Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ruled by Goons

Okay, so I don't normally dip my toe into the foul and fetid waters of politics, after all one Endless Growth party looks like the next to me and it's been hard to tell the difference most of my adult life. But times seem to be changing because it is becoming increasingly clear that here in the UK we are RULED BY GOONS!

Most people these days might think that a goon is a kind of thug - and that would probably work here as well - but the definition I had in mind comes from the old radio comedy classic The Goon Show. So, according to the Urban Dictionary a goon can be a 'stupid or oafish person'.

Yep, we're being ruled by stupid or oafish people. You might think there are stupid and oafish people in Washington right now, but they are mere amateurs alongside our group of unintentional comedians. Seriously, slapstick would be a high art form in comparison to the high jinks our London lot get up to. Here's a list of things they have got up to in the LAST WEEK. Yes, in just a week (or maybe slightly longer in some cases, but no more than two weeks), they have been hard at work putting on their cabaret show with the following list of performances:


1 - Top of any Goonshow list has to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Yes, this former Oxford graduate, former member of the riotous male-only dining clique the Bullingdon Club (the entry requirements of which include burning a £50 note in the face of a homeless person) is still telling us that the British economy is growing and that the worst is behind us.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne before he grew up (left) and now

This week George was on a trip to China, trying to woo them. He met lots of Chinese students and businessmen and then told British people that we were to stop treating them like factory drones and show some respect. Oh, then he offered to waive the visa rules for ultra-rich Chinese businessmen and furthermore offered the Chinese the chance to run 100% of Britain's future nuclear power stations.

As if the prospect of this was not scary enough, we were also told that we could soon be policed by foreign police forces - our own presumably being too expensive. So, we can imagine, when some Chinese tycoon decides to build a nuke down the end of my road, I can expect ex Red Army policemen to clobber me and any attempt to protest.

Other Osborne moments this week include the demolishing of his housing bubble inflator policy instrument 'Help to Buy' by the newly minted Nobel economist Robert Shiller. Read all about it via the Automatic Earth here.

2 - Second in the Goonshow hit parade is Envrionment Secretary Owen Paterson - the man charged with looking after the environment - saying that climate change was 'not all bad'. Yes, there are bright spots, according to him. It will be warmer, chuckle, and we won't have to fly to Spain for holidays. What's more, he said, not so many people will die of cold in the winter (see below) which, for some reason, he seems to think is the 'leading cause of death for humans' (?). He also revealed that some people take it all too seriously and should just try and relax a bit and have some fun.

3 - And Owen Paterson is in third place as well. The long protested-against badger cull has been proceeding now for some weeks, with many of the furry mammals beloved of Beatrix Potter and Queen's Brian May having been forced to eat hot lead in order to appease the Tory-voting farming unions. Alas, when marksmen failed to notch up enough black and white corpses the 'scientific cull' was deemed a failure.

Who is to blame for this debacle?

The badgers themselves, of course. Mr Paterson says the creatures 'moved the goalposts' - presumably by resisting being genocided. Scientists all along had said that the cull was pointless and unscientific, but farmers wanted 'something' done about the spread of TB into their herds of cattle.

4 - In fourth place - although he usually deserves to be a lot higher up - is our leader and fellow Bullingdon Club goon Mr David Cameron. Mr 'C3PO made out of Spam' rattles off any number of jaw-droppers every time he opens his mouth, but what clangers has he come up with recently? Well, there's that picture of him asleep on a bed with his secret red box that was posted on Instagram by his sister in law as she was getting dressed (!).

The man asleep in the background runs the UK. Or thinks he does.

Then there was the repeated claim that shale gas drilling is beneficial for the UK following the 'amazing' success story in the US.

And then there was the woeful privatisation of the Royal Mail overseen by his government this week - reminiscent of the lowest 'greed is good' days of the Thatcher era. The Royal Mail, which is approaching its 500th birthday, was sold off dirt cheap, with the lion's share going to big City firms. Little investors were also eager to grab some shares and cash them in, and the Daily Goonagraph - sorry Telegraph - even had a moving share ticker as its headline, showing how much dosh 'the little man' was making minute by minute.

Today, fearing for their jobs (and rightly so), workers at the newly privatised organisation voted to go on strike.

Finally, still with Cameron, following today's announcement by British Gas that it will raise its prices another 10% or so - even though many people now cannot afford to eat and heat their home - announced that people should ditch the company. Never mind that the, er, competitors will all follow suit and that his own government revealed that it is cutting money set aside to insulate poor people's homes.

Let them eat snow flakes!

This fuel poverty message in Manchester gets the point across about energy firms in the UK

Oh, and one last thing, Mr C using his most threatening growly voice has said the Guardian newspaper should be 'investigated' for publishing NSA revelations. This follows on from the new press charter that is being put into place that will severely restrict what newspapers are allowed to say about our illustrious rulers. Here's Private Eye's (ever welcome) take on it all.

5 - In fifth place is the entire Foreign Office, who with perfect timing, announced that the UK is to become the 'hub' for drilling the bejesus out of the Arctic to get at all the oil and gas there. Yes, just days after 30 mostly British members of Greenpeace were arrested and slung into the Gulag by Russia for protesting against Arctic drilling, and only weeks after the IPCC reconfirmed that we are going to hell in a hand basket unless we stop burning fossil fuels the FO deems it a good time to make this bold claim to getting a 'piece of the action' up north. It's great to know that the government is concerned about the climate.

6 - In sixth place is our favourite parliamentary clown Owen Paterson again. This time he really pushed the boat out by saying that opponents of all that nice genetically modified food stuff that his big business pals want to force upon the world are 'wicked'. Yes, that would make people who oppose GM food evil. They are apparently guilty of 'killing millions of innocent children'! Well I never.

Owen Paterson conducting some experiments on genes in his home lab

7 - No list of Tory goons would be complete without London's 'Lord' mayor Boris Johnson aka BoJo. He doesn't have to do anything other than just continuing to exist to be included on any goon list, but here he is, saying that all English school children must now learn Mandarin rather than French. To force home this point, he flew over Hong Kong in a helicopter earlier today having being voted 'England's most patriotic politician' - thus the Churchillain repose.

'BoJo' - apparently 'England's most patriotic politician'

Boris Johnson on fracking:

"The extraction process alone would generate tens of thousands of jobs in parts of the country that desperately need them. And above all, the burning of gas to generate electricity is much, much cleaner – and produces less CO2 – than burning coal. What, as they say, is not to like?

In their mad denunciations of fracking, the Greens and the eco-warriors betray the mindset of people who cannot bear a piece of unadulterated good news. Beware this new technology, they wail. Do not tamper with the corsets of Gaia! Don’t probe her loamy undergarments with so much as a finger — or else the goddess of the earth will erupt with seismic revenge. Dig out this shale gas, they warn, and our water will be poisoned and our children will be stunted and our cattle will be victims of terrible intestinal explosions."

8 - In eighth place a joint award goes to 80% of the UK population who failed to notice any of the above because they have become obsessed with a) A TV programme about baking cakes, b) A TV programme about celebrities doing ballroom dancing and c) A TV programme which features a couple having sex in a box in front of an audience which is then analysed by a panel of 'sexperts'.

Oh, and the football was on (England won).

Sex Box: takes voyeurism to a whole new level
Ever feel like the kids are in charge at the kindergarten?


As George points out in his comment below, I forgot to include the Education Secretary Michael Gove.  No gallery of goons would be complete without the man who is pushing through such draconian - and frankly pointless - education reforms that teachers refer to him as the 'school bully' and even went on strike against him yesterday.

And finally …

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who publicly told a woman who had been historically abused to "Adjust your medication," after he refused to help her out.

Pickles: Adjust your medication

Okay … that's enough (I know, I should have mentioned William Hague)!


  1. Goons is the word., You missed Give though, for the last few years I was wondering if he was actually a comedian who at some moment would out himself as just having a laugh. The problem I have with them and actually unfortunately also with New Labour before them is I just can't take them seriously unfortunately they are. I wonder how they manage the disconnect between what they say and the results of what they do.

    1. You are completely right. No roster of goons is complete without the Education Secretary. I'll add him as a footnote.

  2. I had a subscription to the Financial Times (hard copy pink sheets) a few years ago (`2005?). Just wanted to expand my news sources.

    The U.S. politicians are amazing, but I found the various European leaders to be mind boggling. People over here (in the U.S.) were talking about how the Euro would be the next world currency. After reading the Financial Times, I had serious doubts.

    1. Yes, my father used to urge me to read the FT. Back in the day, you could improve your job prospects immensely if you entered the interview room with an FT tucked under your arm.

      I have to say, in recent years, the FT has been a reasonable source of info compared to others. Not that I read it - you have to pay for it.

  3. Jason,

    As a fellow resident, I'm impressed by your ability to monitor mainstream politics and the media in the UK (not that I think anywhere else is especially better). I fear I need to put my head in a vice whenever any party politicians start to talk, and I've felt that way for a long time. The frequently used analogy, by those who consider collapse a near certainty (catabolic, ecological and/or otherwise), of having the sensation of living in some world like the Matrix seems particularly apt here. The fundamental disconnect between the ecological/material realities and limits, on the one hand, and the day-to-day political rhetoric of economic business as usual, on the other, is something I increasingly find very painful to reflect on for too long. There seems to be only so much cognitive dissonance one can tolerate, so I appreciate this nice quick snapshot of the UK’s special brand of political madness.

    That said, I must hold my hands up to partaking of one escapist cul-de-sac of the media world that you point towards, namely the Bake Off. In my defence, a show with no politicians, no celebs (well only as hosts), just some skills on display that are going to need honing in the years ahead, and some generally nice people is one of the few things that I can watch these days without my critical faculties flaring up too much.
    Anyway, very much enjoying the blog and will certainly pick up the book. Good wishes.

    1. Cheers Paul. I really try and avoid listening to politicians, but of late they seem to have been making some extraordinarily bad decisions that will make our collective futures a whole lot worse. I have no wish to be drawn down into the hole of party politics - it seems like a waste of precious time! That said, the Tories do seem to be particularly bad of late …

      As for Bake Off … I've never seen any of the programmes I mentioned (I hardly ever watch the thing) - just noticed that others are talking about them and all the main news outlets devote a lot of space to talking about them. Still, if it teaches some skills and has some nice people on it then it must be better than some of the other tripe!

      I have a friend who's a TV producer and he assures me that 90% of everything we see is pure fakery. We knew that anyway, but it's good to hear it from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

  4. I always liked Neil Postman's analysis, which was also the title of his book, that we are 'amusing ourselves to death'. Basically all of the modern mass media, including news media, are shaped by entertainment values (albeit with economic values likely sitting behind them), committed only to keeping us sufficiently amused enough to keep watching. Television is certainly one of the modern 'opiates of people' that poor old Marx couldn't have predicted (although he had a few choice words for newspapers).

    1. I hadn't heard of Neil Postman, but I'll look him up. I reckon we have some of the best and worst TV in the world here. There are some truly great docs, but mostly it's godawful trash. If the TVs stopped working there would be pandemonium - it is definitely the opiate of choice for most.

      I'm not sure the new media is shaped by entertainment values, unless you mean the tabloid variety. To me it seems to be more shaped by our unconscious delusions and held together by the glue of unquestioned received wisdom. It's just part of a wider system that doesn't have our best interests at heart.

  5. Thanks Jason. It makes me despair. Worse than all the stupid decisions they make is that the politicians have to deliver them with a smirk on their face. It's like Gove announces he is trashing the school system, whilst grinning at how clever he thinks he is. They make me sooooo angry!

    I think our only hope is a military coup. Politicaians just aren't cut out for anything other than one upmanship, breaking promises and lying. If you have seen any of the military leaders being interviewed recently it's completely different. They are preparing for financial collape and peak oil, have their heads screwed on and are natural leaders. I wonder how bad things need to be before they step in....?

    1. That's an interesting thought, Judy. It really does seem like our political class has completely lost the plot - and I don't say that lightly. The idea that *somebody* actually might know what they are doing is oddly reassuring - even if it's the army.

  6. Wow, I am truly impressed. I thought it was only here.

  7. There must be something about the no-end-in-sight scarcity economy that brings out the worst in our leaders around the world! Over here our ruling party--also known as Tories--as equally absurd. In their efforts to keep the Tar Sands developing in Alberta, they are bullying everyone in sight in more and more surreal ways. Our Natural Resources Minister actually took out a full-page ad in all the national papers a couple of years ago just to call all those protesting the development "foreign radicals!" As the protesting First Nations groups pointed out, they were the only ones in the country that don't qualify...

    An American visiting us here in Canada recently quipped during the US shut-down, "At least you have a functioning government!" Ha ha. The joke, sadly, was that in fact, we didn't; our PM back in January decided to shut down parliament until he was ready to have it meet again, a process called "prorogation." It's a ancient part of our constitutional process reserved for emergencies that has never been invoked; our latest PM has used it 3 times in the last 5 years, and seems to feel it's his right to open or close the House at his whim.

    Like you, I could go on and on...but I shouldn't. Sigh. Thanks for keeping some sense of humour about it--not easy!

    1. I think what we have here is the culmination of several decades of increasingly reckless capitalism, combined with techno-fuelled apathy. Politicians think they can get away with things, and quite often they can because people think that we live in an age with no consequences. After all, they are mostly just sock puppets for corporations.

      You can fool some of the people all of the time …

  8. And all that before they Went Nuclear (earlier today)


I'll try to reply to comments as time permits.