Phew ... The US election is exactly the same as a night I had watching Crystal Palace play football. Palace were dreadful, but the opposition were even worse, a goal slid slowly between their goalkeeper’s legs into the net, and the man sitting behind me said to his mate, “This is marvellous. I’ve always said football’s much more entertaining when BOTH teams are shite.”
What an ideal opportunity that was, to at last engage the local residents with the Olympics. When it turned out there weren't enough security staff, they should have employed east London's famous criminal community.
Who's the vindictive bastard who made Tony Blair give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry? This was heartlessly cruel, to all decent people who have tried to put Blair behind us and get on with our lives. But there he was again, tormenting us, making us feel like someone just coming to terms with their years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp and then the bloke who used to electrocute us every morning comes on daytime television, justifying himself and leaving us screaming and dribbling and eating an eight-pack box of Toffee Crisps as all the memories come washing back.
Up until now the argument has been that there's no alternative. We have to slash public spending and wages because there's so much debt that otherwise there'll be chaos, absolute chaos. The joy of this method is it saves having to make a case for your actions, so it ought to be used more often. Journalists accused of phone hacking could say, "I had no choice but to listen to a dead soldier's voicemail because otherwise there'd be chaos, absolute chaos. Just look at Greece, they didn't hack any phones and look at the mess they're in, there was no alternative."
Now that parties supporting cuts are losing elections across Europe, I wonder if the British Labour Party will consider a policy of opposing cuts. At the moment, they sort of oppose them, so if the government announces 200 libraries are closing next Wednesday morning, Labour says: "This is typical of this callous administration. They ought to wait until the afternoon."
The most fun part of the news at the moment is these interviews with the government of Bahrain. Because they start: “You have stated that you're moving your country towards democracy. Is that true, Crown Prince Imperial Grand Emperor O Flawless Being of Gorgeous Holy Succulent Mightiness?”
However the dispute in Britain about tax and charity donations ends up, the one thing we must all agree on is how inspiringly generous these philanthropists are, selflessly donating chunks of money that, by coincidence, are the amount they would have had to pay in tax anyway. Even the Good Samaritan would have said: "That's TOO philanthropic, you're being a fool to yourself."
We mustn't panic, but according to a front page headline in the Daily Mail we're being "HELD TO RANSOM BY 1,000 TANKER DRIVERS". What bad luck, that 1000 tanker drivers have become Somali pirates. I suppose they had to re-train because of redundancies in the piracy trade due to new technology, such as email ransom notes and digital planks. But they've perfected a new method of ransom, which is holding a strike ballot and counting the votes.
At last, the bill has been passed to enable Britain's health service, the envy of the world, to become more like the United States system, universally derided as a chaotic disaster. Now they can introduce bills to make our ferry service more like the one in Italy, and our record on child abuse more like that of the Vatican. It takes inventive thinking to hear that in the US, drug companies spend twice as much on advertising as they do on research, and say, "That's MARVELLOUS, why can't WE do that"?
The case of the soldier who went berserk in Afghanistan and killed 16 people must be utterly baffling to psychiatrists. Who can imagine what might cause someone in a stable environment such as Kandahar, with reliable role models training you to distrust the entire local population as terrorists, and no access to weapons except automatic machine guns, to flip like that? Still, they say it's always in the tranquil places that these things happen.
At last, the police have become efficient. They may have stumbled slightly with their investigation of News International, but they haven't made the same mistake with the people sitting around by St Paul's. Last year, presumably, if they'd been asked to evict Occupy London protests who camped at St Paul's Cathedral, they'd have written a report saying: "We have left no stone unturned in pursuing the occupiers, but after driving round the cathedral hundreds of times we have no evidence of any tents anywhere, or, indeed, of any cathedral."
Governments and commentators keen on promoting a war against Iran should be stridently opposed, not so much because of the threat to world peace, but because their reasons display a shocking lack of imagination. The most common one is that Iran has "Weapons of Mass Destruction". How pathetic to pick the same excuse twice in a row. They should make it more interesting, by revealing evidence that Ahmadinejad has built a Terminator, or plans to fill the Strait of Hormuz with a giant Alka-Seltzer so the Persian Gulf fizzes over Kuwait.
Britain's High Pay Commission has just published a report about the trend in salaries paid to the highest 0.1% of earners, and it seems that someone must have made a terrible mistake. Because, in this time of unprecedented debt and sacrifice, the government's making daily statements such as "in order to keep old age pensions viable, we are insisting from now on that the elderly contribute towards their upkeep, by going on the game for just two days a week”.
Instead of this pointless Vickers Report about how to sort out the banks, the investigation by the Independent Commission on Banking headed by John Vickers should have been carried out by Supernanny. She'd have sorted it. Because the problem seems to be they've got no discipline. And governments have been like these soppy posh parents you get who watch their toddlers go berserk in public, and eventually say, "Polyglot, darling, I've warned you haven't I, about drilling through a stranger's leg with a masonry bit. Now please put the tools down or you won't get a canape."
The problem, apparently, is red tape. It's stifling business and preventing growth, because red tape is evil, and you can no more argue in favour of red tape than say: "I don't wish to contribute to the fight against cancer as I think we should have more of it." For example, Conservative Party Member of the European Parliament Julie Girling wrote on August 30 that red tape is preventing businesses from making agency staff work more than 48 hours a week, which “costs companies £2 billion [$3 billion] a year”.
People who love to scream about stern discipline are having a fantastic time in post-riot Britain. My favourite was a man on a Radio 5 phone-in, who ended his rant by yelling: “I TELL you how little discipline there is. My son gets homework and he’s allowed to do it ON HIS COMPUTER. “We need to GET BACK to PENCIL and PAPER!” And you felt that if you suggested “What about pen and paper?”, he’d shriek “NO! NOT PEN, YOU BLOODY LIBERAL. PENCIL! They have to SHARPEN pencils, it teaches them DISCIPLINE!”