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

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?