Thursday, 30 October 2014

Rochester Sweeps

Back when, in less egalitarian days, when a corrupt copper and a bent squire could make the life of a working man not only miserable but deadly, there were few outlets for anonymous social protest that would allow dissenters to reveal wrongs or highlight hypocrisy and corruption without making themselves targets for retribution.

In Parts of southern Austria the safety valve was (and is) Perchtennacht; men dress as anonymous goat-headed demons and leap and roar at bystanders and smash oak staves loudly on the paving. Sometimes a watcher is hit hard by an oak stave. Or three. Or kicked in the balls. The 'accidental' victim is always either unpopular or guilty of some infraction against village ethics and the anonymous injuries are a message to either change behaviour or leave town. Not being present on the processional route (unless you're one of the Perchten) is an admission of guilt and of cowardice. It's rough, but effective. 

In England the favoured disguise for anonymous action was always a top hat or head-dress to distort height, a fractured costume to disguise body shape and of course soot to blacken the face. Then like the Perchten the Blacks could leap, roar and smash their Morris staves on the cobbles frighteningly strongly. As an exhibition of raw, furious, testosterone driven male aggression it is startlingly effective - and an unambiguous warning to those in authority that they rule only by popular consent.

The Rochester Sweeps are the modern bowdlerised incarnation of the Blacks. I'm only astonished that some dim-witted, ignorant, naive or stupid hack hasn't yet interpreted Rochester's historic tradition as 'racist'; but no doubt they would also condemn the Austrian Perchten as 'goatist'. 

Rochester Sweeps try not to be scary
Althofen Perchten - terrifying the kids and the guilty

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Dealing with economic migrants the African way

Back in the days of my direct acquaintance with West Africa, before Nigerian oil, when life was little more civilised, Ghana and Nigeria enjoyed a sort of see-saw economic cycle. When one was doing well, the other was doing poorly, and vice-versa. Accra is separated from Lagos by a skinny strip of land that gives mini-nations Togo and Benin access to the Gulf of Guinea - generally migrants drive straight across it unhindered. And so with economic boom and bust a horde of migrants moved back and forth between the two cities.

And when some diplomatic spat or financial disagreement caused the two governments to fall out, the consequences were felt by the migrants. They were simply expelled en masse; rounded up by the police and army where necessary, and sent packing. I remember seeing two pieces of news footage; one was of Ghanaians trekking westwards, a long walking column of chaps carrying washing machines on their heads, women bowed under the weight of huge blanket-wrapped bundles on their backs as they walked home. The second was of Nigerians expelled from Ghana walking eastwards, a long column of men with fridges on their heads and women dragging cloth-wrapped bundles on makeshift sleds.  

They're quite used to this sort of solution, you see. The hundreds of thousands now illegally in the UK would not be at all surprised and only slightly put-out to be marched onto a fleet of ferries moored at Southampton to take them home. It's the African way.

Monday, 27 October 2014

European Commission tries soft approach to get UK dosh

I see the EC is trying the soft approach to get Cameron to part with 2.1 bn€ of our tax money:-


Would Tony Benn have joined UKIP?

The answer of course is no - on the basis that Benn's belief in a benign all-powerful central State exercising national command from the centre is a core tenet of Labour, Conservative and FlibDim policies but not UKIP's. Still, there's a certain meeting of minds as expounded by Steve Richards in the Guardian; Steve actually wonders if many Tories aren't closet Bennites whilst scrupulously avoiding the point that UKIP is undeniably Bennite in terms of a shared stance on the EU; Benn was against it on democratic grounds. Sure, he wanted a centralist dictatorship in the UK - but he wanted people to vote for it first. 

Bennite praise also comes to Mr Carswell
The former Tory MP and Ukip defector, Douglas Carswell, was typical in praising Benn in his Guardian interview last week: “Benn said the key questions were: who has power, who gave it to them, on whose behalf do they wield it, and are they accountable? I remember thinking this guy is spot on.” Separately, the founder of the ConservativeHome website, Tim Montgomerie, told me at a public event that he was a “Bennite on Europe”. He would advocate withdrawal whatever Cameron says or does, on the grounds that the EU can never be accountable to voters here or elsewhere. On another front, Benn started a campaign after the 1979 election to make Labour’s leadership and MPs more accountable to party members, supporting the right of local parties to deselect MPs. Benn’s crusade then has become, in a different form, the unrelenting mission of some Tory MPs now, or former Tory MPs. Carswell defected above all over the right of constituents to remove errant MPs – the project led by his former Conservative colleague, Zac Goldsmith. The Tory Bennites’ proposal, the right of recall, is a different measure to Benn’s, but the principle is similar. Constituents should hold MPs to account and not the national leadership.
There must be a few creased brows and paused spoons of organic Goji Berry yoghurt at the breakfast tables of Guardianistas this morning. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

EU demands an extra £79.87 from each UK taxpayer

The EU peremptory demand for an extra £1.7bn works out at £57.05 from each of the UK's 29.8m income tax payers; most of the money will go to prop up the broke Kermits. The French strategy is based on not enacting any savings measures in its own economy at all, but to make up the shortfall by charging everyone else in Europe for the failure of Flanby's bankrupt socialist system.

On top of this, the Berlaymont wastrels want an extra £22.82 from each UK income taxpayer this year to pay for their above-inflation pay and pension increases and to fund dodgy Mafia schemes in Europe's slumholes.

So come on all you Euphiles, get yer chequebooks out and write one for Herr Juncker for £79.87 - after all, it's our European duty to fund the waste and corruption of others ...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Juncker is right. And oh so wrong.

Austria requires hairdressers to undergo four years of technical college training and apprenticeship before being allowed to style hair commercially. In the UK, a school leaver fresh out of uniform can set up as a hairdresser. Result? Austrian women have the most unattractive and unflattering hair in all Europe, including Bulgaria, whilst for fifty years British hairstyling has thrilled and inspired women across the world. It's a neat and visible lesson in the effects of over-regulation in stifling creativity and innovation - qualities essential for economic success in a global economy. And just as mediaeval builders who moved for work from Saint Denis to Kent brought England's first ever gothic arches, English Ironmasters taught northern Germany the art of Industry. Free movement of skill, innovation and knowledge throughout Europe has for centuries been the secret of European competitive advantage - and this means allowing free movement of skilled workers. 

Even economic migrants or refugees from pogroms and persecution have enriched England; Hugueneots with glassworking  and mechanical craft skills, the anonymous German potter who brought the secret of salt-glazed stoneware to London, and not least the poor Russian Jews whose offspring would later found the IEA. And many more, many enriching, enabling and inspiring our own development. 

So free movement of people in Europe is always a good thing? To a point, Lord Copper. Try telling that to a Fenlands town where a third of the population are eastern European field labour, strong-backed peasants who can stand all day in the Winter mud and pluck mangel-worzels from the sticky clay. Making food cheap for Tesco, but killing local cultural heritage and cultural identity.

And this is the dichotomy we face; open interchange of skills, ideas and innovation helps us all, but free movement without any restriction whatsoever can destroy a traditional way of life, swamp historic communities and dilute national congruence. And you can't really tell which is which; Ralph Harris' father was a poor Jewish shoemaker, a penniless refugee, who wouldn't have made it past a points system.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Europe - An irresistible magnet

I defy any reader not to be moved deeply by the tragic tale told in Der Spiegel of an ill-fated attempt by a group of Africans to reach the Nirvana of Europe. I have written many times that one cannot blame immigrants for immigration; the fact that immigrants are here in such numbers is both a failure of border controls and a sustained campaign of anti-British spite and national self-hatred by the Labour Party. But primarily they are here because of our wealth; our economy and well-being are an irresistible magnet for the poor and aspirational.
Abdou, born into poverty in 1940, remained poor, even by Nigerien standards. He owned a few gourds as drinking vessels, and his three robes hung from a hook in his hut. He had sold his only cow for 98,000 CFA francs to pay for the trip north. Samani was squatting on the bed of the large truck, on the left side behind the driver's cab. He had an 18-liter water canister behind him and was holding a bag filled with three shirts and three pairs of pants. He had paid 30,000 CFA francs, the equivalent of about €46 ($59), for a space on the truck -- the traffickers had waived a portion of the fare, because it was all the money he had. He had also bought some underwear with a zippered pouch in front so he could hide his travel money. Acquaintances had assured Samani that clothing was free in Europe. A friend who had made it to Spain told Samani that Europeans happily hand out sweaters and jackets against the cold. Europeans replace their household goods every year, says Samani, placing whatever they no longer need on the kerb. Even the taxi drivers drive Mercedes in Europe, he says.
Clothing free in Europe? True. People can even buy a complete brand-new outfit for the value of an hour's cleaning work. Unwanted goods left on the kerb? Certainly true in my road, where children's toys and clothing, surplus novels, old speakers and bathroom shelves are left on the front garden walls for any passer-by who wants to take them. And Merc taxis? True also, but unlikely to be new Mercs. Still, it's astonishing that such simple tokens of affluence that we take for granted have grown to legend status amongst the poor, the hungry, the unclothed and the owners of just a goat or two and a few gourds to whom such things are beyond dreams of avarice.  

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

UKIP Calypso

Aficionados of Radio Four's old Start The Week from the Richard Baker days will recall the weekly topical Lance Percival calypso, bringing a ray of Caribbean sunshine to dull winter mornings. Ah, such an age of innocence - when reggae was a niche musical genre bought on 45s from Midlands markets and West Indians were better known for cricket than mugging. And absolutely no-one accused Lance Percival of racism for his attempts to master Jamaican patois.

I'm glad to say that UKIP's promotional calypso single is true to form - gentle, affectionate and guaranteed to bring a smile to the nation's face. For 79p you couldn't do better. Go on, smile. 

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