Sunday, 26 March 2023


Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng discussed fees with fake firm

Matt Hancock and Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to work for a fake South Korean company for £10,000 a day, footage from a campaign group appears to show.

It's easy enough to see the attraction. That's far more than they get working for a fake democracy. What made them think they were worth it though?


John Drewry has a fine TCW piece on the destructive canker that is bureaucracy. 

March of the red tape brigade

The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws – Tacitus

I’M always fascinated by how small, non-profit, social enterprises begin – and how they inexorably end up. Take an amateur theatre. A group of enthusiastic thespians get together to put on plays in the village hall or scout hut. Everybody mucks in choosing a play, casting each other, allocating one as a benign, overseeing director, building and painting a kind of set, sewing some costumes together, sourcing the props and furniture. It expands, with new people joining, and before you know it there is specialisation of labour – someone becomes Treasurer, another Secretary, there’s Box Office, Wardrobe, etc. Very soon, those positions acquire their own importance, certainly in the eyes of the occupiers. Politics and territory raise their heads. People fall out and storm out. Administration and attendant bureaucracy have appeared from nowhere and acquired their own reality, even casting into the shadows the original aspiration, which was simply to enjoy putting on plays. Something ‘much more important’ has manifested. Something totally unproductive.

The whole piece is short and well worth reading. It offers a sense of inevitability - this is what we are like, this is what we do when we try to organise ourselves without certain constraints. Yet I'll add one of the comments as another example of how sinister and repressive bureaucracy has become at every level, almost without anyone noticing. 

Pancho the Grey
This sort of thing seems to beset many voluntary groups and end up alienating many of the original members. My experience is a good example.

I joined an ad hoc group of voluntary woodworkers working in the local country park - all retired and amateurs except one guy who had retrained after giving up a high pressure, well paid job in IT.
We had a variety of skills and were familiar with a range of woodworking machines and hand tools. We fixed park furniture, made signs and other artefacts of practical use, and in our slack moments we made items for sale to generate funds for the charity that helped support the park. In almost all cases we used timber from fallen trees in the park. We worked well together, made cases for additional tools or begged and borrowed them from the local community.

Then the local authority realised what we were doing and suddenly the Health & Safety team paid us a visit. We were told there should be proper training for the machinery many of us had been using for years, that risk assessment should be carried out for all the processes we were engaged in and so on. I won't detail it all but I am sure you get the idea.

What had been for me a relaxed experienced dealing with like-mind individuals whose skills we all knew, it was like going back to work. I put up with it for about 6 months and then left to the more conducive surroundings of my own workshop. None or the original team now remains, and I understand that the restrictions have become even more intrusive..

I'm also the kind of person who would just leave in these circumstances. Leaving doesn't achieve anything positive for the group though. It merely becomes more compliant than it was - maybe compliant enough to survive the next bureaucratic assault. It's a form of selection.

A sense of remoteness



While fighting off a recent lurgy which is now subsiding, one idea which flitted though my mind was to imagine what it might be like standing on the surface of Pluto. Perhaps the idea popped into my head because illness does induce a sense of remoteness and Pluto is certainly remote.

The idea isn’t feasible of course - nobody will ever go to Pluto. There are all manner of practical considerations. For example, with all that frozen nitrogen around a chap would obviously need a particularly stout pair of shoes to stave off rampant chilblains. Nike trainers wouldn’t do at all.

Levity aside though, the Pluto idea does offer a hint of something. A tiny, insignificant planet, it would surely offer us a very good sense of the chill reality of ancient, lifeless loneliness. This in turn should remind us that the whole universe is filled with just that - ancient, lifeless loneliness.

The universe may be unimaginably vast and majestic, but maybe out there on the edge of the solar system, Pluto would remind us of something else – a familiar question. What is it all for? It could also lead us to a not unfamiliar answer. Nothing - it has no purpose.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

It's your duty - process the doom

Climate change: Why we struggle to process the doom

There are many different ways to respond to this week's report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, fear being one of them

How do we react to these kinds of statements?

"Humanity is on thin ice and that ice is melting fast."

"The world has suffered greatly from ongoing climate change."

"More poor people die. In every heatwave that we have, thousands of people die."

All said about climate change by people who really know their stuff in response to this week's report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It's the message of our times - believe, believe, believe. You have no right to doubt, analyse or reject. You are the little people and your role is to believe. If you don't then there is something wrong with you.

The underlying message is so clear it is almost surprising that more people are not offended by it. Or maybe it isn't surprising.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Thursday, 23 March 2023

What kind of person do you think I am?

Asks Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe


Boris Johnson says No 10 leaving do was 'absolutely essential for work purposes'

The former prime minister faced nearly three hours of questions from a cross-party group of MPs investigating whether he misled parliament by denying he failed to follow COVID rules during events at Downing Street.

The concocted tedium of the Boris Johnson party saga is surely a reminder that the establishment will not tolerate unpredictable leaders. That is to say, any leader liable to do something popular but not in accordance with establishment wishes. 

Even though he is no longer Prime Minister, a potential loose canon such as Johnson is still pursued relentlessly and it doesn't matter how trivial the accusations are, nor even how accurate. We saw much the same thing with Donald Trump on a bigger and even more relentlessly fabricated scale. 

Presumably Liz Truss had been identified as potentially unpredictable before she became Prime Minister. Rishi Sunak seems highly predictable, possibly more so than Keir Starmer.