten times bigger than Britain’s entire electricity output from all sources. And nor is it just China. 

India is also a greedy consumer of coal to make electricity. Both countries make airy promises that one day they will stop doing this, but as long as they carry on, Britain’s efforts make as much difference as trying to empty Lake Kariba with a teaspoon.

It is sheer deluded vanity to think that the rest of the world any longer looks on Britain as an example. Few now care what this country does, let alone try to imitate it. Economic rivals merely snigger behind their hands at Britain’s dogged determination to self-harm.

To continue on this course, Britain is going to have to rely on huge consumption of gas, not just to run power stations, but in large numbers of homes. If this country presses on with current virtuous plans to be green, then millions of us face being told we must replace our gas or oil boilers with costly and less efficient heat-pumps. 

Ferocious insulation rules will make it harder and harder to sell older houses. As for transport, it is just going to get more expensive and less convenient. And now they want to make us change our diets too. What are they trying to prove? I am too old to give up meat – or anything else – at this stage.

At the moment, in most people’s lives, this is still a small cloud no bigger than a man’s hand, far away on the horizon. But we will all find as the years drag on that it will spread across the whole sky. 

My guess is that it is the means by which we in the West and particularly Britain will join the Third World, finally and irrevocably. How ironic that this should be brought about by a government that calls itself Conservative and claims to be patriotic.

Is our revered leader that much in thrall to Carrie Antoinette I wonder?

Betty Boothroyd was the first female speaker of Parliament and certainly the best one in my lifetime, but it seems that the former Tiller Girl is being investigated by Parliament’s ethics watchdog for failing to attend a sexual harassment course – at the ripe old age of ninety one.

Last week a row erupted over the Lords’ decision to open a formal probe into Baroness Boothroyd, despite knowing that she has been recovering from open-heart surgery.

MPs described it as ‘political correctness gone mad’ and accused officials of harassing the peer, who made history as the first and only female Commons Speaker.

She is one of sixty peers under investigation by the Standards Commissioner for failing to attend a training session called Valuing Everyone, run by a controversial consultancy firm that uses giant blue puppets in some of its courses. 

After she was first contacted by the standards watchdog, Baroness Betty replied, in correspondence seen by a number of newspapers: ‘The reason I have not been able to respond to requirements is due to the fact that early in March 2020, I was advised by two consultants to leave London and isolate at my home in the country.

‘I have had an aorta valve replacement followed by a leak in the mitral valve. The respiratory consultant in particular insisted I stay out of London and in isolation in the country.’

She went on to say: ‘I was born in 1929… I remain in shielding which is a requirement. I neither indulge in Zoom or remote meetings.’

Good for you Ma’am. I heartily approve.

She went on by offering to answer any questions about standards that the commissioner might have but said commissioner, a hatchet-faced wench called Lucy Scott-Moncrieff responded: ‘As it is a requirement of the Code of Conduct for all members to have done the training session by April 1, could you clarify whether you mean to convey that your medical condition has prevented you from attended the course online?’

In what should in any sane society have been the final word on the matter, Baroness Boothroyd replied: ‘My medical condition has prevented me from attending the course online.’

Remarkably, the following day Ms Scott-Moncrieff announced she was investigating the baroness anyway. 

Baroness Betty responded: ‘I’m very happy to be trained when this is all over – you’re never too old to learn.’

Tory MP Neil O’Brien said: ‘The idea that Betty Boothroyd, who is one of the most widely respected parliamentarians of her generation, is some kind of threat because she hasn’t done some online course is beyond laughable.

‘Actually this is not a joke. This is not the way to go about raising standards in Parliament. There are real problems in some cases, but I can’t think of a worse way to go about addressing them than by harassing a ninety one-year-old who is held in the highest esteem across all parties.’

Another Tory MP said: ‘The entire parliamentary world will be aghast at the lack of self-awareness of anybody investigating an icon like Betty Boothroyd under these circumstances. It’s breathtaking.’

Breathtakingly stupid in my humble opinion but it is being done. Baroness Betty’s possible penalties include being banned from the Lords or from claiming its daily allowance. Asked a few days ago whether it will consider dropping the investigation, the commissioner’s office declined to comment on ‘active investigations.’

Other peers under investigation for skipping the course, run by Challenge Consultancy, include breast cancer campaigner Baroness Morgan, Lord Trimble and Lord Heseltine. Last year the Lords made the training compulsory for all peers, despite criticism from MPs that the sessions are run by ‘expensive consultants who are laughing all the way to the bank.’

Challenge Consultancy has received more than three quarters of a million quid in contracts from Parliament for running two online courses. Another, called Unconscious Bias, encourages MPs to take on young black men to act as ‘reverse mentors.’

Why not young black women I wonder? Surely that too is discrimination?

The firm, whose clients include the BBC and Bafta, has also used a giant blue puppet called UB as part of its unconscious bias courses.

This is taxpayers’ money dammit! Why is it being squandered on this sort of politically correct nonsense? Surely the people in the Lords are sensible enough not to need this idiocy.

Betty Boothroyd probably has more common sense in her little fingernail than all these politically correct shysters combined. In spite of her magnanimous comments, she is not going to learn anything from this corruptly idiotic ‘course.’

Hope and Glory or Shameful Capitulation

Today is or should be a day when the politicians of Britain hang their heads in shame. It is today that the trial of two unnamed former soldiers begins in Belfast. These now elderly men are accused of murder for merely doing what they were asked to do during the so-called ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

I must admit I never had much time for Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, the former Army officer with three tours of Afghanistan under his belt. Mr Mercer, by joining the Tory Party and taking a job as a junior Minister, became a human shield for that supposedly patriotic party’s neglect of and contempt for the Armed Forces.

But Mr Mercer now has my respect for refusing to put up with the Government’s shameful abandonment of Servicemen who fought in Northern Ireland. This was always going to happen as it is a key part of Britain’s 1998 capitulation to the IRA, under severe American pressure. All kinds of IRA killers and bombers – nothing more than terrorists really – can now stroll about in freedom with no fear of prosecution, but soldiers accused of unlawful acts in the long and bitter struggle between Britain and those same Republican murderers can never be sure till their dying day that they will not face prosecution, and perhaps end their days in prison.

This is so obviously wrong and wicked that it cannot be publicly admitted. Mr Mercer’s attempt to put it right by changing the law ran into the bedrock of cynical power politics. Politics required him to shut up and swallow it. He did not, and for that he was summarily sacked by text message. He was not even given the opportunity to resign honourably and give his reasons for doing so in Parliament itself.

Well, I honestly feel that Mr Mercer should value that sacking and keep that text message in his trophy cabinet. It is a badge of honour worth as much as any medal and shows he was doing his job for the soldiers who are every officer’s ultimate concern. And one day, when this ineptly corrupt Government is long out of power and its reputation is no longer shielded by battalions of spin doctors, it will be clear to any decent person who was in the right.

I have often stated that all would-be government minsters should as part of the selection process for the office they wish to attain, be subjected to a period of life in combat conditions so that they can know and understand what it means when they send young men to do things that they would not do themselves.

When I fought my war, most of our political masters had fought for Britain in the second world war, but this corrupt, frightened and useless bunch of political nonentities who are busy ruining what was once a great country just do not seem to have any idea as to what they are doing.

A Land of Hope and Glory this might once have been, but now it is a land of shameful and apologetic capitulation.

Government Lies and the Americanisation of Cricket

I do not often watch television but when I moved to Princetown, I began watching the BBC evening news at six o’clock and over the past months, one small segment of the bulletin has never failed to raise my blood pressure, sometimes to the point of explosion.

I refer of course to those interminable Covid statistics released daily by the government. Firstly they announce the number of ‘new’ cases. They actually mean, the number of positive tests but even more annoying than that little falsehood is the number of deaths that are announced as being from the Coronabug. I am sorry but these figures are blatant lies, sponsored by Bunter J, Mathew ruddy Hancock and the scientific goons who are ruling us all so badly at the moment.

Anyone who has died and has coincidentally tested positive for the virus is recorded as dying from it. Because people already on their last gasps with cancer, organ failure, advanced dementia – you name it – are recorded as victims of coronavirus if they have tested positive within the preceding twenty eight days. Yet the cause of death in such cases has clearly little, if anything to do with the virus.

To my mind, this is sheer, unadulterated madness and slanted in this manner so as to terrify the British public into obeying the draconian ‘laws’ being promulgated by Bunter and his cronies. You might as well say they died of a cold if they happened to have one on top of whatever was actually killing them. Even road accident casualties who subsequently died of terrible injuries are recorded as coronavirus deaths if coronabug blood tests prove positive.

‘Never mind the catastrophic brain damage caused by being hit by that truck, Old Chap. Got the virus too? Sorry, that is what has put paid to you and that is bloody official!’ This has been annoying me – and raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels – for months and I have often walked out swearing on the news when this particular segment comes on.

How long will it be I wonder before Covid becomes a viable defence against a murder charge, on the grounds that the victim tested positive for the bug three weeks before he or she was chopped. Sound a bit far fetched I know but I would not bet against anything in this time of madness – government inspired madness at that.

And this week the Office for National Statistics came through, completely agreeing with me. They revealed that almost a quarter of registered Covid deaths were of people who actually did not die of the disease. 

Latest analysis shows that twenty three percent of registered ‘coronavirus deaths’ were in fact people who died ‘with’ the infection rather than ‘from’ it. Other re-evaluated statistics show that daily death figures for April are being wildly exaggerated.

Britain has had no more than twenty eight deaths per day since the beginning of this month, even though the Government put the figure as high as sixty a day. That is because their daily update is based on the number of deaths reported in the last twenty four hours – that often includes cases from days or even weeks previously.

Meanwhile, why have we only ever been given daily figures for hospital admissions and deaths? Why not figures for people who have recovered from Covid and been discharged? It is always an absurdly one-sided presentation.

In my humble opinion there is only one reason for this official lying. It is because Bunter J’s – and remember the man has a history of proven lies to his name – Government, with the connivance of the BBC in particular want to scare us into meek compliance with the tyranny of their lockdown measures.

The sad thing is that it has worked. What on earth has happened to the strength and spirit that brough this country and its allies through two world wars. Gone for ever I am afraid.

What for you has been the most noteworthy event of the past week? The Cameron lobbying ruckus over his mate Les – or is it Lex? – Greensill? The eulogies to the Duke of Edinburgh? Russia beating war drums in Ukraine?

For some of us dotty supporters of ‘the summer game’ all these pale into insignificance alongside the pronouncement that when English cricket’s new-fangled and idiotic competition, ‘The Hundred’ starts, the word ‘wicket’ is to be replaced by ‘out’ and batsmen will become batters – the latter term is insidiously prevalent among many commentators already I am afraid and it sounds horrible to those of us who have grown up with the game. Many people from the Great and the Good to poor old Simon Heffer have already commented on the Americanisation of this wonderful game of ours and indeed, not since Dennis Lillee, the Australian fast bowler walked to the wicket (can I still use that word I wonder?) in 1979 carrying an aluminium bat, has cricket known such a furore.

Perhaps all we cricket lovers should rise above it and treat The Hundred with the disdain it deserves.

After all, it is simply not cricket.

So there!

The Idiocy of Politically Correct Academics

As a boy, I was encouraged to study hard – I did not – and go to university as it would serve me well later in life. I turned down that option and over the years, have occasionally – and only very occasionally – regretted that choice. Universities in those days were for those elite students who earned the right to attend but all that seems to have been forgotten in the rush by modern academics to be politically correct.

A few decades ago I read a book by Sir Michael Dummett who had just retired as the professor of logic at Oxford University. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was designed to assist students in expressing themselves when answering questions.

Sir Michael was worried because a survey had shown that nearly half of university vice-chancellors were so concerned about their students’ literacy, they had decided to introduce special lessons to help them express themselves more clearly. These, remember, were supposed to be the brightest and best young people this country has to offer.

Today’s vice-chancellors and professors are worried about the same thing, but their response has been rather different. Instead of helping the written language these academic turnips have decided that if a student cannot spell or use punctuation accurately or write basic, simple, reasonably grammatical English, they should not worry about it.  They won’t lose any marks in their exams because tutors are being told to adopt a policy called ‘inclusive assessments.’

The reason for this madness is that these -people who are responsible for fitting young people out for life are afraid that insisting on students expressing themselves in clear English could be viewed as ‘homogenous North European, white, male, elite.’

Hull University has said it is dropping the requirement for a high level of technical proficiency in written and spoken English in some subjects, in order to ‘challenge the status quo.’

What politically correct garbage is this? They should be encouraging the status quo, not challenging it.

Other universities adopting similar policies include the University of the Arts in London, which has issued guidelines telling staff they should ‘actively accept spelling, grammar or other language mistakes that do not significantly impede communication unless the brief states that formally accurate language is a requirement.’

And at Worcester University, academics have been told that if spelling, grammar and punctuation are not ‘central to the assessment criteria,’ students should be judged only on their ideas and knowledge of the subject.

In simple English (a bad pun in the circumstances) what it means is the universities who have adopted these policies will no longer be doing what universities have done since the Middle Ages. They will not be levelling up, setting high standards and enabling their students to achieve them. They will be dumbing down.

At first glance, this might seem eminently justifiable. They want to narrow the gap between white students from more privileged backgrounds, and black, Asian and minority ethnic students who may not have had their advantages. Or students from poorly performing schools. Those who are more likely to drop out of university than the ‘homogenous North European, white, male, elite.’

Hull University said that it would ‘encourage students to develop a more authentic academic voice, a voice that can communicate complex ideas with rigour and integrity – that celebrates, rather than obscures, their particular background or characteristics.’

It warns tutors against ‘imposing your own idea of “correct English” on student work.’

But it takes about thirty seconds to realise that whatever language you use to express it, this is Grade A nonsense that will achieve the opposite. And what in heaven’s name is ‘your own idea’ of correct English? We get a clue to that from Nottingham Trent University, which wants their academics to give a ‘clear message about whether spelling and grammar are considered important’ when they are setting an essay.

Perhaps I can save them the trouble. They are not just ‘important.’ They are ruddy vital dammit!

You may have noticed one simple word missing from Nottingham’s little list of desirable qualities and that is clarity. That is why we have language. We need it to communicate and every language has its own spelling, punctuation and grammar. The French who take so much flak from the English are proud of theirs and will brook on interference in how things are written or pronounced.

If there really is a crisis in our universities we might, perhaps, trace it back to the early Sixties – the time when I would have been attending university had I been so inclined. Trendy self-styled ‘educationists’ ruled that teaching children the rules of grammar was imprisoning them in linguistic jails run by white males.

The truth, as we now know turned out to be the opposite. We are not imprisoned by grammar. We are liberated by it. Clarity is the enemy of ambiguity and ambiguity is the friend of every politician who has ever tried to pull a fast one on an unsuspecting public.

Clarity of communication – enabled by grammar – empowers us. Which takes us back to the woke fanatics who are seeking to obliterate the modern world with their own approach to empowerment.

Thankfully, some academics are pushing back against this nonsense. Professor Frank Furedi, of the University of Kent, believes that ‘inclusive assessment’ is an instrument of social engineering that violates the norms of academic education.

He says: ‘Lowering standards of assessment lowers expectation of what students should achieve. Worse, normalisation of illiteracy flatters instead of educates students.’

How right he is.

Alan Smithers, the professor of education at Buckingham University, said that universities were under pressure from the government to close attainment gaps, but not requiring a high standard of written English undermined academic integrity.

He too is undeniably and obviously correct. The approach to students who struggle with expressing themselves clearly is not to say it does not matter. It is to help them. Virtue signalling is not only pointless, it is ruddy counter-productive and helps nobody, particularly not the affected student.

You might say we hear non-standard English spoken all the time. Teenagers have their own lexicon of words that are unintelligible to adults of my generation and probably the generation after mine. But that does not really matter. Eventually they grow out of it.

But universities are supposed to impart knowledge dammit! That is the whole point of them. We have a universal language. It is called English and it’s been pretty successful for a very long time. It would be a grave mistake to abandon it to the ‘woke’ and ultimately meaningless notion of ‘inclusive assessment.’

We rely on universities for the new ideas, theories and analyses that will help us create a better world – and they need to be articulated with clarity and precision. We need, in every sense, to be able to speak the same language.

I can’t pretend to be impartial on this topic. I have used words all my life and have twenty reasonably successful books to my name but that is because I was forced to learn basic grammar before I left school on my seventeenth birthday.

Besides, language is fun. We have all heard examples of where sentences have gone horribly wrong. Try these for size and they were culled from the saintly Radio 4 news bulletins: ‘For the second time in six months, a prisoner has died at Durham jail after hanging himself in his cell’. . . ‘A suicide bomber has struck again in Jerusalem.’

I will bet you smiled on reading that.

I wonder if the person who nailed this notice on the wall of a public building paused to reflect. It read: ‘Toilets out of use. Please use floor below.’ Or a hospital parking notice: ‘Thieves operate in this car park.’

Inevitably, those of us who defend grammar are regarded as humourless sticklers with no imagination, who will always mourn the passing of Shakespeare. To me Billy the Bard was a great story teller but I did not enjoy him much.

Nor do I believe that every rule must be obeyed and that splitting an infinitive should be made a capital crime. ‘To boldly go’ is ungrammatical but fine. ‘Boldly to go’ is stupid.

And I have limitless admiration for the young man from rural Mississippi who won a scholarship to Harvard. On his first day, he approached a couple of cashmere-clad young men leaning elegantly against a wall.

‘Hey y’all . . . can you tell me where the library’s at?’

The young men smiled smugly and one said: ‘At Harvard we tend not to end sentences with prepositions.’

He considered for a moment and then: ‘OK . . . can you tell me where the library’s at Fuckface?’

Hard to fault his grammar.

It seems a long time since I last ‘ranted’ but after my second vaccination last Saturday, I descended into a deep fog of weariness wherein all I wanted was sleep and more sleep. Thankfully that seems to have lifted somewhat and I feel almost human today.

But – and it is yet another pun I am afraid – I really have missed the boat. It seems that NHS patients in Nottingham are being prescribed paddleboarding sessions to improve their health.

How daft is that? Britain may be four hundred trillion pounds in debt, but you can always rely on the public sector – particularly the NHS to come up with imaginative new ways of wasting money. An alliance of taxpayer-funded bodies, including the Arts Council and Natural England, are bunging GPs Fifty thousand quid to spend on outdoor activities, such as canoeing and paddleboarding on the Nottingham and Beeston Canal. 

Is it any wonder we are up the creek without a paddle?

Sorry – perhaps more sleep is required after all.