Monday 31 August 2015


And we know what that feels like, don't we?
And you shall be known by the company you keep.
W is for....

When Blair had yet another go at Corbyn this week, you had to wonder what he thought he was likely to achieve, apart from it being noticeable, as the first illustration points out, that he has criticised Corbyn far more than he has criticised Cameron, Osborne or IDS.

There are undoubtedly still a few Blair fans left in the Labour Party hierarchy in London; Liz Kendall seems to be their cheerleader. But surely most people dislike and distrust the ex prime minister who won't open the fridge without demanding a 5 figure sum, and who works for some of the world's most unlikeable heads of government, because they pay big bucks for advice from him on how to be a bastard and get away with it.

I'd have thought that anyone who was prepared to listen to a word Blair says wouldn't be even considering voting for Corbyn, and likewise anyone who would consider voting for Corbyn would probably rather chew their own foot off than take advice from the butcher of Baghdad.

He's a bright man. Politically savvy. Why doesn't he just have to good sense to shut his mouth and go make some more money somewhere? Anywhere...just keep his head down until it's over.

Doesn't he know he's no longer just not an asset to the Labour Party; he's a massive liability?

Just out of interest, someone noticed and pointed out on Twitter that he has, among his wrinkles, a distinctive "W" on his forehead.

I wonder what that stands for.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Random Thoughts

Not current or topical, but I came across this on Twitter.

It relates to when Sally Magnusson did a "Songs of Praise" religious broadcast from the Calais refugee camp.

You'll remember that the Daily Mail nearly burst into flames on the newsagents' shelves at the thought of the BBC wasting money going  to France (they probably spat at the mere mention of the word France) to do a Christian programme from a place where there is a considerable amount of human suffering.

(I mean, what would Jesus have done in the circumstances...called them a swarm, like the UK's unbeloved prime minister, or advocated more drowning, because they are cockroaches, like tabloid Z-list "celebrity" Katie Hopkins.)

But the above paragraph makes a good point. 

In the course of any day, the BBC on any one of its dozens upon dozens of channels, conducts hundreds if not thousands of interviews with politicians and members of the public, with never a warning that it's just possible that something one of their interviewees said may not be 100% true (Alistair Carmichael, to take an example out of thin air), and that the BBC can't verify it.

It's strange that the only time that the BBC feels it necessary to point out that they can't provide documentary evidence of veracity is when it comes from a refugee.

It will be comforting, or otherwise) to readers of the New International stable of papers that Ms Brookes is to return as their chief executive.

During her last tenure there (before her £16 million pay off) she oversaw, apparently without seeing anything at all, or indeed ever wondering where all the information her papers were printing was coming from, some of the monst intrusive and illegal phone hacking and paying off of police and various other sources.

The English justice system found her to be totally innocent of doing anything wrong. She knew nothing about the criminal behaviours of her key staff including Andy Coulson, who went to prison for his part in it.

I'd have said that that showed an incredible incompetence in someone in her position whose fingers should have been on the button at all times.

She sounds like the kind of person who would need supervising if they were making a cup of tea. Still, it will be open day for anyone on the staff wanting to do a bit of fiddling or cheating. She clearly won't have a the vaguest notion of what's going on.

It's a great life, though, if you are in with the right people.

Friday 28 August 2015

Just for a laugh....

A man was sitting quietly reading his paper one morning, peacefully enjoying himself, when his wife sneaks up behind him and whacks him on the back of his head with a huge frying pan. 

Man: "What was that for?" 

Wife: "What was that piece of paper in your pants pocket with the name Marylou written on it?" 

Man: "Oh honey, remember two weeks ago when I went to the horse races? Marylou was the name of one of the horses I bet on." 

The wife looked all satisfied, apologizes, and goes off to do work around the house. 

Three days later he is once again sitting in his chair reading and she repeats the frying pan swatting. 

Man: "What was that for this time?" 

Wife: "Your horse phoned." 
The wise old Mother Superior from county Tipperary was dying. The nuns gathered around her bed trying to make her comfortable. They gave her some warm milk to drink, but she refused it. Then one nun took the glass back to the kitchen. Remembering a bottle of Irish whiskey received as a gift the previous Christmas, she opened and poured a generous amount into the warm milk.

Back at Mother Superior's bed, she held the glass to her lips. Mother Superior drank a little, then a little more. Before they knew it, she had drunk the whole glass down to the last drop.

"Mother", the nuns pleaded, "Please give us some wisdom before you die". She raised herself up in bed with a pious look on her face and said, "Don't sell that cow". 
A wife arrived home from a shopping trip and was shocked to find her husband in bed with a lovely young woman. Just as she was about to storm out of the house, her husband called out "Perhaps you should hear how all this came about..."

"I was driving home on the highway when I saw this young woman looking tired and bedraggled. I brought her home and made her a meal from the roast beef you had forgotten about in the fridge.

She was bare-footed so I gave her your good sandals which you had discarded because they had gone out of style.

She was cold so I gave her the sweater which I bought for you for your birthday but you never wore because the colour didn't suit you.

Her pants were torn, so I gave her a pair of your jeans, which were perfectly good, but too small for you now.

Then just as she was about to leave, she asked, 'Is there anything else your wife doesn't use anymore ? 
A new Mercedes owner was out on an interstate for a nice evening drive. The top was down, the breeze was blowing through what was left of his hair and he decided to open her up.

As the needle jumped up to 80 mph he suddenly saw a flashing red and blue light behind him. "There ain't no way they can catch a Mercedes," he thought to himself and opened her up further. The needle hit 90, 100 110 and finally 120 with the lights still behind him.

"What in the world am I doing?" he thought and pulled over. The cop came up to him, took his license without a word, and examined it and the car. "I've had a tough shift and this is my last pull-over. I don't feel like more paperwork so if you can give me an excuse for your driving that I haven't heard before, you can go!"

"Last week my wife ran off with a cop," the man said, "and I was afraid you were trying to give her back!" 
A businessman and his secretary, overcome by passion, retire to his house for what is popularly termed a "nooner." "Don't worry," he purrs. "My wife is out of town on a business trip, there's no risk."

As one thing leads to another, the woman reaches into her purse and suddenly gasps, "We have to stop, I forgot to bring birth control!"

"No problem," her lover replies. "I'll get my wife's diaphragm." After a few minutes of searching, he returns to the bedroom in a fury. "That witch!" he exclaims. "She took it with her! I always knew she didn't trust me!"

Thursday 27 August 2015


How lucky we are to be British, as I always say!.

We have a got ourself a shed load of new parliamentarians without any fuss at all: they didn't have to bother with all this campaigning malarkey and we didn't even have to get off our backsides and vote for them.

How lucky are we?

But, to be honest, they are a sorry lot. Well come on, you don't get much for nothing these days.

Of course several of the names have been trailed for sometime by the media. Among those, Darling (who appears to have got his for making a cock up of running the Better Together Campaign, so much so that they had to get Gordon Brown to rescue him at the 11th hour) is my favourite.
Eh Alistair????

I mean, Darling the firebrand socialist republican who ends up in ermine... what can you say?

And then there's Mone. Mone by name and moan by nature. The woman who was hounded out of Scotland by social media (because presumably you don't get Twitter in London!) 
Is she living in the Tower of London?
She becomes an aristocrat and gets a blue blood transfusion for...erm...well that's a hard one, but suffice to say that she's going to be working with Iain Duncan Smith (who has managed to kill off 4000 people within six weeks of them being found fit for work), so that should tell you all you need to know. She is to be some sort of entrepreneur coach... (no, me neither!). 

Although I'm sure that she can show the neds and chavs how to trash a car, give a recalcitrant partner a dose of the trots, outsource to China, and all whilst getting a dodgy uneven tan. 

Then there's the Noble Baron Ming the Merciless, presumably for his sense of irony. He and said today that he doesn't approve of the way the House of Lords is appointed, at the same time as he accepted a seat in it.

Thank Ming the Merciful Lord
However, my favourite is someone whose name was not trailed, probably for obvious reasons.

Douglas Hogg (Hogg by name; hog by nature)...or to the likes of you and me, the Noble Viscount HailSHAM.

Readers of Munguin's Republic will recall him being mentioned here before.

He's a pathetically laughable little man, who is clearly absolutely determined to get his scrawny backside on a red bench no matter what it takes, and totally oblivious to the humiliation that trying over and over again and being rejected each time, would be caused in normal people.

Let's remind ourselves of his history. Hoggy the Hogg became the 3rd Viscount Hailsham upon the death of his father in 2001. His father had disclaimed the title for life in 1963, but young Douglas clearly wanted it badly. He was an MP at the time, but as this was after the Lords reforms of 1999, despite inheriting the title he did not inherit a seat and could stay on in the lower house.

He remained in the Commons until 2010 when he stood down having been ridiculed for his ridiculous expenses claims by the Tory Daily Telegraph. He had claimed for, amongst other items... 
Château Hogg; You should see it,
after all you seem to have paid for a lot of it 

  • £2,000 moat cleaning;
  • £18,000 for a gardener;
  • £40 piano tuning;
  • £200 annual Aga cooker maintenance;
  • £4,500 for ‘machines and fuel’;
  • £1,000 for lawn mowing;
  • £700 fees for a ‘mole man’;
  • The costs of running his housekeeper’s car;
  • Thousands in repairs, including for his stables; and
  • £93 for tongs!!!
It is said that Cameron made a deal with him then. If he would decline to stand as an MP (and save the Conservatives the embarrassment of having to campaign for a trougher), he (Cameron) would put him (Hoggy) forward as a life peer. That would mean that as well as holding his hereditary Viscount title, he would be able to actually sit in the House of Lords as a Baron...or life peer. Well, I did say he was greedy!

Unfortunately for him the House of Lords' Appointment Commission, not unreasonably, found him an unsuitable person for elevation to the peerage.

Now that would have been embarrassment enough for most people, but not for our dear Hog!

Oh no. 

As a Viscount he was entitled to stand for election to the Lords upon the death of a sitting peer. He did this early in 2013, and once again he was thwarted as his fellow noblemen also didn't think him suitable material and voted for someone else.

So, he had now been rejected twice...once by the Appointments people and once by his fellow peers. It seemed that no one wanted him in the Lords... 

Most decent people would have gone and hidden under a stone. 

But nope, not our little piggy. Within a few months another Lord had gone to the big trough in the sky and the good Viscount put his name forward again.

Desperation or what?

Once again his fellow peers rejected him as unsuitable and elected another peer.

But give Hoggy his due. He's a trier, and you know what they say about triers!

It probably helps that he's an Old Etonian and an Oxford man, but somehow he persuaded Cameron to put him forward again. And this time he's done it.
Hoggy the Hogg
He's managed to get himself through the selection committee and on to the gravy train. Either they are getting slacker about suitability criteria or they are just fed up with his name coming up again and again.

So he's made it, and ermine shall be his (and £300 a day tax free to help pay for the moat and the cook's car).

What a pathetic little man he is.

Welcome to Britain, the country that goes around the world lecturing non royal heads of government of smaller states on democracy. Welcome to the laughing stock of the world.

Wednesday 26 August 2015



So, Andy Burnham brought his tour to our capital city today. As you can see
they didn't expect a huge crowd, so they only set out enough seats for about 50 people. In the end, it looks like around 100 people turned out to see him.

He was introduced by Old George Foulkes who apparently announced him as Jeremy. 

Bless him, even away from the subsidised whisky of the House of Aristocratic Noblemen, George can be a befuddled old buffer. It wouldn't have been so bad, but about 10 minutes into the do, he called him Jeremy again. You can't help thinking that he was at the wrong gig! 

The real Jeremy had in fact been in Edinburgh a few weeks ago and he managed to draw a few people along too.

Burnham has a good sense of humour though, so he just laughed at old George... Well, it's what most other people do! 

After all Andy's getting rather forgetful himself. 

Wasn't it only a few weeks ago that he was telling us that he was proud of the Labour manifesto he was standing on at the UK's General Election? It was, he said then, the best he had ever stood on, and he paid tribute to Ed Miliband. 

Today though, he said that he thought that that manifesto didn't give you the belief that there was something worth campaigning for. (He was right today.)

And even more recently didn't he say that he was too loyal to Labour to vote against the Tory Welfare Bill in defiance of the whip ... and therefore be obliged to resign from shadow cabinet. 

Yet, today he stated that he would resign from the shadow cabinet if Jeremy Corbyn promised to take the UK out of Nato.

Ah fickle old loyalty. What can you say?

Fortunately he's certainly loyal, not to mention humble and obedient, to the Saxe Coburgs though. So at least that's something.

I just wonder how he's going to explain to people on tax credits that loyalty to Labour was more important than their welfare, but less important than bagging a seat at the top table when the big guys meet with the boss in the White House.

Tuesday 25 August 2015


This came up on my Twitter feed from Owen Jones. When I realised what it was I couldn't make up my mind whether or not to watch it. I had heard a little of Gordon, I knew that he had been diagnosed with MND, but I'd never seen him on screen or heard him talk. A part of me felt that I didn't want to. I didn't want to be sad for him or to feel sorry for him.

However, in the end I decided to play it...and I'm glad I did.

He's not the kind of guy you feel sorry for. He's the kind of guy you admire. He's been dealt a rotten hand but my goodness is he making it work for him and perhaps more importantly, for society.

I came away inspired and yes, although I was sad, I was also uplifted by his courage and determination... and somewhat ashamed of how little I make of my life by comparison.

I thought it would be good to share it with you.

Monday 24 August 2015


Is it just me or do others agree that Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions descending into a very unfunny farce?

We've long known that Smith himself is a figure of fun. That was never in dispute. The Quiet Man...his University of Perugia degree (or not as may be the case), his management diploma at a posh college (or the two day course he did there), his expenses for underpants and wet wipes, his wife's salary for being...erm... his wife, his sick leave... The list goes on.

We have known too about the wasted money, the inefficiencies, the lies about sanction targets, the gross inefficiency of Atos, the computer programmes that don't work and the deadliness that have not even started to be met. We even know that Cameron tried to reshuffle him away from the DWP, and failed. 

That should tell us something!

But in the last few days we have heard that the DWP have invented characters and situations, and then used “stock pictures” to make posters that support the idea of a caring sharing DWP. 

People, they implied, were actually being helped by his department. 

Of course there aren't any real success stories so they have had to make them up. Of course it wasn't IDS. His officials are to carry the can. Whatever happened to the buck stopping here?

Then we heard that, having just made 3824 people redundant, they seem to have suddenly found a need for 2,800 new staff (which the unions claim are to do approximately the same jobs and the redundant staff, but on temporary contracts of 18 months).

That's just plain rotten. IDS wastes millions on computer soft wear that isn't worth diddly, and they make up the money by paying off staff, then taking on temps.

Additionally, they listen in to staff on the telephone and nit pick when they treat clients like human beings.

But worst of all, yesterday we were told that call centre staff have been sent a leaflet on how to deal with suicide threats from “customers”.

The article in the Sunday Herald, where I originally learned of this, suggested that most of these staff earn around £15,000. That is to say they are junior admin staff.

Dealing with people who are so distressed that they may be contemplating suicide is a job for a professional with a great deal of training in how to read the situation and respond to it. Getting it wrong can make a bad situation 100 times worse, and in this case, lead to deaths.

En passant a little story. I recall a colleague in a place I worked in many years ago, was sent on a “counselling” course. It lasted a mere 2 days, and upon her return to work aforesaid colleague thought she was the very dab at counselling.  

Indeed within days she had put her new-found “skills” to work. 

However, it seems that a two day course doesn't provide quite all the skills required to do this kind of work effectively in real life situations...and, long story short, the client got very disturbed. This upset provoked a relatively dormant (and unknown to the colleague) heart condition the client had… and an ambulance had to be called.

My colleague had had 2 days’ instruction in dealing with difficult situations complete with role playing exercises. The DWP staff are getting a leaflet to read, and wave in the air if they require supervisor support! I wonder what training the supervisors have had.

According to the  Guardian: "Absolutely nobody has ever seen this guidance before, leading staff to believe it has been put together ahead of the incapacity benefit and disability living allowance cuts."

Making a mess of the staffing levels relatively incompetent management; making up names and success stories is pathetic… but suicide counselling with no training is altogether another kettle of fish.

Firstly from the point of view of the staff it is utterly ridiculous to demand untrained junior staff deal with potential suicide threats as part of their call centre work. That’s WAY above the £15,000 pay band responsibility.  How traumatised is a member of staff going to be if the client ends the call with: "Right, that's it. You can bin my claim. I'm dead by 5 o'clock!"

From the client’s point of view it is nothing short of criminal to leave untrained staff to deal with them. If you are taking away the last vestige of their humanity and leaving them to starve, the least you could do is to provide someone with a bit more than a typed out instruction list to deal with them. Surely they deserve at least that.

Then again, when you consider that paramedics and nurses in Atos have been allowed to override diagnosis made by specialist and professors of medicine, who would really be surprised at how low IDS will stoop to save a bob or two, and who could doubt that he doesn't give a damn about the people who use his "service"?