Sunday, 30 December 2012

Ryanair: safety under extra scrutiny in Belgium.

I avoid so-called low-cost carriers like the plague, partly because the service on-board is dreadful, and partly because when you pay all the extras, they turn out to be more expensive than proper airlines, more often than not. In Belgium, Ryanair fly from Charleroi. Until a few years ago this airport was like something from the 1950s, but without the optimism. One terminal (at least thats what they called it), a cafe that I never once saw open, and a newspaper stand. It had to be seen to be believed, it really did. Its main saving grace was the fact that car parking was easy. You just parked by the side of the road and left it there until you came back. The old site is disused now, and has been replaced by a ghastly modern building. Belgium is defined by many by its total inability to understand what customer service involves. Belgian Service + Ryanair + Ghastly Airport = Bad Start To Holiday!

In fact, Ryanair seems to specialise in operating from such airports. Forli in Italy is a classic example, albeit with much better service because the staff are Italian. I love the Adriatic coast, so its  an airport I know well. Not that Forli is particularly near the coast. Nor is Bologna (Forli), to give it its full name, even remotely near Bologna. Forli changed hands from the Luftwaffe to the Royal Canadian Air Force after the war, but the town itself is best known as the birthplace of Mussolini. But I digress....

Ryanair also seem to employ extremely young pilots, who I expect learned their trade on computer games. I was told that the first time a co-pilot takes to the air is an operational flight for him. Before then its all simulators.

Now the Belgian government has revealed its concerns about the low levels of fuel being carried on Ryanair flights in order to cut costs. Apparently there were 3 seperate incidents of fuel shortage over Spain in one day. Perhaps passengers could be asked to pay, let us say, an extra €50 each to fill the tanks up? This could possibly be done by means of a whip-round in the departure lounge. There could be a screen showing the amount of fuel being piped in compared to the distance to be flown, with announcements that go something like this:

"1,200 miles to fly, and enough fuel for 1,250 miles. Who would like to give us an extra few bob at this moment? Consider it an investment for your children. And by the way, buy a Ryanair lottery card, and if you are lucky you can win enough money to buy us some de-icer for the wings when we return from  Reykjavik next week. You know it makes sense!"

There is a certain irony in all this, as after Ryanair, SleazyJet, and WizzAir, my least favourite carrier is Brussels Airlines. Its shit (although I did once fly as the only passenger from Birminghan to Brussels, and I was looked after like royalty. One of the very pretty Stewardesses spoilt the experience a tad though, as we were taxiing at Brum, she told me that "the pilot apologises for it being a bit bumpy, but the tyres are a bit flat"). But I did have the distinction of being the first person to fly with the carrier after they were grounded for a week or whatever it was because of the volcanic ash scare.


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Gerry Anderson Has left the Building....



Every year, at Christmas, it seems that somebody special leaves us. Yesterday it was Gerry Anderson, who helped create some of the greatest characters, the greatest shows, and the greatest fantasies of our youth.

Thunderbirds, Stingray, Joe 90, and my own favourite - Fireball XL5 - and so many more as well. I watched these shows even before I saw, as a schoolboy, Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. But Anderson was not a fantasist, he was a harbinger of things to come. Anderson saw our future.

The sad fact that Neil Armstrong and Gerry Anderson left us in the same year will not be lost on those of us who as children looked up at the stars believing that against all the odds we would get there.

Their legacy can be found here.

Friday, 21 December 2012

World About to End: I'm off to the Pub!

Apparently, according to an old Mayan prophesy, the world is going to end at midnight tonight. I'm not sure if that is midnight GMT, or midnight Mayan time. Perhaps it will end in 24 seperate events, I don't know.

Armageddon holds no fears for me, because I've lived in Bermondsey.

The Chinese, on the other hand, are getting very stressed about this, and there are reports of the panic-buying of candles. This begs the question; if the world has ended, why will they need candles?

Al Jazeera are giving the event good coverage, as if they didn't already have enough superstitions to worry about, and the boys in Valhalla are all looking forward to a we told you so moment.

Actually, it just occured to me that the Norse legend of Ragnarök as being an end of world sort of thing was actually way ahead of its time. It involved rising sea levels immersing the land. Think about it; the Vikings foretold global warming.

I rather like all that Norse stuff. Thor always fascinated me as a boy. No turning the other cheek or forgiveness there - the meek shall inherit that which nobody else wants, I am afraid. Perhaps a bit of Odinism would help get Europe out of crisis, it would make about as much sense of some of the other stuff they've tried already.

On that subject, do you know what is the Russian word for one? Odin. Think about that......

London: Serial Killers on the Loose!

Did I miss something?

Have the rules on police officers carrying weapons in the UK changed recently, or are all motorcycle coppers now members of some firearms team? Because they have all got pistols now, it seems to me. I have even seen bobbies on the streets of Devon and Cornwall carrying sidearms seemingly as a matter of course.

I remember the day in 2005 that a 'suicide bomber' had been killed at Stockwell tube station. "At last, I thought. The Met have finally, for the first time got it right and have actually killed a terrorist instead of an innocent man" Silly me, it was just a bloke going to work. Jean Charles de Menezes was murdered.

What I remember most vividly on the morning, watching reports on the BBC just minutes after the slaughter of this innocent young guy, was an 'eye-witness' outside the station, a stocky, shaven-headed guy of around 30. He had seen it all, he said. The police were chasing this guy, who looked Indian, and who was wearing a very bulky jacket. The guy was trying to escape, he jumped on the train, there was a struggle and a lot of shouting, and then shots.

My guess is that this eye-witness was in fact a copper himself, and how interesting that what he said reflected almost exactly the lies put out initially by the police. Coincidence, huh?

And yes, they were lies. Lies put out by the police to protect the guilty and the incompetent.

The person in charge of all this, Cressida Dick, was actually promoted! Of course, p.c.s are very pc when it suits them, and how embarrassing it would be to even suggest that Britain's top woman cop might have been in charge of an operation that led to an innocent man having 7 bullets pumped into his head and police officers lying left right and centre. My goodness, if that were the case then some might even dare suggest that she only got to the top through positive discrimination. Nooooooo, that would never happen, would it?

Now we learn that Met officers involved in an altercation with Minister Andrew Mitchell might not have been quite telling the truth. Now there is a surprise! These are heavily armed officers, carrying automatic weapons on the streets of London, and it turns out that at least one, possibly more, is dishonest. Is not some psychometric testing carried out on these people before they are given guns, and, seemingly, immunity for their actions?

But shall I make a prediction? No action will be taken against any police officer in this case, no action is ever taken. And how weak this makes David Cameron look. He knew of 'inconsistencies', but chose to ignore them as he did not want to upset his relationship with officers who protect him.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Patti Page - As Pretty as a Picture!


Since I am talking about beautiful women.... Queeen Elizabeth II, Gina Lollabridgida,..... Might I just throw Patti Page into the equation?

Check this out guys!!!

Wow!


A Chip Off The Old Block!


At the age of 8 or 9 years, I was watching the film 'Trapeze' at my grandmother's home one Sunday afternoon. This was the moment that I first discovered the existence of Gina Lollobridgida, who I immediately recognised as being totally unique, and totally perfect. It was love at first sight, and I spent much of the rest of my childhood wondering how I might find someone who looked exactly like that, but closer to my own age, of course.

The movie was made partly on location at the famous Circus Bouglione, which is currently in Brussels.

I took my son along to Bouglione, as I do every year. George is 7 years old. A trapeze act was about to begin, and 3 young ladies appeared. The conversation between George and myself went like this:




"Look, Dad, they are really pretty ladies, aren't they?"

"Yes George, they are. Very pretty."

"Are they Italian ladies?"

"Yes they are".

"Wow. When I grow up I'm going to marry some ladies like that!"

Nice one George!!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I am not a Monarchist but.....

I truly believe that no single person could ever be more deserving of the title 'Majesty' than Queen Elizabeth II. 

And so I am delighted that a rather massive part of Antarctica is to be named after her. Queen Elizabeth Land - it is an honour for her, and also an abiding statement of who we are, and of the power that we can, should we so wish, wield. If only we might wield it more....

At a time when it is popular for certain elements in our society to self-flagellate, and when patriotism can be a questionable ideal, just look at this lady, and marvel at her beauty and her dignity.

Monday, 17 December 2012

A Few Critical Comments About Radio 4...

Let's be clear about this: cricket is not suitable for radio.

My heart sinks when I turn on Radio 4 and the cricket is on. It happened this morning, although I wasn't sure what I was listening to at first. Some posh bloke and a West Indian chatting about shirts, apparently. But then it all came into focus when the latter started to talk about the days when he only owned one set of whites.

After some minutes of this inane drivel, the posh bloke announced 'Well, this must be the longest drinks break in history...' Well I'm very sorry, Rupert, but this does not make for good listening. Is this really the reason other people pay the licence fee?

But Radio 4 can be even worse, of course. The Archers. This series has been running continuously for 125 years, and still nothing has happened. A bunch of yokels prattling endlessly on about the village féte and the price of slurry. Does nobody ever get laid in Ambridge?

But to really plumb the depths of broadcasting, there is one programme, and yes, it is on Rodio 4, that surely cannot be beaten for sheer inanity.

Gardener's Fucking Question Time.

What in God's name is that all about?

'Oh, I'd like to ask the panel, where is the best place to plant my begonias?' You can stick 'em up your arse as far as I'm concerned, mate. If its such a problem for you, and if you are really losing sleep over this, then Google it. Tosser. Who listens to this? It is surely a good argument against retirement.

Radio 4 is great for drama, news, and above all, comedy. There is nothing comical however about switching on the radio to hear those chilling words 'And now, the weekend omnibus edition of the Archers." There is nothing dramatic about listening to the posh bloke describing the three pigeons basking in the sun by the boundary, while the bowler walks purposefully, the ball in his hand, etc, etc.

But as for Gardener's Fucking Question Time, I tried, I really did, to listen to a whole show in the hope of extrapolating a single moment of interest or excitement. But it was to no avail.





Friday, 14 December 2012

Democracy Does Not Come Cheap.





I drove back to Brussels from Strasbourg today. It was a tiring week, so I decided to stay the extra night (not at taxpayer's expense, I hasten to add).

Driving through Lorraine, I stopped off at St Avold, to stretch my legs, and to spend some time with some fine men.

St Avold is the American military cemetery in Lorraine. It is a beautiful place, and almost 11,000 heroes rest there. I sometimes like to spend time here, and reflect.....

If you never saw it, then you should visit this sacred place. Walking from the small car park, and past the Chapel, one is suddenly faced with a breathtaking visage. It really does put everything into perspective very quickly.

To those of my colleagues who do the Strasbourg trip every month I would say that we see the signs to St Avold on the motorway, and it is actually only about 4-5 minutes off of the main road. Take some moments, visit, pay your respects, and reflect on how expensive democracy is. And thank God that it was not us that had to buy it!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Why We Demand A Referendum!




A discussion between Katie Hopkins and Nikki Sinclaire on why We Demand A Referendum!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Sir Patrick Moore, A Real English Hero!

Too many obituaries this week...... Sir Patrick Moore has passed away at the age of 89.



To many, he was the greatest astronomer of his age,  a media star, a highly talented concert pianist, and in latter years he was known for his Eurosceptic politics, which I happen to agree with.

But to me, it was his work in Bomber Command during WW2 that defined him. More than one of my family would have been flying on ops with gen that Sir Patrick had perfected. He was a great man, and as a former member of the Royal Air Force myself, I am proud to have shaken his hand!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Dave Brubeck Has Left The Building....



Just one day short of his 92nd birthday, Dave Brubeck has passed away. To me, and probably everyone else, Take Five was 5/4 jazz, just as it was the the Beat's entree into mainstream, and it was also the acceptable face of Bee-bop for the  Rockers. It was the point where Trad crossed over into modern jazz, or was it vice versa? Anyway, it was a truly enigmatic track, and I love it!

Without a doubt, one of the true greats of jazz. He will not be missed, because through his music he will never go away. He will always be with us.


We Demand A Referendum!

A great week for us in Brussels this week, where Nikki Sinclaire and Katie Hopkins were getting great attention from the media. Its starting to get really exciting now!

I know that Head Office is being swamped with enquiries and offers of support at the moment, its interesting to see where that support is coming from.

Really looking forward to this one!












Brussels: Jellyfish in action!!

An absolute pleasure and joy this evening.... a number of brewers from the North West of England were showing their excellent wares in Brussels tonight. It was wonderful company, and the beer was superb. I once worked for Fullers, the London brewers of great renown, and so I like to think that I know good beer when I taste it.

But the taste turned a wee bit sour.

As often happens at such events, there were some juvenile drunks present, making asses of themselves. In this instance, it must be mentioned, they were all UKIP staffers.


I was alerted by a colleague to an unpleasant situation that required my attention. Seemingly, several of my female colleagues were being accosted by these drunks, and were being attacked for having arrived at the event with yours truly. (Here I must explain - the UKIP Fuhrer does not like me very much, and the little folk of no consequence seem to think that they might win a smile, or at least a benevolent glance, if they are seen to be criticising me.) And so, they went for the girls.

And then I turned up. I asked that if these brave patriotic nationalists had a problem with me, might they wish to discuss it?

I never saw grown men run so fast. Three of them, and I will name: John T, James I, and a dodgy looking cove I never saw before in a ghastly combination of shirt and tie that even Del Trotter would have rejected.

Cowards or what? Absolutely devoid of the courage needed to back up their words when faced with another man they fled. It was hilarious; I never saw such spineless cowardice before. This was witnessed by at least one MEP, and so when UKIP are criticised for their performance in the future, do not be surprised. Their performance tonight was pathetic.

With the laughter of young girls ringing in their ears, they beat the hastiest retreat I saw for many a year.

Total tossers!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A little over a year ago, as part of a delegation from the European Parliament, I found myself sat in the office of Salam Fayyad, the Prime Minister of Palestine. He was one of the most impressive people I have met in many years of an  interesting political career.



As well as the West Bank, I visited Gaza City. If you did not actually see it, then you know nothing about it, trust me. I wanted to go on on that trip, because I wanted to confront some demons. You see, I know about divided communities. I served in Northern Ireland in the late 70s and early 80s, and I was on the Green Line in Cyprus with the UN. I wondered, having seen all of that as a young serviceman in my late teens and early 20s, how might it be to see a contemporary situation as a 50 year old man with quite a bit of political experience... It was humbling, to say the least. I learned a lot from the trip.

And now Palestine has been granted non-member observer status within the UN.

Like many, despite my absolute belief in the concept of statehood and self-determination as basic human rights, I was not sure about the timing of this. Its a complex issue to say the least.

But it has happened, and so let us move forward from this moment.

My first thought was that Palestine must now reciprocate, and throw an olive branch to Israel. The absolute top of the wish list is that Hamas recognises the state of Israel. But events moved quickly, and Israel appears to have got it all wrong. A vindictive acceleration of the settler programme, and another halting of the transfer of taxation revenue from Israel to the Palestinian Authority were quickly reported. Palestinians are paying tax to Israel, and they will see nothing of the proceeds in their own territory.

Israel has an absolute right to defend its territory and its people, (as does any legitimate state) but there is a certain irony in the fact that in Gaza they have created a walled and isolated community, separated on ethnic lines. I saw for myself children picking through the bulldozed remains of homes under the shadow of surveillance cameras and army posts. I could write more, but I think you get the picture. To be honest, when I saw this, I thought about the movie Schindler's list....

In Ramallah, we had dinner with the Mayor. The Mayor of Ramallah is a Christian Woman named Janet Mikhail. A Christian Woman. There we see the preconceptions about Arab society demolished on two fronts. While we were eating, two Palestinians, on Palestinian territory, were killed by Israeli helicopters.

Something is not right here.

England 38, All Blacks 21!

No further comment is necessary!


Friday, 30 November 2012

Well Done Andy Stranack!

Yesterday's three by elections yielded no real surprises. Labour were not really threatened at all. A couple of interesting anomalies though....

To achieve not one but two second places will be a morale booster for UKIP, although the result is already being presented out of context by the leadership. Members might ask, if this is a sign of the party's popularity, why two candidates nobody has ever heard of have done far better than a party leader who is effectively the face of UKIP.

Note also that the BNP acheived a third place. I consider the BNP to be a busted flush, and so that particular result tells us a great deal about voter's attitudes to the 3 main parties at the moment.

Context and perspective are everything in psephology (the study of election results).


But the one thing that did make me feel good was the candidacy of Andy Stranack in Croydon. (Steve Reed was always going to get that, he is a popular local politician, and will be a good constituency MP I think). Stranack did the best of all the Tory candidates yesterday - I haven't been in London and haven't really followed the details of his campaign - but the fact that he suffers from Cerebal palsy and has thrown his hat into a real cut-throat arena like this shows some courage. He clearly did not stand to make a statement, he stood with the intention of winning the seat. I hope he gets there next time.

Andy is an inspiration.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Brussels Ablaze!

Firstly, something in excess of 200 tractors from various parts of Europe descended on Brussels. We might question why such a large number of slow moving vehicles that are unsuited for city roads were allowed in.

Secondly, a large pavillion was erected in Place de Luxembourg, directly in front of the European Parliament, and from about 10am farmers were flooding into the square and swigging free schnapps like they had hollow legs. Was it a good idea for the police to allow that?

Given the fact that at 11am a batallion of riot police had arrived, and there were barbed wire barriers cordoning off the parliament, one would assume that the police knew what was coming next. Was it a good idea to allow the square to continue to fill, and the drinking to go on?

Within hours the centre of Place de Luxembourg was ablaze, and the riot police were fending off flying barriers, bottles, and some interesting little molotov cocktails made from empty beer cans. There were rumours of gunfire. It was quite spectacular.

This morning the fires are still burning, the European Commission has been blockaded, and ominously there are small groups of youths gathering on the fringes. At 9.30 the riot police were lining up, and guess what? The farmers are already getting tanked up on schnapps. One might have thought it would occur to the cops to shut the bloody pavillion down.

Friday, 23 November 2012

David Cameron F**ked Up My Neighbourhood!

We dread these EU Council summits.

Living about 100 yards from the Justius Lipsus building, where the summits take place, my whole neighbourhood is transformed for about three days. Otherwise chaotic roads are made worse by the presence of cops misdirecting traffic. Their guiding principle seem to be always send traffic through red lights, but don't let pass on a green. At the end of my road this morning there was the obligatory water cannon, and on every corner there are barbed wire barricades. After the summit these will be left in place so that local children can injure themselves. Don't complain, the state is nevr wrong! That's how life is in a fascist country.

Rue Belliard is always a challenge. A five lane one-way road, it suddenly turns into just a single lane just past Parc Leopold. This is the ultimate bottleneck. To make it worse, during summits a lane is reserved for these grand leaders, just as was the practice in the old Soviet days.

Why exactly does the Junior Minister for Unecessary Bureacracy from Andalucia need an escort of 12 motorcycle cops as his 6 car convoy covers the 200 yards from his hotel in Place Jourdan to the Justius Lipsus building?

During the last one of these summits, I tried to get to a cashpoint machine at the Schuman Roundabout. This is literally on the doorstep of the Commission building known as the Berlaymont. Armed police were on hand to prevent me from carrying out this dangerous terrorist act, as the roundabout was sealed off. This, of course, added to the traffic chaos as a major motorway terminates in a road tunnel that spews out traffic just a couple of hundred yards from the roundabout. You can get what the result is....

And if you want to get on or off the Metro at Schuman you can forget about that for a couple of days.

So its nice to see you Mr Cameron. I'm sorry that this part of Brussels is such a shithole, but you are making it much worse for those of us who have to live here.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Otis Redding: A Legend!


Its a track from Otis' great 1964 album 'Pain in My Heart'.

What I love about Otis is the way he has managed to catch everybody's heart. Rockers, Mods, Rude Boys, Skinheads, and if there a generic name for the followers of Northern Soul, then they love him too. Even some of us Teds adore him! I certainly do.

Everybody knows the wonderful Dock of the Bay, but for me, this is the ultimate Otis track. That's because this is the one that hits all the right spots. No matter where you are coming from musically, this one is going to touch you!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Dan Cooper is a Tosser!

Dan Cooper is the acting president of the University of London student's Union. He is also an asshole.

On November 11th, this jumped up little gobshite refused to lay a wreath on behalf of his 120,000 union members because of his 'principles'. He tried to explain these principles, and particularly his thoughts on the sacrifices of the Great War, but he just came over sounding like a confused and disrespectful little prick who doesn't quite get it. A sort of a juvenile Eric Hogsbawm. I simply cannot be bothered repeating his offensive and infantile words here.
As one who has personally experienced active service, and whose great-grandfather died on the Somme in 1916, I have strong thoughts about the importance of remembrance. There is a Facebook page - Dan Cooper Must resign - which I would urge you to support. To their credit, the students at the University of London have turned on Cooper, and his days seem to be numbered.

I strongly suspect that Mr Cooper ticks all the right boxes in some quarters, and that he will turn up as a New Labour MP in the not too distant future!

Tosser.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Libertarians Vs. Reality.



As campaign vehicles go, Mitt Romney's jet is one of the most impressive I have ever seen. The amount of money spent in the final week of the presidential campaign was astronomical: $80 million by Romney, and $50 million by Obama. The total spent by both sides exceeded $2 billion.





Contrast this with the campaign of Libertarian/Republican candidate Ron Paul, so beloved by many UKIP members. I got to see this highly unimpressive campaign vehicle in a supermarket car park on the outskirts of Lynchburg, about a mile away from where Romney had parked his airliner. Obviously Paul's supporters simply ignored the fact that he had failed to get on the Republican ticket, and wasn't actually standing. Swivel-eyed loons, Y'all!

Why do I mention this? Because it is an example of how UKIP gravitates towards lost causes. Peripheral issues, and contrarian arguments that seemingly set out to question or deny all received wisdom. Paul is the same, rejecting NAFTA and the WTO, and expressing some horrific racist sentiments. He is also opposed to flu-jabs, but is keen on the legalisation of certain drugs. UKIP has as much chance of winning a parliamentary majority from its Walmington-on-Sea based constituency as Ron Paul has of becoming the next president of the United States.

But... there is method in this madness. As was pointed out to us at a lunch in DC, fringe politicians can attract relatively big bucks. To be the eternal voice of opposition can be financially rewarding - a job for life, even. But God forbid that one should acheive success and actually have to deliver on the promises, or carry out the threats! No, it is better to find a comfortable and secure berth on the sidelines and snipe while the money rolls in.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Plight of the Pub!


King James the First was a nasty piece of work, in my book. OK, the Bible was good, but he really did have a mean streak.

He did not approve of pubs anymore than he approved of, well, anything really. He decided that public houses were for the lodging and relief of travelers and wayfarers, and so he passed an act restricting the proletariat to a mere one hour of drinking at lunchtime each day.


Henry VIII had  not been much better for the brewing trade. His vandalism on the monasteries led to the slaughter of many of the best brewers of the day. Cromwell's soldiers followed in that particular tradition.

In 1880, Gladstone introduced his Inland Revenue Act, which effectively eradicated domestic brewing - that is, pubs that made their own beer. Fast forward to the 20th century, and we see the number of brewers licenced in Britain decline sharply from 6,447 in 1900 to a mere 162 by 1973. Nice one, Gladstone!

Mergers in the middle of the century saw many household names swallowed up to vanish completely - Grand Metropolitan Hotels in particular hoovered up breweries amid shameful false promises to preserve their identities before closing them down in all but name. At the same time, the breweries themselves, afflicted with a kind of communal madness, began tearing the guts out of the old Victorian pubs and gin palaces, and creating ghastly 'corporate brands'. At the same time, the taste of the drinking public moved towards awful products that no contemporary beer drinker would want to touch.

Most recently, in -home entertainment driven by fast moving technology, high taxation, and cut-throat market forces have driven drinkers out of pubs and into their own homes. Social trends change constantly, and pub culture, whilst it still exists and remains an important part of our lives, is competing with market forces, cosmopolitanism, and increasing consumer sophistication. Do you really want to be transported back to the 1970s, and a smoky bar, Skol lager, chicken in a basket, and closing time at 2.30pm? I strongly recomend Kate Fox's excellent book 'Watching the English' for more on this subject.

According to UKIP, this is all David Cameron's fault. I am not entirely clear as to what this has to do with leaving the EU, but I think UKIP left that particular ideology behind when it transformed itself from political pressure group into a cult movement. According to UKIP it is the PM who is to blame for the woes of the pub.

Perhaps UKIP will come up with a good reason for sending kids up chimneys next? Damn the EU, putting young people out of work like that! 




Sunday, 11 November 2012

November 11th.

Since 2005, I have been selling poppies in the European Parliament. It is not just a good fund-raiser, but I get the opportunity to talk to a lot of foreign colleagues about it, many of whom have never heard of the tradition. In all these years I have only ever had one negative comment, but lots of praise and some very generous donations.

Here in Brussels we have a very healthy branch of the RBL, and a thriving ex-service community. The 11th of November is a public holiday in Belgium, regardless of which day of the week it falls on, although to their shame the EU institutions do not observe this. They fear it may be offensive to the Germans, which is absolute claptrap. I can assure you that Germans of all generations face up to their past honestly and with a humility that would surprise many.

But wouldn't it be nice if the 11th were a bank holiday in the UK?

When I was campaigning years ago for a minister for veteran's affairs, a battle we won, incidentally, we put a demand for a 'Veteran's Day' on the table. Actually, that was a bargaining chip we were quite prepared to lose - it was the minister we really wanted. And well done Iain Duncan Smith, who despite his initial reserve (he expected that we would have to make do with a special committee, something I was totally opposed to) led this one, positioning Hague in the right place, and forcing Blair's hand (Blair had initially rejected the proposal out of hand, before backtracking when he realised the strength of opinion.) I was genuinely surprised when I learned a few years later that we were also to get a Veteran's Day.

Another battle I thought would never be won was for proper recognition and compensation for the Nuclear Test Veterans. I remember the 2nd Veteran's Plenary in London, when Dr Lewis Moonie (the first Minister for Veteran's Affairs) put them down sharply. But now headway is being made.

Likewise the government's attempts to silence gulf veterans. There were some dirty tricks played there, and the RBL was not entirely blameless. There was a certain amount of reciprocation however, with the whitewash being exposed one memorable night when 'leaked' documents from Porton Down were faxed around the UK to veterans and others with the request "send to everybody". As a result the official story fell apart and it was acknowledged that despite MoD denials, and intimidation of veterans, Porton Down knew that depleted uranium was the cause of many health problems for veterans and their children.

The RBL has re-positioned itself now, and is very critical of HMG when the interests of veterans, and of serving personnel and their families are concerned. That is how it should be.

But maybe we need to revisit the issue of making the 11th a Bank Holiday.....


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Victory in Virginia!

It was great last night to be in Richmond at Tim Kaine's victory rally waiting for the results to come in from across the US.

The Republican campaign had basically involved endless attacks on Kaine, blaming him and Obama for all the nation's woes. Apparently Virginians were not fooled, and the Democrats took the senate seat, albeit by a narrow margin.

During Kaine's acceptance speech, the news came in that the Presidential election had been called, and that Obama had won his second term. The Democrat campaign has been highly impressive: totally focused  energetic, and passionate. For me this has been a real learning experience.

As one TV presenter pointed out to me is at night, unemployment in the US is now 7.9%. New jobs are being created. How well this compares with the situation in the EU!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

With Romney in Lynchburg Va.

We took a drive down to Lynchburg Va this morning to take part in a Mitt Romney rally.

 Very slick, very impressive.

Instinctively I am probably more Republican than Democrat, but I truly believe that the greatest threat to our democracy today is the control of government by big business. My feeling that Romney wants to hand the running of the US over to large corporations was reinforced by his attack, at the beginning of his speech, on renewable and alternative energy.  If elected, he will very likely be Exxon Mobil's man in the Whitehouse.

Tonight, we will check out Vice-President Joe Biden back here in Richmond. John Mellancamp will be performing, so it should be a fun evening. A nice way to spend my birthday, a helluva day!


Sunday, 4 November 2012

On the ground in Virginia.


Campaigning in the US is so different to the way we do it in the UK, which is something we are learning at every turn.

The greatest pleasure so far has been a day of canvassing in Henrico County, Virginia, knocking on doors and speaking to the voters.

It is only in the last 30 years or so that the Democrats have made any headway here, but if the good folk I spoke to yesterday are a true indication, then Obama has overwhelming support here.

At the moment Obama has a small lead in the polls in Virginia, but it is within the margin for error. The demographics are also in the Democrats favour.


Saturday, 3 November 2012

On the Campaign Trail Again!

I've been involved in some fascinating campaigns over the years, but this one looks set be be something else altogether.

Landed in Washington DC yesterday afternoon, and hit the ground running. Actually, I hit a sports bar in Arlington, but that did give me a little time to chat to people, and to check out the local news.

The team and I also had an interesting meeting today at the Capitol Hill Club, which is a private club for Republicans on - you guessed it - Capitol Hill.Informed opinion in both places, and in the media, is that Obama is going to take it.

Quote of the day: In the Senate chamber a staffer was asked "Where did Obama sit when he was a Senator?"

His reply: "Who?"
.

Then a long haul through Friday evening traffic down Interstate 95 to Richmond, Va, the former capital of the Confederacy. Tomorrow the real work begins....

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Militant Bee-Keepers on the March!

I had a phone call quite late yesterday, from a chap who is in Brussels to lobby MEPs on a matter that is very important to him. It is a quiet week, and there are not so many MEPs around now, and so I guess that he had to make do with me. I admire anybody who is prepared to put his, or her, hand in their pocket and give up valuble time to come out here and make a political point. I was not going to say no to him, and in any case, in our office the constituent always comes first. And when he introduced himself as a "militant Bee-keeper" then I was totally hooked!



Having formerly sabotaged fox hunts, and burnt GM crops, this guy is clearly a serious campaigner. I do not condone illegal actions, but God knows, politics could do with a bit more passion.

One of the hottest potatoes in Brussels at the moment is reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Much to the horror of many of my colleagues and friends (especially those who have not yet left UKIP), I describe myself as a 'soft' environmentalist. Actually, 'post-materialist' would be a more accurate description.

The militant Bee-keeper came up with some strong objections to certain proposals currently being considered as part of the CAP reform.

Nobody likes CAP, except for agrarian French farmers and East-Anglian Hen-keepers cum politicians, who make a fortune from the subsides. When well-informed environmentalists start ringing alarm bells about the supposed 'greening' of CAP, then we know that something is wrong. The greening proposals are likely to have an adverse effect on local biodiversity, and you don't have to be James Lovelock to work that one out.

We all know that in terms of failure, CAP comes a close second only to the Common Fisheries Policy.

I remember my Head Teacher, Mr Newsombe, once reviewing a homework project of mine which I had been asked to rewrite in the hope of injecting a modicum of relevance into it, before handing it back to me with a shake of his head, and declaring 'You can't polish a turd, Cartwright!'.

He was absolutely correct. CAP is beyond reform. Scrap the CAP, or beware the wrath of the militant Bee-keepers!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Atheists in Foxholes: For All Who Serve & Remembrance.


I was proud to be invited for an interview with my very good friend Randall Calvin, a former infantry officer, and believe it or not, briefly a member of UKIP! Randall and I talk a lot about stuff that matters to us, and he is one of the guys who often keeps me connected to reality when I might otherwise be having a bad day.

He has a very successful channel on YouTube, and we sat down in the European Parliament yesterday and recorded this. I hope it hits the right note.....

Friday, 19 October 2012

UKIP: Wrong Again!



The resignation of John Dalli, EU Commissioner, is one of the hottest political stories in Brussels. Because John Dalli did not resign. The best source is here.... http://www.neurope.eu/article/timeline-john-dalli-olaf-investigation

However, UKIP jumped on the bandwagon, and issued the usual partially informed and biased statements in the usual knee-jerk way. Those statements are not worth repeating here.

Even before the first UKIP statement was issued on it's party website, Brussels was buzzing over this one. But apparently UKIP's press office was out of the loop - as usual. Plus ça change, plus la même chose!

The UKIP press office was always the party's weakest link, but it appears that recently, and particularly in Brussels, it has gotten even worse.

This story is going to explode, but if you want to follow it, don't look to UKIP. Their press people in Brussels are probably either p***ed, or too busy observing some strange superstitious ritual to be bothered with reality! You don't have to be Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein to get this stuff, you just have to know your job.

Tossers, to be sure, to be sure!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Blind Man Tasered By Idiot Copper





Blind chap with white stick.

Nutter with Samurai Sword










"A police force has apologised after an officer used a Taser on a blind man whose white stick was mistaken for a sword.


Colin Farmer, 61, was stunned by police following reports of a man walking through Chorley with a samurai sword.
Ch Supt Stuart Williams, of Lancashire Police, said the force had "deep regrets" and had "clearly put this man through a traumatic experience".

A traumatic experience? No shit, Sherlock!

This gentleman, who was walking to the pub, carrying a white stick, was mistaken for a nutter wielding a Samuri Sword. Apparently the copper's eyesight is no better than his victim's!

Where do they recruit these idiots from?

Of course, no action will ever be taken against this police officer, it never is.

Tossers.



Sunday, 14 October 2012

Cricket Hurts....!

It was John Major, I seem to recall, who once waxed lyrical about the smack of leather against willow on the English village green.

It all sounds rather lovely, much nicer than the sensation of the impact of a cricket ball against one's own forehead in a Brussels park on a Sunday morning.

I just introduced my son George to cricket, and his agression as a batsman somewhat outclasses my own defensive instincts as a bowler. I remember a Tom and Jerry cartoon where the ever suffering moggie was hit on the head by an anvil dropped from high above. Little Bluebirds flew around his head, twittering sweetly while he lay on the ground with a stupid expression on his face.  Today, I shared this experience. I do not recommend it.

The funny thing was, lots of Spanish people took an interest in all this. Continentals do not share our respect for personal space, and if there are 50 empty benches in the park, then the obvious place to sit with one's familia is on the very same end of the one bench where some crazy English guy with a large and rapidly growing red swelling on his forehead is trying to explain the rules of cricket to his son.

But I love such days, and I will remember this one for a very long time.

Friday, 12 October 2012

What We Stand For!




We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island whatever the cost may be.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.

Monday, 8 October 2012

EU - Dying From Indifference...




Well done to my good friend Randall for this one. Here we have euro-pessimism from a different perspective.

Many right-wing eurosceptics are highly critical of the EU's emphasis on social justice and rights, mainly citing the costs as the reason for their opposition. But here, the President of the Socialists in the European Parliament appears to be telling us that it isn't working from his ideological perspective.

Antwerp Hippo Fails To Survive Castration.

This has to be possibly one of the best headlines I have come across in a very long time, and so I thought I would share it.


The story is, of course, very sad, and I do not mean to make light of the loss of such a fine animal.

You can find a video report here, fortunately we are spared the sight of the actual operation.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Conference a Great Success!

Its always nice to spend a couple of days in London, even if it is a working visit.

On Thursday evening I was delighted to meet Katie Hopkins for the first time: she is absolutely the right person for the campaign, as her media appearences to date have proved. We were joined at dinner at the Victory Services Club by Nikki and a number of senior members of the team, and also Roger Knapman and his wife Carolyn, as well as former Lib-Dem councillor David McGrath and his wife, both of whom I know from the campaign to clear an illegal travellers camp in Meriden. The cross-party demographics of this campaign team give us both integrity and depth.

But the real reason for the trip was our inaugural conference in Westminster. The day began with Katie appearing on ITN's Daybreak, and by the end of the first round of speakers we were on the front page of the BBC news website. Christian Party Leader George Hargreaves, and the US broadcaster and political analyst Charlie Wolf both gave excellent speeches, adding depth to the debate on our membership of the EU and what it means for our democratic integrity.

It was a chance to catch up with old friends from various parties, including one Conservative MEP, and to meet new people.

No surprise that UKIP had at least two spotters outside, reporting back on who was attending - I suspect that a few people will be getting some unpleasant phone calls or letters from their branch chairman shortly!

Two motions were passed by conference: the first calling on HMG to establish a Royal Commission to set the terms of reference for the referendum, the second calling on the PM to call a binding referendum before Jan 1st 2014.

A great success!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Campaign For A Referendum: Is Somebody Scared!

I was highly amused to see a certain party leader looking like a scared rabbit caught in car headlights, desperately explaining to a Tory chum his thoughts on a referendum in Brussels a couple of weeks ago.

I wonder what has suddenly made him so concerned about a referendum now?


Better Late Than Never!
 Demanding of David Cameron a promise of a referendum "written in blood" is all jolly stirring stuff, but when the person in question didn't actually sign the petition calling for a referendum until after it had actually been presented to 10 Downing Street, those words sound somewhat hollow. But words are cheap, and easy to come by.
Unlike collecting 220,000 signatures, forcing a debate in the Commons, and provoking a back-bench revolt, all of which required great effort and some financial cost, words actually count for little unless they are backed up with deeds. UKIP's words rarely seem to be backed up with deeds. The party has descended into a world of yaa-boo politics: name calling and jeering from the sidelines. The party is simply not interesting anymore.

It amused me, although it did not surprise me, when after the first 100,000 signatures were handed in and we learned there was to be a debate on a referendum on our continued membership of the EU, no less than 3 other groups tried to take the credit for it. I remember well UKIP's feeble and half-hearted attempt at raising a petition. It appers to have acheived nothing - apart that is from an expenditure of a substantial 6 figure sum. I have often wondered where that money went...

As we approach our inaugural conference on Friday 5th, at Westminster Central Hall, I expect the usual libels and slanders that I have come to expect from the UKIP press office to start oozing to the surface. If you can't do anything, attack those who can, seems to be the strategy. Probably the only strategy UKIP has, I am afraid.

When I think of the UKIP press office, for some reason the words of Lewis Carroll: "T'was brillig, and the slithy toves did gyre and gimble in the wabe..." come into my mind.



Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Dialectical Materialism: Still With Us.

Jose Manuel Barroso, Maoist Revolutionary
"The difficult, devious, and dangerous dialectic became the tool with which Stalin justified the murder of millions. Unless we understand it, it is probable that it may be used historically to justify the demise of all free peoples."

So wrote Dr. Fred Schwarz, the founder of the Christian Anti Communism Crusade, as long ago as 1962.

I consider Dr. Schwarz as something of a mentor; I was lucky to speak with him by telephone on numerous occasions, and we exchanged many letters during the years following my discharge from the RAF, a period in which I became politically aware.

The dialectic he refers to is Dialectical Materialism, which is, in simplistic terms, the philosophy of communism.

I apologise for this paragraph, and I will make it as brief as possible. The concept is Marxian, and it marries the materialism of Feuerbach with the dialectic of Hegel. It supposes a historic and inevitable process of conflict between thesis and antithesis which always culminates in the triumph of the antithesis. This is the synthesis. The antithesis then becomes the new thesis, and the process begins again until a new antithesis appears and overcomes the thesis to create a new synthesis, now know as the negation of the negation. Quantity becomes quality, and from this process a new society, a communist society, will eventually be born.

Sorry about that, but don't blame me, blame the communists, its their philosophy and not mine.

An important part of all this is the concept of dialectical progress. Understanding this is essential to understanding communist strategy, and, I would argue (and this is where it gets relevant), to understanding the strategy of the political elites of the European Union.

When Lenin introduced his New Economic Programme in 1921, this was seen by some as an acceptance of the primacy of capitalism. This was not the case. This was a pragmatic response to economic crisis. When the NEP was replaced by Stalin's 5 year plan in 1928, many of those who turned the economy around through the NEP were liquidated, and the Bolsheviks got themselves back on track.

Lenin staed that atheism was at the heart of Marx. When the church was allowed to re-emerge in WW2, did that mean that the communists had turned their backs on atheism? No, they simply realised that they had to allow their people to have something to fight for. In any case, they assumed that religion would wither away with the dawn of communism, and so they did not feel threatened or compromised by this apparent (to the outsider) change of of direction.

The point I make here, and I could use other examples, is that to understand where the communists were going, it was important to understand the dialectic, to simply look at the direction in which they were travelling at any given moment would reveal nothing.

And so, when President Barroso began his state of the Union address recently with "Europe needs a new direction", bear in mind the concept of dialectical progress. And remember, Barroso cut his political teeth as a Maoist revolutionary. Mao had this to say of the dialectic: "The law of contradiction in things, that is, the law of the unity of opposites, is the most basic law in materialist dialectics." (1937).

Dialectical materialism is alive and kicking, albeit under the table.

When Tony Blair declared to the Labour Party conference in 1994 that "Marx is dead", like Fukiyama two years earlier, he was somewhat premature. Marx did not pluck his ideas from thin air: to underestimate him is to be vulnerable. Much of the scientific basis of Marxism is as real today as it was in 1867. There is a very good reason why we use the tern political science. Barroso understands that.


Monday, 1 October 2012

Brief Encounter: Bang On!


UKIP candidate in Solihull 2010 - couldn't resist revisiting this classic image!


One of my most abiding memories of the 2010 General Election campaign is of driving around the Birmingham Bull Ring in a Mercedes people carrier with Gregg Beaman by my side.

I had a wee problem with this vehicle in that quite often, and for no apparent reason, the alarm would go off, and I had to try a variety of means, any one of which may or may not have worked, to turn the bloody thing off.

So there we were, transporting about 50 helium-filled balloons, each exhorting people to vote for the Solihull & Meriden Resident's Association.

Suddenly, goodness knows why, at 50mph and in heavy traffic, the alarm went off. Gregg and I exchanged grins, and then it got really good. One by ohe the balloons began to explode...

50mph, on the Bull Ring, alarm blaring, exploding balloons, and both of us convulsed in hysterical laughter. Those were the days!

This memory came back to brighten my day when I read a post on Gregg's blog this morning.

No comment is neccessary, I think he has got it spot on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Police Brutality in Brussels: Contains Disturbing Images.


This footage was shot by a friend of mine, and when first posted on You Tube it attracted 200,000 hits, and has prompted an enquiry at ministerial level.

I do warn, it is quite shocking.

I have witnessed the way in which the Brussels police deal with demonstrations - it is not unusual for me to leave my home in the morning and find huge water cannon vehicles parked in the road. Razor wire barriers can be found in the streets and squares pretty much any day, waiting to be used at the drop of a hat.

Personally, I have found police officers here to be most helpful - even the one who threatened to fine me for jaywalking was quite polite about the whole thing.

But here, something has clearly gone wrong.

Friday, 21 September 2012

UKIP: volte-face ou deux face?

UKIP Policy Spokesman Explains the Party's Position on a Referendum.
UKIP seems to have developed an obsession with a referendum all of a sudden. From "a referendum is a bad idea because if we lose it we are finished" and orders from the bunker not to sign Nikki Sinclaire's petition calling for a referendum, we now see them desperately trying to reclaim the political space they thought was theirs alone.


Now there is speculative talk of an electoral pact. This is not the first time such an idea has been put forward, but previously it has always been done under the table. If David Davies had won the Tory leadership, we would probably be looking at a different political landscape now.

Of course, such things have always been strenuously denied in the past. A pact would undermine UKIP's political integrity. Now, integrity can go hang, it is all about survival. In any case, how would the Lib Dems react to a Tory pact with UKIP? The Lib Dems are in Westminster, UKIP is not. Guess which is the most attractive option to a beleaguered government in a hung parliament? You don't have to be Robert Dahl to work that one out.

Nice to see Katie Hopkins on the Daily Politics show yesterday. Just 2 weeks ago UKIP had no idea we even existed as a party, and now we are alongside them on the most important political show of all. Complacency, chaps, can be the most dangerous thing of all!

Campaign for a Referendum: Former UKIP Leader Comes on Board!

Roger Knapman was the architect of UKIP's 2004 Euro-elections triumph which saw 12 MEPs elected. On the back of the campaign, 2 UKIP members were also elected to the London Regional Assembly.

Roger is also just about the most personable politician I have ever worked for, and he is much missed in Brussels. And so I am absolutely delighted that he has joined our campaign for a referendum and will be speaking at our conference in London on October 5th.

Roger has always been totally committed to the idea of a binding in or out referendum, and has supported us from the day we launched the campaign, 2 years ago in Torquay.

Since the launch of We Demand A Referendum as a political party 2 weeks ago, press interest has been intense. This has all the makings of a great, and successful, campaign, and from my point of view Roger's involvement is a great boost. It am delighted to be working with him again.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Coverage in the Daily Star.

Its been a great day for press coverage, this one from the Daily Star is just great!

After a very positive meeting with a publisher I returned from lunch to another two invitations to submit copy to media outlets.

This one is close to reaching critical mass now.

Campaign for a Referendum: More Press Coverage







A nice piece in Parliament magazine!

















Monday, 17 September 2012

Campaign For a Referendum: We're in Business!





Its Official!

Its been a nervous few days, but finally yesterday the launch of 'We Demand A Referendum' was announced in the media.

Following a week of intense media coverage, and the handing in of another 100,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street, The Sun newspaper has come out in support of our campaign.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Signatures Handed In!


Yesterday went well, and another 100,000 signatures were succesfully handed in to Number 10!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Campaign for a Referendum: Just Keeps Getting Better!

Its been about 8 years since I saw a campaign take off like this has.

When you hear strangers in the lift discussing it, then you know you are onto a winner!

Campaign for a Referendum: a Statement from Nikki Sinclaire MEP.



Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Friday, 7 September 2012

Everyday's A Holly Day!


Today marks the 76th anniversary of the birth of Buddy Holly.

In a short career, Buddy changed the face of popular music. Multi-tracking and overdubbing are just two of the recording techniques he pioneered.

Had he not been taken away so tragically in 1959, along with J.P. Richardson and Richie Valens, we can only speculate on what else he may have achieved. His traditional country style, his use of classical musicians on such tracks as 'Raining in my Heart', his simple but imaginitive tricks with percussion, all sat side by side on recordings that sold millions overnight.

Today, his records continue to sell in impressive quantities, and new generations of musicians who take so much from his style are following in the direct footsteps of John Lennon, Adam Faith, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and so many others.

In Lubbock, Texas, the Buddy Holly Center is marking the day, and inviting comments from fans.

Last year, Buddy's star was unvieled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the presence of his widow Maria Elena, Phil Everly, Gary Busey, Priscilla Presley, and others. A Buddy and Maria Elena Plaza was also named in Lubbock last year.

The date of his death, Feb 3rd 1959, is marked as 'The Day the Music Died' in Texas.

The sheer amount of music that Buddy produced meant that his record label was issueing new releases for more than 10 years after his death. Even now, 'alternate takes' appear from time to time. Remarkable when we consider that he was only 22 years old when he died.



Thursday, 6 September 2012

More on Libertarianism


Cartoon by Andy Singer
http://www.andysinger.com/

I was interested to note that a British MEP is sponsoring a competition inviting people to come up with the 'Definition of Libertarianism'.

Coincidentally, I blogged on this recently, drawing parallels between Libertarianism and Moral Relativism, the latter being a concept generally associated with Marx.  In a nutshell, moral relativists believe that there are no absolutes of right or wrong, only an awareness of what they can get away with.
Libertarianism is very much about pushing boundaries, and as such might be described as progressive, and certainly as left wing. If one is really interested in how left wing is defined within the context of socialist political thought, then I would recommend Lenin's 'Left wing socialism: an infantile disorder'. I think a reading would confirm my categorisations of libertarianism.

Pushing boundaries is good. Given that English law is based on precedent, and that many of our laws are very old, indeed ancient, and with many of our societal values being based on religious views that some may consider to be outdated, we should be asking ourselves constantly if we are being served well by our structures and institutions.

But libertarianism is often used in another way. Whilst I know a number of people who classify themselves as such, and who are above reproach, libertarianism can be used by others as a means of justifying, or more worryingly, of normalising behaviour that is outside the currently accepted boundaries.

Because I know that he himself is certainly in the former category, I will use Dr Sean Gabb as an example. He is without doubt the leading champion of libertarianism in the UK.

In 2003 Dr Gabb wrote: "When I say that some acts should not be crimes, I specifically mean possession of child pornography. By all means, those who produce such images by persuading children to take part in sexual acts, and those who commission such images, should be treated as criminals. But possessing such images, and even distributing them when produced abroad, should not be a crime."

I disagree with him strongly, but do I agree that laws, like values, should be regularly reviewed and evaluated. However, to place this particular issue in the context of a peripheral political ideology is, I would argue, dangerous, not least because it can attract those to whom Dr Gabb's argument might appeal for, shall we say, other reasons. I am aware of one person who has been subject to serious allegations in this area, and who is a committed libertarian. As a former senior police officer recently told me "Show me a coincidence, and I'll show you the chief suspect."

I would say at this point that whilst I am not a libertarian, I agree with Dr Gabb in far more areas than I would disagree with him. His opposition to political correctness and his conservatism in many areas show how blurred the line between left and right has become. To labour that particular point, libertarianism could certainly be defined as revolutionary (left-wing), whilst the concept of small government (right-wing) is at the heart of all libertarian manifestos that I have seen.

Isn't politics fascinating?