Getting the band back together

Overheard in a pub last week:
“Mate, how’s it going? It’s been years!  You remember the old days, you old rocker?”
“Great days!”
“Great days! But we need you, man; it’s been all gone wrong since you left the band”
“Hey, that was another life – things move on, you know? My rocking days are behind me – I’ve got a sweet house in the Cotswolds.  I can feel what freedom is like – not bundled up in a hot, sweaty room waiting to go on against hostile crowds. It’s better here, with a wife and the children…”
“Yeah – how’s Sam these days?”
“Keeping well. Her sister often comes by to see if she can pick up any hot gossip”
“Is she with the NME?”
“Something like that, yeah.”
“D’you remember when we were first bursting on the scene? There was that time I saw you off your head in the flat singing ‘Gordon is a Moron‘…”
“He was – and you’re copying all his moves!”
“Great days”
“Great days”
“We’re getting the band back together, Dave – one last tour, and it’ll be epic!  We need you as our front man. You’re the face they want to see. On the international ours, you’re the one they know and they want you, Dave.”
“Great days! But I had to go when the rest of you didn’t want me, after that last international your, when, you know…”
“What? You walked out on us!  You said you’d stay on however the results went, but then you whistled a little tune and were gone!”
“You got that clown in the replace me. What happened to him? And those two girls – I don’t remember their names.”
“Me neither. Yeah, we got the joker in and the fans loved him – we got our best returns ever. Then he turned out to be just another waster: wild when we needed him to be serious and sombre when we needed him wild, and he never kept the roadies in check so the roadies ended up running us, and running us into the ground.”
“I told you – didn’t I tell you? To keep it going you need the press to love you.”
“They stopped loving the joker soon enough. One of his discarded wives has become a scribbler herself.”
“With the NME?”
“With the enemy, yeah. Don’t you miss it though, Dave?  The lights, the tours, the wildness? Just one more tour, one more and we’re all done. Even if the home fans are gone, the foreign fans love you  – for them you are the face of the band and you’re the one they want to see up front.  Come on, Dave – one more, and this time next year we’ll have gone out in a blaze and no one will hear from us again.”
“OK, Rishi:  do I get the use of Chevening?”


All said, and none done

When it comes to it, the speech came; as speeches go, it went. Brave speeches can inspire, and many appear in history books – but if their promises are proven false by reality, they have only notoriety.

After 13 years, there is a great deal about which Conservatives can boast achievement, but promising bold action on government failure rings hollow after so much missed opportunity.  The nation has never felt a drop of that Hard Rain.

If the media, or the nation, were expecting a rip-roaring performance f the sort that Boris gives, they were looking at the wrong man:  Rishi Sunak exudes smiling competence, but not excitement. Every man must play to his strengths. A last leader’s speech before an election is meant to be expansive and visionary – but the man was wrong for it, and the vision is long since faded. That is a cause of regret; deep regret. There was so much that could have been achieved in these past years since Boris’s spellbinding triumph in 2019, but all has faded.

Thirteen years and a fallacy: the narrative (into which I also fall) is that Conservatives have led the government for 13 years, and at this moment it looks as if there is little to show for it. That is not true though. Under David Cameron much was transformed.  Government finances were moving to stability, even to eliminating the deficit, and taxes were inching down. The economy recovered to better condition than ever before and Britain was at effectively full employment, which was unheard of before. Then our attention was distracted by Brexit – but the dire warnings were proven false. Then came the lockdown, and the war. The finances went out of the window, the economy was driven into a politically created recession, as bad in its time as the predictions the Remainiacs frightened us with in their visions. And here we stand.

It has not been 13 wasted years, but four systematically wrecked years. Voters do not have long memories, and we judge by how empty our pockets are.

Now Rishi stands up and says that he will change the system that has held back change for thirty years. It is hard to take him seriously:  why has it not been done long since?  And what is this change?  Dominic Cummings promised one, and turned everyone around him against him, until he was forced out swearing Lear-like vengeance.

This time though, the thirty years of a ‘political system that incentivises the easy decision, not the right one‘ and ‘rhetorical ambition which achieves little more than a short-term headline.‘, and he says he will say how to break it. Yet he did not: not even a hint.

There are things that can be done, no doubt.  I have suggested several on this blog over the years. It is hard to have confidence in seeing that Hard Rain when the heaven over our head is like brass and the earth under us like iron.

There may be good intention in Westminster, but commands from on he dry up by the time they come to those who are tasked with putting them into effect. That may have to be the subject of an article soon. Then again, is there really good will in Westminster, when the Prime Minister himself declares from the podium what we all know, that a man is a man and a woman is a woman, but civil servants are sacked and cowed into silence for saying the same, and guidance still goes out form the highest level denying it?

It will take a great deal of action, committed with courage, with no looking back, and with exceptional achievement, to turn the voters, and in less than a year, that is improbable.

Rishi is a nice man, well meaning and with one of the best brains in the House, but without action, all this is nothing. “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”

See also


Artifice of intelligence

It makes no sense for a machine to think, but then is there any sense in animals thinking, or people? We have dreamed of thinking machines in every sci-fi novel, and while entrepreneurs think of a machine to spare the labour of thousands, the public thinks of HAL and SkyNet.

The field is inexplicable to most of us, entirely reliant on the inconceivable speeds of modern computers, but also reliant on the craft of the programmer. Even getting an arrow to bounce around a square takes a large number of options and alternatives, arranged carefully in the right order, because a computer cannot think to reason about what is expected in various circumstances-  it has to be told every step. At least, that has been the usual understanding of computers. The idea behind artificial intelligence is to produce a fuzzy logic, in the right place. However it is done, it is being done and it is not a future possibility – it used now.

From a political view the issue that has been discussed is regulation, and it has been said that Britain can be a leader in that filed. The idea of heavy-footed government imposing regulations on a field it does not understand, written by civil servants barely out of the typewriter age, trying to constrain a technology to limits it has already far exceeded, should fill entrepreneurs with dread, or would do were it not simply possible to flit abroad Britain can indeed lead, by not regulating. Things like fixing criminal responsibility on an individual if a machine kills or steals can be looked at, but Luddism has no place in the counsels of the state.

The imminent issue though it how artificial intelligence systems will skew the distribution of information.  Artificial intelligence systems now read across the internet to gain information and ‘insight’ into how to respond: but most of the internet is dangerous nonsense.  For conservatives, this is a major problem, because political ideas will be redoubled by systems which select what we see. As these are continually skewed by online radicals and promoters of ludicrous theories like socialists and flat-earthers then the information matrix goes with them.

A simple example is the clickbait that appears whenever the internet is opened, seeking shock headlines just to grab the viewer, with no moral obligation. The opinion shift against Brexit has been driven by this sort of headline (and of course by the major recession caused by lockdown, and by failure to embrace Brexit opportunities, but those are for other articles).

I would feel better if there were a way to flood the internet with the learning of Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke and Roger Scruton. Without it, only a Hobbesian ‘Madnesse’ can dominate the online world, and the imaginations of voters.

This then should be a conservative goal: teach the internet common sense and reality.

See also


No, and neither did she

And what is more, neither did either one believe of the other. What a forest fools social media is, even amongst very intelligent people. Katharine Birbalsingh did not excuse domestic violence, and Jess Phillips MP did not racially abuse Katharine Birbalsingh, and and Jess Phillips knows it, and Katharine Birbalsingh knows it. The Twitter mob, well, they did sink into racial abuse.

One must excuse sensitivity on Mrs Birbalsingh’s part: she has to put up with frequent abuse because of her race – much of it Mrs Phillips’s party. Much of the Labour Party feel that they own all black people and will strike out against one so uppity as to slip their bonds. The irony is not lost on the rest of us. One can also excuse Jess Phillips to some extent – she is one of the vaguely sensible ones, though not so sensible as to realise she may be wearing the wrong coloured rosette – and she needs excuses to get her name in the paper.  In this case it was grabbing a poor excuse to talk about a serious issue.

Both of these ladies are hard-working, honest souls with a desire to serve the public, and one of them has succeeded beyond the most fervent dreams of any of us, while the other sits in Parliament. They agree on most things. They both execrate domestic violence and mistreatment of anyone on racial grounds, and yet the social media forum whips up the angry mob. It is a terrible place, as I have written and will without a doubt write again. For now, there is no more to be said.

See also

Boris Bounced

What’s that Skippy? A judgment from the House of Commons Privileges Committee?

Outback in Westminster a strange court assembles, attended by hopping marsupials. Stern they are on the bench, carefully chosen impartially from across a spectrum of political opinion – Tories who hate Boris, Socialists who hate Boris and a Snoopy, who hate everyone but themselves.

‘Bonzer turn-out, guys. Now, let’s get on with what we’re fer – to chuck Boris out o’ the House. Now, before we get on with sentencing the politically deceased, I mean the accused, how to do we this?  Eh, Bernard, didn’t your mate write a trial scene for the telly we could copy for all due and proper procedure?  If it’s good enough for General Melchett, it’ll do for me.

I tweeted the result a month ago, so we just have to fill in the bumph to make it look as if we thought about it.

I must remind you of the seriousness of our proceedings: that this is not a court of law – that would require boring evidence. No, this is a court of politics, and we know our duty, to whack a smug bastard the way the public demands for what they imagine he’s done.

Let’s face it the facts wouldn’t convict Boris of so much as farting in a bar.

So, first up, who here on the blue team expects to get re-elected next year? Carter, Costa, Walker – you’re all out, so you  you’ve no need to worry about being deselected, and need something to your names to make a mark on an otherwise pointless career. What’s that in your hand, Walker?  A note from Boris by the look – καὶ σύ, τέκνον: dunno what it means, but stick another month on the ban as a result.

Here comes Skippy with the Report in her pouch. I took the lib’ of writing it for you, so just add your names.

Strewth Jenkin – put yer didgeridoo away, mate! We know yer career’s over so knife the boss good ‘n proper will yer? While yer here though, tell us what would have happened in Number 10, from your experience of lockdown parties. That wild, eh?

Boris wants to put in a defence?  It’s a bit late, mate. It’s all irrelevant anyway:  we are not interested in what happened – just in what the news headlines said had happened.

So, while he’s talking, let’s vote on the ban.  I’ll start the bidding at 10 days – do I hear 20? I have 20, do I hear 40?…