Thursday, November 19, 2015 

That police advice on what to do if caught up in a terrorist gun attack in full.

Developing dynamic lockdown procedures

What is dynamic lockdown?

Dynamic lockdown is the ability to quickly restrict access and egress to a site or building in response to a threat, either external or internal.  Of course, if the terrorist has got inside, then locking it down so either they can't get out or the police can't get in might not be the best idea.  Some sites due to their nature may also not be able to achieve lockdown.  In which cause you're pretty much screwed and you can probably disregard most of the rest of this note.

Why develop dynamic lockdown?

You've heard of the illusion of safety, right?

How to achieve dynamic lockdown
  • Identify all access and egress points
  • Identify how to quickly and physically secure these points.  Because your staff obviously won't be panicking and running for cover when dozens of AK-47 bullets are whizzing at them
  • Staff must be trained to act effectively and made aware of their responsibilities.  Anyone who does something stupid like play dead in the event of an attack should be fired immediately, even if they died as a result
 How to let people know what's happening
  • Public address system.  The operator should try to remain calm and not alert staff to the fact they may all be about to die
  • Dedicated "Lockdown" alarm tone.  Preferably similar to the "all clear" and "fallout" tones that would have sounded after a nuclear attack, and were practically identical.  
Training your staff
  • Train all staff using principles of "Stay Safe" (see below)
  • Resist the temptation to test staff by asking Muslim employees to grow their beards and raid the premises using toy rifles one wet day in January
How to Stay Safe

  • Seriously, fucking run.  Use some common sense though; don't run towards the men with guns
  • Insist others leave with you.  If they're gibbering at the prospect of potentially dying, try and slap them out of it.  Drag them if you have to.  You can always use them as a shield if you get spotted
  • Leave belongings behind.  That means your iPhone, your man bag and your skinny latte.  Smashing the phone of any halfwit attempting to film the proceedings is not only highly advised, it should be considered mandatory
  • If you can't RUN, as you're morbidly obese or pissing yourself at what's happening, then HIDE
  • Outside of the line of sight of the gunmen, obviously.  If you can see them, they can probably see your worthless hide
  • Be aware of your exits.  As if you and everyone around you wasn't already
  • Try not to get trapped
  • Lock / barricade yourself in.  Yes, this contradicts the above if the gunmen shoot out the lock or break down the barricade, but at least you tried, eh?
  • Everyone on social media what's happening.  Then the BBC, ITV, the press, etc
  • Phone 999.  Just to be on the safe side
Armed Police Response
  • Remain calm.  Don't worry that all your friends and colleagues may be bleeding to death, you're safe now
  • Avoid sudden movements.  The police will be just as jittery as you, only they'll be as heavily armed as the actual attackers
Officers May
  • Point guns at you
  • Grab hold of you
  • Shoot you multiple times in the head without warning.  If you're wearing a light denim jacket or are a wookie
  • Then ask you questions
You must STAY SAFE
  • What are your plans if there were an incident?  Don't think you're safe just because you live somewhere like Cockermouth, either.  Forewarned is forearmed
  • What are the local plans in the event of a tactical nuclear weapon strike?  Are you aware of the location of the local mass grave?
  • Finally, if all else fails
  • DUCK and COVER

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Friday, October 16, 2015 

Corbyn's shit and you can't take it!

It's over lads.  Time to go home.  Rob Marchant on Labour Uncut has spoken:

It is now taken as accepted everywhere in British politics, with the exception of some parts of the Labour Party’s rank and file, that Labour cannot win an election with Corbyn at the helm.

Yes.  We cannot possibly wait for as long as say next May, and see whether there is any sort of uptick in Labour's fortunes in Scotland or in the local elections.  Barely two months into Corbyn's leadership, it's accepted everywhere that he cannot win an election.  Why, he's been denounced by everyone other than the Corbynistas, who will Corbsplain to you precisely why it is he will take 100% of the vote in 2020 and lead us all to the promised land of facial hair and teetotalism.  He will wipe away every fear of austerity from our minds, and there will be no more Cameron, or Farage or Sturgeon or Kendall anymore, for the former things will have passed away.

Everything, you see, is either Corbyn or McDonnell's fault.  No one can deny that  Monday's u-turn on the fiscal charter reflected extremely badly on the leadership, suggesting that McDonnell had not so much as read the document itself.  Yet, rather than vote with the new leadership once they had made the right decision, 21 MPs abstained for reasons of pure spite.  If only, some ought to reflect, there had been a similar near riot akin to the one at Monday's meeting of the parliamentary Labour party after Harriet Harman's fuckwitted we cannot oppose the welfare bill epiphany, Corbyn might not be leader now.

Besides, I realise we all have ten second memories, but I do recall that Miliband's first choice as shadow chancellor was only half joking when he said the first thing he needed to do was get an economics for beginners primer.  I'd rather have someone who admits his mistake, embarrassing as it was, than someone who doesn't have a clue.

Worth recalling also is what the Labour whips thought of Corbyn and McDonnell's own rebellions.  Corbyn was a "lost cause", while McDonnell was a "shit".  At the moment, Corbyn's opponents for opposition's sake are acting like the latter.  It isn't a good look.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015 

Can you direct me to the nearest designated mass grave?

"In the long run," Keynes said, "we are all dead."  When it comes to any exchange of nuclear weapons, you can reverse his maxim.  Verily, in the very short term we will all be dead.  Or, if extraordinarily unlucky, still alive in a world where the living will envy the dead.

In what has already been a remarkably stupid last few weeks, the whole why-won't-that-bastard-Corbyn-incinerate-everyone-out-of-spite-if-we're-all-going-to-die-anyway debate has truly taken the cake.  Last night's Newsnight was utterly surreal: Evan Davis and Lord Falconer considering hypothetical after hypothetical, Falconer making clear that he would indeed if prime minister keep the option open of taking part in unprecedented slaughter, as that is clearly what the British people would expect.  The reaction of members of the shadow cabinet team to Jeremy Corbyn replying to a straight question with a straight answer they must have known he would give, that he cannot conceive of any circumstances in which he would ever launch nukes, has been bizarre and disloyal.  Andy Burnham, Maria Eagle and all the others are apparently perfectly happy to join in with the end of the world, so long as someone else starts it first.

As Dan Davies pointed out, Corbyn was asked entirely the wrong question.  The question should not be would you break out the nukes, as it is almost inconceivable we would ever use them without the support of the people who help to make our "independent" deterrent.  The question rather should be whether a prime minister would use them without US approval, and secondly what they think would happen if they did.  It's all but impossible to think of any scenario where potential nuclear war was imminent that would not involve a square off between the US and either Russia/China, the only other nuclear armed states that have the potential to destroy each other and much of the rest of the planet if they so wished.

In such circumstances, the NATO doctrine of an attack on one is an attack on all would come into play; there would be little effective choice in the matter unless the PM decided the whole Threads look wasn't a good one.  If nuclear holocaust happens, we're going to die.  Simple as.  If the prime minister of the day then is such an utter shitbag that his letter to the commander of the Vanguard sub says yes, please spray more nuclear megadeath around for the sheer sake of it, it's not going to make a blind bit of difference to us.  It might well to other countries without insane defence/war policies, but to a nation where Radio 4 has stopped broadcasting?  Nope.  Of course, the commander himself might in such circumstances decline to follow those orders, as who's going to know or rebuke him.  You wouldn't however put your mortgage on such a hope.

The oh, you can't say definitively you would never use nukes because you always have to make the potential enemy think you might argument is therefore bunk.  It's not about making the Russians/Chinese think twice, it's wholly about the ridiculous, yes I'm so dedicated to the security of my country that I will happily see it annihilated in a nuclear fire, my bollocks are bigger than yours political game.  It wouldn't matter as much if there was on the horizon the merest suggestion that we might be returning to a Cold War frame of mind, but there isn't.  On the contrary, the Russian intervention in Syria and the relative lack of reaction to it makes clear that the wear your mushroom with pride days are not about to make a comeback.  The Russian intervention in Afghanistan in the 80s seemed of a piece with the rise in belligerence by both sides.  Today, there is no such desire to restart the waving of ICBMs.

This doesn't mean it can't happen.  It could, not least if leaders more volatile than Obama or Putin come to power, or if China decides to further step up its militarisation of the South China Sea.  The smart money though remains on either a continued terrorist threat, as far as there is one, against which anything other than conventional forces are useless, or small scale actions like the ones in Ukraine, where irregular forces and militias are used, and so ditto.  As Diane Abbott rightly points out, some of the most respected retired generals previously made clear their opposition to Trident replacement, wanting the money to be spent instead on conventional weaponry.

The biggest obstacles to getting rid of Trident if we so wished are not so much those considerations, as politicians know full well nukes are useless militarily, but rather the "loss of standing" disarming would have. Allied with how the military-industrial complex must go on being fed, a view supported by the unions, with GMB leader Sir Paul Kenny (knighted by Cameron, natch) saying Corbyn would have to resign if he became prime minister and didn't change his stance, it's far easier to just accept that our weapons are both "independent" and a "deterrent", must be replaced, and be on the brink of being launched at all times.  Anything less is to give in to the "nirvana fallacy", to be unrealistic, to go against the accepted rules of politics.  Whether such thinking stands up in a world that moves ever further away from 1989, where the public mood is one of wanting to stop meddling as a direct result of the foreign policy failures of recent times, remains to be seen.

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Monday, September 28, 2015 

If you go down to the Fuck Parade...

Cereal Killer cafe is not the cause of gentrification, nor can it instigate the solution.  Seriously, we just sell breakfast cereal.  Not your Aldi own brand rip-offs of Frosties or Shreddies either, we're talking the real deal, imported from all over the world.  Pure 100% grade A Strawberry Smiggles, Reese's Type 2 Diabetes Puffs, Hello Kitty Bukkake from Japan, Chairman Mao's Wheat Strips from China, you name it, we can get it.  Then we'll lovingly pour it in a porcelain dish with your choice from one of over 20 different varieties of liquid, dozens of toppings, and all at the low, low price of double a whole box of the stuff.

We can't then understand why anyone could possibly object to our little cafe.  Cereal selling boutique outlet we may be, but we are also far more than that.  We offer an experience you simply can't get anywhere else: breakfast in our eyes is not just the first meal of the day, it's a way of life.  Come down to Brick Lane and be transported back to your childhood, where a bowl of heavily processed sugar and chemicals was the be all and end all of existence.  The cafe is decorated with cereal memorabilia; what others might call the detritus of marketing past we view as a social history, the story of us, as experienced through the eyes of the Honey Monster.  We are extremely serious about breakfast cereal, and we know that many of our customers are as well.  We take much influence from the grandfather of breakfast cereals, John Harvey Kellogg, who believed that Corn Flakes could help the fight against masturbation.  We credit his thinking for my brother and I's beards, as without the distraction provided by our mission to serve only the finest of the world's maize offerings we would have realised how stupid we look long ago.

Our business is in essence a love letter to the commodifcation of childhood as being a halcyon period of wonder and happiness, as well as our failure to adjust to adulthood beyond the embracing of capitalism at its most decadent.  When then a protest terms itself the "Fuck Parade", and yet we did not see any sort of love on display, let alone the promised fucking, only sneering, visceral hate and bullying, we ourselves must object.  Those on the protests may have some valid points to make, not that we heard any or would recognise them as such if put to us, but frightening our customers and vandalising our cafe is not the way to go about doing so.  Frankly, they're 10 years late in any case: the gentrification boat in Shoreditch has long since sailed.  Why don't the organisers move just a little further north and smash the glass of businesses in Hackney itself?

I mean, why us?  What is it about two hirsute blokes selling infantile food to other similarly inclined middle class individuals and urban ironists that some middle class people find so terrible?  We don't take business from anyone else, as no one before us had quite such a horrific idea, and we in fact bring tourists and rubberneckers into Brick Lane who wouldn't have come otherwise.  £4 for a bowl of cereal isn't that bad compared to the price you'll pay for a pint, and we have the same overheads as everyone else.  We can't charge someone who doesn't look like our usual clientèle less purely on that basis, on the off chance they might ordinarily get their cereal from a food bank.  Why sneer at us when plenty of our critics think nothing of paying £10.00 for a falafel sandwich from Pret a Manger swilled down with the bottled tears of a Syrian child, or £500.00 for a pair of Versace Y-fronts?  Why didn't Class War target those conglomerates rather than a small business like ours?  It's snobbery, that's what it is.

My brother and I know poverty, having been brought up in Belfast.  Our parents scrimped and scraped to buy us Lucky Charms, instilling in us the virtues of hard work and sacrifice.  That's what Cereal Killers is about: working hard, playing hard, making life better for everyone.  It saddens us that others are too immature, too selfish, too blinded by an ideology motivated by theft and envy to see us for what we really are.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2015 

Long may she reign.

Tributes were paid today to a woman who has spent the past 63 years on the toilet.

The lady, Bessie Warhammer the IIIrd, 96, from Cleethorpes, was diagnosed with Hopkins' dysentery, an especially virulent and incurable form of the infection in 1952.  Although it is not known at precisely what time Warhammer took to the brick shithouse in her back garden, it is believed her lengthy reign on the porcelain telephone has now broken the record previously set by Lady Victoria Price, who famously suffered so badly from incontinence that she walked around with a convenience strapped to her at all times.

Leading the messages of encouragement was prime minister David Cameron.  Speaking in the Commons, he described Warhammer's long battle with the sewage system as "truly humbling".  "Bessie has such a sense of selfless service that she thought today should just be an ordinary day.  When so much else has changed, that one woman could have made the sacrifices she has, not seeing her children grow up, witnessing her house burn down and being unable to do anything about it as she was indisposed, refusing to lower the Warhammer standard when Princess Diana died, things we can hardly begin to imagine, on today of all days her honour must be recognised.  Truly, her smallest room struggle has been the brown thread running through three post-war generations."

In one of her final acts as interim Labour leader, Harriet Harman added that it was "no exaggeration" to say Warhammer was "admired by dozens around the world".  "Many of those people are still having to poo in a hole in the ground, and Bessie's story reminds them that they too can aspire to live in a toilet of their very own.  The Labour party will do everything it can to help them achieve those dreams."

Speaking from the specially constructed bathroom in the nursing home where she now lives, Warhammer maintained the understated air she has become known for.  "This was not a title to which I have ever aspired, but I thank everyone for their touching messages of great kindness.  Now will someone please put me out of my fucking misery?"

In other news:

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Friday, August 28, 2015 

House of Lords number crunching.

8 - Number of Lib Dems voters saw fit to return to parliament after five years of coalition with the Conservatives

11 - Number of Lib Dems nominated to the House of Lords for services to the Conservative party

2 - Number of former Lib Dem MPs knighted for their help in getting the Conservatives their first majority in 23 years

4 - Number of honours handed out to various people for services to Nick Clegg

3 - Number of Downing Street staff given the resurrected British Empire Medal, a bauble recognising something that no longer exists, to honour years of service to politicians regardless of stripe

1 - Person bewildered by politicians' continuing insistence on making the public despise them, i.e. me

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Thursday, August 20, 2015 

New victim of Labour purge identified.

There was consternation today after it emerged Ed Miliband's incipient beard has been denied a vote in the Labour leadership election.  The new facial appendage was informed via email, in what has been dubbed the "great Labour purge", that it does not support the "aims and values" of the party.

"It's an outrageous decision," said Keith Flett, chief executive of the Beard Liberation Front.  "The idea that beards are anything but rooted in Labour values is absurd.  From Marx and Engels to Keir Hardie, from Ramsay MacDonald to that apology for a moustache that once took up space below Ken Livingstone's nose, from Peter Mandelson to Robin Cook, facial hair and the Labour party have always gone together.  To deny this is to deny history.  The Milibeard must have its vote restored forthwith."

A spokesman for the Labour party, who refused to comment on whether he too had decided to forgo using a razor for a couple of weeks, denied that the decision had been made in error.  "We have reason to believe that the Milibeard is an unconscious attempt on the part of Ed to indicate support for Jeremy Corbyn.  As all former leaders are required to either keep shtum or endorse Yvette Cooper, we had no option but to remove his vote."

It as yet unclear whether Ed plans to add to his new hipster image by getting a sleeve tattoo and opening a breakfast cereal pop-up eatery in Shoreditch.

In other news:

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015 

Membership of Conservative party 'may be sign of extremism'

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has defended the government ahead of tomorrow's introduction of a legal requirement on schools to prevent extremism.

Morgan, who still looks visibly surprised to be in a position of any authority whatsoever, was combative.  "What our critics have to understand is this puts us under the same level of scrutiny as everyone else.  And let's be honest here, the Conservative party could until recently have fallen foul of our definition of what extremism is.  The mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs? I should coco."

"Individual liberty is all well and good, but if it leads to someone saying things we now declare to be extremism of the non-violent variety then obviously we have to step in," Morgan continued.  "As for the rule of law, the law is whatever we declare it to be, and if we don't like the interpretation of one judge, well, we can always get that of another.  Nor are we safe when it comes to democracy, as we have no problem whatsoever with palling up with some of the most unpleasant governments on the face of the planet, like our good friends the Saudis, who respond to demands for freedom of thought with the sword and the whip.  Did you see there was another attack today in Yemen claimed by Isil on the Houthis?  We're hoping no one notices that we are on the same side as IS there, not to forget allied with al-Qaida's affiliate the Nusra front in Syria."

Asked whether it was the height of hypocrisy for Morgan to claim that homophobia might be a sign of extremism when she and many other Conservatives opposed gay marriage, Morgan gave a remarkably straight answer.  "Well, obviously.  But we either can't or won't do anything real that might help tackle extremism, so we decided making life even more miserable for some of the people least likely to vote for us was as good a way of any of showing we're doing something."

In other news:
Fifteen-year-old threatened with TPIM for describing teacher as "well gay"
Parents of latest IS runaway blame teachers, police, government, social media, Basil Brush, Charlotte Church, and Buzz Aldrin for her disappearance
Counter-terrorism exercise held in London, officers trained to shoot for head of nearest Brazilian
Labour party abandons policy of social democracy, as "issue is gone"

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Thursday, March 05, 2015 

Still mass debating the debates.

It really can't be stated enough just how much of a blinder David Cameron has played from a position of weakness on the debates, or increasingly likely non-debates, and what a spectacularly craven one the broadcasters have from a position of strength.  For months before the first proposal sources made clear Cameron would do everything possible to avoid a repeat of what he and his advisers felt was a debacle last time round, when Clegg seized the advantage they felt was rightfully theirs.

Rather than adapt their bids accordingly, they walked straight into Craig Oliver's trap.  Dave debate with Nige? Not without Natalie there to snipe at Ed and Nick from their blind sides.  Instead of saying OK and calling his bluff, they came up with the completely ridiculous and unwieldy idea of also inviting Plaid Cymru and the SNP, and to two rather than just one of the showdowns.  Why then not invite the DUP as well, or Sinn Fein, the Natural Law party, the Pirates, the Real Elvis continuity wing?  There didn't seem to have been the slightest thought put into how a 7-leader debate could possibly work, presumably because they were expecting Miliband and Clegg to now say hang on, this is becoming a joke.

Only they didn't, apparently believing the pressure on Cameron to take part would become too much.  It hasn't, as was predictable considering there isn't as much demand for the debates as the broadcasters, heady from the belief the debates were the campaign last time, and the other parties have convinced themselves.  Then you also have to factor in the lack of pressure from the press, both as they have an interest in not helping out the broadcasters and as most have already dismissed Miliband as only slightly less weird than Arnold Layne, making anything that could prove them wrong extremely unwelcome.  If it was Miliband refusing to be involved you can imagine the uproar, the jibes, taunts, the multiple interns in chicken suits that would be following him around everywhere.  As it's Cameron he'll raise the ire only of the Daily Mirror, and their stock isn't exactly high at the moment.

Now we have Oliver and Cameron's "final" offer, and it's playing the broadcasters at their own game.  You wanted 7 leaders, you've got it, but we're only doing one and before the campaign proper gets under way.  As contemptible as this is for all the reasons the other politicians have spent the day outlining, you also can't help but admire the way it's been done.  It's been Campbell-esque in its evil genius, which is no doubt why it's annoyed the man himself so much.  Having a debate before the Conservative manifesto has been published is all but pointless, as Paddy Ashdown pointed out, as is one when the very presence of at least two of the leaders is completely irrelevant to most of those watching as they can't vote for the SNP or Plaid Cymru whether they like the sound of their policies or not.  Even if answers to questions were limited to two minutes, that's nearly quarter of an hour that's going to be spent on just each leader's opening gambit.  No wonder Cameron thinks he'd escape completely unscathed from such an encounter.

And so we are once again left with the broadcasters threatening to "empty chair" Cameron.  Only because of the impartiality rules the Conservative policy would have to be outlined regardless, quite possibly by a journalist, making the spectacle even more ludicrous, and leaving the one-on-one debate with Miliband presumably transformed into either a long-form interview with Paxman or a town hall style non-event.  The question is who comes out of such silliness looking worse, and Cameron will quite happily take a few negatives headlines rather than risk Miliband appearing prime ministerial a week before voting.  Channel 4 and Sky offering to move that debate forward yesterday was all the encouragement Cameron and Oliver needed to make a final mockery of the "negotiations".  What a mess, and for all the cowardice, cynicism and calculation of the Conservatives, the incompetence of the broadcasters has been just as remarkable.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 

Mass debating the debates.

Is there anything more thrilling, more guaranteed to get the pulses racing than a debate about having debates?  Does parliament get any more electrifying than when the back and forth is effectively the equivalent of two eight-year-olds saying I know you are but what am I?  Could the public, supposedly completely engaged and at one with the leaders demanding the debates take place, in fact be any less interested by this cavalcade of nonsense, from both the political parties and the broadcasters?  Is that enough rhetorical questions for an opening paragraph?  (Yes. Ed.)

Christ alive.  If anything, what I find most perplexing about this entire farrago is the insistence, best expressed by Roger Mosey, that "In a short time, television debates have become a vital part of our democracy".  To which I say: bollocks.  What they most certainly have become is very lucrative indeed for the broadcasters, especially when budgets have been slashed for news gathering in general.  Why bother to follow the party leaders around the country on the campaign trail when you can let a skeleton crew do that and instead concentrate on those heavyweight clashes between the big three, or indeed four, or even five?  David Cameron is of course prevaricating over the inclusion of the Greens when he just doesn't want to take part as there is no possible way he could gain from the debates unless Farage shoots Clegg and Miliband dead while a bodyguard takes the bullet intended for him, but all he's really doing is reverting back to practice before 2010.

What's more, there's a decent case to be made for having no debates at all, or just the one between Cameron and Miliband.  Everything about our political system makes the presidentialising (or infantilising, if you prefer) of party leaders problematic.  Just look at the outcome in 2010: "Cleggmania" led to the Lib Dems increasing their share of the vote, only for the way those ballots were spread across the country to mean the party in fact lost seats.  However you try to dress it up, come May we'll be casting votes not for a party leader, but a party's local candidate.  Only those lucky enough to live in Witney, Doncaster North or Sheffield Hallam will have the chance to personally support one of the big three. 

For all the uncertainties over the election outcome, there's also no doubt the prime minister will either be from the Conservatives or Labour.  Unlike in presidential systems, our party leaders also do regularly go up against one another, although the quality of their tete a tete's are not always as high as they could be.  True, they rarely face questions direct from the public, but it's also not as if they won't have answered the ones set to be posed dozens of times before.  There's something to be said for taking a leader out of their comfort zone and seeing if they get agitated or crumble under studio lights, and they clearly serve a purpose for all those smart enough not to follow politics or the news in any great depth, but otherwise they are supremely overrated and over analysed events.

Whether they suck the life out of the campaign as a whole though, as Cameron is felt to believe the debates did in 2010 is more open to question.  Also different this year is the campaigns have already effectively started; most people won't be taking any notice till around the start of April, it's true, but can anyone really say they're looking forward to Cameron then repeating for the umpteenth time it's a choice between competence or chaos?

Besides, this isn't for once a mess of the big three's making.  The broadcasters must have known the second they started making plans for Nigel every other smaller party would demand they get a hearing too.  Invite him and you surely have to invite the Greens; invite the Greens and you may as well get the SNP and Plaid Cymru in too, as otherwise they'll start whinging despite not standing candidates outside of Scotland or Wales.  As to whether this makes the entire thing even more ridiculous, or impossible to contain to 90 minutes, let's worry about that nearer the date.  Oh, except this provided Cameron with his excuse to back out.

Only now comes the call for the broadcasters to go ahead without Cameron should he continue to refuse to attend.  Really?  This isn't HIGNFY where Roy Hattersley can be replaced by a tub of lard with hilarious consequences, it would render the entire spectacle completely pointless, a bit like those wonderful debates between Clegg and Farage last year that no one watched.  If the incumbent doesn't go along with it, it snookers the entire process,  and would surely also be unfair to Clegg, who'll be left having to defend the coalition at the same time as he'd like to be distancing himself from it.  For all the half serious half snide remarks about how without Natalie Bennett the debate would be one between four men on the centre-right, it would also result in Clegg and Miliband ganging up on Farage, which if they sat back and thought it through is unlikely to help them much either.

Surely the best solution is as the Graun suggests, for ITV to call Cameron's bluff and invite Bennett regardless of what Ofcom's final decision is.  If they won't, and the wider media really is sincere about this being what the public expect now and the very essence of democracy and so on, they should step into the breach themselves.  Otherwise, is it really unimaginable for there to be a campaign which doesn't revolve around the leaders and instead is about, horror of horrors, policy?  Would it be possible for the manifestos to be somewhat gone over and compared with each other, for instance, or even a series of films on what the issues are in different constituencies across the four nations?  Are we back asking rhetorical questions again?  (Yes. Ed.)

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Thursday, December 18, 2014 

An open letter to Alex Willcock, CEO of VisualDNA.

As a digital stick in the mud, one of those people who enjoys the benefits of the internet but doesn't feel the need to share his every waking moment and feeling with a bunch of strangers, it falls to me to state that the wankery expressed in your Graun advert is even by the usual standards of the guff produced by marketers and advertising agencies quite something to behold.

It's also an extraordinarily pretentious way of saying that you're going to continue sucking up people's data regardless of whether you have permission to do so or not, as your company does currently, boasting of how you can tell your customers of the "Demographics Interests Intent and Personality (DIIP) data of almost 450m people worldwide" (sic).  This is obviously a load of utter crap, but then what else is the point of businesses like yours?

Hopefully this response to your attempt to spark "discussion and debate" reaches you well. Now do everyone a favour and poke your "understanding economy" up your arse.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014 

The speed of stupid.

It's hard to disagree with Chris when he writes of a turn away from politics.  Not in the sense of apathy, but in how so many appear incapable of seeing the wood for the trees.  Never has it been so possible to fully immerse yourself in politics, and yet many of those who chose to do so spend much of it squabbling at the margins.

Take just today's example:  Labour MP Emily Thornberry tweets a picture of a house in Rochester with three England flags adorning the outside.  There's also a white van in the drive.  Image from #Rochester is the message.  Almost instantly she's jumped on for her apparent blatant snobbery, veteran idiot Dan Hodges describes it as "an entire political movement defined by a single tweet", and those whom should know better like Anne Perkins are describing it as Labour's biggest mistake since Ed Miliband stabbed Myleene Klass live on TV (is this right? Ed).

Small things like how Thornberry had already tweeted a photo of a "vote Felix" sign and what ordinary voters had told her under a Tales from #Rochester hashtag obviously don't matter.  Her explanation, that she was surprised by how the flags were blocking a window entirely also makes no odds.  Clearly just a feeble effort from an Islington liberal to deny her own bigotry.  Right on cue, in calls a hopping mad Ed Miliband to reprimand Thornberry for not considering absolutely every possible way her tweet could be interpreted, and the inevitable apology is made.

Which is the key.  Being incredibly loud and not giving in works.  It's why #gamergate is still going on, despite everyone having long since forgotten what it was meant to be about.  It's why Sheffield United have now retracted their training offer to Ched Evans, Julien Blanc was refused a visa, and a real life Nathan Barley received far more attention than his alleged comedy had previously once he became the target for campaigners.  Both left and right can lead a monstering in this brave new world, where tribalism meets narcissism and threats are the most powerful currency.  Forgive me if nihilism seems ever more attractive.

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Monday, September 01, 2014 

Y'all are breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.



In related news:

  • Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, Hadley Freeman and Jess Cartner-Morley on how to take a better naked selfie - "get the lighting right and the rest will follow"
  • Kate Upton joins Arsenal on season-long loan in defensive midfielder role
  • Seth MacFarlane Oscar routine suddenly even creepier in retrospect
  • David Cameron attacks Magna Carta, media uninterested after finding she hasn't had risqué self-shots leaked
  • Jessica Brown Findlay, in all seriousness, we're really, really sorry

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Wednesday, August 06, 2014 

Is 29 the perfect age?


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Thursday, July 31, 2014 

Those all important silly season stories in full.*

Death to racist feather headdress wearing festival fucks, says the Graun.

Commonwealth games awesome says athlete, Commonwealth games pointless and bit shit say public.

Ebola: we could die, say people in affected countries.  Ebola: we're all going to die, say Telegraph, Mail and government of hypochondriac dickheads.

Real-life Nathan Barley gets TV series on dedicated idiot channel in latest example of death of satire.

Person with breasts attacks other person with breasts.

People on Twitter do something in defiance of something someone somewhere said.

People use internet to advertise drugs, shock BBC investigation finds.

I've had just as much if not more casual sex than Byrony Gordon, pay me the same level of attention pleads Rhiannon Lucy Seagulling Cosslett.

Album format dead, say artists who've never managed to produce a single decent tune.

I can't make promises on tax, says Cameron. Cameron to cut tax, reports entire media.

ISIS releases video of murder of dozens of captives, Tony Blair still Middle East peace envoy, George W. Bush still incoherent inoffensive dauber, Israel still decimating Gaza to neutralise terror threat.

*In full meaning as many as I can stand without getting a hatchet and driving it with full force into my skull.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014 

This blog is fully in favour of fundamentally disrupting power relations and reframing the debate to make a good society both feasible and desirable.*

Within hours of the budget last week, the Labour Uncut blog had a post up quoting a anonymous backbencher as saying such was Ed Miliband's response to George Osborne's pensions gambit, the way things were going the party would need a Devon Loch scenario to win a majority come the election.  For those under the age of 70 or who aren't much interested in the annual flogging a live horse round a deadly obstacle course soiree at Aintree, Devon Loch did a Bambi while just yards from the finishing post in the Grand National.  This rather strained metaphor ignores that for some time it's been Labour out in the front, not the Tories, but still.

Such is the way some of those on the right of the party have long responded to even the slightest of setbacks, or in this case less than that. Absolutely no one remembers the responses to budgets, and as it seems the coalition declined to provide Labour with the traditional redacted version of Osborne's speech in advance, Miliband would only have been able to respond to the specifics off the cuff.  Instead he went for a general critique, and while it wasn't great, it was nowhere near as poor as has been made out.

Nor is the rise in support for the Tories since the budget anything approaching a surprise. Osborne succeeded in presenting it as a giveaway, albeit "fiscally neutral", and reined in the austerity masochism as far as he could. There were no further painful cuts outlined, although whether they might well be needed when Osborne is spending money he hasn't properly allocated as the IFS pointed out remains to be seen.   Precision geared towards those already more likely to vote Tory, in effect bribing them with their own money, exactly the claim they used to throw at Gordon Brown, add on the changes to pensions and the bounce ought to have been expected.  The real question is whether the uptick remains over time, as it did for Labour long after the omnishambles of 2012.  As yet there's nothing so much as approaching an indication this will turn out to be the case.

For Dan Hodges and his ilk though this is the final proof Miliband is a loser, or rather, "isn't working".  Hodges has been pushing his the only way to win is to out-Tory the Tories shtick for so long now it's stopped being entertaining in the same way as watching a film that's so bad it's good is, and has just become incredibly boring.  Nonetheless, Hodges' line into the soul of the party is John Mann, who urges Ed to speak the language not of a Hampstead academic but of the average resident of Bassetlaw.  These would presumably be the same people telling Mann that what the country desperately needs is a vote on our membership of the European Union, a cause he insisted was top of their agendas just a couple of weeks back.

Thankfully for all concerned who should enter the fray at this precise moment other than a horde of think-tankers with their own views on how Labour should fight the 2015 election.  Or, as they describe themselves, "members of the progressive community".  Think my writing is turgid, highfalutin, unnecessarily verbose and arch?  You should try this unholy alliance, who take Birtspeak to extremes.  They want Labour to make all powerful institutions accountable to their "stakeholders", action on the causes of "our social, environmental, physical and mental health problems", something that requires a "holistic" approach, and obviously, the "empowerment of everybody".  Not aiming too high there, are you lads?  Apparently the time of politicians doing things to people are over (or at least prospective Lib Dem candidates must hope this to be the case), while the era of "building the capacity and platforms for people to do things for themselves, together is now upon us".  Translated, this essentially means they are in favour of devolution and localism, and while it all sounds suspiciously like the Big Society all over again, only rebooted for the crowdsourcing Twitter and Wikis can solve like, everything, man age, it isn't meant as a cover for cuts.  Only there's no money to pay for anything, so sisters people doing it for themselves does help matters immensely.

If like me you can recall the times when Luke Akehurst seemed to embody everything that was wrong with the Blairite tendency within Labour, it comes as a deep shock when his is the voice of reason.  He notes how the letter seems to leave room open for another coalition, suggesting everyone should just forget how the Lib Dems have rejoiced in ripping the state to shreds over the past 5 years, and more pertinently, that as much as localism excites a certain section of politicos, it's mostly deeply unpopular or treated with deserved suspicion by the voters.  Unlike the Hodges/Labour Uncut sect, he even suggests 5 policies which aren't the same old triangulation, nor are they obvious pipe dreams fluffed by arcane language.

All this is to rather ignore just how the Tories seem likely to fight the election.  When they tire of the country is saved thanks to us routine, they fall back on policies that are deeply divisive.  See Cameron returning to the theme of cutting inheritance tax, the coalition having wisely not touched it during this parliament.  The Conservatives have become a party that is openly in favour of oligarchy, the passing down of unearned wealth from generation to generation.  The Mail naturally thinks this is a huge vote winner, while anyone with half a brain can see that you simply can't go on saying you're the party of aspiration while doing everything in your power to screw over those who don't have comfortably off parents.  If Cameron couldn't win outright in 2010 on a centre-right ticket against Liability Brown, what makes him think they can do so on a right-wing ticket in 2015?  The obvious answer is that they can't.  Miliband and his ministers do need to flesh out many of their their policies, but to panic at this point or take advice from either extremely dubious faction would be a misstep.  The budget bounce will dissipate.  Everything is still to play for.

*Yes, that really is how the thinktank alliance conclude their letter to the Graun.

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Tuesday, December 03, 2013 

The year round silly season.

Tom Daley is in a relationship with a man.  Somehow, despite Daley's announcement, life yesterday went on pretty much as normal.  In a country where same sex marriage will very shortly be legal, it might be an indication of how far we still have to go that pretty much every newspaper today has Daley on its front page, or it could be just another reminder of the cult of celebrity.  Coming out as bisexual, while certainly a big moment and decision for Daley (and probably a bit of a choker for his legion of female teenage fans) doesn't really affect the rest of us.  It's interesting in how a sports star feels the need to make clear his sexuality, and it's a reminder that in other sports, football especially, players don't yet feel secure enough to be open about being attracted to other men, yet it's also an insight into one reason why no one since Justin Fashanu has came out: the media simply wouldn't shut up about it.  Even if you made it easier for others to follow, would you really want your career to be overshadowed by something that shouldn't make any difference whatsoever?  Daley was concerned if he'd made the admission in an interview that his words would be twisted or misconstrued, hence he made sure there was no chance of that happening by taking to YouTube.

This isn't a post about Tom Daley or sexuality though.  Rather, what has really began to irk me is the way insubstantial or less important pieces of news are often responded to in an attempt to create a debate that simply isn't there.  Take the Graun, which just hours after Daley posted his video had a piece up by Nichi Hodgson, arguing "we shouldn't rush to define Daley's sexuality" (who was?) and that it suggests "being bisexual is still taboo".  While you can certainly make that case, it was just last week a survey suggested the number of women who'd had a same-sex partner had increased over the past 10 years, while predictably the Graun also had a piece up baldly stating "sexual fluidity is a fact of life for women".  It might not be the same for men, but what exactly is the point of addressing an issue that wasn't there in the first place?

The answer is, obviously enough, it draws in traffic.  Some days it seems news sites engage in little else but click bait, where what someone said on Twitter is dissected and squeezed for all it's worth, or where the latest meme or passing frenzy is debated for no discernible reason other than without it there wouldn't be much to fill out the page.  Then there are writers whose entire output seems to be designed to either wind the reader up or published purely as a kind of an elaborate joke on us poor bastards who used to quite like browsing Comment is Free.  Once there was Julie Burchill, who oddly enough now can't find anyone to take her nonsense, so instead we have Bidisha and Brendan O'Neill.  Not quite as irritating but still bizarrely foisted upon us are Holly Baxter, Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett and Daisy Buchanan.  And occasionally, there are just fantastically stupid one-offs, like Nicolaus Mills' article yesterday on "self-gifting", which silly old web 1.0 me thought was err, buying stuff, or Lola Okolosie telling Marco Pierre White his hash of chicken, rice and peas was "a classic case of disrespectful cultural appropriation".

Point is, if I in fact do have one, is I can't be the only person who just really doesn't care about 99.99% of what's being discussed on Twitter or Facebook or on pretty much any social media.  If I did, I'd seek it out there.  It therefore doesn't interest me in the slightest that Katie Hopkins has said something else extremely vaguely distasteful, or the whole Elan Gale thing (who he? Ed) was a hoax which proves once and for all the internet is an unkind and mean place where adults act like children.

To almost completely contradict myself, very occasionally not enough is made of appalling similar behaviour, such as Peaches Geldof tweeting the alleged names of the two women who abused their babies for the approval of Lostprophets' Ian Watkins.  Apparently not realising that by doing so she was all but identifying their children, she later gave the most mealy-mouthed non-apology possible, focusing on how Watkins and the two women "will be gettings [sic] three meals a day, a double bed, cable TV etc – all funded by the tax payer alongside not being named apparently".  Whether she will be charged with any offence remains to be seen, but considering others have been convicted for naming rape victims on the site it would be inconsistent to say the least if the CPS declines to do so.  Coming in the same week as Lee James was convicted of the vigilante murder of Bijan Ebrahimi, it ought to have served as the perfect example of how quickly a mob mentality can be fomented.

You don't of course have to read any of those named above or those like them, let alone Buzzfeed or certain sections of the Huffington Post.  The portraits do however stare out at you, the headlines meant to draw you in, while you can't avoid their entries on the front page of CiF. Moreover, while there has always been an amount of fluff and barrel bottom scrapings on group blogs, it does seem to be getting worse.  Once there was considered and worthy content not apparently thrashed out to meet an artificial deadline; now we get pieces on "Lycra rage".  The silly season continues all year round.  Or maybe I'm just a bitter, miserable turd.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013 

Get over here!

In a sign of the race to succeed David Dimbleby as the scion of the BBC establishment heating up still further, both Hugh Edwards and Jeremy Paxman have been to quick to reveal that unlike Dimbleby, they've been sporting ink for far longer than the Question Time and election special host.

"While they might not look like it," said Edwards, in an interview with Horse and Hound magazine, "I can reveal that my lips are actually tattoos.  I thought accentuating the outlines would help my career.  Unfortunately, I didn't realise quite how painful having a red hot needle poked through one of the most sensitive parts of the skin would be, and I was left with the problem of my upper lip curling when I speak.  To my surprise, this facial quirk seems to delight some viewers, even bringing comparisons to Elvis.  It certainly hasn't done any harm in the long run."

"While it might not look like it," said Paxman, in an interview with Hirsute Monthly, "my sudden penchant for facial hair is in fact a cleverly conceived ruse. My chin does indeed seem to be sprouting hair, but it's actually an incredibly complex and realistic tattoo of a beard. I can't be bothered with keeping growth on my face in trim, so I had it all removed by laser and got the ink instead. Some of the more observant Newsnight viewers have noticed it hasn't been getting longer, and Dimbleby's off the wall six-legged scorpion made me decide to come clean."

Other unlikely celebrities to reveal their love for tattoos include George Osborne, who has a black line down the middle of his nose, not realising it would make his appendage look like buttocks, and Cliff Richard, who has a "living doll" he says talks to him etched on his chest. The Sun is even reporting that the Queen is thinking of getting a tribal butterfly on her lower back, in a gesture designed to show there's no reason for her subjects to be embarrassed by such ink, unlike Cheryl Cole.  Prince Harry meanwhile quite fancies a traditional Indian symbol (That's enough made-up tattoos. Ed.)

In other news:
Disaster in Philippines, thousands dead, not yet known how many were tattooed
Third Dimbleby brother, locked away in family annexe, revealed not to have tattoos
18-year-olds see sad old men getting tattoos, say fuck this shit

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Monday, November 04, 2013 


The "Plebgate" scandal took a new twist yesterday when Esther Rantzen, former host of much-loved now defunct BBC1 show That's Life!, yes, the one with the amusingly shaped vegetables and the talking dogs, recalled how she too was subject to police lies.

"The officer who stopped us when we were travelling at a mere 110mph through a 30mph speed limit wrote down that my dear now deceased husband Desmond Wilcox had said to him: "I am the well-known celebrity producer Desmond Wilcox, and my wife Esther Rantzen is a TV celebrity; don't you know who we are?"

"Of course, he would never have said anything like that.  He was humble enough to know no one knew who he was, he merely said that I was Esther Rantzen, and didn't he know who I was.  Clearly, there's a few rotten apples in the barrels [sic] where this just comes as second nature.  I would have taken the matter further, but we felt we had no chance against the word of a police officer.  That, and the owners of the dog we had run over and dragged along under the car for 10 miles also didn't take kindly to the don't you know who we are argument."

Rantzen is appearing in panto this year as the Cheshire Cat.

In other news:
Dead black man latest suspect in Madeleine case, say Metropolitan police
EU support wafer thin, says Mr Creosote
Aircraft carrier contract renegotiated, vessels now to be built to float
I bedded Sir Alex Ferguson, says Sven-Goran Erikkson. "He was less hair dryer, more blow (That's enough. Ed)

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Thursday, October 24, 2013 

Those letters between the press and the Queen in full.

Your Majesty,
                             (Actually, before we get started, do you mind if we call you Liz? Your Majesty is really quite formal, and as modern press representatives we loathe formality, as your friend and ours Paul "double cunting" Dacre attests. OK, Liz it is.)

      As you will no doubt be aware as a regular puruser of our publications, your government is currently try to ram through statutory regulation of the press. We believe this would signal the end of 300 years of press freedom, and as it is being achieved through a royal charter, we also believe it has the potential to sully the good name of the finest monarchy in the world.

We're sure you agree far too much has been made of the fact one or two newspapers were caught breaking the law on an industrial scale just to get the latest exclusive on which celebrity was shagging another, as we know you're as partial to OK! magazine as most other housewives. That we may have also smeared a few people who were arrested for serious crimes and then released without charge, or hacked the mobile phone of a murdered schoolgirl we can't condone, but such things have to be put in the context of our contribution to democracy, as recent articles such as Red Ed: Did his evil Marxist father help with the attempt on the life of Princess Anne? make apparent. Hopefully you'll also overlook this whole thing started with the regrettable hacking of the phones of members of the royal household. You wouldn't hold that against us, would you?

Britain has long stood as a shining beacon of freedom, and the vibrancy of the press has always reflected that. Our notoriety worldwide has been hard won, and not something we will relinquish lightly. The freedom of the press is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, drafted by our very own Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe, and the fact that some of us have long campaigned for the abolition of the Human Rights Act and withdrawal from his charter for criminals and terrorists by no means makes us horrendous hypocrites.

Worst of all, the charter would almost certainly be used by autocrats and repressive governments worldwide as an excuse for attacks on the press in their respective countries.  This terrifying knock-on effect will be all the more devastating as it will carry with it the respect in which you personally, and the crown institutionally, are held throughout the world.  Of course, that we've never previously shown the slightest interest in freedom of the press worldwide, and have no problem with running supplements paid for by tyrants is something that shouldn't be held against us.  Nor does the fact some of us have suggested the Guardian should be shut down, prosecuted for endangering the security of the nation, and Alan Rusbridger strung up from the nearest lamppost mean that far from believing in the freedom of expression we believe only in the freedom to make money.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We therefore urge you, Liz, as the final guarantor of freedom of expression across the UK and your Commonwealth, not to sign this charter.  We hope you found this morning's headlines, where we universally described your great grandson as "Georgeous", to your liking, and that you've forgotten all about our publishing of photos of Fergie toe-sucking, Harry buck-ass naked and the hounding of your daughter-in-law to the point where she died trying to escape from our photographers.

Signed by the Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch no surrender committee


Dear representatives of the press,                                           
                                                                     Piss orf.
The Queen (Liz)

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