Saturday, 28 February 2009

Philip Pullman on the Condition of Our United Kingdom

Are such things done on Albion’s shore? asks Pullman. Raedwald posted this, which has disappeared from the Times. And Angels posts it here too.

The image of this nation that haunts me most powerfully is that of the sleeping giant Albion in William Blake’s prophetic books. Sleep, profound and inveterate slumber: that is the condition of Britain today.

We do not know what is happening to us. In the world outside, great events take place, great figures move and act, great matters unfold, and this nation of Albion murmurs and stirs while malevolent voices whisper in the darkness - the voices of the new laws that are silently strangling the old freedoms the nation still dreams it enjoys.

We are so fast asleep that we don’t know who we are any more. Are we English? Scottish? Welsh? British? More than one of them? One but not another? Are we a Christian nation - after all we have an Established Church - or are we something post-Christian? Are we a secular state? Are we a multifaith state? Are we anything we can all agree on and feel proud of?

The new laws whisper:

You don’t know who you are

You’re mistaken about yourself

We know better than you do what you consist of, what labels apply to you, which facts about you are important and which are worthless

We do not believe you can be trusted to know these things, so we shall know them for you

And if we take against you, we shall remove from your possession the only proof we shall allow to be recognised

The sleeping nation dreams it has the freedom to speak its mind. It fantasises about making tyrants cringe with the bluff bold vigour of its ancient right to express its opinions in the street. This is what the new laws say about that:

Expressing an opinion is a dangerous activity

Whatever your opinions are, we don’t want to hear them

So if you threaten us or our friends with your opinions we shall treat you like the rabble you are

And we do not want to hear you arguing about it

So hold your tongue and forget about protesting

What we want from you is acquiescence

The nation dreams it is a democratic state where the laws were made by freely elected representatives who were answerable to the people. It used to be such a nation once, it dreams, so it must be that nation still. It is a sweet dream.

You are not to be trusted with laws

So we shall put ourselves out of your reach

We shall put ourselves beyond your amendment or abolition

You do not need to argue about any changes we make, or to debate them, or to send your representatives to vote against them

You do not need to hold us to account

You think you will get what you want from an inquiry?

Who do you think you are?

What sort of fools do you think we are?

The nation’s dreams are troubled, sometimes; dim rumours reach our sleeping ears, rumours that all is not well in the administration of justice; but an ancient spell murmurs through our somnolence, and we remember that the courts are bound to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and we turn over and sleep soundly again.

And the new laws whisper:

We do not want to hear you talking about truth

Truth is a friend of yours, not a friend of ours

We have a better friend called hearsay, who is a witness we can always rely on

We do not want to hear you talking about innocence

Innocent means guilty of things not yet done

We do not want to hear you talking about the right to silence

You need to be told what silence means: it means guilt

We do not want to hear you talking about justice

Justice is whatever we want to do to you

And nothing else

Are we conscious of being watched, as we sleep? Are we aware of an ever-open eye at the corner of every street, of a watching presence in the very keyboards we type our messages on? The new laws don’t mind if we are. They don’t think we care about it.

We want to watch you day and night

We think you are abject enough to feel safe when we watch you

We can see you have lost all sense of what is proper to a free people

We can see you have abandoned modesty

Some of our friends have seen to that

They have arranged for you to find modesty contemptible

In a thousand ways they have led you to think that whoever does not want to be watched must have something shameful to hide

We want you to feel that solitude is frightening and unnatural

We want you to feel that being watched is the natural state of things

One of the pleasant fantasies that consoles us in our sleep is that we are a sovereign nation, and safe within our borders. This is what the new laws say about that:

We know who our friends are

And when our friends want to have words with one of you

We shall make it easy for them to take you away to a country where you will learn that you have more fingernails than you need

It will be no use bleating that you know of no offence you have committed under British law

It is for us to know what your offence is

Angering our friends is an offence

It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Terrorism Act (2000), the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002), the Criminal Justice Act (2003), the Extradition Act (2003), the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003), the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), the Inquiries Act (2005), the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.


And those laws say:

Sleep, you stinking cowards

Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms

Freedom is too hard for you

We shall decide what freedom is

Sleep, you vermin

Sleep, you scum

Dressing Angels: Milan Fashion Week

Angels wears nothing but Jil Sander. This is why.

Update: Horrified of Tuscany quotes Times report:

In the finale bow, 'Simons, whose catwalk appearances are normally fleeting, lingered with his arms wrapped around Christel von Kiedrowski, the head of Sander's Hamburg ateliers for more than 20 years. The latest owners of Jil Sander, Onward Holdings and GIBO Co SpA, are rumoured to be closing those ateliers: a cost-cutting exercise, no doubt. And no doubt, either, what Simons thinks of the plan. The magnum opus of this collection, a succession of black, sculpted dresses and pearly white leather jackets that curved around the body, twisting and unfolding at the neck, back or hips to reveal a neon flash of orange or yellow and tiny glimpses of skin, took tailoring to a new level: it was a breathtaking demonstration of what state-of-the-art manufacturing and fabric technology can achieve. Without those ateliers, it is doubtful that the heart of this collection will ever see the light of day.'

Gulp. Sob.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Dressing Angels: Paris Fashion Week

That's better. Not a nasty nylon knee sock in sight. You could easily wear this with wings.

Brown's Cup of Corruption Overflows

Personally brokered by Gordon Brown, with the overthrow of competition laws as part of it, the HBOS Lloyds deal is now vomiting out losses in tens of billions of pounds, and state insurances of toxic loans in hundreds of billions of pounds. Toxic loans, to people who had no realistic expectation of meeting the terms, and often obtained by lies and with holding of information on loan documentation and contracts, of hundreds of billions that need tax-payer funded insurance? The personal severance settlements (called by whatever label you choose to use - leaving agreement, pension, payoff) - are all payable, and have been paid, immediately, regardless of age, never mind merit, for various staff.

And it is emerging now that these payments are not just to the highest, or even just higher level, staff. There are, currently, four named beneficiaries of the failure by Brown and his regime to declare these banks bankrupt: Goodwin, Hornby, Cummings, Cameron. Even the lowest payoff is offensively high. How many other employees of these two banks are receiving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, has yet to be told.

Explain Yourself to Us Brown, Not to the Americans

At a time when the regime he leads has exposed the tax-payer to over a trillion pounds of debt, has watched the pound lose a third of its value, presides over the widespread loss of pensions and savings, is condemned by the Governor of the Bank of England, the head of the Financial Services Authority; as hundreds of thousands are dismissed from their jobs and millions more face unemployment this year as they did last; is discovered to have delivered up people for torture, has destroyed both individual civil rights and grossly undermined the Union of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, Leader of the Labour party is at last about to address the elected representatives of the people - both Houses.

The elected representatives of the people of the United States, you understand.

Brown was not elected by them, nor is he answerable to them.

But then he wasn't elected by us either. Is he answerable to us?

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Nature of the Good

All children are home-schooled. It's called bringing them up. Some children are instructed academically at home as well. Most children attend a state-provided tax-payer-funded institution for a set number of hours in the best part of the day. During that time they are supposed to be instructed but, increasingly, that objective has been displaced by the provision of a substitute, authority-approved, acculturation process often severely at odds with children's learning at home. Unsurprisingly many parents choose their homes over the state's schools, and take on instruction as well as education. Some do this part-time employing, after hours, tutors and teachers of specialist subjects to fill the emptiness and, regrettably and more usually, the wilful incompetence of the state's provision.

Eventually the lion's share of the day's best hours monopolised by the state curriculum is taken back by more and more parents, and the state schools and their teaching embodying 'progressive' values is abandoned.

The state doesn't like this one bit. Parents who never use, or walk away from state schooling institutions, are villified by accusations that their children are open to abuse if unmonitored by state social workers. Parents who provide instruction in maths, English, music, sports, and encourage their children to enjoy non-state provided clubs, associations and activities are rebuked that their child is 'over-committed' is 'interacting' with state-school children and provision poorly. Parents who pay their taxes are made to pay again for schools that reflect their interests and family values and concerns for their children's development.

What gives power to state schools is the child care required by working parents. Young people need supervision. In most countries that supervision is combined with widely acceptable instruction in academic subjects. Any attempts at indoctrination of a state-determined view or attitude would be instantly resisted - people have been there and lived through that kind of thing before. In England highly-politicised trade unions and teachers' training institutions use state schooling to deliver a state agenda.

Now even those who walk away are being pursued. Retreating into personal and family life is a recognised first response to increasing authoritarianism and state-control. The 'rientro nel privato' (notably the term is Italian, they know and suffered under state authoritarianism for nearly quarter of a century, and it took mass invasion and a civil war to end it) is only a temporary respite. The structure is all in place. Now each and every one of us is to be forced into its conformity. Under the guise of anti-terrorism personal freedoms have been abolished. Under the guise of health and safety regulation social activities and associations have been curtailed. Under the guise of child welfare family life is to be monitored and state norms imposed.

It's for your own good.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Proudhon Revisited

Beyond price is never quite the case. Everything can be obtained at a price. What matters is the manner in which the price is paid. In our society it had been agreed that property is not only settled, but property rights are defended by the state and its civil, institutional arrrangements. Property is not supposed to be obtained or defended by fraud or at gunpoint. And if it is, then social and judicial retribution follows.

Along with democratic control over who uses the powers of the state, conceded by the social contract (which has gone by the board in the last twelve years), have gone property rights. Millions of our fellow citizens have abandoned the terms of the social contract, encouraged by the current regime, and lied, cheated, falsely declared , used all forms of legal and social dishonesty, you name it, to force their way to houses, cars, household goods, holidays and pensions - to entire lifestyles - by stealing from their fellows and from future generations.

It wouldn't be so distasteful if it had been done for things like this:

But what the cheapskates actually obtained are things like this:

and the vile buildings they are scrawled on.

What really hurts is the destruction of so much to provide so little for so many.

Negative Equity and Distorting Mirrors

People who have bought expensive houses on a mortgage, at rising interest rates, will be relieved to experience falling interest rates at last. But at the same time house prices are falling faster than the fall in interest rates, eroding their equity stake - if they had positive equity in the first place. At some point their equity becomes zero turning them purely into tenants of their own property. Further house price falls make their equity negative, turning them into tenants paying an exorbitant rent. Thus, instead of rejoicing at falling nominal interest charges, economics 101 would suggest they should rush to sell before their equity becomes negative. Sackerson commenting on an earlier post sets this out beautifully, but it is worth a post of its own to say it again .

Economics is full of distorting mirrors. Magnitudes that seem perfectly unambiguous actually move in different directions depending on the units in which they are measured - e.g. monetary units (in pounds or euros or dollars, each going its own way) or real units (in terms of one or another basket of goods, also moving differently). And what counts is the relative speed at which they move, and therefore how the ratio between different magnitudes move. And it's easy to miss the whole picture, and to forget to compare only like with like.

One moment you rejoice because your nominal interest payments are falling and are easier to cope with. This is what the New Labour regime turns your head to look at, and uses to pretend that green shoots are appearing. The next moment, or month, you realise you are bankrupt, but by then it is too late to do anything about it.

And Northern Rock is being reset to drag more, and poorer people into the trap. Such wickedness.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Giants' Shoulders Not Funerary Urns

'What can you find in an old picture except the painful contortions of the artist trying to break uncrossable barriers which obstruct the full expression of his dream?

To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action. Do you want to waste the best part of your strength in a useless admiration of the past, from which you will emerge exhausted, diminished, trampled on?

Indeed daily visits to museums, libraries and academies (those cemeteries of wasted effort, calvaries of crucified dreams, registers of false starts!) is for artists what prolonged supervision by the parents is for intelligent young men, drunk with their own talent and ambition.'

Trampling on our culture, denying our democracy and its roots in English history and our past is New Labour, drunk with its misconceptions of its own intelligence, youth, talent and ambition.

Dressing Angels

Just looking at the clothes on offer at London Fashion Week is distressing. Clumsy outlines, floral prints, stripes, cruel colours, tight denim, chopped up body images, cheap effects from cheap materials and displays of poor couture and dress-making skills.

This frightening melange of lack of imagination and rejection of the beautiful for the humdrum was only too wearable and, regrettably, worn. Knee socks in stretch-patterned nylon, blanket coats suitable for Sarah Brown, occasion wear for social workers. No pictures, nul points.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Making the Worst of It in the Interests of State Control

Responsibility for a share of maintaining a listed building means that if bits start falling off the outside there is a keen official and popular interest in what you are going to do about it. Which is why the Sovrintendenza delle Belle Arti, architects famous for renovating 16th century dwelling houses, and esoterically skilled building firms have come up with some big numbers.

The bank at the bottom of the hill hasn't blinked an eye. Loan? Certainly. But a mortgage might work out cheaper, and there are subventions for buildings like that, and tax relief. It 's a funny feeling after all the berating of the last six months, the denouncing of debt and easily obtained mortgages, to find that debt makes sense at current interest rates and motgages are offered 'at sight' so to speak.

Either it's much, much worse in England, or the country is being stampeded into political and economic policies that otherwise would be out of even New Labour's reach.

Time for a Pause for Both Sides in England's Membership of the European Union

England is not, at the moment, a democratic state. Its democratic provisions are being ignored or deliberately set aside by its regime, which remains in power by refusal to consult the people and by the threat of force to be used savagely against any civil unrest that attempts to disturb the regime's grip upon the state. The large numbers of economically inactive, maintained on the miserly clients' handout, is being augmented daily by newly-unemployed with little hope of finding work. Homes are being lost, bankruptcies rise, alternatives to inappropriate state provision in education and health move out of reach.

Credit and mortgages are unavailable and the Brown regime denies any hope of good banks concerned with traditional retail banking being separated from high risk-taking games in other organisations that share the word bank but none of the functions most people want from their local financial and savings institution. Banks are zombies, fronted by managements permitted to keep their jobs and statuses, animated by being underwritten by the state.

The New Labour regime responses to the collapse of UK financial structures and of the UK economy break every European Union membership rule in the book, even in these easier, 'understanding' times. The numbers of denunciations of the UK's behaviour to the Competition Commissioner and the number of member-states making them rises steadily.

It might be best for the United Kingdom to stand aside from the European Union until it either chooses to re-enter, by referendum, whether or not the Lisbon Treaty has managed to be activated, or decides to remain permanently in friendly but distanced relations.

Brown and New Labour's desperate defence of the City's status as an unregulated global casino and tax 'haven' is warping, though not thwarting, other member-states' responses to the recession. The United Kingdom is like a local, infected outbreak, leaking poison into the system and slowing responses to the problems of the Union as a whole. European Union member-states speak for themselves and for the wider interests of their Union; that is what they are elected to do. Unelected and untied to England, Brown tries to disrupt this basic democratic response as a matter of policy, of ideological commitment, as well as out of necessity (for the European Union cannot clean up the financial and economic collapse Brown and his stewardship have brought on us). He speaks of continents and world-wide action. Europeans act for their countries and their Union, and their peoples.

Germany acts to strengthen its economy and maintain its manufacturing skills and knowledge base, protect its financial system from further contamination, and to help member-states and neighbours to the East. Germans do not spout global non-democratic propaganda pretending to be offering necessary economic and regulatory solutions. Everything they say should be understood in the context of their democratic state and constitution and their careful evaluation of their relations with even the EU. Regulation is to be enacted by regional and national parliaments and then extended within the European Union by agreement. As Mr Berlusconi pointed out in Rome earlier in the week.

And as Mr Draghi has pointed out, Italy has so far expended half of one percent of Italian GDP on dealing with the recession. France is at three quarters of a percent, and Germany two percent (but they have the East under their wing). And their figures are probably close to the truth, which is hard to believe of New Labour figures, at least until very recently.

It was a great party in London, thank you for the invitation, we all enjoyed it, but Europa is going home now and so is the United States. England might like to free itself , at least for now, from European rules and elect itself a government that can clean up after the last 12 years.

Mannerless, Bordering on Assault

For the last time Mr Brown:

You do not hold still the person you are greeting by gripping her by the shoulders of her dress.

You do not kiss her so stop it NOW with the lip rearrangement.

You do not close your eyes.

What you do is allow your cheek to align with hers, but not touch, once, both sides of the face - or more with the French - and shake her hand. Remember? Like you shook Mrs Brown's hand after your speech at the last Labour Conference?

Most important of all, try to avoid causing the Chancellor of Germany to laugh in your face.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Occupation of the BBC Denied Coverage By BBC Management

The BBC's main building in Scotland was occupied by demonstrators but BBC Scotland reporters were asked to stay inside the newsroom while the protest was under way.

'BBC Scotland journalists were initially asked not to film the demonstrators. When one member of staff did shoot footage on a hand-held camera, they were asked not to upload the film onto the BBC's computers, where it could be accessed by other parts of the corporation.' (Sunday Herald).

Peter Murray, deputy leader of the National Union of Journalists' BBC Scotland branch, said:

"BBC management claimed the decision not to film was made in an attempt to stop others from copying the protesters and to prevent other groups from trying to occupy the BBC Scotland building in the future."

Or the occupation of other BBC buildings throughout the United Kingdom when official censorship and the misrepresentation of reality reaches demonstration-tipping levels, presumably.

(The demonstration, last month, was over the refusal by the BBC to broadcast an appeal for humanitarian assistance to Gaza).

The Real Threat to our Way of Life

Constant talk of global this, and grand agreement that, and now of continental solutions, flies in the face of our political settlement - the contract between a government and its electorate. Our democracy is, of its nature, protectionist and local. We accept that some of our actions will be limited, or required, in return for choosing government by free and fair election that reflects our wishes for the way the social aspects of our lives run.

Our state is defended by our government, our public affairs are run in the interests of its maintenance, and our beliefs about the proper relations we should have with one another are expressed through it. Refusal to accept this both flies in the face of reality and makes any refusenik regime illegitimate.

Which is precisely where we are with Brown's regime. The rejection of reality and its substitution with fantastical assertions on saving the world, and remaining in power by force, both the force of political inertia and propaganda, and the force of the clenched fist. The contract renewed at the 2005 general election has long since been broken both by circumstantial change in the United Kingdom and by Labour Party acts of wilful, degenerate manipulation.

Socialism and its organisations always try for internationalism because it breaks any link between a people and their governance. But it is precisely within the notion of a people and a country that any contract to be governed can be forged. When that sense of national self is dissipated by rogue rule pretending to answer to a higher necessary and even moral order of planetary interdependence and governance, people reject governance at all, or assert their existence as a people through defining the other that most closely threatens them, and making war.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Should We Be Betting All This On a Pair of Queens?

Competent poker players, rather than Angels, will be able to assess the odds. But surely more than 100% of GDP requires a better hand?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Vaclav Klaus: A Brave Man Lends his Voice to Lisbon Treaty Dissent

Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, addressing the European Parliament, said it suffers from a democratic deficit and 'likened its workings to those of eastern Europe during the communist era.' (Financial Times)

'In his first address to the parliament, Mr Klaus characterised the institution as one that alienated voters and offered no credible opposition. He argued that decision-making powers should be pushed out of Brussels and back to individual member states.'

Mr Klaus said: “Here, only one single alternative is being promoted and those who dare to think about a different option are labelled as enemies of European integration. Not so long ago, in our part of Europe we lived in a political system that permitted no alternatives.”

Ireland has rejected the Lisbon Treaty. Germany has it under consideration by the Constitutional court. And President Klaus has yet to sign it.

Ecological Commitment? We Have Given.

A friend of many years has had enough of saving the planet. What can be done reasonably should be done, but that is all. She speaks for Angels in the tongue of angels.

...Nous avons été affectés par la disparition d’excellents ami(e)s, à une fréquence qui nous a paru accélérée, attristés par la maladie d’autres.

Nous avons vécu la première année de la présidence Sarkozy avec étonnement, souvent réticence, quelquefois indignation. Nous avons aussi suivi l’élection présidentielle américaine, tenus en haleine par tous ses rebondissements, et jusqu’au bout effrayés d’une possible victoire du camp républicain. Quel soulagement que le succès démocrate ! Mais à présent tout commence dans ce pays, et rien n’est garanti.

Bien sûr nous avons suivi les conflits éclatant dans le monde, et je ne suis pas certaine que la mémoire des premiers en début d’année ne soit pas déjà effacée par ceux dont nous avons été les témoins en fin d’année. Nous sommes entrés dans La Crise , sans que cela nous affecte personnellement (encore ?), avec le sentiment coupable que notre relatif bien-être est un prélèvement indu sur le revenu futur de nos enfants et petits-enfants. Nous avons entendu toutes les prévisions catastrophistes sur le réchauffement climatique, l’effet de serre, le sombre avenir de la planète et l’obligation pour chacun de contribuer au sauvetage de celle-ci. Vous aussi, chers amis, vous avez entendu tout cela.

Eh bien, au risque de vous choquer, je vais vous dire : j’ai horreur de la tyrannie écologique.

Ma période écologique

Je n’ai nullement l’attention de contester les arguments des écologistes et autres sauveteurs de la planète, des ours polaires, des singes… (je ne me rappelle plus lesquels) et autres espèces menacées. De même que je n’ignore pas les très compétents argumentaires concernant le risque de famine à l’échelle mondiale, la raréfaction de la ressource en eau. Non, je me limite à une position très individualiste, très égoïste je l’admets. L’écologie, j’ai déjà donné. Et je ne veux pas recommencer. Vous me dites, « après moi le déluge ? ». Mais non, voyons. Ma petite personne ne va pas faire remonter d’un micro-millimètre les eaux de l’Atlantique à Biarritz.

Pour commencer, je précise que j’ai soixante-treize ans et demi tout juste. Pendant la guerre (la deuxième) je vivais dans un tout petit village. Nous étions très écologiques sans le savoir, ni même le vouloir. On dit aujourd’hui qu’il faut être « locavores », en gros s’approvisionner le plus près possible de chez soi. Eh bien, nous l’étions. Il n’y avait pas plus de 100 mètres de la maison à l’enclos des topinambours et des rutabagas. Le poulailler et les clapiers étaient à 200 mètres . Les oranges et les mandarines, on ne connaissait pas, on cueillait les pêches et les pommes du jardin. Le chat aussi était locavore, il ne se nourrissait pas de croquettes mais de souris, qu’il avait l’élégance de nous apporter mortes avant de les consommer pour être félicité. Le tri des déchets : on n’en avait pas beaucoup, à l’épicerie tout était vendu en vrac, ce qu’on s’efforce aujourd’hui de ressusciter. Les lentilles venaient avec des cailloux, les pâtes grisâtres avec de sournoises petites bêtes. Quant aux déchets « personnels », il y avait la petite cabane au fond du jardin, derrière les lauriers (« je vais derrière les lauriers » étant devenu la métaphore pour ce que vous savez. ) et un homme du village passait avec sa brouette une fois par semaine pour enlever lesdits déchets et les épandre dans les champs.

On ne jetait rien. Ma grand-mère défaisait et retricotait mes pulls avec des laines de récup à mesure de ma croissance. J’allais à l’école en sabots avec du foin dedans. Pour les grandes occasions j’avais des chaussures en simili-cuir dont on coupait le bout jusqu’à ce que le bout de mon pied touche par terre. Je rêvais, quand je serais grande, d’avoir les mêmes chaussures que ma mère, à semelles en bois compensées, et à lanières rouges. A Noël j’avais des jouets merveilleux – je me souviens d’une poupée confectionnée par ma grand’mère, en tissu, avec pour visage la tête de Blanche-Neige, le hit qui venait de sortir, découpée dans un magazine et cousue sur la poupée. On n’avait pas trop le temps de s’ennuyer, nous les enfants. En juin on aidait aux foins (à la main, au râteau). En juillet on ramassait les doryphores dans les champs de pommes de terre. En août on participait à la moisson. En septembre on faisait les vendanges. En octobre on ramassait les marrons « pour envoyer au Maréchal Pétain ». Qu’est-ce qu’il en faisait le Maréchal, je ne sais pas, on disait que c’était pour mettre dans le (faux) café. On allait en classe jusqu’au 31 juillet, réserve faite des doryphores, et on faisait la rentrée au 1er octobre, après les vendanges.

Avec tout ça je crois que j’ai amplement racheté mon droit à polluer, jusqu’à ma mort et au-delà.

Contre l’ecologic attitude

J’ai peu à peu découvert le progrès technique et la société de consommation. Pour tout dire, je m’y suis jetée à corps perdu.

En vrac : le jetable (les couches, après un début dans la « tradition ». Les premières couches jetables étaient de grands rouleaux de cellulose qu’on découpait aux ciseaux, pas les variations sophistiquées par sexe, âge et autres particularités qu’on a aujourd’hui. N’empêche, c’était glorieux ; aujourd’hui les kleenex, lingettes etc.) ; le plastique (les premiers sacs étaient épais, on les lavait, on les stockait, on s’en resservait) ; l’électroménager « qui libère la femme » comme disait M. Moulinex ; les produits chimiques sous toutes leurs formes, dont les sprays qui me dit-on percent la couche d’ozone. Vous pouvez compléter.

Aujourd’hui, ce que je me refuse à faire : renoncer à la clim dans ma voiture (si vous n’êtes pas d’accord, vous descendez) ; éteindre quand je sors d’une pièce, par système ; limiter la température chez moi à 19° (moi c’est 22° minimum) ; éteindre mes systèmes de veille sur mes appareils ; acheter le « paquet familial » de pâtes pour avoir à le manger sur plusieurs semaines (on est deux). Quand je fais « un petit geste pour la planète » (l’expression me fait horreur) c’est par hasard ou habitude : boire l’eau du robinet ; prendre des douches et pas de bains, marcher pieds nus chez moi, etc. Mais je mange des haricots verts du Kenya ou des raisins du Chili hors saison parce que cela me plaît.

Il ne vous reste plus qu’à me boycotter ou me tuer (ou attendre..) !

Brown Sinks Further into Delusion and Ill-Manners

"For the moment, no travel by Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom is scheduled or under consideration," Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

"There isn't a date in the diary – we just made the invitation a few hours ago. But they are definitely looking at it," Downing Street (reported by the Telegraph).

Brown forces legislation through the United Kingdom legislature to encourage crossing human beings with other creatures, then killing the resultant chimera embryos, and thinks to invite the Pope on a trip to the scene of his infamy?

'Definitely looking at it' with distaste, at a guess. Or even a view to excommunicating the country, again, if that's possible.

State Capture, the National Health Service and New Labour

Four-letter man Mandelson may have attracted attention for being unable to control his foul mouth but what is interesting about his presence in America, together with the Health secretary, is the aim of obtaining further interference (or perhaps his orders) from multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Any state with a soviet-style health service of the size suffered by the United Kingdom is the target of state capture by multinational corporations with a turnover higher than the GDP of countries in the top 100 for national income.

State capture was the object of study principally in the work on the Transition from communism to capitalism of the emerging countries of eastern Europe and Russia (although it was studied in developing countries too).

It is a measure of the condition to which New Labour has reduced our constitution and our economy when state capture must be considered in understanding the behavior of a regime in a formerly advanced capitalist, mature, pluralist democracy.

Brown Misrepresents UK Regime Attitude to Tax Havens

The lie is given to Brown's pretence that he demands the closing down of tax havens, by the Tax Research UK blog ( see Angels links). Richard Murphy notes:

'In the pre-budget report last November Alistair Darling announced that he would commission a review of the UK’s tax havens. It was said it would report in time for the budget.

Yesterday was budget day in the Isle of Man and Alan Bell said in his speech:

Our proactive response to the events of last October will extend to the review into crown dependencies’ regulation being undertaken by the United Kingdom and referred to as the “Foot Review”. I understand Members frustration in relation to hearing how the review is to progress, but to date we have yet to meet Mr Foot or his team, to hear how he proposes to undertake this work. I look forward to such a meeting taking place at an early opportunity as I know that we can demonstrate that we the meet highest standards of regulation, and as such this will be another opportunity to demonstrate this to the international community.

I find that amazing: this review has not met the havens, has not said what it is proposing to do and has not established a work plan.

Great for Mr Foot’s consulting fees no doubt.

Bad for any prospect for real change.

But that suits the UK government well: they really would not have wanted anything embarrassing to have come out before the G20. And it killed the Treasury Select Committee review into these places. Oh, how convenient it’s all been.'

So the G20 photo opportunity has served another purpose after all.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Folie de Grandeur

A NATO Summit of Heads of State and Government will be held on 3–4 April 2009 in Baden-Baden and Kehl, Germany, and in Strasbourg, France. The meetings will be chaired by the NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. The President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel, will host the meetings.

'NATO summits are not regular meetings like the more frequent NATO ministerial meetings, but are important junctures in the alliance’s decision-making process a the highest level. Summits are often used to introduce new policy, invite new members into the alliance, launch major new initiatives, and build partnerships with non-NATO countries.' (Wikipedia).

At the last NATO Summit, Croatia and Albania were invited to join the alliance. A decision to review Georgia's and Ukraine's request to join the NATO Membership Action Plan in December 2008 was taken, and no doubt their membership will be up for consideration again at the Summit at the beginning of April, particularly in view of Georgia's offer of 400 'peace-keeping' troops to assist 'our NATO allies' in Afghanistan (reported by Tass today).

Why, then, is Gordon Brown calling a meeting of the G20, which is not held at head of state level but at Finance Minister and National Bank chairman level, on 2 April? After all, anything that could be discussed has been discussed in Rome this week at the G7. Everyone's attention will be concentrated on a crucial NATO Summit meeting, given the importance of relations with Russia for the new United States President and for the European Union, the discussions of secure energy supplies, and the relations between what used to be Soviet Asia and areas of tension and war abutting them.

Discussing global financial regulation (again) pales into insignificance beside the importance of settling secure energy supplies, and relations at every level between NATO, and NATO aspirant countries and their now powerful and volatile neighbours.

And why is Downing Street putting out press releases suggesting that the G20 meeting on 2 April is the first day of an ongoing meeting? It will start and finish on 2 April, no matter who turns up, which is still moot.

At a Downing Street press conference Brown 'released a blueprint that he hopes will ensure the meeting in London, which begins on 2 April, will be a success. "The Road to Recovery" details the measures needed to drag the world out of recession. He conceded that the London economic summit meeting in April needs to be the start of the global economic recovery. The G20 world leaders, including Barack Obama, were coming to Britain to work towards a "global deal and grand bargain," Mr Brown said... the world could then "move towards recovery in the next few months" if agreement was reached..... (Telegraph):
"If we can get that action in place and rebuild trust and confidence in the world economy then recovery will be quicker. That is why we are putting a lot of emphasis on the meeting on 2 April. If we can get agreement then that is a major step forwards...You can see this is a global problem and it cannot be solved without global action, international co-ordination. That is why I have been pressing so hard that some of the measures we have adopted in Britain we can persuade other countries to adopt... That is what is at the crux and how we can move towards recovery in the next few months."

That's quite an agenda for an afternoon meeting.

What with one half of the Executive leadership of New Labour effing and blinding his way round New York receptions because one of his hosts points out our economy is collapsing, and the other making these kind of grandiose claims for what he intends to do after reducing it to the unemployment-ridden, bankrupt, credit-starved rubble we live in, surely the time has come for the country to be consulted on who governs or even just who represents us to others.

The Puncturing of New Labour's Ugly Balloon

What's the matter with deflation? It's nice to go to the shops and find prices have fallen. With no debt and a fixed income you are a net gainer and laughing all the way from the bank. Many people are on both earned and fixed income, as well, so things compensate.

Of course those in debt find themselves with a higher debt burden in real terms unless their interest rate falls faster than the price level. But debt can be paid off faster, as a priority. If none of your income is fixed then lower prices will mean lower income and lower asset values - falling prices are usually the result of low demand relative to capacity, a lower level of activity, and lower levels of employment. But if your only income is earned then debt needs to be very carefully considered, and represent only a small proportion of outgoings before being undertaken.

Never-ending economic growth as another pillar of economic policy hasn't done the Earth much good either.

All in all New Labour's economic and political goals and means are destructive of lives and destructive of the planet.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

How Rude. How Typical of Brown

Pope Benedict XVI is to give an audience to Gordon Brown in Rome on Thursday.

Mr Brown's spokesman told reporters that the 'British' prime minister was travelling to Rome primarily to meet Mr Berlusconi, currently chairman of the G7 group of industrialised nations. He has made it clear (to use New Labour-speak) that the Vicar of Christ will be fitted in before the Italian prime minister.

One-eyed, Scottish, Protestant idiot.

Jowell's 'Husband' Found Guilty of Corruption

Antonio Di Pietro, leader of Italia dei Valori, says it straight:

"Se Mills è stato condannato in quanto 'corrotto' significa che abbiamo un corrotto, ma anche un corruttore." If Mills is guilty of corruption then it means we have someone corrupt. But also that we have a corrupter.

We have also a need to know where that $600,000 - the sum Mills was paid to corrupt his evidence to an Italian court - was taken to, what means were used to get it there, and who was involved in facilitating the transfer of the proceeds of corruption.


Mills still says he didn't do it, despite his conviction. He says it was a big boy who ran away. Well, he might be right in there being a bigger boy who ran away involved.

Setting Scotland and England Free of Labour Rule

Putting up with subsidising Scotland is becoming far too expensive. Most Scottish people would like Scottish independence. Most English people would like Scottish votes, over matters wholly within Scottish control in Scotland, withdrawn. None of us are happy with the Union. We want it recast as a much looser federal and geopolitical liaison.

The only beneficiary of the Scottish/English union in its current form is the Labour party. That alone is enough for most of us to see red. Scotland can take back its MPs, its demands on the English tax-payer, and its core Labour client voters. It can take its oil fields too. England can be rid of the ridiculous Labour inheritance and get on with being a modern state. As for the oil fields, no doubt something can be worked out without having to share a bed with the corpse of socialism.

And as far as the Trident nuclear deterrent is concerned, seeing as it seems to be impossible to share the Atlantic with the French navy perhaps it would be best to close down the programme as it draws to the end of its useful life, and hold England's nuclear strength in some other way. After all, other forms of nuclear investment are to be centred on England.

Enough is enough with Scotland. They want out and so do we. Who cares that it will result in the dismemberment of an authoritarian, unelected, bankrupt regime.

Boys' Toys and Boys' Games

How could two submarines each 'nearly the length of two football pitches and the height of a three-storey building' (Independent) not manage to co-exist in the planet's second largest ocean? Both are equipped with the most advanced detection equipment that is capable, we are told, of distinguishing other objects down to a small fish. So it should have been able to manage to distinguish such a nuclear-armed submarine.

The Independent also notes that nuclear-armed submarines have favourite 'nesting places' where they can rest silently in the ocean while still within range of their putative targets.

Was this a parking dispute? It's certainly not Acacia Avenue and a couple of tired neighbours. Vanguard and Triomphant each carry 16 intercontinental missiles, armed with between six and eight warheads. Triomphant was at the end of a tour of duty when the collision removed its sonar dome. Both navies practise continuous patrols - at least one nuclear-armed submarine is on patrol 365 days a year. It's beginning to look as if the English submarine found someone in its usual place and tried to hurry things along.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Ending Universal Suffrage

Conservative positions in the political opinion polls are consistent. Considered within the context of a general election held at some point between now and June 2010, analysts agree that Brown will lead the Labour party into the next election, and lead it to a much worse defeat than any other Leader. It is argued, too, that internal Labour substitution of yet another prime minister on the strength of Blair's majority would be unacceptable; not least because circumstances are now so remote from those of 2005 that only a general election can offer choice between manifestos.

Yet Blair's assertion that New Labour is nothing less than the political arm of the British people should not be forgotten or dismissed. A central tenet of the New Labour project is that power should remain permanently within the coalition that makes up the Party; that challenges to the policies of the Leader and Executive should be expressed within the Party when policies fail or become too unpopular in the country. It is this position that validated the parachuting of Brown and his faction into the government of the United Kingdom without any consultation by ballot of either Party or country.

It is a mark of the regime holding power in our country that it is impervious to all and any revelation or event confirming the seamless incompetence veined with corruption that is its principle characteristic. Mass unemployment, the collapse of sterling, bank nationalisation preceded by insolvencies, grotesque levels of public and private debt, and individual corrupt practices by members of the legislature and government appointees; the stripping of power from the Parliament and the destruction of the rule of law together with citizens' liberties; illegal wars and torture; the destruction of the education system and of individual self -respect through the imposition of means-tested mass welfare with its accompanying moral hazard and social corrosiveness. Any of this should have brought a government to its knees, and to the polls.

Yet it has not. A major reason it has not is the settled, primary acceptance that there should be no polls in the form that once was used under a Constitution that has been altered whenever New Labour chose, and as grossly as was required for their purposes. The Parliament Acts are quite as vulnerable as habeas corpus (to mention just one of the pieces of constitutional vandalism we have suffered).

The experience of an election can be produced by the choosing of a replacement for Brown, if he can be ousted by other Labour factions. The ousting will, of itself, provide some feeling that necessary change has been effected. The choosing will not be extended to those who do not belong to or support the Party of course. The Labour party rules state that in the event of a Leader becoming permanently unavailable (which offers particularly face-saving ill health) while the Party is in power, then the cabinet will choose a new prime minister to serve until party elections can take place. The Labour party's electoral practice is grossly undemocratic, with its electoral colleges wielding differently weighted votes, quite apart from having a tiny electorate in comparison with the electorate in the country at large. Furthermore constitutional changes within the Party under New Labour have insulated the ruling elite from any pressures coming from the 'mass' Party. Just as we watch the state claw powers from independent institutions to itself, so we are watching the insulated New Labour Executive identify itself with the state and its powers.

The New Labour regime has fifteen months before its last perfidy, the destruction of universal suffrage, must be put into effect, and face the anger this will cause when it is fully understood. It is well prepared. It has instituted all the civil control mechanisms that will be needed and will have the advantage of causing all opposition to be, by definition, illegal. The petty discourtesies persisted in by their current Leader towards the extra-Party opposition, through to the abuses of constitutional practice already taking place in denying information and consultation to Opposition parties, are nasty confirmation that we live in a post-democratic state.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Publish Gordon Brown's Annual Health Check and Medication

'It is U.S. tradition for sitting presidents to make public the results of their annual health exams.' (Wikinews)

Every year the annual health check on the United States president is published. Even minor recommendations are set out. In 2005, for instance, it was suggested that President George W. Bush would benefit from using sunscreen but was otherwise in excellent health, as was attested in great detail.

It is time that Gordon Brown, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, had his most recent health exam published, and all recommended medication set out clearly for the electorate to see, as well as an account of his condition. We know the precise health condition of the President of the United States but for our own prime minister, of whose health and medication there has been considerable and longstanding concern, we are kept in ignorance.

The Transition in Reverse

The economic theory of markets in which markets are competitive, the hayekian notion that markets are based on the division of knowledge, on a need-to-know status, so that there is nobody who has to know everything and plan, holds; markets that are self-regulated in the interests of all contractors who will avoid excesses by disciplining themselves, markets complete in the sense that they span dated commodities over any period, so that if current goods are not bought future goods will be demanded activating their production today, and complete in the sense that future commodities can be traded always, as well as contingent commodities, at different prices according to the state of the world, is a model. All models are invalidated by reality. Though a world of tranquility will avoid the inefficiencies of imperfect competition, the disruptions of uncertainty and risk, expectations that can be wrong or self-fulfilling, the instability of fluctuations and panic, it must be acknowledged that reality rarely conforms to models, or prescriptions based on them.

Current reality in England is unprecedented and cannot be analysed by any standard economic model. Despite comparisons with the great depression of the early 20th century the truth is that no society has been in the condition of bankruptcy of all major financial institutions and near complete unavailability of credit. The current social calm hides the capacity for a great outburst of violence when the numbers of unemployed rise high enough - new unemployed, that is, not those lost client souls who eke out their lives on a modest state income and think it clever.

Hayek's belief that the division of knowledge is as crucial as the division of labour for causing an economy to work without a central role for the state and to underpin democracy is a political and moral assertion, as well as part of the modelling of the economic theory of markets. And the crisis we are living through is a political and moral crisis. Economic and financial breakdown is merely the manifestation of antidemocratic and politically immoral stances effected and driven by the New Labour regime.

Far worse than attempting to shore up debt with more debt in response to the economic and financial manifestations of our collapse, is the pushing of state interference further and further into the arena of market decision-taking and the assertion of the role of the omniscient planner.

We are on a terrible journey back to the past. Not the past of the great Depression of 1929 but the past of centrally planned economies and 'realised socialism' - and not the realised ideals of socialism but the really existing grey horrors of eastern Europe from 1945 to 1989.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Plus One

Attention should be turned on the (usually) women who are beneficiaries of the freebies culture. There is a shamelessness in accepting hospitality, tickets, hotel stays, travel, food and drink and even specially laid on entertainment for accompanying 'wives'.

Often distinction tends to come with age and a travelling companion becomes a necessity. Those expenses must be met. But for all the rest of them, the freeloaders, if they want to go to a conference, dinner, employees' outing of any kind - earn the invitation, give a paper, hold a job that justifies inclusion at the gathering, or pay.

Lying in Whitehall

Riding along in the 24 we could hear a pin-striped loud-mouth to his mobile,

'sorry, sorry - be there soon, I'm in a cab...'

the whole deck turned to remark as one,

'No he's not, he's on the bus!'

The London G 20 Meeting is a Waste of Time

Horribly apparent is the utter inapproprietness of holding the G20 meeting in London on 2 April. What might have been said on the need for a global response to the 2009 Depression was said in Washington last year. There is only one purpose to the London meeting - getting a boost for the Saviour of the World.

Were President Sarkozy an Angel, he would summon the leaders of important economies and financial institutions and host them in Paris (so much lovelier a city in early Spring than London, indeed the City of Light is infinitely more attractive than London always). This would have the enormous advantage of inviting those who matter rather than those who want to, and would be convenient for the next day meetings of NATO without experiencing the infinite pain of getting on and off the United Kingdom mainland. After all, now Banana Boy has started refusing admittance to EU member-state members of parliament (and to Angel's domestic help, grrrr there's enough to do without doing it all myself) who knows who else might be turned back at Heathrow?

It is encouraging that the President of the United States may well not attend. Come on the rest of you, drop Gordon.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

London Transports

Contrary to economic theory umbrellas do not cost any more when it rains than when it is sunny: 5 euros/pounds is clearly the umbrella natural price, although umbrellas are the typical contingent good, whose utility varies with the state of the world.

I confess I bought a pretty pink umbrella lined with pale yellow silk and embroidered with tiny golden stars in the shop opposite the British Museum, which didn't cost that, but after the brownian weather of the last month I would buy a sedan chair if the place offered them. What's with the rickshaws? Sedans are what is needed for London.

Monday, 9 February 2009

A Ragpickers' Economy

This toxic hulk is what is to provide work for the once-proud shipbuilders of the North East. Two hundred of them can risk their health, their lives, and that of their families and neighbours dismantling and disposing of a French decommissioned aircraft carrier.

Not build a new aircraft carrier for the French or, for that matter, the English navy. The French aircraft carrier order has gone to French shipyards, the English aircraft carrier order has been cancelled by New Labour's puppet regime. England could have le dernier cri in aircraft carriers supplied by United States' builders for around 15 billion pounds. But there are banks to be 'bailed out', bonuses to be paid, interests to be satisfied.

It could be seen as a judgement on Hartlepool. After all, their voters actually returned a toxic Mandelson to the House of Commons. Now even a twice-disgraced, ermine-clad sneak has no further use for their industrial skills or even their votes. They are abandoned to pick over Europe's industrial and democratic detritus.

Saturday, 7 February 2009


The scorched earth policy being put into effect by New Labour and their glorious New Leader was recognised from the moment of the defenestration of Blair. It had been going on for years previously with Brown installed permanently at the Treasury, but was masked by Blair's electoral appeal as 'a pretty straight kind of guy' - so very different from the kind of guy next door.

Now Brown has ploughed over the ruins of the City and is sowing the fields with salt.

Friday, 6 February 2009

New Openings for 'British' Workers

The Leader of New Labour and Saviour of the World has a real time opportunity to provide employment for hard-working families during the global downturn that started in America.

In a neat solution to tackling the effects of global warming and at the same time resolving the opposition to rendition and anonymous detention without charge for months or even years on end, salt mines throughout the United Kingdom are to be reopened. Importing salt from mines in the former Soviet Union will be avoided. Those hardworking families who fail to express a high enough level of admiration and support for the Leader and his regime cronies, or engage in actual criticism, can be re-educated and gainfully employed in a tried and tested indigenous environment for the recovery of a correct attitude to the state and its goodness.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Does New Labour Intend to Have German Troops Stationed In England?

The Merkel-Sarkozy joint statement ahead of the Munich Security Conference this weekend raises the United Kingdom regime attitude and intentions towards the establishment of a European security force.

'Security policy must be interpreted in a new and broader way," Merkel and Sarkozy said. They went on to associate the centre piece of Brown's claim to world economic leadership during the depression - a joint approach to installing global financial architecture- to joint security policy. And associated jointly securing energy supplies and a joint approach to population migration with cooperation on military security.

The need for Europe and the US to deepen their cooperation given the new risks they face in the 21st century means:

" joint analysis, decision-taking and implementation. Unilateral steps would contradict the spirit of this partnership. But it also means that we Europeans must speak even more with one voice, which requires a strong measure of discipline from the member states," (quoted in Der Spiegel).

"We must further bundle and increase our capabilities, both civilian and military. The synergy between both is the trademark of European security policy."

German troops are to be stationed on French soil for the first time since the Second war. Could it be that Brown's pursuit of his global vision will see German troops stationed in England too, only he hasn't seen fit to mention that that is part of the price of conceding him the role he yearns for?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The Dishonesty of the BBC, and la Cattedra

The resentful lament that he had to accept contract employment, from a Scottish teacher of English as a foreign language in Milan has received minutes of air time. Presented as a counter- weight to the unpleasant anti Italian feeling being given voice, this whining was wholly unfounded. First, if that man is teaching English it must be said that his accent left a lot to be desired.

More importantly the outrageous pretension to a permanent teaching post in the Italian university to be secured on the basis of his 'qualifications' had to be heard to be believed. Everyone has qualifications - the highest possible qualifications; effectively so many have the highest qualifications it would be best to think of the situation as being that nobody has qualifications. And a post as a university teaching officer is hardly comparable to that of an oil rig worker either.

La cattedra is the object of lifetimes of study, manoeuvres, working for free, cultivation of political and social contacts, and is wholly in the patronage of the baroni - the senior professors who move throughout Italy, and in and out of other major establishments of the Italian state, appointing permanent senior staff.

It is simply dishonest of the BBC to air this man's silly claims on the grounds of whatever diploma he holds as evidence that the Italians discriminate against 'British' workers. Italian universities discriminate against all and anybody who has not fulfilled the real requirements. And Scotsmen who don't understand the world do not fulfil the requirements here any more than they do in London.

Monday, 2 February 2009


What could it cost to have a set of chains for every bus? Easy to store, eternal, non-polluting (unlike salt and grit), absolute guarantee of viability in any weather conditions London might face. Florence buses have chains. They all run when it snows, which is about as often as it snows in London.

Honestly. We must pull ourselves together.

Wild Life in WC1

There were foxes playing in the snow here, in St George's Gardens, late last evening - so pretty, but perhaps we should form the Handel Street Hounds.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Team Work

The trouble over foreign skilled labour has deeper import than just concern about damage to English workers from European regulation or the use of imported labour to undercut wages and conditions.

Skill is about more than an apprenticeship served and work experience gained. There are skills held within the team of workers that belong only to the team, not to the individual worker. The culture of this higher order of skill is very strong in Italy, and is strongly encouraged from earliest school on through post-school professional and technical training, to specific preparation for a range of skilled work undertakings. The team is not concerned with where it works, it will have little interaction with the place where an installation, building, plant, process is being put in place. All of that aspect is dealt with by management - housing, catering, health care, entertainment will be provided at an agreed standard, as will equipment including clothing and all tools, as well as intensive prior training on any special requirements of a particular job. Social interactions, the world of family, friendships, private life arrangements remain at home, as do all the politics and negotiating of terms of work.

Labour is homogenised, packaged, honed and delivered. It cannot be surprising that there are economies both external and of scale that undercut any heterogeneous, undirected, disorganised labour offer, no matter how individually skilled, without any undercutting of local wages and conditions rates.

Labour delivered 'all'Italiana' undermines so many values and practices embodied in labour relations and their interweaving with local life and locally based industry. It also lays bare the irrelevance of much New Labour policy - educational, work and training, and as for social policies - where do you start?