Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year Honours...

... and who should really get what for their efforts in 2013 are all in today's Daily Mirror column here.

Happy New Year and remember, DON'T VOTE FOR IDS.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Celebrity Big Brother...

... and why it needs sealed exits, a car battery and Prince Philip is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read, should you be arsed to, here.

Hope you all had a nice Christmas x

Friday, 20 December 2013

Thje Twelve Days of Crapmas...

... and some festive flashbacks to the worst of 2013 is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

I'm off for a mince pie and a lie-down. Happy Saturnalia!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Ronnie Biggs was a parasite...

... and if you don't believe me read this.

Hitting train staff over the head then living off the notoriety really isn't ok.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Friday, 13 December 2013

The plastic surgeon who gave boob jobs to his own daughters...

... is not about to be named Dad of the Year. My column for the Daily Mirror is here.

Enjoy your imperfections!

Monday, 9 December 2013

MPs deserve a pay rise...

... so long as we pay them in cold, hard common sense, such as what I've written about here.

OINK.

Friday, 6 December 2013

The worst thing about Nelson Mandela's death...

... is the way it's being exploited. Read all about it here.

And remember to VOTE.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

George Osborne's hanky panky...


... the political kind, of course - is the most interesting thing about his Autumn Statement. Should you wish to, a breakdown of all the things he didn't tell you can be read here.

And now I shall listen to an old Madonna track on a loop. Nothin' like a good spanky...

Friday, 29 November 2013

Peaches Geldof...

... and why we're all journalists now is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Mind how you tweet.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Clare's Law...

... and why it's not enough is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Mind how you go.

Friday, 22 November 2013

JFK and Joey Essex...

... and why they have more in common than you might think are the (odd) topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Don't shoot me.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

24-hour Tubes...

... and why we're not sensible enough to make people work when they should is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The International Space Station...

... and why it's the most amazing tin can we ever made is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

To infinity, and beyond!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

International Men's Day...

... and why women should be making the most of it is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Sarcastic? Moi?

Friday, 15 November 2013

I'm Not A Celebrity...

... But Which Hopeless No-Mark Would You Like To Torture You For The Next Decade? VOTE NOW!

And read about it on the Daily Mirror website here.

Vote early, vote often, vote Farage.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Typhoon Haiyan...

... and why the human response stinks is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Be glad it's not you.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lest we forget why we wear the poppy...

... I've written about it today for the Daily Mirror and you can read it here.

Age wearies just about all of us, but not the need to remember.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Victoria Beckham...

... and how wrong we got her is the topic of today's Daily Mirror piece which you can read here.

And yes, I know she's still scrawny.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Guy Fawkes, November 5 and...

... what it's really all about is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here, if you fancy.

Enjoy your bonfires.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Tesco face scans...

... and why I don't fancy ripping out my own eyeballs are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Careful of the bagging area.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Royal secrets of Prince George's christening...

... and where they hide their gin is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And if that's not enough to make you feel good, watch the most life-affirming telly clip you'll ever see when a teacher gets his stammering pupil to speak in Educating Yorkshire here.

Two bits of joy for the price of one. You lucky sods. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The murder of Rachael and Auden Slack...

... and why we all need to start taking domestic violence more seriously is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Take it seriously, and tell someone.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

How to have a healthy headline.

HEALTH tourists. Dontcha just hate them?

Coming over here, watching our Royal weddings, and having their appendix out on the NHS for free before they go home.

Today we're warned that they could be costing us £2billion a year! Filthy, sick foreigners!

Never mind the fact we're told tourism is worth £115bn a year to Britain, supporting 2.6million jobs and providing almost nine per cent of our GDP. If you just look at the numbers you might think we can easily afford it and still make a healthy profit; but that's not the point.

The NPower boss...

... and what might have happened when he decided to do *that* YouTube video about price rises is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Wrap up warm.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Take back British Gas...

.. or wear an extra jumper. Choice is yours, and you can read about it here.

Stay warm, folks.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Sally Bercow...

... and why she should do whatever the hell she likes, especially if it gets her on Loose Women, is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And with that, I'm off for a night on the pop. Ra!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Let's not bother with the World Cup.

HOORAY! WE WON A FOOTBALL MATCH!

Well done us, because our team is pretty rubbish and on most days couldn’t win a kickabout in the park.

So let’s be glad of a victory even if it was only over Poland and shake our bootys with delight thatthe twinkle-toed Stevie G put us 2-0 up almost on the whistle.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Madeleine McCann...

... and why there's only one thing which matters is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

If you don't like logic, you'd better not read it.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Malala Yousafzai...

... and why we ought to ignore her (just for a bit) is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

*sulks in room*

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The news is dead. Long live the news!

THE world would be a better place if newspapers were regulated out of existence.

Seriously; bring it on. Let's have exemplary damages for any supplier of news - papers national and local, struggling magazines, university rags - that's not signed up to it, so they can be financially pummelled out of publishing.

Let's have a regulator that meets with the approval of politicians and is verified by them too, via the medieval Privy Council consisting of current and former Cabinet ministers, even the ones who've been booted out of office by a pissed-off public, and the whole thing can be torn up if newspapers seriously upset two-thirds of the Houses of Parliament, which let's face it isn't difficult.

To top it all off, let's suggest charging people to complain when it used to be free, let's make this the only regulatory body in existence without a single industry representative on it, and then let's spend more than a year farting about with it so that the public think the whole thing's a stitch-up anyway.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Pride of Britain Awards...

... and what they'd be like run by a newspaper that didn't like modern Britain much is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

I'm just off to flaunt my curves. As soon as I figure out how.

Monday, 7 October 2013

The cabinet reshuffle...

... and why the Wombles and Batman should be running the place are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

If you're a slug, don't bother.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Taliban are back...

... and it seems they never went away. Today's Daily Mirror column is here.

Sleep easy.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Ever wondered about Boris Johnson...

... and what his planned foray into romantic fiction might be like? Wonder no more.

*washes brain in bleach*

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

David Cameron's conference speech...

... and its English translation are the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Blessed are the breadmakers, old bean.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

David Cameron, the price of bread...

... and how it compares to the price of a term at Eton is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Read it quick, cos there's another one later!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Anti-social behaviour...

... and why on-the-spot ear flicking might be a solution are what I've written about today for the Daily Mirror and you can read it here.

I really mean it about the feet.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Downton Abbey...

... and why it's best not to think about it too closely is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Excuse me, I'm off to point my undercarriage at people I don't like.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Mel B's latest adventure...

... and what a bloody shame it is are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

But if you know what's good for you, don't bother listening to it. UGH.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Nick Clegg's conference speech...

... which sadly never got spoken. Shame really, cos it's a lot more interesting than the real thing and you can read it here.

It won't take 50 minutes but it might make you want to punch Nick Clegg. That's the risk you take.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Shane Warne, Liz Hurley...

... and why we ought to enjoy splitting up than we do is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Enjoy the pants!

Monday, 16 September 2013

The Parable of the Paper Bag People.

ONCE upon a time, in a country far away, a man invented a thing called a paper bag.

He did not know what he could use it for, so he tried lots of different things. It wasn't very good at holding water, and was pretty rubbish at transporting rocks. It didn't keep meat fresh, and while it did make pleasing scrunchy noises, or could be blown up and hit with a hand to go BANG, it wasn't the same afterwards.

The man scratched his head for a bit, and then realised the paper bag was head-sized. He thought that putting it on a head would keep it dry and scrunch-free while he had the time to think what the bag could be used for.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Kerry Katona and her latest baby...

... is something a lot of people are going to sneer about, so read this first.

With which, I am off to enjoy some Iceland miniature party snacks.

Monday, 9 September 2013

An official apology...

... with regards to David Cameron is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror, which you can read here.

Or leave it unlocked in the middle of a packed train. The choice is yours.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Britain is a small island...

... that is heaps better than Russia, which is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Pip, pip, Vladimir!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Watching porn in parliament...

... and why we should let them get on with it is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

I'm now off to exercise some diplomatic muscle. Fnar.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Britannia rules the ...oh.

ALLOW me to draw you a picture.

It is a picture of a ship. It is a big ship, designed to strike fear into the hearts of enemies and provide succour for those in need.

It is a ship that was first thought of about 12 years ago, when it was decided our existing ships were knocking on a bit and would need replacing.

Friday, 30 August 2013

David Cameron...

... and the inescapable fact that he'll soon be looking for work is the thing what I have wrote about today for the Daily Mirror which you can see here.

*twerks*

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Good God, y'all.

WE intervened in Iraq. That went well.

We intervened in Afghanistan. Total success, of course.

We intervened in Libya, and it's a land of milk and honey these days.

Last week a bad man did a bad thing for, we reckon, about the 14th time and this evening our representatives will be asked to vote on the principle of military intervention in Syria.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Miley Cyrus twerking it...

... and why she should get a standing ovation for doing so is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read by clicking here.

Now I am off to look at my bum and feel sad.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A moral obscenity...

... and just how many of them there are knocking around are defined in today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Go us. Yay.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Prince George's one month birthday...

... and a Royal tantrum about flypasts are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Red trousers, my bum.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Slut-shaming a girl from Slane...

... and why we need some new commandments such as 'think before thy tweeteth' are the things I've written about today for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Stone me later.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Caroline Lucas...

... and a list of MPs who should be arrested before her feature in today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Mind how you go.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Peruvian drug mules...

... and why, while it's illegal, the drug business is the dirtiest, nastiest game you could get involved in is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Or to cut a long story short: Don't be so stupid.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Chris Fountain's raps about rape...

... and why his 'musical experiment' makes me ashamed he's a member of the human race is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Stupid little cockweasel.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

A-level results...

... and why the only crisis is why we still let politicians anywhere near our children is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Brain like a box of blancmange, remember.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Literally...

... going to piss off pretty much everyone with today's column for the Daily Mirror but there you go and here it is.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to sharpen my knife.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Baby panda frenzy...

.. and a blacked-up Godfrey Bloom are the topics of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

As if we'd ever go that bonkers about a baby.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Dear parents...

Prepare to be offended.

Someone who is not a parent has no legal or moral right to tell those who are how to raise their children. Someone who is a parent but not of the children concerned will likewise find their advice unwelcome.

But I'm going to do it anyway. Not because I expect in the least you'll listen, or greet it with anything other than 'WELL IF YOU'D HAD CHILDREN...' as though the absence of progeny indicates mental or emotional incapacity of some kind.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Charlotte Green reading the football scores...

... and why, as great as that is it's JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH, FRANKLY is the topic of today's column which you can read here.

I expect it'll piss off just about everyone, but at least I'm fair.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Gibraltar...

... and why Spain is not about to get its thieving hands on it is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

I really mean it about the paella.

Friday, 2 August 2013

The new Dr Who...

... and why he needs to remove his head from his Gallifreyan fundament is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Yes, that is your face. Stop being stupid.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

All animals are equal.

IF we are not equal before the law, there is no law.

If when accused of crime we are not all investigated the same, the police must be partisan and therefore not a police force at all.

If when sent to trial we are not judged the same, if a sensible defence is dismissed or obvious alibis ignored by a system determined to convict no matter what, the justice system is broken, corrupt, and self-pleasuring.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Margaret Thatcher's funeral...

...and how much she really cost us is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Pippa's tips...

... for the Royal baby and what they might be are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

You might even be in it yourself. Who knows?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

War. Huh. What is it good for?

OH good. A task force.

Task forces are great. They sound very strong and definite, a bit military even, and enable people to say 'we're declaring war on litter/bad drivers/disease' which always sounds good.

They are also pretty much free. Everyone invited to join a task force (you can't invent your own, not allowed) is already paid to do something else, and task forces in general recommend things and recommending is free.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The other non-Royal babies...

... and what kind of lives they might have is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Don't get mad, get even.

Monday, 22 July 2013

The truth about the Royal Baby...

... and the most important things no-one will tell it is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

I will probably get more Republican as the week wears on.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

MPs' pay...

... and why they should be content with 'a shitload', a free house and a platinum-coated pension is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

I'm off to find me a Guy Fawkes mask. See you in Westminster.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Now look...

... things are not as bad as you think. Trust me and click here.

Now CHEER UP.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Is there any principle in these things?

POLITICS has always been a dirty game, often won by those with the most to spend.

The knights who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta managed it because he needed their money. Commoners were elected to the Model Parliament in 1295 only because Edward III needed them to raise taxes. The English revolution died on its arse when it racked up debts of £2million and the army revolted against an inept leader.

And it didn't stay in the dark ages - the last two British general elections were won by the party which spent the most.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Andy Muray's Wimbledon win...

... and why it's not a game for poshos is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

New balls please, Prime Minister.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Thank you NHS...

... because without you I'd never have been born at all.

Today's Daily Mirror column on how people are killing the old girl off can be read here, if you fancy a good weep.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

It could never happen here.

RULERS who have seized power.

A government which spies on its citizens 'for their own safety'. Leaders who lie. A crackdown on journalists and a hopelessly splintered opposition.

Tinkering with the constitution without asking anyone first, lining their own pockets, secret decisions, erosion of the democratic and judicial process and trampling on the sick and the poor.

All with just 23 per cent of the possible votes.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The NHS is 65 this week...

... and she's dying. Thought you'd like to know. You can read about it here.

Steady as you go.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Married tax breaks...

... and why they're not exactly helpful if you're a widow, divorcee, young person, service spouse or a married Tory politician is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Enjoy your state subsidies, if you get them.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Jane Austen on the banknotes...

... and why that's a terrible idea is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Now excuse me, I'm off to burn something.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Friday, 21 June 2013

Jeremy Forrest...

... and a betrayal of the phrase 'in loco parentis' is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Romeo and Juliet it ain't. Have a nice weekend x

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What a bunch of Bjerks.

BEING a banker is a lot like being James Bond.

Aside from the champagne lifestyle, regular golf and sense of godlike power you get total immunity from prosecution.

Did you steal an elderly widow's pension? Never mind! Did you mis-sell some payment protection insurance? Blame it on a henchman. Perhaps you caused the world economic system to totter? Invent a new martini and cock a wry eyebrow, why don't you.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Dear you...

I’M not going to tell you what to do.

There will be enough people doing that: why did you put up with it, what had you done, why did you stay.

Men and women alike will ask what’s wrong with you, and not stop to wonder what’s wrong with the other person. I imagine, right now, you feel deeply ashamed that it happened at all.

Friday, 7 June 2013

How men run the world...

... and what it would be unlike if things were the other way around is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Men might want to finish the housework first, especially if they're blond.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Victoria Beckham...

... being named Woman of the Decade is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Who would you give the award to?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Emily Wilding Davison...

... and why her death didn't achieve much is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

RIP Emily.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Recall (vb.): To summon back to awareness.

THEY think you're stupid.

They don't much care if you know it, because you're so stupid it doesn't matter. So what if you can see they're wiggling their fingers in their ears and sticking their tongue out while they say 'NA NA NA NAAA NAH'? You're too dumb to matter.

What matters is that the people who think they're clever get to be in charge. They want to own the whole playground, charge entry, be the winners of every game of British Bulldog, take your dinner money and intimidate their victims into staying the hell out of their way.

That, presumably, is the sort of attitude you need to be a successful Member of Parliament or life Peer.

A conscience or vocation in the Houses of Parliament only holds you back, sees you consigned to the backbenches, mocked like Dennis Skinner and left to watch as your backsliding, avaricious, amoral contemporaries play the property market and get elevated to the House of Lords for faithful service to the boss.

Politics is a corrupt business; it always has been, and successive attempts to clean it up have merely forced corruption to evolve.

The Great Reform Act got rid of rotten boroughs, but these days only a handful of constituencies are likely to make a difference in a general election. Universal suffrage gave women, the poor, and the young a right to vote and be represented, yet few such have a seat in the House of Commons. Constituency boundary changes are little more than shuffling a stacked deck so it is still stacked.

Politicians' efforts to clean their own gutters have historically been so lame and pointless that when they're called to account they've ceased to do little more than pretend to wave around a metaphorical feather duster.

So with the revelation that one MP and three peers were caught on camera seemingly selling Parliamentary influence for up to £12,000 a month it is hardly a surprise that the Government's main response is merely an offer to write it all down.

A register of lobbying interests is nothing more than an expensive, bureaucratic way of obfuscating the point - one which, as Francis Maude admitted yesterday, would merely make it more difficult for journalists to carry out such a sting rather than convince politicians to behave themselves.

The problem is not that there are lobbying firms employed by pressure groups to press home their argument, which is allowed; the problem is that it's already against the rules for politics to be paid by outside interests and all four were caught on camera with their hand out.

It doesn't matter they thought they were taking money from an undemocratic military regime thrown out of the Commonwealth. It wouldn't matter if it was elderly nuns offering them cash to speak up for abandoned kittens. The rules say you don't take money, and that's that.

The fact several of the politicians smelled a rat and later reported the bogus lobby company, that money did not in the end change hands and they managed to stay within the rules, is neither here nor there. They asked for money, they intended to circumvent the rules, and if it had been a genuine offer they'd not have reported it to a soul.

They're already made to declare some interests, and as the sting revealed they set up tag-team deals with other corrupt politicians to ask questions and host functions for one another so they can get around it.

But wait! There's a second moral feather duster being held aloft by the worthy Nicholas Clegg, and it is the power for the public to recall disgraced MPs.

He first mentioned this in 2008, as the expenses scandal began to boil. He wanted voters to force a by-election once their MP had been suspended by the house.

It was mentioned again in the 2010 Coalition agreement, only now voters were to have the right of recall merely in the event of 'serious wrongdoing', which had it become law would have led to half of Parliament being out on its arse.

In 2011 Clegg raised it again, but no doubt worried how many MPs could be accused of misbehaviour watered it down to being only in the event of a criminal conviction.

A month later he told a committee it would merely be a 'backstop' and would not for example be used by voters whose MP didn't bother to do any work. Which is odd, because that's the sort of thing every other public sector employee gets sacked for.

In 2012 that same committee of turkeys announced they would not be voting for Christmas, as voters already had the chance to remove MPs at election time and no further sanction was necessary.

And today, faced with a corruption scandal, Cleggy has been wheeled out once more like Mrs Mop to promise "it is happening" and the power of recall will be introduced before the next election.

I look forward to it. I can't wait until Nick Clegg can recall what a lying shyster we all think he is and wind his neck in.

Until then Clegg, Cameron et al will carry on telling themselves we're too dumb to remember they've promised all this before, that they don't keep their promises, they write their own rules and hold each other to the merest forms of account.

Even if the recall proposals were introduced, they wouldn't have stopped this scandal - you can't force a by-election for peers who aren't elected in the first place.

There is no right to sue an MP; no annual personnel review; no system of formal warnings and the sack as there is in every other job on Earth. The external scrutiny comes courtesy of journalists alone, and while we can heap up disgrace they do not have to lose their job if they or their leader don't fancy it and, just for good measure, they can legislate against us too.

The simple truth is there is no need for registers of interests, financial, lobbying or otherwise. There is no need for rules about how many shares you can own or how many hours a week a politician ought to work.

MPs and Lords are paid for by the public. If they want to be paid by someone else, they should get  different job.

MPs are paid a basic starting salary of £65,738. That's more than £5,000 a month before tax, which for most of us would be quite enough to pay into a pension, pay the family mortgage and rent a one-bedroomed flat in London.

That salary puts them in the top three per cent of earners in the UK - there's no need for pay rises, second home expenses, subsidised booze or supplementary earnings, whatever they bleat about being paid peanuts.

Peers get £300 a day just for turning up and signing on, with no requirement to vote, speak or do anything they don't want to. It's a bit like being on the dole, if the dole didn't involve jumping through hoops in for £70 a week.

Politicians should work the same hours everyone else has to, they should get the same holiday everyone else does, and they should face exactly the same prospects of losing their job as anyone else who messes up or breaks the rules.

It's not difficult. It doesn't take five years of Nick Clegg changing his mind. It probably needs someone who's not actually a politician to get elected with enough clout to enforce it, but it's really terribly simple because we've been cutting benefits for three years and the pigs with their snouts in the Westminster trough are about due a dose of reality if you ask me.

All you need is two rules:

1. Politicians are servants, not masters.
2. Obey all the rules.

If we don't insist on it at every election, every radio phone-in, every husting and every public meeting, then we've only ourselves to blame.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Footballers...

... and why they can be safely ignored is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Funny old game, etc etc.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The dastardly NHS...

... and why everyone in it probably doesn't want you to die is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Mind how you go, now.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

What could possibly go wrong?

ROLL UP! Roll up! Marvel at our one-day special offer on a country for sale!

Opportunities this good only come along once in a 1,000 years! Nations takes centuries to build and just seconds to sell! And believe me it really does look like everything must go!

But you'll have to be quick.

We've already sold the social housing, we've sold the trains, the steel, the mines, the gas, the oil, the coal. We're selling the sunlight and the wind and we'd sell the seabed if only the Queen didn't insist she owned it.

We're in the process of selling the NHS, the schools, the roads. And now we'd like to sell the basic guardian of our freedoms too.

A leaked memo from the Ministry of Justice reveals Chris 'Failing' Grayling plans to save £1billion by privatising the courts service.

The options include selling off every court building in the country to hedge funds, charging businesses to use the justice system, and dumping 20,000 jobs.

It also involves - and the leaked memo didn't mention this bit, but it's fairly obvious to customers as canny and quick as I know you must be - tearing up the Magna Carta and flushing it down the bog.

When King John was forced by his angry barons to sign that bit of parchment 798 years ago, it was not just the first-ever declaration of human rights in the history of the world. It had lots of other important stuff in it too.

It made the Church of England free, it ensured taxes were raised only by common consent, it forced the monarch to consult their people, and it was binding on him and all his heirs.

Much of it has since been replaced with other laws but one of the remaining clauses states: "No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned... or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed... but by lawful judgement of his Peers, or by the Law of the land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man, either Justice or Right."

And what Chris Failing has done there is add, with a crayon and in handwriting that makes you think he's a tiny bit special: "Unless they can afford it."

Because what his plan means is that the buildings in which free and fair justice is executed will be owned by corporations and conglomerates. This will make no difference to your average smackhead bag-snatcher, but will prove a tricky proposition if a hedge fund boss were ever to be up before the beak.

Don't worry your head about that, investors! We don't really prosecute tax avoiders, bankers or multinational dodgy sods in this country, so the chances of that happening are slim.

Whoever owns those buildings will have the technical right to deny access to anyone they choose, so even if every money man in Britain is up on charges we'll just bar the Press from coming in to report on it. No-one need ever know.

Where somebody wishes to take a business to court - on charges of corporate manslaughter, perhaps, or if one company wants to argue with another - we will charge them to use the service. This will be on top of existing legal and civil court fees, and will ensure only businesses with lots of cash have access to justice. Little firms will be ground into the dust, which is just as well because who needs them? Not hedge funds!

The 20,000 existing court staff will be made redundant, at huge public cost, and re-employed by the private providers on the same money as before. The private providers will charge the taxpayer a fee for providing each member of staff, so that a £25,000-a-year court bailiff will still earn £25,000-a-year but it will cost the public £30,000-a-year. Inspired, isn't it?

All this extra cash will provide the profit for our investors which we can pretty much guarantee will be funnelled through Luxembourg by way of Mars in order to minimise tax.

You'll need to cut your tax liability to keep the profits up, you see, because we're going to make it virtually impossible for poor people (and there's quite a lot of them) to use the courts at all.

Legal aid changes mean that, for example, if someone wishes to argue against child custody being given to a violent partner they will be able to go to court only if they can a) afford a solicitor b) the partner has already been convicted or c) they already have a civil injunction, which they will have likely needed either a) or b) to achieve.

On top of that we'll make sure anyone poor accused of a crime will have the cheapest legal advisor available rather than a specialist or someone they trust.

And we're thinking about making them pay for the whole thing if they're found guilty, which will involve decades of legal action against drug dealers with vast resources and sending bailiffs round to the houses of addicts, the mentally ill, and because we've decided children can take adult criminal responsibility at the age of 10 we might have to raid school lockers too.

The whole thing will have its rights and freedoms guaranteed by a Royal Charter, a method of approval even older than the Magna Carta and twice as easy to ignore. Charters are overseen by former and current government ministers, which puts the entire judicial system for the first time ever at the mercy of politicians.

Fundamentally, what you've got here is a fire sale. Everything must go on the basis that we've run out of money and rather than taking it from the corporations and morons which lost us it in the first place the Government intends to dump everything and everyone else over the side in the hope of saving their soulless selves.

When we've done that we'll probably have to get in some management consultants to do a time-and-motion study on whatever is left, which the way it's going will be Clare Balding, Gideon and a shedload of barely-literate EDL supporters hurling bottles at themselves.

No doubt there will be some who decry the betrayal of every natural asset this nation has and every achievement its people have ever striven for. But what these people don't realise is that we're just getting a contract and some payment in return for selling ourselves to the corporations who already run the show.

That's why it doesn't matter the Prime Minister is on holiday - he spends his days playing Fruit Ninja and letting others make the decisions anyway, and he can do that just as easily in Ibiza as he does in Downing Street.

It's why the former head taxman who took part in disgraceful sweetheart deals with big business to pay less tax is now an advisor to a firm of tax specialists.

It's why selling justice in a boot sale to the highest bidder is merely a formality, if you're the voices whispering inside Chris Grayling's head.

They tell him no-one is ever wrongly convicted. Everyone who is poor should pay for it. Corporations are always good.

And until that pesky Magna Carta ruined things the Middle Ages were a time of idyllic bliss.

If you had the keys.


Friday, 24 May 2013

The knuckle-dragging jizz-stains of the English Defence League...

... and why they don't defend my England are the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

If we're deporting extremists, let's start with this little lot.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The killing of a soldier in Woolwich...

... and why it's not war, religion or terror but plain, dumb murder is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Watch out for the hate, now.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Dear Swivel-Eyed Loons...

HULLO! This is your leader speaking.

After the events of the past week - Tories lying down with Labour, aggressive homosexuals, divisions over Europe - I wanted to write a personal note to explain how none of this is my fault.

It's the donkeys'.

I have been a swivel-eyed Loon for 25 years. Some time after I joined I was introduced to other Loons and for the first time in my life felt accepted and relatively sane. It was good to know there were other people who, like me, wanted to sit in makeshift campaign headquarters wearing tinfoil hats and humming in D sharp to keep the gays away.

We have been together through good times and bad; we saw the other Loons get in on a landslide in 1997 because we were so hopelessly obsessed with re-enacting the Second World War, and we seized power in 2010 even though no-one had voted for us which in many other situations would have led to either a new election or a ground invasion by the Americans.

(It's all right though - at least we don't have any chemical weapons! Unless you count Eric Pickles!)

But this is more than a working relationship. It is a deep and lasting co-dependent psychosis, not unlike that reportedly shared by murderous GP Harold Shipman and his wife Primrose. If one of us tells the other one something often enough we'll end up believing it.

We believe that everyone should be able to get on in life if they have family friends who can get them easy, well-paid jobs; we look after those we went to school with; that it's family and community and covering up your love-children that matter; that a dose of lithium is worth more than a ton of things learned from books; that Britain is a great and proud nation that really needs stricter governesses, fewer newspapers and for gays just to get back in that closet where we can cruise them without our wives finding out.

Above all, we Loons believe you change things by criticising stuff we don't understand from our armchairs like artificially-inseminated gay donkey queens who aren't prepared to get on their dykes and actually LOOK for work like our fathers did.

Across the country you will find people like us quietly doing their bit to make everything less sensible. It was people like us that ensured gays couldn't get married years ago, and had to have a special 'Seville partnership' which was only recognised in some regions of Spain and gave them all the legal protection of being locked up in an institution for their own safety.

Time and again, we have stood for Loony values by arguing that true equality comes from everyone being as bonkers as us, and that if they're not then they're promoting inequality by trying to be all sane and logical. It's no good pointing out Norman Tebbit can't marry his daughter under opposite sex marriage laws so there's no reason for him to go overboard if same sex marriage is introduced: that would be denying his born-Loony nature, and it's oppressing us.

That's why I am proud to lead you. I am proud of your utter inability to connect with the people who pay for and refuse to vote for you. I am proud of the way you take logic and turn it into piffle, and I would never have around me those who sneered or thought otherwise. We are a team, from the parish asylum to the Westminster madhouse, and I will never forget it.

Loons have always been a broad church and we will never agree on anything. Especially not Europe, which sector of the poor to demonise first, what kind of price we could get for the NHS and whether it wouldn't be better in the long run to have Boris Johnson's gentleman sausage cut off and replaced with Michael Gove's head. Perhaps he'd keep his trousers up that way!

But we can shout from the rooftops about how far we've already come, which is out of our cells, through several locked doors and onto the roof where there's a charming collection of artisan tiles to hurl down onto the peasants below and plenty of incendiary material in the shape of sheets, books, NHS fake boobs, Gerald Howarth and other things aggressive homosexuals will want to get their hands on next. I'm going to leave that with Norman, he's got the matches.

And we can be clear about where we're going, too. We are engaged in a great fight to convince people we're charmingly ditzy rather than dangerously unbalanced, to teach children Lunacy in schools, to fix our welfare system so that no-one pays into it and no-one can claim it and we can all sit and look at it and think that it's great. And yes, we have a policy on Europe that is right for our country. We're going to wait for them to invade Poland again and then let all the plumbers go home.

Amid all the Loony-bashing which is sadly so fashionable these days remember this: that donkeys can kill. They can become increasingly aggressive, surround you, demand the right to marry and have IVF on the NHS then hurl you to the ground, trample and maul you so that it looks like you've been torn apart by wolves and forced to marry your own son for inheritance tax purposes.

We have committed to a referendum on a nationwide culling programme for gays journalists fake breasts Norman Tebbit donkeys by the end of 2017 and it is only us Loons prepared to give the well-off, well-educated, older and reactionary bits of the British public their say.

So to those reading this, here is my message: there will always be criticism from non-Loons, people whose eyes point in roughly the same direction and can't see the sidelines as well as we do. But we must remember what we have always been about: acting like complete arseholes in our own self-interest, preferably while having access to a moat, tennis court, swimming pool and state-funded cleaning lady.

Our task today is to hold on until 2015 while making as much of a mess as we can so that Loons can stand tall again and I can go on to make a fortune on the international lecture circuit. We have a job to do for our country, and we must do it together - right here, at the edge of the roof, where we can wave at all the people looking at us and shaking their heads.

Now all we need to do is hold hands and jump and we will LIVE FOREVER!

Who's with me?

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Tory inability...

... to govern and their amazing ability to be their own opposition is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Watch out for Europeans, now. THEY'RE PROBABLY GAY.

Friday, 17 May 2013

David Beckham and what we...

... could use him for now he's retired is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Have a nice weekend x

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Angelina Jolie...

... her boobs, and why everyone else's boobs aren't quite so fortunate, is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

*honks your honkers affectionately*

Friday, 10 May 2013

Jimmy Savile and West Yorkshire Police...

... somehow managing to make him look more honest than they is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Mind how you go.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Legalising paedophiles...

... and why that's a truly terrible idea is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Look under the bed first, yeah?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Queen's Speech...

... and why Guy Fawkes should come back from the dead is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Now excuse me, I have to find a box of matches and a fuse.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Missing the point.

THERE are lots of things worth cheering when a missing child is found alive.

First, they're alive. About a fifth of children abducted by non-family members are killed, and most of them are dead within three hours of being snatched. It could be worse and thank heaven it's not.

Second, they've either been rescued or managed to escape. Someone's been a hero, or the abductee has despite their experiences retained enough vim and awareness to get out - hooray!

Thirdly of course there's a grieving family somewhere which will experience an elation and joy it's hard to put into words. Someone they love has almost back from the dead - let the cheers resound.

But the sight and sound of crowds cheering the news that three missing girls - Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight - have been found alive after up to 13 years in captivity in a Cleveland basement misses the point that there's an awful lot more to worry about than celebrate.

The cheering reduces their story to the end of a feel-good movie - to a bedraggled Bruce Willis kissing his wife at the end of Die Hard, or Bill Murray standing on a New York cab after the Ghostbusters save the city from a giant marshmallow man.

It's not a movie. It's real-life. Children snatched from the street in real-life and locked in a cellar and being raped and having children of their own and, more often than not, having to rescue themselves because no-one else does.

Not so feel-good when you look at it like that, is it?

Amanda was taken at the age of 16, in 2003. Gina disappeared at the age of 14 in 2004 and Michelle was a little older at 20 when she vanished in 2000. They were the centre of a massive publicity campaign by their families, their names and pictures were widely-known, the police investigated, yet they weren't found until Amanda managed to scream out of a locked door and a neighbour happened to hear her.

At first the police didn't believe it was her, and she had to beg them to free her fellow prisoners before their captor returned. Amanda's got a six-year-old daughter with her, and there were other children found in the house too.

How does any of that happen? How can a young woman disappear off the street and never be seen again? How does a homeowner buy loads of heavy chain, fit it to rings in his ceiling and have three adults and a bunch of children living in his house and no-one notices? How did the police not know there was a lunatic in that street? How does anyone think they could get away with it?

More important than all of that, how many more are there?

Natascha Kampusch was abducted at the age of 10 and held for eight years in a specially-built cellar. Elizabeth Fritzl was thrown into the family cellar at the age of 18 and held for 24 years by her own father. Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched at the age of 11 and kept for 18 years in the back yard of a known sex offender. Elizabeth Smart was taken from her own bedroom at the age of 14 and held for nine months. Katie Beers, at the age of nine, was thrown into an underground bunker by her stepfather and held unnoticed by her school or social workers until he handed himself in.

With the Cleveland news, that's six big incidents of children being abducted and held captive. They weren't held halfway up a mountain - they were all in the suburbs, surrounded by neighbours. They didn't disappear unnoticed - they all had at least one parent who cared. And in most cases the authorities had some contact with the men responsible, and they didn't spot it either.

There didn't use to be children found chained up in cellars. When the Kampusch news broke I remember thinking 'wow, eight YEARS?' and wondering if, now one person had done it, other depraved perverts would copy him.

Elisabeth Fritzl got out just two years later, had been held far longer, had given birth to seven children half of whom lived in 'the real world', and this had happened in the same country. Two cellars of children in Austria? What is that nation up to?

But then I remembered years earlier Belgian paedophile Marc Dutroux was found to have kidnapped and held four children in his house. Two of them starved to death in his cellar, while the police investigated him for car crimes and his wife happily fed her pet dogs. Maybe it was just a European pervert fad.

Then Jacey was found, and others who'd been found and released more quietly began to speak up. With the release of Amanda, Gina and Michelle the wealthiest nation on Earth has had at least four high-profile cases of children being locked up alive and it looks more like this might be a phenomenon which could, just as easily, be in our own street.

Two in Austria, four in America, one in Belgium. How many in France? What about Germany, Spain, Russia, Britain?

Most missing children are just that. They wander off, run away, or get lost, and the vast majority of cases are solved in a few hours. Some are abducted but most abductions involve family members or someone who's known to them, and parents usually know who's got them.

Then there are a tiny few cases, most famously like that of Madeleine McCann, where a child simply vanishes. There are few witnesses, no suspects, and most obviously no body.

In the UK half of all child abductions are by strangers, most are failed attempts, and nine per cent are successful. In between the sex assaults, murders and escapes, what do you think the chances are that there's at least one basement involved?

And why don't we know where it is? Most of the children we know have been held in captivity are female, and most involve sexual assault. A rapist doesn't one day just snatch a child off the street and throw them in the cellar - they've worked their way up to it, and more often than not are experienced at bullying, coercion and control.

Josef Fritzl had a previous conviction for rape and had abused his daughter since she was 11. He locked his own mother in the attic, and his wife lived in fear of him. Yet for quarter of a century he didn't raise an eyebrow among his neighbours or the authorities.

Perhaps this is a phenomenon of the western world. Perhaps those that want to rape know they'll be prosecuted if they let their victims go, and caught by forensics if they kill. Perhaps modern, middle-class life means the neighbours don't stick their noses in, and overworked schools and social workers find it easier to believe a lie than think the worst of a parent. Maybe, somehow, the fact we're all so busy doing our own thing makes it easier for awful people to do theirs.

It was only a few decades ago that people pretty much knew everything about the other people in their street. Their children played together, everyone went to the same pub, worked at the same place. If just one tiny thing changed you knew about it - someone shifting half a ton of heavy chain indoors would need to explain it. People took note rather than thinking it was polite to ignore things, like the cast of The 'Burbs telling themselves their new neighbours can't possibly be mass murderers.

It's obvious when you think about it that being better at catching bad guys would force them to evolve a new trick to evade the law. And even though people like Fritzl get caught in the end, it's a bit late when he's had his fun for 24 years. He's locked up in much better conditions than either his mother or his daughter enjoyed, and the only bonus is that his victims know they're finally safe.

But had they been safer sooner, Elisabeth Fritzl might not have to live in a house where she has had all the internal doors removed. Her children might not have to come to terms with the fact they were born of rape, although the latest reports show they're amazingly well-adjusted.

The stories of the women those snatched children grew into show the years after captivity are more than just difficult. Elisabeth takes up to ten showers a day, because she could never get clean in the cellar. Natascha Kampusch is said to regularly visit the house where she was held, and the three women freed in Cleveland will all react differently to both their abuse and release.

Maybe the only way we can do anything about what seems to be a new trait among bad people is to take more note of them in the first place.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where domestic violence isn't taken seriously, where courts find excuses for people accused of rape when there are none available to their victims, and where known instances of police, the NHS, the state broadcaster, prison service, government and even a Prime Minister all found to be consorting with, aiding and even unknowingly abetting child abuse is not given the national inquiry it surely demands.

Humans can be a bad bunch, and the only thing which stops some people being appalling is knowing they'll be found out. Yet if we do not make an effort to stop the abuse, rape, and control when it first rears its ugly head we cannot hope to stop it building to the point where someone decides their logical next step is stealing a child and hiding them in the cellar.

Not having found anyone in such a horrible situation used to mean that it couldn't possibly be happening, but more and more it occurs to me it just means we haven't found them yet. The cellar probably is there, if only we could bear to look for it and stick our noses into things we'd rather not see.

When you've found a freshly-built cellar and stopped someone being locked in it - that's the right time to cheer.

Be glad they're safe, but be mad they weren't safer.





Friday, 3 May 2013

UKIP and their secret plans...

... to take over the world are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Me, I'm off to play with the nuclear button. Have a nice weekend!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

You can choose.

IN China, 1.3billion people can vote so long as it's for a Communist.

In Russia, 141.9million people can vote for whoever they like as long as Vladimir Putin agrees with them.

In Saudi Arabia, about 12million women can't vote for another three years unless the king changes his mind and they object to him appointing or unappointing them from his council at whim.

In all 88.7% of the world's population doesn't have the right to vote for whoever they want without being bullied, killed, coerced or made somehow illegal.

That's 6.1billion people out of a total of 6.9billion on the planet who don't get the say we all take for granted, sitting here reading whatever we like on the internet on whizzy computers.

In the country I live in there are 47million people registered to vote in local elections, there are local elections being held RIGHT NOW, and only 30 to 50% of them will bother to do so.

That's around 32million to 24million people not helping to decide which unqualified tosspots will be deciding on digging up their street, imposing one-way systems, collecting their rubbish, running their swimming pool, taxing their house, maintaining the street lights, running libraries and deciding how cheap their state-provided carers should be and how many minutes is enough to get someone out of bed, wash them, feed them, and wipe their bum.

Yet those 32million to 24million people aren't disbarred from using any of those services or complaining if they think they're rubbish. And lots of people tend to think that if someone is issuing taxes, then you get to have a say in how they spend it.

The trouble is that democracy, once it's won, is taken for granted and local democracy is just painfully dull. I spent five years covering everything from parish council planning committees discussing the location of someone's shed on a wet Wednesday night all the way up to the heady heights of a city's budget being thrashed out by swivel-eyed lunatics with an eye on Westminster.

All of it was important to someone and none of it was attended by more than a handful of locals. We all just presume that as long as the lights come on and there's potholes for us to moan about that things are rumbling on much as they always have.

Nothing seems to change, so what's the point in voting? Well there's one thing that's changing, which is that fewer and fewer people can summon up the enthusiasm to put a 'X' in a box.

In 1983 local election turnout was 44%. In 1993 it was 37%, and in 2003 it was 35%. Today's figures will be boosted by the fact it's sunny but if they're significantly greater than ten years ago I'll be very surprised.

And why? It's not as though what local councils do isn't important, and arguably might have a greater immediate effect on voters' lives than the House of Commons.

It's local councils that, under current welfare reforms, are going to be providing social support to the sick and disabled. They fund fire brigades, social workers, school meals, buses, housing benefit, play areas and provide more than a million jobs.

This is crucial stuff, but less and less of us can be bothered to get off our backsides. Even when you don't need to get off your backside, even when the council will send you a freepost letter you just sign and send back for FREE.

In Iraq three years ago 62% of voters turned out even though 38 people were blown up in bomb attacks by people who'd rather they didn't.

In Romania and Bulgaria, countries which 20 years ago were blinking at democracy like it might bark at them, voter turnout is around 80%.

Yet here we can't be bothered even though people like my grandad towed a gun through France and Belgium, saw his best mate blown to pieces and returned home a changed and unhappy man in order to protect our right to have a say. We can't be bothered even though Emily Davison threw herself under a horse so half of us could do what she couldn't.

Perhaps it's because all that seems like such a long way away - a different country, almost. But it's recent enough if you stop and think. My grandmother was born in 1916, when no woman was allowed to vote. My mother was only allowed to vote when she was 21, despite having been a taxpayer since she was 16.

I spent my whole childhood waiting impatiently until I was 18 - not just because it made me an adult, but because I was raised to think putting an X in a box was one of the finest things you could ever do.

Voting is not just your right - it is a privilege and what's more a duty. You owe it to my gran and grandad, as well as your own, and you owe it to your children to take them to the polling booth with you and tell them they're as lucky as hell to have the luxury of being bored to tears by all of this.

Perhaps your X won't change which little Hitler is in charge of your library. Perhaps it won't stop it being shut down and perhaps the local swimming pool will still be infested with disease and flies and morons who splash around too much.

More than likely, you won't be voting for someone you like as much as you'll be voting for someone who seems the least idiotic option.

But not putting your X in a box will change a lot, and change it for the worse. The idiotic options will be picked by someone else, there'll be no-one to fight for granny's meals-on-wheels when she needs it, and your children will grow up thinking it doesn't matter.

If that happens, we will suddenly be a lot closer to that different country where voting was something people fought each other over.

You can vote red, blue, yellow, UKIP, racist, fringe, green, single issue or Monster Raving Loony. You can set up your own party, and you can do it all without being blown up, without being hunted down afterwards, and despite your reproductive system. You are luckier than almost 90% of the planet.

I don't care which idiot you vote for; but please, just vote.

What would she say?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Ken Barlow getting nicked...

... and the practical problems of prosecuting sex allegations 40 years after the event is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, but read it all the way to the end first, yeah?

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Today's column explains the rise of UKIP...

... and why voting for a man who talks and looks like a pissed Rupert the Bear is a bad idea. You can read it on the Daily Mirror website here.

Pass the whisky, Fritz.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Benefit (n.): Something advantageous.

WE all know the reason we are broke is the poor people. At least, that's what we've been told for three years now.

If everyone worked rather than shirked we'd all be on eight holidays a year and final salary pensions, so the fact that the economy's flatter than Gwyneth Paltrow's arse cheeks must be down to the squidging effect of a great number of benefit cheats, scroungers and loungers squatting upon it like a stoned hippy at St Paul's.

And it's not just them. It's also the people who are working who can't be fagged to work a bit harder. It's the part-timers, the people who disappear to pick up their children, those who are content to half-heartedly earn a low income as a taxi driver, pest control officer, farmer, trainee or other plebby occupations safe in the knowledge the state will come along to bump it up with tax credits.

We know it's the poor people's fault, because five years ago we were rich and we've only had poor people for five years. Oh, wait...

Well, even if it's not their fault per se they're certainly not doing anything to make us rich again. They cost us a lot while achieving the square root of treading water, and if they can't swim like the big sharks, it's kinder to let 'em drown.

Big sharks like, for example, the international corporations which negotiate entirely-legal deals with the taxman not to pay much tax.

Killer whales similar to the big four accountancy firms whose staff not only advise the Treasury on tax law and second staff to work in the private offices of MPs and ministers formulating tax policy, but then go on to advise clients on how to avoid tax.

Great krill-suckers such as those operating a massively flawed, corrupt and semi-criminal banking system which bet money it didn't have on things which didn't exist, all of whom avoided arrest for what appears to be blatant fraud, and then got bailed out with someone else's money to the tune of £1.1trillion of which they still owe 40 per cent at an interest rate of zero.

If only the poor were more like them, eh? Imagine how rich we'd be.

So today the government is going to teach the poor a lesson by taking away all the benefits which make them lazy, fat Jeremy Kyle candidates and giving them one payment which will always be less than they need. This will make them work harder, see?

It's a bit like taking the armbands away from someone who's having trouble swimming. It's the only way they learn.

Meanwhile we're going to continue giving all the help we can to the sharks, killer whales and sucker-uppers, because they're not as morally repugnant as poor people or Jimmy Carr.

And while we wait for the shirkers to start slaving away at jobs that don't exist in industries which are struggling in order to avoid a benefit that is paid only online and puts money direct into the hands of tenants rather than their landlords leading to inevitable arrears, evictions and homelessness we'll all have to pay to sort out, we're going to pick on some rich people.

Not just any rich people. Granny.

The old bat's rolling in it, you know. She bought that house for sixpence a hundred years ago and now it's worth a million. She worked from the age of 16 and paid her taxes, has a lower pension because she raised her children herself rather than paying for a nanny, and scrimped and saved for years so that now she has no income she is still able to pay her council tax, the rising fuel bills, and for a small car to tootle down to the shops in.

Grandad even still works! She lived through rationing once, she can do it again. So we'll have her bus pass, her TV licence, her winter fuel allowance, and once we've got that we'll probably start on her prescriptions, her dental treatment, and her B&Q discount card too.

One day, we'll want her pension.


Never mind that grannies have not, as yet, sparked a financial crisis. Never mind that sensible shoes, cardigans and always-having-a-mint-in-your-pocket haven't escalated the national debt to £1.1trillion. No, grannies are next on the list and we're going to squeeze them until they squeal.

There is not, of course, a system by which granny can pay any of these things back to the state. But if we say often enough how awful they are for taking it, they'll all go for assisted suicide and the sharks can move into their mortgage-free houses.

But it strikes me that 'benefit' is the wrong word for the things we pay to grannies, the sick, the ill, and parents. Benefits are something whereby you gain; they are cash in your pocket; they are pennies from heaven.

Child benefit is £13 to £20 a week, which doesn't even approach the cost of having one. Shoes, nappies, school books, food, hot water for all those baths, constantly replacing the football - anyone who can do that on £13 to £20 a week should be working in the Treasury rather than the accountants.

Housing benefit does not, at present, go into the pockets of anyone but the landlords who by definition own at least two houses, if not more. Free TV licences for the over-75s simply means they stop paying for something they can no longer hear or see, which seems fair enough even if their senses do become mysteriously pin-sharp when Strictly Come Dancing is on.

Benefits, it seems to me, generally make you a target for having them taken away and for being blamed as the cause of an entire nation's financial woes. It doesn't appear particularly beneficial.

Getting the revenue to let you off your tax bill is, on the other hand, definitely a benefit. Avoiding jail is always advantageous and having an accountant who helped write the tax law never, ever hurts.

It's the rich gits who've got all the benefits. It's the corporations, the millionaires and billionaires, who get richer without even trying. Money just drops out of the sky and into their pockets even if they don't want it to, like Lord Sugar trying to pay back his winter fuel allowance and being told he couldn't. They can't help themselves - wealth is sticky, while poverty repels.

But that said, there is a sector of society where the benefits seem to be greater than everywhere else.

Where they get eight holidays a year, free houses, free food, free furniture, their council tax paid, their fuel bills not just subsidised with an allowance but settled in full, free travel, free cleaners, free gardening, where even if you're sacked for being rubbish you still get a pay-off and resettlement costs and pensions which are rock-solid final salary numbers.

They don't even have to work if they don't want to. Some of them don't even need to pass an interview. I've tried very hard and I can't think of another job where someone else automatically pays to redecorate your house and fix up the tennis court.

And these people are the ones who got us a trillion-pound debt. These are the ones who didn't order any criminal investigations of bankers. These are the ones who cry havoc at journalists while cosying up to tax avoiders, who steal a few pennies from the poor while throwing away billions in tax revenue to keep the rich happy, and who skank us for £164million a year for the privilege.

The benefits system is inarguably a mess, private landlords are charging too much for rent which the state is having to pay, and not every granny needs a bus pass. There are sensible ways of sorting all those things out, and IBS has ignored all of them in favour of talking out of his backside while living in a free mansion on an income of £1,600 a week after tax.

Benefits might well be bringing our nation to its knees, but it's the sort he doesn't like to talk about.

When everyone of pensionable age in Parliament has paid back their winter fuel allowance, turned down their TV licence, and they've all rejected offers of housing help and computed the fact they have more benefits per head than anyone else in the country then, and only then, should they go after everyone else's.

Failing that, they can take their £5.7million 'hardship fund' for former MPs fallen on hard times and donate it to charity in the way they think granny should with her winter fuel payment.

Hardship? I'd love to see them try it.

"Wot no more iPads?"

Friday, 26 April 2013

What do Luis Suarez, George Osborne and Justin Bieber have in common?

They're all in the wrong job. Read what they should be doing instead here.

Have a nice weekend y'all x

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Par-tay.

WOOT! Huzzah! Hooray! Praise be! Whoop-de-woo and tra-la-la and CELA-BRAY-SHUN!

The British economy is estimated to have grown by 0.3 per cent in the past quarter, according to figures released today.

I know. It's like a body-popping party in statistics-covered hot pants, isn't it? But don't drink the champagne just yet. There's more.

This comes hot on the heels of this year's Rich List, which shows 11 new billionaires among a group of people worth a combined £450billion and 80 per cent of whom made their own fortunes.

How amazing for us! More billionaires are a sign of Britain's booming wealth and global brilliance, we're back on track, touch decisions have produced results, and it's probably about time we thanked Gideon with an inherited baronetcy or something as a mark of our national gratitude.

Oh damn, he's already got one. Hmm. Book tokens? I'll have a think.

On top of this wondrousness, there is further source for delight in the news that the publicly-funded-or-we'll-jail-you British Broadcasting Corporation is going to cap the severance pay for bosses that it sacks at a piddling £150,000.

Hallelujah, I hear you cry. The last D-G got £450,000 after just 54 days in his job during which he displayed an epic inability to steer HMS Auntie as she repeatedly smashed herself against the rocks of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

This represents a massive pay cut for inept bureaucratic tools everywhere, because don't forget we're all in this together.


Except.

No, I don't like to say. It'll ruin the mood. Your bubble will be burst. The champagne might go flat.

Well, all right then. You'd better have a drink for this.

Today's GDP figures are an estimate, not a fact. They almost always get revised up or down, and in recent years the margin for error has been an average 0.7 per cent.

So that growth of 0.3 per cent could actually be a frankly miraculous boom of one per cent, or it could be a buttock-clenching triple dip of -0.4 per cent. We don't know what the figure will be, but we do know the one we've had today is almost certainly wide of the mark.

Cheer up though, it could still be a positive figure. That's the politically-important bit. Anything over zero can be spun as though we've just won the lottery and can rush out to buy a Bentley, while a negative figure would be, well, um, let's just say embarrassing.

It would be the first triple-dip recession in British history - the worst, longest, crunch of all time. It would be unprecedented and we would, if it happens, no doubt get to see an unprecedented level of back-pedalling and finger-pointing among our leaders.

But that might not happen, so don't let's worry too much. The economic trough was in 2009, we're doing better than then, and the fact today's figures show the economy is flatlining and is today only as good as it was six months ago is frankly of more immediate concern for most of us.

Because at the same time the square root of naff all is happening to our national wealth, prices are rising, unemployment's growing, and wages are flat.

Unless you're a billionaire, and not from round here.

Of the top ten billionaires in the Rich List, eight didn't make their money in Britain and aren't British. Heaven knows what it would take to unravel their tax affairs, but you'd get good odds that if they're paying any in this country it's probably because they pay less than they would elsewhere.

Still, if attracting foreign billionaires who don't pay a lot of tax can be called a plan, it's working.

Most of them are self-made, only a few inherited their wealth, and they all employ a lot of people all over the world in successful businesses. And the list shows the 1,000 richest people in Britain are ten times richer than the 1,000 richest people on the list when it was first produced 25 years ago.

Yay.

But while the top end of the Rich List saw their combined earnings rise 11.1 per cent in the past year, the bottom end of the Not Rich List have seen pay cuts of up to 15.9 per cent.

Pension clerks, farmers, pest control officers, taxi drivers and lollypop persons are all worse off than they were last year and arguably do some fairly important jobs.

Farming is particularly crucial - less than two per cent of our work force produces 60 per cent of our food, and they have had a 15.9 per cent pay cut. Supermarkets might be responsible for this as they try to keep prices down, but supermarket bosses rarely seem to announce they've lost 15.9 per cent of their pay.

And, predictably, inflation of 2.5 per cent means what little they do have buys them less. The net result is that for the first time ever there are more poor, working people than there are poor, not-working people.

We all pay the cost of that - both in terms of in-work benefits for the low-paid, and in yet more cuts in welfare for those who do not work in order to make the government's point that work has to pay more than claiming.

Whether we pay tax or we claim, somehow or another we're all going to be paying for those low wages.

There's two more things. You're not going to like them. Have another drink.

If you burrow down into the GDP figures it shows that government spending has increased by 0.5 per cent in the past quarter and 1.2 per cent year-on-year.

Yup. Despite austerity, belt-tightening, cutbacks, public sector redundancies, pay freezes, pension squeezes, there's-no-money-left, we're-in-this-together and all the rest of it, THE GOVERNMENT IS SPENDING MORE MONEY.

Money we don't have. Money we have borrowed. Money we did not earn from hosting foreign billionaires, money not pushed into the economy by impoverished farmers or lollypoppers, and certainly not money we gained in any way from a 2:1 history graduate with no experience whatsoever in economics marking time until he gets his soft, ladylike hands on daddy's baronetcy and millions.


I know, I know. It's a mess. That's what happens when you party without thinking it through.

You're probably thinking 'it's all right, David Cameron has just announced he's made Boris Johnson's brother head of his policy unit, they'll have some bright ideas and save us all, even the lollypop people, because that's their job'.

Perhaps I might agree with you, maybe there'd be reason for optimism and one tiny flicker of hope deep in the empty money caverns under Whitehall, if at their first frightfully positive meeting they had anything even approaching pens and paper.

They can't even draw a money tree.

'Our new policy is to ask nanny for some crayons.'

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Incredible (adj.): Too implausible to believe.

IN any crime, there are a thousand factors which combine to create the opportunity for someone to act like what my mother calls an ess-aitch-eye-tee.

Usually, before someone breaks the law, they have to think the law is looking the other way. They assess their chances of being caught, the likely benefits they'll reap, and whether their victim will notice.

So with car insurance scams an innocent driver gets rammed from behind by a fraudster who reckons no witness will refute him, goes on to claim compensation for whiplash, and the victim is everyone who uses the same insurance company and has to pay a little more.

With burglaries, a house is watched or happened across while dark and empty, someone weighs up the chances of finding a laptop they can get £50 for which will pay for a few drugs, and hey presto that's the back window smashed.

Phone hacking is - or was, since I doubt anyone's daft enough to be doing it any more - no different. As in white collar crimes like embezzlement, bribery, or insider dealing people do what they think they can get away with.

If they keep getting away with it, the temptation and frequency grows until it becomes brazen and so obvious the bank fails, the Ponzi scheme collapses or your newspaper shuts down.

In all cases the crime is the sole responsibility of the criminal. But when banks fail we ask what the regulator was doing, when the house is burgled we wonder if the culprit is already known to police.

Since the News of the World was closed two years ago, one tiny aspect in the abhorrent phone-hacking scandal has been quiet. That is why, despite the duplicity of a few criminals listening to voicemails on a near-industrial scale and despite the fact police were told about it in 2002, they did not stop them.

It is something which means you can't simply put the whole scandal down to the Press Complaints Commission being toothless, or a need for state control of the media. The criminals told the state what they were up to, and the state let them carry on.

In any crime, at any time, the public has a right to know who decided that and why. But especially so in this case, since that decision was one of the main causative factors of quite a lot of worrying things.

In the past two years journalists of all types have been traduced and vilified by a judge-led inquiry into the culture, ethics and practices of a Press involving 30,000 employees and brought into disrepute by, at best, a handful of their number.

You may love or loathe journalists, but we have only the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. If our right to question or publish within the reasonable limits of the law is infringed, then so is that of everyone with a Facebook or Twitter account.

Attack the Press and you attack everyone - even those who do not read their newspapers. Every one of us benefits from those in power being afraid of scrutiny, and if the scrutiny is removed every one of us pays the price.

At the last count there have been 59 arrests and 14 journalists charged, and even if against all probability they are all guilty they represent just 0.04% of the industry.

The current cost of that is £19.5million, predicted to rise to £40million by the end. That's £2,857,142.86 per person charged, without counting prosecution or defence costs of the trials.

There are more police hunting bad journalists than there are child rapists. You might not like journalists complaining about that, but you'd hate paedophiles crowing about it far more.

Of course an investigation was needed. It was needed in April 2002 when representatives of the News of the World contacted detectives investigating the disappearance of schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

These representatives told officers they had listened to 13-year-old Milly's voicemail. It's been said they met officers in person at Staines police station, and that they told them over the phone. They said there were messages which appeared to suggest she was alive and working at a Midlands clothing factory.

So certain were they that a team of reporters and photographers had been sent to stake out the factory - something which, even for a newspaper with massive resources, is not done lightly. They hassled the employment agency which left the messages, as well.

Unfortunately it was a simple wrong number. Unbeknown to anyone, Milly had been grabbed off the street and killed on her way home from school by a local man called Levi Bellfield, who had dumped her body in woods where she wasn't found for six months.

He lived 50 yards from where Milly had last been seen and drove a red car like one seen acting suspiciously in the area when she disappeared. He had a history of alleged rapes, drugging and assault.

But police failed to pick him up. They knocked ten times at his door but when there was no answer did not chase it up with the landlord until long after he'd moved out and the flat had been steam-cleaned and redecorated. They briefed journalists their main suspect was Milly's father after they found extreme pornography and bondage gear at the family home, and for a short while their attention was diverted to a Midlands clothing factory.

The NOTW voicemails were, in context, little more than a brief distraction from a criminal inquiry which was already fatally-flawed. It didn't help.

Before police finally caught Bellfield he murdered two women in hammer attacks and attempted to kill a third. He was not convicted of Milly's murder until 2011 - just a month before the NOTW closed, and not before his defence brief had dragged Bob Dowler through the public wringer over his sexual tastes.

In the nine years between that day and Milly's disappearance, her family suffered unspeakable grief. Not only did their daughter and sister die, she was murdered. Not only that but she was dumped and undiscovered for six months. Worse, when they rang her mobile they thought she was alive.


The act of listening to messages on Milly's voicemail caused them to be deleted. Both police and the NOTW listened to them, but not at the right times to be responsible for the deletion which gave her family false hope. The mobile was never found - perhaps Bellfield destroyed it. Perhaps he listened to her messages first, too.

The Dowler family have had all that to overcome, while also quite rightly being given centre stage among those calling for a change in the way the Press operates. I am not sure, in their shoes, whether I'd still have the strength to get out of bed.

And in all of the phone-hacking scandal there are so many strands that it's near-impossible to say one is the principle cause. You can't pin it to one person, or one day - it was a perfect storm where things collided to be as bad as possible.

Just one example is the bad bit of luck that Hugh Grant's car broke down on a motorway just as seedy ex-NOTW hack Paul McMullan was driving past with a camera in his glovebox - a fluke which meant he papped the actor, who later secretly recorded 'Mucky' telling tall tales about his red-top days, and wound up on Newsnight representing my entire trade despite the fact he hadn't been in it for donkeys' years.

Little threads like that combined with shocking revelations and unbearable human tragedy to produce something which, when woven together, looked very much like a fishing net. You could use it to catch a few big fish, and you could also trawl it to scoop up every innocent sprat.

It's impossible to unravel all those things, and even if you tried most of the net would still be there. But all those threads lead back in time to the day that police knew NOTW were hacking phones, and didn't nick anyone.

They did not, as far as we know, tell them off, speak to the editor, point out the error of their ways or ask the Crown Prosecution Service if it was worth a charge.

We don't know what they did, because as the Independent Police Complaints Commission has finally and belatedly revealed today every single officer involved has conveniently forgotten about it.

The report found that despite this hacking being known about "at all levels" in the murder inquiry, "no action was taken to investigate it despite an indication that a crime had potentially been committed".

It went on: "We have not been able to uncover any evidence, in documentation or witness statements, of why and by whom that decision was made: former senior officers, in particular, appear to have been afflicted by a form of collective amnesia."

Let's leave journalism aside for a moment and imagine what we'd make of this if it was any other crime. Organs being stored without relatives' approval, for instance, a cover-up into 96 deaths at a football match, perhaps, or a GP who was touching up his patients.

There'd be a bloody outcry, wouldn't there? The police knew, and did nothing, for nine years? It was exposed only by journalists ferreting around and leaked information, and the ensuing scandal means a hospital has shut down, a city has been defamed, or hundreds of people abused?

Parliament. Inquiries. Politicians demanding answers. We'd get the lot.

This time around, with hundreds of innocent journalists sacked by a company terrified of what people who used to work for it were accused of, thousands of people hacked and an industry defiled by both public disdain and our own rotten apples, we won't get any such thing.

And if there is any part of this entire shambles which deserves millions of pounds worth of investigating, a judge-led inquiry and some collars being felt it is the failure of Surrey Police to do their job.

Their failure to catch Milly's killer, their failure to stop him killing again, their failure to act on a crime not only perpetrated under their very noses but with the evidence presented to them afterwards in a big red bow, and their failure to extract digit from backside at any point between now and 2002.

Today all they've done is apologise to the Dowlers. They should actually be visiting every house in the country to grovel on the doormat.

Surrey Police know which detectives spoke to the NOTW, they know what they were told and by whom, and nary a copper has been nicked. From the IPCC statement it sounds like those concerned have retired on a nice, fat pension.

Collective amnesia? My fat arse it is. Collective back-covering more like, of exactly the kind which caused public disgust at the NOTW.

Surrey Police's failings led to the death of two women and traumatic injuries to a third. They led to a newspaper getting the impression phone-hacking was fine. They led to thousands of people, from Sienna Miller to families of 7/7 victims, getting their privacy trampled, to the most successful English language newspaper in the world shutting down, to hundreds being sacked, dozens arrested, to a £40million bill, to fears of secret justice and unknown arrests, and an 18-month inquiry the lasting legacy of which is a dog's breakfast of a Press regulator with a side order of shagging barristers.

Crimes are down to the criminals who commit them, and in the absence of any trials we don't yet have anyone to legally blame.

But crimes which the police know about and do nothing to stop are things we can discipline, sack, name and shame officers for. If we don't, we're telling the police that when they do wrong they won't get caught and no-one will notice.

And if they look the other way for phone-hacking, what are they going to do when your house is burgled, your car is rammed, and your boss has his fingers in the till?

There is no way to avert the things that have gone wrong, from bringing Milly back to staying the hands of the hackers before they picked up the phone. But if we have learned anything it should be, at the very least, to remember.

And bang up the amnesiacs responsible.