Tag Archives: satire

Austerity

Austerity’s a mystery plan
It’s full of holes and flaws
It works out best for wealthy folks who can avoid tax laws
It causes bafflement to the sensible
Economists’ despair
For when they reach the quarter’s end, Recovery’s not there! 
Austerity, austerity, there’s nothing like austerity
It’s broken many people’s homes
Hurts people with impunity
Osborne’s powers of calculation would make the World Bank stare
And when you reach the quarter’s end, Recovery’s not there! 
You may seek it in the High Street
You may look up stocks and shares
But I tell you once and once again, Recovery’s not there! 
Austerity owns a ginger prat
He’s very dull and dim
He does his master’s dirty work and mimics dear old Gid
Says we can pay for HS2
But can’t repair the roads
And if you’re on any benefits
Who cares if you lose your home?
They say they’ll save us money on our heating bills this year
But don’t believe a word of it: the Big Six just don’t care
Corporations avoid their taxes
While people take payday loans
Buildings dusty with neglect
We’re all being bought and sold
Austerity, austerity, there’s nothing like austerity
Better hope that you don’t break a bone
They’ve closed Accident & Emergency
VAT goes up but millionaires get breaks
You really have to wonder how much more pain we can take
You may walk a ghostly High Street
No living wage, no spending
Zero hours are all the rage; when’s austerity ending?
We’re “all in this together”
Building homes most can’t afford
An aspiration nation for precious few of those who work hard
And when the NHS is looted
Or inflation keeps on rising
Or education gets you nowhere
Or when compassion’s missing
Or employment rights are stifled
Or wages are suppressed, infrastructure past repair
There’s the wonder of the thing: Recovery’s not there! 
Austerity, austerity, there’s nothing like austerity
Even cutting firemen ’cause we can’t afford the salaries
He always has an answer and one or two to spare
“If anyone is suffering
They’re shirkers, so who cares?”
And they say that all the MPs whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Eric Pickles, Duncan Smith, Cameron)
Are nothing more than agents for the one who all the time
Just controls the operations
The Chancellor of Crime! 
Austerity, austerity, there’s nothing like austerity
He’s a fiend in human shape
Shocking in his audacity
For he won’t bat an eyelid
At anyone’s despair
When inflation outstrips wages and Recovery’s not there! 

A Song for Nick Clegg*

I need a little time 
To taste real power
I need a little space 
In a coalition
I need a little time 
While they take your freedom 
I need a little… 

Funny how quick politics turns sour 
Isn’t it, isn’t it 
Told bare faced lies in your lust for power
Didn’t you, didn’t you
Promises, promises turn to dust 
Manifesto pledges burned to ash  
Trust into mistrust 

I need a little room 
To find myself 
Just have one chance
With first past the post
I need a little room 
Just me and David
I need a little… 

You need a little room for your Tory friends
Don’t you, don’t you 
Abandoned the poor, stole hospital beds 
Didn’t you, didn’t you 
LibDems promise – we fear the worst 
Shed principles – the bubble burst 
Just into unjust 

I’ve had a little time 
As a Tory mouthpiece
Now l’ve had a little room 
Seen what we’ve become
I’ve had a little time 
We did nothing wrong
I’ve had a little… 

You had a little time 
With the Tory scum
Didn’t you, didn’t you 
Led by the nose
In your dirty coalition
Aren’t you, aren’t you 
The centre ground you wanted bad 
Is yours for good 
I hope you’re glad 
A vote for you would be mad

I had a little time 
To see the polls
Had a little room 
Seen seats we’ll lose

Can’t find the courage 
To call it off 

I’ve had a little time 
I’ve had a little time
I’ve had a little time 
I’ve had a little time

* with apologies to the Beautiful South for mixing song titles

24/8/13
Great Comment piece by Nick Cohen in Observer on the Lib Dem sell out

You give lawyers a bad name

A slip or a trip
Let’s apportion blame 
Darlin’ You give lawyers a bad name 
A cash windfall is what you sell 
You promise a payday, then put me through Hell 
Chains of greed got a hold on me 
Once my claim is issued, I can’t break free 

Oh, you’re a hired gun, yeah 
You say don’t stop ’til I’ve won
But cash won’t change the fact that 
The damage is done 

A slip or a trip
Let’s apportion blame 
You give lawyers a bad name (bad name) 
I pay my bills and you play your game 
You give lawyers a bad name (bad name) 
You give lawyers, a bad name 

You tell me, I can win this
With a few grand to your expert witness
You urge me on, to go to trial
Now I just want it over, before I die 

Oh, you’re a hired gun 
You say don’t stop ’til I’ve won
But cash won’t change the fact that
The damage is done 

A slip or a trip
Let’s apportion blame 
You give lawyers a bad name (bad name) 
I pay my bills and you play your game 
You give lawyers a bad name (bad name)
You give lawyers, oh! 

Oh! A slip or a trip 
Let’s apportion blame 
You give lawyers a bad name 
I pay my bills and you play your game 
You give lawyers a bad name (bad name) 

“Inspired” by an article @AidanHarding shared with me about a claim brought in the States by the family of a cyclist who died against Strava, which operates a site enabling people to compete against each other over road or trail segments using gps. He was 41 years old and riding at at least 40mph (the limit was 30mph) when he was hit by a car and died. Of course it’s a tragedy for the family but lawyers like theirs make every day an uphill battle against the reputation their cases land the rest of the profession with. I’ve known some really dedicated personal injury lawyers who are quick to warn people off frivolous, vexatious or plain unwinnable claims. Many UK personal injury lawyers either have already been made redundant or face redundancy in the not too distant future because the ethically shaky actions of some have been accepted as a profession-wide norm, making it easier to push the Jackson reforms through (and cut Legal Aid in medical negligence cases).

Stuck with the yellow and blue

Well I don’t know how we got this blight,
No one won on election night,
I’m so scared in case I fall down the stairs,
‘Cause they’re closing our beloved NHS,
Cowards to the left of them,
Racists to the right, here I am,
Stuck with the yellow and blue.

Yes I’m stuck with the yellow and blue,
And it seems there’s not a thing I can do,
It’s so hard to see smug grins on their face,
Lost control, Britain’s all over the place,
Cowards to the left of them,
Racists to the right, here I am,
Stuck with the yellow and blue.

They say if you started out with nothing,
You can become a self made man,
But you’ll find out they’re all lyin’,
They’ll slap you in the face and say,
Tuition fees…. tuition fees…..

Trying to make some sense of it all,
But I can see it makes no sense at all,
Is it cool to go to sleep on the floor?
‘Cause I can’t afford my rent no more,
Cowards to the left of them,
Racists to the right, here I am,
Stuck with the yellow and blue.

Well you started out with nothing,
And still they want to cut your funds,
And LibDems, they all come crawlin,
Stab you in the back and say,
Please…. Please…..

Well I don’t know how we got this blight,
No one won on election night,
I’m so scared in case I fall on my face,
Cause no one gets the Sick these days,
Cowards to the left of them,
Racists to the right, here I am,
Stuck with the yellow and blue,
Yes I’m stuck with the yellow and blue,
Stuck with the yellow and blue.

If Hansard did subtext

In an alternate universe, the Speaker of the House of Commons would be less hapless au pair and more 1950s teacher. In the depths of my fevered imagination, that alternate universe’s Hansard transcript would go like this:

Speaker: None of you is leaving this room until you ADMIT WHAT YOU’VE DONE. We will sit here until those involved take responsibility for their actions.

[Some muted muttering and shuffling of feet but absolute stillness on the front benches.]

Speaker: Well?…I can and will lock those doors and keep all of you after class…you’d make everyone else suffer, rather than admit it? Right then. No dinner for you lot. I’m taking it all off the table. You think it’s hard to manage on £65,000 a year? See how you manage without expenses.

[Speaker pauses again and glares around, trying to catch the eyes of the front benches but some are staring at their feet, while others keep their heads held high and stare straight ahead of them.]

Speaker: Osborne. What do you have to say for yourself, you creepy little sod?

[Sullenly, Osborne’s gaze shifts and he meets Speaker’s eye.]

Osborne: ‘S not my fault Sir. Balls & his gang ballsed it all up. And I’m fixing..

Balls: Are not…

Osborne: Am too and it’s all your fault.

Speaker: GENTLEMEN. You’ll get your turn to speak Balls. Osborne, are you sure you don’t want to own up.

Osborne: No, sir.

Speaker: Anything more to say for yourself?

[An eager hand shoots up, its owner shuffling with excitement like someone about to lose control of his bladder.]

Speaker [sighs]: Yes Alexander.

Alexander: Osborne’s right sir. It’s not his fault. It’s

[pauses, struggling to recall the lessons he learned by rote]

a global problem. They got in bed

[pauses while his audience titters, then rushes on breathlessly, eager to impress]

with the bankers and…and…the Eurozone. That’s it. And Amewicca and the skivers and…

Speaker: Yes. Thank you,  Alexander. You have correctly regurgitated all the excuses your friends have been using but we’re here to get to the bottom of things, not to go over the same ground again.

[Alexander is no longer listening. He’s nudging Osborne in the ribs and grinning with a desperate air, hoping for approval that isn’t forthcoming.]

Speaker: Now, Balls. What do you have to say for yourself?

Balls: Ed Balls.

Speaker: WHAT did you say?

Balls: I ain’t saying nuffink. You ain’t the boss of me.

Milliband: I think what Ed means to say is that mistakes were made under Labour. We have admitted that because we know this is the only way we’re taking back into office in 2015.

Speaker: Indeed…and Gromit. Uh. That is to say, Balls, do you freely admit this?

Balls: Well yeah, some departments. Some departments screwed things up.  Immigration, what a mess. Not my department. My department didn’t do anything wrong.

Speaker: And the enormous deficit you left the country with?

Balls: But…everyone was doing it! Easy credit. Who wouldn’t jump at that?

Speaker: And what do you say to the accusation that you shouldn’t have bailed the banks out?

Balls: Balls.

Speaker: Pardon?

Balls: It’s Balls. The Tories voted with us on bank bailouts.

Speaker: I see. Clegg. What do you have to say for yourself?

Clegg: I’m sorry.

Speaker: Aha. Finally. What do you accept responsibility for young man?

Clegg: I didn’t say I accept responsibility. I just said I’m sorry. I hope that if I do it at random intervals I won’t lose my job in 2015.

Speaker [sighs]: Cameron, what do you say to the allegation that you are wilfully using the European Union to distract the British people from your toxic and chaotic policies?

Cameron: S not my fault. It’s this monkey on my shoulder.

Speaker: Oh for heavens sake Farage. Get off his shoulder. How many times do you have to be told. You are not a member of parliament and nor are any of your party.

Farage: Sooon. Sooooon my pretties. Dance. Dance to the tune I play for you. Mwahahahaha

[Farage scampers out to be interviewed on every current affairs show the BBC has]

Speaker: Now. Gove?

Gove: I’ve got nothing to say. You can’t make me talk. Not you, not the Information Commissioner, not nobody. You hear me?

Speaker: Not even in Latin?

Gove: Ah, well. You see. My goal is to put the poor in puer and puerella. Why, in September 2015 I will…

Twigg: Sir. He’s getting the math wrong again. Look. The question is…

Speaker: Uh. I don’t believe I’ve seen you before, boy. Remind me of your name again?

Twigg: Twigg sir. Look, if the Tories are polling abysmally and a general election must be called by May 2015, who will be in power by September 2015?

Speaker: Ah. Yes. I see. Sorry Gove but you fail. Hunt. You stand accused of breaking up the NHS. Surely you must take some responsibility.

Hunt: You all need to take some homeopathic soothers. Just relax. I know what I’m doing.

Burnham: Yeah. Privatising the NHS, you cock.

Hunt: Am not.

Burnham: Are too and IDS wants to ruin the NHS and then send people back to work without medical help.

Speaker [sotto voce]: I wonder whether there’s any openings in academy schools. It’s got to be easier than this.  

IDS: Only skivers! Those who work hard and are higher rate tax payers will have full access to the NHS.

McVey: Yes and we know for a fact that most “disabled” are faking and don’t really even need medical help. It stands to reason that it’s in their best interests to cut NHS services.

Back benches chant: Es-ter Es-ter Es-ter

McVey: Our proposals are fair and equitable.

Cooper: Oh, yeah? Then why are people dying?

IDS: Poppycock.

Alexander: He he he.

McVey: Just rumours and gossip. We have common sense on our side and common sense says there’s no such thing as disability and if there was disabled people not in work would be better off dead.

[Cooper rises and slaps McVey. McVey pulls Cooper’s hair]

Back benches chant: Cat fight, cat fight, cat fight

Speaker: Ladies! That’s quite enough of that. Now what about the bedroom tax? It’s said hundreds of thousands of people, mostly disabled, will be hurt by this.

Cameron [whines]: It’s not a tax. It’s a spare room subsidy.

Byrne: Mate. If you’re a product of the public school system, it’s no wonder we’re all fucked. The very definition of a subsidy is that it involves giving something, not taking it away.

Cameron: That’s not true! It’s just a lie concocted by the Marxists at the BBC. They changed every dictionary in the country, just to make me look bad!

Speaker [rolls eyes]: Pickles. Surely you must have something to say on the bedroom tax. After all, you’re involved in building new appropriate housing.

[Pickles continues to masticate, a look of contemplation on his face. Finished he turns to the speaker with a bovine expression, lifts a sheep’s thigh bone and picks his teeth]

Shapps: I’ll take this one, if I may. You see, in my rather lovely home in a nice, expensive part of my constituency, my sons share a bedroom. They make do.

Byrne: Aye, Shapps? Give it a rest. You’re so greedy you even had two names!

Pickles [slowly realising he’s been asked a question]: Nowt to do with me mate. Ask that thar Freud.

Freud: It’s perfectly simple. The poor are obsessed with sex. Their mummy fixation stems from years of rule by an overbearing woman, Margaret Thatcher. The bedroom tax will ensure that people have less sex and less children, leaving them with free time to spend starving in ditches. Perfectly reasonable. It fulfills the brief set by cabinet.

Speaker: It reduces the deficit?

Freud: Not really.

Speaker: It leads to a fairer allocation of housing stock?

Freud: Steady on, old boy. No. It ensures that the British poor don’t get more sex than the cabinet.

Speaker : Ah. Well, yes. Mission accomplished.

Cameron [waves]: Cooie Mr Speaker. Must dash. I’ve got ribbon tyings to attend.

Speaker: What in the name of God is a ribbon tying?

Cameron: Photo ops are getting thin on the ground but I need them to feed my insane belief that the commoners love me so Gideon came up with a cracking wheeze. I’ll do a ceremonial ribbon tying when things close. I’m doing a national high street tour and by the time I get back Jezza should have this NHS nonsense sorted out. The cabinet’s been so supportive. Chris is even giving me eight prisons to ribbon tie.

Grayling: Well. I watched the Bill and Rumpole and Morse and…

Speaker: We get the picture, Grayling. No, Cameron. No special treatment. You can stay after class like everyone else.

Grayling: Tv’s great. How else would we learn everything we need for our jobs. Jez watches Holby City and all those emergency rescue thingies. I find the traffic police shows rather fascinating and Theresa is hooked on that Aussie border control show. Well, there’s not much difference between snakes and refugees in the end is there?

Speaker [head in hands]: So how did prison closures come about?

Grayling: Porridge. It seems to me those chaps had far too much fun. Four to a cell will change the dynamic and wipe the smiles from their faces. Besides,  prisoners are mostly poor. Why house,  clothe and feed them when they could be suffering on the outside?

Speaker: And the vacated prisons, what will happen to them?

Grayling: Ah. I’ll hand that one off to my good pal, Iain.

Speaker: Well, STD?

IDS: Five will immediately become workhouses. The feckless poor can’t be relied on to work so we’re bringing back the poorhouse. They can die in a gutter or come in and work.

Speaker: What about the rest?

IDS: Theresa’s requisitioned them to round up all the forriners.

May: Yes. People come over here. They steal our jobs and our benefits. Why, I even heard that cats are in on the scam. I kid you not. I’m not making it up. They fall asleep in lorry engines and come through the tunnel. Once they’re here they breed and fight and kill hardworking British mice and then. AND THEN they have the gall to claim this is their home. It’s a disgrace.

Speaker: Cats? You’re blaming migrant cats? What do they have to do with empty prisons?

Cooper: She’s going to convert one into a factory to produce kitten heel shoes!

May: Don’t listen to her. It’s not like I’m locking 101 Dalmatians up.

Speaker: Calm, that is to say settle, down. I think we’ve heard quite enough of all of that. Back to you Grayling. How will the privatisation of the probation service reduce reoffending?

Grayling: Whatever made you think it’s meant to? Our pals in G4S will be getting a lot of new contracts from us. Taking over probation makes recruitment far more cost effective for them

Speaker: Harrumph….

[The speaker stops, shuffling papers, and then turns to May.]

Speaker: So, tell me. What do you say to the claim that women are being far harder hurt by the government’s cuts and by the recession?

May: Well. I have a story about that which I think will answer your question for me.

[To one side of her Cameron reaches over, trying to get a hand over her mouth]

Cameron: No more of your stories thank you very much.

Speaker [sighs heavily, once more]: Then perhaps someone can explain Workfare to me.

Byrne: Doesn’t bloody work. That’s for sure.

Hoban: Yeah? Yeah? Then why did your party abstain from the vote on the retroactive Workfare Bill?

[Hughes, sitting on a fence which has mysteriously appeared next to the Speaker, grins and swishes his tail at the sight of someone other than the LibDems being caught in a trap of their own hypocrisy]

Byrne: Well. I. Um.

Speaker: Yes?

Byrne: That’s not the point!

[Milliband slumps in his seat]

Balls [shouts]: Mansion tax! Yeah. You heard me. Two can play the lying back-peddler game. Mansion tax!

Speaker: He does have a point. Clegg?

Clegg: I…. Look. We got an increase in the personal allowance….

Speaker: But didn’t you also agree to an increase in VAT and below inflation increases in the minimum wage and benefits, including working families tax credits?

Clegg: Um.

Speaker: Have you in fact made any headway at all in convincing your Coalition partners of the appropriateness of a mansion tax?

[Series of snorts and snickers around the House]

Speaker: Tell me, Osborne. What is your ground for objecting to a tax based on the value of people’s houses?

Osborne: It’s a slippery slope.

Balls [jeers]: It’s your mate, Dave’s forehead?

Osborne: If we agree to this it’s only a matter of time before the threshold is reduced and before you know it, even poor Shappsie could be paying it.

Speaker [rubs eyes]: But couldn’t that be said of all taxes?

Osborne: No.

Speaker: Because?

Osborne: Because we can’t implement a system for valuing property.

Speaker: Are you suggesting we don’t do that already with the Council Tax? Properties are already banded and with only 70,000 properties valued at over £2 million, surely it would be possible to…

Osborne: No.

Speaker: Not even…

Osborne: No.

Alexander [dreamily]: You see? Everything makes so much sense when George explains it.

Speaker: Alexander, if you don’t stop with that kind of comment I’ll be forced to search your locker for hallucinogenic substances. Back to the budget, Cable. Do you have any answers for me?

Cable: The simple fact of the matter is that we find ourselves in a state of pecuniary embarrassment due to the abject failure of our predecessors in government to control public expenditure. Difficult decisions must be made. It is a natural consequence of the inadequacy of the fiscal policies…

Speaker [jerks awake]: Huh?

Cable [with constipated expression]: There is no magic money tree

Speaker: That’s rather clever, Cameron. I didn’t even see your lips move but ultimately we come back to the same problem over and over again. None of you will explain your decisions in clear terms or accept responsibility for them. You leave me with no alternative but to expel you all. A General Election will be called forthwith. I certainly hope you learn your lesson and speak plainly and honestly and keep your promises in future.

[Chorus of guffaws rings round the Chamber]

[End scene]

The Day Justice Died

A long long time ago
I can still remember how Legal Aid used to be paid
And if lawyers had a chance
They could help some people out
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But Parliament made us shiver
With every “reform” it delivered
Bad news in the Gazette
LawSoc couldn’t stop one more step
I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about justice denied
But something touched me deep inside
The day Legal Aid died

So bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies

Do you believe a Tory gov
Or do you have faith in a High Court judge
If the media tells you to
Now do you believe in the common law
Can justice save your mortal soul
And can you represent yourself alone?
Well, I know that you’re not mad at them
‘Cause you didn’t raise an almighty din
Oblivious to our gloom
Man, you couldn’t see what you’d lose
I was a lowly teenage law student
With a pink highlighter and a statute book
But I knew I was out of luck
The day Legal Aid died

I started singing bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies

Now for ten years plus we’ve been on our own
They say we’ve grown fat on the public’s woes
But then that’s how it’s always been
While McCartney sang for the bloody queen
His awful voice drowned out our screams
LASPO shattered our naive dreams
‘Cause while you all were looking down
Politicians stole Justice’s sword and crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No lawyers will return
And while Gove reviled the book of Marx
Supreme Justices met in a secret court
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day Legal Aid died

We were singing, bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies

Helter skelter in a freezing winter
People lost their rights to warmth and shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast
The DWP landed foul on its ass
The lawyers took their one last chance
With May on the sidelines screaming crap
Now every win’s a sweet perfume
But the press is singing to their tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance
‘Cause the lawyers tried to take the field
The politicians refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day Legal Aid died?

We started singin’ bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again
So come on, please say something, please speak out
Don’t watch these “reforms” without a sound
‘Cause silence is the devil’s only friend
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Grayling laughing with delight
The day Legal Aid died

He was singin’ bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred court
Where I’d heard of justice years before
But the man there said the lawyers weren’t paid
And in the streets, the children screamed
Ex lovers cried, equality a distant dream
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the men I admire most
Supreme Court Justices, Master of the Rolls
They caught the last train for the coast
The day Legal Aid died

And they were singin’ bye bye
Justice denied
Drove a chevy through our levies
‘Cause they said they’re too high
And good old toffs sipping whiskey and wine
Celebrated as Legal Aid died
This’ll be the day justice dies.

To help save UK justice, please sign this petition.

100% pure grade horse*

Horse. It’s everywhere. It’s even in the food we eat but you haven’t been told the whole story. The media have been careful to consistently use the word “horse” and disingenuously use stock pictures of the animals of the same name but it is now becoming clear that this is all part of a cunning ploy to hide the truth from the British people. The devastating truth is that this is the biggest drugs deal in the history of the world, with food being doctored with 100% pure grade horse or, in other words, heroin. Yes that’s right folks, doping is taking place on a scale never seen before. On a scale that makes Lance Armstrong look like a rank amateur. Slipped into our food “horse” keeps us docile. Using beef as the conduit for its introduction into the food supply suggests that someone somewhere laughed at the thought of making the British public bovine, proving evil people have a rubbish idea of comedy.

Don’t believe me? Consider this. The state’s own guide to drugs “Frank” (real name unknown) says that “A small dose of heroin gives the user a feeling of warmth and well-being, bigger doses can make you sleepy and very relaxed”. It also admits that “Heroin is highly addictive and people can quickly get hooked.” Faced with overwhelming anger and misery and the very real threat of protests in the streets, what self-respecting Conservative led government wouldn’t decide to control the masses using any means possible? After all, these are the people who use language to describe unemployed people which would be more at home in a Victorian tract on the “deserving poor and those lazy lay-abouts slugging cheap gin in gutters and leaving their children to fend for themselves in pubs”. Ahem. Anyway, what’s more Victorian than opium taking on a massive scale?

When you stop to think about it, this isn’t even an original plan. It’s up there with Cushelle’s “do bears shit in the woods” loo roll advertising campaign. Marx called religion the opiate for the masses because he understood that docility is an important means of retaining power, even when the State is trampling its own people. TV successfully took the place of religion for a long time but then things changed. People started to question TV, just as they questioned religion before it. It began preaching to a more informed crowd. Just as mass education affected religious belief, the river of information flowing through the internet meant that the powerful interests who decided both what news and what fiction we were able to see started to lose control. Unfortunately for them, this was timed to coincide with a collapse of capitalism no less important than the fall of European communism some years previously. People, normal people, began to go off script. They questioned and shared information. They became the greatest threat to the status quo. The Government has done what it can to openly dismiss its people with vile rhetoric, demonising millions, but it hasn’t been enough. When they realised they could no longer control the public in one way, they made the decision to control them in any way possible. A decade in Afghanistan. A much repeated maxim referring to opiates. It was blindingly obvious. It was audacious.

You may be wondering “why beef? Surely vegetarians are a threat to the status quo?”. You’re right but don’t think vegetarians and vegans are exempt from this dastardly scheme. Have you ever really looked at refill bags of popular herbs such as basil and oregano? Marijuana. Cumin and chilli powder? Heroin. Oh, they covered their bases alright. In fact, it’s been so meticulously planned that they’ve deliberately acted like incompetent buffoons on every single new policy for two and a half years just to put us off the scent.

You can’t have failed to notice that when capitalism collapsed we quickly saw stories telling us to make do and mend and to grow our own. An exhortation to grow our own was dangerous. What if we went the whole hog and became entirely self-sufficient? They’d be hard pressed to make schemes like Workfare happen if supermarkets lost vast numbers of customers but, more importantly, they knew they needed to control the supply chain in order for their appalling plan to work. They didn’t want to have to find another way of distributing horse. It wasn’t long before the grow your own message was drowned out by “keep calm and carry on”. It’s everywhere. There’s no escape. Why is this? I’ll tell you. When some idiot dug up an old poster, he gave the Tories another way of making their scam work. Another factor was the possibility we would subliminally recall the message when the horse kicked in. Don’t fight it, we were being told. I mean, come on, what other explanation is there for Cameron drip feeding “chillax”, “calm down dear” and “hug a hoodie” into our collective subconscious. You didn’t think he believed his own shit did you?

Boris Johnson is another part of the plan. Boris. If Winnie the Pooh was an evil right winger, he’d be Boris. He’s a threat to Cameron but he’s not wearing concrete boots. Why is that? I can answer that too. Boris is exactly what a nation of mind-controlled druggies need. He speaks and, in our dulled state of euphoria, we want to tickle his tummy. He can say anything no matter how abhorrent and we’ll love him. You thought the zip wire incident was unplanned? Think again my friends. I have five words for you. Winnie the Pooh honey pot. They knew we’d lap that crap up. It’s all an elaborate plan, giving a very different meaning to the term “honey trap”.

As rumours of horse being found in food grew, they had to spin like fast spinny things and they have, laying the blame at the doors of their favourite villains du jour. The Romanians are blamed for it getting into the beef. The EU is even blamed for not having enough laws to control the food chain (incongruity ceases to be a problem once the public has already been doped). Even if we try to get the truth out, they have another fallback villain in Afghan terrorists who can be blamed for the production of opium. It really is a work of evil genius.

So there you go. We’ve been suppressed by a juggernaut of evil. Now you really do know the truth.

* may contain traces of bullshit

The Begley Agenda

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Begley’s always been an ambitious cat and he’s reached a certain level of maturity. He’s hoping to seize power in 2015 and the Eastleigh bi-election could be a handy stepping stone. Being a cat, it could all be a gruesome gorefest or he could just purr his way into power in a bloodless coup. Begley’s been fascinated by politics ever since he was quietly pottering in the garden when the voice of God blasted through the neighbourhood urging him to vote UKIP. Of course since then he’s regularly heard the rag & bone man and once saw a mighty dragon cunningly disguised as a Virgin hot air balloon but it was too late. He’d become a political animal.

Education
Modern languages will be extended to include feline body language.

From nursery school upwards, children will be taught feline relaxation techniques.

Manual dexterity lessons will also be introduced. No waiting around for evolution to balance out this dominant hand nonsense. Begley believes it’s imperative that humans make better use of their weaker hand for the benefit of cats (accusations that this is a bit rich coming from a cat without opposable thumbs were met with a blank stare before he swung a back leg up to lick his bum). Two-cat households need two fully functioning hands for stroking per human. Otherwise, the cat with the benefit of the dominant hand gets master strokes while the other cat misses out. Dogs will be made available for children to practice on.

Healthcare
The NHS will be preserved and extended to a National Vet Service for pet owners, although an earnings cap will apply to NVS assistance.

The obesity crisis will be solved by getting humans to play with giant feathers on sticks. Begley hopes his drug policy will encourage such play. Dog owners will be excused and must walk their dogs for at least one hour per day. 

All drugs will be legalised. Catnip’s never done Begley any harm and he thinks humans have a greater need to mellow out.

Animals
Prison terms will be increased for cases of animal cruelty and the pets in prison scheme will exclude any prisoners convicted of cruelty.

Dog attacks on cats will be treated in the same way as dog attacks on dogs. Dog insurance policies will pay for treatment for attacked cats. If the perpetrator can’t be identified,  the NVS will pay for treatment for cats and dogs (and also for road traffic victims).

Social Security
Cat benefit will be available in addition to child benefit.

It probably goes without saying that Begley would reverse all Coalition cuts. He’s a cat, not a monster.

Employment
Businesses who have a cat will receive tax breaks.

The working day will by cut by 30mins on the understanding this time is to be used for cuddling, grooming, sleeping or staring at random things to freak out people around you. Dog owners may put their 30 mins towards their walking duties.

Economy
Begley has no idea how to fix the mess the Coalition have made. He’s a cat. Cats don’t understand working for reward, bartering etc. That’s why his pick for Chancellor will be a dog. Who better to grasp the system of what Begley calls “bribery”. He’d like to use the dog who took a £20 note, my sunglasses and my mobile & hid each undamaged item under his bed because that seems like bafflingly high powered economic thinking to him. Sadly, he died so Begley’s relying on breed characteristics with his choice. Well, breeding seems to be all that matters to the current occupant of the post anyway. 

Begley’s Chancellor has explained the concept of payday loans to him and advised him that borrowing one bit of kibble and paying back a thousand is wrong. It took a while to explain because it was hard to get past Begley’s repeated murrs of “all the kibble is mine anyway” but eventually they agreed to ban payday loans.

Housing
Landlords will no longer be allowed to restrict pet ownership.

All new homes must be well insulated and have broad enough window ledges for a cat to really relax.

Transport
All potholes will be repaired immediately to ensure the safety and comfort of pets on board.

Overtaking by lorries on duel carriageways will be banned. Why would a cat care? Have you ever been stuck in a cat carrier with your grouchy sister for four hours while your owner swears often and loudly? No? Try it sometime. Begley can’t crack down on all in-car swearing causes but this is one he can tackle and it’s sure to be a vote winner.

Subways will be put in under roads known as being particularly dangerous to cats.

Environment and Energy
Energy companies will be compelled to charge lower prices to eradicate fuel poverty, ensuring both cats and their owners are warm enough.

Begley has considered the argument that wind farms kill birds before cats can get to them but concluded their hypnotic effect is beneficial to humans. People complaining about wind farms will be attached to the blades for a period proportionate to the level of fuss they make. Whilst there, their home will be infested with fleas.

Hedgerows will be protected to ensure a long term supply of mice & other wee beasties.

The hunting ban will be lifted but is subject to a new requirement that people can only hunt on foot and without weapons or tracking devices such as dogs. If a hunt master can track, chase and kill a fox with his bare hands, Begley believes that’s his right. Grafting your torso onto the body of a horse will not be allowed unless you give up your thumbs to a cat.

Anyone setting fireworks off on any day which isn’t 5 Nov, 31 Dec or a recognised religious festival will be forced to hold a lit firework.

Criminal justice
It’s a harsh world. Begley would reintroduce the option of trial by combat.

Prisons will be combined with animal shelters as rehabilitation (although unmixed facilities for people with a history of animal cruelty and those considered likely to be cruel to animals will remain).

Immigration
Begley takes a pretty hard line on this. He appreciates he’s quite fussy so immigrants must pass the Ciara test. If she likes you, you can stay.

The citizenship test will be replaced with questions on cat care.

Libraries
Cats “read” too. Library budgets will be protected to ensure cats can communicate with each other across each county by jaw rubbing borrowed books.

Defence
Trident will be scrapped. Begley’s preferred method of dealing with disputes is to fluff himself up and engage in a stare off but if it comes right down to it he’ll bring the claws and thinks anything less than one on one is cheating.

Anyone calling for war for any reason other than territorial defence will be labeled a “tom” and neutered forthwith. 

European Union
Begley will seek to bring the rest of Europe into line with “pet mad” Britain and work for funding for strays throughout Europe.

Food
All food retailers must offer food which is about to go off to homeless shelters and foodbanks at the end of the day.

Food standards are clearly a touchy subject for humans but Begley believes that ash should cease to be an ingredient in cat food before we faff about over a bit of horse meat.

The Media
Not content with smearing other humans, certain sections of the press often turn on animals in speciest attacks and Begley’s fed up with it. Whilst animals should be allowed to be true to their natures, the Daily Mail and other purveyors of incessant unpleasant drivel who use their fancy opposable thumbs to attack as viciously as any clawed and fanged animal, will not. They can challenge animals on fair terms or not at all. Anyone who wants to attack badgers, foxes, cats, dogs or any other animal can do so….naked, unarmed and locked in a room with a number of them equal to the number of people who would read their story if they survive to write it.

Anyone who has rummaged through a celebrity’s bins or stalked a celebrity they don’t intend to eat will be turned out onto the streets to live alongside nature’s other scavengers and predators (to clarify, Begley means animals). Homeless people will be moved into their houses.

Advertising
Advertisers don’t care who they hurt and cats suffer too. All ads where cats miaow or dogs bark will be banned.

If payday loans were hard to explain the ides of paying virtual kibble in the hope of winning virtual kibble was even more difficult. When told virtual kibble is usually lost, resulting in less money in the kitty to buy real kibble, Begley promptly decided to ban ads for all online gaming.

Coming up for Air

George Orwell.  That man was a visionary and a beautiful satirist. In honour of Orwell Day, here’s a section of Coming up for Air which had me in stiches at the same time as thinking, “yeah. They really ought to teach this in schools. We’d all be so much wiser.” It’s wonderful rant over the woes of the middle classes:

“I had the street pretty much to myself.  The men had bunked to catch the 8.21 and the women were fiddling with the gas-stoves. When you’ve time to look about you, and when you happen to be in the right mood, it’s a thing that makes you laugh inside to walk down these streets in the inner-outer suburbs and to think of the lives that go on there.  Because, after all, what IS a road like Ellesmere Road?  Just a prison with the cells all in a row.  A line of semidetached torture-chambers where the poor little five-to-ten-pound-a-weekers quake and shiver, every one of them with the boss twisting his tail and his wife riding him like the nightmare and the kids sucking his blood like leeches. There’s a lot of rot talked about the sufferings of the working class.  I’m not so sorry for the proles myself.  Did you ever know a navvy who lay awake thinking about the sack?  The prole suffers physically, but he’s a free man when he isn’t working.  But in every one of those little stucco boxes there’s some poor bastard who’s NEVER free except when he’s fast asleep and dreaming that he’s got the boss down the bottom of a well and is bunging lumps of coal at him.

Of course, the basic trouble with people like us, I said to myself, is that we all imagine we’ve got something to lose.  To begin with, nine-tenths of the people in Ellesmere Road are under the impression that they own their houses.  Ellesmere Road, and the whole quarter surrounding it, until you get to the High Street, is part of a huge racket called the Hesperides Estate, the property of the Cheerful Credit Building Society.  Building societies are probably the cleverest racket of modern times.  My own line, insurance, is a swindle, I admit, but it’s an open swindle with the cards on the table.  But the beauty of the building society swindles is that your victims think you’re doing them a kindness. You wallop them, and they lick your hand.  I sometimes think I’d like to have the Hesperides Estate surmounted by an enormous statue to the god of building societies.  It would be a queer sort of god. Among other things it would be bisexual.  The top half would be a managing director and the bottom half would be a wife in the family way.  In one hand it would carry an enormous key–the key of the workhouse, of course–and in the other–what do they call those things like French horns with presents coming out of them?–a cornucopia, out of which would be pouring portable radios, life- insurance policies, false teeth, aspirins, French letters, and concrete garden rollers.

As a matter of fact, in Ellesmere Road we don’t own our houses, even when we’ve finished paying for them.  They’re not freehold, only leasehold.  They’re priced at five-fifty, payable over a period of sixteen years, and they’re a class of house, which, if you bought them for cash down, would cost round about three-eighty. That represents a profit of a hundred and seventy for the Cheerful Credit, but needless to say that Cheerful Credit makes a lot more out of it than that.  Three-eighty includes the builder’s profit, but the Cheerful Credit, under the name of Wilson & Bloom, builds the houses itself and scoops the builder’s profit.  All it has to pay for is the materials.  But it also scoops the profit on the materials, because under the name of Brookes & Scatterby it sells itself the bricks, tiles, doors, window-frames, sand, cement, and, I think, glass.  And it wouldn’t altogether surprise me to learn that under yet another alias it sells itself the timber to make the doors and window-frames.  Also–and this was something which we
really might have foreseen, though it gave us all a knock when we discovered it–the Cheerful Credit doesn’t always keep to its end of the bargain.  When Ellesmere Road was built it gave on some open fields–nothing very wonderful, but good for the kids to play in– known as Platt’s Meadows.  There was nothing in black and white, but it had always been understood that Platt’s Meadows weren’t to be built on.  However, West Bletchley was a growing suburb, Rothwell’s jam factory had opened in ’28 and the Anglo-American-All-Steel Bicycle factory started in ’33, and the population was increasing and rents were going up.  I’ve never seen Sir Herbert Crum or any other of the big noises of the Cheerful Credit in the flesh, but in my mind’s eye I could see their mouths watering. Suddenly the builders arrived and houses began to go up on Platt’s Meadows.  There was a howl of agony from the Hesperides, and a tenants’ defence association was set up.  No use!  Crum’s lawyers had knocked the stuffing out of us in five minutes, and Platt’s Meadows were built over.  But the really subtle swindle, the one that makes me feel old Crum deserved his baronetcy, is the mental one.  Merely because of the illusion that we own our houses and have what’s called ‘a stake in the country’, we poor saps in the Hesperides, and in all such places, are turned into Crum’s devoted slaves for ever.  We’re all respectable householders–that’s to say Tories, yes-men, and bumsuckers.  Daren’t kill the goose that lays the gilded eggs!  And the fact that actually we aren’t householders, that we’re all in the middle of paying for our houses and eaten up with the ghastly fear that something might happen before we’ve made the last payment, merely increases the effect. We’re all bought, and what’s more we’re bought with our own money.  Every one of those poor downtrodden bastards, sweating his guts out to pay twice the proper price for a brick doll’s house that’s called Belle Vue because there’s no view and the bell doesn’t ring–every one of those poor suckers would die on the field of battle to save his country from Bolshevism.”

I’m fairly sure he wrote this with Letchworth Garden City in mind (he lived near the town at the time). It is a great view of the commuter belt in general but the fact that the properties are leasehold and the similarity to what is now the (still powerful)Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation made me think, “hah”. It also makes it both funnier and more apt in view of all of the Tory chatter over planning recently, holding Letchworth up to the nation as a planner’s wet dream. Oh, and then there’s the fact that I read a story in the Guardian yesterday calling for a return to the 1930s solution to the Great Depression: house building and home ownership on a grand scale.

Basically, I think the entire book should be required reading for everyone every seven years so we can get some perspective from this funny little man’s midlife crisis. As a story, it’s not the best ever written but as a journey, it’s wonderful. If Coming Up For Air was on the syllabus, instead of Animal Farm and 1984, the Establishment would have genuine cause to worry. It’s the little things that trap us, in the end.

 

Stepping Up to the Plate: an adventure of a modern lawyer Part III

I stand alone now. Waiting and more than a little afraid. I see a creature moving towards me, more rapidly than a thing of its bulk should be able to. The air is full of the sound of it squelching towards me. It truly is a horror to behold, its features shift with dizzying speed from Howard to Straw, Blunkett, Charles Clarke, Reid, Smith, Johnson, May, Ken Clarke, Grayling. Indeed, all of them at once but my mind recoils from the sight.

“You are surplus to requirements in a civilised society” it declares. “We protect the people. We keep them safe. The state serves all fairly and punishes justly. The people know this and reject your meddling.”

Somewhere, deep inside, I scream defiance but, standing in front of the monster  I cower. I suddenly feel ashamed. What if it’s true. What if people don’t want human rights and civil liberties. What if they don’t want help when the state abuses them? What if we, the lawyers, are the meddlers and not the foul beast before me. I waver, while a bitter little voice inside whispers, “what if they get the government they deserve”.

The monster continues to boom its propaganda. It speaks of being tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime, tells me that prison works, that bobbies on the beat are all we need, that ASBOs will save the nation. It talks of prison overcrowding, prison boats moored off our shores and prison closures. Terrorists against whom nothing is proven, curfews, electronic tagging, CCTV, surveillance. Binge drinking, public disorder, protests, riots. The death of family values, a compensation culture, unnecessary human rights and the fairness of legal aid cuts. It rages “only we hold the solutions”.

Suddenly there is silence. I feel something build in the air around us.

Consumerism, competition, choice, commoditisation. If you accept these things, you may live.”

“But,” I hesitate and take a breath, “but I don’t believe those things benefit clients. External investment makes us beholden to third parties who care for nothing but their own dividends. We will cease to be a profession. Standards will slip if we are forced to pile them high and sell them cheap. Eventually, only six law firms will remain and they will be despised by everyone; most of all, by their own staff. They will offer temporary cuts in prices but, once they consolidate their position, they will lose the incentive to offer reasonable rates. They will, in short, charge more than people like me would ever dare to!”

Shaking with rage, mouth dry and just a little terrified I continue. “My obligations are to the court, the rule of law and to my clients.”

I hear a whooshing in my ears, fear I might faint. When I look back at the spot where the monster stood it’s gone, replaced by something no less terrifying but considerably more reassuring. Ghosts of senior judges stand before me. Not wanting my first words to be gibberish, I hold my tongue.

“You are safe,” they say as one.

“The plate?” I manage to say.

“We’re sorry. There is no plate.”

“But, but this is an adventure. It doesn’t work like that. I defeated the monster. I should get the plate. I need it.”

“There is no plate. Stop and think for a moment. You were told to step up to the plate. Finding no meaning in that directive, you came here. You came seeking the truth, not the plate.”

“But I can’t go back empty handed. I can’t accept my working life is being directed by a meaningless management mantra.”

Collectively, they sigh. “Then we’re afraid that, even though you love Justice and Ethics there is no place for you in the modern law firm.”