November 2014

So Dennis MacShane was wrong then, eh?

Up to 13,000 people in Britain are being held in conditions of slavery, four times the number previously thought, the Home Office has said.

In what is said to be the first scientific estimate of the scale of modern slavery in the UK, the Home Office has said the number of victims last year was between 10,000 and 13,000.

They include women forced into prostitution, domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.

13,000 is obviously 13,000 too many but if that’s the total number of slaves then there’s not 25,000 sex slaves alone then, is there?

A very confusing argument here

More than 40 million farm animals are estimated to die each year in the UK before they reach the slaughterhouse, according to a report to be published this week which urges the government to introduce measures that would compel farmers to disclose the numbers.

The report, The Uncounted Dead: Farming’s unofficial victims, by Animal Aid, an organisation opposed to meat eating, is the first to put a figure on the number of animals that die before slaughter.

So, an organisation that opposes the slaughter of animals for us to eat them opposes the idea of animals dying naturally before we slaughter them to eat them?

That’s a bit, umm, confused, isn’t it?

Well, yes, but

Grouse shooting and deer stalking will stop at many of Scotland’s sporting estates after the country’s new First Minister scrapped a key tax break, land management experts warned last night.

CKD Galbraith, Scotland’s leading rural consultancy, predicted the owners of some estates and large farms would stop providing sporting activities after Nicola Sturgeon scrapped an exemption from business rates worth millions of pounds.

Tim Kirkwood, the firm’s chief executive, said many rely on the generosity of well-heeled benefactors based in London or abroad, and they may not be willing to find the extra money to fund a “significant burden”.

Richard Stirling-Aird, a trustee for the Kippendavie estate near Dunblane, said the tax break was worth £10,000 to a large estate when it was introduced 20 years ago and predicted scrapping it would lead to job losses as many are run at a loss.

Both men agreed the change could backfire as assessing hundreds of estates and farms for business rates on their sporting income only could cost more than the revenue generated. Council assessors will have to decide the properties’ rental value based on their activities or acreage.

Of course
, the reason the SNP are doing it is to hit out at the Lairds. But even so, there’s no good theoretical reason for sporting estates not to pay the same taxes that every other rural business does. You’re using the land for a business: pay business taxes.

Of course, my logic also says that farms should be paying business rates. But then they should, too.

Provocative but wrong

There’s much to cheer with Tebbit but this is still incorrect:

EU migrants should be asked if their forefathers fought the Nazis, Lord Tebbit has said.

The former Tory party chairman said the equivalent of his famous and controversial “cricket test” for EU countries today, would be to ask: “Who did they fight for in the Second World War?”

In an interview with BBC Newsnight, Lord Tebbit said: “Well one test I would use is to ask them on which side their fathers or grandfathers or whatever fought in the Second World War. And so you’ll find that the Poles and the Czechs and the Slovaks were all on the right side. And so that’s a pretty good test isn’t it? Perhaps we’ll even manage to teach them to play cricket over the years.”

Here in the Sudetenland the idea that all the Czechs (and more especially the Slovaks, under Tiso) were on the right side is, umm, complex, shall we say. And of course this test puts Stalin and his murderers on the “right” side as well.

Much fun as a piece of provocation but not a terribly useful real world test.

Oh my word this is lovely

OK, so there’s that Ukip boo boo where a tweet went out identifying Westminster Cathedral as a mosque.


But, you know, human beings, mistakes etc.

The Evening Standard reports the story.

Which, apparently, they originally illustrate with a picture of Westminster Abbey.

Ken16 hours ago
The first photo is of Westminster Abbey, not Cathedral…ES editors obviously don’t know the difference. The Cathedral hardly resembles a mosque but its Byzantine inspired architecture is quite Eastern…
2 replies

mrmx5er15 hours ago
Ken – How long before the picture is changed and our posts are deleted?
1 reply

mrmx5er13 hours ago
Picture has been changed now.

This reigion and buildings stuff sure is hard, isn’t it?

Two things about evolution

I think we all know the game “two things about everything”?

Two things about boxing:


Don’t get hit.

Two things about economics:

Incentives matter.

There are always opportunity costs.

So, two things about evolution. But this is just a proposal, needs some work perhaps.

“The animal with the most grandchildren wins.

8 great nephews equals one grandchild.”

The thing is, not sure if I’ve got Haldane’s multiplier about brothers and cousins right there. Anyone actually know the correct multiple? 4? 16?


We are working harder than ever and it’s killing us. We need more chill time
Long hours make us ill and ineffective. With greater space and flexibility, people could be more creative

Working hours have been falling for the past two centuries…..

The Wonder Of The World it is

The NHS spends over £80 million each year handing out paracetamol with the average prescription costing 20 times the price of a packet of the simple painkiller in the supermarket.

This year 22 million prescriptions for paracetamol were written at a cost to tax payers of over £80 million pounds – an average cost of £3.67 per prescription.

This is a 13 per cent increase on last year when £73.5million was spent on the medicine, Government figures issued in a written answer have shown.


Ritchie’s just so bloody ignorant, isn’t he?

The country’s leading tax expert and tax campaigner seems to know alarmingly little about the tax system.

Now, we know that Dame Angelina got her title for services to William Hague but this is taking matters a little far. Apparently the opinion of someone who might want ‘a foothold for work’ here but is not actually resident, and who is unlikely ever to be so, let alone become domiciled, apparently matters enough to be reported as a matter of significant UK political concern.

Well, if that’s the case then let me contextualise this, and offer a response. First, Angeline, there are a lot of people already here and who have rather more than a foothold in UK work who would dearly love a house in this country; any house; and can’t get one. That’s in no small part because people like you have dragged London house prices way out of any scale that they will ever be able to afford. And all you want is to use them as a ‘foothold’, and not live in them.

Second, we only really want people to come here if they are willing to pay our taxes chosen by our democratically elected government. If you don’t like that, please don’t bother to create a foothold or anything else as we think paying tax is the obligation that arises from any such presence.

So, err, what’s the implication of Angelina Jolie doing some work in the UK? Whether she becomes resident or domiciled or not?

Well, actually, the implication of an actor doing some work in the UK (and this does matter, we’ve a fairly large studio over at Pinewood and so on) is that they pay UK income tax on the earnings in this country. There’s even a specialist HMRC unit that deals with such matters:


Q. Why pay tax twice – at home and in the UK?

A. The UK is entitled to tax on any income arising there; money due is collected from non-resident entertainers through a withholding tax. There is a misconception about withholding tax that it is in addition to tax paid in the person’s home country. This is not so. The UK has Double Taxation Agreements with over 100 countries to prevent double taxation.

When an entertainer or sportsperson pays UK tax on income they will be given a certificate (form FEU2) confirming the amount of tax paid. This certificate can be used to support any claim to foreign tax credit relief in their home country. In general, assuming the entertainer or sportsperson has sufficient tax liability in their country of residence, it will be possible to claim credit for the whole of the UK tax deducted.

The man’s simply ignorant of the subjects he decides to opine upon, isn’t he?

If Angelina Jolie works here she will pay tax here, as our democratically elected government has decided she will.

Is there no beginning to this man’s knowledge?

Blimey, what a stunning finding!

It is an inconvenient truth that some book fans will be quick to deny.

But according to a new survey, most people in Britain prefer to read books by writers of their own gender – and tend to read fewer of those written by the opposite sex.

The research, which comes after claims of sexism in publishing, found a stark gender divide in reading habits in the 40,000 people polled.

Male authors accounted for 90 per cent of men’s 50 most-read titles this year, while the reverse was true for the women’s titles.

One of the books on the women’s list by a man was Robert Galbraith, or JK Rowling.

It’s almost as if chick lit didn’t exist, isn’t it? Or that male writers producing such don’t take female pen names. Or even that plenty of female writers have produced the male pulps but not under their own names.

Publishers worked this out well over half a century ago. Aren’t we lucky to have modern science, eh?

Umm, no, no, I don’t think so

Scottish MPs will retain full voting rights on UK Budgets despite control over income tax being transferred to the Edinburgh parliament, Labour sources have said ahead of the publication on Thursday of a cross-party deal on devolution.

That’s cake and eat it politics.

It’s such an obvious fiddle to leave open the possibility of Labour being able to gain a majority to influence English tax rates that it’s laughable.

Bugger off.

Black Friday and Holiday Gifties

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For the boyfriend of that bird you hate:

Or, just, well anything really:

You know you’re going to be spending the money so why not do it here?

Fun little thing to note

Police are investigating members of the House of Lords after one peer, Lord Hanningfield, was found to have abused his Parliamentary expenses.


Police have launched an inquiry after Lord Hanningfield was found to have claimed a £300 allowance for days on which he did no parliamentary work.

The former Conservative council leader

Guess which paper named the party and which didn’t.

I still do think that this is odd

During the custody battle the actress told Ebony magazine: “I feel she (Nahla) is black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory.

“I’m not going to put a label on it. I had to decide for myself and that’s what she’s going to have to decide, how she identifies herself in the world.”

This lady who is black is:

Berry is the daughter of a white mother from Liverpool and a black father.

And the father of the child she is talking about is white.

In one sense it’s not odd for back in the days of antebellum slavery the girl, one quarter black, would have been described (or could have been perhaps) as a quadroon. And as such could have been a slave. One quarter was enough for that.

But it is slightly odd that people are still using such slavery based definitions…..

Well, sorta Polly

There is nothing hypocritical, as the Mail and Sun suggest, about Oxbridge-educated Labour politicians advocating greater equality in a country on a frightening trajectory of social injustice.

The problem is, as Danny Dorling’s latest book makes entirely clear, that this fight for equality is really the 0.9% of the 1% getting mightily pissed off at the 0.1% of the 1%. It’s those Oxbridge educated Labour politicians screaming about how they can only afford a house in Islington these days as Hampstead and Holland Park are being colonised by those grubby bankers, the bastards.

It’s a fight about positional goods among the 1%, nothing else. The intellectuals, the newspaper columnists, the professoriate, finding out that the rules about being upper middle class have changed, nowt else.

At which point the rest of us say bugger it, who the hell cares?

Save Madame Jojo’s!

Nestled in the heart of Soho in central London sits a small, unimpressive looking venue. Push your way through the double doors beneath a seedy flashing neon sign, however, and you encounter a plush world of opulence, red velvet curtains and art deco mirrors.

Until recently, the crowd filling the dance floor was as likely to be clad in baseball caps and chains as burlesque basques and feathers, but Madame Jojo’s – home to some of London’s most diverse nightlife for more than half a century – has now shut down for good.

News that Westminster council had revoked its license this week following an incident outside the club has been greeted with disbelief, both by those who have hosted nights at the venue for years and the many loyal punters who flocked there every week in search of the quirkier side of London’s club scene.

Supporters of Madame Jojo’s say that the closure is part of the council’s drive to gentrify Soho, which is robbing the area of its unqiue atmosphere and heritage in the process.

The venue, known to many as the home of burlesque and cabaret in Soho, hosted some of the earliest gigs played by bands such as The xx and Anna Calvi, and Lorde played her first UK show there. It was also the focal point of Michael Winterbottom’s 2013 film The Look Of Love, in which Steve Coogan plays Paul Raymond, the Soho porn baron who owned and ran Madame Jojo’s in the 1960s.

Well, yes, but back in the day it was a drag palace. With a very diverse clientele actually, including me.

For they had a very enlightened door policy. Unlike some clubs that, when catering to a particular market discriminated against elsewhere, they didn’t discriminate against those who were not part of that particular market.

More specifically, back then, pubs closed at 11. And as a waiter in the West End you’d be unlikely to get out of work by then. A couple of pints was therefore not really on the cards before making for the last Tube home. Pisser really. Except at Jojo’s. Low entry fee, reasonable price for beer. So, the crowd could often be remarkably mixed. On the one side of the place a reasonably typical drag bar, gay meeting place, what have you. Including all the usual enjoyable sights: I particularly remember one regular performer, built like an international second row, 6 ft 5 before the Dolly Parton wig and heels, who would sing out the usual songs in a nice falsetto while being accompanied on the piano.

Round the corner would be a little kaffeeklatch of waiters and waitresses, just finished work, downing a few before that last Tube (with a certain amount of that matching off to equal what was going on in other parts of the club).

It also wasn’t “two crowds”, although it was in one manner. Obviously everyone pretty quickly worked out who was interested in what but interesting people to talk to are interesting people to talk to so there was indeed mixing.

Perhaps the most important thing was that, back then, Jojo’s was what all too many aren’t these days. Tolerant. Sure it was a gay club but you didn’t have to be gay to go there. No one ever asked or even implied that if you weren’t you shouldn’t. It was a boozer really, one with a certain slant, Their gaff their rules (Jojo himself, at least that’s what I recall he was referred to often being around) but those rules were, as I say, not just tolerant of the incrowd but tolerant of all who didn’t actively oppose that incrowd.

Which is pretty much how I think it all should be and for that reason, if that reason only (and I agree, I’m talking through the fog of 30 years of history here) Madame Jojo’s should be saved.

Not that it has much to do with me nor that my support or otherwise is going to change anything but so what? My gaff and I can say what the hell I like, right?

Might I suggest a visit to Aldi?

This looks very much like a bargain:

Among the high-end wines is Chateau Pajzos Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos 2008, a rare and highly regarded Hungarian dessert wine priced at £18.99.

OK, not everyone likes dessert wines etc. But that does look like a bargain.

And for those who don’t know, Tokay is graded in “puts”. Goes from zero to seven, zero to three (hmm, might be zero to two) not really ever being seen in public. 4 and 5 get better and 7 is known as Angel’s Tears (although you’d have to be very lucky indeed to get to taste 7 Puttonyos) as when some is passed over the lips of a corpse, as if the angels were weeping over it, that corpse gets up and walks.

6 puts is usually a very fine wine indeed. Traditionally, way back when, regarded as the equal or better of Chateau Yquem and the like.

If you’ve not tried it then I recommend you do.

No, this is not a paid advertisement.