Cui bono?

honor hominesque honesti floreant

Category: European values


Part I Sober Survey  Part II Yuletide Quiz  :  MMQQ3 scheduled 16-01-2018

A poll has reported that, despite the appalling helpings of tasteless and precision-free verbal fudge served up in Brussels earlier this month, 64% of independent analysts consider it likely that the UK economic system and indeed constitutional apparatus will collapse on about 29th  March 2019 if government policies and practices continue on their present path.  Accordingly means need urgently to be found to maintain government authority and revenues so as to keep at least minimal control over the population and activities of these islands.  However, there is room for guarded optimism.  Ideas for new developments are said to be flooding into government departments every day and in some cases meeting warm encouragement.  One project likely to win approval at an early date aims to eliminate the hugely burdensome cost of defending the realm by outsourcing both army and navy, under contracts carefully designed after scrupulous background checks by Whitehall’s world-renowned negotiators, to approved private groups who will implement delivery with the cost-savings and enhanced efficiency typically found in the private sector.  Naturally under the new relationships there is no good reason why the personnel of the partnering companies should be required to concentrate their activities exclusively on defense of the UK; on the contrary they will be encouraged to improve their expertise and return on investment by engaging in joint activities with other military forces where these can be approved by the newly independent post-Brexit British government.  A number of organisations able to demonstrate a high level of competence in those areas have already thrown their hats into the ring.  Given current developments in the Middle East, London is unofficially confident of a large and continuing inflow of funds to the government’s coffers.  These plans have been run before the high commands of both services and ministers assure us that senior officers are whole-heartedly favourable to such reforms.

The case of the British airforce is somewhat different, however.  An insider, speaking off the record says she believes that the government would wish to keep control of the RAF and some personnel, as well as of certain well-placed airfields, to form the basis of a dynamic new national transport system taking advantage of cutting edge advances in transport management using computers and new high-speed telecommunications (such as those which are going to make the new Irish border frictionless) so as to make Britain the first country in the world where transport of goods and persons is based primarily on air travel.  The network will operate under a new joint taskforce set up by the government provisionally to be called ‘Aria-OK UK’, which will concentrate initially on headhunting top level managerial talent from the private sector.  The government, she says, takes the view that for far too long innovation has been lacking in the British approach to transport.  Nations relying on ‘19th century’ style surface travel for their national networks will lose out commercially and in terms of prestige to countries where travellers can take it for granted that – for example – on the day of their ‘weekly shop’ they may choose to be whisked in premium-class comfort from one end of the country to the other, in less time than it takes to push a trolley round their chosen  supermarket.   The new air network will of course be open to private ventures, and with suitable calibration of schedules and positioning of government services to citizens (e.g. with all HMRC business handled in a brand-new time-saving one-stop super HQ in Aberdeen) the result should be an enormous increase in traffic on favourite routes, and keen competition between different carriers will inevitably drive down fares to levels everyone will be able to afford.  Meanwhile enormous sums will be saved by reducing costs on road maintenance, and by radical reduction of the old-fashioned and unnecessarily complex rail network.  In addition, large areas of railway property can be sold off to provide land for building much needed houses.   (With careful presentation it should further be possible to use some of the rolling stock no longer needed on the tracks to serve as new housing units themselves, thus making it possible to achieve targets for new housing units promised under government plans faster than ever before.)

Many other sectors of international trade will also see creative British initiatives racing ahead and every encouragement must also be given to those commercial activities of the government which will not be adversely affected by Brexit, for instance production of bombs and missiles (obviously exported only to approved countries and exclusively for defensive purposes, since  Britain continues to uphold the high moral standards she has maintained for decades in e.g. her administration of Iraq, as a founding member of the League of Nations; consult relevant histories)  Officials have been tasked with summarising options and data which would not normally fall under the Chancellor’s remit with a view to restoring national income to usable levels.  Possible projects already under review vary widely in both potential size and complexity.  One idea put forward is said to be that ‘Britain should ‘harvest’ those living in the country without a legal right to do so.’  At present they are simply held in  a detention centre and deported as quickly as possible to whatever destination seems practicable, but an alternative scheme would see them required to work on public projects or such other tasks as are deemed suitable.  Under this generous reform they would be allowed to reside much longer in the UK, staying in their detention centre as long as needed to work off the costs of their living expenses in the UK together with a sum to make good the inevitable deterioration of the centre itself during their occupation of it, plus the costs of their transport to the country deemed to be their home as well as the cost of their initial capture.  (Any reference to these sums as ransom money would of course be a criminal offence.)

Britain is already a well-known tourist destination and, there too, many opportunities are waiting to be seized.  Foreign visitors are often attracted by the chance to view historic sites with their own eyes, and often willing to pay handsomely to participate in re-enactments of historic events.  More than twenty groups are already calling for government support for activities in this field.  Herewith merely the identifying titles of the first five such applications currently being circulated:

Working 19th century telegraph office;  working 18th century prison (Newgate)(model);  working 17th century bawdy house;  17th century execution of Guy Fawkes (simulated and with plastic body double, no participant injured in enactment); working 18th century lunatic asylum.

(Editor: That one caught my eye for personal reasons.  The promoters called it the new Bedlam project and I suspect it may have very good prospects of getting government support since they suggest reopening one of the former mental hospitals – very fine buildings some of them – and charging visitors hefty fees for staying there with real patients, so it’s bound to offer yet another way to cut back on social benefits.  Charmed, though, to see that the dear old Warneford is still in business.  Visits almost completely useless from the point of view of therapy but wandering through the beautiful grounds was less stressful than wandering by the hour in strange patterns round the College’s front quad to the entertainment of some of the more boorish of fellow undergraduates, and certainly better than experiencing the electrochemical manipulations darkly alleged (perhaps quite falsely?) to go on at Littlemore.) (But perhaps that’s enough of Part I; time now perhaps to pass on to the second part.)

Our Yuletide Quiz (prepared in collaboration with Berthold Featherstonehaugh-Cheems and Montgomery Skew)

Q1   Had none of her supporters gesticulating noisily in the media about Theresa’s ‘triumph’ in Brussels ever noticed that ‘sufficient progress’ was never properly defined?

It clearly did not mean complete agreement on all points, and  nothing like that came out of Brussels on the 8th, yet Juncker allowed the shift to phase 2.  Evidently therefore it depended on the EU throughout, and the EU’s decision might just as well have been made weeks before (and possibly had been).  So why leave it to a theatrical flurry of night flights in the last week?  Anything to do with pulling a ball of wool across the floor to tease a kitten?

Q2    Which government department’s handbook of ‘Guidance for authorised visitors’ contains the following extract?

   ‘If one of the inmates experiences a loss of self-control during the exercise period despite the sedative tablets, and attempts to stab those around him with a sharpened kitchen knife, there is no need for visitors to be alarmed.  Calm will instantly be restored with a couple of tranquillising rounds fired by one of the supervisory snipers.’

Q3   You are the ruler of a modern oligarchical state.  Given the wide availability of firearms in your country you are constantly worried by the fear of assassination, and therefore attempt to rule with some moderation and reasonable economic success (your state is not signed up to the IMF), as well as arranging many carefully staged photo-ops.  When an important programme runs into difficulty you are faced with a choice: either announce the policy is failing and will be reversed, or continue with the programme while lying to your subjects that success is clearly visible on the horizon.  Which choice will be less damaging (a) for you, and (b) for the population?

(Editor: surely we should have had a supplementary question here, namely ‘What is the probability of any national leader ever adopting the first option?’)

Q4   (Ed: I asked our patroness to disallow this question on the grounds that it is not properly connected to the premiss.  I was overruled.)

It is well-known that the average university lecture on Kant’s philosophy (as recorded in the MIT 2007 Survey of effectiveness of painful stimuli in retention of verbal material in first-year undergraduates) scored 2.38% on the Heftig-Schnurrbart Lästigkeit Index of boredom.  Three outstanding performers on the British football managers scene scored between 7% and 11.5% in recent interviews.  Nevertheless they are all far below the rating of a European golf tournament’s final round this autumn which official observers on an unannounced visit from the Mental Health Observation Society scored at 83%

  Can you explain why anyone ever agrees to pay to watch two or more men using wooden or metal sticks to knock small white balls into holes in the grass?

Q5   Did Theresa May, alone and unaided, come to the belief that she and Davis were so much cleverer than European politicians, that they would be able to bamboozle the EU with ease?  Or did someone with a rare gift for misjudgment (perhaps someone linked to her ‘strong and stable’ election sampaign?) tell her that once she’d had an amicable lunch on the Monday and declared a triumph, then the Irish and any other objectors – notably the DUP – could be fobbed off with a charitable smile and told it was a fait accompli?

Q6  It is well-known that the best place to hide guilt is very often the broad daylight of a public square. Supposing then that those who rule a country (i.e. the rich and well-connected who concern themselves with that country – obviously elections don’t have much to do with it) decided to extend their control over the population by inserting unsuspected and undetected subliminal propaganda for those rulers into the apparently meaningless muzak that pollutes most public spaces in most cities, how would things look different from the way they look today?  Could have been at it for years, I’d say  Indeed, now think….

(Please get some good technicians analysing some random samples a.s.a.p.)

Er – Human Nature?

Late news

A clerical error has resulted in twenty Syrian refugees who had hoped for asylum in Denmark actually landing in Australia.  As its contribution to dealing with the migration crisis, rather than receiving any refugees Britain offered instead in 2015 to maintain the European Office for Registration of Unqualified Migrants, building on its decade-long experience in excluding would-be asylum seekers or returning them to the third-world countries from which they had escaped.  Work in the Office  actually started only last Thursday, owing to difficulties earlier in completing the private finance initiative scheme set-up to equip the headquarters chosen (De Labremont Court Mansion in Sussex) with the facilities needed to house staff and to ensure efficient and secure long-distance communication.  Among the first group to be handled were twenty refugees who had succeeded late last year in passing through Germany but were refused permission to cross into Denmark, and were therefore to be returned, initially to Austria.  But the telex giving the necessary instructions was misread, and as a result these migrants were put on a flight from Frankfurt to Sydney.  The Australian High Court has ruled that since they had neither intended nor wished to travel to Australia, and were under the control of a lawfully recognised international agency they cannot be expelled (although they can receive treatment such as would make it likely that they ask to leave the country).


Linguistic corner   ‘Patriotism’ is an uplifting or intoxicating feel of hatred or contempt rendered justifiable (according to the patriot) by the fact that it is not directed at one’s own people.   Fegan’s Criminal Dictionary


A guest writes.  (The contributor, a former broadcaster, wishes to remain anonymous)

Somewhere in the dark and furtive beginnings of regular television broadcasting in Britain sixty and more years ago a chubby, curly-haired youth bounced into a Programmes Provisional Advisory committee meeting (his well-connected step-mother having fixed up the opportunity for him) in Broadcasting House.  (The meeting was unusual since in those days what primarily took place in Broadcasting House was broadcasting, whereas now of course the rooms and corridors are filled with the unceasing hum of innumerable intricate internecine managerial intrigues).  If we could translate his twentieth century words into New British they would be “Television is a visual medium.  Viewers want to see our programs.  They want to see things happening.  They want movement, they want life.  They don’t want a news reader droning on at them with the news, centre-screen and stony-faced like a Chinese idol.  They don’t want to see two heads simply using words to pass thoughts to and fro.  They want action.”   And so on, in the way now only too familiar to those watching a newcomer on the make.

            Not very perceptive, the somnolent middle-aged group round the table mistook his self-promotion (which actually reproduced a presentation by a fellow-student he had witnessed on the media studies course at Wyclaw State U) and took it to be originality.  To a man, they had a firm instinctive distrust of originality, and so to get rid of him as fast as possible they passed a unanimous motion asking him to draft a plan for presentation training, for all those who had to appear in front of camera.  He did not draft such a plan, but his girlfriend did.  And that is why to this day BBC news reporters wave their arms like mediaeval conjurors, or advance stealthily towards the camera as if hoping to spring on it and kill it, or wander in a wide meaningless circle across the landscape while delivering their report.  The words do not matter; the essence is in the movement.  Presentation is the thing, content a mere sideshow.  (Thatcher would have approved.)  It has always been harder to do this sort of thing with studio interviews and news presenters.  Of course they can, and are, frequently interrupted with clips (showing wherever possible attractive young women, or if not available then ‘celebrities’), and many studios have been set up with a slowly revolving panorama behind the speakers.  But change there too is at last under way as older customs and older controllers lose their grip.  Unexplained people will make brief irruptions into the studio.  Interviewers will mix gin and tonic for their interviewees on set.  The panoramas will come to life, first in realistic and then in more exciting fashion.  For instance, birds will flit across the scene behind the presenters in a most plausible and motionful way.  Jackdaws will be spliced in frequently since they like to do aerobatics and pirouette where crows would simply fly from one side of the screen to the other with no more éclat than an MP delivering official policy.  Viewers of the older generation will have to surrender.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  If presentation is going to take over they’ll just have to give up expecting thought and meanings and news and reportage, and if they must get real information they must hunt for it on the net (and a hard game that will be!)  But the television screen will be the scene of constant unpredictable activity.  Explosions – real or faked – in the panorama, sunrise at interestingly different times of day.  Let’s have the special effects guys really earning their money – how about a flock of pterodactyls flapping over Waterloo Station?  Cameras will zoom in without warning on bank raids, again real or faked.  (Does it matter?  The viewers will watch in their millions).  Scenes of personal violence, real or faked here too, some from outside the studio, some in.  Let’s have a vulture perching on the newsreader’s shoulder.  A monkey shown trying to operate one of the cameras.  And more, and more, ever less coherent, less interesting, less humane.  Society and history move on, and those who cannot keep up must sit unprotesting on their park bench and watch as the others pass on out of view.


Science news   It is reported that the expansion of the human biomass is still proceeding in line with the gradual rise in world equity prices on the stock markets, and with experts still arguing as to why there has seemed to be the surprisingly close correlation between them over the past 150 years which, broadly, continues to hold good despite the droughts now affecting a number of places around the globe, and the imminent economic crashes in the formerly acclaimed BRIC nations (which by the way, just go to show how reliable economic pundits are).  World-wide the percentage of men who are obese stands at a new record, hailed by food-manufacturers and private fee-charging hospitals alike, with a figure of 13% of the adult male population.  An odd statistical feature, however, is that six of the seven leading nations in this exciting contest are English-speaking, and here the number of adult males reaching the obesity level hits 20% a proportion more than 50% higher than the world average.  Scientists in many countries are urging the establishment of research programmes to discover whether speaking English has a beneficial effect on weight gain, or whether a high body-mass index produces a tendency to speak English.


Karela asks:

Instead of ladling money into artificial intelligence, how about putting some into human intelligence, or better human civilisation?


Forthcoming news

A number of worried citizens and delighted right-wing politicians have been commenting in recent months on the wide horizons opened up for racial discrimination by recent advances in DNA research.  It appears that the chance of two different human being found to share precisely the same pattern of DNA is certainly lower than one in a hundred million.  This makes it possible for even a brother and sister to despise each other, by each choosing different elements of the genome as the crucial aspects of their genetic make-up which should count as the desirable norm.


A reader’s letter

Thank you for that sarky bit you had in your last post spoofing the hypocritic tosh this Tory government insults us with.  That’s assuming it wasn’t really one of their announcements?  By the way if that Maud you’ve got as an intern is the Maud Timoshenko came second in the shot put at the Dublin Student Games, you’ve really done yourselves a good turn there.  Good brain, nice strong girl.  What about a signed photograph?

Jim Golightly-Porter

Thank you for the plaudit for our intern, and also your kind offer of a photograph, but we receive plenty of photographs as it is, mostly selfies sent in by readers who somehow imagine that their face, or more often full body shot, may persuade us to reveal our private e-mail addresses to anyone who writes in.  Few are signed, and anyway they are normally binned on receipt, but we do have one (18 inches by 30) which was needed until yesterday to block a hole in a front window that arose when we had the Fine Gael hockey team here last year.  As it happens it is signed by a prominent member of the Tory cabinet and we shall be glad to send it to you in Grimsby.


 Saying of the week    When you go to see a play in a theatre you are traditionally supposed to offer a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.  However, when you go to the Cinesumma Superplusplex to see the latest Hollywood movie what you need is a willing suspension of dislike.


Thought for the day   The pantomime horse is loved by all but it does not win the Derby


Note on democracy   In the election which put the present British government in office, those registering a vote were 66.1% of those eligible to do so.  Out of this number the Conservative party received only 36.9%.  Time for some reflexion on the decent conduct of political affairs.


If plan A doesn’t work try politics, or vice versa

I think we did ourselves a good turn when we agreed to accept Maud as an intern.  She has an unusual capacity to look at situations as they really are (see item 2) rather than simply categorising them and then clicking on the ‘everybody knows’ button so as to slot in the conventional view, thus saving time and losing touch with reality as is now normal in this hi-speed, tech-savvy dawn where we are ‘all’ multi-connected to the latest lies and misrepresentations circulating in the media.  If Maud keeps going as she has begun we might offer her another month, and perhaps even think about giving her a salary.  Meanwhile Karela, still pursuing her hunt through the historic archives of the journal and its sister publications, has been turning up quite a bundle of interesting stuff including item number (3) which looks as though it may be coming from a government near you any day now.  The historical perspective comes into (4) as well, sent in by, presumably, one of our oldest readers.  Monty and Simon in ill-matched co-ordination also make entirely characteristic contributions.

            As for the first piece, I really don’t know what has got into Berthold.  I fear he may bring us another visit from the men in khaki and green, though he looks and sounds so impeccably boring he’s a valuable front man if they do appear again.  He writes:

            As Obama’s term of office trickles uselessly away, this may be the right time to remind our audience that it was the British newspaper the Gruadian that played a crucial part in enabling him to chop logic and look good on  photo ops for those eight years (not to mention sending out drones to kill Asian opponents and their civilian neighbours in defiance of the Geneva Convention, and thus recruit massively to the ranks of America’s enemies).  The 2008 campaign saw Obama win 53% of the vote and McCain 46%.  It is widely considered that two major factors were involved in Obama’s success: McCain’s eccentric rejection of Condoleeza Rice as Vice-presidential candidate, and the vigorously pronounced unpopularity of George Bush the incumbent President.  Had either of those factors been removed then the election might well have turned out the other way.  What is interesting, therefore, is that the Guardain had a high claim to have won Bush his ‘knife-edge’ re-election in the campaign of 2004 (though some would prefer to describe that as his first and only election, given the shenanigans that went on in 2000).   That journal spotted that under the peculiar Electoral College system for electing the President, Ohio was likely to be a ‘swing’ state.  Further, within Ohio one particular electoral district was likely to be a ‘swing’ district tipping the result for the whole state one way or the other.  The paper organised a campaign for its readers to write letters to citizens of that district urging them to vote not for Bush but for his opponent Kerry.  The letter-writing campaign from Britain had exactly the result that any half-competent sixth-form student of politics could have predicted (and at the time many perhaps did).  American voters enraged at British interference in their election ran a counter-campaign, and the electoral district duly tipped to Bush, which ensured that all of Ohio’s votes went to Bush and that did in fact win him the election.  (So much for that attempt to manipulate the social media.)

(2) Maud writes

I have noticed a mistake which turns up so frequently in political speeches I wonder if it is somehow physically contagious.  It is the very simple matter of getting things ‘the wrong way round’, which you might have hoped ceased to baffle children somewhere about the age of graduating from kindergarten.  A prize specimen which has been annoying us ever since the date of the Brexit vote was announced is the assertion that the existence of the EU (not to mention its gelatinous spread) is what has kept peace, of a sort, in Europe for the past 70 years.   But in fact it is the peace (from economic exhaustion, and memory of the horrors of war) which has allowed European states to become immovably attached (in very much the same way that pieces of iron scrap lying together in the open air will rust into a single rigid block) and in that way to continue to exist as a composite but now indivisible (and insufferable) unit .

(3) Karela writes.  It is not a surprise that so many talk now about security.  A very confusing subject.  For example, security for who, ordinary people or presidents and governments?  Security against what?  Against only terrorism, or against famine, and transport accidents, and against illnesses that can be cured if enough effort and money is made? But what is right and what is needed will not be important.  There will be more and more rules even if needed or not needed.  And when I was looking in old papers I found these words, with a date 4th November 1993, though I think it did not publish until 2004.  This I think is right and maybe it will now come even quite sooner than that writer, certainly Irish, thought:

  It looks to me as if two lines of what is called, gullibly or cynically, progress are converging to give a thought-provoking result.  The first is the widespread desire of governments to ‘wire-up’ their populations to every available means of communication (whether the citizens want it or not, whether it is reliable or not, and whether the governments understand it or not); this line receives a strong impetus also from governments’ rapidly increasing desire to know where all their subjects are all the time – in fact the two strands to this first line should very possibly be ranked in the other order.  The second line is technological advance in making devices which do the same sort of thing as something which already exists, but which are much smaller, and this too is strengthened by a parallel trend, which is the discovery of more and more ways in which the rejection capabilities of human physiology can be overcome or bypassed.  The outcome at some near future point would, or will, be the compulsory implantation of nanotelephones and miniature locating devices in everybody’s head, arm, or buttocks.


(4) A reader (‘Exul’) writes from Oshawa  

I observe increasing resort among Europe’s politicians to the cynical device of making promises for a date at which the politician concerned can be damned sure not to have to make good on the promise.  One blatant recent example was Cameron’s warm-hearted offer for Britain to assist the suffering Syrian refugees by taking in some 20,000 of them (out of the three million or so who have succeeded in escaping from that horror – formerly very like a pleasant part of Europe somehow in the wrong place, except for the fearsome police) – but only by the year 2020.  Similarly with the roseate figments of Osborne’s financial imagination for the time when his party will certainly have lost office.  But this is not a trick the Tories thought up just last autumn.  They have been at it since at least 1954, when then Chancellor Butler asserted that the British standard of living would double within the next 25 years.  Or so it is recorded in some books.  What I can remember, however, is that he added ‘provided that the country keeps the Conservative party in power’.

(5) Louise brought Simon into the office two days ago.  (Her personal presence apparently made the Loyal Lifelogging Loop unnecessary.) She explained that she would never bother to read our ‘charabia’ herself, but that her recently acquired son has told her he is not being exhibited in these columns as readily as he thinks appropriate.  In response to her strongly expressed request (and not overlooking the  bottle of Ch.Pétrus) we accepted the following posting by Simon about a net-surfing session he recently enjoyed.  (This posting subedited by Monty).

Scientists in convincing white coats believe that eating artichokes can be bad for your health –  if you are a smoker.  A survey has discovered that artichoke eaters are 20%  more likely to rate their chances of giving up smoking as ‘not good’ or ‘poor’.

European Disunion

If consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, which is almost the only good remark attributed to Emerson (as well as being almost a remark he did make) then there is no future in trying to fit the collective mind of the EU into a size 8 hatbox. A union avowedly pusuing ever greater integration is now an organ of discord, and the question is not whether the UK (hereinafter referred to as London in order to reflect political realities, however distasteful) will leave but why it ever applied to join in the first place. Differences of outlook have been becoming more ominous for several years. One has sympathy for the poor spokesman who had to explain why it was once noble and idealistic of the west to bomb Serbia’s cities with a view to detaching Kosovo [1], whereas the actions of Russia in stopping Poroshenko’s forces bombarding part of what he claimed as his country’s population in order to keep them on Kiev’s electoral roll, were entirely different and utterly evil. When the EU reached a membership of fifteen (unfortunately and inexplicably including Greece) anyone with a milligram of political nous could see that was the point to stop for a decade or three, however hard Nato squeezed the European arm. A further mouthful of eastern Europe looked unappealing at the time and has indeed resulted in painful indigestion. In any case the approach was always entirely wrong. If the project was to have any chance of success it had to be carried on as a crusade (the word not yet expunged in those days). To conceive it as an effort at ‘ever greater integration’ and entrust the task to a largely self-appointing class of eurocrats was folly in red bloomers. What has emerged is an ever more complex bureaucracy, impenetrable in fact, unless you happen to know a side door and the password to use on approaching it. I would like to start a rumour that a man is employed in Brussels whose only work is pushing the trolleys full of the daily correspondence sent to one of the Commissioners, from her office to the incinerarium, but it would cause trouble since it would undoubtedly soon appear in one of the British newspapers as a well-known fact.

          Political union is clearly a non-starter, and that was obviously already clear to the Brussocrats when my wife’s native land rejected in a referendum the proposed Lisbon treaty (a.k.a ‘constitution of the European megastate’) which foresaw a future where laws, policies, regulations, and general interference with real people should be as decided by world leaders and their special advisors, with elections to continue of course, as a kind of colourful meaningless folkdancing. (The Irish were to their credit the only nation of 27 which insisted on asking the people what they wanted, producing a result which dismayed that fluent gasbag Barroso; to their shame, the Irish, when they were told they had given the wrong answer, had another go, and approved the treaty.) Economic union may advance economic growth, but we all know the benefits will go to those who are already rich and privileged. Moral union. There used to be a lot of proclamation from Brussels about European values. For some unprovable reason (though most of us could make guesses) that sort of talk has gone quiet recently. A pity. Just think what Europe would be like if we could achieve something there. Danes allowing starving widows to keep the small change with which they reach Denmark.   Hungarians saving all the money they spend on razor wire (offences, not defences); (perhaps they could use it for Rom villages in Hungary). The French could provide clean water, warmth, sanitation and food to strangers (and to SDF – 14 dead on the streets of Paris already since the New Year). Wealthy Greeks could start paying some of their taxes. The Dutch could be friendly to their Moroccans. The British might allow refugee children into their country. (On that last point, 30,000 refugees admitted would be less than one for every 2,000 of the current population. Most people would never even see one of them.) The Spanish… But enough!

[1] this action must of course be sharply distinguished from the campaign in which London nobly bore its share of bombing the infrastructure, sewage plants, and from time to time hospitals, of southern Iraq, between 1991 and 2003; that was for a wholly different purpose, namely to bring democracy to that poor oppressed country.


Question of the week : the British government is at present enveloped in difficulties over preparing a list of psychoactive substances that exist, or might at some time in the future exist, which with their 36.9% of the vote on a 66.1% electoral turn-out they feel qualified to order people not to consume, to insert into themselves, to prepare, to buy or sell, or do any of the other things which lawyers could think of people doing with them. While they are wrestling with the issue could they spare time to explain to the public why that very psychoactive substance, beer, looks likely to gain an exemption?