Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Dodgy Honours List, in Full

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Kt
Hmm. Let's just see if his 'unequivocal support' to the coppers who might have, well, made it all up about Thrasher Mitchell, explodes in his face. I am a great supporter of awarding medals and honours to policemen upon their retirement, rather than upon their appointment to top jobs. Who, for instance, would have awarded anything but a large raspberry and a halving of his pension to Sir Ian Blair, after the mockery he made of his Commissioner's tenure? Oh, that's right, NuLabour - they made him a PEER! Jeeeesus!

Cherie Blair QC, CBE
For services to her property portfolio, shoe collection and dubious agenda politics. Apparently she has done much for 'women's services and charity, at home and overseas'. Now, Idle has met and chatted to Cherie, and can report that she is less alarming of visage than her unphotogenic history. Furthermore, she is bright and direct. Her work at the infamous Matrix Chambers, however, qualifies her only for an EU 'human rights' gong. Not remotely has she stood up for the British Empire. I dare say the very phrase makes her quiver. Or wobble.

Sir Hector Sants, Kt
Yes, him. The man who was asleep at the wheel of the FSA in the run up to the financial crisis, and proved incompetent as it unravelled. You know the chap - he was responsible for regulating, inter alia, Barclays, who rigged LIBOR, did their fair share of stuffing their clients with useless PPI rubbish, etc. 'Santa' has now gone off to join, erm... Barclays as head of compliance, on £3m a year. Move along please, people - no conflict of interest to see here.

Dame Ursula Brennan, DCB
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice. Our justice system is chaotic, favours criminals over victims, sets ever more lenient sentences, commands less and less public respect. Enuff said.

Miss Tracey Emin CBE
Oh bleeding dear. A testament to vulgarity, vanity and breathtaking chutzpah. Not a single grain of artistic talent. An 'artist' for the I'm a Big Brother Get Me Celebrity Strictly Outtahere generation.

There are more, but my bath is run and I need a drink - Are these the sort of knights we dub? Won't SOMEONE lead me to the pub!

UPDATE: A good read on La Emin

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Spot the Sane One

Do you remember at school when there was 'time for one more photo' ("DO make an effort to be sensible")? Whereupon we all pulled faces, turned sideways, did the Eric Morecambe thing with one's specs, pretended to stick one's tongue in the ear of the chap standing next door.

This is evidently one of those moments. Why they have released it publicly beats me. Dave appears to be doing a braying donkey impression (possibly due to Gove doing something behind his back), much to the amusement of Hammond, Alexander, Paterson, Hague and May. IDS and Whassisname behind him have had itching powder down the shirt collar (an old, but always satisfying practical joke). Tom Strathclyde has had his hair stuck to the pillar and Ed Davey is struggling to contain his 'excitement', by the looks of things. Behind them all towers Sir George Young, who might be pogoing but, I gather, really is that tall.

A ship of fools if ever I saw one, with one clear and obvious exception: Her Majesty, calm, poised and ready for the shot. What a consummate pro she is, and doesn't she just show up the jobbing politicians? Quite how Warsi, Laws and Letwin talked their way into attending Cabinet, history does not relate. Let's just give thanks that Yeo isn't there.

PS See that carpet? It's called the Ardabil. I think there are four or five proper hand-tied copies in the world; the original is in the V&A museum and another got badly burned, I think. Commander Idle wisely bought one forty years ago and it lay on the floor of the big drawing room at Idle Manor until the house was sold. All that needs to happen now is for Idle or his even Idler Bro to buy a house with a 30' by 20' reception room. Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Protesting Too Much

The Speccie has a story about the estimable Dr Fox saying what we all know, which is that the Foreign Office has its own agenda, particularly on Europe.

But though that position might be popular with many Tories, Fox’s words offended Sir Paul Lever, the former British ambassador to Germany and Assistant Under Secretary at the Foreign Office, who told Coffee House Dr Fox was deliberately shifting the focus of debate to make political points:

‘Civil servants, whether you like it or not, work for ministers. Those in the Foreign Office worked as enthusiastically for Mrs Thatcher when she was waving her handbag as they did for other Prime Ministers of Foreign Secretaries who had completely different views. For former ministers to rubbish civil servants because they are afraid of criticising their party friends is a cop out.

‘If you don’t like the country’s policy on the EU, criticise the ministers who are making it. The idea that they are all just prisoners of their civil servants and they just do what the department tells them to do is bollocks, that’s not how government works and he knows its not how government works.’

Sorry, Sir Paul. I simply don't believe you. The mandarins work for themselves, not ministers. They might work with ministers from time to time, but the Sir Humphreys of this world are, we can be sure, exactly as the great Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn portrayed them.

Ministers come and go with great frequency, whilst the great panjandrums of Whitehall stick around for ever, and almost never get fired for incompetence, even when the witnesses for the prosecution are lined up around the block.

That they are clever and talented, I have no doubt. If they were working in Britain's best interests, I'm sure they could outfox their counterparts in Brussels and Berlin and Paris. But the evidence is that they have sold us down the river, even during times of handbag-waving by that independent-minded heroine, the Lady Thatcher. We are up to our ochsters in Euromanure, and it is time to struggle free. The 'advice' of civil servants will be to see how things develop, not to frighten the horses, not to do anything rash, wait until we suffocate, etc etc etc.

Trouble is, Cameron and Hague appear to agree with them.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

An Unnecessary Risk

At the risk of coming over all Daily Mail, it is alarming to read that the populations of Bulgaria and Romania are now just 13 months away from being able to treat the EU as though it were their own country. They could move to Lisbon, Livorno, Limoges or even Llandrindod Wells, if they wanted to. But it's a fair bet that their destination of choice will be London.

Why? Do I need to spell it out? B E N E F I T S. In their position, I'd do exactly the same. Even by the standards of our hit-and-miss NHS, it's a more attractive place to give birth than Bucharest, and the child is Born British, which may not be 'winning the lottery of life' as it once was, but has got to be a better bet than the outskirts of Plovdiv or Timisoara.

We don't have the jobs and we don't have the room. The politicians know this but are too achingly right-on and timid and poofterish to say so. The populist position, of course, is to say NO, but their fear of Auntie BBC, the Grauniad, their dinner guests in MetroLondon, will force them to remain compliant with EU ideology.

No good will come of this. Keep them out.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Why Are We Waiting?

As I celebrated the release of Sgt Nightingale from Colchester Prison on Thursday afternoon, it struck me that sometimes (but only sometimes), the rusty wheels of the legal process can be made to run a bit faster. It was quite clear that Sgt Nightingale's sentence was much too harsh, given that the civilian police didn't wish to press charges and there was no evidence at all of criminal intent. Despite the predictable stonewalling of the creepy Attorney General, (the aptly-named Mr Grieve), a Court of Appeal was quickly assembled and a verdict reached. I hope and expect that he will clear his name. (See this, from his SAS Lt Col commander - why would the colonel, a high-flier, put his own career at risk if what he says is not completely true?)

Essex Police received a criminal complaint against Mr Huhne (remember him?) in May 2011. NINE MONTHS later the Director of Public Prosecutions decided there was sufficient evidence to bring charges. ELEVEN MONTHS after that decision, the case is due to be heard, in January.

Huhne exercised his right to remain silent when questioned by the police. He has not entered a plea so far, arguing that he means to have the indictment quashed. Just as I was setting up my deckchair beside the guillotine Crown Court in October, the trial was delayed until January 14th 2013 'for legal reasons' (well, duh!).

I have to say I just don't get it. This is not a tricky fraud investigation or an argument over contract law. The charge is straightforward and is admitted by one of the two people charged - mitigated, she says, by marital coercion. Why would a case such as this take so long to be adequately investigated and heard in court? Is it something to do with the fact that this LibDem joker became a Cabinet Minister? Is it something to do with delaying yet more bad news for the LibDems in order to keep the Coalition limping along a bit longer?

We'll know soon enough. And when the verdict is given, I hope we'll be told exactly why this has all taken so long. If the law is to be respected it must be transparent. My bet is that we won't be told.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The UKIP Blip

I hope it will be more than a blip, of course. Not because I am a member, or vote for them (except, of course, in European elections), but because I believe that the only way the Conservatives will ever win a proper mandate (ie a majority in parliament and a manifesto which talks turkey) is to embrace the UKIP vote. And if the UKIP vote stabilises around 10-12%, they will have to get wise and do a deal.

32 million votes were cast in 1992, over 14m of them for the Tories. 26 million were cast in 2010, 10.7m for the Tories. The Tory vote has not so much 'switched' since 1992, but just stopped voting. I think they were/are 'Thatcher's C1s/C2s', in other words the skilled and semi-skilled working class who have done so badly under Labour and mass immigration.

Cameron, Osborne and their modernisation project coterie of friends have obviously blown it. They thought (honestly) that by embracing unconservative irrelevances - ring-fencing the Mercedes-to-Dictators Overseas Aid Budget, 'marriage' for gays, Big Green Taxation, etc - they would win Liberal votes. Maybe one for every four 'core' votes you lose, boys; the mathematics are not on your side, even if you end up getting an invitation to Elton's annual white tie and tiara ball.

Thomas Pascoe in the Torygraph Blogs:

UKIP are the party of grammar schools, controlled immigration, Euroscepticism and the small state. These are the values of the Conservative party members, whose devotion mitigates the inadequacies of CCHQ. They are also the values of many Tory MPs.

In fact, the only people in the Conservative Party for who those values are an anachronism are already ministers.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Face of Evil

Joyce Thacker, Rotherham Borough Council: ''We had to seriously think about the long-term needs of the children''

This imbecilic woman, and her poisonous left wing views, is symptomatic of much that is wrong with Britain today.

She should be sacked without compensation and imprisoned for abuse of office, the slandering of a couple of utterly decent foster parents, and denied her pension rights.

If they were to bring back the stocks, I would be happy to drive to her benighted town with a boot full of rotting vegetation and hurl it at her smug lefty face.

What an evil woman. Top of Idle's villains of the year.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Lost the Thread

Introducing the new England rugby kit, proudly sporting the national colours of, er........

Cranberry? Merlot? Blackberry Crumble?

The hopeless incompetents at the RFU, keeping up a long history of idiocy and greed stretching back to the beginning of the professional era in the 1990s, have evidently decided that England don't need to wear white shirts. This is what happens when you pay a marketing director a couple of hundred grand a year and waste a million or two on PR consultants and stylists - you have to listen to their right-on, rootless, ahistorical bleatings. And you end up with the plastic rubbish bags being worn above. And before they start defending themselves by calling it an 'away' kit, England were playing at home today. And before they start gibbering about the similarity of the England white shirt to the Wallabies' gold, remind them that this has been ignored for a century, including a world cup final.

It is true the All Blacks occasionally have to wear a white change kit, but I bet the players know they are not wearing all black (imagine the horror if that was the one only cap you won!). It's the reason they are not known as 'New Zealand', for heaven's sake! The Aussies drone on about the 'Green and Gold' as much as their cricketing counterparts mention the 'Baggy Green', but this is the right sort of pride.

So why can't England stick to their roots and show some pride and loyalty to their traditional national colours? They lost the plot, as well as the game.

(As written by Idle, born and bred in Aberdeenshire, long-suffering Scotland supporter)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Take Them to the Cleaners

Poor old Lord McAlpine. I always thought of him as one of the good blokes and reading his Wikipedia entry has reinforced this many times over. He has lived a full and blameless life, now in its ill-health dotage in Southern Italy. Blameless, that is, unless you are motivated by hatred of Tories, as those are who jumped onto the bandwagon to put the boot in when he was mistakenly implicated in the wretched child abuse furore.

Well I hope he sues the cynical and posturing George Monbiot, the imbecilic tarty Sally Bercow and the vain idiot Philip Schofield for millions. Not only because they utterly deserve it, but because he will be doing a great service to society at large by helping (slightly) to stop the thoughtless (or deliberate) spread of malicious rumours on the twittersphere. It is a saying as old as the hills: a rumour can travel round the world before the truth has got its boots on - but it has been compounded a thousandfold by modern technology.

The only defence that Moonbat, Moocow and prettyboy have is that they were passing on the information 'in good faith'. Let us hope that judge and jury recognise this for the bogus justification it is; they have responsibility for their own actions, and should therefore be wary of spreading muck. If you're planning to shoot an outlaw, you'd better make sure he's an outlaw, otherwise it's murder.

I doubt any of these three has ever met McAlpine or has any personal animosity to him. They did what they did because they hate the Conservative Party, particularly the 'Thatcher Era" (did you notice how often this phrase was used when the rumours started?), and they believe they have the public on their side, which increased their confidence that they could get stuck in without consideration for their libel, let alone giving the individual concerned a fair hearing.

I hope it costs them their jobs and their life savings.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Family Masterchef

This time last year Idle entertained 120 of his closest friends to dinner and dancing to celebrate his 50th. It was exhausting and exhilarating in equal measure, and ruinously expensive.

Tonight, the other side of the coin: Family Birthday Masterchef. The Contestants:

Idle, 51, a poor banker from Aberdeenshire now living in Sussex. Idle will be making the starter: scallops wrapped in pancetta with pureed celeriac and lightly sauteed chestnut mushrooms.

Lady Idle, a multi-tasking expert from (expat) Hong Kong, now living in Sussex. Lady Idle will be making the main course: fillet steaks with boulangere potatoes, green beans and mushrooms and roasted sweet spear carrots.

Younger Miss Idle, 18, from Sussex. Miss Idle will be making pudding: chocolate pots.

The sommelier, Monsieur Idle, chose the following wines:
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Rose, NV (contributed by Miss Idle)
Ch d'Armailhac, Pauillac, 1995
Chartreuse de Coutet, Sauternes, 2007

Elder Miss Idle, 20, from Sussex, reading Writing, Directing and Performance at York University, was unable to attend due to the three-day sellout of her university directorial debut, and will be sorely missed.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


I suppose we should congratulate the Republican Party for choosing a candidate who won the retired white male vote quite as convincingly as he did. 66% and counting! Way to go!

Mark Steyn, reporting from his mountain lair in New Hampshire, tells us that even this narrow electoral pitch failed in his state, with the electoral college, senate, house seats and governorship all falling to the Dems. And this, in truth, is the story of the modern Republican Party - it can go so far, but only so far. When every Pentecostalist, retired US Ranger, banker and captain of industry has been safely delivered into the Republican lobby to vote in Notchville Duck, NH, the tally still stands at a frustrating 49% because that Vietnamese family of four adult voters, who moved in last year to start a restaurant-cum-bicycle repair shop, all vote Dem to tip the hamlet into the Blue column. What is a poor white financier down to his last $170m to do?

The answer, of course, is to find another Reagan. But is this a possibility? Idle was being abused by Sandhurst NCOs when Reagan won his party's nomination in 1980, but I'll bet Dutch wasn't up against the array of loons that Romney found himself surrounded by a year ago. The electoral process is set in stone in America, so prepare for more of the same in three years' time: a ship of fools descends upon Iowa or New Hampshire, pitching themselves against an electorate of Republican-registered voters. The hopefuls are desperate for early momentum, so what do they do? They explore their inner Palin and set up camp so far to the right, they might as well be on the Pacific coast of Japan.

After that, it's a long way back to the moderate Right, let alone the centre. And as they make that journey, between February and August, they lose a few rabid former supporters, falling off the back of the wagon and shaking their fist at the departing 'liberal', accusing him of selling out and all manner of other dastardly political activities. The moderate Democrat or floating voter, however, remembers the bible-bashing and quail-hunting nomination-seeker of late winter, and no amount of compassion, tofu-eating and reasonableness is going to gull them into the polling booth with a Republican vote in mind.

Romney arrived at his party's convention not so much to be crowned as to be admitted into A&E and have his wounds attended to. All those whoopin and hollerin delegates had been chowin and gluggin at the complimentary bar and buffet for two days before Mitt limped onto the stage, chock-full of morphine. They cheer because, hell, the fella is still standing up, isn't he? Their sights are now set on the imposter in the White House. They don't see that they have reduced their nominee's chances to near zero, because they are the folks who emasculated his broad appeal back in the snows of February.

My advice to the Republicans is to hold an open primary in a knife-edge swing state (Ohio, anyone?) BEFORE the usual Iowa caucus. Don't allow the turnout to be anything other than highly representative of the last presidential election's. This will empower the moderates at the expense of the firebrands. It will encourage more presidential types to stand, as they will feel that they can at least start off in the sort of circumstances they hope to end up in come November - fighting for the votes that
WIN close presidential elections, rather than for the votes that will come guaranteed to any realistic moderate conservative with a bit of character, purpose and humour about him.

At the risk of boring you (again) with the old phrase, if your political strategy is to rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the vote of Paul. The Democrats know this. America has more Pauls (not Ron) than ever before, and unlike past generations of Pauls, they are less socially mobile than they were. This is because (as any European knows) if you start paying people a good income for fecklessness and idleness, you'll end up with many feckless idle punters. They become less ambitious, less employable, and hungry for more entitlements. Peter, who has enhanced his wealth despite sub-optimal economic or fiscal conditions, finds himself supporting more Pauls than before. And so it goes on.

What happens when Peter finds himself in a tax regime akin to late 1970s Britain? It's not so far fetched, when one tots up the US debt and remembers that if the Chinese don't buy it, no one else will. Following the logic that the healthy birth rate of "brown" America produces more Pauls than Peters every year, the fiscal landscape of America seems bound to change. The Latino vote was 8% of the total in 2008, 9% four years later. They vote Democrat, by the way, in the same sort of percentage as retired white males vote Republican. The math, as they would say, don't lie.

Previous generations of American Peters have almost never been forced to leave their own country in order to find economic opportunities. Maybe in the 1930s, but few. I don't see them leaving en masse even under the cosh of confiscatory tax and an overweening government (Uncle Sam taxes them overseas until they give up their passports, anyway). Maybe they will hole up in Wyoming and try to secede from the union.

One thing is for sure: as a great British prime minister said, the problem with socialists is that sooner or later, they run out of other people's money. When this happens in America, with the attendant unemployment and plunging living standards, the American century of world hegemony will be over in a way that is unlikely to be the slow suffocation endured by Britain after the Second World War and the subsequent retreat from empire.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Stranger Things Have Happened

We enemies of Socialism are looking for something to cling to, if we are to keep the flame of hope alive, but one of the legacies of Hurricane Sandy is that there is flotsam everywhere we look. The last two nationwide polls today are a tie and a Romney +1, and some swing state polls positive for Romney, including Michigan, where he grew up and where not everybody believes that Mitt wants to close down Detroit and gas the laid-off workers.

This is not completely over. The margin of error is comfortably wide enough in the six or seven swing states. I would be less surprised by a Romney short-head victory than I was when Britain looked itself in the shaving/make-up mirror in 1992 and decided that, whatever their shortcomings, John Major's Tories were a better idea than that bottomless pit of vacuous Valley-Welsh socialist rhetoric, Neil Kinnock. What a terrific morning the next day! BBC and Guardianista types weeping openly, blaming the polls and the Sun and the Mail and the weather and the TV schedules and trying to come up with a conspiracy theory. Pity that Major then governed quite so hopelessly, but I suppose he did the country a favour by forcing Old Labour into permanent retirement.

In short, Kinnock was found out during his campaign in such a way that the electorate decided not to trust him with the job. Obama was up against a hopeless old candidate four years ago, was trusted with the job, but has been found out over four long years.

If 4 things happen, Romney wins:

Obama's 2008 high-water-mark vote shrinks by a modest amount (3 in 100, say) as his HopeyChange mantra now looks as dated as a Mark 1 iPod;

Those tepid Republicans shamed by the Dubya second-term and uninspired by McCain in 2008 return to the Romney candidacy (again, let's say a modest 20% of 'lapsed' Republicans in 2008);

The polls overstate Obama by 1 in 200, or 0.5%, for the usual reasons: Republican-vote admission shame, incumbent bias.

Floating voters break for Romney on the day, 55-45. Psephologists agree that this usually happens when the incumbent has been, by common consent, a first-term underperformer, and the challenger has 'won' the campaign by improving in the polls, even only modestly.

Of course, these 4 things have to happen in the swing states, rather than Nebraska or Mississippi, but I think they are all more than likely. The 1992 UK exit-poll debacle was blamed on a late swing to the Tories, which I don't believe - Kinnock hadn't sealed the deal in 1992 any more than the hugely disappointing Obama has done with this election.

UPDATE: Wednesday 1030
No real winners emerged last night. Obama, without an agenda and therefore without much of a mandate, also has a Republican House to obstruct his more fanciful welfare-state ambitions. Maybe they will prevent Obama2 from increasing the debt as much as Obama1 - if they don't the Dollar is sunk.
Romney was neither fish nor fowl by the end. A chap writing in the Independent this morning suggested that the message of the election was that America still has a reasonable appetite for moderate conservatism, but the Republican Party didn't want to provide the candidate. I think Romney did quite well, but frankly he should have been pushing on an open door, given a poor incumbent president and a bad economy.
I forecast that Obama will play a LOT more golf in the next four years.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Suspension of Logic

Political Betting, not as dull a blog as it sounds, carries an extraordinary statistic, which suggests to me that there must be something deeply unattractive about Mitt Romney which I have not noticed, or that socialists in Other Countries somehow don't bother conservatives in Britain in the way that imbeciles like Kinnock or creeps like Brown do. Either that, or they have not been concentrating during the past 4 years during which Obama has tried his hardest to turn America into a Big Government entitlements culture along the lines of France. He would have got further than he has, had he not suffered a disastrous setback in the midterm elections of 2010, when he lost the House to the Republicans and presided over the biggest midterm loss since 1938.

Here's the statistic from Political Betting:

In Britain 86% of Con supporters would choose Obama over Romney / 95% Lab / 96% Lib Dem @YouGov

Eh? Seriously? Why?

I just don't get it. Logic tells you that the majority of Conservative supporters in Britain would instinctively recognise, in America, that Republicans are the conservatives over there. True, Dubya Bush and von Rumsfeld might have been a bit too bloody in tooth and claw for them, but Romney is a moderate Republican. The guy won the governorship of Massachusetts, for heaven's sake! He is no redneck. He may be very rich, but he's no Michael Bloomberg. He may have dissed London's preparations for the Olympics, and been proved wrong, but there are worse things: Obama returned the bust of Churchill to the British Embassy in Washington and then described France as America's closest ally, or something equally lunatic. He thumbed his nose at Britain, and most sentient Conservatives would have noticed, and remembered.

And just how much does the average Conservative know about Obama? Or Chicago politics? These are deep and murky waters. He seems a cool enough dude to me but he's a socialist and has managed to get the US debt up to $16 trillion, which means spending tax not yet taken from generations not yet born on a scale not hitherto attempted. This is neither caring, compassionate, nor progressive, as Mark Steyn points out in After America in a way that will make your hair bristle.

Romney might not win on Tuesday but this is obviously a very close election and it is always hard to depose the incumbent, particularly one so loved by the (overwhelmingly) liberal media in America. He seems decent and sensible and he looks a better CEO for a country that simply has to get more realistic about how to pay its way and compete with the emerging countries, which America has done so much to free from despots and pursue popular liberal democracy.

86% of Conservative voters really want Obama? I'm staggered.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Double O 7 1/2 out of 10

I have been won over by Daniel Craig after Skyfall. I remember a critic (Charles Spencer, I think) describing the shock of the new thuggish Bond rather brilliantly when reviewing his first outing in Casino Royale, something along the lines of:

"many of us prefer our Bonds to be able to save the world with a well-placed Bollinger cork in the workings of an atomic bomb, whilst smoking sobranie cigarettes and indulging in a lot of boisterous rogering; the new Bond behaves in the way you might expect of someone fighting in a pub car park in Dagenham at midnight".

I paraphrase, having failed to find the quote on google. But you get my drift.

Craig and the great Judi Dench have established a complex and extraordinary relationship which is the crux of this film. Indeed, the baddie is motivated completely by his own relationship with M, too. I'm not going to give anything away (indeed, when I went to a pre-release screening on Thursday evening, they confiscated our mobile phones!).

This is emphatically NOT 'the best bond film ever' (Mail on Sunday, and others). The plot is tissue thin (sorry, Rob, me old housemate at school, who has written this and the previous five or six films), and the set piece finale in the cardboard granite lodge incongruously plonked on a boggy moor near Glencoe didn't quite do it for me. Has ever so big a schloss had no outbuildings, no garden, not even a solitary tree? I think not. And I cringed when the (miscast Lancastrian Albert Finney) old gamekeeper and retainer hands Bond a twelve bore shotgun, saying 'of course we couldnae sell your faither's HUNTING RIFLE'.

The 007 and M show is brilliant, however, the camp baddie a witty throwback to the early films, and the girls, such as we see of them, luscious - but in truth, the Bond Girl for this movie is an actress called Judi Dench. This is good Bondage, well above average and Craig's best. Seven and a half out of ten. There is life in the old dog yet.

UPDATE: Idle has been corrected. It IS a rifle, an old Anderson Wheeler .500 Nitro Express. 'Hunting' with rifles is an Americanism, however.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bill Sykes and Fagin

When I saw this picture of the Opposition front bench, obviously enjoying Dave's deep discomfort over Europe yesterday, I immediately thought of Bill Sykes and Fagin. Lest anyone lefty liberal is tempted to accuse me of anti-semitism, let me say that it was the thuggish countenance of Balls that brought the pair to mind. And Miliband would make a fine Fagin, given his attraction to other people's money and, well, he's no matinee idol, is he?

Do I need to patent this caricature of the two Eds? I see it catching on.

Monday, 15 October 2012

How Dost Thou Irritate Me? Let Me Count the Ways

My correspondent and friend, Phil O'Sopher, tells me that he read somewhere about a chap who has compiled a list of the ways in which David Cameron irks him. He has reached 49, which seems to me to be a fairly modest figure. Phil believes that a blog that is read by sound, literate, witty and amusing folk, (not unlike my own, I modestly assume him to mean) could very easily reach 50 and raise its bat, then go on to a ton and remove its hat to the applause. Who knows, it might even dig in and set about a double century.

I can give you ten for starters:

Lying about his 'cast-iron guarantee' on the Lisbon Treaty
Saying that he's always been 'passionate' about same-sex marriage
Ignoring his backbenchers in the corridors of Parliament
Wearing only white business shirts, only plain ties and (the horror) single-breasted suits with only two buttons on the front
Wearing black oxford shoes with jeans during holiday photo-opportunities
Always holding hands in public
Denying his children the best schooling he could afford them
Giving up fieldsports for his premiership
Supporting expense cheats who are within the Circle of Dave
Sacking those outside the Circle of Dave for minor indiscretions

This is a target-rich environment, surely. Get those reasons going on the Comments. Unlimited entries. Mars Bar to the funniest/truest/cringiest.

Friday, 12 October 2012

You Couldn't Make It Up

I can just about see the point of dishing out the Nobel Peace Prize to two opposing gangleaders who have been trying to make peace - Sadat and Begin spring to mind, or Trimble and Hume, Corleone and Barzini, Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner. The hope is that the kudos and the cash and the shiny new biographical wikipedia entry will help them become mates and further bury the hatchet.

Then some bright spark emerged from his Norwegian igloo and told us that Barack Obama, having been President for all of three weeks, was the unanimous choice of the arselickers and starfuckers Peace Committee. We searched his back story for evidence of keepin' peace in da Chicago 'hoods, or breaking up a fight in the junior common room at Harvard Law School, but in vain. No, he really was getting the gong for 'strengthening international diplomacy'. He did it so quickly and so diplomatically, we must all have missed it.

And now, surpassing themselves, with the straightest of faces and fully six months away from April Fools' Day, the Nobel Committee gives us this year's winner of the Peace Prize to: (drumroll......................)

The European Union! Eh????? Whaddidesay? You're sure? Okaaaaay......

Hurrah! Yippee! Break out the bunting! Uncork the Bolly! Never has a more deserving and previously overlooked receipient, etc etc.

The European Union. Yes, THAT European Union. The one that is causing great angst, depression, unemployment and economic hardship on the peoples of Europe, all in the name of EVER CLOSER UNION. The one that hasn't had its accounts signed off by the auditor for a dozen years and more, so corrupt is its use of taxpayers' funds. The one that is led by powerful and unelected individuals, unaccountable to the taxpayers of Europe. The one that has more failed domestic politicians per square inch than the Liberal bench of the House of Lords.

Are these the kind of knights we dub? Will SOMEONE lead me to the pub!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dissing Boris

Sir Max Hastings writes in the Mail today:

 “If the Mayor of London is the answer, there is something desperately wrong with the question.

“If the day ever comes that Boris Johnson becomes tenant of Downing Street, I shall be among those packing my bags for a new life in Buenos Aires ... because it means that Britain has abandoned its last pretensions to be a serious country."

Now it's true that Hastings has known Boris for a long time, having employed him when he was sacked by the Times for dishonesty. He will have had plenty of first-hand evidence of Boris being cheeky or sly or sailing close to the wind. Doubtless it infuriated him. But that's Boris, isn't it? Look at how he has treated his long-suffering wife over the years; it is said he has very few close friends.

But it's worth noting, as well, that Hastings was a Labour supporter in the 90s and 00s, and to be credulous of Blair and Brown is not exactly a badge of honour, is it? I seem to remember him as being altogether too keen on the European Union as well. He is very much of the Tory Left. A Clarkeite, for want of a better term. He would have been a Heathite in the 70s. Wet as a scrubber in Thatcher terms. Boris, though socially quite liberal (how could he be otherwise with HIS track record?), is economically too far to the Right for Hastings.

But the main reason for dismissing his argument is obvious, isn't it? He threatens to leave Britain, no longer 'a serious country', to go to....... Argentina!

Hasta la vista, Max. The wine and beef will be splendid, the sport and open spaces wonderful. The politics, however, and the military, and the civil administration and the economy and the corruption and the lack of democracy..... not serious. Not serious at all. The country is a laughing stock.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Soak the Rich

What? Has Idle turned pinko? Has he chucked the towel in on his Friedmanite beliefs? Did Laffer plot the curve upon his graph in vain?

Worry not, idle reader. I don't mean US, I mean THEM. There's local, home-grown rich; and then there's international, Johnny Foreigner rich. And it's Johnny I'm after.

Torygraph blog today:

"Nearly six in 10 overseas millionaires named residential property in London as their favourite asset class, according to Bill Siegle, a senior partner at international estate agents Cluttons. He said: “Quite remarkably, 43pc of these highly mobile investors state that the global financial crisis has had no impact on their view of London as a top investment target location. In fact, almost a third – or 29pc – goes on to claim that London is better-placed because of the Eurozone difficulties.

The fundamentals of the London economy remain strong; the city attracts dynamic businesses and skilled professionals from around the globe. This gravity effect underpins the city’s appeal to wealthy individuals looking for investment opportunities in the next 12 months.”

Well, we know what effect this has had on London property prices, and it has been vertiginous. Most importantly, it prices Londoners out of their own market. It makes no earthly sense to allow the international market unfettered access to our real estate if it is detrimental to one's own citizens.

So I say: TAX THEM TIL THEIR EYES WATER. And then tax them some more. If they are happy to pay 20% stamp duty to buy in London (and by THEY, I mean those who are not tax resident in this country), plus a 5% annual surcharge on top of their council tax, then one could review it and push it up to 30% and 7.5%. Etc, etc. My theory is that the Exchequer will receive a HUGE increase in tax take, whilst reducing the number of new foreign buyers. And if, one day, not only the Idle Tax, but political governance and property rights in their own godforsaken countries improving to a level that stops them from 'investing' in our capital - well, that'll be a jolly good day for London and the World, won't it?

I am a markets man, but I believe in intervention when it cures an obvious anomaly. This seems to me to be such an opportunity, and I can't for the life of me see any downside.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Bare Faced Liar

Clegg, quoted on Sunday: ‘When I hear people from the Right say all the money should come from poor people . . . I’m saying no, hang on a minute, let’s make sure we do this as fairly as possible.’

What does this poltroon take us for? What, even, does he take his LibDem conference audience for? We all know that this is a bare-faced lie. He has never heard any such thing. No such people exist. He will claim it's all part of political rhetoric, etc, but it's no more than a completely crass and dishonest representation of  'people from the Right'.

He should be forced to apologise, first for blatant dishonesty, and secondly for his grotesque grammar: 'I'm saying'. You are a 45 year old Oxbridge educated man, for heaven's sake, not a teenager trying to sound like a Californian.

What a lightweight. Boris wrote yesterday saying we should save the Cleggster, if only because he delivered us from yet more of the Brown Terror. Clegg did no such thing; as Andrew Lansley admitted a fortnight ago (which some of us had been recommending two and a half years ago):

In normal circumstances, with that election result, there would not have been a coalition. We’d have formed a minority government, put forward a programme, challenged the House to support it or not and after a decent interview – probably a few months – we would have had a general election and would have almost certainly won a majority.

The reason this didn't happen is simple: Cameron's personal ambition, in inverse relationship to his courage.

Monday, 24 September 2012

On Thrasher, Limousines-for-Dictators, Saints and Army Veteran Status

Thrasher Mitchell should be sacked, obviously. He lied about swearing at the police officers and now, whilst denying using 'the words attributed' to him, hasn't told us exactly what he did say. The sin of a Cabinet Minister lying is far greater than the sin of being a short tempered arrogant little twat, and he should go.

Anyone who thinks he will be a loss to this government hasn't been paying attention for the past two years, during which time he has been spending £30m a day of taxpayers' money on fleets of Mercedes for dictators, shopping trips for their wives, and space programmes for India (OK, he will say that it was spent on clean water provision, but by doing so he freed up the cash for the Indian government to build spaceships and plan interplanetary fact-finding missions, etc). £500m a year goes to 'consultants' and £476m to 'climate change'. Oh, and £120m on 'administration' - ie salaries, pensions, offsite meetings, boondoggles, freebies and a little light expenses fraud - the usual stuff.

I think we have every right to suspect that they find it quite hard to spend all this money at all, let alone wisely. The major project for 2012/13 is £58m for the 'St Helena Access Project'. That's £13,631 per inhabitant ('saint') of St Helena for a new airport. Good luck to them, at least they are loyal subjects of Her Majesty. As for the rest, I'm with the gutsy Dambisa Moyo: "Limitless development assistance to African governments has fostered dependency, encouraged corruption and ultimately perpetuated poor governance and poverty."

As for the constant reference in the press to Thrasher's army officer past, this seems overstated. He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment in February 1975, but this commission was 'terminated' in October of the same year, when he appears to have joined the TA. He resigned his TA commission less than 18 months later, when an undergraduate at Cambridge. Frankly, I got more military experience in the Wellington College CCF between 1975 and 1979. Someone wrote a letter to the Telegraph this morning complaining that Mitchell was giving the armed forces a bad name. I really wouldn't worry - spending six months in the RTR as a 19 year old really doesn't count. For the first year of my own commission (as a 19 year old platoon commander on suntanning and cocktail party duty in Hong Kong, since you ask), I was a public liability. Thank heavens for my NCOs and good relations with the Chinese border guards.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Open Goal Missed

How anal does one have to be to look at the British Social Attitudes Survey (just published), having heard about it on the radio whilst shaving at dawn? Very, you might say. Well, Idle has done it so that you don't have to.

The good news, as long as you are not an illegal immigrant dishonestly claiming that your life is threatened by deportation, is that the country is good and fed up with the whole immigration racket - 75% say that it should be reduced (51% say by 'a lot'), though judging by the last couple of years there's a fat chance of that happening.

On the West Lothian question, 65% of people think that Scottish MPs should have no vote on matters affecting only England and Wales. This seems blindingly obvious, and the natural counterbalance to the establishment of the pretendy-wee-parliament in Edinburgh, with its devolved powers. So why hasn't this government dealt with it? It needn't be a complicated or contentious bill, and was not linked to Clegg's abortion of a Lords reform bill, thankfully now as dead a duck that ever quacked no more.

One thing really stands out, though, and reminds us of just how huge, how gaping, how bleeding unmissable the open goal of 2010 was for Cameron. Not only was he up against the most unattractive and disgusting of opponents in Brown, not only had Brown proved dishonest and useless as Prime Minister, not only was Brown ranting at his own natural supporters (Duffy the 'bigot'), but British attitudes to public spending were overwhelmingly in Cameron's favour:

Fig _Key Findings _0.1

For the first time since 1983, less than a third of the electorate supported increased spending year-on-year. Furthermore, this had been an established trend since before the last Labour Parliament of 2005-2010. So why on earth did Cameron and Osbourne cop out quite so spinelessly in 2006/7 with their decision to support Brown's 2008-2011 spending plans? Why the whole 'sharing the proceeds of growth' fiasco?

This seems to me to be the most important element of the charge sheet against Cameron and his lieutenant. Cameron lacked the instinct and courage to oppose as a Conservative, and Osbourne (so often referred to as a clever political strategist) produced a dripping-wet electoral campaign strategy.

Well, you useless cretins, the graph has turned; expect the next election to be a tougher environment, with less public goodwill towards the cause of a balanced budget and reduction in our massive debt.

You blew it, boys.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Poetry Corner

It happened, yesterday, that a friend and I took to swapping poetic ditties, such was the slow pace of the banking and commercial worlds, it still being August and the terrors not yet back at their prep and public schools.

I started with a paraphrasing of Belloc's wonderful Lord Lundy:

The grandees of the Party bore
The shame till they could bear no more.
They rallied their collective powers,
Summoned Dave to Millbank Tower,
And bitterly addressed him thus—
“Sir! you have disappointed us!
We had imagined you to be
Prime Ministerial pedigree.
The stocks have crashed; the Press turned sceptic,
The Middle Class is apoplectic
So there it is! . . . Our language fails!
Go and run the Royal Mint in Wales!”

My correspondent, who I will call Felipe, responded thus:    

There was a boy whose name was Davy,
His cheek was pink, his hair was wavy,
And unlike all the other boys,
He didn’t much care for games and toys,
But dwelt all day on his ambition,
To be a famous politician.

To Eton and Oxford, up he went,
The perfect launch for his ascent,
To the upper reaches of our polity,
And the friendship of the quality,
So with a little help from friends and dad,
He quickly made himself a SPAD.

But he must get a job, and it must take in
Experience in the art of spin
So for seven long years of toil unseen
He spun the web for Michael Green,
Which was somewhat infra dig, in truth
For a patrician and a gilded youth.

At length, at last, his climb resumed
When, as his friends had all assumed,
He was given a seat and duly sent
To sit in Her Majesty’s parliament.
‘Now to be leader’ he said and turned his eyes
To the summit, the peak, the glittering prize.

The battle was joined, his weapon was spin,
He used it to do his opponents in;
The fools had relied on the unvarnished truth
Dave on his tongue and his charm and his youth.
The blue rinses loved him as he told them he’d win,
And the elders themselves succumbed to his spin.

But at the election the House was hung,
Had Dave’s ambition missed the last rung?
No, never, he had one more trick:
A big open offer to someone called Nick.
They carved up the jobs and then, and then,
Dave could walk straight into old number ten.

He had the top job, now what would he do?
As it turned out he hadn’t a clue
I’ve got there he thought, what more do I know?
If I had some ideas you’d have heard them by now.
I know that I’m happily married to Sam
But I’ve never really known who I am.

I think this should now be an open competition. Do your best, idle readers, try to get that old muse working and amuse yourselves and the rest of us with poetic reflections of the state we're in. The prize, as usual, will be won by Nick Drew.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Leaving Strauss

I would suggest that international cricket captaincy is more difficult in this modern celebriddy age than ever before. Big salaries, enormous endorsement contracts, endless distractions, be they within cricket (Indian Premier League, most obviously) and outside (Big Come Dancing Twitter Brother Out of Here on Ice, etc etc). We are talking Egos, with a capital E; just consider the wretch Pietersen, who surely will follow Strauss into international retirement, unless they sack Andy Flower as coach, pigs take to the air, and hell freezes over.

Andrew Strauss was one of the best captains in modern cricket. He inherited a shambles, led from the front, never took individual glory, was undeniably successful and was a good sport. He is clearly intelligent and had a great partnership with Flower, the coach. In the field, he was a bit cautious for my taste, but his record was overwhelmingly a winning one, most importantly against the Australians.

So let's hear it for a natural leader from a public school! We're hardly going to go hoarse cheering Cameron, so three cheers for Strauss! They say he has a career in politics in mind (Guido even has him down for Corby), but I say give him time. As long as he promises not to wear his wedding ring on a necklace any more, but keep it firmly on his finger. It would help if his voice broke a bit, and if he avoided estuarial sporting cliches. But these are quibbles; he has a 2.1 in economics from Durham and is not ashamed to be a Conservative.

Sign him up!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Harry...... Remember George

Harry on the lash reminds me of the most famous story about George Best: the 5* hotel waiter, entering George's suite, and seeing George, the reigning Miss World and thousands of pounds of casino winnings, all tastefully arranged on a huge bed, simply asked: "George, where did it all go wrong?"

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Idle at the Games

Crikey that was exciting. In the presence of greatness, from the stands (Bolt and Blake; that incredible Masai 800m runner, David Rudisha), and shaking hands face to face (Sir Christopher Hoy, no less). In an Olympic Park which, though teeming with people of all nationalities, speaking in tongues and thronging, felt open and airy and well designed, with the best landscape gardening you'll ever see at a major stadium complex. It was wonderful, and if I might have been pouring a bit of cold water on the event in the lead-up years, I take it all back. Coe played a blinder and deserves his barony now, though he didn't before.

It helps if you are well quartered for these events; this is no time to be dossing down in the St Pancras YMCA or a single-star fleapit in Paddington. Our clubhouse for the event was a decent enough hotel on Trafalgar Square, made delightful by a brilliant rooftop bar, where (thank you, the meteorological fates), we drank to the early hours whilst being able to smoke like chimneys, in shirtsleeves and with a happy and well-lubricated group of clients. Corporate entertainment can be a frightful bore, but this was terrific. Lady Idle's  happy snaps follow:

Meeting the great man.....

.... smiling to Lady Idle's camera

The great cauldron

View from the hotel bar

The Admiral in his party hat

Wild flowers beside the Olympic Park walkways

Gloriana, berthed in the Olympic Park

Idle, too fat for competition, but comfortable for spectatating

Inside the bowl

The Bolt, seconds after another sprint gold

Monday, 30 July 2012

Monday, 16 July 2012

Le Tour d'Idle

Famille Idle has decamped to la France Profonde. In the Gers, since you ask, on a trout stream. Surrounded by rolling Armagnac hills, far from the madding crowd. Having said that, we have formed our own Club 16-50, though it is difficult to tell the youths from the adults when it comes to tobacco and alcohol consumption. Sport is vital, and we have boules, water polo, touch rugby, badminton. Trout fishing as well. We don't have bicycles, but instead, sampled the real thing today.

Serendipitously, the Tour de France was scheduled in such a way this year as to pass between Samatan and Pau this very day. That's 45 minutes south of here. So 7 of us hurried our lunch, piled into the station wagon, set a course for Vic Fezensac and onwards to L´Isle-de-Noé, and got there with twenty minutes to spare before the field arrived. Preceded, it must be said, by a caravanserai of outriders, sponsors, emergency services, hangers on and gatecrashers of every type. We practiced our "Wiggo-o" cries, and Idle was forced to put on a pair of muttonchops in homage to the current wearer of the yellow jersey - and, we fervently hope, the winner of the event on Sunday afternoon, which would be historique for les rosbifs. We watched the event beside a corner which had been taken over by the local fire brigade. Les pompiers had a right laugh at the motley crew of England's finest public school products, graduate and undergraduate. I told them, of course, that Bradley Wiggins was my younger brother and that I taught him everything he knows. It was not clear from their rustic french expressions whether they were buying that one or not.

Then the cyclists hoved into view. Sacre bleu! They were on a slight decline towards the bend, which was a sharp left hander, but zut alors, they were going like the clappers. Thank heavens for the maillot jaune - we could spot London's finest pair of sideburns a hundred metres off, and we Wiggo-o-ed like the schoolboys some of us were. The elder idle daughter pointed her instamatic, pressed the tit, and unbelievably caught the speeding Wiggo in mid-frame. And Mark Cavendish, world champion, in his maillot rainbow. The evidence is here upon this very post, as is the picture of your scribe looking suitably Bradleian.

They say that this event has the biggest live audience of any sporting competition, and one can see why. For the mere 60 seconds or so that it took them to pass, you ask? Yes indeed; we had 48 hours of fevered anticipation, and the brief event did not disappoint. The burghers of L'Isle de Noé were rampant with glee and participation, having planned their street party since the tour schedule was announced. It is a great institution, by far and away the pinnacle of the sport. Drugged up to the eyeballs, you might say - look at Tom Simpson, the great British hill climber, who killed himself in the final stages of a brutal Alpine ascent in the late 60s. Or Lance Armstrong : It's Not About the Bike, he wrote. Well, no, Lance, looks like it was more about the dope. Can we be sure that they have eradicated the drugs menace from the sport? Dunno, but I'm willing to bet that Wiggo and his team are clean, so rigourously are they tested.

Go, Wiggo! Win the Tour de France for Britain and Her Majesty. Idle wishes to say that HE WAS THERE.