Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tories losing their marbles.....

In 1948, the Genocide Convention was signed in Paris, committing signatories to preventing acts of genocide. During the 1990s, eager to avoid the commitment of preventing acts of genocide in Yugoslavia and then Rwanda, the traditional do-gooders of the international community began using the non-legally-binding expression 'ethnic cleansing', in order to describe thousands of people being murdered on the basis of their racial background.

Despite 'cleansing' being a process performed ordinarily on colons rather than ethnic groups, the term somehow seemed to stick, and Boris Johnson, the charismatic London mayor easily-confused with a pillock, this week suggested that Tory plans to reduce housing benefits would prompt a "Kosovo-style social-cleansing" of central London, leaving poor people unable to afford their rent. The fact that rents might be so high in the first instance is of lesser concern to Johnson, as is the morality of taxpayer's money paying the mortgages of private landlords. Be that as it may, the somewhat extreme Kosovo analogy has drawn stark reproach from Prime Minister, David Cameron, whilst Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced that the comparison was "deeply insensitive to those who have witnessed ethnic cleansing." Clegg is thought to have been so outspoken about ethnic cleansing having been assured that the coalition government has no existing plans to undertake any acts of ethnic cleansing. Clegg now begins an anxious wait, hoping not to be called-upon to explain why ethnic-cleansing always seemed like a horrendous prospect, but is in fact the only means with which to deal with the realities of being in government.

Given this appetite for the drawing of brusque comparisons, Johnson might perhaps wish to reconsider the appointment of his long-standing friend, Veronica Wadley, as chair of the London Arts Council. With her artistic credentials no more than working as editor to Vogue magazine and the Evening Standard, Wadley's qualification for the job was questioned by members of the selection panel, who also raised the point that Johnson's interventions on Wadley's behalf were in breach of rules on political interference in appointments. All to no avail, Wadley was appointed in June to the £6500/30-day a year position, and Boris Johnson, evidently brushing-up on his history at present, might want to reflect on Hitler's appointment of his friend, Joseph Goebbels, to oversee artwork in Nazi Germany.

In other news... with the Tory party so riled by Johnson's Kosovo hyperbole, it went entirely unnoticed that former Tory MP, Norman Tebitt, this week suggested that an increase in British contributions to the European Union budget would constitute a "Vichy-style" capitulation. In 1940, after the German defeat of the French army, the Vichy regime of Philippe Petain entered into collaboration with the German Nazi party. The relationship saw the opening of internment camps in which Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and other undesirables were kept for transit to concentration camps in Germany, the relationship saw French soldiers and gendarmerie round-up such undesirables for despatch to Auschwitz, the relationship saw foreigners forced to work on Nazi labour projects. The proposed increase to the EU budget is 0000000002.9%.

Enough of all these Nazis and doom-harbinging however, in lighter news, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith, this week advised that unemployed people ought "get on a bus" and go looking for work. The suggestion marks a turnaround from Duncan Smith's position in May, when he stated, on joining the cabinet, that: "I am here because I want this to be the most reforming government on benefits for a generation. I think we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity". His rediscovered conservatism is particularly quaint for its similarity to Tory advice from 1981, when Norman Tebitt famously suggested that the unemployed should "get on their bike and look for work". In a prediction of things to come, I foresee the 2038 secretary for work and pensions, also an Oxford graduate, urging the unemployed to "get on their spaceships and look for work".

Human history is nothing but the invention of new technology.

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