Browsing a big U.S. news blog earlier I chanced upon a post written by an American commentator whose stance is on the religious right. He was lambasting the U.S. Senate and Congress for voting to impose on the President a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
This person argued that the tide is turning in America’s favour and it would be “cowardly and unchristian” to pull out before the goals of the occupation have been achieved. (He did not actually say what those goals were, presumably because like the people who ordered the invasion he has never actually known.)
It all just made me wonder what part of “you got your arses kicked again, get out before it gets really embarrassing” America’s political right have a problem getting their heads round. The message of the Iraqi resistance seems pretty unambiguous.

All Hail The House Of Lords

It may yet turn out to be the ultimate irony of the Blair era. After reforming the House of Lords by removing many of the inbred old farts and stuffing it with cronies, the upper chamber has shown itself to be more pugilist than poodle and more responsive to public opinion that the democratically elected Commons. They have overturned the irrational decision to build the new, lucrative Supercasino in Manchester.
Nobody will ever know the grounds upon which such an indefensible choice was made but you can bet the treasurer of the Labour Party is wondering how to fill a big hole in the budget this morning and a few M.Ps. are wistfully thinking of the farmhouse in Tuscany they planned to buy with the bung or the offshore trust they intended to set up to mask the income from that promised non-executive directorship that will now never come their way.
Do you think I’m suggesting gambling is corrupt? Honestly, would I?
Fortunately members of The House of Lords are too rich to be influenced by bungs and too demented to be influenced by political pressure so driven by resentment of the control freaks in government they have managed to do the right thing.

Machiavelli getting bigger

It was revealed today that the advertising revenue attracted by the internet has passed that spent on ads in print media for the first time.

This coincides with preparations to relocate Machiavelli to a privately owned site where we can expand the operation into a multi media co – operative. It will be several months before the new venture is fully up and running and even after that we will continue to have a presence here.

Onward and upward.

Who is a Fit Candidate To Succeed Blair?

Who is a Fit Candidate To Succeed Blair?

The excitement is mounting over the Labour leadership contest (yawn!) Will Brown ascend to the Imperial Throne on a surge of popular acclaim or will the “Stop Brown” movement gain momentum and thwart him at the last minute. And who cares?
Unless a complete outsider emerges from the pack to snatch victory on an Old Labour ticket all of the possible contenders are tainted. by having been part of Blair’s corrupt and undemocratic government. Who among them has spoken out against the illegal war, who has resisted the obscene rush to privatisation, who has steadfastly stood his ground against the rush to the right?
Whatever result the arcane electoral process throws up we can be sure that in the years between now and the next General Election the Labour Party will polarise in a more self destructive way than the Tories did after their defeat.
The mechanism that will make this inevitable is being cranked up even now as Blair, realising his party has done with him because he is no longer a winner, tries desperately to ensure his politics live on. Thus he has hamstrung his successor with a series of measures that have put the Government in thrall to America in the field of defence and foreign policy and to big business and big finance in all areas of domestic policy.
And that is one hell of a legacy to hand anybody. Only an idiot would want to take on the job of sorting the mess out.
Can we afford to have yet another idiot as Prime Minister?

Apologise For The Slave Trade? Sheer Hypocrisy.

Don’t politicians make you puke?
The scramble to “apologise” for the iniquities of the slave trade last week was, predictably, led by “King Kenute” Livingstone who has moved on from trying to turn back the tide of climate change with hollow gestures and is now looking to turn back the anti – Labour tide and attract votes. I am sure King Kenute’s hollow gesture will go down with the Black community leaders whose support he is courting but in reality it is just another shabby and cynical ploy in the New Labour catalogue of sleaze.
But can an apology for a wrong one has no part in, made to people who were not wronged mean anything at all?
We do not “owe an apology” to our black community because that is a generalisation which includes many people who came to Britain of their own free will, to make careers and give their families the real or perceived advantages of living in a wealthy western democracy. We owe an apology maybe to the families of Damilola Taylor and Anthony Walker who died because our shallow and self serving politicians were too busy spinning the truth to give their attention to mere details like the problems faced by minorities in inner cities.
We owe to all people who come to live in our nation having applied though the proper channels, respect for their humanity and equality in employment opportunity, education, welfare and matters of law. To those who enter illegally we owe respect for their humanity and dignity and to those brought here from Africa, the Far East and Eastern Europe whose status is no different to slaves we owe the protection of a nation that claims civilised values.
But as for the African slave trade, ended 200 years ago, well everybody knows it was a crime against humanity but there have been many crimes against humanity and who can realistically apologise for them all, and on whose behalf?
I know for a fact my ancestors were not directly involved. The Thorpe’s were gentleman farmers who lost their lands because they supported the wrong side when Bonnie Prince Charlie tried to seize the throne* and the Redefines were Yorkshire wool merchants.
There was a kind of slavery going on during the early part of the Industrial Revolution though, that both families would have been marginally involved in. It was a kind of slavery that saw thousands of poor British people dispossessed and forcibly evicted from their homes to live in degrading conditions and work at demeaning jobs for poverty line wages, denied the freedom to change employers or try to better themselves. This particular injustice was responsible for widespread misery and suffering and directly brought about the astronomical infant mortality rate in the industrial towns during the nineteenth century.
We do not hear of politicians falling over themselves to apologise to the descendants of the British peasantry for the wrongs perpetrated under The Enclosures Act. I wonder is this because there are no votes or photo – opportunities in it?
We should remember the victims of the slavers, we should remember the victims of the nineteenth century land – grabbers and of the great depression of the twentieth century. And we should respect their memory by ensuring that we never go there again, that we never allow financial interest cloaked in a robe of bogus morality to hijack our view of what is right or wrong. Which means we need to make a pretty sharp about turn right now.

*The Thorpes later regained prosperity by getting themselves involved in smuggling brandy, wine and tobacco on the North Yorkshire coast around Robin Hood’s Bay – I’m rather proud of that.

AN EXAMPLE of what makes the apologies hypocritical

They Call Us Racist? – pot, kettle etc.

Whenever an African leader starts shouting about the inherent racism of the wealthy nations it kind of sticks in my throat a bit. No sane person could deny that there is racism in Europe and America and that it must be dealt with through education and political reform.
But when a politician with the track record of Mugabe tries to blame Africa’s plight on Euro – American racism I just start to think:
and they call us racist. ‘nuff said?

The Seven Profitable Habits of Self Help Gurus

Ever your guide and mentor, Little Nicky has been alarmed at the proliferation of business blogs selling self help programs here recently.
Don’t be conned, you too can be a rich, successful Self Help Guru, just follow Little Nicky Machiavelli’s guide (below.)

The title is a shameless parody of Steven R. Covey’s multimillion selling “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” of course. And why not, he is one of the leading exponents of a craft I am about to debunk.
Around fifteen years ago, as a consultant, I frequently used to come across people who would speak of Covey’s book in the reverential tones religionists reserve for their sacred texts.
The book (Covey’s book not The Book) was about success, or as D.H. Lawrence put it “the bitch goddess success,” so it was perfect bedtime reading for the driven young executive because it seemed to offer the obsessively ambitious a shortcut to their goal.
Another book that made somebody rich bore the title “In Search of Excellence.” This looked at the qualities that make a successful organisation.
In a society built of selfishness the self – help industry had tapped a rich vein.
Since then self help books have become a major industry.
It could be said that the books enslaved people as effectively as an addictive drug and the psychology of self help is certainly similar, the unfulfillable promise is there, the great secret will be revealed of how to achieve not the best time you ever had but: promotion, wealth, status, happiness, a fulfilling relationship, perfect mashed potatoes – no, scrub that one – and popularity. All anybody needs to do is read the book, apply its techniques and everything will just happen.
And if it doesn’t, you are a failure, loser, dick – head, a no – mark. Go down that road and you only have one place to turn. More self help.
Surveys have shown that despite the self – justifying claims of those who followed the advice offered in self help books, they have not actually done better on average, nor have their businesses. Publishers may produce the one person in a hundred who can truthfully say …

CLICK HERE to read all The Seven Profitable Habits Of Self Help Gurus.

No Future For You

Politics is a muddy pool at the best of times and it seems to be getting muddier.
Speaking as if he sees his future as being at the helm of policy making rather than in the backwaters of the lecture circuit last week, the Traitor and War Criminal Tony Blair chose a visit to a school to blether about empowerment and choice. It seems his great plan is to create a system in which we can all demand public services that are tailored to our needs. Yeah right. If one – size – fits – all education is busting the budget there is hardly going to be enough cash to provide customised services for all the little individuals that pass through the school system. I wonder does the Prime Minister ever think before he starts flapping his jaw?
In Education Blair’s vision is that a system based on test, statistics, league tables and Private Finance will be able to provide an education tweaked for the individual child. Perhaps he means a return to the days of The Governess, a kind of home schooling that exposed the children of middle class families to the tender mercies of sadistic women often played by Bette Davis but at least would save them from exposure to dangerous lefties who have leather patches on the elbows of their jackets.
Same old story you may think, pawning the family silver to pay private contractors.
Education is not about parents and their prejudices, it is about the future. If a nation is so obsessed with feeding personal greed it is not prepared to invest in its future then it has no future. Nooooooo fu-cha, noooooo fu-cha.
Will Blair’s legacy be to make the words of the prophet Johnny Rotten come true?

Beer Beer We Want More Beer

We are appalled by the news about the England cricket team. Not at the players whose boozy antics have been making headlines, but the prissy, pompous reactions to it by the managers and 57 old farts back at the MCC. The demonisation of “Freddie” Flintoff was inevitable of course, old farts never like anybody with a personality.
So Freddie took the lads on a booze – up, big deal. He’s a Northerner, its what we do on a lads night out. Let’s not forget that Freddie is a virtuoso whose performances often win matches.
With this in mind the organisation should ignore outbursts of Jane Austinishness that tabloid sports editors like to indulge in when practitioners of any sport but football behave badly.
Alternatively they could treat us to the same level of moral outrage next time a bunch of Premiership players indulge in one of their favourite party trick, either gang banging some silly, starstruck girl or kicking the shit out of an Asian student who looked at them the wrong way.
Compared to that kind of behaviour, falling of a pedalo while pissed is hardly a capital offence.

Want to know what happened to your pension?

Iain Dale’s Bog, in a post titled The Truth About Pensions commented on the theft by a Labour chancellor from the pension funds of ordinary punters like us and how it will harm the fabric of society in future. Visit Iain’s blog but if you don’t fancy reading the report of William Hague’s speech just look at the third comment down the list. It is from “voyager” (no url provided) and tells, quite believably, that the situation with pensions is not just worse than right wingers like Iain Dale and William Hague thought, but worse than the worst worst – case scenario dreamed up by those dangerous lefties at The Guardian and The BBC.

Here’s an extract:

By taking the dividend tax credit he reduced funds reinvested in the Stock Market thus lowering share prices.

The low share prices made British companies cheap for Spanish, German, French acquirors and Private Equity.

The Insurance Companies could raise cash by selling shares to Private Equity Funds they were funding themselves, and thus get two bites at the cherry.

The use of PFI has reduced Gilts yields which makes annuity rates very low for people forced to buy them by age 75.

Thus instead of issuing Gilts to prop up Pension Funds and Annuities Brown has sucked capital out of Pension Funds and forced them to look for Private Equity deals or PFI to compensate for low-rating on Equities and shortage of Gilts.

Using CMOs as a substitute for Gilts is dangerous as defaults increase from an over-priced property market as investors seek alternatives to Equities.

To add to this disaster, local authority pension funds are invested in equities so the shortfall has led to increases in Council Taxes

The other gem is that there are fewer and fewer companies in the FTSE, fewer blue-chips to invest in – compare the FT Index now compared to 1990 and the number of Industrials that have gone

After that it just got too horrific for a family website like this. Voyager obviously knows his stuff and I wonder is the anonymity masking a city trader.

Follow Little Nicky from now on because not only have we declared war on Labour, Cameron’s recent antics have made it open season on the Tories too. Its going to be fun folks.

Is Christianity "unbelieveable"?

A few days ago I was invited to participate in a faith discussion show on a Christian Radio station.
Unfortunately I can’t make it but as the producer, Justin Brierley was kind enough to invite me I am giving him a plug here and at Boggart Blog.

If you want to know more about time, station i.d. etc. follow this link to Boggart Blog.

We Told You So #1,565,307

We hate to say we told you so, (no we don’t, we love it) but here we go for the squillionth time.
Latest estimates for the final cost of the Olympic Spendfest have trebled the original budget. Financial catastrophe was entirely predictable of course, all such projects undertaken in Bureaucratic Britain fall victim to the modern equivalent of medieval plagues. So where the builders of most of the west end had to contend with Typhoid, Cholera, Black Death, Smallpox, and acute encephalitis of the knees.
The Olympic project however will increasingly become bogged down by the following:

a plague of spin,
ditto consultants,
special interest groups,
political chicanery,
private finance initiatives.

so fellow taxpayers, we can expect to be digging a lot deeper into our pockets before we see a stadium start to take shape.

Tridentine Folly

There was never any chance that Parliament would vote down the diktat of His Excellency Fuhrergeneralissimo, President for Eternity Blair. Presented with an opportunity to “do the right thing” the Conservatives showed, as we knew they would, that they are mealy mouthed, wet-arsed cowards who whimperingly yearn for another dominatrix to do their thinking for them.
They cite tactics as an excuse for their yellow bellied cowardice. What tactics? If Trident had been rejected (in modern warfare, against a nutter with a rucksack full of bleach and acetone on a rush our tube train, it would be about as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot) Blair would have faced a vote of confidence. Which he would have won.
Had that happened Blair would truly have been a lame duck Prime Minister, his political potency castrated and his legacy in ruins he would have had to stand by and watch his party polarise as the Tories did after the fall of Thatcher.
Now that would have been tactics.
Unfortunately Boy – boobs Cameron did not have the balls. Little Nicky will be reminding you of the Conservatives unfitness for government quite frequently between now and the next election.

Kicking the soldiers when they’re down

In the past when Little Nicky Machiavelli has criticised the pointless and illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which are sponsored by the international terrorists and war criminals Bush and Blair, supporters of the rabid right in both countries have been quick to accuse me of being unpatriotic.
In view of the revelations that our patriotic governments habitually treat veterans so badly wounded they are unable to return to active service like pieces of shit, would any of those patriots now like to eat humble pie.

Machiavelli’s first concern has always been for the people, Afghan, American, British and Iraqi who were at the pointed end of bullets. The scumbags who make political capital out of peddling racism as patriotism should understand there is no greater patriot that the patriotic citizen of The World.

U.S. Army Surgeon General quits
Closure of Britain’s last military hospital

And let them know that I am Machiavell
And weigh not men and therefore not men’s words…

Its about seeing the whole picture, not just the detail.

Bush Better War Leader Than Churchill?

At a recent meeting of the White House Book Club, a little PR exercise in which George W Bush gets to talk to staff about an inspiring book somebody has read for him, the President confided to his team that he is a better war leaders than Winston Churchill.

What could lead the Prez. to this view, Chuchill’s diastrous Gallipoli campaign in WW1, his mishandling of the Irish uprising, his decision to set the British Army on their countrymenin the industrial unrest of the 1920s?

Well none of the above. Chuchill, it appears, was a crappy leader because he was an agnostic, Bush is a great leader because of his one on one relationship with God.

So the Iraq catrastrophe does not matter at all if you are God’s best mate? Well that’s about right when we consider God’s track record on atroctities, genocide and inflicting misery on the poor and helpless.

In fact on considering the record of God and best buddy Bush any reasonable person would have to concur with Chuchill’s son Randolph who said “Whenever I read the Bible I can’t help thinking God! What a shit God is.”


Resistance is futile.

How stupid are those fascist bastards at British Gas. I’ll tell you how stupid those fascist bastards at British Gas are. The are effing stupid.
Can I prove that?
Do bears shit in the woods?
British Gas are going to cut off my supply for eightpence and then take me to court if I do not cough up.
Here’s how the situation arose. A couple of weeks ago my wife Teri paid the bill but instead of making out the cheque for £240 and eightpence she wrote in £240.00. A simple mistake any reasonable person might think. But not in the eyes of British Gas, oh no. Its a willful attempt to avoid payment.
There is an old country saying, “its as well to be hung for a sheep as a lamb,” meaning if you are going to get in trouble for stealing something then steal something worthwhile. Does it not occur to British Gas that if we were trying to avoid paying the bill we would not have handed over the £240. Apparently not.
We paid the bill, forgetting the 8p was a genuine mistake, said my wife to the earnest little call centre robot she managed to talk to.
“We-do-not-accept-part-payment,” said the Dalek voice at the other end of the line. “You-must-pay-in-full.”
“Look, its only eight pence, why not just add it to the next bill.”
“Well OK, I’ll give you my card number and you can debit the 8p,” said Teri, “then we are square.”
“We-cannot-accept-less-than-the-five pounds”
“Well OK, debit my account £5 and credit the £4.92 to the next bill.”
“We-can-only-accept-the-full-amount. You-must-pay-the-full-amount-. Resistance-is-futile. You-will-obey,” the voice said.
“O.K. I am trying to help here, you send back my cheque and I will send another for £240.08p”
“Do I look stupid, does my face look stupid? The amount has already gone from my account.”
“That-is-not-the-point. You-owe-us-£240.08.”
“I owe you eightpence, you’ve got £240.00”
“That-is-not-how-our-accounting-system-works. You-must- pay-£240.08-to-avoid-disconnection-and-legal-action.”
Now my wife is a well brought up lady, she does not often swear, but there are limits.
“Listen fuckwit, you go and tell your manager that my husband is disabled and the media are going to love a Corporate Giant prosecutes disabled man for 8p debt. You start talking sense or every penny of that eight is going to cost you at least a million in lost business.”
After a bit of a kerfuffle at the other end they promised to get back to us.

Cannabis and Common Sense

Following on from yesterday’s post about the apparent absence of common sense in the legal system, today we bring you news of another example of the inability of judges and lawyers to grasp reality.
Sixty – Eight year old Patricia Tabram of Hemshaugh, Northumbria was convicted at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday of possessing cannabis. She had admitted growing three plants in her wardrobe for self medication purposes. Mrs Tabram, who suffers from depression and arthritis mixes the dried, ground laves with various foods to lift her depression and give her respite from the chronic pain in her joints. She claims cannabis it the only therapy which works on her symptoms without causing debilitating side effects. A cup of hot chocolate containing a little cannabis gave her five hours relief from pain, the court was told.
Now this person who does not have much quality of life left nor much to look forward to in her remaining years is faced with the prospect of having to do 250 hours community service (with crippling arthritis, yeah right!) and pay £1000 legal costs. Because of the conviction her home in a sheltered unit provided by a Housing Association is also at risk.
In passing sentence Judge Barbara Forrester said she understood Mrs. Tabram only used the drug for self medication and had no intent to supply but the law limited the scope for leniency.
It has always been a principle of British justice (though too rarely observed in recent centuries when vengeance and retribution seem to be the only principles that matter) that justice should be tempered with compassion. If ever there was a case for a judge set a precedent in the interests of justice this was it.
Sadly, under the bureaucratic dictatorship set up by the bully Thatcher and expanded by the traitor and war criminal Blair, common sense is always overridden by rules and regulations. Judges seem ever more reluctant to give verdicts that challenge a bad law which does not distinguish between a crime and a misdemeanour because the government, which is jealous of the power of an independent judiciary, may use it as an excuse to further undermine that independence. This has led to many deplorable decisions by the dispensers of justice.
Another social commentator at an American website wrote last week of a “social recession” in the free world. It is hardly surprising. When those with the authority to do so are afraid to challenge bad laws, respect for the law breaks down. And when respect for the law breaks down we cease to be a society and become a rat pack.

Got Nukes – Lacking Class

I read that veteral CND leader Mr. (formerly Monseigneur) Bruce Kent has offered a litre of Malt Whisky to any Labour minister willing to present the case for replacing Trident in a public debate on the need for nuclear deterrent.
Parliament is due to rubber stamp the democratic decision taken by Tony Blair in consultation with his masters in the White House and the Pentagon (but not with representatives of the British people.)
Trident is still deadly of course, but would it deter anyone from attacking Britain when the Americans will not allow us to use it without their permission. We will of course not be able to use any replacement without the OK from across the pond either.
Old Burcie still has fire in his belly and is enraged that none of the twenty – odd cabinet ministers have even bothered to reply.
Little Nicky Machiavelli says “Brucie old mate, I was with you at protests in the sixties and seventies and I’m with you now, but get real.
The comprehensive-eduvated, lower middle class arriveiste oiks of New Labour wouldn’t know a decent single malt if you smashed the bottle over their heads. Try offering a couple of bottles of Tesco No Frills Chardonnay (can also be used as paint stripper) and they will snatch your hand off.

Crisis in NHS Maternity Care

While we are watching the “correction” in the financial markets (which Little Nicky Machiavelli predicted last summer) turn into a full blown crash we recommend you chack out this story from The Independent, a continuation of the NHS crisis stories that have dominated the past couple of weeks and another vindication for Little Nicky who highlighted the story of the looming crisis last November.
UPDATE January 2011:
Another government – same problem
NHS maternity care on the verge of collapse

Record numbers of women are being harmed or dying as a result of childbirth in what doctors are labelling a “crisis” in maternity care

If you want to read the news that hasn’t happened yet follow Little Nicky Machiavelli. He knows how things work. Check Out The BACKSTORYhere at Machiavelli

NHS – Drawing a veil over the madness?

An item on the Heaven and Earth Show this morning made me splutter over my porridge.
A Islamic group is demanding that the NHS create a new uniform for Muslim nurses who choose to wear the niquab, the full veil that conceals the entire face leaving only a narrow slit for vision.
The group behind this idea have devised such a uniform, basically it is the green scrubs increasingly favoured by the nursing profession, topped off by a green hood. The person who advanced towards the camera wearing it looked like an escapee from a particularly scary episode of Dr. Who or Touchwood.
Now as I have mentioned many times, a few years ago I had a long spell in hospital and can promise you the last thing anyone wants to see when they away in a somewhat bewildered state is an anonymous, green-hooded figure. “Have I died and gone to green hell? the patient might think, “has there been an outbreak of plague while I was sleeping?
As one would expect, the NHS directorate has not treated this demand with the contempt it deserves. Why would they, here is an opportunity to set up focus groups and steering committee, commission strategic analysis reports and feasibility studies and expend millions of pounds and hours in taking seriously a risible idea.
To give credit where it is due, the NHS does very well in catering for the special requirements of both staff and patients whose faith requires flexibility in the rules. I recall that in Burnley, a town with a large Asian community, the hospital had an Asian menu as well as a standard menu. Many of us requested the Asian menu because it was actually very good whereas the food on the standard menu was often inedible.
On the ward staff simply arranged between themselves that a Muslim woman would never have to accept help with dressing, bathing or other personal acts from a male nurse (though the asian males did not seem to have a problem being bathed by British female nurses.)
In matters of dress too the senior staff on the ward managed individual requirements very well. On the unit where I spent most of my time we had two muslin nurses, one wore the green overall and a hijab, the other favoured shortish skirts and a pony tail. I recall cannot think there would be more than a handful of nurses in the country who, having chosen a carer as a nurse would then try to insist on wearing the niquab.
Once religious zealots get hold of an idea however, they find it difficult to let go so we can expect this issue to escalate and Muslim nurses to come under increasing pressure from fanatical (male) bigots.
The great pity of all this is the Islamic community has missed a chance to align itself with British mainstream society. Among the complaints of the group behind the current row is the issue of mixed wards. This is not acceptable under Islamic beliefs. Quite right too, it is the most crackpot of all money saving schemes dreamed up by the NHS bean counters. The whole concept of mixed wards is an affront to dignity. Is it not bad enough that when at our most vulnerable and sensitive we are thrust among strangers without stripping us of all privacy as well? I am sure these travesties are an offence under international human rights law.
Sadly though, instead of demonstrating how much secular Muslims have in common with secular Christians and secular humanists the Islamic community risks being dragged towards further segregation by its lunatic fringe.

Read the story of my time in hospital
It takes a special talent to turn such a personal catastrophe into a hilarious and engaging account of life as a long term hospital patient. Inspirational reading :- Jaqui Wilson, Radio Presenter and reviewer.