Peace, Love and Not Much Understanding

It would be easy to think that even the evil Daily Mail would take a rest from printing bigoted tripe over the season of goodwill. Alas, the Mail continued apace with articles knocking foreigners, asylum seekers (in France but obviously heading here), the Government and the weather (which is the Government's responsibility).

The Christmas message by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster Cathedral produced the usual plea for compassion towards the less fortunate.

A theme which is much in the news in Britain at the moment is the question of the many immigrant peoples who come to our country. Most immigrants come to our country because they wish to have a better life and work so as to provide for their families.

"What concerns me at the moment is our attitude as a nation to these many immigrants. Many of these people are trying, for perfectly good reasons, to enter Britain and they need to be welcomed.

"I understand that immigration needs to be controlled. However, sometimes they must feel like Joseph when he returned to Bethlehem after exile in Egypt, simply excluded because they are outsiders."

Surely, even the barking mad Mail commenters would concur with this at this time of the year; we are, after all -according to Mail Reader Lore - a Christian country.

Here are the comments:

Being Irish himself, he would say that wouldn't he?
- Roger, Brighton

Not sure what point Rog is making but others make the same hint. Oh, he's Irish. Therefore he's an immigrant so he must feel empathy. What a bad man! It gets worse of course:

Take them to Ireland then!
- Maureen Thomas, Bristol

Maureen I think we should take you across the Irish Sea and drop you off half way

Is he so short sighted to see that we are already drowning under a massive tide of immigration?
- Malc, England

Malc is not so much short sighted as short changed in the brain cell department. Note the use of the kind of hyperbole favoured by the BNP etc.
Jobs, housing, health care, education, cash outlays... More welcoming? Cartier watches and Bentleys?

- R M, London, UK

The sad thing is that these myths of free handouts at the expense of the indigenous population are repeated until they become seen as fact.

There are 65 comments; only about 3 are vaguely favourable to this traditional Christian tenet of looking after the less fortunate, of all being brothers and of being a good samaritan. The irony and hypocrisy is that the same mouth-frothing bigots demand that outsiders stick to our so-called Christian religion and bemoan that Christmas is being banned (without giving examples - see 5CC and Obsolete for demolitions of this fallacy). This is what Peter from Lincolnshire thinks ( I give him the benefit of the doubt as to his ability with thought processes as it's Christmas/Winterval)

Not a thought for the rest of us? He could talk himself out of a job if Christianity becomes a minority fringe religion and then subsequently persecuted.

- Peter, Lincs

Peter would like to see the return of the Crusades maybe? Anyway, the rest are just as depressing so I will leave it to a beacon in the darkness of Planet Mail (from this area too!)to set the record straight

Sad, here we are at Christmas but so many bigotted responses to this priests simple request for a little kindess to be shared with our fellow man. Don't any of you realise that if it weren't for immigrants settling in this country, down the centuries, that very few of us, me included, would be living in this wonderful country of ours. Some of the views expressed here make me ashamed to say I am British sometimes.

- Alonso, Wirral


Steven Gerrard Theft - Liz Hull Knows

The Mail can be relied upon for headlines that do not have much in common with the actual story. Today, they pick on the story that Liverpool FC captain Steven Gerrard had his house burgled whilst his wife, Alex Curran, who happens to write newspaper columns for rivals was present.

The headline is risible. Houses of this kind do not get burgled as a spontaneous act as suggested by the article. The raiders would not have decided, hours after hearing she had bought an expensive watch for him, to stage an operation of this nature. In addition, it is hardly a state secret that leading footballers have wealth on display. He ain't gonna be living in a bedsit with a black and white TV for company.

The implication is that by talking about your wealth you invite bad fortune. This sits uneasily with The Mail's zero tolerance of crime (apart from tax avoidance (aka creative accountancy) or motoring offences (aka stealth taxes).

The piece itself is penned by Liz Hull - a veteran of such classics as 'Signs warn anglers to stop eating all the carp' (which should have read V signs warn Liz to stop writing crap')

Cracovia Krakow 0 Legia Warsaw 2

Daily Mail and Nazism: Between The Lines

The Mail's dalliance with Nazism is well documented. I watched the film, The Remains of the Day recently and this reminded me of this. I make no apologies for referring to this fact as it is as important today as it was then.

I am concerned about the latest Nazi story in the Mail about a Paul Hafner. The veracity of the story is not the point here. At the time of posting NO comments had been made about the story. I sent one contrasting the fact that there had been many comments about Irving's visit to Oxford as the (I'm not racist but) hordes defended so-called free speech. Sometimes, a conspiracy of silence speaks louder than words as the late Dr Winston O' Boogie said.

My Auschwitz photos will appear soon but I am not prepared to put them up until a fitting explanation has been written. There are better photos out there; more poignant images and above all authorized. indoor photos (with a few exceptions) are not permitted and out of respect I bowed to this request. I am currently reading the BBC publication, 'Auschwitz' by Laurence Rees and I would recommend to this everyone.

Poland 2007 Part 1

Good webcam of the main square at Krakow here.

The Fish Returns

Decided to take a break from spouting crap, which turned into a prolonged absence due to holidays and work commitments (as if anyone noticed!)

So, hopefully I'll be updating regularly again: polluting the cybersphere with rant and more rant.

In lieu of anything substantial, I'd like to mention the brave attempt by Ricky Hatton to defeat the clearly better Floyd Mayweather. I watched this last night and amazingly managed to keep awake even though it did not start until around 5am. I did manage a few hours sleep. Given that I had little sleep in Poland last week, my body clock is shot to pieces. He\was clearly outclassed, but amid all the bravado to sell the show, he remains a down-to-earth guy. He is of course noted for going down his local pub without a big entourage. For this reason I am torn betwen voting for him, Joe Calzaghe or Lewis Hamilton for tonight's BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Given last year's winner was Princess Anne's daughter Zara, things can only get better. At least they have a personality.

Lewis has upset me by joining the Mansells, Coulthards and Buttons by seeking tax exile as soon as they make a few pounds. To state - as he did at first - that he was seeking solitude is utter crap. Still, he was great to watch and has rejuvenated F1. He had the opportunity to win but blew it.

A good victory for Tranmere at the weekend. We needed that after slipping alarmingly down the table.

I shall be chronicling my trip to Poland soon. In the meantime I'll upload some photos. the quality is not so good due to problems with the camera battery and the weather (insert, 'bad workman blames his own tools' jibe here)

Now They Have A Go At Polish Beer

Beer prices set to rise as Polish lager sales soar 250% in Britain

The Daily Mail is evil. Today, it tries to mix up a story about the increase in popularity of Polish beer with a possible increase in prices. Nobody has put their name to this piece of crap journalism. The point is that people read the headline and blame foreigners for everything.

But hang on......surely even the most hardened supporter of Little England would realise that most decent beers of a lager type come from abroad.

Moreover, The Mail makes no reference to the many wonderful brews made in the UK. So much for patriotism. Lagers like the Belgian Stella, German Holstein, or Dutch Grolsch tend to be more expensive than home grown ales. In my neck of the woods we have been blessed with some new, fresh microbreweries. Unfortunately, they find it difficult to sell their wares in pubs due to the monopoly of big pub companies.

Then we get this:

  • Meanwhile, Danish group Carlsberg said it had already increased beer prices by one per cent in the past year and a sharp hike in the cost of goods such as malt and aluminium was expected to lead to further increases.

So, nothing to do with those cunning foreign (non-Danish,Dutch, German) types from Warsaw. What about the perpetrators of this heinous crime?

  • Tesco beer buyer Helen Moores said the Polish beers were breaking all the chain's records.
    "Polish beer has definitely arrived in a big way and if sales continue at their present rate then in a few years Tyskie could become the new Stella Artois or Becks," she said.

But surely the Poles are guilty somewhere; after all they were in the headline? Well.......

  • Meanwhile, Danish group Carlsberg said it had already increased beer prices by one per cent in the past year and a sharp hike in the cost of goods such as malt and aluminium was expected to lead to further increases.
    Carlsberg is the latest firm in the food and drink sector to warn of rising costs, with bread makers and dairy producers among those upping prices to protect margins.
    The rising cost of commodities, such as wheat, has also stoked worries over the impact on overall inflation in the UK.

The headline in the Mail is another attempt to have a go at foreigners. If you read the story there is nothing to connect the Polish beer popularity (partly due to the likes of Wetherspoons stocking it a low prices) and beer prices increasing. This is another example of creating a myth which will stick and become fact.

At least The Poles are paying taxes here unlike the trustees of The Daily Mail. Isn't it amazing how the ex-pats and deserters seem to be the most vocal on issues of immigration?

Beer prices may rise. There is nothing in the story to link the two. Unfortunately, there are enough Mail readers who just read the headline, to make this dangerous. The evidence is contained within most stories - just read the idiotic posts - and yet idiots like myself cannot get a comment published!

This is another example of how the reviled Mail operates. Nowhere in the story does it link Polish immigration or beer with an increase in the price of a pint - the reader is invited to use their own prejudice.

If we are to defend the Mail, let us think why they might use this particular juxtaposition. Answer on a postcard to Mr. P. Dacre c/o "Are you thinking what we're thinking".

Pissing on the Dead

Last week, the dangers faced by fire-fighters throughout the world were clear for all to see. A fire at a warehouse used for vegetable packing in Atherston-in-Stour claimed the lives of 3 firemen; a fourth is still missing presumed dead.

The cause of the tragedy is not yet known bur police do suspect arson.

The Mail, like other newspapers, has reported on this story. Of course this being the Mail, they could not let an opportunity to raise the spectre of immigration.

When the story first broke here, the Mail did not have any details as to the warehouse's purpose or that migrant workers may have been working there. Hence, the comments from readers were more or less displays of condolence and sorrow. a few readers also pointed out the level of remuneration given to these brave men and women. Of course, those same people may well have been the ones disparaging the service and so-called part-time firemen with second jobs when there was a strike threat over wages and restructuring. I tried to find such comments but interestingly, all comments have been removed from previous archived stories on fire related matters. I'd like to think this was out of deference for the dead, but the truth should be available for all to see and history should not be extinguished.

By November 5th (Bonfire Night when the Fire Service is at its most stretched) the existence of the migrant workers link had become known.

  • Around 300 migrant workers worked at the warehouse but Mr Hall (the assistant chief officer of Hereford and Worcester Fire Service) said it was not yet known for certain if any were in there when the blaze took hold.

So, open the floodgates for Mail readers to vent their collective spleen:

  • My brother in law is a retained fire fighter and I just can't imagine what these poor families must be going through.This is the tragic consequence of mass immigration. For years many of our factories and businesses have been using cheap immigrant labour to keep costs down which is ultimately bad for the immigrants and bad for the indigenous population. If this fire was started deliberately it will be very interesting to discover the motive. This is no doubt just the tip of the iceberg- Mike P, London

What kind of low life do you have to be to make this kind of remark? Would Mike have made the same comment if the workers were all British? I also think he is implying that the motive could be racial and that this is a reason for controlling immigration.

  • More victims of uncontrolled immigration.- Mark, Chorley, UK

This guy has form for this kind of comment. Mark, you are a complete shit! No further comment is necessary.

  • This must be the benefits of our immigration farce that we are told will stimulate the economy. Cheap labour sleeping on factory floors and four firefighters dead. Not the same picture as noolabour spout daily. Who will be held responsible? Guess.- Peter, London

Are you a friend of Mike P (above)? Nice to see you have compassion for those workers having to sleep on the floor.

Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, we get this moron making a political point about the use of Community Support Officers:

  • If they had been the cheap substitute police they would be alright because they would have stood outside and watched people die inside.- Donald Merritt, Watford Herts ENGLAND

Donald, before you open your foul, stupid mouth, THINK!

Imagine having these idiots around for a dinner party. Which poison would you use?

The Liverpool Sound

Just heard I've been successful in the ballot for tickets for the concert on 1st June 2007 when McCartney and Ringo will be playing at Liverpool Football Club as part of the city's capital of culture celebrations.

I noticed the tickets were going for a lot more on eBay already.

Still a bit peeved that they get to keep your money plus exhorbitant booking fee for 7 months before the concert, but it's important for me to be there.

The Daily Heil!

This was a post I never got round to publishing. It was done on 8th October but remained in draft. The Mail's flirtation with Nazism is well documented so I found it interesting to note the following story:

He received more fan letters than Mick Jagger, Madonna and the Beatles combined.
Many were from women wanting to marry him, others from men wanting to be like him, still more from people wanting him to repair their drains or visit their clubs.
What Adolf Hitler thought of this mass hysteria died with him in the flames of Berlin in 1945.

But thousands of the letters survived and have now been compiled into a fascinating book called "Letters to Hitler: A People Writes to its Fuehrer."

The letters were found by the conquering Russian at his destroyed chancellery in Berlin, at his mountain home – the Berghof – in Bavaria and in his residence in Munich.

They are testament to the spell Hitler wove over a people he led to destruction and death in the bloodiest war in history. The letters go back to 1925, eight years before his Nazi party was to achieve power, and go right up to April 1945 when just 100 die-hard fanatics sent him wishes for his 56th – and last- birthday in the bunker in Berlin. Some were tortured tomes about the greatness to which the writer believed Hitler was leading Germany, others were more prosaic.

Fritz Vogel from Erfurt thought that the Bavarians were not as grateful to his idol as they should be. In a letter to "Dear Mr Hitler" he wrote: "One is generally surprised that you insist on going to unwelcoming and ungrateful Bavaria so often.
"It would be better if you held your meetings outside of Bavaria in order to make the movement large and strong.

"I advise you, above all, to acquire German nationality."

He went on to enquire if Hitler would be "able to do something about the drains in our town" but Austrian-born Hitler, who did not take kindly to being offered advice, did not answer the letter.
In 1926 lawyer Dr Reinhardt Niedermeyer wrote to Hitler: "I am charged with disposing of the estate of Frau Margarete Meindl in Munich.

"She greatly venerated your political efforts and shortly before her death asked me if you would accept her giant palm tree that she kept in her apartment."
Rudolf Hess again wrote back: "Herr Hitler would be delighted to accept the palm. Please arrange to have it collected."

Frau Troeltzsch of Berlin sent Hitler three silk handkerchiefs with pictures of Hitler sewn into them which Hess sent back saying "you do not have permission to send handkerchiefs with pictures of Herr Hitler."

Such women were later put under the monitoring of the Gestapo as Hitler feared that his cult of personality could lead to a destabilisation of home life in the Reich. As he climbed further up the ladder of power so the tempo of the letters increased.

A special department was created in the postal services in both Munich and Berlin to deal with tsunami of paper wending its way to him every day. On April 25 1932, one day after elections made the party an unstoppable force in national politics, a Peter Beck from Silesia – now part of Poland – wrote:

"We don't want to know about the government any more – we only want Adolf Hitler as leader, as dictator. "We National Socialists want to see a ban on all newspapers that inject poison into our Fuehrer, to see Jews classified as what they are, a reckoning with all local government chiefs who have cheated their citizens. "We will give our blood to Adolf Hitler! Take an iron hand and fulfill you programme with a dictatorial will. Do not negotiate but act!

"We trust our Fuehrer and donate to him our hearts with every pulse!"

There are postcards from Nazi party members holidaying in Majorca, letters from lovelorn women - "I would like to make you my little puppy my dear, my eternal, my lovely Adolf" – and from party bigwigs who crept shamelessly in print to their boss. "My desire! It is swelling across all the German countryside – a cry! A single, powerful, longing cry! Heil Hitler, you who sees off all enemy gangs, Heil Hitler and make us free again!" said Karl Leiff, leader of a Nazi party regional office in eastern Germany in December 1931.

He added: "If only all Germans could be as pure of heart and as noble of purpose as you." Hitler was said to despise this kind of blatant crawling.

But Elsa Walter was the kind of woman who epitomised his misty-eyed view of German womanhood.

She penned to him at Christmas 1930: “What ails our dear Fatherland? Above all else it is the women, and a woman means the soul of a home and a country.
"Therefore the soul of our people is sick. The biggest part of German womanhood has lost the place that God intended for it... man at his work and woman at the stove and motherhood revered once more as holy! Heil!"

Hitler had her declared the woman of the year in 1940 and made her a Nazi party functionary. The letters were discovered in the State Military Archives of Moscow by historian Dr Henrik Eberle.

He said: "The letters are a fascinating glimpse into how a people were mesmerised by Hitler and how they reacted to him."

In April of last year, new letters from Lord Rothermere to Hitler came to light. The late Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop, refers to them here. Funny how the article in the Mail conveniently forgets to remember them.


Following on from yesterday's post, the DM eventually got round to covering the story both in an article by Slack and a comment piece. Bizarrely the comment section has a link to a tale about illegal immigrants working at the Home Office. 'Don't miss today' it screams yet click on the link and you notice the date on the story is 19th May 2006 (it is also by Mr Slack. What a trooper!)

I intend to go into more detail in an update but I just wanted to play around with some initial thoughts. The story of course skirts over the main thrust of the Guardian report and concentrates on the so-called bad points.

The editorial comment - 'Now for action on mass migration', does not mention the old favourite Andrew Green of Migrationwatch so my original prediction was wildly out. Instead it quotes a respected academic (Oxford professor no less) David Coleman to pour water on the 6 billion figure. He says,

  • ' the cost to our public services of Labour's open door policy stands at an alarming £8.8billion a year. That's equivalent to £350 for every household in the land. '

But wait a minute! What's this on the Migrationwatch site:

  • Advisory Council: Biographical notes - Professor David Coleman Professor of Demography at Oxford University since 2002. Formerly Reader and Lecturer in Demography. Educated at Oxford University. Between 1985 - 1987 worked as Special Adviser to the Home Secretary and later to the Ministers of Housing and the Environment. Research interests include Comparative Demographic Trends in the Industrial World; Immigration Trends and Policies, and the Demography of Ethnic Minorities. He has worked as a consultant for the Home Office, the United Nations and private business. He has published over 90 papers and 8 books. He is a consultant to Migrationwatch on demographic matters but does not speak on its behalf.

Yet again the Mail fail to point out that there may be a slight axe to grind on his part.

Net Effect of Immigration

The Guardian have published the latest study on the effect of immigration on the economy. It seems to fly in the face of the propaganda spat out by Migrationwatch and The Daily Mail. It has not arrived in the DM yet (no doubt it is undergoing the sort of stringent checks all their other statistic based stories go through at the DM border control) but I await the usual disbelief from the usual suspects who will dismiss this as Government propaganda. The delicious irony is of course that they write into a newspaper that would make Goebbels very happy. He probably would have had his own Melanie Phillips type column.

I'm not saying that the figures should be accepted wholesale but it does show that there is another side to the story. There are issues as to whether (in some industries) the availability of so-called flexible workers is forcing down wages. The trade unions have also looked into this and the prevailing view is that there has been no discernible large scale detriment to wages. Indeed there is a concern that there is exploitation of some foreign workers through agency and accommodation fees.

The report also delves into local issues which have been rehashed on an almost daily basis by our friends at the Mail. The story of one Police chief mentioning there may be a problem when calling for extra funds (for other matters too) was regurgitated into every immigration story in the DM's online site. At the moment it is more concerned with squirrel pancakes, loos for the Queen and the sale of Hitler's globe.

Interestingly, David Davis who can usually be relied upon to provide a quote in tandem with Andrew Green of Migrationwatch does not appear to dispute the accuracy of the figures. Of course, it is likely that the same people responsible for carrying out the survey would have conducted any made by the Tories if they were in power.

There does need to be a debate on how to tackle any difficulties but let's move the debate into the adult world, and out of the xenophobic playground.

The article is worth publishing in full: there is also a pdf file of the report.

  • Migrants are more highly skilled and often more reliable and hardworking than British workers and are fuelling the country's economic growth to the tune of £6bn a year, according to the first official study of their impact published today.
    The report for the government's migration impact forum - which is considering the current restrictions on entry by Romanian and Bulgarian workers to the UK - also concluded that migrants on average earned more and so paid more tax than UK workers.

    The joint Treasury, Home Office and Department for Work and Pensions study found that the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Poles and other east European workers had had "no discernible" impact on unemployment and had led to only a "modest dampening of wage growth" for British workers at the bottom end of the earnings league.
  • The report said 574,000 migrants came to live in Britain on a long-term basis in the 12 months to June 2006, and 385,000 left, giving a net incoming figure of 189,000 - down 28% compared with the previous year's net inflow of 262,000.The first regional soundings by the government, also published today, showed that in seven out of eight regions in England migration had put pressure on housing, and five out of eight regions reported difficulties on crime and education.
  • The overwhelmingly positive official verdict on the economic and fiscal impact of the largest wave of migration to Britain in recent years is likely to prove highly controversial.
    The shadow home secretary, David Davis, accused Labour ministers of ignoring the fact that relying on immigration to boost the economy was only a short-term answer.
    But the immigration minister, Liam Byrne, insisted the report demonstrated that Britain was better off with immigration rather than without it.
  • He admitted, however, that the pace of change, particularly in communities that did not have a history of absorbing migrants, had been unsettling and had created challenges for public services.
  • Mr Byrne said it was time for a "new balance" in immigration policy.
    The migration impact forum meets tomorrow to discuss whether the restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers coming to Britain should be lifted. A decision is to be announced before the end of the year.

As a post script to this, I know that readers from Poland sometimes come to the site through google etc. I am due to visit Poland next month so would welcome tips on where to visit etc. I intend to go to Wroclaw (Breslau) and go to Auschwitz for one day.

In The Navigor

Hugh Muir in his Guardian Diary on 4th October mentioned the rationally sane founder of the National Vigilante Organisation, Albert Hurwood. His site is a hoot and reminds me of Fairly Secret Army or Ralph in the American cartoon, 'Wait 'til your father gets home.' There are supposedly over 100 of these loonies on the membership roll but only a few bother to post meaningless babble about how shit the police and Labour Government are. He is very careful to avoid saying what they really stand for, but often his childish prose is littered with 'our time is coming' phrases. Yes, so is Christmas!

The Daily Mail is the only paper he ever quotes from (apart from the odd local freesheet) and they are gullible enough to print his ill thought out comments. He is attempting to play on people's real concerns about crime and the perception of fear. He prints lies and inaccuracies and does not believe in free speech. He bans anyone not toeing his right wing agenda (even going to the trouble of re-registering banned mmbers and posting false comments. This is what is so offensive about this bully boy. He tries to suggest that if you have political views to the left of Mussolini, you do not care about crime and are on the side of the criminal. This shows the debating skills of the playground.

Why am I wasting my time on this moron? What does piss me off is that he gets his drivel on the DM site whilst oters do not. Democracy? Freedom of speech?

I haven't linked to his site as AH (interesting initials?) will only get a further cheap thrill at the oxygen of publicity, but it is available on google. Just type 'mad fool'!

Here's an example of his crap:

Muslim pupils won't face outright ban on wearing the veil - 04 Oct 2007

NuLab policy - pass the buck!
Albert Hurwood, National Vigilante Organisation, Corby, Northants,UK

Every cloud..............

It may be raining here, the Mighty Whites may have dropped to 2nd in the league and Jeremy Clarkeson may have been voted the fourth wittiest Briton, but sometimes there comes along something to gladden the heart.

This story has its punchline already written for it:

Businessman who left Tories £8m 'was delusional'
Independent 15 October 2007

A wealthy businessman was suffering from delusions when he left the Conservative Party more than £8 million in his will, a High Court judge ruled today.
Branislav Kostic lacked "testamentary capacity" when he cancelled an earlier will in which he had left everything to his son, Zoran, his only child, Mr Justice Henderson said.
Ruling on Zoran's legal challenge to wills made in favour of the Conservative Party Association in 1988 and 1989, the judge upheld a 1974 will, made at a time when nobody disputed he had full capacity, under which Zoran was the sole beneficiary.
Belgrade-born Mr Kostic died aged 80 in October 2005.
Zoran, 50, said his father was suffering from a delusional and paranoid mental illness when he made his last wills.
But lawyers for the Conservatives argued that the old man's paranoid delusions did not poison his affections towards his son.
They told Mr Justice Henderson there were rational explanations of why he left Zoran out of his will: he had made earlier financial provision for his son, but had since become estranged from him and was disappointed by his career choices.
And then there was Mr Kostic's "great and long-standing affection for the Conservative Party and his admiration for Mrs Thatcher".
Branislav Kostic was imprisoned by the Soviet army during the Second World War in 1944. He was released to fight against the Nazis in 1945 and was badly injured.
He graduated from Zagreb University with a degree in chemistry in 1951 and five years later married his wife Mirjana. Their only child Zoran was born in July 1957.
After being sent to work in London, Mr Kostic established Transtrade UK, dealing in pharmaceutical products and precious metals.
Trading in London and Switzerland, it made his fortune.
He became a British national in 1975. His marriage was dissolved in 1986.
Mr Justice Henderson said the old man suffered from a serious and untreated mental illness from at least mid-1984 onwards.
The central feature of his delusions was the belief that there was an international conspiracy of dark forces against him in which his wife, mother and sister, together with many others, were implicated.
The judge held that Mr Kostic was unable to form a proper appreciation of Zoran's claims on his estate.
His natural affection for his son had been poisoned or distorted by his delusions to such an extent that he was "wholly unable to dispose of his property in the way he would have done if of sound mind".
His decisions to leave the whole of his estate to the Conservatives and to request them to establish a foundation in London in memory of his late father, Milan Kostic, to promote what he called the Christian Democratic values of love, truth and freedom "were themselves in part the product of his delusions", the judge said.
During the hearing of the action in July, the court heard that Mr Kostic had stated that Margaret Thatcher was "the greatest leader of the free world in history" and that she would save the world from the "satanic monsters and freaks" who were conspiring against him.
His delusions, over time, expanded to poison his relationship with his family, most of his friends, his professional advisers, his bankers, his business contacts and his colleagues in Transtrade.
Family attempts to maintain contact with him were rebuffed - he would not eat the chocolates they sent him at Christmas because he thought they were poisoned.
The Conservatives said Mr Kostic's letters demonstrated a love of language and an "appreciation of metaphor and hyperbole".
He was able to read and speak five languages and had a wide knowledge of history, mathematics, science, philosophy, literature and the arts.
Perhaps as a result of his early experience of Communism, he appreciated the values of a tolerant, free and democratic society - and he valued Christian Democratic and Conservative ideals.
While it was accepted that Mr Kostic suffered from a delusional disorder, it was not accepted that this rendered him incapable of making a proper will.

More Mail Maths - Knock Poland Volume 234

I've ranted about the DM's dodgy use of stats before. It doesn't matter to the brain dead followers of the evil rag as they just read the headlines (the ORTHs) and their prejudices are gently massaged.

I followed this story for 24 hours and was surprised to see that even the DM moderators allowed some criticism as some people saw through the dishonest reporting. It is written by James Slack. If you care to look at his previous articles you will see he has form for such stories. He is obsessed with benefit cheats and immigration.

Five Chinese Crackers again details the twisted figures here, so I will concentrate at pulling to pieces the oddbods that post on the site. Encouragingly, on this occasion (why not on other occasions?) there was some dissenting feeling.

The basis of the headline is that half of Poles want to stay here. The question of whether this is a good thing or not is not the important point here; it is the manipulation of stats to suit the hidden agenda. How do they sleep?

'Immigrants here for good': Half of Poles plan to stay in UK is the actual heading.

By the opening paragraph this is reduced to

  • 'Almost half of the million Polish immigrants now in Britain could stay permanently (my emphasis).
By paragraph two the situation becomes more/less clear:
  • Researchers found that 15 per cent of those who had arrived here since the expansion of the EU in 2004 had decided to remain for good.

Now I know educational standards are falling (as the Mail tells us) but under what mathematical system is 15% equating to 50%? The next illuminating sentence fills us in:

  • A further 30 per cent are thinking about staying

So......add 15 to which is almost 50%. Don't go into James Slack's shop and expect the right change. If his service skills are as piss poor as his journalism, you'd be best avoiding his little shop of horrors.

Over to the masses....a mixed anti-Pole Jacqui Weems, but her cousin makes an appearance!

  • Not biased reporting by any means... what about the 1/2 million Brits flooding OUT of the country? And how many have left the UK for Poland? It all swings and roundabouts...- James, Expat, Warsaw, Poland

Well said.

  • Because we are the softest of countries, I find it hard to believe that only HALF of them wish to stay permanently. I always wondered why it's so hard for me to find a nice little job.- Julie, UK

Julie is not taken in by these figures. No, she thinks the 50% figure is too low! How do you walk Julie with all that hatred resting on your shoulders?

  • Blah blah blah...this Pole-bashing is getting boring. Perhaps instead of picking on hard working people who are simply trying to have a better life than their own pitiful government can provide, you should be looking at why so many unemployed British people aren't taking these jobs. Probably because they're badly paid and therefore entitle the employee to top-up benefits. Go after the employers and the system, not after people who are just claiming what they are entitled to.- Karina, Szczecin, Poland

  • How does the 15% replying that they want to stay, get turned into the 50% in your headline??At least these people are here to work and pay taxes and so on. Poles seem to be taking the jobs that British people don't want. We need to sort out our lazy teenagers who refuse to work, migrant workers aren't the problem.- Louise Orton, London, UK

Well said Louise. How did this get published?

  • Is this a bad thing? We are responsible for fewer crimes than British born people in London.- Franciszek Weems Nvo, Lodz, Poland

Jacqui 'they're all taking over' Weems leaves the talking to her distant cousin from Poland. are you sure you should be joining Hurwood's NVO? They cheat, rewrite history and crush dissent.

  • Unfortunately I wouldn't trust a Polish person, through experiencing the numerous lies and excuses I have encountered trying to do business with them over the years. As for information packs I suggest they should stipulate adequate use and knowledge of the English language, also any qualifications not recognised in the UK be dismissed, as most and including driving licenses etc are obtained underhandedly. If the handouts here were harder to obtain I wonder how many would chose to stay.- Bronx, Bristol ,England

Nothing like sweeping generalisations and foaming bigotry to win an argument.......

  • How long will English remain the national language?- Kenneth, London

Don't worry Kenneth, we'll wait until you've gone before we change the language. What an asshole.

When Hatred Rules OK!

The Home Secretary Jack Straw announced that part of the new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill there will be a proposal to include an offence of inciting homophobic hatred. Obviously the definition of this and the intention of the proposal will be debated and analysed when the Bill is given its reading in Parliament. It is expected to have a rough ride in the Lords.

So, let's contrast two newspapers covering the story.

Brand X states:

Inciting homophobic hatred will become illegal, the justice secretary, Jack Straw, announced last night, following a campaign by gay rights groups. The introduction of an offence of rallying hatred against gays and lesbians follows similar measures to tackle religious hate crime, which were passed earlier this year after lengthy rows over freedom of speech.
"It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last 10 years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. It is time for the law to recognise this," said Mr Straw, introducing the second reading of the criminal justice and immigration bill.

The offence is technically defined as inciting hatred on the grounds of sexuality, protecting bisexuals and heterosexuals too. Mr Straw said he would consider whether protection should be extended to transgendered and disabled people.
The proposal is likely to run into opposition in the Lords. Evangelical Christian groups have argued that Christians who criticised gay sex could be jailed for up to seven years and warned it would be used to censor the expression of religious beliefs. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "The new law would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it would protect them from incitement to hatred against them because of their sexual orientation."
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay rights campaign Stonewall, said: "We refuse to accept that there's no connection between rap lyrics calling on people to kill homosexuals, or BNP literature describing gay people as paedophiles, and the epidemic of anti-gay violence taking place on Britain's streets."

Brand Y adopts the following approach: (my emphasis)

Stirring up hatred against homosexuals is to become a serious crime punishable with a seven-year jail sentence under a law announced last night.
The legislation - similar to laws already in force outlawing persecution on religious or racial grounds - will make criminals of those who express their views in ways that could lead to the bullying or harassment of gays.
The maximum sentence is longer than the average of around five years handed to rapists.

(Jim Davidson axed from Hell's Kitchen after calling gay Brian a 'shirt-lifter')
Firemen demoted and fined for shining torch on gay foursome in the bushes

The announcement widened the rift between opposing supporters of freedom of speech and gay rights.
Christian groups condemned it as "a law to allow Christians to be locked up for what they believe".
But the gay pressure group Stonewall said those who disapprove of homosexuals would have nothing to fear from the law if they express their views in a manner that is "temperate" and "polite".
Justice Secretary Jack Straw told MPs the gay harassment law will be included as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill currently going before Parliament, though ministers have yet to decide the wording.
Mr Straw said: "It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last ten years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality.
"It is time for the law to recognise this."
He raised the prospect of extending the law to cover to "transgendered" people and the disabled.
The new law aims to catch those who do not explicitly call for attacks or discrimination against homosexuals, as this is covered by existing incitement laws.
Instead, police will be allowed to pursue those who create an "atmosphere or climate" in which hatred or bullying can be fostered. Officials said it would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people or joke-telling.
The final decision over who has "crossed the line" will rest with the police.
Criminal legislation on gay harassment follows the recent Sexual Orientation Regulations which make discrimination against gays an offence against civil law.
Last night a CofE spokesman said: "We will be scrutinising any legislation to ensure that it safeguards the safety and rights of minorities without jeopardising wider concerns for freedom of expression, including the expression of religious faith."
But Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill said: "We are crystal clear that this is not about constraining anyone from expressing their religious views in a temperate way.
"It is about preventing people from inciting hatred, whether through the lyrics of rap musicians or Muslim organisations which hand out leaflets saying that all homosexuals are paedophiles."
• Parents will be told if a paedophile posing a threat to their child moves into their home or street under amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill introduced last night.
But there is still no general right for parents to ask if there is a paedophile living in their neighbourhood, as demanded by "Sarah's Law" campaigners after the murder of Sarah Payne seven years ago.

No prizes for guessing that the first report was from today's Guardian and the second from the Daily Mail.

  1. The Mail has a hidden agenda on homosexuality. You only have to see how obsessed Richard Littlejohn is with the subject to see this. Such stories are guaranteed to have Middle England choke on its Earl Grey tea and scones.
  2. Note that the story is interrupted by the flagging up of 2 recent 'similar' stories - Jim Davidson being kicked out of a reality TV show and the fire brigade members that pursued some outdoor sex participants when on duty. This paints the picture (without explicitly saying so) that the offences will be trivial name calling or pranks.
  3. The DM handily mentions that those found guilty (of an offence that hasn't been created yet or finalised) could get a maximum 7 years in jail, which is less than the average for rape. This is totally dishonest in comparing two disparate offences and different statistical measures. The ideas are forming in the DM mind already - rapists get less than smutty jokemakers.
  4. The Mail's report itself quotes an official as saying, it would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people or joke-telling. This won't stop the ORTHs of the DM pleasure cruise. (=Only Read The Headline)
  5. Christian groups condemned it as "a law to allow Christians to be locked up for what they believe". There is no reference given for this quote. What groups? The General Synod, or some lunatic fringe?

Indeed the Church of England is reported as taking the view,

"We will be scrutinising any legislation to ensure that it safeguards the safety and rights of minorities without jeopardising wider concerns for freedom of expression, including the expression of religious faith."

This is a world away from the first unattributed quote. The Church has every right to look at the issue and will of course be represented in the House of Lords by the Lords Spiritual. It is interesting to consider what the average DM reader thinks freedom of speech is. It certainly doesn't extend to getting a comment on its paper unless you agree with the line of the article. Smacks of Big Brother and Orwellian dark forces methinks....more of which later.

6. But Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill said: "We are crystal clear that this is not about constraining anyone from expressing their religious views in a temperate way. "It is about preventing people from inciting hatred, whether through the lyrics of rap musicians or Muslim organisations which hand out leaflets saying that all homosexuals are paedophiles."

Of course, as we shall see from our collection of gobshites on the comment section, they did not or would not read this last bit. Then the DM adds more spice by referring to paedophilia and Sarah's Law to subliminally cement the two together with the issue of homosexuality. Despicable.

Here's the's frightening that they are allowed to vote.

  • The Thought Police are to make it a crime to incite hatred against gay people. Will this terrible government stop trying to control our minds and our thoughts. - John, Tendring, England

I like to believe that John is just a figment of my imagination. Either that or he has too much time on his hands (yeh OK pots and kettles...)

  • I see the thought police are back.- Alan Beresford, Bury

Repeat after will use DM phrases, Nu-Labour, 1984, thought police, political correctness...etc

  • How long before Jack Straw brings in the thought police? If you want to make something worse Jack, bring in a law regarding it - don't you ever learn?- Peter, Huddersfield

Peter probably repeats catchphrases to famous people and thinks he is the first one. Garlic bread!

  • I cannot make a comment, in case I`m locked up No free speech in `England` any more.- Roger Challinor, Stafford

So this letter doesn't exist you imbecile?

  • The Thought Police are now a reality.You could get a shorter jail sentence for committing murder on Planet NuLabour.- Lickyalips, Richmond, Surrey

Who is this prick? Hiding behind unfunny pseudonyms (pots and kettles vol 2)

  • Whatever next! The thought police are working really hard. I wonder how many more stupid laws they can bring in. No wonder the prisons are overflowing.- Jaqueline Dite, Cardiff, Wales
  • George Orwell was completely accurate. Coming soon, a telescreen spy in every household.- John Allison, Lancashire

John, nobody wants to see any part of your grotty life once you go through the door of your Lancashire home.

  • But if you commit murder or child abuse you get less time. Why do the words 'getting priorities wrong' ring in my ears.- Denise Ball, Oldbury, West Midlands.

Denise is not quite all there is she? Bless!

  • UK democracy finally died 2007.Rest in peace.- Colin, Essex

The sad fact is that he's probably been saying this since 1997 and will continue ad infinitum.

  • You're having a laugh, nobody gets that for murder these days. Do me a favour, stop being so stupid.- John Harrow, Kenton, Harrow

If anyone knows Mr Harrow from Harrow(!) point at him and laugh. It is not yet an offence under the Nu-Labour thought police!

  • It has been a long time since the days when people were imprisoned in this country for stating what God says in His word that sin is sin whatever that sin may be. If this provision comes into effect in law we WILL be seeing Christian ministers in particular being sent to jail for declaring what GOD says in His word that sexual relations between people of the same sex are wrong. By the way when we read the gospels we see that Jesus went out of his way to meet and help all kinds of people particularly those who were seen as " the sinners " of their day. Jesus reserved his harsh words for the religious leaders because of their hypocrisy.- David, UK

David's sermon seems to go up in smoke with his second point rather pisses on his first! Still, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

  • This is what happens when people replace civility and kindness with "political correctness". It is completely nonsensical.- Louise, Surrey

Civility would be inciting hatred then Louise? Please think before you spit.

  • It comes to something when people can be jailed for seven years if they upset certain sections of society and murders are often out in half that time. So much for overcrowded prisons. There are far more important problems in the current world. Why can't the powers that be sort out the mess they have placed us in?- Ted Wallis, France

Ted, I'll buy you a glass of Claret if you can give me an example of that. 3 and a half years for murder. Not counting Jeffrey Archer's novels. Oh and I think you mean murderers.

  • Has anyone told the thought police at the Ministry of Truth, sorry I mean Justice, that '1984' was a novel, a work of fiction, not a manual for Government?!- Paul, Melbourne, Australia

I'm losing the will to live but I must press on and give these morons the oxygen of free publicity. I like to think of them googling their names in front of friends and seeing what a disturbed blogger thinks of them. Like writing on someone's leaving card - We all hated you really now sod off! I'm so nasty. No wonder I have no friends.

Finally, Stuart from up the motorway has a message for Richard Littlejohn,

  • I've always thought that people who are virulently homophobic have something to hide.- Stuart, Manchester, England

Poetry in Milan

Having just planned a trip to Derry in Northern Ireland I was reminded of the trip to Limerick earlier this year and the poetry reading at the White House. In view of this I thought I would inflict my poem written in Milan.

First sight of San Siro, you just cannot lick it,
Saturday's travail to obtain a ticket,
"The game's not on until the morrow,"
the security man said as he noticed my sorrow.

So I had to return in many hours time,
if I was to watch Milano's table climb.
Catania, my Catania; the sole fan exclaimed;
From the heel of Italia where they are famed.

Good specks for few Euros I eventually found,
at the Ultras part of the AC ground.
The vista was sweet and you didn't need specs,
And during the match - beer - but not Becks.

Becks could have come here - the fashion place!
His ultra-thin wife so oft shows her face.
She brandishes plastic and her perfume reeks
In the D & G kiosks and Prada boutiques.

Kaka made sure the tie was a draw,
and cushions remained where they'd sat before.
Campioni d'Europa were not their fans pleasing,
as the Sicily boys continued their teasing.

The jewels on the pitch are losing their crown,
The diamond formation is wearing a frown,
The Milanese princes spray passes that stray,
As Dario Fo mourns its struggling play.

The bright, yellow trams outside (wait in line)
for the Rosetti faithful to climb on and whine,
Only 1-1 against Mafia foe?
Tales of match-fixing and tales of woe.

The stadium's striped may share the same pitch,
and both sides may be in the league of the rich,
But the champion's tag is starting to look phoney,
Pay back time for Berlusconi.

Happy Birthday John Lennon

Thank you John for what you have given us all.
John Lennon (1940-1980)

The Real Vote Volume 2

Well, at least Dave Cameron will keep his job for another couple of years. He should be raising a glass or two to Gordon. Press speculation has been the prime mover of this story for weeks, but Gordon and team are guilty of errors too. I always thought it was an outside chance that there would be an election called; even Littlejohn predicted that he wouldn't take the risk. There were arguments to be had for going early but they were outweighed by the following:

  1. The cautious Brown has waited 10 years for his destiny. Why jeopardise this by seeking an early mandate?

  2. The constant calls for an election by opponents on the basis of his unopposed accession and coronation were historically dishonest. Major did not go to the nation after Thatcher was unceremoniously stabbed in the back; Callaghan clung on from 1976 until his Commons majority vanished.

  3. Furthermore, our system (rightly or wrongly) is not a Presidential one. We elect individual MPs from parties that in turn select a leader. Subject to the Queen's (largely formal) prerogative, the leader of the party with the greatest number of seats is (usually) asked to form a Government.

  4. Although nobody knows what is round the country (some economic problems seem likely) an extension gives GB the chance to show his political acumen in running the country, in the same way as he was instrumental in running the economy during the Blair tenure. Cameron looks weak here. His lack of experience (he doesn't show sign of ever having shaved!) should count against him.

  5. It may be apocryphal but Labour does not like to fight winter elections. It was always felt that the core vote would not get out. Now that party allegiances have broken down somewhat this may be less of a problem. However, perception is important. Party activists do not like to canvass on dark nights as fewer people answer the door. in our hi-tec world, tub thumping and door stepping may be less crucial, but perception is again the key here.

  6. After the Brown Bounce we had the baffling Cameron Comeback in the polls. This will not last. Brown is an experienced campaigner. He may lack the pulpit prose of his predecessor but he outdoes DC in terms of conviction. Just what does DC stand for? It changes with the wind. Quite how the Inheritance Tax issue has become important is a mystery. Johann Hari quite rightly pointed out on BBC News 24 today that it affects only 6% of the population. How has the other 94% suddenly become the great dispossessed. Labour's failure here has been to go onto the back foot instead of turning the argument on its head.
Indeed, prospective Tory candidate Debi Jones (ex-shrill shouty person from Radio Merseyside) said it was the biggest issue for people she spoke to! I intend to cover the Inheritance tax non-issue later. The thought of her and her mate Esther McVey being MPs in this area is enough to make me pack my bags (and take a holiday!). McVey, one of the trustees of the Fund Kate.... I mean Find Madeleine McCann appeal, is candidate in Wirral West and would be certain to win if an election were called now.
Anyway, as poor Mail readers have been prevented from having a chance to cast their votes, the paper allows them to do it online.

We Are Top of the League!


Goals from Chorley and Taylor lift the Mighty Whites to the summit of League 1 after Orient's thrashing at home by Swansea. The impressive Leeds juggernaut continues on, and without their 15 point deduction they would be running away with the league. However, it is great to see Tranny at the top, particularly after two disappointing home draws.
A win for Lewis Hamilton tomorrow will set the seal on a good weekend. Hertha Berlin was held to a 0-0 draw by Enerie Cottbus and missed a last minute penalty.

Dida He or Didn't He?

As this photo I took last week shows, Dida tends to fall over easily whether or not there's a Celtic fan touching him. Here, a ballboy had just asked for an autograph by tapping him on the shoulder a few minutes before.
The Guardian reports,
  • The fall-out from Celtic's Champions League victory over Milan on Wednesday has moved to boardroom level, with the Italian club vociferously defending their goalkeeper, Dida. Uefa confirmed yesterday that disciplinary action will be taken against Celtic for failure to control their supporters after one fan ran on the field and gave Dida's face a slap just after the hosts' last-minute winning goal.

Eric in Milano

Eric (the Berlin Bear) was a bit upset at not having his photos on the main slideshows and thought they were lost. So, here they are. Eric wishes to point out that the beer consumption was spread over 5 days and there is a definite UFO seen from the plane (prior to any wine being served).

What Would Gradgrind Say?

I had a good day. I thought I had deleted my photos from my mobile phone when I transferred them to the PC. Nothing special, apart from my conclusive evidence that UFOs exist. [A pedant writes: but Eric, as much as I love your blog, surely UFOs by their very nature exist as a semantic entity in so far as...]
Anyhow I managed to get them back so the truth is now out there. but I digress....

Today's startling sensationalism comes in the form of this:

In my day, we had tests at the age of 14 prior to the start of the dreaded 'O' levels. They were not part of a Government League Table campaign. Not everyone turned up for every end of year exam. Even at a school of excellence counting at least one First Lord of the Treasury and a Film director as alumni, there were bad boys; they pretended to have coughs and sniffles when the reality was different. They were putting it on! I saw then the future of European football. Events at Celtic Park this week confirm my darkest fears. I warned people in Milan when I was there last week but obviously my counsel was ignored and Dada continued the trend of dishonesty that only really began with the advent of NuLab in May 1997.

If only the miscreant of the hoops that produced the greatest knockout since Ali in Zaire had been given the chance of winning £100. In Planet DM he would be earning that in 10 minutes by drug dealing or benefit fiddling. In the DM wet dream he will have Polish heritage, disregarding the the nationality of Messrs. Boruc and Zurawski.

Anyway, it may seem wrong to seemingly reward good behaviour while those that toe the line get zilch. There is an another argument as to whether constant testing and tabling hinders teaching professionals from increasing standards, and of course, how we measure success.

However, in the case in the article, the actual cost is minimal. It is tantamount to offering a lottery bonus ball ticket with a maximum payout of £100. This does not stop the morons of DM Land pontificating without reading or understanding the article:

  • What next - paying criminals not to commit crimes?- Adrian, Reading, UK

I'd like to think that Adrian was a figment of my imagination and a symptom of too many beers but I fear he is only too real. Adrian, you must scare people with your reasoned and incisive comment.

  • Why not fine them £100 if they 'don't' turn up?All they are doing is rewarding kids for doing wrong!- Sl, North Yorkshire

Sl, you should be Lord Chancellor. Prick.

  • How about throwing them into a tough no nonsense boot camp if they don't turn up?- Jo, London

Either this is a wind up or this idiot is obsessed with reality TV. Short sharp shock. Never did me no 'arm, guv. How about you shutting the fuck up, Jo? Come back when you have some constructive points relative to the story. Or, maybe this is your answer to everything. Global warming? How about throwing them into a tough no nonsense boot camp? Aphids on your roses? How about throwing them into a tough no nonsense boot camp..?

  • Absolutely ridiculous! Why not fine the parents of truants £100 for each test they miss? Should be easy enough to deduct from their benefits.- Julie, Fethiye, Turkey

This is outrageous on more than one front:

  1. The £100 figure shows the lack of thought Julie puts into her post.
  2. She assumes all pupils missing the tests (or truanting) comes from a low income family on benefits
  3. She pontificates from Turkey. Hardly a shining argument for educational brilliance given its struggle with past sexist history.
  • Once one received prizes for achieving academic excellence.This is - publishable words fail me - pathetic in the extreme.The next step will be to tell intelligent pupils to cool it - for fear that they are disencouraging the dumb and lazy ones.- Dr Mike Bent, Spain

Dr Mike wades in. Always be wary of people who are so proud of their qualifications. I could put some after my name, but I am always reminded of a former Uni tutor who told me how he got preferential treatment on aircraft by virtue of his PhD without ever pointing it out on his passport. He worried that his specialism in Dialectical Materialism in Sub Saharan Africa may not be much use in the event of a loss of cabin pressure. Dr Mike has awards for academic excellence! He lives in Spain. He refers to people as 'dumb'. Not so much Bent as Warped. By the way Doc, I think you'll find the word is 'discouraging'.

  • This is the height of stupidity.They will be paying all children to go to school next.What an endightment of the Labour educational policy.- C W Andrews, Sussex

Endightment? Did you go to a school that allowed you to make words up? Perhaps if you had the opportunity to win £100 you would have used the word 'indictment'. See me after class, Andrews Major.

  • Pleased to know that the taxes wrested back from my hard earned pension are going to be spent on such a 'worthy' cause. Ridiculous!- Freddie, Northants

Please give authority for your wild claims, Frederick. No lottery ticket until then, mate!

  • Sounds good, how about giving the long term unemployed a £5000 bonus for turning up at a job interview?!- Jb, Gosport, Hampshire

Now the completely bitter and twisted arseholes crawl out. Jb, I wouldn't want you working for or with me. Perhaps you secretly crave the £5000. Sarcasm is only a weapon in the hands of those with the knowledge of how and when to use it. You will never make it in the sandwich business as you spread it too thickly.

  • This is outrageous and encourages truancy.- Tammy, Milton Keynes UK

Tammy from MK encourages hyperbole and ranting without reason. Discuss. Anyone not competing the assignment will be entered into the draw for a night out with Tammy. Second prize is 2 nights with Tammy............OK old joke.....

  • Typical, stupid Labourite woolly thinking. If I was a pupil I would start becoming a truant so I could be entered into the draw. Where does the money come from? Taxpayers, again!- Diane Baker, Devon, UK

Labour's fault again! Diane does not have free thought. She would skive off school for the CHANCE of £100. Cheap or what? I think you'll find Ms Baker that pupils have more self-worth than you. How much is your house worth now, Di?

  • They'll just turn-up to claim the £100, they won't care about the test itself! So why bother? It's their lives and if they want to be losers so be it.- Adam, Leeds, UK

Adam has clearly formulated a manifesto for happiness; he is often to be found expounding his crass views on this forum. He does not like many people. Adam, read the articles before you post. Then you wouldn't look like a complete tosser. I try to put across answers to these people on the DM comments section. I do not use the sarcasm, irony, wit (?), or abuse I use here. I use only reasoned arguments. Yet, despite the claims of the DM I do not get published. Of course if you are part of the usual suspects of Weems, Mark from Poplar, Adam, Leeds, Adolf from the National Vigilante Organisation et al, you are guaranteed publication. This is the case even if your comment is as meaningless as:

  • Which lunatic thought of this?- Fred, UK


Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!"

Thomas Gradgrind in Hard Times by Charles Dickens.

If only the Daily Mail actually dealt in real facts.

If only the Daily Mail readers could look beyond the 'facts' of the DM and look for truth and analysis.

Wonderful Christmastime

We will soon have the usual right wing lies about councils 'banning' Christmas when the facts do not hold up. It happens every year and panders to the DM readers' 'everything is shit' beliefs.

Firstly, we have some preliminary scaremongering about Xmas lights. So Xmas hasn't been banned after all. The Mail is never one to let hypocrisy or misinformation get in the way of a good moan.
The headline, like a lot on Planet DM, is written by someone who hasn't read or written the article. I think it is a game they play in the office.

Gosh, how ludicrous! But wait gentle reader, what are the facts?

  • Businesses in the town pay for the electricity to power the lights, which will be officially switched on at a ceremony on November 23.
    The lights first blinked into life on Monday and were on again last night as proud town council representatives toured the display.
Now, we can argue that it may be a bit premature to put them up but they are not actually on, only in preparation. I'm the first to lambast the idiots that put up grotto displays on their houses requiring surges on the National Grid and that can be seen from Neptune, but this is another non-story.

I wondered why they weren't having a go at the looney lefties on the council for wasting tax payer's money. No mention at all. Here's why:

  • Local government elections took place on 3rd May 2007 in Leighton Buzzard and Linslade. The constitution of the Town Council is now Conservative 16, Liberal Democrat 5. No Labour candidates were elected.

  • Following the District Council Election on Thursday 3 May 2007, the constitution of the District Council is now Conservative 34, Liberal Democrat 12 and Labour 4.

Macca Back

Paul McCartney is to top the bill at the Liverpool Sound concert at Anfield, home of Liverpool F.C. on June 1st 2008 as part of the Capital of Culture Celebrations. I have now registered for the ballot for tickets and hope to be successful. what annoys me is that they will be so hard to get compared to his last concerts at the Kings Dock as there is reduced capacity and no doubt the scroungers and eBay traders will be first in the queue. Real fans like me may miss out. If I find out Kerry Katona gets a ticket I'm going to do something commendable.

The draw takes place on 19th October so they'll have the interest on the money for 7 months. In addition there is a booking fee of 12%!! Given the fact that the best tickets are £75 this is a serious amount. Robbing bastards. If you're reading this Paul (and I know you do) please send a couple of backstage passes for the real fan. Failing that, how about a more intimate gig at Prenton Park?

Hulme Hall Anniversary
Ringo Starr

We Don't Need No Education

Following on from the story blaming Labour for the decrease in marriage, here's another one stirring up criticism of education under Labour.

The piece starts off as standard fare about a test set up by Learndirect, the Government funded organisation that helps people attain basic qualifications and skills. The test was similar to one I had to take before being allowed to do the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL). I was a bit miffed as I have quite a few formal qualifications but hey ho, we all had to do it. Mine actually went on for about an hour and got progressively harder. It reached GCSE standard and I had a headache afterwards. I was pleased to get the top marks ever at the centre (how modest, Eric). I also understand that such tests are given to long term unemployed jobseekers regardless of whether they have a PhD or nothing.

The questions used in the article are quite simple but I know from experience that it is easy to make elementary errors (you should see me mark the board at darts).

Although the piece is in a quite light-hearted vein, there is a serious problem with basic literacy in the UK and shows the great divide between those with qualifications and those without. There is a separate argument over the standard of examinations and possible downgrading of qualifications but I shall leave that for another time.

This is not a new phenomenon; not even a Nu-Labour phenomenon. That doesn't stop the DM sheep from obeying the whistle. I love it when people talk about failing educational standards and then commit semantic suicide in the comments section. Any mistakes I make are of course down to typos or the German beer I was drinking.

My problem is not with the article; it says very little and is a mere window filler. It is written by Laura Clarke, who usually writes on education. This is merely regurgitating a press release and is more suitable for a local free sheet.

Learndirect is an admirable concept. Its remit is outlined on its website:

  • learndirect has been developed by Ufi (University for industry) with a remit from government to provide high quality post-16 learning which:
    Reaches those with few or no skills and qualifications who are unlikely to participate in traditional forms of learning;
    Equips people with the skills they need for employability, thereby strengthening the skills of the workforce and increasing productivity;
    Is delivered innovatively through the use of new technologies.
Note that the organisation deals with school leavers, a lot of whom are well past the leaving age. The problem of adult literacy has been with us for some time. In the 1970s there was the TV programme On The Move. The story attracted 50 (mostly) sneering comments:

  • I am over 60 and found this quiz to be childishly simple. Another example of how Labour has devalued education in England to the point where it is virtually non-existent.- Paul Ward, Beijing, China

So childishly simple that you didn't read the accompanying article. Where does it say that only people educated under Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan and Blair were tested? If you look at it logically only a few people who started school in say 1997 would be eligible for learndirect courses.

Although the study, conducted by Manchester University, does not specifically say that it targeted those on learndirect courses, it is clear that it is ADULTS that are targeted.

  • And I had thought that young Americans were stupid! Stupidity seems to be and issue in the UK, as well. If a 60 year old male can answer these trivial questions without a pause, what is wrong with the younger generation? I suspect that government education is at fault. I'm sure that George Orwell would have agreed.- Cliff, Duluth, Minnesota USA
I got all the questions right but if you asked me, 'What the hell is this American Idiot on about?', I'd have a problem. George Orwell?

  • Having just scanned through these mentally (including the so-called 'maths')before seven in the morning (I get up before six every day), I am astounded. What age groups of pupils are we talking about? The maths questions look nothing like the quadratic equations, trigonometry and basic Calculus we were expected to be competent in thirty-five years ago at the age of sixteen.- Dr Mike Bent, Spain
Doc, read the story and you'll see there is no mention of pupils. what is your doctorate in? Sangria drinking? The article is about BASIC numeracy and literacy which are useful in everyday life. If you wish to show off about how you studied calculus, be good as to post a comment in a relevant section. English comprehension wasn't your strongest subject. Truly remarkable example of shouting your mouth out without engaging the brain. Doh!

  • This is the result of 10 years of Blair's efforts at "education, education, education". It's totally pathetic.- Mark, England
This is only part of Mark's wisdom. He tells us how clever he is in the rest of it. So clever that he cannot do the maths - if I am 5 in 1997, Mark, in 2007 how old am I? Prick!

Hang on, what's this?

  • Well, I got all the English questions correct but only 3 out of 8 for maths. I've always struggled with maths and I don't think it was helped by the fact that back in the 80s I had very poor teachers in secondary school from the second year onwards.- Sassie, Scotland

But surely, and help me out here Mark, Labour lost power in 1979 and didn't retake No. 10 until May 2007. Maybe the teachers were educated under Labour then.

The last word, I think, should go to Charlie.

  • re: what time do you get home after the pictures?I always stop off for some chips on the way home so I added 15 minutes to my answer- Charlie, London

Labour Promotes Sin

For some time now it has become apparent that more people are shunning marriage in favour of (to use the vernacular) 'living over the brush'. This is something we have all known. There are various reasons so one would expect them to be explored in today's Mail article. Well, of course, nobody expects. You just imply that it is the fault of the Labour Government. Hence the headline:

The article merely quotes a lengthy series of stats to add weight (padding) to the story. It is hard to know what is actually being said.

  • Between 1996 and 2006 cohabitation soared by 65 per cent to 2.3 million couples while the number of married couples fell 4 per cent to 12.1 million.

Obviously the Mail has had to rely upon figures for the decade commencing 2006 as they will probably be the ones available. This does lead one to suspect that the trend had already started as John Major's Boycottesque innings was coming to a close. Still, we get the general gist - everything that is bad only happens when the Commies are in power.

Leaving aside the notion as to whether being married actually makes one a better person, or the relationship more valid, the Mail then turns on one of its favourites:

  • Lone parent families, including those with non-dependent children, increased eight per cent to 2.6 million over the same period, according to the Office for National Statistics' (ONS) Focus on Families report.

Of course lone parents include those who have divorced, separated or widowed. The trick is to lump them all together (in itself quite correct) and let the minds of the DM crowd translate into depictions of single mothers on benefit. Ordinarily, that would seem to be stretching it and I could be criticised for over egging the tiramisu. In the context of Planet Mail, however, it is one small step for Mailkind; one giant leap for imagination.

Then we have the startling revelation that actually:

  • Lone parent families, the majority of them single mothers, account for 24 per cent of households with dependent children. This figure has risen only slightly from 1996 when it was 21 per cent, the ONS said.

Furthermore, the DM, to be fair, tells us more of the report's contents:

  • "The fact that cohabitation is more prevalent at younger ages reflects both the fact that cohabitation is often a precursor to marriage and a greater acceptance of cohabitation among younger generations," the report says.

This is as I expected. What I would have liked was an analysis of the reasons for the change. The above point is obviously a major one as a lot of us will have grandparents ho could tell of the stigma of being born out of wedlock or pre-marital sex (I always thought that was a quick one with the chief bridesmaid before the ceremony but that's just my filthy mind!). Indeed, anyone that watched the BBC's excellent Who Do You Think You Are? where celebrities trace their ancestry, will have noticed the 'skeletons in the cupboard' and in some cases, illegitimate children and mothers were banished. (see also Angela's Ashes set in Limerick, Ireland).

Is the Mail suggesting we should return to this situation? It constantly bemoans the fact that young girls get pregnant to get benefits and council housing, claims which are way off the mark.

I was surprised that no mention was made of the tax implications of being married as opposed to cohabiting. I'm no accountant (I wanted to be a lion tamer but graduated to the legal profession by way of a Pythonesque step) so over to BBC contributor Chas Roy-Chowdhury Head of Taxation, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants:

  • If you are thinking of getting married do it for love, not for any tax benefit - you would have to really scratch your head to try and find any big tax advantages to being married.
    The problem is that governments, of whichever party, decided many years ago that we should have all taxpayers treated separately for tax purposes.
    Hence the principle which existed in the past, that the husband and wife were a single taxable entity, has been systematically dismantled.

The Tories ("Party of the Family" Registered TM) have recently looked at a vote winning package of tax concessions for those willing to say, "I do vote Conservative". Here's Dave Boy Cameron in July this year,

  • "If we get the family right, we can fix our broken society.
    Britain is almost the only country in Europe that doesn't recognise marriage in the tax system and the benefits system actively discourages parents from living together.
    We have the highest rate of family breakdown in Europe and we have the worst social problems in Europe. Don't tell me these things aren't connected."

And at the Party Conference, the Quiet Man himself, called for tax breaks for married couples. His speech (together with IDS's customary frog in the throat can be seen here.

There is an argument for a return of some form of allowance for partners in the tax system; most financial responsibilities are joint, for example, mortgages. However, the Mail passes up the opportunity. The article,I think, is very poor. It merely prints a few figures in a cut-and-paste job (as I do ahem! but I don't get paid for it because I am arguing in my spare time!)

The article ends with the alarming claim that,

  • Between 1976 and 2004 the proportion of women aged 18 to 49 who were not married and were cohabiting trebled from nine per cent to 23 per cent, the report says.

Ah, 1976. That'll be Jim Callaghan's fault then.

5pm Update

Here's Jacqui............

  • Like everything else with this Government.- Jacqui Weems, Southampton

Jacqui, you really are a whining old moron. Your one-liners are on a par with Syd Little. Read the sodding article before showng your ignorance.