Saturday, 4 December 2021

There is a point to not doing this

All cats in UK will have to be microchipped under new rules

The government is set to introduce new rules saying that all pet cats in the UK must be microchipped by the time they are 20 weeks old - the equivalent of five months.

It will mean lost or stray pet cats are more likely to be reunited with their owners and returned home safely.

The change comes after a people were invited to give evidence and discuss the matter, with 99% of people giving their support for the measure.

Owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or could face a fine of up to £500.

As ever it seems curmudgeonly and obstructive to criticise such a move, but there is a point to not doing it. At some point official interference in daily life may reach some kind of limit where the ability to adapt comes to an end. Some would say we are well on the way to reaching that point now.

It may also seem curmudgeonly and obstructive to suggest that it won't stop with cats. Yet whatever the next step may be, there will be a next step. This is how bureaucracies operate.

Friday, 3 December 2021

Density is no excuse

An inescapable aspect of working life is that some people can be both professionally successful and remarkably dim. To my mind, this piece by Oliver Kamm makes the point very well. It concerns Labour MP Richard Burgon.

Among the trivia of modern politics is that, since its recreation in 1955, the constituency of Leeds East has had only three MPs, all Labour. I find it a pleasing antisymmetry that the first was Denis Healey, who possessed one of the most formidable intellects in British public life, whereas the seat is currently held by Richard Burgon, who does not.

We all make mistakes, and it’s forgivable that the list of Burgon’s gaffes is very long indeed. He famously urged people to turn up to a rally he was speaking at in Port Glasgow, only to inadvertently reveal that he believed this historic town, which he’d omitted to look up on Wikipedia, was the same place as Glasgow. Making what he thought was a decisive critique of New Labour on Question Time in 2019, he declared “I’m fully aware that Tony Blair was Prime Minister between 1997 and 2010”, which is not entirely true...

Kamm moves on to Burgon's equivocation about Chinese treatment of the Uighur Muslim population of Xinjiang

Yet even knowing all this, I had till this week overestimated Burgon’s intelligence, as I’d looked merely at the evidence of his capabilities rather than anything deeper. On an LBC discussion yesterday, he was asked six times whether he believed the Chinese communist regime had committed genocide against the Uighur Muslim population of Xinjiang. Burgon’s response was that ‘there’s things that the government of the United States has done historically that we profoundly disagree with’, and spoke of Hiroshima. His response was worse than evasive. It was abhorrent.

And yet -

This sort of activity has nothing to do with progressive politics. As a longstanding Labour voter, I hope that Burgon will suffer ostracism for his comments. I don’t think he’s a bad man, but as well as raw intelligence he lacks imagination, curiosity and simple human empathy. Density is no excuse for indecency.

Look on with dismay

Tory culture wars have made UK less safe for gay people, says Chris Bryant

Speaking to Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking, produced by the BBC, Bryant said that while he did not believe Boris Johnson was personally homophobic, attempts to stir social divisions inevitably meant people from minority groups would be targeted.

“They’ve learned this trick in America from Trump and, in the end, culture wars will always pick on those who are slightly different and that means the gays, the Jews and the blacks and that’s always the list that crops up whenever a populist government gets into power,” Bryant argued.

So often political obsessives appear to speak without listening to their own words. Of course the political game is a culture war. Bryant's party never plays it any other way - wouldn't know how. Anyone looking for rational discourse must look on with dismay at such witless nonsense. I'm surprised the BBC... I'm not.

Massive Change


As we know, much like Windows and Tesla cars, our language undergoes frequent upgrades. As we see from the above headline, the meaning of the word ‘massive’ has recently been upgraded to include ‘disappointing’ as one of its definitions.

On seeing this relatively new upgrade, many people are bound to wonder if their own language is up to date and if they should download the latest version. A quick test is the latest language entry for words such as ‘integrity’.


Obs noun. Scheduled for cancellation.

If you are aware of any other meaning for the word ‘integrity’ then you are using an obsolete language version and may wish to consider upgrading.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Reshuffle Reminder

CapX has a short piece on Keir Starmer's recent reshuffle. It's yet another reminder of how little talent there is in the Labour party. It would surely count as political progress if the party were to fall apart.

Is Labour’s new look Shadow Cabinet a government-in-waiting or a misjudged attempt to appear relevant?

On a first pass, it certainly seems more likely to be the latter...

The left loves talking about ‘institutional’ and ‘structural’ problems, but few are as intractable as the lack of talent on Labour’s benches at the moment. That is both cause and consequence of the party’s humbling at the 2019 election: put simply, there are only so many MPs Starmer can pick from. Still, in holding fast to the likes of Lammy and the white van man’s bĂȘte noire, Emily Thornberry, he gives the impression of a stroppy teenager who refuses to accept the assignment at hand because it isn’t the one they wanted.

Not a pleasant task, but every now and then it is worth reminding ourselves how ghastly the Labour party is. Whatever else Boris may be, he has not fallen as low as this lot. 

Absolutely Not


To my cynical eye, too many charities are more akin to woke businesses than charities. It's a pity because we've donated to charities and also raised money for them in the past, such as standing outside supermarkets with collecting tins. We wouldn't do it now.

Wednesday, 1 December 2021


Palladium has a longish but interesting piece on liberal education written by Ash Milton and Stephen Pimentel. 

In February of 1869, Charles Eliot began the final overthrow of old Harvard. That was the month he published the first of a two-part rallying cry in the pages of The Atlantic. It was the culmination of years of work, including a tour across Europe’s most prestigious educational institutions, a venture on which he had staked his inheritance. In his articles, Eliot laid out the battle plan to transform America’s elite universities from custodians of a traditional curriculum steeped in the classical languages to institutions ready to create the next generation of American scientists, industrialists, and professionals...

The triumph of Eliot’s ideas was only possible because of the much broader, societal revolution that had already begun to change the values and goals of America’s national elites. What gets taught at universities and schools will directly impact a society’s power structure. Because of this, elites who participate in governance tend to favor the intellectual fashions that preserve the interests of those in power. These ideas in turn come to dominate and shape institutions of higher education. In other words, there is always a feedback loop connecting power and education, in both good and bad regimes.We aren’t yet in the period of great reforms. The feedback loop still holds: applied history will only inform higher education when it also informs a new regime. But now is the time for private networks and seed institutions. Under these circumstances, it is Petrarch’s impulse that should inspire those who exit the universities and look for a different regimen by which to cultivate their souls.

This creates something of a paradox. While there are valid critiques of America’s elite educational institutions, the feedback loop between power and education means these institutions can never lead any useful reforms of education. After all, who would implement the reforms?

It is well worth reading the whole piece. It left this reader with a degree of optimism in spite of our current swamp of woke insanity. Perhaps it is worth plugging away at the absurdities. Perhaps it does plant seeds.

We aren’t yet in the period of great reforms. The feedback loop still holds: applied history will only inform higher education when it also informs a new regime. But now is the time for private networks and seed institutions. Under these circumstances, it is Petrarch’s impulse that should inspire those who exit the universities and look for a different regimen by which to cultivate their souls.