At first glance, the story of an obscure Tory councillor creating an online petition demanding that anyone who still supports membership of the European Union be charged with treason smacks of a crude attempt at humour and is obviously a very weak joke. A second glance would confirm the hoax as the petition is in the name of a councillor Christian Holliday who represents the Burpham ward in the delightful town of Guildford. If a councillor Cruella de Winterval representing nearby Effingham had demanded the re-introduction of thumbscrews and the rack into the criminal justice system, the joke would not have been more obvious. However, a third glance reveals the treason petition story to be true and a bizarre invention called Christian Holliday actually exists and wishes to “amend the Treason Felony Act to make supporting UK membership of the EU a crime.”
It seems that the petition has been taken down and a Guildford councillor has been suspended by the local Tory party. No doubt the councillor will complain of censorship, an attack on free speech and a liberal elite conspiring to bring about the end of democracy but will then slide deservedly back into obscurity where he will not cause too much damage. That a councillor, let alone a Tory councillor, should prove to be a complete and utter idiot is not unexpected news but, as a symptom of the collective emotional breakdown currently debilitating the nation, the thought that this kind of nonsense could ever be considered as even remotely appropriate is much more troublesome. (more…)
As the sublimely wonderful Stevie Wonder so eloquently pointed out, if you believe in things that you don`t understand; you suffer – superstition ain`t the way. It is a distinct possibility that what separates religion from superstition is the comparative definition of faith and idiocy but when politics, the economy and policies ranging from health, education and immigration seem to be pulled from magic hats by black cats and chimney sweeps, tarot readings and the most transparent of crystal balls now pass for governance.
The French, during what became known as la belle époque between the Franco Prussian War and the First World War, invented a delightful compromise between religion and superstition by creating a new and lucrative career. Realising that 13 sitting down to dinner would result in terrible bad luck because that was the number taking part in the last supper, professional dinner party guests could be employed to make up the 14. Known as “Quatorzièmes”, these witty raconteurs could expect free food and drink in exchange for some outrageous banter the more scandalous and questionable the better. Inadvertently, the early “Quatorzièmes” paved the way for 21st century politicians and professional controversialist to make money and expect free food and drink by spreading outrageous, scandalous and questionable banter. (more…)
Via Peguin Books
Imagine inventing a new word to describe something undesirable only to find that the word quickly becomes part of common language but with its original usage completely reversed. Then consider the sorry experience of minor politician and sociologist Michael Young.
Credited with drafting large chunks of Labour`s 1945 manifesto, Young played a major part in securing a landslide victory for Clement Attlee and the almost unthinkable defeat of Sir Winston Churchill at the conclusion of the Second World War. The 1944 Butler Education Act established free and universal education and set the school leaving age at 15. It also introduced the tripartite system of education featuring grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools. In theory, comprehensive schools would combine features of all three streams. Allocation of school places was determined by academic examination when a child reached the age of 11. The results of a maths test, a general essay and a third test on general reasoning would define the child as a member of the elite, someone who could be trusted with expensive machinery or a basic manual labourer expected to be grateful for the chance at any education at all. (more…)
Area 51, as any self-appointed expert on alien life forms will more than happily tell you, is a top secret dark operations base located on a salt flat near Groom Lake in Nevada some 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas. The dead and injured victims of crashed space craft are taken there for either autopsy or examination. Some experts go so far as to suggest that surviving extraterrestrial beings are actually sharing their knowledge of advanced technology and are even now colluding with earthly governments in secret research. Obviously the presence of non-earthlings would create panic and be very bad for business for world religion so it makes perfect sense to keep such creatures locked up and safely out of sight. (more…)
With a paucity of remotely sensible political analysis being made available to a bewildered yet cynical public, it is tempting to simply join in with the blizzard of outrageous allegations and smears against friend and foe alike safe in the knowledge that any factual evidence will never be checked. Even if some naïve soul investigates the veracity of various claims and counterclaims, we have rapidly realised that proof is irrelevant and irrefutable evidence is best ignored. With politics descending further into playground name-calling followed by little boys starting a fight and then running away, the most efficient way to stick the boot in is with the tried and tested personal anecdote.
So, my wife once met a man on a train who said he knew a woman who had a sister who knew a man that told this absolutely true story. (more…)