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.