The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

22 January
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Why Nigel Farage And UKIP Are Making The UK’s Political And Media Elite Rather Uncomfortable

farage

UKIP’s leader Nigel Farage has a letter box mouth, eyes that look as if they will pop out on stalks at any moment and a face that seems to pull in different directions on the cusp of every grin. When he speaks he sounds very much like an on course bookmaker shouting the odds. His views are disdained by the media elite and the political class and you are unlikely to find him at any North London dinner party. He is a PR consultant’s nightmare….

….and yet he and the party he leads, long dismissed as a collection of nutcases, fruitloops and pub bores is edging near to 20% in opinion polls. When he appears on BBC Question Time, for years the graveyard of right wing pundits thanks to its chattering class chairman and an audience carefully selected to skew leftwards, he always goes down well. He also proves more than a match for the great and the good on the panel who discover much to their chagrin, that he is remarkably articulate and skilful in debate.

It’s not so much his euro sceptic views that win him support (though that must never be dismissed as a factor) but his very lack of smoothness, his everyman persona that immediately detaches him from our ruling class, the wealthy, soft figures like Cameron, Milliband and Clegg who have never really had long term experience of work outside politics and who began their rise to the top three quarters of the way up the ladder thanks to influential families and friends.

It is these characters and their cheerleaders in the media who paint Farage and his party as buffoons who could never be trusted to make tough decisions and run the country in an effective and efficient manner – as if their years of governing have not been years of failure consisting mainly of short term, short sighted and flashy “initiatives” threaded with lies and undelivered (and often undeliverable) promises.

Farage is an outsider, he is not of the political class and is not constrained by the conventions of that class. Have a look at this video – unlike many featuring Farage it is not a two minute sound bite designed to make public impact. Forget the cartoony face and the odd diction – just concentrate on what he is saying and then ask yourself if this man is speaking for you rather than speaking at you.

You might be surprised at your reaction.

This man may be political gold.

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16 February
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Enoch Powell – The Greatest Prime Minister The UK Never Had…

The sad news about the death of Ray Honeyford, a brilliant head teacher whose career was broken in 1985 by the zealots of multiculturalism is made more poignant by the fact that subsequent events have proved him right. As head of a school with a largely Asian intake he warned against the dangers of multiculturalism which, during the 70s and 80s was the official policy of the educational establishment, aided and abetted by the great and the good of the media, the political elite and the lords of academe.

According to this policy, ethnic minority children were encouraged to cling on to their cultures, customs, even languages, while the concept of a shared British identity was treated with contempt. Honeyford thought this approach was deeply damaging.
He feared that it promoted division, hindered integration and undermined pupils’ opportunities to succeed in wider British society.

He was subjected to a campaign of unrelenting vilification from the liberal left and the race relations industry and was given up as a sacrificial lamb by his terrified employers with little, if any, support from the Thatcher government.

….and it made me think of Enoch Powell….

Enoch Powell was a brilliant academic (Professor of Ancient Greek at age 25) and also a combative conservative politician who possessed the remarkable gift (extremely rare amonst UK conservatives) of being able to connect with the man or woman in the street.

His views on immigration and the EU struck a chord that resonated with the majority of British people at a time when those same opinions were deemed unacceptable by the cultural elite that dominated – and continues to dominate – politics, the media and academe. As a result he was ostracised and ignored by the establishment and remained a political outsider from the late 60s onward.

Though popular with everyday folk he never deliberately courted popularity. Indeed some of his views (he was opposed to capital punishment) went against the grain of public opinion. But this independence of mind merely served to endear him even further with the public. There was always the feeling that with Powell you had a politician who was totally honest, never self serving and always ready to tell you the truth however unwilling were your ears to receive it.

Naturally he was given the cold shoulder, not just by the left but also by many of his Conservative Party colleagues who wanted a quiet life free from the strictures of the BBC and the UK Guardian.

Naturally all his warnings about the impact of uncontrolled immigration, European integration and lax fiscal policy have come to pass….

For a taster one clip and two quotes

Powell on the race card

Powell on “Western guilt”

We are told that the economic achievement of the Western countries has been at the expense of the rest of the world and has impoverished them, so that what are called the ‘developed’ countries owe a duty to hand over tax-produced ‘aid’ to the governments of the undeveloped countries. It is nonsense—manifest, arrant nonsense; but it is nonsense with which the people of the Western countries, clergy and laity, but clergy especially—have been so deluged and saturated that in the end they feel ashamed of what the brains and energy of Western mankind have done, and sink on their knees to apologise for being civilised and ask to be insulted and humiliated.

Powell on “Europe”

We are taunted—by the French, by the Italians, by the Spaniards—for refusing to worship at the shrine of a common government superimposed upon them all… where were the European unity merchants in 1940? I will tell you. They were either writhing under a hideous oppression or they were aiding and abetting that oppression. Lucky for Europe that Britain was alone in 1940.

Finally a must-read….Simon Heffer’s magisterial biography of Powell….

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03 October
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Peace and Tranquility – Pictures of an English Garden…

…if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden…

These days on the cusp between September and October have been gloriously sunny and warm so it seemed appropriate for us to take a wander around nearby Sheffield Park. With grassy slopes, peaceful lakes and sweeping trees it’s a fitting memorial to the genius of Lancelot “Capability” Brown who originally laid it out 250 years ago.

Brown and other pioneers of English 18th century garden design rejected the formal, geometric patterns of the French tradition, exemplified by Versailles. Instead they endeavoured to create an ideal landscape reflecting the English countryside.

Rolling lawns, clumps of trees, all outlined against the sky and mirrored by the waters of lakes and pools, each one edged with paths and crossed by elegantly sculptured bridges….

Brown likened his work to that of the poet..”Here I put a comma, there, when it’s necessary to cut the view, I put a parenthesis; there I end it with a period and start on another theme.”

One key point to remember is that this could never be “instant” gardening….it had to be a vision that might take as long as fifty years to reach its final flourish.

He that plants trees loves others beside himself

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in

Over the years subsequent generations have developed the garden in sympathy with Brown’s vision. On one edge is a path leading upwards….

….to a cricket pitch, laid out by a nineteenth century owner. Still the venue for rural enthusiasts to strive for local glory it also has an important place in the history of England’s cricketing annals for hosting one of the earliest matches between England and Australia in 1884.

The photographer photographed….by my Blackberry…

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19 August
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Moral Panics? At The BBC It’s What We Do…..

Obviously over the last few days the great and the good at the BBC have become rather unsettled as control over the urban mob violence and looting narrative began slipping through their fingers.

Shocked by the tsunami of contempt that hit them when they tried to frame the discussion in terms of “protestors”, poverty and/or race the Beeboids and their allies in the left wing media/academic cultural elite have been desperately searching for a way of regaining control of the issue by shifting the parameters of the debate.

The initial attempt was laughably unsubtle. Making much of a bevy of leading police officers, spearheaded by ACPOs big cheese Sir Hugh Orde, the aim was to portray the Cameron government as being out of touch. “Leave it to the boys in blue” became the watchword.

Unfortunately the evidence of a lack of leadership and control from the higher echelons at the Met over the first 2/3 days of mob rule in parts of London was so overwhelming that the utterances of Orde and Co. had a very hollow ring.

But, as David Vance at Biased BBC noted yesterday, a new editorial line had been adopted by the BBC suits and programmed into the robotic Sarah Montague as she fed the appropriate cues to the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald, over sentences handed out to looters. Naturally he came back with the appropriate response – “a collective loss of proportion” This triggered Sarah’s circuitry and produced the key phrase we shall be hearing over and over again at this weekend’s North London dinner parties.

Moral panic.

It’s all out of proportion, you see. There’s no real threat but a lot of opportunists have jumped on this bandwagon to further their own political agenda.

Moral panics allegedly arise when an event is perceived as a threat to society and its values. Those who foment the panic are said to be motivated by a fear of losing control. They therefore attempt to channel potentially disruptive energy by portraying another person or group – “folk devils” – as more of a danger than they actually are. So the Sarah Montague/BBC line appears to be that Cameron is using the riots as an opportunity to demonise the disenfranchised and divert attention from his austerity drive and, strangely enough, that was the angle recently taken by The New York Times…..surprise, surprise….

Heavy stuff, indeed…

But wait a minute – “no real threat but a bandwagon to further an agenda”……”folk devils”…..that seems to ring a bell….

Rupert Murdoch, Anders Breivik, bankers, EDL, AGW deniers, Israelis – now there is a collection of folk devils for you, always presented as the symbols of dark forces ever ready to take us back to some Thatcherite nightmare away from sweetness and light.

Moral panics? At the BBC it’s what we do…..

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31 May
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How To Cut A Self Important And Intrusive Interviewer Down To Size Politely But Firmly……

Clement Attlee was the the leader of the British Labour Party 1935-55, served as Winston Churchill’s deputy in the WW2 Coalition and led the Labour government of 1945-51. A lawyer, he volunteered for the British army immediately war broke out in 1914 and saw action in Turkey, Iraq and France.

He was a man of few words and had little time for the media.

Just before the 1951 election he was badgered by a radio interviewer as he was on his way to a meeting

Interviewer: On what will Labour take its stand?

Attlee: Well, that’s what we shall be announcing shortly.

Interviewer: What are your immediate plans Mr Attlee?

Attlee: My immediate plans are to go down to a committee to decide on just that thing as soon as I can get away from here.


Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the coming election?

Attlee: No.

…and he walked away.

If only modern politicians were as terse – and honest….

Exit question – is Sarah Palin is doing a Clem Attlee on the US media but from a different side of the field?

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27 May
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In The Buttercup Field We Wanted Time To Stand Still

We did a circular 5 mile walk from The Parrot Inn, Forest Green. On the return leg we walked out of a wood and came to the Buttercup Field.

It was one of those moments when you just wanted time to stand still. The peaceful tranquillity of the place drained away each ounce of stress, calmed every nerve.

We wanted to be there forever…

But of course you can never stop the clock so eventually we moved on but not until The Lovely Mrs P had captured the scene on her Blackberry.

Then, back at the pub we raised our glasses and toasted the Buttercup Field with a pint of Hobgoblin

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26 May
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Obama In The UK – He Came, He Saw, He Blundered….

Your President has come and gone. His State visit is over. Naturally the UK media went out of its way to be positive because
1. In 2008 they took their cue from your MSM and accepted the myth without expending any effort on shoe leather so it would be embarrassing to ‘fess up
2. He is a left wing politician and therefore our media and academic elite keep any criticism muted
3. Generally, like you Americans, though we find foreigners a little odd, we are polite to them

State visits are peculiar creatures because, unlike the day to day give, take and insult of raw international politics they are also heavy with symbolism – flags, banquets, parades and visits to the host nation’s icons.

When I was a callow youth I sneered at symbols as empty gewgaws designed to hypnotise the ignorant, like the cheap coloured beads offered to primitive tribal chieftains in the 19th century for a thousand square miles of arid landscape packed with enough mineral wealth to create a hundred western millionaires.

But as I grew through the stages of life and began to learn from experience rather than through text books I realised that symbols were emotional shorthand for a common cultural inheritance that stretches back to ancestors long unknown. It made me also realise that we as individuals can only be short term leaseholders of that inheritance which we must inevitably pass on to generations yet unborn.

So we treat them with respect.

And we treat the symbols of our friends with respect.

And before we venture into a friendly foreign land we do a little homework on those symbols – especially if we hold an office in our own country with its own symbolic constellation. Indeed most leaders of nations have diplomatic advisers and heads of protocol waiting on hand to guide them through what can be a an intimidating maze of expectations.

President Obama failed that test when he attended the banquet given in his honour by our Queen. He stumbled over the toast, did not even attempt to pretend he wasn’t using a cue card and had to be instructed in good manners by his hostess

Earlier that day he visited Westminster Abbey where England’s kings and queens have always been crowned and where, just a few weeks ago, millions throughout the world had witnessed the strange mixture of solemnity and joy that characterised the royal wedding. Here also lies the tomb of The Unknown Warrior, the First World War soldier who represents the sacrifice of all those other British service men and women who have no known resting place and on whose grave was placed Kate Middleton’s wedding posy after the pomp and ceremony of her marriage.

Mrs Obama, who had changed her outfit to a purple dress and blue coat, said: “It’s a pleasure to be here again”, to which her husband added: “She gets to come to all the fun places”, then “so nice to see you, how are you?”

He was there to lay a wreath on the Unknown Warrior’s grave. It is not a fun place. It is a place of dark and brooding majesty, a place where hard men are proud to shed tears of respect and remembrance for those who gave their blood and bone so that we may live outside war and terror.

He was then asked to sign the Abbey’s Visitors Book, a simple but meaningful act of symbolic recognition. He had to seek advice for the date and then got the year wrong.

But maybe the 2008 gaffe is understandable seeing that he already appears to be in full campaign mode. Perhaps he felt that Congressman Clyburn would be more impressed by a visit to a multi ethnic school in South London rather than meeting up with the brightest and best of Britain’s young scientists. After all we are contantly being told that Obama has a towering intellect – so what can he learn from a handful of test tube shakers….

Excused as “slips” these blunders appear to be manifestations of his real world view. That traditions and symbols and threads towards the past are the cobwebbed residue of meaningless images irrelevant to the vision of a socially engineered reconstruction of society where there is a place for everyone and everyone is in their place and woe betide any village Hampden who refuses to conform.

As for protocol – I guess the only protocol needed for any young politician on the make in Chicago at the turn of the century was to find the most suitable part of Mayor Daley’s posterior to kiss in order to get further up the ladder.

A sad day for both our lands.

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14 May
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Indiana Supreme Court Saying Magna Carta Isn’t Fit For Purpose About Freedom?

Bruce McQuain at Hot Air posted an eloquent and powerful deconstruction of a recent decision of the Indiana Supreme Court

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
The author of the story reporting this is right – somehow the ISC managed, in one fell swoop, to overturn almost 900 years of precedent, going back to the Magna Carta.
In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry. [emphasis mine]

Although Magna Carta (1215) did not stop subsequent medieval kings of England from sometimes acting in a coercive way it was important in that, for the first time, an English king signed a document publicly recognising that his powers were limited by the law.
Of course the barons and prelates who gathered on Runnymede to force King John to sign were mindful of their own privileges and had little concern for the ordinary folk. Nevertheless, from the 16th century, as the position of the commons in parliament became more influential, the rights enshrined in Magna Carta began to have greater resonance. By the time of the early 17th century, in the decades leading up to the English Civil War between King and Parliament the document had assumed a degree of symbolic significance far beyond the original intentions of the baronial clique that had authored it.

Most of the original clauses no longer remain statute law, having been replaced or updated as an adaption to changing circumstances but three clauses still remain as statutes, including this, probably one of the most stirring and majestic proclamations of freedom of all time – not because it burns with fierce oratory but it’s plain matter of fact bluntness in setting out the boundaries of executive authority

No freeman is to be taken or imprisoned or disseised of his free tenement or of his liberties or free customs, or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined, nor will we go against such a man or send against him save by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land. To no-one will we sell or deny of delay right or justice.

Perhaps a visit to Runnymede would give the justices of the Indiana Supreme Court an opportunity to reflect on the reason why the framers of the US constitution were men who had the imagery of Magna Carta burnt into their very souls…

Magna Carta memorial at Runnymede

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23 March
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Springtime in an English garden – “To cultivate a garden is to walk with God”

About 15 minutes drive from our house are the timeless gardens of Nymans in the village of Handcross, West Sussex.

Ludwig Messel, a wealthy stockbroker, bought the Nymans estate in 1890 and spent the rest of his life creating what became one of the most beautiful gardens in England. After Ludwig died in 1915 his son Leonard continued his father’s work and on his death in 1953 he bequeathed the estate to The National Trust.

When we arrived ealier this week the grounds were waking from the long sleep of winter and my wife captured these moments on camera.

It was the first warm day of the year so we walked into the woods on the edge of the estate

The starkness of the still wintering trees was reflected in the waters of the pool…

We strolled along a magical path…

Then up the hill towards a lonely tree..

To our left was the ridge that carried the road to Handcross with the tower on it’s crest.

Then back to the grace of the formal garden..

Echoing Wordsworth’s most famous poem

Around the corner another sudden blaze of colour….

…and past a door guarding a place of secret whispers…

…and every footfall reveals the tiniest emblem of nature’s rebirth.

It is remarkable that since Nymans Garden was created in 1890 it has seen only three Head Gardeners: James Comber from 1895-1953; Cecil Nice, who began working at Nymans in 1924 and succeeded James Comber as Head Gardener in 1953; and currently David Masters, who took over when Cecil retired in 1980.

Who cannot envy those three men for as we walked around the beautiful grounds we felt certain that Christian Bovee was right when he said “to cultivate a garden is to walk with God”
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