Quite Simon

For the avoidance of doubt – and I would never want you to have any of that – let me state where, for what it is worth, I stand on the European Union. I am against it. This is not a johnny-come-lately position. I have been against it since before we were in it.

I was against it when many of those now against it were actually rather for it. I can still recall the visceral disappointment when, in June 1975, we missed the chance to come out of it. I look at Third-World and collapsing economies such as Norway and Switzerland, and think wistfully of what might have been.

Simon Heffer.

Could be Interesting, Eh?

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair have been ordered by the information watchdog to disclose details of their expenses in a move which could lead to nearly all MPs\’ spending broken down for publication.

These are test cases: as we know this information is not routinely released, but someone has asked under an FoI request, for the details of six MPs, and the Information Commissioner has said that they should be released. Thus the details of all MPs can be found by asking fo such FoI information.


Demand for trained nannies has sent their salaries to record levels, with many earning as much as teachers, nurses or police officers.

So what? Isn\’t this what you would expect in a properly functioning labour market? Roughly equal skills levels command roughly equal wages?

Publishing Press Releases

I do wonder sometimes:

They are famous for their sculpted bodies and minuscule bathing suits but Brazilians are getting fatter, according to a study.

More than half of all adults are overweight, said the report by the Brazilian Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

Bariatric surgery being that one where they staple your stomach smaller so that you don\’t eat as much. Has, I\’m told, a 1% death rate fom complications of the surgery. So now we take our statistics on weight problems in the population from the trade organisations of those who benefit from scaring people about weight problems in the population?

School Cookery Lessons

A list of those things that schoolchildren should be able to cook:

Carrot dippers and cheese and chive dip.

Potato and cauliflower cakes.

Vegetable soup with swede or turnip.

Cottage pie with parsnip topping.

Cucumber raita.

Spring greens stir fry.

Purple sprouting broccoli and fish parcels.

Spinach mushroom and onion lasagne.

Spring onion, smoked fish and new potato salad.

Veggie kebabs.

Peas and beans in tomato sauce.

Summer berry fruit salad

Sweetcorn on the cob.

Curried squash.

Chicken, leek and mushroom bake.

Poached pears.

Looks like a fairly political little list don\’t you think? No pork (and if you\’re learning to cook, pork is one of those meats that you do need to learn to cook properly), one beef dish (although not very much. 1lb of beef for 4-6 people is hardly lavishing it on people). Mucho mucho veggie stuff.


Blogger Needs Help.

So, got a spare fiver or so, perhaps a little more, sitting around in a PayPal account?

You do?


Go here, here and here. Then stick some cash into the paypal account on any of those pages.

Yes, of course the things he needs we have already paid for through taxation, and we all know how efficient that system is, don\’t we?

The man\’s struggling to afford an armchair that he can actually sit in. He was, until earlier today, wondering how to have a walking stick made to his needs (rather than an adjustable one which continually breaks). A bath that he can get in and out of would be nice, as would raised kitchen counter tops.

No, of course, we\’re not going to buy all those things for a stranger, someone we\’ve never met, someone we know only as a collection of electrons on a screen.

But we might club together and buy one of them perhaps?

No, don\’t gather here, go there and spend some money. Or at the least, repeat this post or the instructions in it on your own blog.

Yes Polly, there is such a thing as society: it\’s just not the same as the State.

Carbon Capture

New power stations across Europe could be routinely fitted with carbon-dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology within two years under a proposal by the European Commission.

Good news, eh?

Well, not quite:

Next week, the commission will propose a directive on geological storage of CO2 that would require all new fossil-fuel combustion plants to have “suitable space on the installation site for the equipment necessary to capture and compress CO2”.

Given that we\’ve not yet invented decent carbon capture technology, how do they know how much space to leave?

Road Tax


The DVLA said that it was planning a three-month trial, to begin this year, of issuing penalties within a month of a disc expiring. It was unable to explain why it did not simply force drivers to backdate their discs when renewing them.

I thought you did have to backdate?

Eight Different Healthy Meals


Teenagers will be given compulsory cooking lessons at school for the first time, under government plans to ensure that all pupils know how to make eight different healthy meals.

And they\’re asking us, yes, us plebs, to provide the list of dishes that they should know how to cook.

So, no pork, for that will offend Muslims (well, the professional race mob at least), no beef (Hindus), no nuts because of allergies, no butter, sugar, salt (obesity), no trans-fats (because the previous advice about butter turned out to be wrong). Gonna be interesting, eh?

So, leaving aside those problems, what should the ankle biters be taught to cook?

Roast beef and the trimmings? Chicken Massala? Toad in the Hole? Deep fried Pizza?

Polly on the BBC

Three points:

1) "Top-Slicing." The idea that the licence fee should be spread out amongst all public service broadcasters, not just the one.But aren\’t we all supposed to be becoming more Continental, ever closer to our European partners? The tax here in Portugal (which is, bizarrely, part of your electricity bill) is spread amongst all such. So why not in the UK?

2) "Three independent recent polls show the licence fee is not only acceptable, but a majority of people would pay more than the current level to keep the BBC." Excellent, so let those who wish to pay do so. Allow those who do not not to do so. Abolish the licence fee altogether and make it a subscription service. After all, Polly\’s argument is that it would be able to make more money that way than it does currently.

3) And this comes from the very depths of my cynical heart. The BBC is pretty much alone in paying talking heads to appear on it. £50 or so for 15 minutes on a Radio 4 programme, £3,000 or so for Question Time (if that\’s the right name for the TV show where four political types exhibit their wisdom on the issues of the day with Dimbleby). Certain Guardian journalists (no names, no pack drill) appear quite often on such shows. It couldn\’t possibly be true that defense of the licence fee is motivated by that small part of it that works its way through the system to those doing the defending. No, absolutely not, that\’s too cynical even for me.

But an interesting question does arise. Would Polly like to tell us how much she has been paid by the BBC over the past 12 months? Just to start things off, I\’ll reveal my number. £108 (from memory, an all too fallible thing I\’m afraid)


Tranzi Drivel of the Day

Edward McMillan-Scott:

The time has come for Europe to help a troubled globe – from Kenya to Pakistan to Palestine – to understand that democracy, human rights, the rule of law and economic freedom – the EU\’s founding principles – offer more lasting peace and prosperity than the simplistic Bush formula.

That\’s the EU he\’s describing? Democracy? The Commissioners are appointed, not elected, the Parliament, which is elected, has no power (and the authorities actually complain when you try to count the votes properly) and there is no European demos, without which it is really rather difficult to have democracy.

Human rights? That\’s, err, the Council of Europe, isn\’t it?

The rule of law? Remember what they did to Bowland\’s Dairy?

Economic freedom? Under the Roman Law system they are imposing?

No, I don\’t think that Bush\’s vision of the world is perfect either but this is absurd.