Foul Play

In view of the serious content of the longest item in this posting it was felt right to place it last


[1]  Monty Skew writes

It has been suggested that Cameron’s handling of the Panama Papers was not in the least an inept bungle, but a cunning tactic (devised by his Aussie political engineer?) to show him apparently in difficulty yet finally leaving him looking like a political version of the soldier triumphing on an army assault course – a rough, tough and testing passage but one where in the end he makes it successfully to the finish line.  In Cameron’s case the finish line was a media consensus that, well, after all, his involvements were actually quite legal (given the present state of the law).  But more importantly the real aim of all this was to shroud in public forgetfulness the much more serious issue, namely the memory of all the political parties staring down into a £4.4 billion pound black hole which has opened up in the government’s management of the economy as a result of a failed attempt to leap ahead too far in the reintroduction of de facto slavery for the bottom 20% of the population (on which, see also item [4] below).  By the time some trouble-making journo wakes the populace up again, the solution already in preparation will be a fait accompli.  The basic idea is to screw £2.2 billion (which by skilful presentation will be revealed to be really equal to £4.4 billion) out of the business sector.  No need for alarm within the CBI since the readies will be coming from abroad and how those sources cope with the increased cost of their activities is up to them; they will presumably use the traditional method, claiming it as a necessary expense to be set against tax, which means that the tax receipts in those jurisdictions will have to be bulked up in other ways, so that in the end the contribution will in fact come from the populations of those countries.  What the fixers plan is to extend the notion of sponsorship to embrace the various Departments of the UK government.  Thus, it has been amicably settled already that the Department of Health will in future be known as the ‘Yummy Scrummyburger Department of Health’ for, allegedly, £450 million over five years. (The option of ‘Department of Yummy Scrummyburger Health’ was rejected by the British negotiators on the score of grammatical infelicity).  The Department of Education is to be the ‘Investissements Pédagogiques Department of Education’, and it is said that the Ministry of Defence will become the Sun Tzu Four Gold Star Britain Army Force (since the negotiators weren’t about to quibble with the Chinese about grammatical niceties).  To show his commitment to this project the P.M. himself will be involved, demonstrating at the same time his deep sympathy with the North of England by undertaking that he will chair all his future cabinet meetings dressed in the full replica kit of Liverpool Football Club.

            Rumours which cannot at present be confirmed suggest that these moves may represent only a first phase in reform aimed at improvement of the budgetary position, and at some future date there will be a wholesale privatisation of any parts of the British governmental system still under the control of London.


[2]  At the insistence of Louise we include the following, by Simon

It is not surprising that the forthcoming elections in the Alpha Centauri system have so far attracted little attention on Earth, since they have to compete for space in the media with pictures of tightrope-walking kittens, and analyses of just why Beouncy’s legs are so devastatingly beautiful.   But news freshly arrived by laser beam to NSA [sic, not NASA] on Mars from whence it has been forwarded by genetically highly modified pigeon post is likely to change all that.  Quite simply, it brings word that both alien parties on the largest planet have pledged to abolish the human race except for a select list of 171 women zookeepers.  The remote-sensing A.Centauri surveillance probes, working in close conjunction with the NSA, were able to show that the brains of these women had a normal anterior cortex in the region dealing with the sense of justice and fair play for other sentient beings, the region which is so inexplicably absent or terribly atrophied in all other human specimens.


[3]  Newspaper cutting sent by Doctor Philipp from his current address in southeast Asia

From July 17th it will be necessary to obtain a licence from the Ministry of the Interior if you wish to make remarks critical of the government, whether in print or any other written form, by broadcasting or other electronic means, orally, by semaphore, or by heliograph.  There will be no financial charge for such applications.  All applications will be assessed by the Committee for the Defence of Freedom (Office 105, 43rd Floor, 19 Freedom Avenue, KP; mark all applications: For the attention of the late Brigadier Ronnie Stonham)


[4]  This item was prepared jointly by Karela and the Editor

‘Slavery’ is a word which has been used of an enormously wide range of conditions, from the civilised and cultured ease of Cicero’s amanuensis to the foulest inhumanity.  However, in the minds of many speakers of English, it has a very unusual connotation, of being assumed to refer to a safely distant past.  The Romans and the Greeks had slaves, true, but hadn’t William Wilberforce achieved the abolition of slavery in 1837?   However, by no means least in England, slavery exists now, and in the foulest forms.  It is utterly incomprehensible how a government, which prattles so easily about its fine principles, can act so faintly to deal with it.  To take just one form, the enforced captivity and subjection to sexual abuse of both women and boys, are there no laws in the UK concerning kidnapping?  Are there no laws about rape?  How could they possibly not be applicable in such cases?  Is there some grotesque loophole in the law which prevents those who aid and abet such activity being prosecuted?  Very similar outrage can and should be felt in other cases.  For instance (and still in the UK) there are gangs which bully weak people and strong people in weak positions into hard and harmful farmwork in sometimes terrible conditions for hours hugely exceeding any legal limits, and for no pay at all.  How is it that so little, and in the case of the governments so very little, is done?  Surely it cannot be that puzzling connotation, giving an illusion that such things were once a disgrace but there is no need for people today to take much action because it nearly all belongs to a distant past?  Some explanation is needed.  How on this earth (and in particular at present in France) can people consider themselves reformers because they propose financial penalties for those who pay money for the chance to abuse other human beings, as a change from penalising the person who undergoes the abuse.  (The apparent inability to distinguish between those who for their own reasons choose to accept such treatment and those who are forced to do so seriously damages the chances of help for the latter, but that is a different problem.)  Across the world, not least in so-called developed countries these shocking abuses continue, and are widely treated not as serious crimes which can rob victims of their health and years of life, but as problems on a par with badly maintained roads or bad behaviour at public ceremonies.  We can think of three reasons why the serious abuses are all but passed over in near silence.  Perhaps they are felt to be ‘just part of life’ (other people’s lives, that is) as barking dogs are often ignored since it is simply ‘in the nature of dogs to bark’); or the victims are just not important enough to be noticed –  they are little people, an insignificant proportion of the masses who have got left by the wayside – so long as they do not make too much protest; (then they would become trouble-makers, revolutionaries, or even criminals, according of course to laws which they had no part in framing and which were devised by people who had no comprehension of the wretchedness of the victims).  Or it may be that the topic of these abuses is so disagreeable that nice respectable people do not like to think, let alone talk, about them.  If any of these is taken as valid, that  reflects great discredit on human nature and a sadly minimal prospect of getting help for those who need it.

A footnote  A 2015 report of the OECD found that the UK had the worst standing of any European nation in respect of inequality of income.  It is high time that dictionary makers should make sure that their definition of slavery continues to include mention of being compelled to undertake work at others’ commands, but rigorously excludes any suggestion that receipt of a pay packet nullifies the status, given the many instances in Britain where the pay packet is ridiculously too small to provide the food, shelter, clothing, transport, and many other costs that have to be paid in order to keep the ‘employment’.