Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here's one that the Lefties out there might have missed

Personally, I can't decide what to make of the Andy Coulson phone tapping stuff. It was politically charged stuff. Tories everywhere closing ranks and saying there was absolutely nothing in it, whereas the Leftie bloggers and the Grauniad were all over it. Mostly, I didn't care.

Baroness Warsi was in the news today after saying a few things about alleged vote rigging in the last general election. I'm not going to comment on that just now, but she's also said some stuff about a certain former News of the World editor:

"I have a huge amount of time for Andy... my judgement of Andy is going to be based on my experience of him. I know that when I went through quite a traumatic divorce, and the media fallout from it when my ex-husband went to the papers, Andy was there for me. I am a deeply loyal person and I honestly believe that you judge people on how you find them. I can only judge Andy on what I have found from him and I have always found him to be a really supportive person."

From my research, I learnt that Baroness Warsi was divorced by former husband Naeem after a 17-year arranged marriage in September 2007. Andy Coulson was editor of the News of the World from 2003 until January 2007. Now, she says that her ex-husband went to the papers about it - and she thought in the circumstances, a good place to go for moral support would be to a man who used to edit a newspaper that made a lot of money from people who blabbed about their former relationships.

Baroness Warsi certainly does irony, doesn't she?

Keeping with the Irish theme

The Irish Grandad has it bang on the money here about the state of play in the Republic of Ireland:
"Words really do fail me when it comes to this government and their crass incompetence. They are pouring money into a black hole as if it meant nothing. And here is where I have another problem.
I have used up my stock of expletives to describe them.
I have called them fuckers, wankers, cunts and arsewipes. I have probably called them a few other things as well.

But like the problem with the word ‘billion’ I need a yardstick to express the magnitude. I badly need new expletives to describe our government.

Fuckers, wankers and cunts just doesn’t cut it any more. I need new words.


Go and read the rest of his post. Puts a few things in perspective, to put it mildly.

Spot the difference competition

Here is the first sentence: "Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the 'alternative vote' system instead of the current 'first past the post' system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?"

Here is the second sentence: "At present, the UK uses the 'first past the post' system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the 'alternative vote' system be used instead?"

I can't see much difference. The wording is obviously different, but the question is the same. Yet apparently the first one is too hard to understand for "those with lower levels of education or literacy". Allegedly, the first one is also "harder to read than it needed to be".

Your Reaper doesn't find it hard to understand at all. Neither, I suspect, would my readership. (which is growing gradually by the day, and very much appreciated!) Yet the Electoral Commission honestly believe the first is too difficult for some people to grasp.

The first sentence is the question as proposed by the government regarding the AV referendum due to take place next year. The second sentence is the Electoral Commission's suggested version.
Myself, I can't help but wonder. Just what on earth does it say about the British education system if there are people out there who honestly cannot understand such a simple question?

The South is really, really fucked

To those of you not familiar with this blog, "the South" is how many people in Northern Ireland refer to the Republic of Ireland. It's sometimes used in a derogatory way, sometimes not. The rest of the title should make sense to anyone with even a vague grasp of English.

The Republic of Ireland is completely and utterly fucked, fucked, fucked. In case you haven't got the message yet, your Reaper thinks the Republic of Ireland is completely and utterly fucked. Got that?

But why does The Grim Reaper think that, I hear you ask? Simple.

"The cost of bailing out the Republic of Ireland's stricken banks has risen to 45bn euros (£39bn), opening a huge hole in the Irish government's finances. The increased cost will see the government run a budget deficit equivalent to 32% of GDP this year. The cost includes a bill of up to 34bn euros to rescue the worst-hit lender, Anglo Irish Bank. The government said it would now have to rewrite its budget to cut borrowing more quickly in the coming years. But Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan defended the action, saying Anglo Irish Bank was too big to fail."

The Republic is already putting through "austerity measures" which will hurt the most vulnerable in society. Let's get this clear - I have no truck with people taking benefits they're not entitled to or whatever. If they lose it, tough. They shouldn't have had it in the first place. I'm referring to those who are seeing cuts in their disability allowance. Why are they having to suffer because Brian "Spluttering Cunt" Cowen failed to do anything about the banks becoming so ridiculously big within such a short time?

At this point, I'm tempted to ask just why are they letting this blubbery, incompetent cunt keep his job. But they could easily point out that we didn't do anything to get rid of the previous blubbery, incompetent cunt that ran our country. So I can't do that. But I really would urge the Irish at this point not to make the same mistake we did.

Rise up and protest. Make your voices clearly heard.

Anglo Toxic Bank now effectively runs the Republic of Ireland. If you think I'm being hysterical, consider this. If Anglo Toxic goes down, Ireland goes down with it. The fate of the two is now effectively tied into one another. I've heard it said that big banks effectively run some countries unofficially, but I never thought there was any truth in this. Until tonight. Now I'm beginning to see just what the thinking behind that theory is.

It's a frankly terrifying development.

It's Mafia Parking Only in Italy

Over in Italy, their tourism minister is currently masturbating herself into a state of sheer fury. And before you ask, yes, that is the woman pictured on the right. Has this outrage been caused over something important and deeply significant to the country? No.

It appears she's upset about an iPhone app.

Michela Vittoria Brambilla is complaining that this application is "offensive and unacceptable". She is demanding that the application be taken down from the iTunes online shop and has set her government lawyers onto Apple with a view to taking legal action on them for daring to insult the Italians in this way.

Well, well. It seems that the humourless politician is something that blights other countries too. The application she speaks of charactises each country it covers with words and images. Italy is summed up with a road sign which reads "Mafia parking only". Blightly is defined by "tea, weird sense of humour, football hooligans and rain", the Germans are synonymous with "beer, discipline and autobahns" and the Americans are associated with "melting pot, hamburger and the American dream". One reviewer on the iTunes site apparently moaned about this application, saying: "This application is an outrage! Italy represented by the Mafia – whoever created this is ignorant and rude."

Seriously. Get a grip, you humourless cunt. It's just a little bit of fun at the expense of the Italians.

Mind you, I can't help but think this show of manufactured outrage from the Italian tourism minister is an attempt to distract Italians (and everyone else) from the problems her government is currently facing. Apparently, Berlusconi just about won a vote of confidence last night.

Oh, and there's the strikes all over Europe at the moment too.

But I'm sure none of that was on the mind of the minister when she spoke about this. Of course not.

Oh look, a flying pig...

UPDATE: Apologies for the faulty link to the story. It has now been fixed.

Quite the inspiration...

There's a rather wonderful story on the Mail's website this afternoon about a child who started school yesterday. Possibly not an unusual event in itself, but the boy in question - called Harley Lane - had bacterial meningitis last year. Septicemia later set in, and his arms and legs had to be amputated. His heart also stopped no fewer than three times. What an age to have to go through something so horrible.

Yet here he is getting on with his life:

Admirable, isn't it? Your Reaper is quite honestly touched.

This post contains men holding hands

Homosexuality seems to be one of those issues that the BBC likes to go on about, and today is no exception.

"The BBC has made 'great progress' in its portrayal of gay people and gay relationships, but there is still more to be done, according to a report. The study commissioned by the corporation said lesbian, gay and bisexual people wanted to see more authentic depictions of their lives. It also found that heterosexual people, who were "comfortable" with gay lifestyles, wanted a similar approach. More than 2,000 adults were questioned as part of the study.

The corporation also held a public consultation which got more than 9,400 responses. Most respondents said they were comfortable with the portrayal of gay people or did not feel strongly about it. The 18% who said they were uncomfortable with it said scenes of 'emotional and physical intimacy' were the main problem."

Regretfully, the BBC's reporting here is pretty misleading. There are indeed 18% who are uncomfortable with gay scenes. So you'd think that the other 82% were happy about it? Far from it. Checking over at Mail Online, I learnt that...

"...while 49 per cent were comfortable with gay scenes, another 18 per cent were not happy with them and a further 32 per cent were said to be 'ambivalent' about the issue. Of this 'significant minority' uneasy with these portrayals about half of them - 9 per cent of the total - were 'very uncomfortable' about it. The report found that some, more likely to be men or over 55s, were 'highly resistant' to intimate content such as kissing, hugging, hand-holding and bedrooms scenes."

It says a thing or two about the state of journalism in this country when you have to go to Mail Online, of all places, to fill the gaps in a story. Poor show there, Aunty, poor show. Though anyone thinking the Mail has suddenly developed the ability to report responsibly on gay issues will be disappointed - their claim that there will be more gay scenes on TV is equally deceptive.

Anyway, I can't say there are many surprises in the survey. Your Grim Reaper is a man of the world and has seen many of these things. Two men holding hands? I can't say I'd have a problem with that. It's something I see every single day. Besdies, holding hands isn't necessarily a sign of anything sexual. Two men kissing? Again, no issues. Two men having sex with one another? Seen it all before.

However, the objections of many people to this are understandable enough. The Mail reported that men over 55 years old were the most likely to be highly uncomfortable with gay scenes on television. That makes sense - homosexuality was illegal until the 1960s in this country and they would have grown up in that era.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to change people's minds on this, or anything else. It's partly why I run a blog in the first place. However, it has to be done in a careful and thoughtful way. You can't shove homosexuality down the throats of people who completely object to it. Far from them accepting it, they're going to become even more resistant. Trying to control people's minds just doesn't work. Which is why I worry when I hear the likes of Stonewall saying this:

"The BBC is a hugely important part of our cultural glue and belongs to everybody. It's right that everyone in modern Britain should be reflected in its output."

Just what does he mean by that? It's not exactly clear, and I'd be interested to know what else Stonewall are saying on this subject. Given the nature of Stonewall as an organisation, however, I can't see them being all that interested in debate, and being a lot more interested into bullying people into thinking the way they do.

There is also the minor matter of the Office of National Statistics revealing last week that only about 1.5% of the population is actually gay, lesbian or bisexual. If you wanted to talk about this in representative terms, that means homosexuals and bisexuals wouldn't be on the air much at all. Much like the situation allegedly is at present, really.

So is there a problem, or isn't there a problem?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is this his sex face?

A topical selection of David Miliband pictures is up on Anton Vowl's blog. Here's my favourite.

Frankly, he looks like he's desperate for a shit. It'll be a shame if what's up on Guido's blog is true. Says that Miliband's throwing in the towel. We shall see shortly.

Don't get me wrong, I hate the man. I just think there aren't enough politicians and embarrassing pictures around...

75% of the public are wrong

Suicide's a difficult subject for an awful lot of people, for an awful lot of reasons. This is understandable enough. Many people are also repulsed by the mere idea there are websites out there which can assist people in killing themselves. Your Grim Reaper is definitely amongst them.

However, I'm afraid that the kind of particularly stupid and flawed thinking below cannot be left unchallenged, even when the subject is this touchy. Whilst looking on JournoTwit earlier, I came across a tweet from YouGov:

"75% of the population think that internet sites encouraging people to commit suicide should be banned"

Make that "75% of the population haven't got a fucking clue how the internet actually works" instead. Right, let's pretend for a minute that legislation banning these websites from existence had actually just been passed by Parliament and enacted into law. I'd say you're opening up a minefield of problems there. First thing's first. How on earth are you going to enforce this ban? How many people are going to be required to monitor the internet for websites such as this?

Secondly, how do you define what will be banned and what won't be banned? There are several websites out there which would help people who are in great difficulty and speak about suicide - what would happen to them? Are you also going to ban the media from reporting on suicides?

What about websites that are outside the UK? Case in point. Imagine that your Reaper was hosting a blog such as this one which detailed ways people could commit suicide. Now, I happen to live in the UK, but the blog isn't hosted here. Blogs on the platform are hosted in the USA - does that mean the blog could be banned or doesn't it? And even if such a blog was taken down, what's to stop me from upping the whole thing back up in a server under another jurisdiction? I could easily take the blog to somewhere like Russia where the UK authorities couldn't touch it.

There's also another huge difficulty. If you ban something, it isn't going to disappear from the internet. It's still going to be up somewhere or other. And if someone is that determined to kill themselves, they are going to find it. That may be a very difficult thing for some people to accept, but it's the truth.

Yes, these "suicide websites" are an incredibly disturbing trend. There's no doubting that. But banning them isn't going to solve anything. We really need to think of better answers to this problem. If anyone knows of any, your Reaper would be very interested to hear about them.

Putting my views down in cement on the matter

Those of you reading my blog in the UK will be aware that there are numerous banks around the world which are essentially zombie banks. That is, banks which would have gone bankrupt by now were it not for huge levels of taxpayers money keeping them afloat.

Anglo Irish Bank in Ireland is one of them. This morning, someone decided to make a statement and protest in a way that would get noticed. They got hold of a cement truck with the words "Anglo Toxic Bank" written onto the mixer, a billboard on the back saying "all politicians should be sacked" and a number plate with the word "bankrupt" on it. The truck in question has been seen before, having blocked the entrance to a branch of an Anglo Toxic back in April. It's all over the internet this afternoon - it's even on the New York Times website!

This morning, it was seen at the entrance of Leinster House in Dublin (where the Irish Parliament is based) on the first day of the new parliamentary session. The Beeb says that "a 41-year-old man has been arrested" following the event. Why? It appears to be because, in the words of one Irish politician:  "As I understand it, at least one Garda (Irish police officer) or more had to jump out of the way of this truck. If it happened to have been later in the morning, staff could have been killed, the public could have been killed. As I understand it, this person may have carried out an action like this somewhere else. I think the key point is, that it was an unusual and exceptional circumstance."

Apparently, he'd only just arrived at work. Read what he said again, and then try to tell me they sound like the words of someone who knows what he's talking about. Because they don't.

I wonder what else could be written on the cement mixer and what else it could be used for...

The body, the blood and the lack of brain activity

From life experience, your Reaper has noticed a fairly prevalent view amongst people such as atheists and agnostics is that many people blindly follow their religion and never ask any questions of it, thinking that to ask questions would somehow be "anti-Christian" or whatever.

I'm hoping to have a piece up in the next few days outlining my views on religion. For now, I'll merely say I think that view is exaggerated. Whilst you certainly have a hardcore who laughably believe that God would be insulted by someone asking questions about their religion, I've found that most people readily criticise their own churches and the like when they aren't happy with them. As I say, I'll write more about this in a few days.

I think the atheists may have a point though, as it happens. See this from the Torygraph:
"Atheists and agnostics know more about the world's major religions than Protestants and Roman Catholics, a study has suggested. Many professed Christians questioned in a survey showed a lack of knowledge even of their own faiths. Forty-five per cent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn't know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ.

Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers, while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15."

What is it about humans and group-think? Why can't think people think for themselves? And how can you seriously call yourself religious if you don't know even the basic facts about your own religion?

Marriage, the Milibands and press derision

Your Reaper has always subscribed to the view on marriage once expressed by Ardal O'Hanlon - he who played Father Dougal McGuire in Father Ted. He said "Marriage is when two people are joined together to become one desperately boring person.". That probably won't stop me from doing it some day, though.

I can't help but notice that Paul Dacre's organ is making a great deal of fuss about the fact that Wallace Miliband is not a married man. Apparently, he is the first party leader in a very long time to be in a relationship, but not married. My response is quite simply - who the fuck cares? Whether they're two people or one desperately boring person is a matter for him and his wife. However, I would suggest that Ed chooses his words more carefully. Stating that the only reason you've not got married is because political events have "got in the way" isn't terribly romantic and is unlikely to do you any favours with the missus.

This morning, Labour's Dear Leader was on every single media outlet that would have him on. He took media whoring to a level that would make even Iain Dale blush with embarrassment. He was even offered an opportunity on Daybreak to propose live on air to Miss Thornton, but he understandably and very wisely declined. Methinks Daybreak wanted him to do it simply to increase their poor viewing figures rather than bring a couple closer together.

Some press outlets have also published the birth certificate of the couple's first child and made hay about the fact his name isn't mentioned. The Mail's been doing it constantly, although they're always desperately keen to point out immediately afterwards - most likely at the behest of their lawyers - that "there is no suggestion Mr Miliband is not the father of the child". What I've yet to hear anybody answer is why any of this is of any relevance to anyone.

Would the news editors of the land like it if bloggers started publishing the birth certificates of their children, for example? I somehow doubt it. And they wonder why the media is held in such contempt.

UPDATE: I notice that A Very British Dude has a piece up on his blog about this as well. We seem to be in agreement on the main issue, although he notes that "Though I suspect anyone trying to make political hay out of the Millisprog's bastardy or anything else related the new Leader of the Opposition's unwedded state to be a Daily Mail-reading git, Milliband minor did vote for laws which intrude into the bedroom, in which case, the nastiness is just deserts. Reap what ye sow, interfering socialists.". Good point. Suddenly, I've got a little less sympathy for Ed.

16 people we'll all hate in about a fortnight

The Apprentice is back next week. It's one of few shows on the TV that your Grim Reaper likes these days. There's far too many cookery shows and such rubbish on right now. Mind you, that didn't stop me sitting through an edition of Don't Tell The Bride last night. I'm turning into a right soppy cunt...

Details and pictures of the contestants were revealed yesterday. There's no way I'm going to copy all those pictures onto this page - not to mention I could get into some legal trouble if I did - so head over to Mail Online if you want to see the 16 contestants this year.

I have never understood what exactly it is that I like about this show. It certainly isn't the contestants - I usually hate most of them by the end of the first programme. The Junior Apprentice earlier this year was especially bad. One contestant called Zoe Plummer (the one who was always playing with her funny blonde hair - do a Google search if your memory needs refreshing) had me wanting to throw things at the television.

Nor is it the show's supposedly entrepreneurial spirit. The idea that people are aiming to better themselves, that sort of thing. A lot of the contestants seem to interpret that as constantly trying to make themselves look superior whilst trampling on everyone else. Being a cunt, in other words.

It's not the host of the show either. I used to watch the US version of The Apprentice a few years ago, and part of the fascination was Donald Trump's hair. Was he wearing a wig? The question was never answered. Mysteriously, in one scene where he was coming out of a helicopter, his hair didn't move an inch. But I digress. You won't be obsessed by these sorts of trivialities with Lord Sugar (he loves that title, doesn't he?) in charge. Although I certainly must admit I enjoy the scenes of him bringing some pompus git back down to earth in the boardroom.

All this aside however, I can't help but think I'll be watching. 9pm, next Wednesday, BBC One.

Is my cheque in the post yet?

Dear David Miliband,

Please hurry up and decide whether you're going to stick it out when the going gets a bit tough for you, or whether you've decided to chicken out of politics.

Kind regards,
The Grim Reaper.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Didn't he do well?

Well, no actually.

Ed Miliband, Red Ed, Wallace, or whatever the blogosphere is calling him for the next five minutes, made his big conference speech today. To me, it felt much the same as a little boy going to school his first day and being forced to introduce himself to the rest of the class. The rest of the class, of course, were told by the other teachers to be good little children and to give plenty of applause as he said his stuff.

The delivery of his speech was, let's be honest, pretty dreadful. Even Gordon at his worst was capable of better than this, and he was about as comfortable to watch on stage as plonking your arse down on ten thousand little pins. As ever, ITV News were milking this for all it was worth earlier. They boasted about this being the speech where he would deliver a hammer blow against the trade unions - where he would bite the hand that awarded him victory. We were told it was full of tough messages and they made a great deal of a certain David Miliband's displeasure at being told by Ed that he thought the Iraq War was wrong.

Whilst it brings your Reaper a great deal to see Banana Boy squirming with discomfort, I don't think it'll do much in the grand scale of things. His speech said that he was going to listen to people and learn from their mistakes in office. That's not what I heard in the speech. It looks to me like Labour are going to promise what they've always promised - more of the same. More social failure. More economic failure.

Iain Dale usually finishes his threads on PMQs by giving a mark to each party leader at the end. I'm going to use a similar system here. On the basis that Ed Miliband actually turned up to give his speech, I'm giving him a 1 out of 10.

The people at East Coast trains need a good slap

How else to sort them out in this case of bullying?

"A professor who got off his train one stop before the destination on his ticket was ordered to pay a £155 penalty to leave the station. Martyn Evans was told he would be fined for disembarking at Darlington, near his home, rather than waiting until Durham, where he works at the university’s philosophy department. The state-run East Coast train company said ticketing regulations meant he could get off only at the stop he had paid for – and nowhere else."

Fuck you, East Coast Trains. If I have paid for a train ticket, I expect that train to take me to the destination I have paid to go. Otherwise, I expect my money returned to me.
However, if I wish to get off a train early, you have no fucking right whatsoever to stop me. If I want to come off a train a stop early, I will come off a stop early and nobody will tell me otherwise. Stopping me from coming off a train where I want is equivalent to holding me against my own will.



Daily Telegraph FAIL

Something's not quite right over on the Politics page of the Telegraph's website this afternoon.

At the time of publication, the page looked like this.
Click the picture to enlarge.

See the story that says "Labour MP Stephen Timms stabbed at surgery"? I know, I know, it happened a good few months ago. Aside from that, it links to this, for some reason...

Click picture to enlarge.

I don't think I need comment further.

The Demon Headmaster is to return to our screens

There's no official announcement about this from the BBC as of yet, but The Grim Reaper has friends in high places that have confirmed it to him.

The Labour Party Conference seems to have a bit of a theme going on at the moment, what with former politicians coming out of the woodwork to say farewell. Alistair Darling did it yesterday in a message that nobody in Labour will pay the blindest bit of attention to. Today, it's the turn of the Demon Headmaster look-a-like, Jack "Man Of" Straw. He couldn't resist, however, throwing in one final pile of piffle for us to mock:

"Our great legacy on equal rights and public safety is at risk. The Liberal Democrats have conspired to put the Human Rights Act under review. The Conservatives, meanwhile, are going to cut the use of DNA technology and CCTV, and restrict the ability of the police and local communities to fight the scourge of anti-social behaviour."

Our Jack's keeping to form, then. The form being completely and deliberately fucking obtuse and stupid. The Human Rights Act is under review? Good. It should never have been introduced anyway. The Tories are going to cut the use of DNA technology and CCTV? I'm not 100% convinced they are, but it's a good idea all the same. What's your problem with all this, Jack?

Good riddance to you.

Spend some more money!

Continuing with the theme of stuff seen on Twitter...

"Savers should stop complaining about poor returns and start spending to help the economy, a senior Bank of England official warned today. Mr Bean, the Bank's deputy governor, is discouraging people from saving and start spending Photo: PA Older households could afford to suffer because they had benefited from previous property price rises, Charles Bean, the deputy governor, suggested. They should 'not expect' to live off interest, he added, admitting that low returns were part of a strategy."

Make It Stop isn't too impressed with this. His view is:

"What an utter cunt this man is. Fuck you Bean, how dare you"

I'm not sure I totally agree. Why exactly should savers assume they're going to get a great interest rate no matter what conditions the economy is in? I've wondered about this on more than one occasion. The price of a mortgage can go up as well as down each month, and nobody complains about that. Yet savers seem to think differently. If you don't like it, find another way to save your money.

Mind you, his point that savers should be investing money into the economy instead is hopelessly misguided. We should all be saving MORE money, not less. It's thanks to people not saving money and buying shit they didn't need with money that wasn't theirs that got us into this mess in the first place. If our chief economists don't know this, how well-prepared are we to get out of the mess?

The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain

Saw this one on Twitter via Steffy Holmes and couldn't resist.

People not talking properly has always been one of the Reaper's bugbears with the human race generally. I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't like it. Says the Beeb:

"Actress Emma Thompson has spoken out against the use of sloppy language. The 51-year-old Oscar winner told the Radio Times that people who did not speak properly made her feel 'insane'. She said: 'We have to reinvest, I think, in the idea of articulacy as a form of personal human freedom and power.' Ms Thompson added that on a visit to her old school she told pupils not to use slang words "because it makes you sound stupid, and you're not stupid". She said: 'There is the necessity to have two languages - one that you use with your mates and the other that you need in any official capacity. Or you're going to sound like a knob'."

Yep, I'll agree with most of that. For example, you are indeed going to sound like a knob if you speak to your boss in the same way you speak to your friends - usually, your boss isn't your "mate" for a reason. She's also correct about her point on slang words. I don't think there's anything wrong with using a few of them every now and then, but it annoys the hell out of me when people use nothing but slang words.

Although this story is going to pose quite a problem to the people at Mail Online. On the one hand, she's saying something they completely agree with, but she's also using a naughty word. What a dilemma...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Only in France...

"Asked about overseas investment funds profiteering during a period of economic uncertainty, (French politician Rachida Dati) said: 'I see some of them looking for returns of 20 or 25 per cent, at a time when fellatio is almost non-existent'."

Easy enough mistake to make. Throughout the recession, we've been subjected to this kind of talk. There's been endless debate amongst financiers and politicians about the necessity of a stimulus, of how much to put in, whereas some people are just talking about the dangers of pulling out too soon...
And so forth.

Defending Alistair Darling. Yes, you DID read that correctly...

Your Grim Reaper cannot seriously believe he's about to hit "Publish" on this post, but I fear I have no choice. I'm going to have to partially defend a Labour politician. Yes, you read that right. The Grim Reaper is about to defend a LABOUR politician. I feel sick having to merely contemplate the idea, but here goes.

Alistair Darling, as depicted in a former ITV1 show called Headcases. Sensible caption to a picture on The Grim Reaper Writes... - you know things are bad...

Alistair Darling was the previous Chancellor in the last government. Beforehand, he garnered up a reputation as one of few pairs of safe hands in the Labour Party. He'd emerged unscathed from every single job he'd ever done, to that point. Even I must admit I thought Gordon Brown chose sensibly in having him as Chancellor in his government. It's a shame it was one of very few things I can praise Gordon on, but... I'll live. Heck, Darling was one of few politicians in the last government who didn't make me feel like going on a killing spree each time he spoke.

The Labour Party Conference is going on at the moment up in Manchester. I haven't written anything about it for the simple reason that I don't especially care about it. We already have a fair idea what everyone is going to be saying, anyway. Alistair Darling, it seems, has had enough and is leaving front-bench politics. After the time he had as Chancellor, I can't really blame him. According to the Beeb:

"Alistair Darling has said Labour cannot 'ignore the deficit' and must have a credible economic plan, in his farewell speech to the party's conference. He said his 'tough' plans to halve the deficit - which some in Labour say go too far - were 'measured'. The ex-chancellor, who is stepping down as a front bencher, joked he was not a 'conference darling' but it was better to 'resist the urge for easy applause'."

This is not going to make me especially popular with anyone, but I honestly believe the economy would be in even worse shape if Darling hadn't been Chancellor. Before libertarians everywhere splurt out coffee all over their keyboards, please let me explain. Darling is, without a doubt, partly responsible for running the country into the ground. However, just imagine how much worse it would have been had Gordon Brown still been Chancellor. Or - God forbid, Gordon's mini-me and full-time Adolf Hitler look-a-like Ed Balls been running the Treasury.

Balls has previously said he was against Darling's plans to halve the deficit - plans which, in themselves, were hopelessly timid. He actually thinks we should INCREASE public spending yet further, despite the fact it is only being cut back to 2006 levels. This is the man who now wants to be Shadow Chancellor. The mere concept of this man holding the nation's purse terrifies me. The country would truly be doomed.

Darling's message is tainted, given his history. Nonetheless, there's some truth in his view on this. The new Labour leader is very unlikely to heed his message.

Which can only be a good thing for the rest of us - provided Labour don't get back into power somehow.

Then we are truly and utterly fucked.

The inevitable first driving post

Like many other libertarian bloggers, your Grim Reaper does quite a lot of driving. Al Jahom recently said (if I can find the post where he said this, I'll gladly link to it) that he does about 30,000 miles per year. I do something similar. That averages out as a few hundred each week. I've always done a fair bit of driving - partly because it's something I enjoy doing and partly because of various necessities in life.

Now, you may also know that your Reaper moved to Northern Ireland last year from Wales. Generally speaking, I find the Irish to be infintely more preferable than the Welsh. Perhaps it's bad experience, but I tend to find the Welsh rather close-minded and not particularly welcoming of other people. And this is coming from a man who was born in Wales himself! (anyone who makes any sheep-shagging jokes at this point is going to be visited by my scythe 10 years earlier, be warned) I was expecting some hostility towards me when I moved here, given the history of Northern Ireland and also given the fact I have a very strong British accent. I'm probably the only Welshman without a Welsh accent there is...

I'm pleased to say I've never encountered any hostility towards me here. People are very, very welcoming. Unfortunately, there is one thing about the Irish which your Reaper absolutely hates. A fair few of the Irish themselves would probably admit this, but... how can I say this? Most of you can't drive for shit.
Nobody in this country seems to have the faintest idea what indicators are. For a lot of drivers here, they appear to be nothing more than pretty little lights which should be flashed at random times, often for no reason. No chance of getting the police to enforce the rules of the road either - if anything, their driving is even worse than that of the general population.

It also seems to be the case that hardly anyone in this country was ever taught how to use a roundabout properly. Whether it be getting into the wrong lane, forgetting to use the indicators at all or using them wrongly, there are people here who make Maureen from the old Driving School programme (that's her on the left, remember her?) look like Nigel Mansell behind the wheel. Is using a roundabout really that fucking difficult?

So, for the benefit of Irish drivers everywhere - and anyone else out there - this is The Grim Reaper's Handy Cut Out And Keep Guide To Using A Roundabout. Not a catchy title, I'll admit, but it's pretty easy...
Let's imagine you are driving (incidentally, if you are driving whilst reading this, you really are a fucking moron) right now and that there is a roundabout in front of you. There are four exits. Here's the key:

1st Exit: Turn Left.
2nd Exit: Straight Ahead.
3rd Exit: Turn Right.
4th Exit: U-Turn.

Here's what you do at each one:

1st Exit? Go into the left lane and indicate that you are turning left. Give way to anyone approaching on the right. If the road is clear, proceed to 1st Exit and then proceed as normal.

2nd Exit? Go into the left lane unless road markings indicate otherwise. Do not indicate at this stage. Give way to anyone approaching on the right. Once the path is clear, move forward. Once past the 1st Exit, switch on left-side indicator to show traffic you are coming off at the 2nd Exit. Once off the roundabout, proceed as normal.

3rd Exit? Go into the right-hand lane, or the right-hand side of the lane, whichever is relevant. Indicate clearly that you are turning right. As you may have picked up by now, at this stage, give way to anyone approaching on the right. Once the path is clear, move forward, staying on the inside of the roundabout. Once past the 2nd Exit, switch on left-side indicator to show traffic you are coming off at the 3rd Exit. Once off the roundabout, proceed as normal.
4th Exit? Go into the right-hand lane, or the right-hand side of the lane, whichever is relevant. Indicate clearly that you are turning right. Give way to anyone approaching on the right. Once the path is clear, move forward, staying on the inside of the roundabout. Once past the 3rd Exit, switch on left-side indicator to show traffic you are coming off at the 4th Exit. Once off the roundabout, proceed as normal.

And now you know how!

When I set out in the car later therefore, the standard of driving in Northern Ireland will have improved a little bit, won't it?

Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catholic Church fail

I saw this one a couple of days ago on RTÉ News. An Irish women's rights campaigner called Jennifer Sleeman urged parishioners to boycott mass today due to the Catholic Church's refusal to allow women to become priests. Read more about it here.

The nation's bishops, naturally, weren't best pleased about this and the finest religious minds in Ireland immediately got to work on producing convincing and solid arguments in favour of going to mass on Sunday, and not boycotting it instead. So, what did they come up with after many hours of debate and thought? According to RTÉ:

"The bishops warned that 'the celebration of the mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation (was) essential to the practice of the Catholic faith'."

Okay. So the best argument you can think of for ignoring a boycott is "go to mass this Sunday or you'll burn in hell".

Great. That's real fucking convincing, that. I can tell a lot of thought went into that argument.

And people wonder why the Catholic Church in Ireland is in the shitter...

Brown paper bags

I'm afraid I just can't take this story seriously, no matter how much I try. Perhaps your Reaper's mischievous side has come out to play on this sunny Sunday afternoon:

"A woman with 30 tattoos claims she was told to ''put a bag over her head'' when she went for a job interview. Hayley O'Neil, 23, - who also has 20 body piercings - says was also advised to ''stand behind a wall'' when she asked a job centre official what post she could apply for. She eventually left the Job Centre Plus centre in Blackburn Lancs in tears without any interviews lined up after the advisor concluded: 'Who would hire you looking like that?'."

For some reason, I keep being reminded of the scene in South Park where Mrs Crabtree is in bed with Chef, and he suggests that she wears a brown paper bag on her head, on the grounds it would "increase sexual pleasure"...

Thoughts on the new Labour lead... zzz...

Your Reaper apologises for the lack of posts yesterday. It's typical, really. On the one day when a big political story was going to break, real life got in the way and prevented me from getting online at all. Bugger. I'm not able to do any mobile blogging as of yet, due to me having a rather crap phone and not currently being able to afford a brand spanking new one. Anyway, I may be a little late to this party, but I might as well get on with it.

It went on for the best part of 400 years and at no point whatsoever was it in any way interesting or thought-provoking. Yes, I'm talking about this...

It really does feel like this picture was taken in Communist Russia, doesn't it?

First of all, I'd very much like to congratulate Ed Miliband on his success yesterday. Although the election which he had to fight to get the job was deeply flawed - what, with reports of some people being allowed to vote up to 8 times and so forth - at least he did actually have to fight an election to become Labour leader. After all, the previous leader didn't. He just bullied his way to the top. That's one thing that's certainly in Ed Miliband's favour. Your Grim Reaper is certainly happy to admit that much.
Unfortunately, this is pretty much where all my kind words on the new Labour leader end. I would wish him good luck in his new job, but frankly, I'd be lying. As someone who absolutely hates the Labour Party and would gladly piss on its grave, I wish him abject failure in the job. I hope that he lives up to the view that he's in thrall to the trade unions, that's he's their puppet and will say and do whatever they tell him to. I hope he ends up dragging Labour back to the Left, back to the permanently unelectable rabble they were back in the 1980s. I hope that Labour become are mocked and despised even more than they have been for the past 13 years.

Many of today's papers talk about Ed Miliband being a strong communicator and someone who has a very persuasive personality. That should serve him well in the above objectives, I would think. From Labour's point of view, I think this appointment will be disastrous. The rest of us should welcome it. I certainly do.
I look forward thoroughly to mocking you, Ed...

Friday, September 24, 2010

An appeal

Today, The Grim Reaper Writes launches its first appeal. Your Reaper is asking you to read the following, and perhaps make a donation at the end if you feel like it. Here it is:

"In communities all over Britain, politicians everywhere face a miserable and uncertain existence. They are widely despised. They are seen as being greedy, as being ineffecual, as being absolutely useless. They are mocked mercilessly by cruel right-wing bloggers on the internet. But currently, few politicians face more mockery and derision than the Miliband Brothers.

They are only two brothers. Yet they are persecuted on a daily basis. They're only doing their jobs, yet they suffer each day. Whether it be from libertarian bloggers repeatedly calling them abusive names to Ellie Gellard endlessly tweeting to people who vote for Ed Balls and neither of the Miliband Brothers, the effect is the same. These are two brothers who belong to a party that is nearly bankrupt and full of anti-social socialists, who are constantly fighting with each other. Yes, it's safe to say that the Miliband brothers are a hard-done by duo.

But now you can help change this. You can do it - by adopting David Miliband today.
You can adopt David Miliband for as little as £3 per month. In turn, you will receive a wonderful David Miliband adoption pack which contains the following items that David loves:

■ FIVE free bananas. Banana-waving is one of David's favourite past-times and these will keep him very happy.
■ A CUDDLY David Miliband toy. It looks like a Mr Bean toy, but it isn't. Honest.
■ A HANDY 32-page book full of interesting facts and figures about David Miliband.
■ A YEAR-LONG subscription to Banana Magazine. David likes bananas and he'll like Banana Magazine.
■ A FREE CD from The Grim Reaper Writes full on tips on how to reduce the impact of David Miliband.

David Milband is often attacked due to his geekish personality, his dubious role in the last Labour government, and for generally being a bit of a twat. With his possible victory tomorrow in the Labour leadership contest, things can only get worse for David. But you can help him by adopting him today.

If you are interested in adopting David Miliband and act today, you may also fulfill the criteria for adopting Tom Harris MP.

Tom Harris, born in 1964, is a Labour politician and the MP for Glasgow South. During the last Labour government, Tom Harris was not only a good MP, but he was also an MP who was rather good at running a blog. This is a rarity amongst politicians and it is one we must not let die out.

Yet Tom Harris faces daily persecution from IPSA, the current expenses watchdog at Westminster. Thanks to IPSA, Tom's existence is miserable, lonely and slightly paranoid. His blog has been reduced to a farce, attacking IPSA in every entry. It is even claimed that he checks for presence of IPSA under his bed before going to sleep each night. Whilst no amount of money will be able to fix the fact that Tom is Scottish, we passionately believe that he should be given help.

Adopt David Miliband today and you may be able to give Tom a route to a better life.

Thank you.

** This blogpost was created by Taking The Piss Productions. Mocking people online since 1825.

I see the Government's trying to scare us again...

"The threat level to Great Britain from Irish-related terrorism has been raised from moderate to substantial. Home Secretary Theresa May said it meant an attack was a 'strong possibility'. It was the first time this threat level had been published, the Home Office confirmed. The head of security service MI5 warned last week that dissident Republicans opposed to British rule in Northern Ireland could strike mainland Britain."

What exactly is the point of telling us about this? What does "substantial" even mean in this context? I suspect it simply means "we don't really know what the chance of some dissident nutter trying to blow something up is, so we're going to take a guess that it's slightly higher than it was yesterday".
It seems like just another attempt to scare us. Living in Northern Ireland, I'm used to being told on the news that big scary monsters are trying to blow us up. They're going to be in total overdrive about it on the evening news bulletins, inevitably. Yes, most of us know that there are "dissident republicans", as they're called, out there who aren't happy with Northern Ireland remaining a part of the UK. They're threatening to cause carnage if they don't get their way.

When are they going to get it? They didn't get their way during their Troubles and they sure as hell won't be getting it now. Your Reaper has no strong views on this specifically, but if people want to see a united Ireland, let them argue the case for it. And no, not a case full of explosives. A case of arguments and points that back up your view. Then let the electorate choose in a referendum open to all Irish citizens.

My advice to everyone? Carry on as normal. Judging by the appearance of things in town earlier, that's exactly what people are doing. Good.

Oh noes!

London this morning, amidst the worst riots the city had seen for over 50 years. Probably.

Has a nuclear bomb been dropped? Has there been a flash flood which has killed millions of people? Has there been an enormous terrorist attack on one of our major cities?

Erm... no. So what is the cause of all this rioting and looting?

What a fucking over-reaction there has been to this. So a website happens to have been down for around 2 or 3 hours? Big fucking deal. I really don't understand how that qualifies as news. Websites go down all the time. They usually come back up again soon enough.

Mind you, this story is partly worth reporting only to see evidence of one particular phenomenon. That phenomenon being how many people you can encourage to respond with banal, ill-thought out views. Case in point - a certain Dave Hendy from Newport. He bemoans the fact that:

"...with it being on a Thursday, it seriously hampered my attempts to contact friends regarding going out, so Facebook, see this as a warning, if you hamper my chances of a night out again, beware!"

Have you always been this much of a moron, Dave? Friendly suggestion. Why don't you use a different means of contacting these people you call your friends? I don't know if you've ever heard, but there is something in existence these days which is called a telephone. Sometimes, it's just referred to as a phone. They can be bought from many different stores and they sometimes look like this:
If you want more specific details about telephones, visit any shop that sells them and ask one of their staff. I'm sure they'll be able to help you. They can be purchased quite cheaply in many cases. Alternatively, why not get off your fucking arse and go and see them in person? Good grief...

However, for sheer and utter stupidity, the following comment from Bryony Hill in Bristol has to take the biscuit:

"So bad, they have so many users that use Facebook, they should make sure it works properly and provide a useful service."

Have you been living in a cave for the past 10 years? Facebook has always been riddled with fucking bugs. It NEVER works properly and the design team are constantly fiddling about with the layout. Once you've got used to the last crap design that was put in place by some semi-illiterate shaved chimps, you log on one day to find another crap design that was put in place by some semi-illiterate shaved chimps.

And what useful service does Facebook provide, anyway?

It tells you a thing or two about our society that someone from Scotland, of all places, provides a voice of reason on this. Dom Haseltine thinks that:

"We should not complain about Facebook going down, after all it's a free service and what grounds would be have to complain. I would understand if we were paying a monthly fee for a service, but as we aren't we just have to live with it."

Dom, I salute your wisdom!

Another one bites the dust

OK, this wasn't the post I was planning to write about next. Your Reaper was originally planning to go onto the news sites, check what was trending on Twitter... the usual things I do when trying to find something to write about. However, I've just come across some news that's slightly upset me, to be honest. I really don't want to spend my time going on about blogging and bloggers, but I can't resist posting this.

It appears that Obnoxio The Clown has decided to quit blogging.

It's a sad day for political blogging. His was the first political blog which really got my attention - his message was different to much of what the blogosphere was saying, and he said it in a way that many people could understand. Plus his archives are full of golden comedy moments. I can honestly say that he was one of the people who made me want to run my own blog. How sad that as I start my blogging "career", one of my inspirations is ending his.

You'll be missed Obo, you'll be sorely missed.

What a difference one email can make!

Your Reaper is feeling, quite honestly, deeply humbled. Yesterday afternoon, I sent off an email to GrumpyOldTwat telling him that my blog was finally up. He'd wanted to see the final result for quite some time, so it was with some anticipation I sent the email off to him. After all, he's certainly not the sort of man who's going to hold back if he thinks something isn't any good!

So I'm rather honoured by the fact he not only published a post welcoming me along, but also by the fact he's sent over 300 visitors in my direction. Here's hoping I can hang onto at least some of them! Rest assured I'm certainly looking forward to trying.

To those people who are asking, the blogroll isn't 100% finished as of yet. At the time of writing this, I've still got a few more blogs to add onto it. The lists are on my computer waiting to be added, I've just not finished doing it yet. If you want to add The Grim Reaper Writes... onto your blogroll, you are more than welcome to do so. I'll be happy to add you in return - unless you're a total prick. In which case I might just add you anyway. ;-)

If there's any problem with your link in my blogroll - the wrong link, misspelt URL or whatever - just let me know and I'll correct it. Although The Grim Reaper considers himself a meticulous character, I'm sure I can rely on my fellow bloggers to correct me if I get something wrong.

Thanks once again for the very kind welcome to the blogosphere, everyone.
Okay, enough admin stuff for now. I'm gonna get on with writing my next post...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"There now follows an interval due to real life"

Right, I'm off to see a play with the missus this evening. As it's been a while since we a good night out, there'll be no more blogging from your Reaper for today. Unless you're very, very lucky, in which case a post might appear towards the end of tonight. Otherwise, it'll be tomorrow.

Special thanks goes to the reader who ended up being sent here via Google after doing a search for "david milband tortured". Well, your Reaper certainly intends to do all he can to make life difficult for him should he become Labour leader, but torture him? We can but hope.

1.5% of the UK's population are gay, lesbian or bisexual...

...reports the Beeb this afternoon. They're writing about a survery carried out for the Office for National Statistics. Unsurprisingly, London polled highest and Northern Ireland polled lowest. London's obviously going to be higher due to its population and Northern Ireland is obviously going to be lower due to religion being a bigger factor in people's lives here in than in the rest of the UK. Although it's not as big a factor as some people believe.

Personally, I don't care what sexuality someone is or isn't. What bothers me is the fact the Office for National Statistics feels it actually wants to know about this in the first place. Why can't these people just mind their own business?

Or are they more interested in justifying their salaries? Stupid question, really.

Trident? Meh!

Your Reaper doesn't quite know why this is, but I just can't get myself worked up about Trident at all. As something of a political anorak and as something that costs a bloody fortune to the country, I reckon I should be able to form a strong opinion on this one. However, no matter how much I try, I can't do it. Not even this piece by Benny Brogan (one of few decent blogging journalists out there) hasn't done the trick.

A side of me can understand why the country needs it. The deterrent argument does make some sense. However, were a country with nuclear weapons to decide that they were going to drop a nuclear bomb on this country - how exactly would we react after the nuclear holocaust? I can't imagine we'd be particularly quick to send a bomb back in their direction in the event, anyway.

I'm open to persuasion on this one. I think I like it like that for once.

Like a fly around dog shit, I just can't keep away from this...

I'm afraid it's another Nick Clegg post. Regular viewers might want to look away now. Make yourself a nice cup of coffee. Go on, off you go now.

I promised myself I would try and ignore the Liberal Democrat party conference, but he makes it far too easy for your Grim Reaper to take the piss out of him.

"Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has questioned the use of accountants to cut tax bills, suggesting it is 'ethically wrong' for the wealthy to take advantage of legal loopholes to reduce their liabilities. Speaking from Liberal Democrat conference in Liverpool, he claimed that legal tax avoidance cost the economy £42 billion a year, and said that Government was working to stamp out the practice. The Lib Dem leader criticised those who to try to escape contributions to the national coffers at a time when voters were being asked to tighten their belts as a result of the austerity drive."

Like most Liberal Democrats, one has to bear in mind that when Nick Clegg speaks, it's best to assume he knows the square root of fuck all on the subject he's yappering on about. Alright, he doesn't like accountants. Fair enough. That's no crime. Indeed, Clegg has form when it comes to this topic - he called last year for Alistair Darling to resign when it was revealed he'd paid for an accountant with public funds and seemingly used the aforementioned accoutant for advice on how to maximise his expenses claims. Again, you'll find no objection there from the Reaper.

However, I have to ask one question to this. What exactly are these people doing wrong? If my earnings were high enough - and Lord only knows they aren't - I'd certainly be happy to use an accountant to try and minimise my tax take. Perhaps Cleggy could do with reminding of something called the Laffer Curve.

The Laffer What? Go on Nick, click the link here, it's got a pretty little chart on the page AND it'll explain what the Laffer Curve is!

It boils down to the theory that once taxes have been pushed up above a certain level that the tax take will start to actually fall. A quick history lesson shows us that booms for people such as accountants and tax avoidance lawyers happen when taxes are high. An example of this is 1970s Britain. Those who earnt more £40,000 previously had to pay a tax rate of 83% back then. They then had to pay a 15% surcharge on top of that. In other words, if you earnt £100, you'd only get to keep £2 once the Government got its grubby hands on it. As a result, tax avoidance was widespread and the country descended further and further into the shitter.

Shouldn't we therefore be cutting taxes instead of increasing them? After all, I believe that's what a certain Barack Obama has done for large numbers of Americans. You may remember when he first came along that there was a pathetic display of fawning over him from our politicians. Gordon Brown was like a love-struck puppy whenever Obama's name was mentioned - indeed, Gordon was, at one point, saying his name at every given opportunity. I seem to recall that Clegg jumped on this bandwagon and was in favour of such tax cuts at the time.

I wonder why he isn't now....

Who to take aim at to start the blogging day?


The police farce for their admission that they don't bother dealing with anti-social behaviour anymore?

Nah. (before I forget, the picture is courtesy of GrumpyOldTwat.) But I may come to that one later.

Chris Moyles, who's been complaining about not being paid on time?


Dave Hartnett and the HMRC - they who said they wouldn't write off any of the money, but now will?

Okay, they'll have to do for the target pratice. I was originally going to have a pop at Lembit Öpik, after Andrew Pierce - he who hopefully might now understand the concept of blogging under a pseudonym - asked in the Mail whether he's got himself a new woman. Mainly by showing a picture of this alleged new woman of his and then asking - just what DO these various women all see in our Lembit? I got the inspiration for that last night. Unfortunately, when I checked the website this morning, Pierce's article was up, but the picture wasn't on it. So I'm now forced to write about something else. The bastards.
Anyway... it's now emerged that the HMRC - they who said they wouldn't be writing off any of the money that was owed to them by taxpayers, despite it being THEIR mistakes that led to them not getting the money in the first place - have had a change of heart.

"Up to £1.5bn of unpaid tax is likely to be written off by HM Revenue and Customs, insiders have told the BBC. Staff said the vast majority would not be pursued because the cases involved were over two years old and open to legal challenge from taxpayers. There is a backlog of 7.5m cases of tax underpayment or overpayment - the latter estimated at £3bn which will be reimbursed - dating back to 2007-2008. An HMRC spokesman said no decision had been made on underpayment cases."

Two weeks ago, we were told that writing off this money would have been "unaffordable" and "not in the public interest". Something to do with the age of austerity we're allegedly entering.

Putting it mildly, I can honestly see no reason why Dave Hartnett deserves to keep his job after all this. Putting it less mildly, why is this useless cunt still taking a salary from the public teat? I can honestly see no reason why Dave Hartnett deserves to keep his job after all this. Anyone in the private sector who was this bad at their job would have lost theirs. As ever though, it seems the same standards do not apply to the public sector.

Just why hasn't he already been sacked, in any case? I thought we were in the age of the new politics now. Which happens to be exactly the same as the old politics, I notice. Strange that.